The Mighty Oak Fell 161 years ago — Connecticut Tercentenary Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin

Today, the Connecticut Tercentenary Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers when the mighty Charter Oak fell during a wind and rain storm on August 21, 1856.

From Geer’s Hartford City Directory of July 1903:


In the trunk of which was concealed the Charter of Connecticut, from October 31st, 1687, to May 9th, 1689.

This old Charter was won by Gov. John Winthrop, to the colonists, from Charles lt., King of England, April 23, 1662.

This tree stood on lot No. 29 Charter Oak av.

The above engraving we had made for our use, by a Hartford artist, Nov. 7,1853, just as it then appeared.

It measured at its base thirty-three feet in circumference, and where the stump was broken off seven feet above the ground, was twenty-one feet in circumference.

Twenty-seven persons have stood up in its hollow, where the charter was hid.

It was blown down in a severe storm, Aug. 21, 1856.

The following engraving has been made especially for this Directory, by the same artist who made the above engraving, and is from a drawing taken on the day of this sad disaster.

The tree stood inside of a wooden picket fence, and a marble stone in a stone offset wall, now marks the spot where this tree stood, with the inscription, “CHARTER OAK FELL Aug. 21, 1856.”

May 7, 1896, .James J. Goodwin of Hartford presented to the Connecticut Society of Sons of Colonial Wars the narrow strip of land, about 100 feet long, the point of which intersects Charter Oak avenue and Charter Oak place.

A suitable monument will be erected upon this plot of ground to take the place of present almost obscure mark where the old tree stood.

A special session of the general court held in Hartford, July, 1687, “publiquely declare and protest against the said Major Edmond Andross and these his illegal proceedings, as also against all his aiders and abettors as disturbers of the publique peace.”

This court also “commanded all good people, subject in this Colony of Connecticut, under our present government, utterly to refuse to attend, countenance, or obey the sayd Major Edmond Andross, or any under him, in any order, instruction or command, contrary to the laws of this colony, established under the aforesaid charter.”

The unsuccessful attempt to wrest this charter from this State was made by Sir Edmond Andross. Oct. 31, 1687.

The General Court was assembled at the Inn, (which was then kept, under order of the General Court, on the lot where now is the Universalist church, 234 Main street,) to meet Governor Andross.

When there assembled, the lights being put out, by arrangement, where Andross and the authorities had the Charter and were discussing it, Capt. Joseph Wadsworth carried it off in the dark and hid it so effectually in the hollow of the Charter Oak tree, that it could not be found.

There it remained until May 9, 1689.

The original Charter, engrossed on three parchment skins, is in the State Library room, framed in wood from the tree that concealed it from the minions of James II.

Duplicate of this charter engrossed on two parchment skins is in the room of the Conn. Historical Society.

All North American colonies or states were subjected to the kingly veto power, except Connecticut.

This charter was the grain of mustard seed, planted in Hartford, April 23, 1662, that sprang up, grew, and bore fruit in the revolution, by expanding into a large and liberty-enjoying nation of towns and states; having thus been nurtured in its unexampled growth, by the terms of this charter, that gave free action to the original town system of government, in the liberty of the wilderness.

The mode of government, established by this instrument, was reasserted, etc., by the adoption of our present constitution, in 1818.

On the 23d day of April, 1897, this Charter was 235 years old.

Trees propagated from acorns from the Charter Oak tree are growing: — one about twenty feet in height, on Bushnell Park, in the triangular plot near the Trumbull street bridge; one on this Park, nearly opposite 93 Elm street; one in yard to 5 Collins street; and one in yard 82 Ann street, and one at “Armsmere,” just south of Mrs. Colt’s house, 30 Wethersfield avenue.


The Connecticut Tercentenary Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows with the artist’s images mentioned of the Charter Oak from 1853 and 1856.

Connecticut Tercentenary Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin