History of Vermont
In the period between 8500 and 7000 BC, when parts of the present-day Vermont were covered by the Champlain sea (a temporary inlet of the Atlantic Ocean), Vermont was inhabited by Native American tribes who used to hunt there. The first villages were established in the period between 1000 BC and AD 1600. The western part of Vermont was inhabited by Mohican and Abenaki peoples of the Algonquian-speaking tribes. They were mostly expelled from the territory between the 16th and 17th centuries by the Iroquois, who arrived and claimed the land.
The first explorer in Vermont was Jacques Cartier, in 1535. In 1609, Samuel de Champlain claimed the land for New France and the first permanent settlement in Vermont was established in 1666. Soon came the Dutch and the English. The first English settlement was Fort Dummer in 1724. In the following years, both the French and the English built forts and eventually entered an armed conflict over the land. The French and Indian War began in 1754 and ended with the defeat of the French. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 gave the land to the British. Many new settlers came to Vermont after the war and the area started to grow and prosper.
In 1764, a boundary was established between New York and New Hampshire. New York was not satisfied with land titles granted to New Hampshire, the colonists grew angry and finally organized to create the independent Vermont in 1777. For the first six months, it was called the Republic of New Connecticut. The Constitution of Vermont, adopted on July 8, 1777, was one of the first written constitutions and the first to abolish slavery, introduce universal right to vote for all adult males and require state support for public school system.
During the Revolutionary War, the territory of present-day Vermont saw only one battle (the Battle of Hubbardton), but the battles of Saratoga and Bennington in 1777, which basically decided the outcome of the war, were very important for Vermont and are still celebrated as a state holiday.
Vermont lost almost 15% of its adult male population in the Civil War, which is the highest percentage in the entire US. As for the war action, Vermont was the site of the St. Albans Raid.
In the 20th century, Vermont had serious problems with flooding. The two most severe floods occurred in 1927, killing 84 people, and in 1973, killing two people and causing a lot of material damage. Hurricane Irene in 2011 also caused severe flooding. The 1938, the New England Hurricane hit Vermont along with other states in the region. This hurricane caused a lot of property damage and destroyed up to one-third of the total forests in New England.
Vermont is one of the pioneer states when it comes to gay rights. It was the first state to introduce civil unions between same-sex partners in 2000 and one of the first states to legalize same-sex marriage, in 2009.
Vermont is located in the northeastern part of the United States and it is one of the New England states (along with New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut). With an area of 9,614 square miles, it is only the 45th largest US state. It is also the smallest landlocked state in the United States.
The Connecticut River marks the eastern border of the state, the one with New Hampshire, while Lake Champlain separates Vermont from New York. Lake Champlain is also the sixth largest fresh water body in the USA.
Vermont borders Canada (Quebec, to be specific) and has 15 federal border crossings.
The Green Mountains are a major mountain range in Vermont, extending from north to south throughout most of the state. This range got its name either because it was always significantly greener than the Adirondacks and the White Mountains (in New York and New Hampshire respectively) or because they are rich in green-colored shale.
The southwestern portion of the state is dominated by the Taconic Mountains, while the Granitic Mountains are located in the northeastern portion. The Champlain Valley is in the northwest and Lake Bomoseen is located to the south of it.
The highest mountain in Vermont is Mount Mansfield, followed by Killington Peak, Camel’s Hump and Mount Abraham.
Important national parks and monuments in Vermont include the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (a 2,179 miles trail that spans fourteen US states).
There are nine incorporated cities in Vermont: Burlington, South Burlington, Rutland, Barre, Montpelier, Winooski, St. Albans, Newport and Vergennes. Some of the largest towns in the state include Essex, Colchester, Bennington, Brattleboro, Milton and Hartford. Some of these towns are actually larger than some of the incorporated cities, but they are still classified as towns.
The climate in Vermont is humid continental. The summers are humid and warm and the winters are cold. In higher elevations, the winters can be too cold to snow.
The climate change that is currently affecting the entire world is believed to be harming the famous sugar maple in Vermont and, consequently, the production of maple syrup in the state. Some experts fear that the sugar maple will soon have to be replaced with the more resilient Norway maple.
Population of Vermont
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Vermont in 2011 was 626,431. This makes Vermont the second least populous US states, right after Wyoming. The population of Vermont is predominately white (94.3% are non-Hispanic Whites). The1.3% of the population are Asians, 1.5% Hispanics, 1% Blacks, 0.4% Native Americans and 1.7% people of mixed race.
As for the ancestry, the largest groups are French or French Canadian (23.9%) and English (18.6%), followed by Irish, German, Italian, American, Scottish, Polish, Scotch-Irish, Swedish, Dutch, Russian and Welsh.
Vermont has the second oldest median age, the oldest work force median age and the second lowest birth rate in the entire USA.
Vermont is one of the least religious US states. Those who identify themselves as religious are predominately Christian. The largest denomination is Roman Catholic, followed by Protestants, Episcopalians and Baptists.
Although the two most important leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith, Jr. and Brigham Young, were both born in Vermont, the state only has 4,300 Mormons.
The state also has a high number of converted Buddhists and several large Buddhist retreats and temples.
Economy of Vermont
The major industries in Vermont include agriculture, manufacturing, health care, insurance, tourism and quarrying.
Agriculture contributes to approximately 12% of the total state economy. Forests and logging have once been a major source of income for the state. However, that activity has recently declined. Today, the state is devoted to the regrowth and forest maintenance, seeing as the 78% of the state is covered in forests.
