The Vermont Republic is a 20th-century term used to refer to the government of Vermont that existed from 1777 to 1791. In January 1777, delegates from 28 towns met and declared independence from the jurisdictions and land claims both of the British colony of Quebec and of the American states of New Hampshire and New York. They also abolished adult slavery within their boundaries. Many people in Vermont took part in the American Revolution, although the Continental Congress did not recognize the jurisdiction as independent. Because of vehement objections from New York, which had conflicting property claims, the Continental Congress declined to recognize Vermont, then known as the New Hampshire Grants. Vermont's overtures to join the Province of Quebec were accepted by the British, offering generous terms for the Republic's reunion. When the main British army surrendered in 1781, however, American independence became apparent. Vermont, now surrounded on three sides by American territory, rejected the British overtures and instead negotiated terms to enter the United States. In 1791, Vermont officially joined the United States as the 14th state.
Vermont coined a currency called Vermont coppers from a mint operated by Reuben Harmon in East Rupert (1785–1788), and operated a postal system. While the Vermont coppers bore the legend Vermontis. Res. Publica (Latin for "Republic of Vermont"), the constitution and other official documents used the term "State of Vermont". It referred to its chief executive as a "governor". The 1777 constitution refers to Vermont variously: the third paragraph of the preamble, for example, mentions "the State of Vermont", and in the preamble's last paragraph, the constitution refers to itself as "the Constitution of the Commonwealth".
The historian Frederic F. van de Water called the Vermont Republic the "reluctant republic" because many early citizens favored political union with the United States rather than full independence. Both popular opinion and the legal construction of the government made clear that the independent State of Vermont would eventually join the original 13 states. While the Continental Congress did not allow a seat for Vermont, Vermont engaged William Samuel Johnson, representing Connecticut, to promote its interests. In 1785 the Vermont General Assembly granted Johnson title to the former King's College Tract as a form of compensation for representing Vermont.
Republic of New Connecticut
Republic of the Green Mountains
Location of the Vermont Republic (green) in 1790
|Capital||Windsor, then Castleton|
|Legislature||House of Representatives of the Freemen of Vermont|
|Historical era||American Revolution|
|January 15 1777|
• Admitted to Union
|March 4 1791|
After 1724, the Province of Massachusetts Bay built Fort Dummer near Brattleboro, as well as three other forts along the northern portion of the Connecticut River to protect against raids by Native Americans farther south into Western Massachusetts. After 1749, Benning Wentworth, the Royal Governor of New Hampshire, granted land to anyone in a land granting scheme designed to enrich himself and his family. After 1763, settlement increased due to easing security concerns after the end of the French and Indian Wars. The Province of New York had made grants of land, often in areas overlapping similar grants made by the Province of New Hampshire; this issue had to be resolved by the King in 1764, who granted the land to New York, but the area was popularly known as the New Hampshire Grants. The "Green Mountain Boys", led by Ethan Allen, was a militia force from Vermont that supported the New Hampshire claims and fought against the British during the American Revolution.
Following controversy between the holders of the New York grants and the New Hampshire grants, Ethan Allen and his militia of "Green Mountain Boys" suppressed Loyalists. On January 15, 1777, a convention of representatives from towns in the territory declared the region independent, choosing the name the Republic of New Connecticut (although it was sometimes known colloquially as the Republic of the Green Mountains). On June 2 of that year, the name of the fledgling nation was officially changed to "Vermont" (from the French, les Verts Monts, meaning the Green Mountains) upon the suggestion of Dr. Thomas Young, a member of the Sons of Liberty and a Boston Tea Party leader and mentor to Ethan Allen.
John Greenleaf Whittier's poem The Song of the Vermonters, 1779 describes the period in ballad form. First published anonymously, the poem had characteristics in the last stanza that were similar to Ethan Allen's prose and caused it to be attributed to Allen for nearly 60 years. The last stanza reads:
Come York or come Hampshire, come traitors or knaves,
If ye rule o'er our land ye shall rule o'er our graves;
Our vow is recorded—our banner unfurled,
In the name of Vermont we defy all the world!
On August 19, 1781, the Confederation Congress of the United States passed an act saying they would recognize the secessionist state of Vermont and agreed to admit that state to the Union if Vermont would renounce its claims to territory east of the Connecticut River and west of Lake Champlain.
The Constitution of Vermont was drafted and ratified at Elijah West's Windsor Tavern in 1777. The settlers in Vermont, who sought independence from New York, justified their constitution on the same basis as the first state constitutions of the former colonies: authority is derived from the people. As historian Christian Fritz notes in American Sovereigns: The People and America's Constitutional Tradition before the Civil War:
They saw themselves as a distinct region outside the legitimate jurisdiction of New York. Possessing an identifiable population or "a people" entitled them to the same constitutional rights of self-government as other "Peoples" in the American confederacy.
