Like much of New England, Eastern Connecticut is bursting with history from the birth of our nation to the present day. Governor Jonathan Trumbull, the only colonial governor to side with the Patriots at the start of the Revolutionary War, called Lebanon home. Coventry native Nathan Hale famously said, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” as he was hanged by British Forces in New York City after being captured while serving as an American spy. Samuel Huntington, a Connecticut delegate to the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence was from Scotland. Gov. Trumbull’s son, also named John Trumbull, went on to achieve great success as a painter after the Revolutionary War and may be most well-known for his work, Declaration of Independence, which still hangs in the U.S. Capitol rotunda along with several of his other paintings.
Eastern Connecticut has a rich agricultural heritage, with dairy farms still dotting the landscape. Today, the Farmer’s Cow is a group of six local, family-owned dairy farms in Franklin, Woodstock, Thompson, Lebanon, Coventry, and Hebron. Some of them have been operating since the 18th century, producing fresh, local milk and other dairy products that are shipped to grocery stores across the Second District and beyond.
Eastern Connecticut also has a proud industrial history dating back more than 150 years. Thanks to its many rivers, there was once an abundance of water-powered textile mills during the Industrial Revolution. Willimantic, known as “Thread City,” was home to the American Thread Company from 1898 until the 1980s. In Stafford Springs, the Warren Mill had been operating for 160 years before closing its doors at the end of 2013. Fortunately, in June 2014 after assistance from Congressman Joe Courtney and the State of Connecticut, an investor was able to purchase that mill and reopen it in order to continue to produce fine wool for designer clothing brands.
Today, Eastern Connecticut is still home to a thriving manufacturing sector supporting tens-of-thousands of jobs. For example, General Dynamics’ Electric Boat shipyard in Groton and New London employs over 11,000 skilled manufacturing workers and builds two Virginia-class submarines per year for the United States Navy. Work at the shipyard is also supported by more than 400 small and medium-sized parts suppliers across the district and the state.
Eastern Connecticut is also committed to educating its future workforce. The Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board works with Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson and Willimantic, and Three Rivers Community College in Norwich to promote manufacturing as a career path for students. Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield also offers skilled manufacturing certificates and degrees at its manufacturing technology center. Eastern Connecticut takes pride in quality higher education, and in addition to these community colleges, the region is also home to the University of Connecticut, Eastern Connecticut State University, as well as Connecticut College, Mitchell College, and the United States Coast Guard Academy.
With miles of shoreline on Long Island Sound including Hammonasset State Park in Madison, Ocean Beach in Waterford, and over 100 miles of scenic roads and spectacular autumn foliage, the environment in eastern Connecticut is a true highlight of the Second Congressional District.
Eastern Connecticut is also host to many examples of our vibrant culture, including Sailfest in New London, Willimantic’s Boom Box Parade, the Woodstock Fair, the Four Town Fair, the Hebron Harvest Fair and the Brooklyn Fair.