Vermont I - History

Vermont I  - History

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Vermont I

(SL: t. 2,633; Ibp. 197'1 1/2", b. 53'6", dph. 21'6" cpl. 820; a. 20 8" Sg., 64 32 pdrs.; cl. North Carolina

The first Vermont was one of nine, 74-gun warships authorized by Congress on 29 April 1816. She was laid down at the Boston Navy Yard in September 1818 berthed about 1825, and kept on the stocks until finally launched at Boston on 15 September 1848 in the interest of both space and fire safety considerations. However Vermont was not commissioned at this time. Instead the already aged ship of the line remained in ordinary at Boston until the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861. At this time, the cavernous hull of the vessel was badly needed as a store and receiving ship at Port Royal, S.C., and she was commissioned at Boston on 30 January 1862, Comdr. Augustus S. Baldwin in command. She received orders to sail for Port Royal for duty with Rear Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont's South Atlantic Blockading Squadron on 17 February and left Boston on 24 February under tow by the steamer Kensington.

That evening, a violent northwest gale accompanied by snow struck the vessels while off Cape Cod Light, Mass. Kensington let go the tow lines, but Vermont refused to obey her helm, broached, and had all her sails and most of her boats blown and torn away. The gale raged for 50 hours, and, by the morning of the 26th, Vermont was drifting eastward with no rudder, her berth deck flooded, and much of the interior of the vessel destroyed. Later, on the 26th, Vermont sighted the schooner Flying Mist, hailed her, put a man on board and persuaded her captain to return to the east coast and report the helpless condition of the ship to naval authorities. Rescue vessels began to reach the stricken warship on 7 March and enabled Vermont to sail into Port Royal under her own power on 12 April.

Vermont remained anchored at Port Royal, where she served the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron as an ordnance, hospital, receiving, and store ship and drew praise from Rear Admiral Du Pont. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles ordered the vessel to return to New York for "public service" on 25 July 1864. She left Port Royal on 2 August and was replaced there by her sister ship-of-the line New Hampshire. Vermont remained at New York for the next 37 years, serving both as a store and receiving ship. She was condemned and struck from the Navy list on 19 December 1901 and was sold at New York on 17 April 1902.

Vermont I - History

People have lived in the area that is today the state of Vermont for thousands of years. Prior to the Europeans arriving, the land was inhabited by the Abinaki people. The Abinaki spoke the Algonquian language and included the Micmac and the Pennacook Native American tribes.

Sugar Maple Trees by Tim McCabe

In 1609, French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived in Vermont and claimed the land for France. Champlain helped the local Abinaki Indians fight off the Iroquois by giving them guns. French settlers arrived mostly to trade for beaver furs which were popular in France.

The first European settlement in Vermont was Fort St. Anne, which was built by the French in 1666 to protect the fur trading routes.

French and Indian War

The British arrived in 1724 and established their own settlement in Vermont called Fort Dummer. The fort was mostly built to protect Massachusetts from raiding Indians and French. Eventually, the British and the French went to war in 1754. This war was called the French and Indian War. Both sides allied with different Indian tribes throughout the East Coast of North America. The war ended with the British winning in 1763. Britain now had control of Vermont.

When the American Revolution began, the people in Vermont joined because they wanted their independence. In 1775, Ethan Allen led a group of Vermont settlers called the Green Mountain Boys in capturing the British Fort Ticonderoga. This was an important early victory for the colonists.

During the war, in 1777, Vermont declared itself an independent republic. At first it was called New Connecticut, but they later changed the name to Vermont. They created their own constitution, postal service, money, and government.

Ethan Allen capturing Fort Ticonderoga
by Heppenheimer & Maurer


New Hampshire Edit

Interstate 89 runs for about 60.6 miles (97.5 km) in the state of New Hampshire, and is the major freeway corridor through the western part of the state. Despite being signed as a north–south freeway, its first 8 miles (13 km) actually run east–west before shifting to the northwest. The two major population centers along I-89's length in New Hampshire are Concord, at its southern terminus, and Lebanon, on the Vermont state line. Mileage signs along I-89 in each direction consistently list one of the two cities. Also located along I-89 in New Hampshire are the towns of Grantham, New London and Warner.

Starting at an intersection with Interstate 93 and New Hampshire Route 3A in the town of Bow, just south of the New Hampshire capital city of Concord, the highway runs a northwest path through the Dartmouth–Lake Sunapee Region. One exit directly serves Concord (Exit 2) before the highway enters the neighboring town of Hopkinton. East–west New Hampshire Route 11 joins I-89 at Exit 11 and runs concurrently with it for about 3 miles (5 km) before departing at Exit 12. At Exit 13 in Grantham, New Hampshire Route 10 enters I-89, and the pair of highways form another concurrency, this one for about 15 miles (24 km).

Southeast of Lebanon, signs for Exit 15 display the name "Montcalm", while Exit 16 directs travelers to "Purmort". Neither place name existed at the time of construction of the Interstate. Exits 15 and 16 were built to access portions of the town of Enfield that were otherwise cut off by the new highway. The names were chosen by Enfield's selectmen in 1960 the Purmorts were a prominent local family in the early history of Enfield, and Montcalm was a nearby settlement that had once had its own school and post office. [5] While the Purmort exit does allow access to the state road network (specifically to US 4 via Eastman Hill Road), the Montcalm exit provides access to an otherwise isolated community every public road from the exit is a dead end, and leaving the Montcalm area by car requires getting back on I-89 at Exit 15. However, a bicycle path parallels I-89 between Exits 14 and 16 along the path of Old Route 10, allowing foot or bicycle access to the community.

The highway continues northwest, passing through Lebanon, in which the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is located. A few miles north of this point is Dartmouth College. U.S. Route 4 parallels I-89 through Lebanon. Exits 17 through 20 serve the city of Lebanon and are passed in quick succession. At Exit 19, northbound New Hampshire Route 10 separates from I-89 and joins westbound U.S. Route 4 to pass through West Lebanon. The final exit in New Hampshire is Exit 20, providing access to West Lebanon's large retail district along New Hampshire Route 12A. Just after this interchange, the highway crosses the Connecticut River and enters Vermont, where it remains for the rest of its run northwest to the Canadian border.

Vermont Edit

Interstate 89 is one of Vermont's most important roads, as it is the only Interstate highway to directly serve both Vermont's capital city (Montpelier) and largest city (Burlington). Other important cities and towns located along I-89 are Barre, Waterbury, and St. Albans. Williston, which has become Burlington's big-box retail center (and one of the fastest-growing towns in the state) over the past decade, also has an interchange along I-89.

Crossing the Connecticut River into Vermont, I-89 continues the northwesterly direction it carried in New Hampshire. The Interstate intersects I-91 at an unnumbered interchange immediately upon entering Vermont. Shortly afterward, another interchange with U.S. 4 occurs. The highway begins to enter the scenic rolling hills of Vermont, turning almost due northward about 20 miles (32 km) from the New Hampshire state line, and continues through the high country of central Vermont. The Interstate passes through the towns of Sharon, Royalton, Bethel, Randolph, Brookfield, and Williamstown before reaching the "twin cities" of Barre and Montpelier in the middle of Vermont. The interstate's highest point was said to be in the town of Brookfield, although the sign that made the declaration was taken down in the late 1990s.

Another directional shift, again to the northwest, occurs while passing the interchange for Montpelier. For the next 40 miles (64 km), I-89's path is not so much chosen as it is logical: paralleling the Winooski River and U.S. Route 2, the highway cuts through the section of the Appalachians known as the Green Mountains, and is surrounded by peaks of over 4,000 feet (1,200 m): Camel's Hump to the south and Mount Mansfield to the north. U.S. 2 crosses the Interstate frequently, and has several interchanges with it, en route to Burlington.

Interstate 89 was unique due to one instance of its signage. Between (Vermont) Exits 9 & 10, a sign showing the distance to the next control cities in each direction was completely in metric. While there are many instances of signs being in both miles and kilometers, this was the only case of solely metric in the entire Interstate System. [6] Both signs were replaced in 2010 and show distances in miles only. (Interstate 19 in Arizona used to be the other "only signed in metric" interstate in the U.S., but has been changed over in recent years as the last 2 km have been changed.) Speed limit signs have always been posted in mph.

After Exit 11 in Richmond, I-89 leaves the Green Mountains to enter the Champlain Valley, and a notable shift in the landscape is visible. Here, just outside Burlington, the highway turns northward once again. Also, at this turn is where the only official auxiliary highway starts, Interstate 189. A second highway, Interstate 289, was proposed as a beltway through Burlington's northeastern suburbs in the 1980s amidst controversy, the highway has only been partially completed as Vermont Route 289, a super two roadway. It has yet to directly meet its parent.

Passing I-189 at Exit 13, I-89 sees the busiest freeway interchange in the entire state, Exit 14. A full cloverleaf interchange at this exit provides access to downtown Burlington, the University of Vermont, and the retail-heavy Dorset Street, via U.S. 2. Heading north from Burlington, the landscape quickly fades from suburban development into rolling hills more characteristic of northern New England, providing a vista overlooking Lake Champlain. I-89 passes through Milton, Georgia, St. Albans, Swanton, and finally the border town of Highgate Springs. The highway ends at the Canadian border at the Highgate Springs–St. Armand/Philipsburg Border Crossing in Highgate Springs. Its final exit, which northbound motorists can use to reverse direction onto I-89 south without crossing the border, is exit 22—the highest exit number along the route. U.S. Route 7 has its northern terminus at this interchange as well.

Although the divided highway continues about 5 miles (8 km) into Philipsburg, Quebec, as Route 133, this changes back to a two-lane road, until Autoroute 35 starts outside of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and continues to Montreal. The I-89 border crossing is the only instance where an Interstate entering Quebec does not become an Autoroute upon entry. There are plans to extend Autoroute 35 in the next few years, creating a freeway-to-freeway connection. [7]

Construction Edit

I-89 was commissioned as part of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, meant to connect Norwalk, Connecticut, to the Canadian border via the US 7 corridor, which is the current northern terminus of I-89. Within three years, however, opposition to the project (particularly from Massachusetts, which desired a freeway connection from Boston to Montreal) shifted I-89 to its present alignment that connects Boston with Montreal. The first section of the highway was opened between Montpelier and Middlesex, Vermont, in November 1960, and between Middlesex and Waterbury in December 1960. The highway was subsequently opened between Waterbury and Bolton in November 1961 between South Burlington and Winooski in November 1962 between Winooski and Colchester and between Richmond and South Burlington in November 1963 between Bolton and Richmond in October 1964 in Colchester in November 1964 and between Swanton and Highgate in 1965. The Interstate was opened in most parts of New Hampshire in 1967, and the entirety of the route was opened in 1982. [8]

Original proposal Edit

I-89 was originally supposed to be a directly north–south route from I-95 in Norwalk, Connecticut, to its current northern terminus at the Canadian border. The route shifted after opposition came from residents and local lawmakers in interior New England who did not want an Interstate running through their countryside and towns. One major problem that was a big part in sinking the project was the fact that the highway would have to go through the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont. [9] Parts of the Interstate were built in Connecticut, between Norwalk and Wilton and from Brookfield to Danbury, a short bypass around Lenox, Massachusetts, and in southern Vermont between Bennington and Manchester and are currently designated as U.S. Route 7. The state of Connecticut had plans to extend the Norwalk segment to meet with the Danbury segment, but has instead opted to widen portions of the existing road to 4 lanes. [10] There has always been talk of building the original route of I-89, as it would bring economic development to cities like Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and Bennington, Vermont, and connect parts of the interior Northeast to New York City, but nothing has ever been formally proposed since the original proposal in the 1950s. [ who said this? ]

Other routes between Boston and Montreal Edit

The current route of I-89 is the main artery between Boston and Montreal, two large metropolitan areas in the United States and Canada, respectively. Before I-89 was built, there was no limited-access route between the two cities. The route between the two cities is not complete, however, as Autoroute 35 in Quebec still needs to be extended south of its current terminus to connect to I-89 at the United States-Canada border.

Vermont and New Hampshire are working together to reconstruct the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Connecticut River. As part of construction, the deck and superstructure of the bridge would be replaced, and auxiliary lanes would be added to give more merging room for travelers entering and exiting I-89 at the exits for I-91. Construction will occur between 2020 and 2022. [11] [12]

The Vermont Agency of Transportation has released plans to build a diverging diamond interchange along I-89 at exit 16 (US 2/US 7) in Colchester. Construction is expected to start in early 2020 and be completed in early 2022. [13] [14]

Vermont’s Beginnings

Vermont&rsquos story began in 1791, when it joined the original 13 colonies to become the 14th state. Its name comes from &ldquoLes Monts Verts,&rdquo French for Green Mountains, in homage to the 67 mountains and states that give our landscape its topography and striking views. The Green Mountain State is bordered by Canada, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. It is 157.4 miles in length, 90.3 miles wide at the Canadian border*, and 41.6 miles along the Massachusetts border. The Connecticut River forms the eastern boundary, while the western boundary with New York runs down the middle of Lake Champlain for more than half of its length.

Vermont was the first state whose Constitution banned slavery, and many of its homes were stops on the Underground Railroad, a path slaves used to get to freedom in the North. The African American Heritage Trail explores Vermont&rsquos civil rights roots and Black history. Vermont was also the first state to pass marriage equality laws for same-sex couples through the Legislature. Vermont is the top producer of maple syrup in the country, and is home to about 1,000 dairy farms. Our state forests boast the highest concentration of sugar maples in the U.S., which gives our fall foliage plenty of pop. About 630,000 people call Vermont home and enjoy more than 1,000 hiking trails, more than 50 state parks, 19 downhill ski areas and more than 100 historic covered bridges. Vermont&rsquos historic sites and museums take visitors through the history of life in Vermont, from early settlement to the state&rsquos role in the Revolutionary War to the many notable figures who&rsquove called it home.


Archaeologists think people have lived in the land we now call Vermont for about 13,000 years. Native American tribes including the Abenaki, the Mohican, the Pennacook, the Pocomtuc, and the Massachusett, have lived on the land and members of the Abenaki tribe still live in Vermont today.

In 1609 French explorer Samuel de Champlain claimed part of the region for France. Then in 1724 the British built the first permanent European settlement and claimed the area for themselves. War broke out in 1754 between the two European powers for nine years, until Britain emerged victorious. Great Britain’s King George III folded the area into a part of New York, but in 1777, a year after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Vermont declared its own independence … from New York. Although Vermont had at first fought for the American cause in the Revolutionary War, the Green Mountain State remained separate from the United States for 14 years—meaning it had its own currency, postal service, constitution, and president—until it became the 14th state in 1791.

During the Civil War (1861-1865), Vermont would fight on the side of the Union.


Vermont’s name comes from two French words: vert, which means “green,” and mont, which means “mountain.”

The nickname honors the Green Mountain Boys, an army first created to protect Vermont’s land from New York, and which was later reconstituted to serve in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Spanish American War.

Right: Vermont state symbols


Vermont is one of the six New England states (states whose first European settlers were Puritans from England). It’s bordered by Canada in the north, New Hampshire in the east, Massachusetts in the south, and New York in the west. Much of the state is covered in mountains and forests.

In the center of the state, the most famous range is the Green Mountains. Formed over 400 million years ago, the rocks are thought to be some of the oldest in the world. This range includes the state’s highest point, Mount Mansfield.

The rugged Northeast Highlands in the, well, northeastern part of the state and known for granite peaks divided by streams. Running north to south in the eastern part of the state, the Vermont Piedmont is the biggest geographic region. This hilly area includes the fertile Connecticut River Valley. Lots of lakes dot the Piedmont in the north.

The Taconic Mountains rise in southwestern Vermont, with high peaks, streams, and lakes. The Vermont Valley is a narrow area in the western part of the state, between the Taconic and the Green Mountains. It’s known for its rivers and valleys.

The Champlain Valley, also called the Vermont Lowland, is on the edge of Lake Champlain. In the summer, breezes that blow off the lake make the air in the fertile farming area cooler in winter, the lake absorbs heat and warms the region.


Black bears, moose, white-tailed deer, red foxes, fishers, and martens are among Vermont’s mammals. Barred owls, ospreys, peregrine falcons, ruffed grouse, American robins, and eastern bluebirds are a few of Vermont’s winged residents.

Vermont’s reptiles include snapping turtles, common five-lined skinks, and red-bellied snakes, while Jefferson salamanders, American bullfrogs, and mudpuppies (a kind of salamander) are some of the amphibians that hop and skitter throughout the state.

Vermont’s famous maple syrup is made from sap from the sugar maple, the state tree. Other common trees include yellow birch, pine, spruce, and cedar. The Green Mountain State is also known for its wildflowers, including wild bleeding heart, bulbous buttercup, pink fairies, and sweet white violet.


About 78 percent of Vermont’s land is forest, which provides about 1.5 billion dollars’ worth of revenue for the state each year. Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States, turning out almost two million gallons a year—that’s enough to fill about 40,000 bathtubs!

Vermont is also known for mining granite, marble, and slate—the official state rocks.


—President Calvin Coolidge, Mormon leader Brigham Young, and inventor and farm equipment leader John Deere were all born in Vermont.

