History of Vermont from 1600 to the Civil War essay

Located in the northern-eastern part of the United State, in the New England region, Vermont is a state. In the land area this state ranks 43rd, with its area of 9250 sq miles, this is the smallest state among the 50 states of the United State. Vermont, the only state without coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, is famous for its green mountain. It is said that this state has been named after “Verd Mont” by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain, which actually means Green Mountain, as this state is famous for its scenery, diary products and maple syrup.

Vermont is surrounded by Massachusetts to the south, New Hampshire to the east, New York to the west and Canadian provinces of Quebec to the north with its capital at Montpelier. Native American tribes were the original inhabitants of Vermont. First the territory of present day Vermont was claimed by France but after the defeat of France in the French and Indian war this territory went into the British possession and for many years the matter of rightful control was a subject of dispute. “France claimed Vermont as part of New France, and erected Fort Sainte Anne on Isle La Motte in 1666 as part of the fortification of Lake Champlain.

” (Crocket, Walter H) 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 This settlement and trading post was directly across Lake Champlain from Crown Point, New York In 1731, the French arrived.

Here they constructed a small temporary wooden stockade on what was Chimney Point until work on Fort St. Frederic began in 1734. The fort, when completed, gave the French control of the New France/Vermont border region in the Lake Champlain Valley and was the only permanent fort in the area until the building of Fort Carillon more than 20 years later Sir Jeffrey Amherst captured the fort. The French were driven out of the area and retreated to other forts along the Richelieu River.

One year later a group of Mohawks burnt the settlement to the ground, leaving only chimneys, which gave the area its name. 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. This fort protected the nearby settlements of Dummerston and Brattleboro. These settlements were made by the Province of Massachusetts Bay to protect its settlers on the western border along the Connecticut River.

The second British settlement was the 1761 founding of Bennington in the southwest. During the French and Indian War, some Vermont settlers, including Ethan Allen, joined the colonial militia assisting the British in attacks on the French. Fort Carillon on the New York-Vermont border, a French fort constructed in 1755, was the site of two British offensives under Lord Amherst’s command: the unsuccessful British attack in 1758 and the retaking of the following year with no major resistance (most of the garrison had been removed to defend Quebec, Montreal, and the western forts).

“The British renamed the fort Fort Ticonderoga ,which became the site of two later battles during the American Revolutionary War”. ( Hall Hiland ) Following France’s loss in the French and Indian War, the 1763 Treaty of Paris gave control of the land to the British. The flag adopted by the Vermont Republic served originally as an infantry banner for the Green Mountain Boys The situation resulted in the New Hampshire Grants, a series of 135 land grants made between 1749 and 1764 by New Hampshire’s colonial governor, Benning Wentworth.

The grants sparked a dispute with the New York governor, who began granting charters of his own for New Yorker settlement in Vermont. 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. 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. 1790 Act of Congress admitting Vermont to the federal union. Statehood began on March 4, 1791. Flag of Vermont following statehood Vermont abandoned the Green Mountain Boys Infanty Flag in exchange for a new flag identical to the U. S. except for the Vermont coat-of-arms in a single large star upon the upper blue canton. That flag was used until 1923 when the present state flag, the state coat-of-arms upon a blue field (above), was adopted.

On January 18, 1777, representatives of the New Hampshire Grants convened in Westminster and declared the independence of the Vermont Republic. For the first six months of the republic’s existence, the republic was called New Connecticut. On June 2, a second convention of 72 delegates met at Westminster, known as the “Westminster Convention. ” (Albers, Jan )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 admission into the newly independent United States as the 14th state.

The delegates set the time for a meeting one month later. On July 4, the Constitution of the Vermont Republic was drafted during a violent thunderstorm at the Windsor Tavern owned by Elijah West and was adopted by the delegates on July 8 after four days of debate. This was among the first written constitutions in North America and was indisputably the first to abolish the institution of slavery, provide for universal manhood suffrage and require support of public schools. The Windsor tavern has been preserved as the Old Constitution House, administered as a state historic site.

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. “The republic’s ability to defeat a powerful military invader gave it a legitimacy among its scattered frontier society that would sustain it through fourteen years of fragile independence before it finally achieved statehood as the 14th state in the union in 1791”( Meeks, Harold A ).

During the summer of 1777, the invading British army of General John Burgoyne slashed southward from Canada 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 east, mobilized the state’s militia under the command of General John Stark.

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. The American troops were defending their homes, families and property. General Stark reportedly challenged his men to fight to the death, telling them that: “There are your enemies. 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 killed or captured virtually the entire British detachment.

General Burgoyne never recovered from this loss and eventually surrendered the remainder of his 6,000-man force at Saratoga, New York, on October 17. The Battles of Bennington and Saratoga are recognized as the turning point in the Revolutionary War because they were the first major defeat of a British army and convinced the French that the Americans were worthy of military aid. Stark became widely known as the “Hero of Bennington” (Morrissey, Charles T ), and the anniversary of the battle is still celebrated in Vermont as a legal holiday known as “Bennington Battle Day.

” Under the portico of the Vermont Statehouse, next to an heroic granite statue of Ethan Allen, there is a brass cannon that was captured from the British troops at the Battle of Bennington. Vermont continued to govern itself as a sovereign entity based in the eastern town of Windsor for fourteen years. The Vermont Republic issued its own currency, coins and operated a statewide postal service. Thomas Chittenden, who came to Vermont from Connecticut in 1774, acted as head of state, using the term governor over president. Chittenden governed the nascent republic from 1778 to 1789 and from 1790 to 1791.

Chittenden exchanged ambassadors with France, the Netherlands, and the American government then at Philadelphia. In 1791, Vermont joined the federal Union as the fourtenth state–the first state to enter the union after the original thirteen colonies, and a counterweight to slaveholding Kentucky, which was admitted to the Union shortly afterward. “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”.

( Johnson, Charles W) The report fueled growth of the abolition movement in the state, and in response, a resolution from the Georgia General Assembly authorizing the towing of Vermont out to sea. The mid to late 1850s saw a transition fron Vermonters mostly favoring slavery’s containment, to a far more serious opposition to the institution, producing the Radical Republican and abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens. As the Whig party shriveled, and the Republican party emerged, Vermont strongly trended in support of its candidates, first on the state level and later for the presidency.

In 1860 it voted for President Lincoln, giving him the largest margin of victory of any state. During the American Civil War, Vermont sent more than 34,000 men into United States service, contributing 18 regiments of infantry and cavalry, 3 batteries of light artillery, 3 companies of sharpshooters, 2 companies of frontier cavalry, and thousands in the regular army and navy, and in other states’ units. Almost 5,200 Vermonters were killed or mortally wounded in action or died of disease. In this way we find that the history of Vermont occupies an imporatnt position in the entire historical events of the United State.


• Albers, Jan. Hands on the Land: A History of the Vermont Landscape (2000) • Crocket, Walter H. Vermont, the Green Mountain State, 5 Volumes (New York, 1921-1923 • Hall Hiland. The History of Eastern Vermont (new York, 1858) • Johnson, Charles W. The Nature of Vermont: Introduction and Guide to a New England Environment (Hanover, NH, 1980). • Meeks, Harold A. Time and Change in Vermont: A Human Geography (Chester, CT, 1986) • Morrissey, Charles T. Vermont: A Bicentennial History (New York,1981).