Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
Display paragraphs in this book containing:
First Pub. Date
New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
Pub. Date
Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
1063 of 1105



VERMONT, a state of the American Union.


—The boundary between Massachusetts and New Hampshire (see those states) was long disputed. It was settled in 1740; but, before that time, both colonies had made large grants of land to intending settlers in the disputed territory. After the settlement, a new question came up. New Hampshire, believing that her territory extended at least as far west as that of Massachusetts, claimed all the territory west of the Connecticut river, covered by the present state of Vermont, and, pursuing the usual policy in such cases, continued to make grants of land therein, in order to fill it with settlers devoted to her interests, and dependent on her supremacy for the title to their lands. In 1749 New York appeared as a claimant, though on what ground it is hard to see. She had acquiesced in the western boundary of Massachusetts and Connecticut, as a compromise of their charter claim of the Pacific ocean, or at least the Mississippi, as a western boundary; but New Hampshire had no such charter claim. The fact seems to be that neither New York nor New Hampshire had any rightful claim, and that this territory had been overlooked, and was within the limits of no colony. In 1764 New York obtained an arbitrary decision of the king in her favor, and at once undertook to make the settlers on the "New Hampshire grants," as the territory now began to be called, pay for their land anew. All the judicial machinery of New York was brought into requisition to oust the settlers who refused to pay, and, although the king in 1769 ordered the issue of further New York grants to cease for the time, the New York courts did not cease to harass the settlers. The latter resisted the New York authorities boldly; organized militia forces; selected headquarters, marked by a liberty pole surmounted by a wild cat grinning defiance toward New York; and maintained their independence of both the claimants. Throughout the revolution they maintained a separate warfare against the British, and toward its close there were even some negotiations looking to a separate peace; but the final treaty of peace in establishing the northern boundary of the United States, recognized the "New Hampshire grants" as included in the new nation.


—Jan. 17, 1777, a convention at Westminster declared the grants to be an independent state, by the name of "New Connecticut." A new convention at Windsor, July 2-8, 1777, gave the state the name of Vermont, and adopted the Pennsylvania constitution of 1776, with some few changes, prominent among which was a prohibition of slavery. (See ABOLITION, I.) The preamble contained a full statement of the grievances by reason of which Vermont had refused to submit to New York's jurisdiction. New Hampshire made little opposition to Vermont's proceedings, and Massachusetts recognized the new state in 1781; but New York's opposition was sufficient to prevent her admission to the Union. In 1781 Vermont proceeded to admit to her assembly delegates from the southwestern part of New Hampshire and the northeastern part of New York, east of the Hudson; but, though she disavowed these annexations in the following year, New York still prevented her admission. But New York was wearying of the struggle. Her assembly in 1786 voted final compensation to her worsted adherents, and in 1789 appointed commissioners to acknowledge the independence of Vermont. Jan. 6, 1791, a state convention decided to apply for admission, and the state was admitted by act of Feb. 18, to take effect March 4.


—CONSTITUTIONS. The provision for a "council of censors," to meet once in seven years and revise the constitution, which was abandoned by Pennsylvania in 1790, was retained by Vermont until 1870. By their proposition of amendments, and their ratification by state conventions, the original constitution (see PENNSYLVANIA) has since been slightly modified. In 1836 the original single house was divided into a senate and house of representatives, both elected annually, in the former by counties, and in the latter by towns. In 1870 the term of office of the legislature, governor and other state officers was extended to two years; the council of censors was abolished; and its powers to impeach state officers and to propose amendments were transferred to the legislature. In 1882 the manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquors was prohibited.


—GOVERNORS. Moses Robinson, 1789-90; Thomas Chittenden, 1790-97; Isaac Tichenor, 1797-1807; Israel Smith, 1807-8; Isaac Tichenor, 1808-9; Jonas Galusha, 1809-13; Martin Chittenden, 1813-15; Jonas Galusha, 1815-20; Richard Skinner, 1820-23; Cornelius P Van Ness, 1823-6; Ezra Butler, 1826-8; Samuel C. Crafts, 1828-31; William A. Palmer, 1831-35; Silas A. Jenison, 1835-41; Charles Paine, 1841-3; John Mattocks, 1843-4; Wm. Slade, 1844-6; Horace Eaton, 1846-9; Carlos Coolidge, 1849-50; Charles R. Williams, 1850-52; Erastus Fairbanks, 1852-3; John S. Robinson, 1853-4; Stephen Boyce, 1854-6; Ryland Fletcher, 1856-8; Hiland Hall, 1858-60; Erastus Fairbanks, 1860-61; Frederick Holbrook, 1861-3; John S. Smith, 1863-5; Paul Dillingham, 1865-7; John B. Page, 1867-9; Peter T. Washburn, 1869-70; John W. Stewart, 1870-2; Julius Converse, 1872-4; Asahel Peck, 1874-6; Horace Fairbanks, 1876-8; Redfield Proctor, 1878-80; Roswell Farnham, 1880-82; John L. Barstow, 1882-4.


—POLITICAL HISTORY. A large part of the state's original population came from Connecticut, whence the proposed name of "New Connecticut"; and the subsequent drift of their descendants to the neighboring state of New York accounts for many Connecticut names, such as Seymour, Phelps and Chittenden, in both the other states. Most of this immigration was democratic, so that the state's politics inclined toward the democratic party; and this tendency, and the likelihood that Vermont would vote for New York city as the national capital, will help to account for New York's acquiescence in her admission. The administrations of Governors Tichenor and Martin Chittenden are the only distinctive federalist periods; and yet the federalists were strong enough to control the legislature, and thus obtain the state's electoral votes for Washington and Adams in 1792, and for Adams and Pinckney in 1796 and 1800. The political revolution of 1800 so far intensified political interest in the state that its majority took better care of the electoral votes, and they were thereafter cast for the democratic candidates until the downfall of the federal party. But the politics of the state had little of the bitterness which elsewhere characterized this period. Governor Chittenden's action in recalling, in 1813, a brigade of the state's militia from the service of the United States, was the only circumstance that ruffled the surface of events; and in the following year the state's participation in the Hartford convention was confined to one county and a single delegate. Immediately after the close of the war the federalist vote began to decrease rapidly, so that in 1813 Gov. Galusha received 15,243 votes out of a total of 15,992, and thereafter the federal party in the state had practically no existence. Until 1815 it was about on an equality with its opponent in every county, and in a heavy majority in the southeastern part of the state.


—As Vermont had been the first state to abolish slavery within its own limits, it was one of the first to declare war upon it without. In the United States senate, Dec. 9, 1820, resolutions of the Vermont legislature were presented, declaring that slavery was a moral and political evil, to be tolerated only of necessity, and that congress had the right to inhibit its extension by the admission of new slave states. (See COMPROMISES, IV.) These resolutions were the guide of the state's policy until the downfall of slavery. During and after the election of 1824 the Jackson candidates were always hopelessly beaten, and the "Adams republicans," even after 1827, regularly defeated both the Jackson and the anti-masonic candidates. About 1831 the national republicans and anti-masons practically united, and the state's electors in 1832 were chosen as anti-masons, with the understanding that they would vote for Clay if their votes could elect him. This contingency did not occur, and the state's vote was cast for Wirt. (See ANTI-MASONRY.) From this time the combination of national republican, anti-masonic and other elements, soon to be known as the whig party, controlled the state, and on the dissolution of the whig party the republican party at once succeeded to it. In effect, the state's last democratic electoral vote was cast in 1820. Since that year the democrats of the state have seldom polled more than 25 per cent. of the total vote in national elections; and, even in the great whig overthrow of 1852, the whig electors obtained a majority of the popular vote, Massachusetts, the only other northern whig state of that year, only giving a plurality. The state's political history is therefore invariably a part of that of the whig and republican parties.


—In state elections the result has regularly been the same. The only elections that have ever been in the least degree doubtful were the triangular contests of 1843-52, between the whigs, the democrats and the abolitionists; but even in these the result was always a plurality for the whig candidates for state offices, and their final election by the whig legislature. The election of 1847 will fairly represent most of them: Eaton (Whig), 23,933; Dillingham (democrat), 18,059; Brainard (abolitionist), 7,163. But it must be remembered that Vermont whigs were usually quite as strongly anti-slavery as the abolitionists, differing from them only on the question of action. Thus, Gov. Wm. Slade was considered a whig in his own state, but a thorough abolitionist out of it. On the formation of the republican party all distinction disappeared, and the party vote rose again to about 75 per cent. of the total. In 1882 the legislature stands as follows: senate, thirty republicans, no democrats; house, 225 republicans, thirteen democrats.


—As in several other states, the heavy and certain majority for one party has hindered the national elevation of Vermont's leading men, among whom may be specified the following: Stephen Roe Bradley, democratic United States senator 1791-5 and 1801-13; Dudley Chase (uncle of Salmon P. Chase), democratic United States senator 1813-17 and 1825-31, and state chief justice 1817-21; Nathaniel Chipman, state chief justice 1789-91 and 1794-7, United States district judge 1791-4, and United States senator 1797-1803; Martin Chittenden, federalist congressman 1803-13, and governor 1813-15; Jacob Collamer, state judge 1833-42 and 1850-54, whig congressman 1843-9, postmaster general under Taylor 1849-50, and republican United States senator 1855-65; George F. Edmunds (republican), member of the state house of representatives 1854-9 and senate 1861-2, United States senator 1866-87, one of the most prominent members of that body, and one of the candidates for the republican presidential nomination in 1880; Horace Everett, whig congressman 1829-43; Solomon Foot, whig congressman 1843-7, and republican United States senator 1857-66; Hiland Hall, whig congressman 1831-43, and state judge 1846-50; Matthew Lyon, democratic congressman 1797-1801, afterward from Kentucky, 1803-11, most noted for his rough-and-tumble fight on the floor of the house in January, 1798, with Roger Griswold, a Connecticut federalist, and for his trial and imprisonment later in the year, under the sedition law; George P. Marsh, whig congressman 1843-9, and minister to Italy 1861-82; Justin S. Morrill, republican congressman 1855-67, and United States senator 1867-85; Samuel S. Phelps, state judge 1831-8, and whig United States senator 1839-51 and 1853-4; Luke P. Poland, state judge 1848-65, republican United States senator 1865-7, and congressman 1867-75; Samuel Prentiss, whig United States senator 1831-42, and federal district judge 1842-57; William Slade, whig congressman 1831-43, and governor 1844-6; and Isaac Tichenor one of the leaders of the original independent government, state judge 1791-6, federalist United States senator 1796-7 and 1815-21, and governor 1797-1807 and 1808-9.


—The name Vermont, equivalent to Green Mountain, seems to have been suggested in 1777 by Dr. Thomas Young, of Philadelphia, to the leaders of the infant republic of "new Connecticut," and at once adopted.


—See 2 Poore's Federal and State Constitutions; 2 Hough's American Constitutions; 4 Documentary History of New York, 329 (correspondence between New York and New Hampshire); Chipman's Life of Seth Warner; 1 Sparks' American Biography (life of Ethan Allen); Slade's Vermont State Papers; Chase's Early History of Vermont; Hiland Hall's History of Vermont (to 1791); Allen's History of Vermont (1798); B. H. Hall's History of Eastern Vermont (to 1800); Williams' History of Vermont (to 1807); Beckley's History of Vermont (1846); Carpenter's History of Vermont (to 1852); Thompson's History of Vermont (with supplement, 1853); Walton's Vermont Register.


1063 of 1105

Return to top