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Revised 27 December 2010


Vermont was first explored in 1609 by French navigator Samuel de Champlain. Champlain traveled south from Quebec into the lake which now bears his name. It is the largest lake in New England. French holdings in Vermont never really extended beyond a series of forts around the area, but because of the French and Indian hostilities generating from the Quebec district north of Vermont, Vermont was settled later than the other New England states. Once the French released all claims on the sections within the American colonies, the settlers began establishing a strong foothold in the area. The first permanent white settlement was at Fort Dummer. After the Revolutionary War, the neighboring state's colonial governor gave out "New Hampshire Grants"--a group of small towns. New Hampshire claimed the territory extending all the way west to the Hudson River, while New York claimed sovereignty over all the lands west of the Connecticut River--meaning they had overlapping territorial claims. New York refused to recognize Vermont land grants given by New Hampshire and many Vermont residents refused to accept the New York land claims. In 1770, a group known as the Green Mountain Boys, led by Ethan Allen, began harassing the "Yorker" surveyors and court officers. This same group of militia helped capture Fort Ticonderoga from the British in 1775.

From 1777, Vermont functioned as an Independent republic, operating under its own constitution, electing its own officials and even minting its own coins. It declared its independence from Britain and declared slavery to be prohibited. When Vermont finally joined the union 4 March 1791, New York still perceived this as a major loss of territory and were granted compensation of $30,000 for compensation. In 1823, the Champlain Canal was completed which linked Vermont to New York City.

Massachusetts and Connecticut were the main areas providing settlers to Vermont. They furnished settlers for almost every community in Vermont. Settlers also came in from Canada, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Maine and New Jersey. The French Canadians contributed to the population in the early 1900s, followed by the Irish. The Markham Mountain area in southwestern Windsor county and the Equinox Mountain section of Northern Bennington County were settled by farmers from Finland. The Welsh were attracted to the slate quarries in Midwestern Rutland County. The granite quarries of Montpelier attracted the Russians, the Polish, the Czechs, the Austrians and the Swedish. It is thought that about half the foreign-born settlers of Vermont came from Canada.

By around 1840, most of the land was cleared and small farms became the primary source of the state economy. Vermont did not attract large industries, so no major urban areas were formed. Ever against slavery, Vermont nullified the U. S. Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, which law required any runaway slaves be returned to their masters. When the Civil War broke out, St. Albans, Vermont, was attacked. At the end of this war, many of the Vermont veterans headed west and left behind the remnants of their stay.

Vermont provided us with two U. S. Presidents, Chester A. Arthur in 1881, and Calvin Coolidge, in 1923. Vermont went on to become a major recreational area and one of the world's largest sources of granite. Its best gift to the citizens is the wonderful maple syrup products. They are the leading producers in the nation for this product.

Name Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Addison 1785 Rutland Middlebury
Bennington 1779 Original County Bennington
Caledonia 1792 Newly Organized Territory St. Johnsbury
Chittenden 1787 Original County Burlington
Essex 1792 Unorganized Territory Guildhall
Franklin 1787 Original County St. Albans
Grand Isle 1802 Franklin North Hero
Lamoille 1835 Chittenden Hyde Park
Orange 1781 Original County Chelsea
Orleans 1792 Original County Newport
Rutland 1781 Original County Rutland
Washington 1810 Addison, Orange Montpelier
Windham 1779 Bennington Newfane & Marlboro
Windsor 1781 Original County N. Hartland & Woodstock