Native Americans reside in Vermont, moving around the region seasonally to hunt, gather, and fish.
1000 –1600 CE
During the Woodland period, Native Americans establish villages and develop trade networks and ceramic and bow-and-arrow technology. The earliest known Native American farm site in Vermont is an Abenaki settlement in Springfield, dating from around 1100 CE. The Algonquian and the Iroquois also inhabit the region that becomes Vermont. The Native population in Vermont is nearly wiped out over the next two centuries due to European diseases and a desire for land among European settlers.
1600–1773 EARLY EUROPEAN EXPLORATION AND SETTLEMENT
French explorer Samuel de Champlain explores the area now known as Vermont and claims it for France. He also names Lake Champlain.
The French begin construction on Forte St. Anne on Isle LaMotte as part of their fortification of Lake Champlain. It is the site of the first European settlement in Vermont as well as the first Catholic mass.
A group of Dutch-British settlers from Albany establish a small fort at Chimney Point to monitor the French on Lake Champlain.
The colonial militia from the Province of Massachusetts Bay establishes the first British settlement in Vermont with the construction of Fort Dummer. It consists of a 180-square-foot wooden stockade with 12 guns manned by 55 men (including 12 Mohawks).
The French arrive in Swanton, and the plague follows. The local Abenaki Native Americans retreat to the woods.
The French build a fort at Chimney Point and begin a settlement, intended to block the lake route from the British colonies to Canada. After British troops close in 1759 the French blow up the fort and set fire to the houses, leaving only the chimneys, which results in the name Chimney Point.
Vermont settlers, including future revolutionary Ethan Allen, join the colonial militia to assist the British in attacking the French during the French and Indian War.
The Province of New York claims Vermont as its territory land granted to the Duke of York (later King James II) in 1664. However, New Hampshire also claims Vermont based on a decree given by George II in 1740. On July 20, George III sets the western boundary of New Hampshire, decreeing that Albany County, New York gain Vermont.
Ethan Allen recruits an informal militia, the Green Mountain Boys, to protect the interests of the New Hampshire settlers (in what is present-day Vermont) from migrants from New York.
1774–1799 REVOLUTIONARY VERMONT
The Scottish-American Land Company, a group interested in resettling Scottish immigrants in America, brings Scottish settlers to Vermont.
(March) The Westminster Massacre. A New York judge arrives in Westminster with New York settlers, leading to a standoff as angry Vermonters seize the courthouse and call a sheriff’s posse. Two men are killed.
Without firing a single shot, Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys capture the British-held fort at Ticonderoga, New York, on the western shore of Lake Champlain. This is the first aggressive Patriot act of the War of Independence.
The first convention of freemen meets in Dorset to declare the region a free and independent district.
(January 18) The Westminster Convention. Representatives meet in Westminster and declare their land an independent republic called New Connecticut (also known colloquially as The Republic of the Green Mountains). Vermont becomes a country to itself with its own postal service, money, and elected president.
(June 2) A second convention meets in Westminster and delegates adopt the name Vermont after the French les Monts Verts ("the Green Mountains"). The constitution of Vermont is drafted the following month. It is the first written constitution in North America to abolish slavery, provide suffrage to non land-owning men, and create public schools. It is formally adopted July 8.
Vermont grants women the right to own, inherit, and bequeath property.
(January 10) The Vermont Republic ratifies the U.S. Constitution.
(March 4) Vermont becomes the 14th state, the first addition to the Union that was not one of the original 13 colonies.
(November 3) Vermont becomes the 10th state to ratify the Bill of Rights.
President George Washington approves a measure to add two stars and stripes to the American flag, following the admission of Kentucky and Vermont to the union. The number of stripes is later reduced to the original thirteen.
1800–1849 STATE OF VERMONT
Montpelier is chosen as Vermont’s state capital. It is the nation’s smallest capital city by population.
Because of its close proximity to Canada, Burlington, Vermont becomes a station for 5,000 troops during the War of 1812. Troops outnumber the residents of the town at the time.
Merino sheep are introduced to Vermont, leading to a long boom-bust cycle of wool production in the state. Sheep farming collapses by the 1840s due to competition from the Western states.
The Vermont Colonization Society is formed. Its objectives are to remove all Africans in the U.S., both free and enslaved, to Liberia; "introduce civilization" to Africa; and eradicate the slave trade.
The abolitionist Liberty Party is formed in Vermont. It becomes the Free Soil Party in 1848.
The first railroad lines connecting Boston to Montreal are constructed through Vermont with the Central Vermont Railway.
