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Hartford, Connecticut

Hartford, capital of Connecticut and seat of Hartford County, is at the head of navigation on the Connecticut River, 38 miles from Long Island Sound. It became prosperous from whaling and developed into the country`s most important insurance center. Dutch immigrants set up a trading post where the Park River flows into the Connecticut in 1623, and they built a fort there in 1633. Soon after, in 1635, settlers began to arrive from New Town (later Cambridge, Massachusetts.) In 1637, they named the place Hartford, after Hertford, the English birthplace of one of the first settlers. The Fundamental Orders, the first written constitution in the American colonies, was adopted in 1639. In 1662, the colonies of Connecticut and New Haven were brought together under the name Connecticut. Hartford has been a capital ever since, although it shared the role with New Haven, Connecticut from 1701 to 1873. In 1687, Governor Andros attempted to remove Hartford`s charter, but it was supposedly hidden from him in the Charter Oak. Hartford was a the center of the Federalist movement. In the latter part of the 18th century, the Hartford Wits were a group of Federalist writers. In 1814, the Hartford Convention was held to protest a number of national policies. The first insurance policy known to be issued in Hartford was by the Hartford Fire Insurance Company in 1794 . The insurance industry grew until in the middle of the 20th century, there were more than 40 insurance companies based in Hartford. Samuel L. Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, moved to Hartford in 1871, soon after his marriage. The Mark Twain House was his home until his death in 1910. Not far away is the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, where the future author of "Uncle Tom`s Cabin" lived from 1873 until her death. The first meeting of the Connecticut legislature in the present Connecticut state capitol was held in January 1879. The building was constructed of New England granite and marble, at a cost of $2.5 million. This was well above the initial estimate of $900,000, partly because the first dome collapsed and had to be replaced. The capitol is set within Bushnell Park in the heart of Hartford. Hartford`s most noteworthy cultural center is Wadsworth Atheneum, America`s first public art museum, extending a full city block and incorporating the Auerbach Art Library, the Colt Memorial, and the Morgan Memorial. Hartford`s first institute of higher education was chartered as Washington College in 1812 and is now known as Trinity College.