Simon Legree

Vermont

[ver-mont]

Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 45th by total area and 43rd by land area at . It has a population of 608,827, ranking 49th of all fifty states (surpassing only Wyoming). The only New England state with no coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, Vermont is notable for the Green Mountains running north to south and Lake Champlain which makes up 50% of Vermont's western border. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, New Hampshire to the east, New York to the west, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north.

Originally inhabited by Native American tribes (Abenaki, and Iroquois), the territory that is now Vermont was claimed by France but became a British possession after France's defeat in the French and Indian War. For many years, the surrounding colonies disputed control of the area, especially New Hampshire and New York. Settlers who held land titles granted by these colonies were opposed by the Green Mountain Boys militia, which eventually prevailed in creating an independent state, the Vermont Republic, which was founded during the Revolutionary War and lasted for 14 years. In 1791, Vermont joined the United States as the fourteenth state.

The state is noted for its scenery and dairy products. It is the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States. The state capital is Montpelier, and the largest city and metropolitan area is Burlington. No other state has a largest city as small as Burlington.

The origin of the name Green Mountains (Les verts monts) is uncertain. Some authorities say that they are so named because they have much more forestation than the higher White Mountains of New Hampshire and Adirondacks of New York. Other authorities say that they are so named because of the predominance of mica-quartz-chlorite schist, a green-hued metamorphosed shale. The Green Mountain range forms a north-south spine running most of the length of the state, slightly west of its center. In the southwest portion of the state are the Taconic Mountains; the Granitic Mountains are in the northeast. In the northwest near Lake Champlain is the fertile Champlain Valley. In the south of the valley is Lake Bomoseen.

Several mountains have timberlines with delicate year round alpine ecosystems. These include Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain in the state, Killington Peak, the second highest, and Camels Hump the state's third highest. About 77 percent of the state is covered by forest; the rest is covered in meadow, uplands, lakes, ponds and swampy wetlands.

Areas in Vermont administered by the National Park Service include the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock.

Cities

Cities (2003 estimated population):

Largest towns

Although these towns are large enough to be considered cities, they are not incorporated as such.

Largest towns (2003 estimated population):

Climate

Vermont has a continental moist climate, with warm, humid summers and cold winters, which become colder at higher elevations. It has a Koppen climate classification of Dfb, similar to Minsk, Stockholm and Fargo. Vermont is known for its mud season in spring followed by a generally mild early summer, hot Augusts and a colorful autumn, and particularly for its cold winters. The northern part of the state, including the rural northeastern section (dubbed the "Northeast Kingdom") is known for exceptionally cold winters, often averaging 10 °F (5.56 °C) colder than the southern areas of the state. Annual snowfall averages between to depending on elevation, giving Vermont some of New England's best cross-country and downhill ski areas. The annual mean temperature for the state is .

In the autumn, Vermont's hills experience an explosion of red, orange and gold foliage displayed on the sugar maple as cold weather approaches. This famous display of color that occurs so abundantly in Vermont is not due so much to the presence of a particular variant of the sugar maple; rather it is caused by a number of soil and climate conditions unique to the area.

The highest-recorded temperature was 105 °F (41 °C), at Vernon on July 4, 1911; the lowest-recorded temperature was -50 °F (-46 °C), at Bloomfield on December 30, 1933.

Monthly normal and record high and low temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 59 63 84 91 94 96 101 98 95 87 69 62
Norm High °F 25 31 43 51 64 76 81 78 71 54 36 28
Norm Low °F 4 10 22 30 43 55 60 57 50 33 15 7
Rec Low °F -38 -35 -18 9 24 36 41 38 21 4 -16 -32
Precip (in) 0.61 0.63 0.68 1.99 4.01 4.06 4.07 4.00 3.95 2.48 0.66 0.62
Source: USTravelWeather.com

The agricultural growing season ranges from 120-180 days.

History

Pre-Columbian

In pre-Columbian Vermont, the western part of the state was originally home to a small population of Algonquian-speaking tribes, including the Mohican and Abenaki peoples. Between 8500 to 7000 BC, at the time of the Champlain Sea, Native Americans inhabited and hunted in Vermont. During the Archaic period, from the 8th millennium BC to 1000 BC, Native Americans migrated year-round. During the Woodland period, from 1000 BC to AD 1600, villages and trade networks were established, and ceramic and bow and arrow technology was developed. Sometime between 1500 and 1600, the Iroquois drove many of the smaller native tribes out of Vermont, later using the area as a hunting ground and warring with the remaining Abenaki. The population in 1500 is estimated to be around 10,000 people.

Colonial

The first European to see Vermont is thought to have been Jacques Cartier, in 1535. On July 30, 1609, French explorer Samuel de Champlain claimed Vermont as part of New France, and erected Fort Sainte Anne on Isle La Motte in 1666 as part of the fortification of Lake Champlain. This was the first European settlement in Vermont and the site of the state's first Roman Catholic Mass.

In 1690, a group of Dutch-British settlers from Albany established a settlement and trading post at Chimney Point (eight miles or 13 km west of present-day Addison).

The first permanent British settlement was established in 1724, with the construction of Fort Dummer protecting the nearby settlements of Dummerston and Brattleboro. These settlements were made by the Province of Massachusetts Bay to buffer its settlers on the western border along the Connecticut River.

In 1731, more French settlers arrived. They constructed a small temporary wooden stockade. This was replaced by a fort in 1734. The fort, when completed, gave the French control of the New France/Vermont border region in the Lake Champlain Valley and was the only permanent fort in the area until the building of Fort Carillon more than 20 years later.

The government encouraged French colonization, leading to the development of small French settlements in the valley. The British attempted to take the Fort St. Frédéric four times between 1755 and 1758; in 1759, a combined force of 12,000 British regular and provincial troops under Sir Jeffrey Amherst captured the fort. The French were driven out of the area and retreated to other forts along the Richelieu River. One year later a group of Mohawks burnt the settlement to the ground, leaving only chimneys, which gave the area its name.