1850–1899 THE CIVIL WAR AND RECONSTRUCTION ERAS
No Vermont Congressman votes for the Compromise of 1850, a series of laws intended to balance the interests of the slave states in the South and the free states in the North.
The Vermont legislature passes an act to impede the carrying out of the Fugitive Slave Act, which declares that all runaway slaves must be returned to their masters.
Vermont prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages, an act that passes by a narrow margin and is loosely enforced over the years.
The Civil War erupts. More than 28,100 Vermonters serve in volunteer units.
(October 19) The northernmost land action of the Civil War takes place in St. Albans, Vermont. Twenty-five escaped Confederate prisoners of war raid the town Canadian border town with the intent of robbing three banks and burning down the town. Most of the raiders are captured and imprisoned in Canada, then later released after a court rules the robberies an act of war.
(December 18) Women are granted limited suffrage and allowed to vote in town elections and state legislative races.
Vershire copper mines are closed after the price of copper drops. The miners riot and are subsequently arrested by the state militia.
Consisting of 132 cases, the first polio epidemic in the U.S. breaks out in Rutland, Vermont.
1900–1929 EARLY 20TH CENTURY
Vermont approves a law allowing for the local sale of alcoholic beverages, countering the prior law of 1853 that banned them entirely.
The 272-mile Long Trail, a hiking trail running the length of Vermont, is created. It is now the oldest surviving long-distance trail in the United States.
Ninety-four farmers establish Vermont dairy cooperative Cabot Creamery in order to better market their products throughout New England. The cost to join at the time is $5 a cow and a cord of wood to fuel the boiler. By 1930 cattle outnumber people in the state. Today Vermont’s dairy industry is the largest in New England.
(February 8) Vermont becomes the 38th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.
Massive flooding results in the deaths of 84 people in Vermont. The state floods from Newport to Bennington, and many of Vermont’s roads and bridges are washed away.
1930–1949 THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND WORLD WAR II
The U.S. enters World War II. The Air Force establishes numerous airfields in Vermont for training fighter and bomber crews and pilots. Several are maintained as front-line bases during the subsequent Cold War.
1950–PRESENT MODERN VERMONT
New billboards are banned in Vermont, and existing billboards must be removed within five years, keeping interstates and back roads clear of outdoor advertising.
The state legislature passes Act 250, known as the Land Use and Development Act. The law creates nine District Environmental Commissions, which review large-scale development projects using 10 criteria designed to safeguard the environment, community life, and aesthetic character of the state. It is a citizen-based response to rapid growth and a represents some of the first major environmental and development law on a state level.
Governor Tom Salmon grants the tribal council of the Abenaki Native Americans recognition. The following year, the recognition of the council is removed for unknown reasons.
(May 5) The first Ben & Jerry’s ice cream store opens in Burlington. The founders combine ice cream-making with social activism, measuring their success by a product mission, economic mission, and social mission. Their desire to consider profits as just one part of their success generates national attention.
Vermont gets a Wal-Mart, ending its claim as the only state in the U.S. without one. Today, Vermont still has the only state capital without a McDonald’s, reflecting Vermonters desire to frequent local businesses and an emphasis on quality of life rather than economic growth.
Vermont’s governor Howard Dean signs the nation’s first bill sanctioning benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples in the form of civil unions.
Bernard Sanders from Vermont becomes the first Socialist elected to the U.S. Senate, although he is counted as a Democrat for official purposes.
The Vermont government officially opposes the Iraq War. It suffers the country’s highest rate of war-related deaths due to the number of its volunteers and participation by the Vermont National Guard.
(April 7) Vermont becomes the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage, overriding Governor Jim Douglas’s veto.
(August) Tropical Storm Irene hits the East Coast of the United States. The Governor Peter Shumlin declares a state of emergency At least three people in Vermont die as a result of the storm and damage in the state is estimated at around $200 million.
Click to enlarge an image
1609: Statue of Samuel de Champlain, Lake Champlain in the background
1724: Fort Dummer Plaque
1730: Abenaki couple
1775: Engraving depicting Ethan Allen demanding the surrender of Fort Ticonderoga
1777: Flag of the Green Mountain Boys
1812: Merino sheep
1840: Van Buren and Adams campaign banner
1850: Vermont Legislature
1850: Map of the Compromise of 1850
1910: The Long Trail
1919: Cabot Creamery
1976: Governor Thomas Paul Salmon
1978: Vermont's own Ben & Jerry's
1996: Typical Wal-Mart store outside of Vermont
2000: Howard Dean's official Vermont State House portrait