Texas and Vermont are two States that have something in common. Both were independent countries at one time, with a more or less reputable form of government. Vermont had a hard time breaking into the Union. Congress twice refused its appeal for admission, though the Green Mountain Boys had rendered valiant service at Bennington and in the capture of Ticonderoga and at Crown Point. In fact the first severe blow dealt the British forces was at Bennington. This victory led to Burgoyne’s surrender and established the reputation of the Continental troops so that France recognized our independence.
Vermont had a hard time of it in those years. The territory that is now Vermont was claimed by both Massachusetts and New York, and later, when New Hampshire was set off from Massachusetts as a separate royal province, New Hampshire made even more vehement claims of sovereignty. Governor Benning Wentworth, in his large-handed way, granted to prospective land exploiters a good part of Vermont, always, of course, reserving a portion of each grant for himself. It was not until 1791, after paying New York $30,000 blackmail in liquidation of all her claims, that Vermont finally broke into the Union as the fourteenth State.
The Green Mountain Boys were Connecticut Yankees transplanted. Vermont might well be considered the offspring of a single Connecticut county, for Ethan Allen and a good part of his `boys’ were natives of Litchfield county. When a government was established in 1777, it was natural that the State should take the name of `New Connecticut,’ but a year later some poetically minded man wished upon the State a Latin name, the only one in the Union, all the other States having good Indian, Mexican, or English names.
The map of Vermont is thickly spotted with the names of Connecticut towns without even an apologetic `New.’ When Massachusetts men transplanted the names of their native towns to New Hampshire, they had the modesty to at least prefix a `New’ to `Boston’ or `Ipswich.’ The first Governor and forty-five of her Governors in all have been natives of Connecticut. Twenty-one of her Supreme Court judges and eleven of her United States Senators were born on Connecticut soil.
Vermont is a wedge-shaped State with its narrower end toward the south. This may be due to its having to push so hard to get into the Union. On its northern boundary is Lake Memphremagog, with a name so long that it has to lap over into Canada.
Vermont makes four fifths of the maple sugar in New England, and quite as large a proportion of its tombstones. The sap is boiled every Spring in the upper Deerfield valley and in almost every other part of the State. The tombstones hold down perpetually the deceased throughout the whole U.S.A. A good part of Vermont’s mountain ridges are of solid marble, which can be cut into memorial tablets as death creates a demand.
Vermont originated the Morgan mare and a large crop of Middle Western statesmen. All of her native sons who moved to the Middle West early enough seem to have become millionaires, rail-road magnates, or at least United States Senators.
Vermont is pre-eminently a dairy state. Taking the area and population into account, no other State in the Union is in the same class with it. Of the 202 creameries in New England, 107 are in Vermont. Even such distinguished citizens as Theodore Vail, who only play at farming, maintain a dairy to uphold their reputation in the State.
Vermont is public-spirited. Its people have pride of place. Considering its wealth and sparse population, its roads are perhaps the best in the Union. It was the first State to have an educational survey, and the committee in charge wisely turned it over to the Carnegie Foundation, thus getting a thorough job instead of political jobbery.
For 113 years Walton’s Annual Directory and Register of Vermont has been published. This brings together information vital to all Vermonters and has served to give unity to the interests and sympathy of the people. In all that century the great and wealthy Commonwealth of Massachusetts has not yet learned to do the same:
Vermonters are conservative as well as progressive. Once converted to an idea, they stick to it. When the Republican Party was born, it appealed to the voters, and since then the State has gone Republican `hell bent for election.’ Only once, when the still-born Progressive Party came forth, did they show even a doubt. In 1852 Vermont went prohibition and for exactly half a century remained dry. Even today most of the rural communities are dry enough, though public opinion is sometimes nicely balanced. The little town of Glastonbury, for instance, with twenty-nine inhabitants, at the last election voted on the license question, yes, 2; no, 3.
Some years ago a master at Vermont Academy who loved the mountains and the outdoors undertook to impart something of his own enthusiasm for these things to the boys under him. It was not long before he had them taking twenty-mile hikes across country, in their week-end vacations traveling halfway across the State to climb some new peak. Out of this grew the Green Mountain Club, which has in the past few years awakened enthusiasm for pedestrianism, inspired hundreds of pairs of unused legs to activity, stimulated the pride of the whole State, and built some 150 miles or more of mountain trail almost through the length of the state.
The man was James P. Taylor. The Green Mountain Club did not half absorb his energies. He created the Greater Vermont Association, the scope of which is as wide as the State. Its great result has been to awaken pride in the State and to stimulate every man, woman, and child Vermonter to work for the common weal. And it has done it. Vermont may well be proud of having the only organization of this kind in New England.