Vermont History

Summer 2005

Class eight



PART I: “Aiken points the way!”


Key Words and phrases:

Perry Merrill/Civilian Conservation Corps

The Rutland Marble Strike (1935-36)

The Green Mountain Parkway

The United Committee to Aid the Marble


The Vermont Farm-Labor Council

The Vermont Industrial Relations



Sinclair Lewis on Rutland, 1936: “I intended first to write a story for you…but I have soured on the strike…it’s just a plain strike.”


1937-1941: The Governorship of George Aiken


Aiken: “This is, or should be, an era of cooperation—collective bargaining, if that’s labor’s name for it. In agriculture we have cooperatives…It is the same thing.”


The Coalition:


--Arthur Packard: VT Farm Bureau

--John C. Lawson: United Stone and Allied Products Workers Union

--Royce Pitkin: President of Goddard College


The lesson of George Aiken in the late New Deal era is that the key to life is to gracefully and realistically accept change, and to shape change in a way that conserves, transmits, rectifies and expands the heritage of values one has received.



PART II: 1945-1950s: Vermont in Purgatory (Between the War and the Interstate Highway System)


Key Words and phrases:

Susie Wilson

Wallace Stegner (Greensboro)

The 1946 Gibson-Proctor Election

The Shelburne Museum/Electra Havemeyer Webb (1947)

Vermont Life Magazine (1947)

The Eisenhower Interstate Highway System


Did Vermont remain strong as an idea because of the idea’s flexibility or rigidity?


Is Vermont tradition primarily about preserving or developing? The appeal of its landscape primarily came from the extent to which it was or wasn’t used?


Vermont Life, 1948: “No one could have come better equipped to collect Vermont folklore than Mrs. Flanders. Vermonters are a clannish lot and have an aversion to outsiders. But this woman was a real native whose father had been governor.”


In the post-war era, who had greater power to define who and what a “Vermonter” was—uphillers or downhillers? Was that definition more or less likely than in the past to describe someone with uphill or downhill characteristics?


Does the idea that capitalism needs to be modified to provide balance come from the logic of uphill or downhill life?


If VT is a strongly environmentalist state, is it because downhill came to see things uphill ways, or uphill saw things downhill ways?


In 1947 there were 535 sawmills in Vermont. In 1962 there were 297.


Between 1830 and 1960, big towns gained population, small towns lost, overall population remained about the same. When this trend ends, will that make it easier or harder for Vermont to achieve its goal of balance?


Is dramatic change coming from outside the state likely to cause different kinds of Vermonters to pull together or to pull apart?


Does Vermont’s special place in the American fabric come from the perception that it is ahead or behind the rest of the country? (or, that it is what America was, or should become?)