—Visitors to Vermont can taste maple sugar candy, maple lollipops, even maple ice cream.

—The hiking trails and gardens of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park inspires conservation and teaches history. Beside the park is the Billings Farm and Museum, a working dairy farm that has an 1890 farmhouse, Jersey dairy cows, draft horses, and sheep. It even offers cheese tastings!

—The Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory is in Waterbury, and it’s open for tours and tastings.

—Legend has it a lake monster named Champ lives in Lake Champlain, which sits on the border of Vermont and New York.


Edna Beard of Orange became Vermont's first woman legislator. There has never been a legislative session since without a woman member.

January 6, 1791

The Bennington Convention ratifies the federal constitution and applies for Vermont's admission to the Union. Vermont becomes a state on March 4, 1791.

January 6, 1857

Vermont's second State House was destroyed by fire. A stove, left burning all night to warm the building for a special session of the General Assembly the next morning, became so hot that it ignited the timbers near it.

January 7, 1913

Important child labor laws are passed by the U.S. government. They limit the work week of children to fifty-eight hours. Photographs taken of children working even longer hours at woolen mills in Winooski and Bennington help convince people that these laws are needed.

January 10, 1737

Ethan Allen was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. He was destined to become Vermont's most famous patriot. He is said to have been the boldest, bravest, and cleverest man then living in frontier Vermont. He has also been called a rogue, a cheat, and a liar.

January 15, 1885

Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley takes his first successful photomicrograph of a snow crystal at his home in Jericho, Vermont.

January 22, 1934

The first ski tow in the United States was set up in Woodstock, Vermont. The tow was powered by a Model T Ford engine which pulled the 900 yards of rope at a speed of thirty miles per hour. The first ticket for the rope tow was sold on January 28th.

Vermont Women in History

Vermont can be proud of the number of women who have served in public life.

Consuelo Northrop Bailey was the first woman in the nation to be elected Lieutenant Governor -- in 1954 -- and she was the first woman to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Vermont has ranked in the top two or three states in the percentage of female legislators. And I was the fourth woman in the nation to be elected Governor in my own right. But I regret to say that my footsteps have not been followed. Five women have been candidates: Stella Hackel, Ruth Dwyer, Gaye Symington, Deb Markowitz and Susan Bartlett.

This gives us bragging rights. But other chapters of our history reveal a more mixed picture. Vermont was not one of the states to ratify the 19th amendment that guaranteed women's suffrage in 1920.

The legislature voted for a suffrage bill in 1919, but Governor Percival Clement of Rutland vetoed it. When pro suffrage legislators pleaded with him to call a special session so that Vermont could be the 36th -- and final -- state to ratify the 19th amendment, he refused. Instead, that honor went to Tennessee.

When I look at Clement's portrait in the Vermont State House, I see an elegantly attired gentleman. There are few clues to his thinking. We know he was president of a bank, the owner of the Rutland Herald, and the father of nine children. In his farewell speech to the legislature, in 1921, he firmly opposed Constitutional amendments.

The fight for suffrage was followed by a prolonged battle for the right of women to serve on juries. Thanks to state archivist Gregory Sanford, we gain insight into the pros and cons of that debate, which began in 1923 but did not conclude until 1942, and then only after legislative approval and a state-wide referendum. Supporters wished to give ". the women equal rights and privileges with men."

Legislator F. Ray Keyser differed: "I, for one, would not like to see my wife serving on a jury. There are things at home to be taken care of."

Vermont claimed its first female attorney, Jessie Bigwood, in 1902. It took ten years for another female lawyer to hang out her shingle. In 1978 the state celebrated a milestone: 100 women had been admitted to the Bar.

On the minus side, Vermont is one of four states never to elect a woman to Congress.

No doubt our achievements for women's equality outweigh our lapses, but this is no time to be self-congratulatory. Vermont will become a state that gives equal opportunity and responsibility to women only when political power is equally shared.

Our History

Public health efforts began in Vermont, as elsewhere, out of a need to protect the public from diseases caused mostly by unsafe water supplies and contagion.

Over 100 years ago, the first Vermont State Board of Health could little envision the many accomplishments that public health efforts would achieve in the state – several of which were recognized throughout the country as pioneering efforts. Nor could anyone have imagined the scope of public health services expected by our citizens today and provided by Vermont’s public health workers.

Pictured here is the first public health laboratory's business office, circa 1910.

The first 100 years

Here is a summary of important moments in our history from our 1986 calendar project 100 Years of Public Health in Vermont 1886-1986.

A bill that had been introduced in the Vermont Legislature by the Vermont Medical Society for seven successive sessions finally passed in 1886. The new law created the first statewide public health organization in Vermont, and one of the first in the country. The State Board of Health was made up of three members appointed by the Governor. This first attempt to accumulate facts about diseases and deaths statewide had begun in Vermont 30 years before with the collection of vital statistics.

The Vermont State Laboratory of Hygiene, established by the legislature in 1898, was the third of its kind to be organized in the United States. The laboratory was charged with examining water, milk and all food products for chemical and bacteriological contamination and investigating cases and suspected cases of infectious and contagious diseases.

Vermont’s town health officers gathered in June 1899 at the first Health Officers’ School in the country, held by the State Board of Health. The laboratory demonstrated its work to the health officers, creating enthusiasm for public health work. Health Officers’ Schools were held annually after the success of this first effort. Each town in Vermont continues to have an appointed town health officer to this day.

In addition to issuing an order prohibiting any city, town, village, community, public institution or individual from emptying sewage into any body of water used for domestic purposes, the State Board of Health noted in its 1906-01 biennial report: “We are of the opinion that neither individuals nor corporate bodies can ever acquire a right to do or cause to be done any act which shall in any way become detrimental to the public health, or to that of individuals.”

And from the same report: “The gradual increase of mortality from organic heart disease and apoplexy (stroke) emphasizes the necessity of a return to a less strenuous life.”

Dr. Henry D. Holten traveled 13,380 miles by railroad, 247 by horsepower in 1906 and 1907 to perform his work as Secretary of the State Board of Health. There were 463 deaths from tuberculosis in 1907.

Laws were passed in 1911 prohibiting the use of the common public drinking cup and the common or roller towel in public places. It became routine practice to apply silver nitrate to newborn babies’ eyes to prevent blindness.

In order to educate Vermonters about “The Great White Plague” — tuberculosis — the State Board of Health purchased in 1912 a moving picture apparatus and a motor generator. This not only enabled them to take the prevention messages to rural Vermont towns that had no electricity, but also made it possible for many people living in these small towns to have their first ever glimpse of a motion picture.

The average life span in 1913 was 48.4 years. Childhood diseases and epidemics of communicable disease which struck young adults still took a large toll of life. There were severe epidemics of influenza and measles this year, with 80 deaths from measles alone. In response to a statewide epidemic of infantile paralysis in 1914 — the first in the country — a private philanthropist anonymously contributed funds to care for polio victims, conduct research and educate physicians. With these funds, the State Board of Health developed the first statewide aftercare polio program in the U.S. and a laboratory for poliomyelitis research. The “Vermont Plan” of aftercare was recognized internationally as a pioneering effort.

After a number of years without an epidemic of smallpox, 12 cases were reported in 1928. Because so many people were not vaccinated, the epidemic spread to 216 individuals by 1929. At the Health Department’s urgings, thousands of Vermonters were vaccinated and the epidemic was over by the end of the year.

Granite workers were protected by a new silicosis control program instituted by the Industrial Hygiene Division in 1937. Based on an agreement between the granite shed operators and the labor unions, new dust control measures, inspection procedures and annual chest x-rays of workers helped to prevent illness associated with “dusty trades”.

The war years brought many changes to public health programs in Vermont. Because of the personnel shortage, some programs were curtailed. Other programs, however, required increased activity due to concerns about security. Protection of the public water supply against sabotage was considered critical. The Division of Sanitary Engineering conducted more frequent inspections of water systems near war industry plants and army bases. Extra safeguards were put in place to guard against interruption of service or contamination. New chemicals and new manufacturing processes related to war industries added to the Industrial Hygiene Division’s responsibility for protecting workers health.

Due to travel restrictions and other factors related to the war, tourism declined markedly, resulting in a decrease of food and lodging licensing. The number of bakery licenses increased, however, and this was partly attributed to the shortage of candy.

The infant mortality rate reached the lowest ever recorded in Vermont, 42.5 deaths per 1000 live births in 1942. By this point in time, the Crippled Children’s Division, which originally cared for infantile paralysis cases only, had expanded to provide treatment for all sorts of crippling conditions in people under the age of 21, and maintained an occupational handicraft program for adult polio victims.

A reorganization of the State Health Board by the legislature in 1949 created the Vermont Department of Health, which replaced the State Board of Health formed in 1886. The governor appointed a sevenmember Health Commission. A public health physician approved by the governor became the first Health Commissioner for the state.

