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Vermont(vərmŏnt`) [Fr.,=green mountain], New England state of the NE United States. It is bordered by New Hampshire, across the Connecticut River (E), Massachusetts (S), New York, with Lake Champlain forming almost half the border (W), and the Canadian province of Quebec (N).
Facts and Figures
Area, 9,609 sq mi (24,887 sq km). Pop. (2010) 625,741, a 2.8% increase since the 2000 census. Capital, Montpelier. Largest city, Burlington. Statehood, Mar. 4, 1791 (14th state). Highest pt., Mt. Mansfield, 4,393 ft (1,340 m); lowest pt., Lake Champlain, 95 ft (29 m). Nickname, Green Mountain State. Motto, Freedom and Unity. State bird, hermit thrush. State flower, red clover. State tree, sugar maple. Abbr., Vt.; VT
The forested Green Mts. constitute the dominant physiographic feature of Vermont. They consist of at least four distinct groups, all traversing the state in a generally north-south direction. Largest and most important are the Green Mts. proper, which extend down the center of the state from the Canadian border to the Massachusetts line, rising to Vermont's highest peak, Mt. Mansfield (4,393 ft/1,339 m). The Taconic Mts., occupying the southwestern portion of the state, contain Vermont's important marble deposits. East of the Green Mts. and extending from the Canadian border to somewhat below the middle of the state are the Granite Hills, so called because of their valuable stone. The fourth group, sometimes called the Red Sandrock Hills, extends along the Vermont shore of Lake Champlain. In E Vermont there are also isolated peaks or monadnocks not connected with the principal ranges.
The rivers of Vermont (the only completely inland state of New England) flow either into the Connecticut River or into Lake Champlain. The Winooski rises east of the Green Mts. and cuts directly through them to Lake Champlain. Grand Isle county, comprising several islands and a peninsula jutting down into Lake Champlain from Canada, is connected to Vermont proper by causeways.
Vermont has a short summer and a humid, continental climate, with abundant rainfall and a growing season that varies from 120 days in the Connecticut valley to 150 in the Lake Champlain region. Winter brings heavy snows, which usually cover the ground for at least three full months, but because the state's good roads are almost always kept clear, this season no longer forces complete isolation on rural communities. With its rugged terrain, much of it still heavily wooded, Vermont has limited areas of arable land, but the state is well suited to grazing (the Justin Morgan breed of horses was developed there).
Every summer thousands of vacationers are drawn by the scenic mountains and the picturesque New England villages, while climbers attempt the many accessible peaks and hikers take on the Long Trail that runs the length of the state along the Green Mt. ridge. In the winter thousands of skiers flock to the slopes at Mad River Glen, Bromley, Stowe, Stratton, and elsewhere. MontpelierMontpelier
, city (1990 pop. 8,247), state capital (since 1805) and seat of Washington co., central Vt., at the junction of the Winooski and North Branch rivers; inc. 1855. The economy is dominated by state government and insurance industries.
..... Click the link for more information. is the capital, BurlingtonBurlington.
1 City (1990 pop. 27,208), seat of Des Moines co., SE Iowa, on four hills overlooking the Mississippi (spanned there by rail and highway bridges); inc. 1836. It is a farm, shipping, and manufacturing center with railroad shops and docks.
..... Click the link for more information. the largest city.
Dairy farming has long been dominant in Vermont agriculture, although it has declined somewhat. Apples, cheese, maple syrup, and greenhouse and nursery products are important. The state's most valuable mineral resources are stone, sand and gravel, and talc. In the areas around RutlandRutland,
city (1990 pop. 18,230), seat of Rutland co., W Vt., at the junction of Otter and East creeks; settled c.1770, inc. as a city 1892. It is a trade and tourist center with many small industries. Marble quarrying, which began c.1845, still flourishes in the area.
..... Click the link for more information. and Proctor is a noted marble industry, and at BarreBarre
, city (1990 pop. 9,482), Washington co., central Vt., SE of Montpelier; settled late 18th cent., inc. 1894. Granite quarrying, which began in the region in the early 19th cent., is still important.
..... Click the link for more information. the famous Vermont granite is quarried and processed.
The manufacture of nonelectric machinery, machine tools, and precision instruments is important. The textile industry, once dominant in Burlington, has declined, but the manufacture of computer components, food products, pulp and paper, and plastics has helped to compensate for this loss. Cottage industries have long thrived in Vermont, making a variety of products from knitwear to ice cream, while captive insurance companies (insurance companies owned by the companies they insure) are more recent and growing industry. Tourism is also vitally important to the state economy.
Government, Politics, and Higher Education
Vermont is governed under a constitution adopted in 1793. The state legislature, called the general assembly, consists of a senate with 30 members and a house of representatives with 150 members, all elected to two-year terms. The governor is elected for a two-year term. In 2003, Jim Douglas, a Republican, succeeded Democrat Howard Dean, who retired after serving since 1991. Douglas was reelected in 2004, 2006, and 2008. In 2011, Democrat Peter Shumlin was elected to the post; he was reelected in 2012 and 2015. In 2016 Republican Phil Scott was elected to succeed Shumlin; he was reelected in 2018 and 2020. Vermont sends two senators and one representative to the U.S. Congress and has three electoral votes.
The state's traditional devotion to the Republican party was evidenced in the presidential elections of 1912 and 1936, when Vermont was one of only two states in the union that voted Republican. This has changed, however, as the state's liberalism in cultural and environmental matters has turned it away from the Republican party. Since 1991, the socialist former mayor of Burlington, Bernard Sanders (who runs as an independent), has represented Vermont in the U.S. House of Representatives and then (from 2007) the Senate.
Among Vermont's institutions of higher education are Bennington College, at Bennington; Middlebury College, at Middlebury; Marlboro College, at Marlboro; Norwich Univ., at Northfield; the School for International Training, at Brattleboro; and the Univ. of Vermont, at Burlington.
The first European known to have entered the area that is now Vermont was Samuel de ChamplainChamplain, Samuel de
, 1567–1635, French explorer, the chief founder of New France.
After serving in France under Henry of Navarre (King Henry IV) in the religious wars, Champlain was given command of a Spanish fleet sailing to the West Indies, Mexico, and the
..... Click the link for more information. , who, after beginning the colonization of Quebec, journeyed south with a Huron war party in 1609 to the beautiful lake to which he gave his name. The French did not attempt any permanent settlement until 1666, when they built a fort and a shrine to Ste Anne on the Isle La MotteIsle La Motte
, island and village, 6 mi (9.7 km) long and 2 mi (3.2 km) wide, in Lake Champlain, NW Vt. The French chose the island as the site for Fort Ste Anne (built 1666), the first recorded settlement in Vermont.
..... Click the link for more information. in Lake Champlain. However, this and later French settlements were abandoned, and until well into the 18th cent. the region was something of a no-man's-land.
Benning Wentworth and the New Hampshire Grants
Fort Dummer, built (1724) by the English near the site of BrattleboroBrattleboro
, town (1990 pop. 12,241), Windham co., SE Vt., on the Connecticut River; chartered 1753. It grew from Fort Dummer, established in 1724. Once an artists' colony, Brattleboro has become a sports center and resort town. There is light manufacturing.
..... Click the link for more information. , is considered the first permanent settlement in what is now Vermont. However, Vermont's history may be said to have really begun in 1741, when Benning WentworthWentworth, Benning,
1696–1770, American colonial governor, b. Portsmouth, N.H. A leading merchant of Portsmouth, he served in the colonial assembly and council, and, when New Hampshire was established as a separate province, he was appointed (1741) governor; he served
..... Click the link for more information. became royal governor of New Hampshire. According to his commission New Hampshire extended west across the Merrimack River until it met "with our [i.e., the king's] other Governments." Since the English crown had never publicly proclaimed the eastern limits of the colony of New York, this vague description bred considerable confusion.
Wentworth, assuming that New York's modified boundary with Connecticut and Massachusetts (20 mi/32 km E of the Hudson River) would be extended even farther north, made (1749) the first of the New Hampshire GrantsNew Hampshire Grants,
early name (1749–77) for Vermont, given because most of the early settlers came in under land grants from Benning Wentworth, the colonial governor of New Hampshire.
