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NATIONAL

COLT: LEGEND & LEGACY

LEFT TO DIE

THE MARK OF UNCAS

SCHEMITZUN!

USS NAUTILUS

CONNECTICUT

AS WE TELL OUR STORIES

BETWEEN BOSTON & NY

CONNECTICUT  & THE SEA

CRUSADERS & CRIMINALS

EAST OF THE RIVER

FROM HERE TO THERE

THE GREEN

THE NEW PEQUOT

SUBURBIA

FROM PURITAN TO YANKEE

NARRATOR: The early 19th Century saw dramatic change in Connecticut as a growing emphasis on the importance of the individual marked the advent of the Yankee era. Our colonial roots actually contained two distinctly opposite ways of looking at ourselves. The Hallmark of the Puritan Age had been communalism. This legacy of this new era was individualism.

CHRISTOPHER COLLIER (Connecticut State Historian): What happened over time is that this other worldliness, this community sense, this willing to accept the authoritarian, social and political structure, these became deluded and then sharply undermined and the Yankee then becomes a person whom we think of as materialistic. This worldly, out-for-the-main-chance --

BRUCE FRASER (Exec Dir., Ct Humanities Council): We think of the, you know, the Yankee trader -- the Yankee tinkerer -- the individual, the entrepreneur, the self-made man, that sense of ourselves which is organized around entrepreneurship or hard work around seizing the main chance. Those kinds of values are completely opposed to what we inherited from the Puritans. That was a great see-change in Connecticut history was that transition from Puritanism to individualism.

BARBARA TUCKER (Dir., Ctr. for Connecticut Studies): And I think that in Connecticut as well as a practicality, goes the whole notion of the Connecticut Yankee here and the inventiveness of the Connecticut Yankee because again, the terms, "Who is a Yankee?" You always put Connecticut in front of it. It's not merely just New England. It's the Connecticut Yankee for the most part and even Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court -- terribly inventive person.

Movie Clip from A Connecticut Yankee, 1931:

YANKEE: You got the biggest bad guy I ever saw on any cop in my life. Am I -- am I in my right mind? And if I am, can'st telleth me where in the helleth I am?

KNIGHT: Now I know that thou art mad. Yonder lies Camelot Castle. King Arthur's Court. Thou art in his vast domain.

YANKEE: One of us is cuckoo. It -- it can't be you. It -- it must be me, cause that -- that certainly ain't no part of Connecticut.

COLIN MCENROE (Columnist, Hartford Courant): I come from a family which regards itself as an old Yankee family and I think one thing that is sort of a Litanus test is you have to have sort of a very pinched crab attitude towards money and you have to have a lot of digestive troubles. Usually Yankees because they worry a lot and they're concerned about everything and it's difficult for them to enjoy life.

NARRATOR: It was during the Yankee era that Connecticut acquired one of its more enigmatic nicknames -- the Nutmeg State. Nutmegs imported from Southeast Asia were hard to come by and expensive. Devious Yankee entrepreneurs earned a reputation for themselves and the State by selling fake nutmegs carved from wood. It was clearly not the Puritan thing to do.

JANE STERN (Connecticut Author): The Nutmeg State, I can't think of a less kind of sexy and tough and big image or state as the Nutmeg State. Then when you dig a little deeper into Connecticut history and you realize that it was not because nutmegs were our native crop here, it was because the people in Connecticut were such shady characters that they carved fake nutmegs to sell. And that even sort of brings it down another notch. I mean it's the fake nutmeg state.

CHARLES MONAGHAN (Editor, Connecticut Magazine): To some degree we tried to hold onto the idea that despite how many races and cultures have come to settle here, we still try to hold on in some ways to the idea that we're Yankees and that we somehow embody all the virtues that the old Yankees did -- thrift and industry and self-reliance and we do as individuals. It's just that as a society it's sort of ridiculous at this point. If you look around and examine the old virtues compared to what we have here, it just doesn't hold up.

HERB JANICK (Historian, W. CT State U.): We have lost the unity of the Yankee past, but have we replaced it with another kind of unity? I don't think we have. I mean we've replaced it with a lot of diversity and some it's for economic reasons. You know, some of it's from ethnic and racial reasons.

NARRATOR: Although we think of hard work and thrift as Yankee traits, they are in fact common attributes of immigrants to Connecticut. Laotian refugees, Samay and Chansamone Phomphakdy, moved to Connecticut in 1987.

KEN SIMON: Why did you come to Connecticut?

CHANSAMONE PHOMPHAKDY (Factory Worker): My friend told me that there are a lot of jobs here and I need a job.

KEN SIMON: How hard did you work when you got here? How many hours did you work a day?

CHANSAMONE PHOMPHAKDY I work fourteen hours.

KEN SIMON: Fourteen hours a day.

SAMAY PHOMPHAKDY (Factory Worker) When we first came felt we cannot have anything like the people had. They have car. They have house. They have a TV -- everything. We started to work.

KEN SIMON: Do you know what a Connecticut Yankee is?

SAMAY PHOMPHAKDY (Factory Worker): I don't know ah who's Yankee? I didn't know. I didn't know. I just -- I just -- I just knew Yankee, Yankee, but I don't know who was Yankee.

ARMS & INDUSTRY

NARRATOR: The Yankee Era was characterized by rapid industrialization. In top soil poor Connecticut, industry was a source of new found affluence and a new identity. By the start of the 20th Century, Connecticut was the most industrialized state in the nation.

ELLSWORTH GRANT, (Fmr. Pres., Ct Historical Society): Connecticut industry has played a great role in the development of the Country and what Connecticut contributed was really the development of mass production, the idea of the interchangeability of machine parts so that in Connecticut you had the development of mass production successively from guns to clocks, the sewing machines to bicycles, to automobiles and finely to aircraft engines, all of which took place in Hartford and New Haven and cities like that.

CHARLES MONAGHAN (Editor, Connecticut Magazine): And as time went on, these cities developed very strong identities. You have the hat city. You have the silver city. You have the brass city. You have the rubber city. And people tended to identify with those industries and to identify very strongly with those cities.

News Reel Footage Connecticut Answers, 1941

Today as new storm warnings are raised, our country, our way of life must be defended.

NARRATOR: We have always thought of ourselves as being the front line of our nation's defense, but here too are self images under stress.

News Reel Footage Connecticut Answers, 1941

Time is short. The all-out for defense has sounded and there's the youth of Connecticut, answer the call to arms. The industries of Connecticut, answer the call for arms. All-out defense means all out production and this is a job that Connecticut well understands.

CHARLEY DUFFY (Exec. Dir., Council of Small Towns): It's been very strongly defense-based since the beginning of this country. You know, one of the other names for Connecticut is the Provision State. Provisions in that sense means providing for people who are at war. You know, the most sophisticated weapon in the world is made here, the Trident submarine in Groton, but throughout our history, we have been a provider of lead for bullets and uniforms for soldiers and guns for soldiers and that has made us different than the rest of New England and allowed us in many respects to develop sort of a unique economy here.

CHRISTOPHER COLLIER (Connecticut State Historian): We have had a tremendous amount of federal government money spent in this state on armaments. Our dependence upon armaments has been bad for the state in the long picture. In the late 1980s and the early 1990s we felt it very, very much as the defense budget began to shrink.

 


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