The U.S. Public Health Service conducted an extensive study of silicosis in the Vermont granite cutting sheds as part of a broad investigation of diseases produced by dust. This 1924 study was the first to measure the relation between the environment and the worker’s physical condition. Federal money became available for the first tuberculosis clinics in 1936. X-ray began to be used for diagnosis. Tuberculosis patients spent months, and often years, in sanatoria, rest cures being the most widely used form of treatment at the time. From 1939 to 1942 there were 110 deaths from tuberculosis in Vermont.The legislature revised and consolidated all the existing health laws into one large Act known as the Omnibus Health Bill, passed in 1951. The Public Health Nursing program expanded to cover the entire state. Before this, only about one-third of Vermont towns had received nursing services.

Prior to completion of the new Health Department building on Burlington’s Colchester Avenue in 1953, the Department had occupied an antiquated structure since 1918. A sign on the front of the main portion of the old building read “Oldest Wooden House in Town,1790.”

In 1960, it was noted that no deaths from typhoid fever had been reported.

A study was conducted to evaluate lead exposure to people in conjunction with publication of Vermont’s daily newspapers, in which lead type was still widely used, no exposures considered dangerous to health were found.

A screening program for kidney, heart, diabetes and gout diseases was implemented by the laboratory in 1963. After a couple of years, the program acquired a van and the clinics became mobile, traveling to industries, schools and other community cites to test children and adults. Recreation trends and changes in traveling habits made their impact on the Health Department in the mid 1960s. The majority of new construction was in the ski areas and around larger municipalities, according to the numbers of food and lodging inspections and licenses issued.

Beginning in 1952, tuberculosis victims were treated with isoniazid, a new drug that signaled the end of the sanatorium era. Patients would be treated and cured with little or no interruption of their lives, and contacts of tuberculosis patients could be treated with the same drug for effective tuberculosis prevention.

In 1952, the City of Burlington became the first Vermont community to provide fluoridated water to its residents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized community water fluoridation as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.

Pre-operation planning and testing for the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power plant involved extensive consultation by the Department’s Industrial Hygiene Division (now Occupational and Radiological Health) beginning in 1968. One responsibility was to help set up environmental monitoring stations in the vicinity of the plant site and along the Connecticut river. On November 30 1972, Vermont Yankee began producing power for public consumption.

Vaccine for rubella (German measles) was introduced in 1969. Vermont’s public health nurses conducted an intensive immunization program, vaccinating 39,000 Vermont school children that year. The legislature passed a law in 1979 which made immunization mandatory for people entering school in Vermont.

The law was designed to protect children from common communicable diseases — rubella, measles, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and polio. Following enactment of the law, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of rubella and measles cases in Vermont. Diphtheria, tetanus and polio cases had already diminished to a very small number even before 1979.

The statewide vital statistics system was established by the Vermont Legislature in the Secretary of State’s Office in 1857. Responsibility for vital statistics was moved to the Board of Health in 1886. The Office of Vital Statistics was reorganized into the Division of Public Health Statistics by order of Commissioner Robert Aiken on July 17, 1962. In 1979, the Division was designated as the Vermont Center for Health Statistics by Executive Order #35 from Governor Richard Snelling. In 1996, the Health Department was reorganized into six major divisions and Vermont Cener for Health Statistics was relocated within the Division of Health Surveillance. It is also referred to as the Public Health Statistics Section.

From 1996 on, the Vermont Center for Health Statistics has continued to grow with the addition of the Vermont Cancer Registry, the Vermont Immunization Registry, the Birth Information Network, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and analytical support to a variety of newer initiatives (prescription drug monitoring program, End of Life Care (Act 39), hospital and emergency department utilization data, all-payer claims data), as well as several statewide survey programs.

The Vermont State Center for Health Statistics coordinates and responds to the majority of public health data questions (except infectious disease epidemiology).


Vermont was covered with shallow seas periodically from the Cambrian to Devonian periods. Most of the sedimentary rocks laid down in these seas were deformed by mountain-building. Fossils, however, are common in the Lake Champlain region. Lower areas of western Vermont were flooded again, as part of the St. Lawrence Valley and Champlain Valley by Lake Vermont whose northern boundary followed the melting glacier at the end of the last ice age, until it reached the ocean. This was replaced by Lake Vermont and the Champlain Sea, when the land had not yet rebounded from the weight of the glaciers which were sometimes 2 miles (3.2 km) thick. Shells of salt-water mollusks, along with the bones of beluga whales, have been found in the Lake Champlain region. [1]

Lake Vermont connected to a glacial western lake near what is now the Great Lakes. They allowed western fish to enter the state, which is why Vermont has more native species than any other New England State, 78. About half of these are western in origin. [2]

Little is known of the pre-Columbian history of Vermont. Between 8500 and 7000 BC, glacial activity created the saltwater Champlain Sea. This event caused lamprey, Atlantic salmon, and rainbow smelt to become landlocked. [2]

Native Americans inhabited and hunted in Vermont. From 7000 to 1000 BC was the Archaic Period. During that era, Native Americans migrated year-round. From 1000 BC to 1600 AD was the Woodland Period, when villages and trade networks were established, and ceramic and bow and arrow technology were developed. The western part of the state became home to a small population of Algonquian-speaking tribes, including the Mohican and Abenaki peoples. [ citation needed ]

The Sokoki lived in what is now southern Vermont the Cowasucks in northeastern Vermont.

Between 1534 and 1609, the Iroquois Mohawks drove many of the smaller native tribes out of the Champlain Valley, later using the area as a hunting ground and warring with the remaining Abenaki. [3]

French exploration and settlement Edit

French explorer Samuel de Champlain claimed the area of what is now Lake Champlain, giving the name, Verd Mont (Green Mountain) to the region he found, on a 1647 map. [4] Evidence suggests that this name came into use among English settlers, before it morphed to "Vermont", ca. 1760. [5]

To aid and impress his new Abenaki allies, Champlain shot and killed an Iroquois chief with an arquebus, July 29, 1609. While the Iroquois were already enemies with the Abenaki, they formed a permanent enmity with the French with this incident, ultimately costing the French the bulk of their most developed possessions in the New World, including the contested area of most of Vermont, at the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763. [ citation needed ]

France claimed Vermont as part of New France, and erected Fort Sainte Anne on Isle La Motte in 1666 as part of their fortification of Lake Champlain. This was the first European settlement in Vermont and the site of the first Roman Catholic mass.

During the latter half of the 17th century, non-French settlers began to explore Vermont and its surrounding area. In 1690, a group of Dutch-British settlers from Albany under Captain Jacobus de Warm established the De Warm Stockade at Chimney Point (eight miles west of Addison). This settlement and trading post were directly across the lake from Crown Point, New York (Pointe à la Chevelure). [ clarification needed ]

There were regular periods of skirmishing between English colonies to the south and the French colony to the north, and the area of Vermont was an unsettled frontier. In 1704, De Rouville passed up the Winooski (Onion) River, to reach the Connecticut, and then down to Deerfield, Massachusetts, which he raided. [6]

British settlement Edit

During Father Rale's War, the first permanent British settlement was established in 1724 with the construction of Fort Dummer in Vermont's far southeast under the command of Lieutenant Timothy Dwight of Connecticut. This fort protected the nearby settlements of Dummerston and Brattleboro in the surrounding area. These settlements were made by people from Massachusetts and Connecticut. The second British settlement at Bennington in the southwest corner of Vermont would not be made until after 37 years of conflict in the region. [ citation needed ]

In 1725, 60 armed men entered Vermont with rough maps, with the goal of attacking the Village of St. Francis, but turned back at Crown Point. [7]

In 1731, the French arrived at Chimney Point, near Addison. Here they constructed a small temporary wooden stockade (Fort de Pieux) until work on Fort St. Frédéric began in 1734. When this fort was completed, Fort de Pieux was abandoned as unneeded. [ citation needed ]

There was another period of conflict from 1740 to 1748, the War of the Austrian Succession or King George's War. There were raids at a private defensive work, Bridgeman's Fort, in Vernon, Vermont. [8]

During the French and Indian War, 1755–1761, some Vermont settlers joined the colonial militia assisting the British in attacks on the French at Fort Carillon. [ citation needed ]

Rogers' Rangers staged an attack against the Abenaki village of Saint-Francis, Quebec from Lake Champlain in 1759. Separating afterwards, they fled the angered French and Abenakis through northern Vermont back to safety in Lake Champlain and New Hampshire. [9]

Following France's loss in the French and Indian War, the 1763 Treaty of Paris gave control of the whole region to the British. Colonial settlement was limited by the British to lands east of the Appalachians, and Vermont was divided nearly in half in a jagged line running from Fort William Henry on Lake George diagonally north-eastward to Lake Memphremagog. Lands north of this line, including the entire Champlain Valley, were reserved for Indians. [ citation needed ] During this time French families were largely driven out, although scholars of the Vermont Archaeological Society have questioned if a French influence was removed completely, noting some remote farms may have eluded the notice of the British colonists. [10]

The end of the war brought new settlers to Vermont. The first settler of the grants was Samuel Robinson, who began clearing land in Bennington in 1761. [11]

In the 28 years from 1763 to 1791, the non-Indian population of Vermont rose from 300 to 85,000. [12]

A fort at Crown Point had been built in 1759, and the Crown Point Military Road stretched across the Green Mountains from Springfield to Chimney Point, making traveling from the neighboring British colonies easier than ever before. Three colonies laid claim to the area. The Province of Massachusetts Bay claimed the land on the basis of the 1629 charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Province of New York claimed Vermont based on land granted to the Duke of York (later King James II & VII) in 1664. The Province of New Hampshire, whose western limits had never been determined, also claimed Vermont, in part based upon a decree of George II in 1740. On March 5, 1740, George II ruled that Massachusetts's northern boundary in this area would be from a point near the Merrimack River due west (its present location). The boundary was surveyed by Richard Hasen in 1741, and Fort Dummer (Brattleboro), was found to be north of the line. Provisions and support for Fort Dummer were ordered by the Colonial Office from New Hampshire in the following years. [13]

New Hampshire's immensely popular governor, Benning Wentworth, issued a series of 135 land grants between 1749 and 1764 called the New Hampshire Grants. Many of these were in a large valley on the west (or New York side) of the Green Mountains and only about forty miles from Albany. The town was laid out in 1749 and was settled after the war in 1761. The town was named Bennington for Wentworth. The location of the town was well north of the Massachusetts limit set by decree in 1740, and east of the known eastern limit of New York, twenty miles east of the Hudson River. Ultimately, by 1754, Wentworth had granted lands for 15 towns. [14]

On July 20, 1764, King George III established the boundary between New Hampshire and New York along the west bank of the Connecticut River, north of Massachusetts, and south of 45 degrees north latitude. Under this decree, Albany County, New York, as it then existed, implicitly gained the land presently known as Vermont. Although disputes occasionally broke out later, this line became the boundary between New Hampshire and Vermont, and is the modern boundary. When New York refused to recognize land titles through the New Hampshire Grants (towns created earlier by New Hampshire in present Vermont), dissatisfied colonists organized in opposition, which led to the creation of independent Vermont on January 15, 1777. [15] [16]

New York took the declaration of 1764 to apply retroactively, and considered the New Hampshire grants invalid. It therefore required land holders to purchase new grants for the same land from New York. New York then created counties in the region, with courthouses, sheriffs, and jails, and began judicial proceedings against those who held land solely by New Hampshire grants. [17]

In 1767, the Privy Council forbade New York from selling land in Vermont that was in conflict with grants from New Hampshire, reversing the 1764 decision. [18]

In 1770, Ethan Allen—along with his brothers Ira and Levi, as well as Seth Warner—recruited an informal militia, the Green Mountain Boys, to protect the interests of the original New Hampshire settlers against the new migrants from New York. A significant standoff occurred at the Breakenridge farm in Bennington, when a sheriff from Albany arrived with a posse of 750 men to dispossess Breakenridge. The residents raised a body of about 300 armed men to resist. The Albany sheriff demanded Breakenridge, and was informed, "If you attempt it, you are a dead man." The sheriff returned to Albany. [19]

When a New York judge arrived in Westminster with New York settlers in March 1775, violence broke out as angry citizens took over the courthouse and called a sheriff's posse. This resulted in the deaths of Daniel Houghton and William French in the "Westminster Massacre".

In the summer of 1776, the first general convention of freemen of the New Hampshire Grants met in Dorset, Vermont, resolving "to take suitable measures to declare the New Hampshire Grants a free and independent district." [20] On January 15, 1777, representatives of the New Hampshire Grants convened in Westminster and declared their land an independent republic, the Vermont Republic. For the first six months of the republic's existence, the state was called New Connecticut.

On June 2, a second convention of 72 delegates met at Westminster, known as the "Westminster Convention". At this meeting, the delegates adopted the name "Vermont" on the suggestion of Dr. Thomas Young of Philadelphia, a supporter of the delegates who wrote a letter advising them on how to achieve statehood. The delegates set the time for a meeting one month later. On July 4, the Constitution of Vermont was drafted during a violent thunderstorm at the Windsor Tavern owned by Elijah West. It was adopted by the delegates on July 8 after four days of debate. This was the first written constitution in North America to provide for the abolition of slavery (for adults), suffrage for men who did not own land, and public schools. (See also History of slavery in Vermont.) The tavern has been preserved as the Old Constitution House, administered as a state historic site. Violations of the abolition of slavery persisted for some time. [21]

The production of potash in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, resulted in the deforestation of much of Vermont. [22]

Slavery in Vermont Edit

The population of enslaved Americans in Vermont was calculated to be 25 in 1770 according to the United States Census Bureau's Bicentennial Edition Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970 [23] [24] and was recorded at 16 in 1790 according to a contemporary study Return of the Whole Number of Persons Within the Several Districts of the United States. [24] [25] The overall population of Vermont was lower than the average of the individual Thirteen Colonies.

The battles of Bennington and Saratoga are recognized as the turning point in the American Revolutionary War. They were the first major defeat of a British army and convinced France that the American rebels were worthy of military aid. General John Stark, who commanded the rebel forces at the Battle of Bennington, became widely known as the "Hero of Bennington". "Bennington Battle Day" (August 16, the anniversary of the battle) is a legal holiday in Vermont. [26] Under the portico of the Vermont Statehouse, next to a granite statue of Ethan Allen, there is a brass cannon that was captured at Bennington. [27]

The Battle of Bennington, fought on August 16, 1777, was a seminal event in the history of the state of Vermont. The nascent republican government, created after years of political turmoil, faced challenges from New York, New Hampshire, Great Britain and the new United States, none of which recognized its sovereignty. [ citation needed ]

During the summer of 1777, the invading British army of General John Burgoyne slashed its way southward through the thick forest, from Quebec to the Hudson River, captured the strategic stronghold of Fort Ticonderoga, and drove the Continental Army into a desperate southward retreat. Raiding parties of British soldiers and native warriors freely attacked, pillaged and burned the frontier communities of the Champlain Valley and threatened all settlements to the south. The Vermont frontier collapsed in the face of the British invasion. The New Hampshire legislature, fearing an invasion from the west, mobilized the state's militia under the command of General John Stark. [ citation needed ]

General Burgoyne received intelligence that large stores of horses, food and munitions were kept at Bennington, which was the largest community in the land grant area. He dispatched 2,600 men, nearly a third of his army, to seize the colonial storehouse there, unaware that General Stark's New Hampshire troops were then traversing the Green Mountains to join up at Bennington with the Vermont continental regiments commanded by Colonel Seth Warner, together with the local Vermont and western Massachusetts militia. The combined American forces, under Stark's command, attacked the British column at Hoosick, New York, just across the border from Bennington. General Stark reportedly challenged his men to fight to the death, telling them that: "There are your enemies, the redcoats and the Tories. They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow!" In a desperate, all-day battle fought in intense summer heat, the army of Yankee farmers defeated the British, killing or capturing 900 men. Burgoyne never recovered from this loss and eventually surrendered at Saratoga on October 17. [ citation needed ]

In 1778, David Redding, convicted of being a traitor to the colonies and a spy for the British, was hanged in Bennington. [18]

The first printing press in the state was established in Dresden in 1779. [18]

The Republic of Vermont continued to govern itself as a sovereign entity based in the southeastern town of Windsor for 14 years. Thomas Chittenden acted as chief magistrate of Vermont from 1778 to 1789 and from 1790 to 1791. In the 1780s Chittenden, the Allen brothers, and other political leaders engaged in negotiations with Frederick Haldimand, the British governor of Quebec over the possibility of Vermont becoming a British province. These negotiations ultimately failed in part due to the timely surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781. [28]

The first General Assembly voted to establish two counties, Bennington in the west and Unity in the east. It adopted the common law of England as the basis for its legal system. It voted to confiscate Tory lands and sell them to finance the militia. This was the first "tax" passed in the state. [29]

The first newspaper was published in the state in 1781, the weekly Vermont Gazette. [30]

In 1784, the state established a postal service linking several towns and Albany, New York. [31]

In 1786, the Vermont governor replied to requests from Massachusetts about the Shays' Rebellion, saying that he was willing to extradite members of the rebellion, though his response was "pro forma" only since the state could ill afford to discourage immigration. [32]

In 1791, Vermont joined the federal Union as the fourteenth state—becoming the first state to enter the Union after the original thirteen colonies, and as a counterweight to slaveholding Kentucky, which was admitted to the Union the following year. [33] [34]

In June 1791, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison toured the state. [35]

Because of the proximity of Canada, Vermonters were somewhat alarmed during the War of 1812. Five thousand troops were stationed in Burlington at one point, outnumbering residents. [36] Contemporary reports indicate that almost 1,300 soldiers were treated for various ailments over 100 died between May 1814 and April 1815. [37] An expeditionary force of Quebec Eastern Townships' volunteers destroyed a barracks built at Derby with no personnel casualties. [38] The war, fought over what seemed like obscure maritime considerations to landlocked Vermont, was not popular.

In July 1830, the state experienced what turned out to be the worst flood of the 19th century. It was called the "Torrent of 1830." [39]

Merino sheep were introduced in 1812. This ultimately resulted in a boom-bust cycle for wool. Wool reached a price of 57 cents/pound in 1835. By 1837, there were 1,000,000 sheep in the state. The price of wool dropped to 25 cents/pound in the late 1840s. The state could not withstand more efficient competition from western states, and sheep raising collapsed. [40]

Vermont had a unicameral legislature until 1836.

In June 1843, escaped slaves hid at a Shaftsbury farm, in the first recorded instance in Vermont of the Underground Railroad. [18]

In 1846, the ground was broken for the construction of the first railroad in Vermont, Central Vermont Railway, in Northfield. [30]

In 1853, Vermont passed a strict law prohibiting the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Some towns followed the law, while others ignored it. [41]

An 1854 Vermont Senate report on slavery echoed the Vermont Constitution's first article, on the rights of all men, questioning how a government could favor the rights of one people over another. The report fueled growth of the abolition movement in the state, and in response, a resolution from the Georgia General Assembly authorized the towing of Vermont out to sea. [42] The mid to late 1850s saw a transition from Vermonters mostly favoring slavery's containment, to a far more serious opposition to the institution. As the Whig party shriveled, Vermont changed its allegiance to the emergent Republican Party. In 1860, it voted for President Abraham Lincoln, giving him the largest margin of victory of any state.

French-Canadian immigration began in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Already, in the 1810s, Burlington had a French-Canadian population of approximately 100. [43] Those numbers began to rise rapidly in the 1820s and 1830s as Lower Canada (present-day Quebec) navigated economic and political crises. Immigration continued to the end of the century and resumed in the late 1910s and 1920s it is the continued arrival of French Canadians and Irish that kept Vermont's population from dropping in the second half of the nineteenth century. French Canadians found employment in agriculture, in the factories of Burlington and Winooski, in the quarries of Rutland and Barre, in the rail yards of St. Johnsbury and St. Albans, and in other sectors. At times they clashed with the Irish over the control of Catholic Church resources and with various groups in labor disputes. The nativism with which they contended was often less overt than in other states. [44] [45] [46] [47]

More than 28,100 Vermonters served in Vermont volunteer units. Vermont fielded 17 infantry regiments, one cavalry regiment, three light artillery batteries, one heavy artillery company, three companies of sharpshooters, and two companies of frontier cavalry. Instead of replacing units as they were depleted, Vermont regularly provided recruits to bring the units in the field back up to normal strength. Many of the soldiers had never been out of their own county, much less the state. In the South, they felt like they were on another planet. [48]

In 1863, there was rioting in West Rutland after the state instituted a draft. [49]

Nearly 5,000 Vermonters served in other states' units, in the United States Army or the United States Navy. The 54th Massachusetts Infantry (Colored) included 66 Vermont blacks a total of 166 black Vermonters served out of a population of 709 in the state. Vermonters, if not Vermont units, participated in every major battle of the war.

Vermonters lost a total of 1,832 men killed or mortally wounded in battle another 3,362 died of disease, in prison or from other causes, for a total loss of 5,194. More than 2,200 Vermonters were taken prisoner during the war, and 615 of them died in, or as a result of, their imprisonment. Among the most famous of the Vermont units were the 1st Vermont Brigade, the 2nd Vermont Brigade, and the 1st Vermont Cavalry.

A large proportion of Vermont's state and national-level politicians for several decades after the Civil War were veterans.

The northernmost land action of the war, the St. Albans Raid, took place in Vermont.

During the two decades following the end of the American Civil War (1864–1885) there was both economic expansion and contraction, and fairly dramatic social change.

Union veterans banded together into patriotic and fraternal organizations, mostly in the Grand Army of the Republic. There were 116 posts at one time. [50]

Mills in Lowell, Massachusetts began staffing up. Recruiters were sent out all over New England, including Vermont. Initially they found ample workers from new widows, single parent heads of family. [51] This demand was filled by August 1865, and recruiting Americans from Lowell ceased abruptly.

By 1860, the state was a leading producer of hops in the nation with 640,000 pounds (290,000 kg), second to New York. This crop conveniently arrived as a replacement for the disappearance of the Merino sheep trade. Hops, too, disappeared. A number of factors were involved: plant disease in 1909, [52] migration of planting to California from 1853–1910, where growing was performed more efficiently, and Prohibition both at the state and national level. [53]

Vermont's system of railroads expanded and was linked to national systems, agricultural output and export soared and incomes increased. But Vermont also felt the effects of recessions and financial panics, particularly the Panic of 1873 which resulted in a substantial exodus of young Vermonters. The transition in thinking about the rights of citizens, first brought to a head by the 1854 Vermont Senate report on slavery, and later Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in changing how citizens perceived civil rights, fueled agitation for women's suffrage. The first election in which women were allowed to vote was on December 18, 1880, when women were granted limited suffrage and were first allowed to vote in town elections, and then in state legislative races.

Starting around 1870, a number of Vermont towns dressed satirically for Independence Day in an Ancient and Horribles Parade. The intent was to deride politicians and other well-known figures. This largely died out by 1900. [54]

In 1902, Vermonters approved a law for local option on the sale of alcoholic beverages, countermanding the prior law of 1853 which banned them entirely. That year 94 towns approved the sale of alcoholic beverages locally. The number of approving towns fell each year until there were only 18 in 1917, shortly before national prohibition became law. [41]

In the 1920s, Ku Klux Klan membership reached 80,300 in the state. The main target of their hatred were the French-Canadian Catholic immigrants. [55] [56] A eugenics project apparently targeted Indians, Indian-French Canadians, and Afro-Americans in the state for forced sterilization between 1931 and 1936. [57] [58]

In 1923, the state passed a law limiting the regular workweek of women and children to 58 hours. [30]

Beaver populations were re-introduced to Vermont in 1924 and continue to thrive there today. [59]

Large-scale flooding occurred in early November 1927. During this incident, 85 people died, 84 of them in Vermont.

The US Supreme Court decided that New Hampshire's boundary included most of the Connecticut River, establishing Vermont's eastern boundary in Vermont v. New Hampshire – 290 US 579 (1934). [60]

Prior to 1935, 5.5 million sugar maples were tapped for syrup. Less expansive softwood was used to boil the sap to condense it to maple syrup. [22] The 1938 New England hurricane in the fall of that year blew down 15,000,000 acres (61,000 km 2 ) of trees, one-third of the total forest at the time in New England. Three billion board feet were salvaged. Today many of the older trees in Vermont are about 75 years old, dating from after this storm. [61] By 2017, the old record number of maples tapped for sugar had not been reached there were over 2 million trees tapped. However, more syrup was produced using more efficient and less labor-intensive methods. [22]

Hydropower supplied 90% of the state's power needs in 1940. [62]

In September 1941, it looked like America would be involved in the World War which had started in 1939 in Europe. Seizing on a declaration by the U.S. President, the legislature authorized wartime-like payments to citizens involved with the military. This led to facetious headlines that Vermont had declared war on Germany. [63]

About 6,000 Vermonters were in the military during World War II. [64] About 874 of these died. [65]

94 Vermonters died fighting the Korean War. [66]

Widespread use of DDT to exterminate insect pests after the war led to the reduction of various wildlife, noticeably birds and larger wildlife, such as moose and bear. [67] The pesticide was banned in 1972 eventually leading to the restoration of many birds and larger mammals. For example, the bear population doubled from the 1980s to 6,000 in 2013. [68]

In 1964, the US Supreme Court forced "one-man, one-vote" redistricting on Vermont, giving cities an equitable share of votes in both houses for the entire country. [69] Until that time, rural counties were often represented equally by area in state senates and were often unsympathetic to urban problems requiring increased taxes.

