HST 184: Vermont History

Summer 2005


Class One


“A Sense of Place”: "Some are born in their place, some find it, some realize after long searching that the place they left is the one they have been searching for. But whatever their relation to it, it is made a place only by slow accrual like a coral reef…At least in geographical terms, the frontiers have been explored and crossed. It is probably time we settled down. It is probably time we looked around us instead of looking ahead." Wallace Stegner, 1958


The three main questions of our course:


1. What is wise use of land?

2. How do you make society fair?

3. Who is a Vermonter?


How much agreement was there among the first generation of settlers in Vermont on these three questions?



Key words and phrases for today:


“Imagined Community”

“The Moral Economy”/Robert Keayne

“The Puritan Dilemma”

Samuel Robinson

The Great Awakening

Benning Wentworth

The New Hampshire Grants

Privy Council Decision (1764)

Ethan Allen

Thomas Chittenden

Remember Baker

New York’s “Anti-Rent War”

James Breakenridge

The Albany Court

The “Bennington Mob”/The Green Mountain Boys

William Tryon

Fort Ticonderoga


In VT:

1759-60: 300 inhabitants

1762: 70 families in east towns, under 50 in Bennington region.

1767: "not 250 families"

1771: 7-10,000 people in NH Grants


NY woman in Hudson River Valley: the older residents were soon "succeeded by Zephaniah and Obadiah from Hampshire or CT, who came in without knowing; sat down without invitation; and lighted their pipe without ceremony; then talked of buying land, and finally began a discourse on politics, foaming with religion and political fury…They flocked indeed so fast, to every unoccupied spot, that their malignant and envious spirit, their hatred of subordination...began to spread like a taint of infection."



The big picture:


Why does this era result in a some people crafting a social and political order they didn’t want, or committing themselves to values with which they disagree?


How did those people come to commit themselves to a set of values that could be contradictory?


Did the first settlers in Vermont want to start something new or recapture something old?


Would the imagined community of Vermonters at first be weakened or strengthened by diversity? i.e. if “who is a Vermonter?” was defined narrowly, would their likelihood of succeeding increase?



Remember!: the first generation of Vermonters settled on the tops of hills.