The second British settlement was the 1761 founding of Bennington.

During the French and Indian War, some Vermont settlers, including Ethan Allen, joined the colonial militia assisting the British in attacks on the French. Fort Carillon on the New York-Vermont border, a French fort constructed in 1755, was the site of two British offensives under Lord Amherst's command: the unsuccessful British attack in 1758 and the retaking of the following year with no major resistance (most of the garrison had been removed to defend Quebec, Montreal, and the western forts). The British renamed the fort Fort Ticonderoga (which became the site of two later battles during the American Revolutionary War). Following France's loss in the French and Indian War, the 1763 Treaty of Paris gave control of the land to the British.

The end of the war brought new settlers to Vermont. A fort at Crown Point had been built, and the Crown Point Military Road stretched from the east to the west of the Vermont wilderness from Springfield to Chimney Point, making travel from the neighboring British colonies easier.

Three colonies, Massachusetts, New York, and New Hampshire, laid claim to what is now Vermont. All had royal charters, issued under different kings, to prove these conflicting claims. In 1741, George II ruled that Massachusetts' claims in Vermont and New Hampshire were invalid and fixed Massachusetts' northern boundary at its present location. This still left New Hampshire and New York with conflicting claims to the land.

The situation resulted in the New Hampshire Grants, a series of 135 land grants made between 1749 and 1764.

On 1764-07-20, King George III established the boundary between New Hampshire and New York along the west bank of the Connecticut River, north of Massachusetts, and south of the parallel of 45 Degrees north latitude. Under this decree, Albany County, New York, as it then existed, implicitly gained the land presently known as Vermont. Although disputes occasionally broke out later, this line became the boundary between New Hampshire and Vermont, and has remained unchanged to the present. When New York refused to recognize land titles through the New Hampshire Grants (towns created earlier by New Hampshire in present Vermont), dissatisfied colonists organized in opposition, which led to the creation of independent Vermont on 1777-01-18.

In 1770, Ethan Allen, his brothers Ira and Levi, and Seth Warner recruited an informal militia, the Green Mountain Boys, to protect the interests of the original New Hampshire settlers against the new migrants from New York. When a New York judge arrived in Westminster with New York settlers in March 1775, violence broke out as angry citizens took over the courthouse and called a sheriff's posse. This resulted in the deaths of Daniel Houghton and William French in the "Westminster Massacre."

Independence and statehood

In the summer of 1776, the first general convention of freemen met "to take suitable measures to declare the New Hampshire Grants a free and independent district." On January 18, 1777, representatives of the New Hampshire Grants declared the independence of the Vermont. For the first six months of the state's existence, the state was called New Connecticut.

On June 2, 1777, a second convention of 72 delegates met to adopt the name "Vermont." This was on the advice of a friendly Pennsylvanian who wrote them on how to achieve admission into the newly independent United States as the 14th state. On July 4, the Constitution of Vermont was drafted at the Windsor Tavern adopted by the delegates on July 8. This was among the first written constitutions in North America and was indisputably the first to abolish the institution of slavery, provide for universal manhood suffrage and require support of public schools.

Revolutionary War

The Battle of Bennington, fought on August 16, 1777, was a seminal event in the history of the state of Vermont. The nascent republican government, created after years of political turmoil, faced challenges from New York, New Hampshire, Great Britain and the new United States, none of which recognized its sovereignty. The republic's ability to defeat a powerful military invader gave it a legitimacy among its scattered frontier society that would sustain it through fourteen years of fragile independence before it finally achieved statehood as the 14th state in the union in 1791.

British General Burgoyne received intelligence that large stores of horses, food and munitions were kept at Bennington, which was the largest community in the land grant area. He dispatched 2,600 men, nearly a third of his army, to seize the colonial storehouse there, unaware that General Stark's New Hampshire troops were then traversing the Green Mountains to join up at Bennington with the Vermont continental regiments commanded by Colonel Seth Warner, together with the local Vermont and western Massachusetts militia. The combined American forces, under Stark's command, attacked the British column at Hoosick, New York, just across the border from Bennington. In a desperate, all-day battle fought in intense summer heat, the army of yankee farmers killed or captured virtually the entire British detachment. General Burgoyne never recovered from this loss and eventually surrendered the remainder of his 6,000-man force at Saratoga, New York, on October 17.

Battles of Bennington and Saratoga are recognized as the turning point in the Revolutionary War because they were the first major defeat of a British army and convinced the French that the Americans were worthy of military aid. Stark became widely known as the "Hero of Bennington", and the anniversary of the battle is still celebrated in Vermont as a legal holiday known as "Bennington Battle Day." Under the portico of the Vermont Statehouse, next to an heroic granite statue of Ethan Allen, there is a brass cannon that was captured from the British troops at the Battle of Bennington.

Statehood and the ante-bellum era

Vermont continued to govern itself as a sovereign entity based in the eastern town of Windsor for fourteen years. The independent state of Vermont issued its own coinage, called Vermont coppers, from a mint operated by Reuben Harmon in East Rupert (1785-1788) and operated a statewide postal service. Thomas Chittenden, who came to Vermont from Connecticut in 1774, acted as head of state, using the term governor over president. Chittenden governed the nascent republic from 1778 to 1789 and from 1790 to 1791. Chittenden exchanged ambassadors with France, the Netherlands, and the American government then at Philadelphia. In 1791, Vermont joined the federal Union as the fourteenth state–the first state to enter the union after the original thirteen colonies, and a counterweight to slave holding Kentucky, which was admitted to the Union shortly afterward.

Vermont had a unicameral legislature until 1836.

