Do you live in CT? Here's why you should care about this founding father's 300th birthday

Alexander Hamilton was a relatively under-discussed founding father until 2015, when “Hamilton” the musical conquered Broadway.

Maybe this year’s tricentennial celebrating the founder of Connecticut could bring another unappreciated founding father to the light.

Maybe an April 19 lecture at the New Haven Museum could be Roger Sherman’s “Hamilton.”

Sherman is one of America’s founding fathers and was the official founder of the state of Connecticut. He was the first mayor of New Haven and the only founder to help draft the Declaration and Resolves, the Articles of Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Yet, he’s relatively unknown.

Mark David Hall, a Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics and Faculty Fellow at George Fox University, will give a virtual lecture for the New Haven Museum all about this mysterious founding father’s life.

Hall said one of the reasons Sherman may have faded into obscurity is because he was never president. (And if every “Hamilton” fan heard Daveed Diggs riffing “never gonna be president now” as you read that, you’re not alone.)

“Americans favor founders who served as presidents (Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison) or who were flashy in other ways (Franklin and Hamilton),” Hall said via email. “I’ve been drawn to neglected founders who made important contributions to the creation of the American republic. Sherman was such a founder.”

Sherman came from humble beginnings. He was born in Massachusetts but moved to Connecticut at just 20 years of age, following the death of his father. He worked as a cobbler, surveyor and store owner. Sherman never attended college but did teach himself law well enough that he was admitted to the Litchfield bar in 1754, according to Hall.

Sherman was also a pretty down-to-earth guy. He was one of the only founding fathers who not only opposed slavery, but also never actually owned a slave.

In 1783, Sherman and Judge Richard Law revised all of Connecticut’s statues, and instituted a law that made sure slavery was “on the road to extinction in the state,” as Hall put it.

Hall also called Sherman “an immensely practical man.” He recalls one story in which Sherman defended the proposed constitution, writing “philosophy may mislead you. Ask experience.” When a young representative asked him why he was not making a speech on a topic in which he was interested, Sherman replied, “young man, minorities talk, majorities vote.”

Museum director Margaret Anne Tockarshewsky said the decision to bring Hall in for the tricentennial lecture was a no-brainer, and that she is looking forward to learning more about who Sherman was.

“You know, maybe he was our quiet founding father, but he’s someone who should be appreciated,” Tockarshewsky said.

She also brought up the point that April 19 will also be the 246th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which marked the beginning of the American revolution.

“Sherman was a master of making political compromises,” Hall said. “In our increasingly divided country, civic leaders from every party have much to learn from this important but neglected founder.”

So, if Roger Sherman is Connecticut’s under appreciated founding father, does that make Hall his Lin Manuel Miranda?

Perhaps, but maybe hold out on choreography.

“Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic” will take place via Zoom at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 19. For tickets and information, visit newhavenmuseum.org/visit/events-calendar.