The Vermont constitution was modeled after the radically democratic constitution of Pennsylvania on the suggestion of Dr. Young, who worked with Thomas Paine and others on that 1776 document in Philadelphia.
During the time of the Vermont Republic, the government issued its own coinage and currency, and operated a postal service. The governor of Vermont, Thomas Chittenden, with consent of his council and the General Assembly, appointed commissioners to the American government seated in Philadelphia. Vermont engaged in diplomatic negotiations with the United States, the Netherlands, and France.
After a British regiment and allied Mohawks attacked and terrorized Vermont settlers, in the Royalton Raid, Ethan Allen led a group of Vermont politicians in secret discussions with Frederick Haldimand, the Governor General of the Province of Quebec, about rejoining the British Empire.
Much of the symbolism associated with Vermont in this period expressed a desire for political union with the United States. Vermont's coins minted in 1785 and 1786 bore the Latin inscription "STELLA QUARTA DECIMA" (meaning "the fourteenth star"). The Great Seal of Vermont, designed by Ira Allen, centrally features a 14-branched pine tree.
On March 6, 1790, the legislature of New York consented to Vermont statehood, provided that a group of commissioners representing New York and a similar group representing Vermont could agree on the boundary. Vermont's negotiators insisted on also settling the real-estate disputes rather than leaving those to be decided later by a federal court. On October 7, the commissioners proclaimed the negotiations successfully concluded, with an agreement that Vermont would pay $30,000 to New York to be distributed among New Yorkers who claimed land in Vermont under New York land patents. The Vermont General Assembly then authorized a convention to consider an application for admittance to the "Union of the United States of America". The convention met at Bennington, on January 6, 1791. On January 10, 1791, the convention approved a resolution to make an application to join the United States by a vote of 105 to 2. Vermont was admitted to the Union by 1 Stat. 191 on March 4, 1791. Vermont's admission act is the shortest of all state admissions, and Vermont is "the only state admitted without conditions of any kind, either those prescribed by the Congress or the state from which it was carved". March 4 is celebrated in Vermont as Vermont Day.
Vermont's admission to the Union in 1791 was in part as a free state counterweight to Kentucky, which joined as a slave state shortly after Vermont. The North, the smaller states, and states concerned about the impact of the sea-to-sea grants held by other states, all supported Vermont's admission. Thomas Chittenden served as governor for Vermont for most of this period and became its first governor as a member state of the United States.
The 1793 Vermont state constitution made relatively few changes to the 1786 Vermont state constitution, which had, in turn, succeeded the 1777 constitution. It retained many of its original ideas, as noted above, and kept the separation of powers. It remains in force with several amendments.
The Vermont Republic gubernatorial election of 1789 took place on September 1, 1789. Though incumbent Governor Thomas Chittenden won a plurality of the popular vote over Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Moses Robinson, the Vermont Constitution required that the Legislature choose the Governor if no candidate won a majority. The Legislature chose Robinson, who served a one-year term.Constitution of Vermont
The Constitution of the State of Vermont is the fundamental body of law of the U.S. state of Vermont. It was adopted in 1793 following Vermont's admission to the Union in 1791 and is largely based upon the 1777 Constitution of the Vermont Republic which was ratified at Windsor in the Old Constitution House and amended in 1786. At 8,295 words, it is the shortest U.S. state constitution.Constitution of Vermont (1777)
The first Constitution of Vermont was drafted in July 1777, almost five months after Vermont declared itself an independent country, now frequently called the Vermont Republic. It was in effect until its extensive revision in 1786. The second Constitution of Vermont went into effect in 1786 and lasted until 1793, two years after Vermont was admitted to the Union as the fourteenth state. In 1791 Vermont became the fourteenth US state and in 1793 it adopted its current constitution.Flag of the Green Mountain Boys
The Green Mountain Boys flag, also known as the Stark flag, is a reconstruction of a regimental flag commonly stated to have been used by the Green Mountain Boys. A remnant of a Green Mountain Boys flag, originally belonging to John Stark, is owned by the Bennington Museum. It still exists as one of the few regimental flags from the American Revolution. Although Stark was at the Battle of Bennington and likely flew this flag, the battle has become more commonly associated with the Bennington flag, which is believed to be a 19th-century banner.Today the flag is used as the regimental flag of the Vermont National Guard unit. The regimental flag, known also as a "battle flag" or war flag, accompanies the unit on battle assignments and is physically handed to the commander of the regiment, as described by former Vermont National Guard Adjutant General Martha Rainville in an interview. The flag is also a symbol of the Vermont Secessionist movement. The Castleton University football team has also featured the flag in its pre-game ceremonies since its inception in 2009.Green Mountain Boys
The Green Mountain Boys was a militia organization first established in the late 1760s in the territory between the British provinces of New York and New Hampshire, known as the New Hampshire Grants and later in 1775 as the Vermont Republic (which later became the state of Vermont). Headed by Ethan Allen and members of his extended family, it was instrumental in resisting New York's attempts to control the territory, over which it had won de jure control in a territorial dispute with New Hampshire.