An 1854 Vermont Senate report on slavery fueled growth of the abolition movement in the state. The mid to late 1850s saw a transition from Vermonters mostly favoring slavery's containment, to a far more serious opposition to the institution, producing the Radical Republican and abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens. As the Whig party shriveled, and the Republican Party emerged, Vermont strongly trended in support of its candidates, first on the state level and later for the presidency. In 1860 it voted for President Abraham Lincoln, giving him the largest margin of victory of any state.

The Civil War

During the American Civil War, Vermont sent more than 34,000 men into United States service, contributing 18 regiments of infantry and cavalry, three batteries of light artillery, three companies of sharpshooters, two companies of frontier cavalry, and thousands in the regular army and navy, and in other states’ units. Almost 5,200 Vermonters, 15%, were killed or mortally wounded in action or died of disease. Vermonters, if not Vermont units, participated in every major battle of the war.

A large proportion of Vermont’s state and national-level politicians for several decades after the Civil War were veterans.

The northernmost land action of the war, the St. Albans Raid, took place in Vermont.

Postbellum era and beyond

The two decades following the end of the American Civil War (1864-1885) saw both economic expansion and contraction, and fairly dramatic social change. Vermont's system of railroads expanded and was linked to national systems, agricultural output and export soared and incomes increased. But Vermont also felt the effects of recessions and financial panics, particularly the 1873 Panic which resulted in a substantial exodus of young Vermonters. The transition in thinking about the rights of citizens fueled agitation for women's suffrage. The first election in which women were allowed to vote was on December 18, 1880, when women were granted limited suffrage and were first allowed to vote in town elections, and then in state legislative races.

Large-scale flooding occurred in early November 1927. During this incident, 85 people died, 84 of them in Vermont. Another flood occurred in 1973, when the flood caused the death of two people and millions of dollars in property damage.

On April 25, 2000, as a result of the Vermont Supreme Court's decision in Baker v. Vermont, the Vermont General Assembly passed and Governor Howard Dean signed into law H.0847, which provided the state sanctioned benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples in the form of civil unions. Controversy over the civil unions bill was a central issue in the subsequent 2000 elections.

Demographics

Population

The center of population of Vermont is located in Washington County, in the town of Warren.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2005, Vermont has an estimated population of 623,050, which is an increase of 1,817, or 0.3%, from the prior year and an increase of 14,223, or 2.3%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 7,148 people (that is 33,606 births minus 26,458 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 7,889 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 4,359 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 3,530 people.

It is the least populous state in New England. In 2006, it has the second lowest birthrate in the nation, 42/1000 women. The median age of the work force was 42.3, the highest in the nation.

Race and gender

Vermont's population is:

Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Vermont ranks:

Ethnicity and language

The largest ancestry groups are:

Residents of British ancestry (especially English) live throughout most of Vermont. The northern part of the state maintains a significant percentage of people of French-Canadian ancestry.

In the last two decades, the Burlington area has welcomed the resettlement of several refugee communities. These include individuals and families from South East Asia, Bosnia, Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and Tibet. These communities have grown to include non-refugees and in some cases are several generations in the making.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 2.54% of the population aged 5 and over speak French at home, while 1.00% speak Spanish

Religion

Religious Distribution of Vermont
Religion Percentage
Christian 67%
    Roman Catholic 38%
    Protestant 29%
        Congregational/United Church of Christ 6%
        Methodist 6%
        Episcopal 4%
        Other Christian 4%
        Baptist 3%
        Other Protestant 2%
        Assemblies of God 1%
        Evangelical 1%
        Seventh-day Adventist 1%
        Non-Denominational 1%
Other Religions 2%
No Religion 22%
Declined to answer 8%
In colonial times, like many of its neighboring states, Vermont's largest religious affiliation was Congregationalism. In 1776, 63% of affiliated church members in Vermont were Congregationalists. At that time, however, only 9% of people belonged to a specific church due to the remoteness of population centers. The Congregational United Church of Christ remains the largest Protestant denomination and Vermont has the largest percentage of this denomination of any state.

Today more than two-thirds of Vermont residents identify themselves as Christians. This number includes a body of Christian Lebanese stoneworkers. The largest single religious body in the state is the Roman Catholic Church. According to the ARDA the Catholic Church had 147,918 members in 2000.

Twenty-four percent of Vermonters attend church regularly. This low is matched only by New Hampshire.

Over one-fifth of Vermonters identify themselves as non-religious, tying Vermont with Oregon as having the second-highest percentage of non-religious people in the United States. Only Washington State has a higher percentage. A survey suggests that people in Vermont and New Hampshire are less likely to attend weekly services and are less likely to believe in God (54%) than people in the rest of the nation (71%). The two states are at the lowest levels among states in religious commitment. About 23% percent of the respondents attend religious service at least once a week (39% nationally). Thirty-six percent said religion is very important to them (56% nationally).

Almost one-third of Vermonters are self-identified Protestants. The largest Protestant denomination in the state is the United Church of Christ with 21,597, and the second largest is the United Methodist Church with 19,000 members; followed by Episcopalians, "other" Christians, and Baptists.

Joseph Smith, Jr. and Brigham Young—the first two leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—were both born in Vermont. Adherents to the Mormon faith, however, do not make up a single percentage point of Vermont's population. A memorial to Joseph Smith, at his birthplace in Sharon, is maintained by the LDS.

The state has 5,000 people of Jewish faith - 3,000 in Burlington and 500 each in Montpelier-Barre and Rutland—and four Reform and two Conservative congregations.

Vermont may have the highest concentration of western-convert Buddhists in the country. It is home to several Buddhist retreat centers.

Other religions include The Society of Friends, Shinto, Wicca, Islam, and Paganism.

Economy

In 2007, Vermont was ranked 32nd among states in which to do business. It was 30th the previous year.

In 2008, an economist said that the state had "a really stagnant economy, which is what we are forecasting for Vermont for the next 30 years.

According to the 2005 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report, Vermont’s gross state product (GSP) was $23 billion. This places the state 50th among the 50 states. It stood 38th in per capita GSP. The per capita personal income was $32,770 in 2004.

