Symbols of Connecticut and What They Represent

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Connecticut is located in the New England region of the U.S. Since ancient times, the Native American tribes, including the Pequot, Mohegan and Niantic, lived on the land known as Connecticut. Later on, the Dutch and English settlers founded their settlements here.

During the American Revolution, Connecticut played a crucial role, supporting the troops with supplies and ammunition.  Five years after the end of the revolution, Connecticut signed the U.S. Constitution, becoming the 5th state of the U.S.

Connecticut is considered one of the most beautiful U.S. states. About 60% of the state is covered in woodland which is why forests are one of the top natural resources of the state, providing firewood, lumber and also maple syrup. There are many state symbols associated with Connecticut, both official and unofficial. Here’s a look at some of the most well-known symbols of Connecticut.

List of Connecticut symbols

Flag of Connecticut

The official flag of the U.S. state of Connecticut displays a white baroque shield in the center defacing a royal blue field. On the shield are three grapevines, each one with three bunches of purple grapes. Under the shield is a banner reading the state’s motto ‘Qui Transtulit Sustinet’ which, in Latin, means ‘He who transplanted sustains’.

The flag was approved by the General Assembly of Connecticut in 1897, two years after Governor Owen Coffin introduced it. The design is said to have been inspired by a memorial from the Connecticut chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

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The American Robin

A simple but beautiful bird, the American robin is a true thrush and one of the best-loved songbirds in America. Designated as the official state bird of Connecticut, the American robin is distributed widely throughout North America.

The bird is mostly active during the day and assembles in huge flocks at night. It has an important place in Native American mythology, with many myths and stories surrounding this little bird. One such story explains that the robin got its reddish-orange breast by fanning dying flames of a campfire in an attempt to save a Native American man and boy.

The robin is also considered a symbol of spring and has been mentioned in several poems by poets such as Emily Dickinson and Dr. William Drummond.

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The Sperm Whale

The sperm whale is the largest of all toothed whales and the largest toothed predator on Earth. These whales are unique in appearance, with their enormous box-like heads which set them apart from other whales. They can grow up to 70 feet long and weigh up to 59 tons. Sadly, the sperm whale is now listed on the federal endangered species list due to harvesting, collisions with ships and entanglement in fishing nets.

The sperm whale played an important role in the history of Connecticut in the 1800s when the state was ranked second (only to the state of Massachusetts) in the whaling industry. In 1975, it was officially adopted as the state animal of Connecticut due to its immense value to the state.

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Charles Edward Ives

Charles Ives, an American modernist composer born in Danbury, Connecticut, was one of the very first American composers to become internationally renowned. Although his music was mostly ignored during the early years of his life, its quality was later publicly recognized and he came to be known as an ‘American original’. His works include tone poems, symphonies and nearly 200 songs. In 1947, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his Third Symphony. Charles was designated the official state composer of Connecticut in 1991, to honor his life and work.

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Almandine Garnet

Garnets are a type of mineral commonly used in jewelry or for more practical purposes, including as abrasives in saws, grinding wheels and sandpaper. Garnets are found in various colors from pale to very dark tints, with some of the best garnet in the world found in the state of Connecticut.

The variety that Connecticut is known for is the almandine garnet, a unique and beautiful stone of a deep red color, leaning more towards purple.

Almandine garnets are high valuable minerals which are typically cut into dark reddish garnet gemstones and popularly used in all kinds of jewelry, especially earrings, pendants and rings. Having played an important role in the history of Connecticut, the almandine garnet was designated the official state mineral in 1977.

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The Charter Oak

The Charter Oak was an unusually large white oak tree that grew on Wyllys Hyll in Hartford, Connecticut, from the 12th or 13th century up until it fell in 1856, during a tempestuous storm. It was well over 200 years old at the time it fell.

According to the tradition, the Connecticut’s Royal Charter (1662) was carefully hidden in the tree’s hollow in an effort to protect it from the English governor-general. The Charter Oak became an important symbol of independence and is featured on the Connecticut State Quarter.

The Charter Oak was also adopted as the official state tree and it continues to be symbolic of the love of freedom that inspired the people of the state to demand liberty and resist tyranny.

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Enders Falls

Enders Falls is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in the U.S. state of Connecticut. It’s a collection of five waterfalls which are all unique and have been heavily photographed. The falls form the core of the Enders State Forest which is located in the towns of Barkhamsted and Granby and was established back in 1970. It received its name ‘Enders’ from the owners John and Harriet Enders whose children donated it to the state.

Today, Enders Falls is a highly popular place for swimmers during the summer, although the state warns the public against it as numerous injuries and deaths have been reported in the area.

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Freedom Schooner Amistad

Also known as ‘La Amistad’, the Freedom Schooner Amistad is a two-masted schooner. It became renowned in 1839 after it was seized off Long Island while transporting a group of kidnapped African people who had revolved against slavery.

Although they were imprisoned and charged with murder, the abolitionists from Connecticut and the surrounding states assisted these captives and were responsible for bringing the first civil rights case to the Supreme Court of the U.S. The abolitionists won the case and the African people were sent back to their homeland.

In 2003, the state of Connecticut designated the Freedom Schooner Amistad as the tall ship ambassador and the official flagship.

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Mountain Laurel

The mountain laurel, also called calico-bush and spoonwood, is a type of evergreen shrub belonging to the heather family and native to the eastern U.S. The flowers, occurring in clusters, range from a light pink color to white and are round in shape.  All parts of these plants are poisonous and ingesting any part of it can result in paralysis, convulsions coma and eventually death.

The Native Americans used the mountain laurel plan as an analgesic, placing an infusion of the leaves on scratches made over the painful area. They also used it to get rid of pests on their crops or in their homes. In 1907, Connecticut designated the mountain laurel as the official flower of the state.

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Eastern Oyster

Found in the coastal embayment and tidal rivers of Connecticut, the eastern oyster is a bivalve mollusk with an incredibly hard shell made of calcium-carbonate which protects it from predators. Eastern oysters are important to the environment since they clean the water by sucking it in, filtering the plankton to swallow and spitting out the filtered water.

By the end of the 19th century, oyster farming had become a major industry in Connecticut which had the largest number of oyster steamers in the world. In 1989, the eastern oyster was officially adopted as the state shellfish due to its importance to the state’s economy.   

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Michaela Petit’s Four O’Clock Flower

Also known as the ‘Marvel of Peru’, the four o’clock flower is a commonly grown species of flowering plant available in a wide range of colors. It was popularly cultivated by the Aztecs for ornamental and medicinal purposes. The four o’clock flowers usually bloom in the late afternoon or at dusk (typically between 4 and 8 o’clock) which is how it got its name.

Once fully bloomed, the flowers produce a sweet-smelling, strong fragrance throughout the night until they close in the morning. Then, new flowers open the next day. This flower which came to the U.S. from Europe is the official children’s flower of the state of Connecticut under the name of ‘Michaela Petit’s Four O’Clocks’, designated in 2015.

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European Praying Mantis

The European praying mantis is a fascinating insect. It’s native to Southern Europe, Northern Africa and some areas of Asia. Although it’s not native to North America, it’s found throughout the state of Connecticut and was named the official state insect in 1977.

To the farmers of Connecticut, the European praying mantis is an especially beneficial insect and of importance to the natural environment. The praying mantis is a brown or green insect that feeds on grasshoppers, caterpillars, aphids and moths – pests that destroy crops.

It received its name from the pose it strikes while hunting – it stands motionless with both front legs raised together looking like its praying or meditating. Although it’s a voracious predator, the praying mantis doesn’t have venom and is unable to sting so it’s unlikely to cause harm to humans.

Check out our related articles on other popular state symbols:

Symbols of Hawaii

Symbols of Pennsylvania

Symbols of New York

Symbols of Texas

Symbols of California

Symbols of Florida

Symbols of Alaska

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