In 1965, the Northeast Blackout of 1965, the worst blackout until then, left Vermont without electricity for about 12 hours.

In 1968, the state took over welfare support for the indigent. [18] This had formerly been the responsibility of the towns, under the Overseer of the Poor. This had been a nearly insupportable burden for many small towns. The last poor farm was closed. [70]

A flood occurred in 1973, when the flood caused the death of two people and millions of dollars in property damage.

In 1984, the state had 2,500 square miles (6,500 km 2 ) in farmland. This declined to 1,900 square miles (4,900 km 2 ) in 2013. [71]

On April 25, 2000, as a result of the Vermont Supreme Court's decision in Baker v. Vermont, the Vermont General Assembly passed and Governor Howard Dean signed into law H.0847, which provided the state-sanctioned benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples in the form of civil unions. Controversy over the civil unions bill was a central issue in the subsequent 2000 elections.

In 2001 Vermont produced 275,000 US gallons (1,040,000 L) of maple syrup, about 25% of U.S. production. For 2005 that number was 410,000 US gallons (1,600,000 l 340,000 imp gal) accounting for 37% of national production. [72]

In 2007, with three-quarters of the state opposing the Iraq War, the state nevertheless had the highest rate of war-related deaths in the nation. This was due to volunteers and participation by the Vermont National Guard. [73]

During the late-2000s recession, state median household income dropped furthest, or second furthest, depending on how it is computed, of any state in the nation from −3.2% or −10%, depending on whether a two-year or three-year moving average was used. [74]

In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused widespread flooding, particularly in the southern part of the state, closing at least 260 roads. [75] Federal assistance for recovery included $110 million for emergency relief and assistance, $102 million for federal highway repair, and $23 million for individual assistance within the state. [76]

In 2014, the Center for Public Integrity rated Vermont last out of the 50 states for state government accountability and integrity. This was the result of the revelation of a continuing number of municipal scandals including the $1.6 million Hardwick Electric embezzlement. [77]

Vermont is more heavily forested in 2017 than it was during the 19th and early 20th centuries. A new way of producing potash was found not requiring the intensive destruction of trees. [22]

Early period (1791–1860) Edit

Though some members of the Federalist Party found electoral success, in its early years of statehood Vermont generally preferred the Jeffersonian Party, which became the Democratic Party in the early 1820s. Vermont stopped voting Democratic in the 1830s, initially over a fear of Jacksonian return to political parties [78] later, perhaps, over increasing opposition to the spread of slavery. The state voted Anti-Jackson, Anti-Masonic, Whig, and then Republican Party.

The Vermont legislature chose presidential electors through the general election of 1824. Vermont citizens first started voting directly for presidential electors in 1828.

Upward mobility for politicians (1830–1916) Edit

In the 1830s Vermont was one of the strongholds of Anti-Masonry. While the party elected only one governor, William A. Palmer, it was able to prevent the other major parties from winning majorities in some statewide races, which meant that the Vermont General Assembly chose the winner.

From the founding of the Republican party in the mid-1850s until the 1958 election of William H. Meyer to the United States House of Representatives, Vermont elected only Republicans to statewide office. [79]

Politicians aspiring to statewide office in Vermont normally had to be nominated at a state convention or "caucus." Factions dominated these caucuses. Some of these were family. A look at the list of Governors, Senators and Representatives over time shows the Chittendens, Fairbanks, Proctors, and Smiths. [80] Nomination was tantamount to election. The state legislature chose US senators until 1913. Up to six seats in the US House of Representatives gave ambitious politicians an ample stage for their talent.

Until 1870, all state officials were elected for one-year terms. In 1870, the term was changed to two-years. [81] Governors then normally served just one term of two years.

The Green Mountains effectively split Vermont in two. Culturally the eastern Vermonters were often descended from immigrants from New Hampshire. Western Vermonters often had their roots in New York. Recognizing this as a source of potential problems, politicians began following an unwritten "mountain rule", rotating the Lieutenant Governor and Governor residing in opposite sides of the state. [82]

The first election in which women were allowed to vote was on December 18, 1880, when women were granted limited suffrage and were allowed to vote in school board elections.

Statewide primaries (1916–1946) Edit

General annoyance with this system of selecting leadership by a few people, led to statewide primaries in 1916. [83] Down to only one congressional seat to compete for, Governors started trying to serve two terms, beginning with Governor Weeks in 1927. This worked until World War II.

Senator Ernest Gibson, a Republican, died in 1940. Governor George Aiken, also a Republican, and a liberal ally of the Gibsons appointed the late Senator's son, Ernest W. Gibson Jr. to fill the seat until a special election for the remainder of the term. The younger Gibson did not run, enabling Aiken's election to the seat. Instead Gibson devoted himself to preparing the state for entry into World War II. He served in the South Pacific and emerged as a highly decorated Colonel. There was a tsunami in 1946 in American politics. Returning veterans were popular. Gibson ran an unprecedented campaign against the incumbent Governor, Mortimer R. Proctor, and ousted him in the primary. [80] Gibson won the general election, won reelection in 1948, and served until resigning in 1950 to accept appointment as Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont.

Interregnum — Liberal Republicans prevail (1946–1962) Edit

The elder Gibson, a former member of the Progressive Party, was the first of the liberal Republicans. While conservatives like Harold Arthur and Lee E. Emerson were elected Governor, they seem, in retrospect, to be transitory figures.

The "normal" path to the governorship for Republicans, which Ernest Gibson Jr. explicitly campaigned against in 1946, was to serve in the Vermont House of Representatives and hold a leadership position such as Speaker of the House service in the Vermont State Senate and a leadership role such as President Pro Tem election to the Lieutenant Governor's office and election as Governor.

Successful Republican candidates for the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate were also almost always veterans of leadership positions in the Vermont Legislature or statewide office.

In 1962, Philip Hoff was elected Governor, the first Democrat since before the Civil War.

Democratic dominance (1962–present) Edit

The demographics of the state had changed. In 1960, 25% of the population was born outside the state. Most of these immigrants were from Democratic states and brought their voting inclinations with them. Anticipating this change, the Republicans conducted a massive free-for-all in 1958, the last good chance many of them saw to capture a congressional seat. [80] They were wrong. Democrat William H. Meyer won, the first from his party in 102 years.

While the climate had changed, the legislature had not. With one representative per town and two senators per county, the rural areas dominated and set the agenda much to the frustration of urban areas, particularly Chittenden County. In 1964, the US Supreme Court forced "one-man, one-vote" redistricting on Vermont, giving cities an equitable share of votes in both houses. [69]

Unlike yesteryear, no party nominee can be assured of election. The unwritten "two term" rule has been jettisoned. Governors usually serve as long as they can, not being able to guarantee that their policies will be continued after they leave office. Vermonters have alternated parties in the Governor's office since 1962. Democratic governors have served longer. [ citation needed ]

Transportation around this mountainous state was a challenge to the original colonists. While this challenge has been met in the current era by turnpikes and limited rail service, public transportation for the majority of Vermonters has often remained elusive.

The state highway system was created in 1931. [30]

In 2008, the Vermont Transit Lines, a subsidiary of Greyhound Lines went out of business. It had begun operating in 1973. [84] Limited service continued under the direct aegis of Greyhound. This has been replaced by subsidized regional NGO corporations which provide limited service for most, but adequate service for those needing medical treatment.

In colonial times, like many of its neighboring states, Vermont's largest religious affiliation was Congregationalism. In 1776, 63% of affiliated church members in Vermont were Congregationalists. At that time, however, only 9% of people belonged to a specific church due to the remoteness of population centers. [ citation needed ]

Vermont research news: High impact Vermont history books and more

The Center for Research on Vermont recently asked its members to share the titles of high impact Vermont books. The enthusiastic responses ranged from a single title to long lists. Some members simply submitted titles, while others provided extensive notes to explain why the titles are important. Some members reached back through the decades, and others offered hot-off-the-press publications.

Prudence Doherty, the Public Services Librarian at the Silver Special Collections Library at UVM stepped in to curate the list, organizing the titles into categories. The extraordinarily detailed lists from Michael Sherman, Gary Shattuck, Kevin Graffagnino and Bruce Post can be found here. Tyler Resch alerted us to The Fourteenth State, his collection of short essays on selected Vermont books.

We faced a daunting task, as 1,500 words are not enough to capture all the great suggestions. Future collections will capture important books on some of the topics we were not able to cover here, including film, art, music, architecture, literature, poetry, politics and government, and the environment.

