The state Senate late Monday night approved a bill to spend up to $180,000 – half from the state, and half from the National Park Service – to develop an Internet website by Jan. 1 to “to highlight that portion of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail that is located in the state.” The bill now goes to the House.
The 31-4 vote was preceded by some historical facts – such as when Democratic Sen. Gary LeBeau mentioned that Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau, the French nobleman and general who assisted the colonists in the American Revolution, had camped with his troops on Silver Lane, one of the best-known streets in LeBeau’s hometown of East Hartford. LeBeau also said that the street’s name is derived from the fact that Rochambeau “paid his troops in silver.”
This bit of history so impressed Sen. Scott Frantz, R-Greenwich, who supported the bill, that he referred to LeBeau, who is of French-Canadian ancestry, as “Senator Rochambeau.” Frantz then corrected himself and called him “Senator LeBeau.”
Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said “although I believe it’s important for us to cherish our history … $180,000 is a huge amount of money” to establish a website. Also, he said the state’s $90,000 is coming from a manufacturing grant fund – and this is for tourism, not manufacturing. Fasano and three other Republicans voted against it.
The job of establishing the site would fall to the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
The Rochambeau trail isn’t confined to Connecticut. It begins in Newport, Rhode Island, where the French general and his more than 5,000 troops landed by sea. After crossing Connecticut, it continues south through New York, where the French joined the Continental Army of George Washington, and then through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland into Virginia. That’s where combined American and French armies forced British General Cornwallis to surrender in October 1781 at the decisive battle of Yorktown.
Other states through which the trail runs are expected to also set up websites like Connecticut’s.