Components of GSP were:

  • Government - $3,083 million (13.4%)
  • Real Estate, Rental and Leasing - $2,667 million (11.6%)
  • Durable goods manufacturing - $2,210 million (9.6%)
  • Health Care and Social Assistance - $2,170 million (9.4%)
  • Retail trade - $1,934 million (8.4%)
  • Finance and Insurance - $1,369 million (5.9%)
  • Construction - $1,258 million (5.5%)
  • Professional and technical services - $1,276 million (5.5%)
  • Wholesale trade - $1,175 million (5.1%)
  • Accommodations and Food Services - $1,035 million (4.5%)
  • Information - $958 million (4.2%)
  • Non-durable goods manufacturing - $711 million (3.1%)
  • Other Services - $563 million (2.4%)
  • Utilities - $553 million (2.4%)
  • Educational Services - $478 million (2.1%)
  • Transportation and Warehousing - $484 million (2.1%)
  • Administrative and Waste Services - $436 million (1.9%)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting - $375 million (1.6%)
  • Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation - $194 million (.8%)
  • Mining - $100 million (.4%)
  • Management of Companies - $35 million (.2%)

Canada was Vermont's number one external trading partner in 2007, followed by Taiwan. The state had $4 billion worth of commerce with Quebec.

One measure of economic activity is retail sales. The state had $5.2 billion in 2007.

Agriculture

Agriculture contributes $2.6 billion, about 12%, directly and indirectly to the state's economy.

Over the past two centuries logging has fallen off as over-cutting and the exploitation of other forests made Vermont's forest less attractive. Loss of farms has had the beneficial effect of allowing Vermont's land and forest to recover. The accompanying lack of industry has allowed Vermont to avoid many of the ill-effects of 20th century industrial busts, effects that still plague neighboring states. Today, most of Vermont's forests consist of second-growth.

Of the remaining industries, dairy farming is the primary source of agricultural income.

In the last half of the twentienth century, developers have had plans to build condos and houses on what was relatively inexpensive, open land. Vermont's government has responded with a series of laws controlling development and with some pioneering initiatives to prevent the loss of Vermont's dairy industry.

In 1947 there were 11,206 dairy farms in the state. In 2003 there were fewer than 1,500, a decline of 80%. The number of cattle had declined by 40%. However, milk production had doubled in the same period due to tripling the production per cow. In 2007, there were 1,087 farms left, down from 1,138 in 2006. While milk production rose, Vermont's market share declined. Within a group of states supplying the Boston-NYC market, Vermont was third with a 10.6% share of the market. in 2007, there were 1,050 dairy farms remaining. The number has been diminishing by 10% annually.

A significant amount of milk is shipped into the Boston market. Therefore the Commonwealth of Massachusetts certifies that Vermont farms meet Massachusetts sanitary standards. Without this certification, a farmer may not sell milk for distribution into the bulk market.

An important and growing part of Vermont's economy is the manufacture and sale of artisan foods, fancy foods, and novelty items trading in part upon the Vermont "brand" which the state manages and defends. Examples of these specialty exports include Cabot Cheese, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Fine Paints of Europe, Vermont Butter and Cheese Company, several micro breweries, ginseng growers, Burton Snowboards, Lake Champlain Chocolates, King Arthur Flour, and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.

In 2001, Vermont produced 275,000 US gallons (1,040,000 L) of maple syrup, about one-quarter of U.S. production. For 2005 that number was 410,000 accounting for 37% of national production.

In 2000, only 3% of the state's working population was still engaged in agriculture.

Wine industry started in Vermont in 1985. There are 14 wineries today.

Manufacturing

IBM, in Essex Junction, is Vermont's largest for-profit employer. It provides 25% of all manufacturing jobs in Vermont. In 2007 it employed 6,800 workers. It is responsible for $1 billion of the state's annual economy.

Health

An increasingly aging population is expected to improve this industry's position in the state economy. In 2008, Fletcher Allen Health Care was the second highest employer of people in the state.

Housing

In 2007 Vermont was the 17th highest state in the nation for mortgage affordability. However, in 41 other states, inhabitants contributed within plus or minus 4% of Vermont's 18.4% of household income to a mortgage.

Housing prices did not rise that much during the early 2000s. As a result, the collapse in real estate values was not that precipitous either. While foreclosure rose significantly in 2007, the state stood 50th (last,best) in ratio of foreclosure filings to households. While housing sales dropped annually from 2004 to 2008, prices continued to rise.

In 2007, Vermont was best in the country for construction of new energy efficient homes as evaluated by the EPA under the Energy Star program. However, about 60% of Vermont homes heated with oil in 2008. In August 2008, the cost in Vermont of various heating sources per 1 million BTU ranged from $14.39 for cord wood to $43.50 for kerosene.

Labor

As of 2006, there were 305,000 workers in Vermont. 11% of these are unionized. A 2007 survey claimed that Vermonters were the least satisfied with their job in the nation and were the most likely to be making plans to leave.

Insurance

Captive insurance plays an increasingly large role in Vermont's economy. With this form of alternative insurance, large corporations or industry associations form standalone insurance companies to insure their own risks, thereby substantially reducing their insurance premiums and gaining a significant measure of control over types of risks to be covered. There are also significant tax advantages to be gained from the formation and operation of captive insurance companies. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Vermont in 2004 was the world's third-largest domicile for captive insurance companies, following Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

Tourism

Tourism is a large industry in the state. In winter, the ski resorts Stowe, Smugglers' Notch, Killington Ski Resort, Mad River Glen, Sugarbush, Stratton, Jay Peak, Okemo, Suicide Six, Mount Snow and Bromley host skiers from around the globe, although their largest markets are the Boston, Montreal and New York metropolitan areas. In the summer, resort towns like Stowe, Manchester, Quechee, Wilmington and Woodstock host visitors. Resorts, hotels, restaurants, and shops, designed to attract tourists, employ people year-round.

Summer camps contribute to Vermont's tourist economy. Trout fishing, lake fishing, and ice fishing draw outdoor enthusiasts to the state, as does the hiking on the Long Trail. In winter, nordic and backcountry skiers visit to travel the length of the state on the Catamount Trail. Several horse shows are annual events. Vermont's state parks, historic sites, museums, golf courses, and new boutique hotels with spas were designed to attract tourists.

Quarrying

The towns of Rutland and Barre are the traditional centers of marble and granite quarrying and carving in the U.S. For many years Vermont was also the headquarters of the smallest union in the U.S., the Stonecutters Association, of about 500 members. The first marble quarry in America was on Mount Aeolus overlooking East Dorset. Up the western side of the state runs the "Marble Valley" joining up with the "Slate Valley" that runs from just inside New York across from Chimney Point until it meets the "Granite Valley" that runs west past Barre, home of the Rock of Ages quarry, the largest granite quarry in America. Vermont is the largest producer of slate in the country. Production of dimension stone is the greatest producer of revenues by quarrying.

Taxes

In 2007 Vermont stood 14th highest out of 50 states and the District of Columbia for state and local taxation, with a per capita load of $3,681. The national average was $3,447. However, CNNMoney ranked Vermont highest in the nation based on the percentage of per capita income. The rankings showed Vermont had a per capita tax load of $5,387, 14.1% of the per capita income of $38,306.

Vermont collects personal income tax in a progressive structure of five different income brackets, ranging from 3.6% to 9.5%.

Vermont's general sales tax rate is 6%, which is imposed on sales of tangible personal property, amusement charges, fabrication charges, some public utility charges and some service contracts (some towns and cities impose an additional 1% Local Option Tax). There are 46 exemptions from the tax which include medical items, food, manufacturing machinery, equipment and fuel, residential fuel and electricity, clothing, and shoes. A use tax is imposed on the buyer at the same rate as the sales tax. The buyer pays the use tax when the sellers fails to collect the sales tax or the items are purchased from a source where no tax is collected. The use tax applies to items taxable under the sales tax. Property taxes are imposed for the support of education and municipal services.

Vermont does not assess tax on intangible personal property. Vermont does not collect inheritance taxes; however, its estate tax is decoupled from the federal estate tax laws and therefore the state still imposes its own estate tax.

Government finances

Vermont is the only state in the union not to have a balanced budget requirement. In 2007, Moody's Investors Service gave its top rating of Aaa to the state.

Transportation

Vermont's main mode of travel is by automobile. Individual communities and counties have public transit, but their breadth of coverage is frequently limited. Greyhound Lines services a number of small towns. Two Amtrak trains serve Vermont. The Ethan Allen Express serves Rutland and Fair Haven, while the Vermonter serves Saint Albans, Essex Junction, Waterbury, Montpelier, Randolph, White River Junction, Windsor, Bellows Falls and Brattleboro.

For a more detailed explanation see a List of Routes in Vermont.

Major routes

The state has of highways under its control.

North-South routes

  • Interstate 89 - Runs northwestward from White River Junction to serve both Montpelier and Burlington en route to the Canadian border.
  • Interstate 91 - Runs northward from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian border, connecting Brattleboro, White River Junction, St. Johnsbury, and Newport.
  • Interstate 93 - Has its northern terminus at I-91 in St. Johnsbury and connects the northern part of the state with New Hampshire and points south.
  • U.S. Route 5 - Travels south to north along the eastern border of the state, parallel to I-91 for its entire length in the state.
  • U.S. Route 7 - Travels south to north along the western border of the state. U.S. 7 parallels I-89 from Burlington northward to the Canadian border.
  • Vermont Route 100 - Runs south to north almost directly through the center of the state, providing a route along the full length of the Green Mountains.

East-West routes

  • U.S. Route 2 - Crosses northern Vermont from west to east and connects the population centers of Burlington, Montpelier, and St. Johnsbury.
  • U.S. Route 4 - Crosses Vermont from west to east and connects the city of Rutland with Killington and White River Junction.
  • U.S. Route 302 - Travels eastward from Montpelier and Barre, through New Hampshire and points east.

A 2005-6 study ranked Vermont 37th out of the states for "cost-effective road maintenance", a decline of 13 places since 2004-5.

Federal data indicates that 16% of Vermont's 2,691 bridges had been rated structurally deficient by the state in 2006. In 2007 Vermont had the sixth worst percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the country.

Local community public and private transportation

  • Addison County has the ACTR (Addison County Transit Resources) out of Middlebury, also serving Bristol and Vergennes.
  • Bennington County features the GME (American Red Cross Green Mountain Express) out of Bennington and the YT (Yankee Trails) running out of Rensselaer, New York.
  • Brattleboro in Windham county is served by the BeeLine (Brattleboro Town Bus). Windham is served, out of West Dover, by the MOOver (Deerfield Valley Transit Association, DVTA).
  • Burlington (home of the University of Vermont) has CCTA (Chittenden County Transportation Authority) and CATS (University of Vermont Campus Area Transportation System).
  • Colchester in Chittenden County is serviced by the SSTA (Special Services Transportation Agency).* Rutland County has the Bus (Marble Valley Regional Transit District, MVRTD) out of Rutland.
  • Ludlow (in Windsor County) is served by the LMTS (Ludlow Municipal Transit System). Windsor is also served by Advanced Transit (AT) out of Wilder and the CRT (Connecticut River Transit) out of Springfield, which also serves parts of Windham County.
  • Stowe, in Lamoille county, is serviced by STS (Stowe Trolley System, Village Mountain Shuttle, Morrisville Shuttle).
  • STS (Stagecoach Transportation Services) out of Randolph in Orange County also serves parts of Windsor County.
  • In Washington the Green Mountain Transit Authority runs out of the capital city, Montpelier.
  • The Network (Northwest Vermont Public Transit Network, NVPT) running out of Saint Albans, services Franklin and Grand Isle Counties.
  • The RCT (Rural Community Transportation) runs out of Saint Johnsbury and services Caledonia, Essex, Lamoille and Orleans Counties. This is a non-profit organization largely staffed by volunteers who are paid for mileage only to provide transportation for medical reasons, school, and to the elderly. There is a shuttle bus linking the various local networks.
  • There is ferry service to New York State from Burlington, Charlotte, Grand Isle, and Shoreham. All but the Shoreham ferry are operated by the Lake Champlain Transportation Company.

Airports

Vermont is served by two commercial airports:

Media

Utilities

Electricity

Vermont has the highest rate of nuclear generated power in the nation, 73.7%.

Vermont experts estimated that the state has the capacity to ultimately generate from 134 to 175 megawatts of electricity from hydro power.

In 2006, the total summer generating capacity of Vermont was 1,117 megawatts. In 2005, the state used 5,883 Kilowatt hours of electriciy.

Communication

  • Broadband coverage as of 2006
    • Total Coverage = 87%
    • Cable = 68%
    • DSL = 69%
    • Wireless Internet Service Provider = 24%

(Above percentages are of population, not of land area.)

Cell phone coverage in the state, generally, outside of the major metropolitan areas is weak due to interference from mountains, the attempt to serve a small rural population living in a large area rendering investment in improvements uneconomical, and environmentalists' opposition to towers. Unicel, focusing on rural areas, has better coverage.

In summer of 2007, Verizon Wireless announced that it would purchase Unicel (Rural Cellular) in Vermont and 14 other states for $2.67 billion during the first half of 2008. Some state officials and Unicel subscribers have opposed this purchase. As a result, Unicel in Vermont only will be sold to another company.

In May 2007, Vermont passed measures intended to make broadband (3 mbits minimum) together with cellular coverage universally available to all citizens with the intention of having the first e-state in the Union by 2010.

In 2008 Comcast started to extend additional cable access throughout the state. In 2007, 2/3 of all Vermonters had access to cable. At the end of this 2008 initiative, 90% of Vermonters will have access.

Law and government

Vermont is represented in the United States Congress by two senators and one representative.

The state is governed by a constitution which divides governmental duties into three branches, typical of a US state: legislative, executive and judicial. All members of the executive and legislative branch serve two-year terms including the governor and 50 senators. There are no term limits for any office. The state capital is in Montpelier.

There are three types of incorporated municipalities in Vermont: towns, cities, and villages. Like most of New England, there is slight provision for autonomous county government. Counties and county seats are merely convenient repositories for various government services such as County and State Courts, with several elected officers such as a State's Attorney and Sheriff. All county services are directly funded by the State of Vermont. The next effective governmental level below state government are municipalities. Most of these are towns.

An in-depth evaluation of government ranked Vermont high compared to other states. It ranked highest in "small discrete issues and huge global ones." It performed poorly in the issues in-between and planning for the future.

Political

Vermonters have been known for their political independence. Vermont is one of four states that were once independent (the others being Texas, California, and Hawaii). It has sometimes voted contrarian in national elections. Notably, Vermont is the only state to have voted for a presidential candidate from the Anti-Masonic Party, and Vermont was one of only two states to vote against Franklin D. Roosevelt in all four of his presidential campaigns (the other was Maine).

Vermont's unique history and history of independent political thought has led to movements for the establishment of the Second Vermont Republic and other plans advocating secession. In 2007, about 13% of Vermont's population supported Vermont's withdrawal from the Republic. The percentage who supported this in 2005 was 8%.

Republicans dominated Vermont politics from the party's founding in 1854 until the mid-1970s. Prior to the 1960s, rural interests dominated the legislature. As a result, cities, particularly the older sections of Burlington and Winooski, were neglected and fell into decay. People began to move out to newer suburbs.

In the meantime, many people had moved in from out of state. Much of this immigration included the arrival of more liberal political influences of the urban areas of New York and New England in Vermont.

After the legislature was redistricted under one-person, one-vote, it passed legislation to accommodate these new arrivals. This legislation was the Land Use and Development Law (Act 250) in 1970. The law, which was the first of its kind in the nation, created nine District Environmental Commissions consisting of private citizens, appointed by the Governor, who must approve land development and subdivision plans that would have a significant impact on the state's environment and many small communities.

As a result of Act 250, Vermont was the last state to get a Wal-Mart (there are four, as of March 2008, but only the Williston store was new construction).

Another case involves the recent controversy over the adoption of civil unions, an institution which grants same-sex couples nearly all the rights and privileges of marriage. In Baker v. Vermont (1999), the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that, under the Constitution of Vermont, the state must either allow same-sex marriage or provide a separate but equal status for them. The state legislature chose the second option by creating the institution of civil union; the bill was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Howard Dean.

Vermont is one of only two states represented by a member of the United States Congress who does not currently associate with a political party: Senator Bernie Sanders describes his political views as socialist, but caucuses with the Democrats in the selection of the Senate leadership. In the early 1960s many progressive Vermont Republicans and newcomers to the state helped bolster the state's small Democratic Party. Until 1992, Vermont had supported a Democrat for president only once since the party's founding—in Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 landslide victory against Barry Goldwater. In 1992, it supported Democrat Bill Clinton for president and has voted for Democrats in every presidential election since. Vermont gave John Kerry his fourth-largest margin of victory in 2004. He won the state's popular vote by 20 percentage points over incumbent George W. Bush, taking almost 59% of the vote. Essex County in the state's northeastern section was the only county to vote for Bush. Vermont still remains the only state that President Bush has not visited.

On the other hand, Republican Governor Douglas won all counties but Windham in the 2006 election. Vermonters are frequent ticket-splitters.

In 2007, when confronted with an allegedly liberal issue, assisted suicide for the terminally ill, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives rejected the measure by a vote of 82-63.

Minor parties flourish. Rules which eliminate smaller parties from the ballot in most states do not exist in Vermont. As a result, voters often have extensive choices for general elections.

A political issue has been Act 60, which balances taxation for education funding. This has resulted in the town of Killington trying to secede from Vermont and join New Hampshire due to what the locals say is an unfair tax burden.

A movement favors separating Vermont from the U.S. or making it the 11th province of Canada. Some suggest the state should join Canada due to its liberal policies as opposed to remaining with the U.S.

The Vermont constitution and the courts supports the right of a person to walk (fish and hunt) on any unposted, unfenced land. That is trespass must be proven by the owner; it is not automatically assumed.

Taxation

Property taxes are levied by towns based on fair market appraisal. Rates vary from .97% on homesteaded property in Ferdinand, Essex County, to 2.72% on nonresidents property in Barre City. Statewide towns average 1.77% to 1.82% tax rate. To equitably support education, some towns are required by Act 60 to send some of their collected taxes to be redistributed to school districts lacking adequate support.

The state is an alcoholic beverage control state. In 2007, through the Vermont Department of Liquor Control, it took in over $14 million from the sale and distribution of liquor.

State lotteries

Money from state lotteries supply 2% of the annual expenditures for education. Prior to 1998, profits from the lottery went to the state government's general fund but since then all profits are required to be spent on education.

Public health and safety

Vermont was ranked number two in the nation for safety. Crime statistics on violence were used for the criteria. Vermont has some of the least restrictive gun control laws in the country. A permit or license is not required for the purchase or concealed carry of a firearm (including handguns) by any law-abiding citizen.

In 2007 Vermont was ranked number one in the nation as the healthiest place to live for the sixth time in seven years. Criteria included low teenage birth rate, strong health coverage, the lowest AIDS rate in the country, and 18 other factors. In 2007, Vermont was ranked among the best five states in the country for preventing "premature death" in people under 75 years of age. The rate of survival was twice that of the five lowest performing states.

In 2007, Vermont was ranked the third safest state for highway fatalities.

Parts of the state have been declared federal disaster areas on 28 occasions from 1963 to 2008.

In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency cited Chittenden and Bennington as counties with 70 parts of smog per billion which is undesirable.

In northern Vermont particularly, moose are not uncommon, including in urban areas. Residents are aware of the potential danger and no one has been injured in rare chance encounters. They constitute a traffic threat since they are unaware of vehicles. There are several deaths each year from collisions.

Education

Vermont was named the nation's smartest state in 2005 and 2006. In 2006, there was a gap between state testing standards and national which is biased in favor of the state standards by 30%, on average. This puts Vermont 11th best in the nation. Most states have a higher bias. However, when allowance for race is considered, a 2007 US Government list of test scores shows Vermont white fourth graders performed 25th in the nation for reading (229), 26th for math (247). White eight graders scored 18th for math (292) and 12th for reading (273). The first three scores were not considered statistically significant from average. White eighth graders scored significantly above average in reading. Statistics for blacks students were not comparable because of their small representation in the testing.

The state authorized two more pre-K grades to the school system for the benefit of three and four year olds. Entry to these two grades is capped.

According to one study, enrollment in kindergarten through 12th grade has declined by nearly 10 percent during the 1990s. During the same period total staff numbers have increased by more than 20 percent. Per pupil spending grew from $6,073 in 1990 to $13,664 in 2006. A study by the Census Bureau lists Vermont with the fourth highest expenditure per pupil in the country at $11,835 for 2005.

In 2008, there were 19,145 full-time equivalent teachers and 94,114 students in public schools. Teacher-pupil ratio is 11.12:1.

Academies and grammar schools

Vermont's 1777 constitution was the first in English-speaking North America to mandate public funding for universal education. This requirement was first met by elementary-level village schools with sessions held in the cooler months to accommodate farm work. Most schools educated similar numbers of girls and boys. Conditions in these schools varied, and the highest level of instruction was tenth grade. By the end of the eighteenth century, grammar schools, instructing students in English, algebra, geometry, Greek, and Latin, had been established at Bennington, Burlington, Castleton, Middlebury, Montpelier, and Windsor. These grammar schools were of a higher caliber than the smaller villages' schools, and the level of education at some was equivalent to college level.

By the middle nineteenth century, an expansion in settlement and the population of the state, coupled with increased prosperity, brought grammar schools to all corners of Vermont. Even the most remote Northeast Kingdom had established high-school-level instruction in Brownington, Craftsbury, Danville, Hardwick, and Newport. Many of these established grammar schools and academies, though not entirely public, received funds from area town governments in exchange for education of their students. As a system of public funding for primary and secondary education took root, many of these schools became municipal public schools. Several remained private, becoming private high-school-level academies, and several become colleges; the Orange County Grammar School became Vermont Technical College, the Rutland County Grammar School became Castleton State College, the Lamoille County Grammar School became Johnson State College, and the Addison County Grammar School became Middlebury College.

Educating teachers

In the 1860s a shortage of qualified teachers brought the establishment of state "normal schools," a term based on the French term école normale – a school to train teachers. The grammar schools at Castleton, Johnson, and Randolph Center became normal schools, additional normal schools were established in Concord and Lyndonville. Additional post secondary schools instructing students to become teachers were called seminaries. While several were nominally associated with Protestant churches, none were seminaries in the sense of training ministers. These seminars also graduated teachers to staff Vermont's growing number of primary and secondary schools.

The one-room school house

The one-room school house, born of small multi-age rural populations, continued well into the twentieth century. Rural towns without a single central village often built two to a half-dozen school houses across their terrain. Much of this came from a lack of transportation and a need for students to return home by mid afternoon for farm chores. By 1920 all public schools, including the one-room school houses, were regulated by the state government. In the early 1930s state legislation established a review and certification program similar to accreditation. Schools were issued regulations about teacher education and curriculum. Education quality in rural areas was maintained through a program called Vermont Standard Schools. Rural school houses meeting certification requirements displayed a green and white plaque with the Vermont coat of arms and the words "Vermont Standard School."