Dairy production is a very important agricultural activity in Vermont. In the past, dairy production was mostly operated through small private farms and dairy barns (an iconic image of Vermont) but today this sector has been largely industrialized. Even as the number of cattle declined, the production of milk kept growing, because of the significantly higher production per cow. Vermont also has many organic dairy farms and a significant part of the milk production is for the Massachusetts market.
Vermont has approximately 2,000 maple syrup producers. In addition to this product, Vermont is also famous for its artisan and fine foods and various novelty items, such as Cabot Cheese, Lake Champlain Chocolates, King Arthur Flour, wines, artisan beers, ginseng products and many more. The famous Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream was founded in Vermont in 1978 and its primary factory is located in Burlington.
Vermont, together with Rhode Island and New Hampshire, is considered to be one of the most expensive American states for manufacturers. The largest manufacturer in the state is IBM, which employs almost 7,000 people and annually contributes approximately $1 billion to the state economy.
The state is a popular tourist destination, especially in the winter. It is estimated that 15% of housing units in Vermont are used for recreational or seasonal use and renting. Vermont is a major skiing center in New England, with locations that include Bolton Valley, Burke Mountain Ski Area, Killington Ski Resort, Bromley, Suicide Six, Sugarbush, Jay Peak and Magic Mountain Ski Area. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, the visitors also enjoy fishing (ice and lake fishing), hiking, hunting and snowmobiling.
In the summer, the main tourist destinations in Vermont include Stowe, Woodstock, Manchester and Wilmington.
Several festivals are held in Vermont each year. Some of the most popular ones are Vermont Maple Festival Vermont Mozart Festival, Vermont Brewers Festival, Apple Festival, Marlboro Music Festival and Vermont Dairy Festival.
Another important industry in Vermont is quarrying and carving, especially marble and granite. Rutland and Barre are considered to be the national centers for this industry. The first ever granite quarry in USA was founded in Vermont, and the state is also the largest producer of slate in America. The largest granite quarry in USA, the Rock of Ages, is located in Graniteville, Vermont.
Vermont Government and Legislation
Vermont has two senators and one representative in the United States Congress. The Vermont General Assembly, the Vermont Governor and the Vermont Supreme Court are the main bodies of the state’s legislative, executive and judicial government branches. The General Assembly consists of the Vermont House of Representatives (150 members) and the Vermont Senate (30 members). Both Representatives and Senators serve two-year terms and are elected every even-numbered year.
The Governor of Vermont also serves a two-year term. Vermont and New Hampshire are the only US states in which the governor does not serve a four-year term. As of 2012, the Governor of Vermont was Peter Shumlin, elected in January 2011.
Traditionally, Vermonters were always known for their political independence. From 1777 to 1791, Vermont was an independent nation (one of the four states, aside from the Thirteen Colonies, that were once recognized as independent nations, the other three being Texas, Hawaii and California). Vermont and Maine were also the only states that voted against Franklin D. Roosevelt in all of his presidential campaigns.
As for the national politics, Vermont used to be one of the most reliable Republican states. Before it voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, Vermont had voted Democratic only once, in 1964. After 1992, Vermont has voted Democratic in every presidential election.
Vermont was the sixth state to legalize the same-sex marriage in 2009. It is also one of the four states in the USA where it is legal for an adult to carry a concealed firearm and the only state without the balanced budget requirement (regardless of that, Vermont has had a balanced budget every year since 1991).
Education in Vermont
The Vermont State Board of Education administers the public education in the state and also audits the performance of private schools. Vermont has 250 public schools, including 28 union high schools.
As for the higher education, Vermont has 23 universities and colleges, including one research university, six master’s universities, one law school (Vermont Law School), one art school (Vermont College of Fine Arts) and one culinary school (New England Culinary Institute).
Vermont State Colleges is the state’s system of public colleges, currently operating five colleges: Castleton State College, Community College of Vermont, Johnson State College, Lyndon State College and Vermont Technical College.
As for the private colleges, there are fourteen of them in Vermont, including Burlington College, Godard College, Bennington College and Champlain College.
The oldest college in Vermont is Castleton State College, founded in 1787, and the newest one is Landmark College, founded in 1984.
The flagship public university and the largest university in the state is the University of Vermont.
Vermont is one of the most expensive states in the USA when it comes to the average in-state annual tuition.
The main form of transportation in Vermont is by car. The state has 2,840 miles of highway, which is a very low number compared to other US states. Fortunately for Vermonters, only 2,5% of the highways are classified as “congested”. Vermont also has a fairly low highway fatality rate.
The major routes in Vermont in the north-south direction include I-89, I-91 and I-93, as well as the U.S. Route 5 and U.S. Route 7. Vermont Route 100 runs along the full length of the Green Mountains.
The east-west routes do not include any interstate highways and instead consist of the U.S. Route 2, U.S. Route 4, U.S. Route 302, Vermont Route 9 and Vermont Route 105.
The public transit in Vermont is not very broad in terms of coverage. Small towns are serviced by Greyhound buses and there are two Amtrak lines that run through the state – the Vermonter (St. Albans-New York City-Washington DC) and the Ethan Allen Express (New York-Albany-Rutland). Other railroads in the state include the New England Central Railroad, the Green Mountain Railroad and the Vermont Railway.
There are two commercial airports in Vermont: Burlington International Airport BTV), the largest airport in the state, and Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport.