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"Connecticut, The Constitution State" by Albert Hurwit, MD

There's something in the name,

That makes us want to stand and cheer.

It's glory and it's fame,

Have made a story that is grand and very dear to us.

Rebirth of freedom, a helping hand,

From this rough earth, a gentle land,

It's Connecticut, Connecticut, Hail Connecticut, the Constitution State.


Connecticut Promotional Film

What makes an area a good place to live? A number of things probably. Pleasant residential districts for varying income groups. Good schools, centers for cultural programs, excellent medical care facilities, recreational opportunities the year round.

Man on the Street Interview (MOS) #1: It's a nice place to live and it's a good place to raise a family.

MOS #2: Connecticut is a sophisticated, desirable place to live.

MOS #3: It's got a lot to offer and from corner to corner it's quite diverse.

MOS #4: Money, money, money. You think Connecticut, you think money. Um, nice country living and nice place to raise a family.

NARRATOR: For many, Connecticut is simply a nice place to live, the quintessential suburban state.

HERB JANICK (Historian, W. CT State U.): I think we lose sight of a very important element of Connecticut if we don't think of the fact that very early and maybe much more complete than other states, we invested in the suburban solution to our problems. The suburb has the perfect environment where we have all the benefits of urban life without the disadvantages and we have the benefits of rural life without the disadvantages. It has lots of problems too in the 20th Century.

COLIN MCENROE (Columnist, Hartford Courant): I don't know what it's based on, but there's a sense that, you know, we don't want to go any place else and we don't want to be any place else and we want everything here exactly the way it is here and we don't want anything to change.

JOHN FIGEROA (Connecticut State Representative): There are a lot or people here who think, boy, this is a great place to live because I am able to live in a community where there's no crime, where my kids can go to school well fed. Ah, everything is taken care of and they're a lot of people I think who in addition to, you know, have a nice picturesque surrounding. On the other hand, you may have -- you have in Connecticut a group of people who's reality and who think of themselves as, when am I going to be able to get my next in order to cover my rent. What am I going to do if my son or daughter gets sick and has to go to the hospital and not only that, but then there are, you know, there are people who are even questioning even more basic things than that. Where am I going to live next week? It is part of what we are here in Connecticut that we live in two very different realities.

BRUCE FRASER (Exec. Dir., CT Humanities Council): One of the things about Connecticut that flows from this sense of it as a great place to live is that it's a great place to live by yourself and to retreat to some individual agenda.

ARTHUR MILLER (Connecticut Playwright): There are a lot of people who admire it because it cuts them off from other people and they don't want to have anything to do with other people and that's one of the attractions of living this way. You take care of yourself. And that is enviable for a lot of people in many places. They’d love to do that if they could. That is certainly not the classical idea of mankind, which was always social.

BRUCE FRASER (Exec. Dir., CT Humanities Council): Other than a nice yard and access to a wonderful mall, good shops, decent schools in some places, that's it. Is that it? It can't be it.


BOB ENGLEHART: We're still searching for the real Connecticut. Let's look in this area right here along the Rhode Island border. These people identify with Providence and Boston. Some of them even speak with a Rhode Island accent and eat clam chowder with a clear broth. This isn't really Connecticut. This part of Connecticut is called east of the river. It's rural and very and very quiet, economically depressed, even in good times. It's like Maine. We're supposed to be in the wealthiest state in the Union, so ah, this must not really be Connecticut. So where is the Connecticut you've heard so much about? The Connecticut of books, movies and fables. In here (He points to his head) and in here (He points to his heart).


NARRATOR: Where then do we find Connecticut? What does hold us together? Ironically, one thing that all Connecticut cities and towns have in common is a strong strain of localism. When Connecticut does think of itself, it does so primarily in local terms.

"The Constitution State"

There are a hundred and sixty-nine towns in Connecticut,

And thousand of sites along the way.

So come and get acquainted with the Constitution State,

In Connecticut there's nothing far away.

And you might like it so you'll want to stay.

COLIN MCENROE (Columnist, Hartford Courant): I think there's a 169 towns or something like that and really if you talk to people in Old Saybrook, they are mortally offended by the idea that anything happening in Old Lyme has anything to do with what's happening in Old Saybrook and I don't think there's another place in the world that has that kind of town identity.

CHARLEY DUFFY (Exec. Dir., Council of Small Towns): You know, Connecticut had county government for awhile and then they got rid of it. The tendency is to sort of add government as you go along. Connecticut I think is unique in that respect as having eliminated a layer of government, which indicates that this state and small town relationship and identity is very important to people.

CHRISTOPHER COLLIER (Connecticut State Historian): Perhaps one of the greatest myths about Connecticut and indeed I'd say about most of New England is the idea that we are a society run by our town governments -- that the towns are the locus of power, original power, laying in the towns that are states are mere confederations of autonomous towns. That's a potent myth for 200 years. It is a myth, however. In fact, the towns in Connecticut historically and legally and constitutionally have never been from 1633 to the present autonomous in any sense of the word. They have always been agents of the state.

NARRATOR: The limits of localism have come into sharp relief lately as Connecticut grapples with problems that defy solution at the local level. As state wide obligations have increased, federal revenue sharing has declined. Can a clear sense of state identity lead to greater sacrifice for the common good?

HOWARD RIFKIN (Prof., UCONN Institute of Public Serv.): I don't think that there's going to be a trend back to looking to the federal government for solutions to problems. The financial requirements are really going to be at the local level and the state level. I think it in large measure sharpens the issue and really demands that the people have a debate about what an identity is being from Connecticut means.

HOWARD RIFKIN (Prof., UCONN Institute of Public Serv.): Perhaps the latest debate on whether we ought to have a state income tax is somewhat symbolic of this notion that we don't yet have a sense of real community and a sense of sacrifice.

BRUCE FRASER (Exec. Dir., CT Humanities Council): Not in my town you don't is the explanation for a lot of the disasters that we face as a society. This goes back to that issue of what is it that ought to link us with those around us and if that link is solely on a town by town or a neighborhood by neighborhood basis, none of these problems are going to have any resolution.

JUAN FIGEROA (Connecticut State Representative): The reality in which we live today demands that we have an income tax, demands that we look at regional solutions to problems, demands that we look at schools desegregation, demands that we have common solutions to common problems that we all share, whether we like it or not. That's where we're heading and that's what's going to produce, hopefully sooner than later what we are all about.

NARRATOR: Our devotion to our towns has been our common ground for much of our history. The challenge is that we now need to extend that commitment beyond town lines.

CHRISTOPHER COLLIER (Connecticut State Historian): To the extent that we can preserve the feeling of community that I think grows out of the town, grows out of face to face contacts that you find only in the town, that would be a great thing to do if we're going to have a revised sense of responsibility, which surely we must have. Perhaps it will come out of the town. Towns can no longer act as islands. They have to recognize higher responsibilities and they don't.

BRUCE FRASER (Exec. Dir., CT Humanities Council): If our sense of identity is in fact individual rather than collective, that the function of our society is to let me get what I want, then we've lost that opportunity to work together around something like that. What do I owe this person that makes me willing to sacrifice something of my own for his benefit is one of the questions that a sharper shared sense of identity might help resolve.

CHRIS BICKFORD (Exec. Dir., CT Historical Society): I think the challenge is to find in our political history an area which we can come together and understand how it all fits together, cause it does in some sense, the towns and the counties and the state as a whole.

CHRISTOPHER COLLIER (Connecticut State Historian): My sense is that a positive self-identity is a very good thing and that it should be informed by a sense of history. Any kind of change discomforts people. That's where tensions arise and I think that's what we see today is that these changes are occurring and some people don't like them and they have a number of choices. Either they can go on and live in their little dream worlds and spin their world of myth and try to stay there and live with the tension that that creates or they can recognize what's there and try to help the transition, which is a continual transition, never stops.


TOM CALLINAN (Connecticut State Troubadour): It's near the near the end of the day and Mr. O'Neil who was Speaker of the House at that time had a suggestion, so he brought in the East Hampton Fife & Drum Corps to play Yankee Doodle out in the corridor and proposed right on the spot that Yankee Doodle be the state song and everyone said that's a great idea and after a whole day of waiting around that was the end of our efforts, Yankee Doodle.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Yankee Doodle came to town,

Riding on a pony,

Stuck a feather in his hat,

And called it macaroni.

Yankee Doodle keep it up,

Yankee Doodle Dandy,

Mind the music and the step,

And let the girls be handy.

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Last modified: September 03, 2012