Vermont Day

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One of the disappointments of my youth is that our family never visited Vermont.  We got as close as northern New York State, but not into the rest of New England proper.  I was interested in the Green Mountain State because of its arcane history and its reputed beautiful landscapes.  Another part of Vermont that fascinated me, and still does, is the population.  Every single Vermonter I’ve met has been an interesting, free-thinking individualist. I think that if I ever get the chance to visit Vermont, I will want to remain and live there.

The name, Vermont, is the anglicized version of the French name, “Verd Mont”, for “green mountains”.  The name given to the region by explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1647. You might notice the French influence on place names like Lake Champlain, Calais, and Montpelier.  These derive from the few military forts established and abandoned by France. Vermont-OkemoMtLudlowVT

By the 1700s, the English forced northward into this territory.  Fort Dummer was established by Massachusetts colonists to become the first European-American settlement in Vermont. Soon enough, other English colonies laid claim to Vermonters’ territory.  Settlers arrived from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and most troubling, New York. The boundaries of those colonies stretched into Vermont land. Land grants and various claims led to some turbulent times preceding the American Revolution.

Vermont-RepublicMapThere were several skirmishes and small rebellions in Vermont.  These disputes were not anti-Britain but fought against the province of New York.  You may remember the history lesson about the “Green Mountain Boys”.  This was a band of Vermonters organized by Ethan Allen in the early 1770s. They were the major group that attacked settlers holding land titles issued by the province of New York.  As the American Revolution reached Vermont, the Green Mountain Boys and other Vermonters captured two major British forts, Crown Point, and Ticonderoga.

In the midst of the battles of the Revolution and infighting among some of the colonists, Vermont was organized as an independent republic.  Even though Vermonters fought against Britain and considered themselves as Americans,  the Continental Congress refused to recognize Vermont as a distinct jurisdiction.  This was mainly due to vehement objections from New Yorkers who held contested property claims in Vermont.

Even though the inhabitants of Vermont considered their territory a de facto state, they declared their area an independent republic.  In fact, they had their own postal system and they coined their own currency, Vermont Coppers.   At the same time of the Vermont Republic, official documents and the Republic’s Constitution were titled “State of Vermont”.  Their chief executive was called “governor”.  Vermont’s 1777 Constitution uses the terms “State of Vermont” and “Constitution of the Commonwealth”.

The Republic was nicknamed the “Reluctant Republic” because most citizens wished to be unified with the U.S.  They thought of themselves as one of the original states; there should have been an “original 14 states” instead of the popular category “original 13 states”. The Republic’s coins bore the Latin motto, “Stella Quarta Decima” (The Fourteenth Star). In fact the very legal construction and institutions were created with the intent of being a part of a greater union. The number 14 was a very important symbol for Vermonters.

The Republic of Vermont’s constitution was drafted and ratified in 1777.  It was the very first written constitution for an independent state in North America.  The inhabitants who sought independence from New York validated their document’s authority as derived from the people. Vermonters identified themselves as a distinct, identifiable “people” who were entitled to identical rights of self-government as other “peoples” within the American Confederacy. Additionally, the Vermont Republic’s Constitution was the first document to outlaw slavery and permitted universal male suffrage regardless of property ownership.

Ironically, the claims for Vermont Independence fueled the debate as to how to create the structure of states within the budding new nation as it struggled for independence from England.  What would be the organization of the Confederacy of Former Colonies?

Just before U.S. independence was won, a British regiment and an allied band of Mohawk natives raided and terrorized settlers in Vermont.  A group of Vermont politicians, including Ethan Allen, went into secret negotiations with the Governor General of the Province of Quebec regarding a proposal to rejoin the British Empire.  The secret conference was ended when the Revolutionary War concluded under terms of the Treaty of Paris.

With American nationhood decided, Vermont still had the problem of independence from New York to decide. Major border disputes continued to stymie Vermonters until 1790.  The Republic of Vermont decided to pay land claim settlements with New York.  The Republic paid 30,000 Spanish Milled Dollars to their neighboring State to resolve territorial claims. An act passed by New York State in October of 1790 declared New York’s claims over Vermont as null and void.Vermont-14StarFlag

The General Assembly of the Republic of Vermont authorized the convention to apply for admittance to the United States. The meeting convened at Bennington, Vermont on January 6, 1791.  Four days later, the resolution passed.

Vermont’s admission act became the shortest of all the other state admission documents. Vermont was admitted, as the 14th State, without any kind of conditions.  The official admission date was March 4, 1791.  The Republic of Vermont’s Constitution became the new State’s Constitution with only a few changes and amendments.

Ciao
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The Blue Jay of Happiness wishes Vermonters and everyone, Happy Vermont Day, today.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Controversy, History, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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