..... Click the link for more information. —the township called Bennington—to a group that included his relatives and friends. However, New York claimed that its boundary extended as far east as the Connecticut River, and Gov. George Clinton of New York (father of Sir Henry Clinton) promptly informed Gov. Wentworth that he had no authority to make such a grant. Wentworth thereupon suggested that the dispute between New York and New Hampshire over control of Vermont be referred to the crown. The outbreak of the last of the French and Indian WarsFrench and Indian Wars,
1689–1763, the name given by American historians to the North American colonial wars between Great Britain and France in the late 17th and the 18th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. in 1754 briefly suspended interest in the area, but after the British captured Ticonderoga and Crown Point in 1759, Wentworth resumed granting land in the area of present Vermont.
In 1764 the British authorities upheld New York's territorial claim to Vermont. New York immediately tried to assert its jurisdiction—Wentworth's grants were declared void, and new grants (for the same lands) were issued by the New York authorities. Those who held their lands from New Hampshire resisted, and a hot controversy, long in the making, now exploded. New York and New Hampshire land speculators had the most at stake, with the New Hampshire grantees, first on the scene, having the advantage. Regional pride among the New England settlers played a large part in creating resistance to New York authority. Chief among the leaders of this resistance was Ethan AllenAllen, Ethan,
1738–89, hero of the American Revolution, leader of the Green Mountain Boys, and promoter of the independence and statehood of Vermont, b. Litchfield (?), Conn.
..... Click the link for more information. , who organized the Green Mountain BoysGreen Mountain Boys,
popular name of armed bands formed (c.1770) under the auspices of Ethan Allen in the Green Mountains of what is today Vermont. Their purpose was to prevent the New Hampshire Grants, as Vermont was then known, from becoming part of New York, to which it had
..... Click the link for more information. . New York courts were forcibly broken up, and armed violence was directed against New Yorkers until the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, when the British became the major threat and common enemy.
The American Revolution and Independent Vermont
At the beginning of the Revolution, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys captured TiconderogaTiconderoga
, resort village (1990 pop. 2,770), Essex co., NE N.Y., on a neck of land between lakes George and Champlain; settled in the 17th cent., inc. 1889. At Ticonderoga and nearby Crown Point, several battles in the French and Indian Wars took place.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Seth WarnerWarner, Seth,
1743–84, hero of the American Revolution, b. Roxbury, Conn. One of the group who, under Ethan Allen, resisted the New York claim to the New Hampshire Grants (now Vermont), he was outlawed by New York authorities.
..... Click the link for more information. took Crown PointCrown Point,
town (1990 pop. 1,963), Essex co., NE N.Y., on Lake Champlain. Crown Point is a summer resort on a historic site. A bridge there crosses the lake to Addison, Vt. The French began building Fort St. Frédéric in 1731.
..... Click the link for more information. . In Jan., 1777, Vermont (as its citizens were soon calling the region) proclaimed itself an independent state at a meeting in the town of Westminster. Chiefly because of the opposition of New York, the Continental Congress refused to recognize Vermont as the 14th colony or state. The convention that met at Windsor in July reaffirmed Vermont's independent status and adopted a constitution, notable especially because it was the first in the United States to provide for universal male suffrage. Thomas ChittendenChittenden, Thomas
, 1730–97, governor of Vermont, b. East Guilford, Conn. After moving to Vermont in 1774, he was active in the Windsor Convention, which declared (1777) Vermont independent.
..... Click the link for more information. was elected the first governor.
The Green Mountain Boys under Seth Warner and John StarkStark, John,
1728–1822, American Revolutionary soldier, b. Londonderry, N.H. He fought in the French and Indian Wars. At the start of the Revolution he distinguished himself at Bunker Hill, and he served in the Quebec campaign and with George Washington at Princeton and
..... Click the link for more information. made an important contribution to the American cause with their victory at Bennington in Aug., 1777 (see Saratoga campaignSaratoga campaign,
June–Oct., 1777, of the American Revolution. Lord George Germain and John Burgoyne were the chief authors of a plan to end the American Revolution by splitting the colonies along the Hudson River.
..... Click the link for more information. ). Later, Ethan Allen and his brother Ira AllenAllen, Ira,
1751–1814, political leader in early Vermont, b. Cornwall, Conn. He was the younger brother and the assistant of Ethan Allen. Although he was a member of the Green Mountain Boys, he took little part in their activities.
..... Click the link for more information. , acting on their own, entered into devious negotiations with British agents, possibly with the intent of annexing Vermont to Canada. The talks were inconclusive and ended when the Americans finally triumphed at Yorktown in 1781. For ten years Vermont remained an independent state, performing all the offices of a sovereign government (such as coining money, setting up post offices, naturalizing new citizens, and appointing ambassadors) and gradually becoming more and more independent.
Statehood, at Last
Not until 1791, after many delays and misunderstandings and, most important, after the dispute with New York was finally adjusted (1790) by payment of $30,000, did Vermont enter the Union. It was the first state to be admitted after the adoption of the Constitution by the 13 original states. In the next two decades Vermont had the greatest population increase in its history, from 85,425 in 1790 to 217,895 in 1810. As in the earlier days, most of the settlers migrated from S New England, and, since the more desirable lands in the river valleys were soon taken, many of them settled in the less hospitable hills.
Although the Embargo Act of 1807Embargo Act of 1807,
passed Dec. 22, 1807, by the U.S. Congress in answer to the British orders in council restricting neutral shipping and to Napoleon's restrictive Continental System. The U.S.
..... Click the link for more information. aided the development of many small manufacturing establishments, it was bitterly opposed in Vermont for its disruption of the profitable trade with Canada. The War of 1812War of 1812,
armed conflict between the United States and Great Britain, 1812–15. It followed a period of great stress between the two nations as a result of the treatment of neutral countries by both France and England during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars,
..... Click the link for more information. was unpopular in Vermont as it was in the rest of New England, and during the war extensive smuggling across the Canadian border was carried on. Vermont was threatened by British invasion from Canada until U.S. troops, under Thomas MacdonoughMacdonough, Thomas
, 1783–1825, American naval officer, b. New Castle co., Del. In the Tripolitan War he took part in the burning of the captured Philadelphia and the attack on the Tripolitan gunboats.
..... Click the link for more information. , won (1814) the battle on Lake Champlain.
At this early period in its history, Vermont, lacking an aristocracy of wealth, was the most democratic state in New England. Jeffersonian Democrats held control for most of the first quarter of the 19th cent. Beginning in the 1820s political and social life in Vermont was considerably affected by the activities of those opposed to Freemasonry, and in the presidential election of 1832 Vermont was the only state carried by William Wirt, candidate of the Anti-Masonic partyAnti-Masonic party,
American political organization that rose after the disappearance in W New York state in 1826 of William Morgan. A former Mason, Morgan had written a book purporting to reveal Masonic secrets.
..... Click the link for more information. . Anti-Masonry agitation was soon succeeded by even more vigorous efforts in behalf of another cause—the one against slavery.
The Mexican and Civil Wars
In the Mexican War, which it viewed as having been undertaken solely to increase slave territory, Vermont was very apathetic. However, no Northern state was more energetic in support of the Union cause in the Civil War, and Vermonters strongly favored Lincoln over Vermont-born Stephen Douglas. One of the most bizarre incidents of the war was the Confederate raid (1864) on Saint Albans, a town which, after the war, also figured in the equally bizarre attempt of the Fenians to invade Canada in the cause of Irish independence.
The Changing Economy of Vermont
The economy of the state, meanwhile, was in the midst of a series of sharp dislocations. The rise of manufacturing in towns and villages during the early 19th cent. had created a demand for foodstuffs for the nonfarming population. Consequently, commercial farming began to crowd out the subsistence farming that had predominated since the mid-18th cent. Grain and beef cattle became the chief market produce, but when the rapidly expanding West began to supply these commodities more cheaply and when wool textile mills began to spring up in S New England, Vermont turned to sheep raising.
After the Civil War, however, the sheep industry, unable to withstand the competition from the American West as well as from Australian, and South American wool, began to diminish. The rural population declined as many farmers migrated westward or turned to the apparently easier life of the cities, and abandoned farms became a common sight. The transition to dairy farming in the 20 years following the war staved off a permanent decline in Vermont's agricultural pursuits.
Since the 1960s, Vermont's economy has grown significantly with booms in the tourist industry and in exurban homebuilding and with the attraction of high-technology firms to the Burlington area. In recent years, prosperity has to some degree conflicted with concern for environmental issues. Nonetheless, the state has been active in attempts to preserve its natural beauty, enacting very strict laws regarding industrial pollution and the conservation of natural resources.
See Federal Writers' Project, Vermont: A Guide to the Green Mountain State (3d ed. 1968); R. N. Hill et al., comp., Vermont (1969); A. M. Hemenway, Abby Hemenway's Vermont, ed. by B. C. Morrissey from the 5-volume Vermont Historical Gazetteer of 1881 (1972); C. T. Morrissey, Vermont (1981); T. D. Bassett, Vermont: A Bibliography of Its History (1983); H. A. Meeks, Vermont's Land and Resources (1986).
Vermont State Information
Area (sq mi):: 9614.26 (land 9249.56; water 364.70) Population per square mile: 67.40
Population 2005: 623,050 State rank: 0 Population change: 2000-20005 2.30%; 1990-2000 8.20% Population 2000: 608,827 (White 96.20%; Black or African American 0.50%; Hispanic or Latino 0.90%; Asian 0.90%; Other 1.80%). Foreign born: 3.80%. Median age: 37.70
Income 2000: per capita $20,625; median household $40,856; Population below poverty level: 9.40% Personal per capita income (2000-2003): $27,680-$30,888
Unemployment (2004): 3.70% Unemployment change (from 2000): 1.00% Median travel time to work: 21.60 minutes Working outside county of residence: 21.50%
List of Vermont counties:
- US National Parks
- State Parks
- National Wildlife Refuges
- National Forests
state in the northeastern USA, belonging to the group of New England states. Area, 24,900 sq km. Population, 438,000 (1970), including an urban population of approximately 40 percent. Administrative center—the city of Montpelier. The largest city in Vermont is Burlington. Most of the state’s territory (63 percent) is occupied by mountains of the Appalachian system—the Green Mountains (ranging to 1,338 m in elevation)—and is overgrown with forests; the only lowland sections suitable for agriculture are located in the narrow river valleys (the Connecticut and others) and in the valley of Lake Champ lain. Precipitation amounts to as much as 1,000 mm annually.
Vermont is one of the least urbanized and least economically developed states. The leading branch of its economy is agriculture, and 75 percent of the commercial agricultural output is provided by dairy farming. Cattle number 351,000 head, including 231,000 head of milk cows (1969). Only 11 percent of Vermont’s territory is plowed; more than 90 percent of the harvest area is taken up by various types of grass. There are crops of corn (for silage), oats, and potatoes. The ruin of farmers (the number of farms dropped from 25,000 in 1930 to 9,200 in 1964) and the weak development of industries in the cities constitute the reasons for the population’s migration to other states; during the years 1950-68 its growth amounted to only 10 percent.
The rated capacity of Vermont’s electric power plants is 325,000 kilowatts (1967), including 200,000 kilowatts from hydroelectric power plants. Manufacturing industries employ 45,000 people (1969). Industries include wood processing, paper, textile, and metalworking. Asbestos, marble, granite, and copper are mined there. An important and rapidly growing part of the economy is the serving of tourists, who are attracted by the beauty of this state’s rivers, lakes, and forests.
V. M. GOKHMAN
Fourteenth state; admitted on March 4, 1791
Town meetings held all over the state on the first Tuesday in March serve in part to commemorate Vermont’s Admission Day.
State capital: Montpelier Nickname: The Green Mountain State State motto: Freedom and Unity State animal: Morgan horse State beverage: Milk State bird: Hermit thrush (Hylocichla guttata) State butterfly: Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) State fish: cold water: Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis);
warm water: Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum vitreum) State flower: Red clover (Trifolium pratense) State fossil: White whale (Delphinapterus leucus) State fruit and pie: Apple State gem: Grossular garnet State insect: Honeybee (Apis mellifera) State mineral: Talc State rocks: Marble, granite, and slate State soil: Tunbridge soil series State song: “These Green Mountains” designated new state
song in 2000; old state song was “Hail, Vermont” State tree: Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)
More about state symbols at:
More about the state at:
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 182
AnnivHol-2000, p. 39
State web site:
Office of the Governor
109 State St
Montpelier, VT 05609
Secretary of State
26 Terrace St
Montpelier, VT 05609
Vermont Dept of Libraries
109 State St
Montpelier, VT 05609