Higher education

During the period of the Vermont Republic several towns on the east side of the Connecticut River were part of Vermont. This included Hanover, and Dartmouth College. Statehood brought about establishment of the Connecticut River as a natural border. Having lost Dartmouth College, Ira Allen established the University of Vermont (UVM) in 1791 to complement the smaller college at Castleton. By the mid-twentieth century all but one of the state normal schools, and many of the seminaries, had become four-year colleges of liberal arts and sciences. Experimentation at the University of Vermont by George Perkins Marsh, and later the influence of Vermont born philosopher and educator John Dewey brought about the concepts of electives and learning by doing. Today Vermont has five colleges within the Vermont State Colleges system, UVM, fourteen other private, degree-granting colleges, including Middlebury College, a private, co-educational liberal arts college founded in 1800, Burlington College and Champlain College, both located in Burlington, are the two primary private colleges of Vermont's largest city, the Vermont Law School at Royalton, and Norwich University, the oldest private military college in the United States and birthplace of ROTC, founded in 1819.

Sports

The largest professional franchise is the Vermont Lake Monsters, a single-A minor league baseball of the Washington Nationals, based in Burlington. They were named the Vermont Expos prior to 2006.

The Vermont Frost Heaves, the 2007 and 2008 American Basketball Association national champions, are a franchise of the Premier Basketball League, and have been based in Barre and Burlington since the fall of 2006.

Vermont is home to a semi-professional football team, the Vermont Ice Storm, based in South Hero. It plays its home games at the Colchester High School stadium. It is a member of the Empire Football League.

The Vermont Voltage is a USL Premier Development League soccer club that plays in St. Albans.

Annually since 2002, high school statewide all stars compete against New Hampshire in ten sports during "Twin State" playoffs.

Cultural pursuits

Vermont festivals include the Vermont Maple Festival, Festival on the Green, the Enosburg Falls Dairy Festival, the Apple Festival (held each Columbus Day Weekend), the Marlboro Music Festival, and the Vermont Mozart Festival. The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is supported by the state and performs throughout the area. The Poetry Society of Vermont publishes a literary magazine called The Green Mountain Troubadore which encourages submissions from members of various ages. Every year they hold various contests - one being for high school age young people. The Brattleboro-based Vermont Theatre Company presents an annual summer Shakespeare festival. Brattleboro also hosts the summertime Strolling of the Heifers parade which celebrates Vermont's unique dairy culture. Montpelier is home to the annual Green Mountain Film Festival.

In the Northeast Kingdom, the Bread and Puppet Theatre holds weekly shows in Glover in a natural outdoor amphitheater.

One of Vermont's best known musical exports was the group Phish, whose members met while attending school in Vermont and played its final concert in the state.

The rate of volunteerism in Vermont was 8th in the nation with 37% in 2007. The state stood first in New England.

State symbols

State symbols include:

Vermont is distinct for being among only three U.S. states with both a state seal and a coat of arms. Vermont is the only U.S. state to have a heraldically correct blazon describing its coat of arms.

Notable Vermonters

Vermont is the birthplace of former presidents Calvin Coolidge and Chester A. Arthur.

Notable fictional Vermonters

See also

References

Bibliography

  • Albers, Jan Hands on the Land: A History of the Vermont Landscape. MIT Press: 2000. ISBN 0-262-01175-1.
  • Allen, Ira (1969). The natural and political history of the State of Vermont, one of the United States of America. Charles E. Tuttle Company.
  • Bryan, Frank, and John McClaughry. "The Vermont Papers: Recreating Democracy on a Human Scale." Chelsea Green Publishing: 1989. ISBN 0-930031-19-9.
  • Cohen, David Elliot, and Rick Smolan. Vermont 24/7. DK Publishing: 2004. ISBN 0-7566-0086-3.
  • Coffin, Howard. Full Duty: Vermonters in the Civil War. The Countryman Press: 1995. ISBN 0-88150-349-5.
  • Doyle, William T. "The Vermont Political Tradition and Those Who Helped Make It." Doyle Publisher: 1987. ISBN 0-9615486-1-4.
  • Duffy, John J., et al. Vermont: An Illustrated History. American Historical Press: 2000. ISBN 1-892724-08-1.
  • Duffy, John J., et al. The Vermont Encyclopedia. University Press of New England: 2003. ISBN 1-58465-086-9.
  • Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Vermont. Vermont: A guide to the Green Mountain State. Houghton Mifflin: 1937.
  • Grant, Kim, et al. Vermont: An Explorer's Guide. The Countryman Press: 2002. ISBN 0-88150-519-6.
  • Hunter, Preston. "Religion in Vermont" Adherents.com.
  • Klyza, Christopher McGrory, and Stephen C. Trombulak. The Story of Vermont: A Natural and Cultural History. University Press of New England: 1999. ISBN 0-87451-936-5.
  • Potash, P. Jeffrey, et al. Freedom and Unity: A History of Vermont. Vermont Historical Society: 2004. ISBN 0-934720-49-5.
  • Meeks, Harold A. Vermont's Land and Resources, The New England Press: 1968. ISBN 0-933050-40-2.
  • Rodgers, Steve. Country Towns of Vermont. McGraw-Hill: 1998. ISBN 1-56626-195-3.
  • Sherman, Joe. Fast Lane on a Dirt Road: A Contemporary History of Vermont. Chelsea Green Publishing Company: 2000. ISBN 1-890132-74-8.
  • Sletcher, Michael. New England. Westport, CT, 2004.
  • Vermont Atlas & Gazetteer. DeLorme: 2000. ISBN 0-89933-322-2.
  • Van de Water, Frederic Franklyn (1974). The Reluctant Republic: Vermont 1724–1791. The Countryman Press.

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