I. Frederick Douglass, black abolitionist, was on a circuit of rallies in 1848 and was denied the pulpit by the congregation for giving an address inside Center Church, First Church of Christ, next to the Ancient Burying Ground. The clergyman, the Rev. Joel Hawes, was an abolitionist but under other social pressures, so provided instead the courtyard outside which is now labeled and set aside as a commemoration. Until 2017, the tribute was a small plaque downtown; then in 2917 this step toward correcting an early wrong was taken. The Hartford Courant records it.
II. From 1848 and a place for speech, move to 2008, where then-presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke to a capacity crowd at downtown Hartford's Civic Center, now the XL Center. Representative Rosa DeLauro, Senator Ted Kennedy Caroline Kennedy and others of the birds and beasts of the day were there. The Press Corps milled about in a relaxed way, and politics were optimistic.