Vermont History

Three books provide good overviews of the state’s history. Freedom and Unity, published in 2004, met the long unfilled need for an up-to-date comprehensive history of Vermont. An indispensable work, it can provide context for research projects and understanding contemporary issues. With over 700 pages and ten sections, readers are likely to read a chapter at a time. H. Nicholas Muller and Samuel B. Hand assembled the readings that eventually became In a State of Nature for college classes on Vermont history, but the highly readable articles, book chapters and other selections are of interest to the general reader as well. Vermont Voices, 1609 through the 1990s (1999) is a comprehensive collection of primary source materials and introductory essays. In the foreword, historian Allen Davis writes, “the editors make the history of the state complex and they select documents that display the ambivalent and contradictory nature of Vermont’s past.”

Esther Munroe Swift’s Vermont Place-Names (1977) contains information about Vermont places, from villages to mountains. Each of the 15,000 entries includes a thumbnail sketch, with a focus on origins of place names, unique characteristics, and stories. Reviewers warn that there are inaccuracies, perhaps inevitable in such an enormous undertaking.

Abenaki History and Culture

There were multiple nominations for The Original Vermonters: Native Inhabitants, Past and Present by William Haviland and Marjory Power. Archaeologist John Crock offered a statement about the book’s impact. “When this critically important book came out in 1981, there was a widely held myth that ‘Indians never lived in Vermont.’ Using archaeological evidence from sites dating back thousands of years, Haviland and Power dispel this myth and also illustrate the continuity between the ancient Native American settlement of Vermont and living Abenaki people. This seminal and still current book lays out the Native history of the state, identifying important changes over time in technology, foodways, and interregional exchange as people adapted to climate change and shifting social networks. It also provides invaluable testimony on behalf of the modern Abenaki, supporting their case for recognition, which was finally achieved in 2011-2012.”

The Voice of the Dawn: An Autohistory of the Abenaki Nation (2001), by Frederick M. Wiseman, recounts Abenaki history and culture from an Abenaki perspective. In The Western Abenakis of Vermont, 1600-1800 (1990) Colin Calloway uses primary and secondary sources to document the disruption created by wars and forced migration and the Abenaki strategies that contributed to their continuity and survival.

Black Lives
In a 2003 article on Vermont history writing Michael Sherman observed, “There is a very small body of material on African Americans in Vermont and this needs to grow.” Grow it did. Four books published during the next twelve years help us understand the historical experience of Black Vermonters. In The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, 1777-1810 (2014), Harvey Amani Whitfield challenges the long-held myth about the absence of slavery in Vermont with an essay and reproductions of thirty-one documents, each accompanied by a brief overview, that show the enslavement of people of color in various ways continued during a thirty-year period after the Vermont constitution was written.

Elise Guyette’s Discovering Black Vermont (2010), Gretchen Gerzina’s Mr. and Mrs. Prince: How an Extraordinary Eighteenth-Century Family Moved Out of Slavery and into Legend (2008), and Jane Beck’s Daisy Turner's Kin: An African American Family Saga (2015) tell the stories of free Black families who lived, loved and worked in rural Vermont, despite intolerance and economic challenges. The authors conducted extensive primary source research to document the presence and persistence of Black lives. Beck adds a folklorist’s perspective and incorporates oral traditions maintained by the Turner family.

Civil War
Members nominated two foundational works about Vermont’s involvement in the Civil War, George G. Benedict’s Vermont in the Civil War (1886, 1888) and Howard Coffin’s Full Duty: Vermonters in the Civil War (1993). Benedict produced his two-volume set in his capacity as the State Military Historian. His account is organized by military unit, whereas Coffin’s book follows Vermont soldiers through the chronology of the war.

Coffin relies heavily on participants’ voices, frequently quoting diaries, journals, letters and reminiscences. He brings the places where Vermonters fought into the present with contemporary descriptions and recommendations for preservation. Jeffrey Marshall, director of UVM’s Silver Special Collections Library and a Civil War historian, notes that “Historians still cite Benedict as the historical authority, but Coffin has encapsulated the Vermont experience in a way that Benedict could not.”


Members offered three recent titles about Vermont agriculture that have already had significant impact. In Seven Sisters: Ancient Seeds and Food Systems of the Wabanaki people and the Chesapeake Bay Region (2018), Fred Wiseman describes exciting efforts to reclaim Abenaki agricultural traditions. In Life on the Other Border: Farmworkers and Food justice in Vermont (2019), Teresa Mares shares ethnographic portraits of Mexican and Central American farmworkers who support Vermont’s dairy industry. She looks at issues of food security, food sovereignty, border vulnerability, service providers, and labor activism.

Bill Mares and Ross Conrad’s new book, The Land of Milk & Honey: A History of Beekeeping in Vermont (2020) charts the long history of Vermont beekeeping and honey production from the early 1800s to the present, with special attention to the connection between successful beekeeping and a healthy environment, and looks ahead to future challenges.

New Directions

Two books stand out as major change agents, pushing Vermont in new directions. UVM History Professor Dona Brown identified Helen and Scott Nearing’s Living the Good Life as one of the change agents. When the chronicle of the Nearings’ back-to the-land lifestyle on property in southern Vermont came out in 1954, it was not the time for a book about radical social experimentation. However, Brown writes, “When re-published in 1970, at a very different cultural moment, Living the Good Life would become an inspiration for countless thousands of would-be back-to-the-landers, many of whom moved to Vermont following in the footsteps of the Nearings. It is hard to imagine where the state would be today without that wave of new Vermonters.”

Vermont History
Sherman, Michael, Gene Sessions, and P. Jeffrey Potash. Freedom and Unity: A History of Vermont. Barre: Vermont Historical Society, 2004.
Muller, H. Nicholas Muller, III and Samuel B. Hand. In a State of Nature: Readings in Vermont History. Montpelier, VT: Vermont Historical Society, 1982.
Graffagnino, J. Kevin, Samuel B. Hand, and Gene Sessions. Vermont Voices, 1609 through the 1990s: A Documentary History of the Green Mountain State. Montpelier: Vermont Historical Society, 1999.

Reference Tools
Bassett, T. D. Seymour. Vermont, A Bibliography of Its History. Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall, 1981.
Duffy, John J., Samuel B. Hand, and Ralph H. Orth. The Vermont Encyclopedia. Hanover, NH.: University Press of New England, 2003.
Swift, Esther Monroe. Vermont Place-Names: Footprints of History. Brattleboro, VT: Stephen Greene Press, 1977.

Abenaki History and Culture
Haviland, William A. and Marjory W. Power. The Original Vermonters: Native Inhabitants, Past and Present. Hanover, NH: Published for University of Vermont by University Press of New England, 1981, revised 1994.
Calloway, Colin G. The Western Abenakis of Vermont, 1600-1800: War, Migration, and the Survival of an Indian People. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990.
Wiseman, Frederick M. The Voice of the Dawn: An Autohistory of the Abenaki Nation. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2001.

Black Lives
Guyette, Elise. Discovering Black Vermont: African American Farmers in Hinesburgh, Vermont, 1780-1890. Burlington: University of Vermont Press, University Press of New England, 2010.
Whitfield, Harvey Amani. The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, 1777-1810. Barre: Vermont Historical Society, 2014.
Gerzina, Gretchen. Mr. and Mrs. Prince: How an Extraordinary Eighteenth-Century Family Moved Out of Slavery and into Legend. New York: Amistad, 2008.
Beck, Jane. Daisy Turner's Kin: An African American Family Saga. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2015.

Civil War
Benedict, George G. Vermont in the Civil War. Burlington: Free Press Association, 1886.
Coffin, Howard. Full Duty: Vermonters in the Civil War. Woodstock, VT: Countryman Press, 1993.

Mares, Bill and Conrad, Ross. The Land of Milk & Honey: A History of Beekeeping in Vermont. Brattleboro, VT: Green Writers Press, 2020.
Mares, Teresa M. Life on the Other Border: Farmworkers and Food justice in Vermont. Oakland, California: University of California Press, 2019.
Wiseman, Frederick M. Seven Sisters and the Heritage Food Systems of the Wabanaki People and of the Chesapeake Bay Region. Thomasburg, Ontario: Earth Haven Learning Centre Inc., 2018.

New Directions
Nearing, Scott and Helen. Living the Good Life: being a plain practical account of a twenty year project in a self-subsistent homestead in Vermont, together with remarks on how to live sanely & simply in a troubled world. Harborside, ME: Social Science Institute, 1954.
Nearing, Scott and Helen. Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World. New York: Schocken Books, 1970.
Gallagher, Nancy. Breeding Better Vermonters: The Eugenics Project in the Green Mountain State. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1999.

Copyright © 2020 Center for Research on Vermont, All rights reserved.
The Vermont Research News is a bi-monthly curated collection of Vermont research -- focused on research in the Vermont "laboratory" -- research that provides original knowledge to the world and research that adds to an understanding of the state's social, economic, cultural and physical environment. Thanks to support from the Office of Engagement at UVM.
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