Some companies served in the American Revolutionary War, including notably when the Green Mountain Boys led by Ethan Allen captured Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain on May 10, 1775; and invaded Canada later in 1775. In early June 1775, Ethan Allen and his then subordinate, Seth Warner, induced the Continental Congress at Philadelphia to create a Continental Army ranger regiment from the then New Hampshire Grants. Having no treasury, the Congress directed that New York's revolutionary Congress pay for the newly authorized regiment. In July 1775, Allen's militia was granted support from the New York revolutionary Congress.
The Green Mountain Boys disbanded more than a year before Vermont declared its independence in 1777 from Great Britain "as a separate, free and independent jurisdiction or state". The Vermont Republic operated for 14 years, before being admitted in 1791 to the United States as the 14th state.
The remnants of the Green Mountain Boys militia were largely reconstituted as the Green Mountain Continental Rangers. Command of the newly formed regiment passed from Allen to Seth Warner. Allen joined the staff of the Northern Army of New York's Major General Philip Schuyler and was given the rank of lieutenant colonel. Under Warner the regiment fought at the battles of Hubbardton and Bennington in 1777. The regiment was disbanded in 1779.The Green Mountain Boys mustered again during the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish–American War, the Vietnam War, the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War. Today it is the informal name of the Vermont National Guard, which comprises both the Army and Air National Guards.History of slavery in Vermont
Adult slavery was partially abolished in Vermont in July 1777 by a provision in that state's Constitution that male slaves become free at the age of 21 and females at the age of 18.Chapter I of the Constitution, titled "A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the State of Vermont" said:
... no male person, born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person, as a servant, slave or apprentice, after he arrives to the age of twenty-one Years, nor female, in like manner, after she arrives to the age of eighteen years, unless they are bound by their own consent, after they arrive to such age, or bound by law, for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.
The state of Vermont was created in 1777 by politicians in Vermont defying New York, which then claimed Vermont was legally a part of New York, and creating a popular government that represented their interests, among them abolishing slavery. After 1777, Vermont was repeatedly denied admission to the Union and existed as a largely unrecognized state until it was admitted to the Union as the fourteenth state in 1791. Vermont's admission to the Union made the state subject to the Fugitive Slave Clause of the Constitution of the United States (Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3) requiring fugitive slaves fleeing into a state whose laws forbid slavery to be returned. Later the state was subject to the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850, allowing slave owners to recover fugitive slaves who fled to Vermont.
Harvey Amani Whitfield's book, The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, reports that among those violating the abolition of slavery were Vermont Supreme Court Judge Stephen Jacob and Levi Allen, brother of the military leader Ethan Allen.The 1790 census counted 16 slaves in Vermont, all in Bennington County. In 1870, the chief clerk of the Census Bureau, who was from Vermont, changed the reported status of the 16 to "Free Other", alleging that the original report was a mistake. Whether it was really a mistake is a matter of some dispute. (The 1790 census of the United States did not reach Vermont until the following year, 1791, because the government of Vermont took the position that Vermont was not a part of the United States until its admission to the Union in 1791.)
All slavery was finally abolished in Vermont in 1858 when the "Freedom Act" was ratified declaring that any slave brought into Vermont, was free.Index of Vermont-related articles
The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to the U.S. state of Vermont.List of Speakers of the Vermont House of Representatives
The Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives is the Speaker or presiding officer of the Vermont House of Representatives, the lower house of the Vermont Legislature.
The Speaker presides over sessions of the Houses, recognizes members so that they may speak, and ensures compliance with House rules for parliamentary procedure. The Speaker also assigns members to the standing committees of the House and assigns committee chairpersons. The Speaker is second (behind the Lieutenant Governor) in the line of succession to the office of Governor of Vermont.Vermont was admitted to the Union in 1791 as the fourteenth state, but its House of Representatives dates from 1778, when the Vermont Republic was created.
Vermont had a unicameral legislature until 1836, when the Governor's Council was abolished and the Vermont Senate was created.List of governors of Vermont
The governor of Vermont is the U.S. state government's chief executive. As of 2015, Vermont is one of only two U.S. states (New Hampshire being the other) that elects governors for two-year terms. Until 1870, Vermont elected its governors for one-year terms.List of lieutenant governors of Vermont
The Lieutenant Governor of Vermont is elected for a two-year term and chosen separately from the Governor. The Vermont Lieutenant Governor's main responsibilities include acting as governor when the latter is out of state or incapacitated, presiding over the Vermont Senate, casting tie-breaking votes in the Senate when required, and acceding to the governorship in case of a vacancy.. As a member of the State Senate's Committee on Committees, the Lieutenant Governor of Vermont plays a role in determining committee assignments for individual Senators, as well as selecting committee chairmen, vice chairmen, and clerks.Moses Robinson
Moses Robinson (March 22, 1741 – May 26, 1813) was a prominent Vermont political figure. When Vermont was an independent republic, he was its first chief justice and served a one-year term as governor. As governor he superintended the negotiations that led to Vermont's admission to the Union as the fourteenth state in the United States. He then served as one of the first two United States Senators from Vermont.New Hampshire Grants
The New Hampshire Grants or Benning Wentworth Grants were land grants made between 1749 and 1764 by the colonial governor of the Province of New Hampshire, Benning Wentworth. The land grants, totaling about 135 (including 131 towns), were made on land claimed by New Hampshire west of the Connecticut River, territory that was also claimed by the Province of New York. The resulting dispute led to the eventual establishment of the Vermont Republic, which later became the U.S. state of Vermont.Royalton raid
The Royalton raid was a British-led Indian raid in 1780 against various towns along the White River Valley in the Vermont Republic, and was part of the American Revolutionary War. It was the last major Indian raid in New England.Second Vermont Republic
The Second Vermont Republic (SVR, 2VR) is a secessionist group within the U.S. state of Vermont which seeks to restore the formerly independent status of the Vermont Republic (1777–91). It describes itself as "a nonviolent citizens' network and think tank opposed to the tyranny of Corporate America and the U.S. government, and committed to the peaceful return of Vermont to its status as an independent republic and more broadly the dissolution of the Union." The organization was founded in 2003 by Thomas Naylor (1936–2012), a former Duke University economics professor and co-author of the 1997 book Downsizing the U.S.A. A 2010 TIME article featured the Second Vermont Republic as one of the "Top 10 Aspiring Nations".Secretary of State of Vermont
The Secretary of State of Vermont is one of five cabinet-level constitutional officers in the U.S. state of Vermont which are elected every two years. The Secretary of State is fourth (behind the Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, President pro tempore of the Senate, respectively) in the line of succession to the office of Governor of Vermont. The Office of the Secretary of State is located at 128 State St. in Montpelier. The current Secretary of State is James C. Condos, a Democrat.
The agency, headed by the Vermont Secretary of State, manages several divisions and departments including:
The State Archives Division is charged with preserving and keeping accessible all state records. The State Archives preserve documents going back to the state's founding as the Vermont Republic in 1777.
The Office of Professional Regulations licenses and regulates 39 professional occupations to protect the state's citizens from incompetent, unethical, and unprofessional behavior.
The Elections Divisions administers Vermont's elections, works to protect the integrity of the democratic process, registers voters, coordinates administration of the Voter's Oath, oversees campaign finance reporting, and implements Vermont's lobbyist disclosure laws.
The Corporations Division registers business entities and is the filing repository for Uniform Commercial Code filings for the state of Vermont.
The Notary Resource Center oversees Vermont's notaries public.The Secretary of State's Office is also responsible for the filing and publication of administrative rules by all state agencies.
The office of Secretary of State pre-dates Vermont statehood in 1791. Prior to 1884 the Secretary of State was chosen in a vote of the Vermont General Assembly. The first Secretary of State chosen by the voters of the state was Charles W. Porter.Thomas Chittenden
Thomas Chittenden (January 6, 1730 – August 25, 1797) was a major figure in the early history of Vermont, and was leader of the territory for nearly two decades. Chittenden was the first and third president of the state of Vermont, serving from 1778 to 1789, when Vermont was a largely unrecognized independent state, called the Vermont Republic, and again after a year out of office, from 1790 until his death. During his first term after his return to office, Vermont was admitted to the Union as the 14th state.Thomas Naylor
Thomas Herbert Naylor (May 30, 1936 – December 12, 2012) was an American economist and professor. From Jackson, Mississippi, he was a Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University, the author of thirty books, and a founder of the Second Vermont Republic (2003). Naylor authored ten academic books and three books advocating secession.Vermont copper
Vermont coppers were copper coins issued by the Vermont Republic. The coins were first struck in 1785 and continued to be minted until Vermont's admission to the United States in 1791 as the State of Vermont.Windsor, Vermont
Windsor is a town in Windsor County, Vermont, United States. As the "Birthplace of Vermont", the town is where the Constitution of Vermont was adopted in 1777, thus marking the founding of the Vermont Republic—a sovereign state until 1791 when Vermont joined the United States. Over much of its history, Windsor was home to a variety of manufacturing enterprises. The population was 3,553 at the 2010 census.
|Towns (pop. >5000)|