The State of Vermont

AT A GLANCE

Name: Vermont is a combination of the French words vert and mont, which mean “green” and “mountain.”
Nickname: Green Mountain State
Capital: Montpelier
Size: 9,615 sq. mi. (24,903 sq km)
Population: 626,042 (2015 est)
Statehood: Vermont became the 14th state on March 4, 1791.
Electoral votes: 3 (2016)
U.S. representatives: 1 (until 2016)
State tree: sugar maple
State flower: red clover
State bird: hermit thrush
Highest point: Mount Mansfield, 4,393 ft. (1,339 m)

Vermont map

THE PLACE

Although Vermont is the only New England state without a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, about half of Vermont is bordered by water. The Connecticut River forms Vermont’s eastern border, and Lake Champlain, the largest lake in New England, forms much of Vermont’s western border. Several islands in Lake Champlain are part of Vermont, and the valley that surrounds the lake has some of Vermont’s richest farmland.

The Green Mountains, located in the center of the state, have deposits of granite, marble, slate, and talc. Vermont’s tallest peaks are in the Green Mountains. Northeastern Vermont has mountains made of granite, and southwestern Vermont is covered by a small extension of the Taconic Mountains, which extend into Massachusetts.

About three-quarters of Vermont’s land is forested. The climate is cold, with short, cool summers and long, snowy winters. Vermont’s mountains are usually cooler and receive more snow than the rest of the state.

Facts and Firsts

  • Vermont, which was once part of New Hampshire and New York, was the first state admitted to the Union after the original 13 colonies.
  • Montpelier, with a population of less than 9,000 people, is the smallest state capital in the United States. It is also the only capital without a McDonald’s restaurant.
  • Vermont produces nearly 3 billion pounds of milk annually.
  • During the 1890s, writer Rudyard Kipling lived in Vermont.
  • Vermont produces more maple syrup, monument granite, and marble than any other state.

THE PAST

Before the arrival of white settlers, Vermont was the home of several tribes of Algonquian and Iroquois, who fought with each other for control of the region. In 1609, French explorer Samuel de Champlain was the first European to reach present-day Vermont. In 1690, Jacobus de Warm and troops of British soldiers established a fort at Chimney Point, near Middlebury.

Vermont’s location, between the French colonies in present-day Canada and England’s American colonies, made it an important strategic point. English colonists from Massachusetts moved into the Vermont region in 1724 and built Fort Dummer to guard Massachusetts from French and Native American attacks.

In the mid-1770s, during the French and Indian Wars, the French and their Native American allies were defeated, and the English took firm control of Vermont. Both New York and New Hampshire fought for the right to settle Vermont, but in 1775, the Revolutionary War broke out and settlers from both states joined forces to fight the English.

During the war, Vermont’s Green Mountain Boys, led by Ethan Allen, were a strong fighting force. After the Revolution, Vermont was an independent republic called New Connecticut. In 1791, the area was admitted to the Union as the 14th state.

A canal built in 1823 connected Lake Champlain with the Hudson River in New York. Vermont farmers quickly became rich raising sheep and shipping their wool all over the country. After the Civil War, however, Vermont’s agriculture declined as farmers left to settle farming territories in the Midwest or to work in city factories.

During the late 1800s, industry expanded, and Burlington developed into an important port city where lumber from Canada was shipped to the West. Tourism also flourished as resorts and vacation camps were built. In 1911, Vermont became the first state to have an official bureau of tourism.

Vermont’s industry grew even more during World War II, as factories produced supplies for the U.S. military. Several small corporations moved into Vermont after the war, and the 1950s and 1960s were a time of industrial and urban expansion. Tourism continued to be extremely important to the state’s economy.

Many Vermonters were concerned about the growth of manufacturing and tourist activities in the state; they wanted to maintain Vermont’s rural identity. In 1970, Vermont passed one of the first laws that allowed a state’s government to prevent industrial and tourist development.

THE PRESENT

Vermont’s government has worked to preserve Vermont’s natural beauty and rural character. Today, Vermont has the third-smallest population in the United States, larger than only Alaska and Wyoming. It has the smallest percentage of people living in cities, because much of Vermont’s economy depends on agriculture.

Tourism is centered in the Green Mountains region, which attracts millions of vacationers from New York and the other New England states annually. Service industries, which supply health care, dining, and hotel accommodations to visitors, contribute significantly to Vermont’s economy.

Vermont residents disagree on how much of Vermont should be opened to new businesses and industries. Some Vermonters have urged the state to allow new business development, and growth of Vermont’s manufacturing industries has resulted. The IBM Corporation, which produces computers and electrical equipment, has a large factory in Burlington.

Other factories make batteries, ovens, transformers, books, newspapers, metal products, and machine tools.

Attempts to retain Vermont’s rural character have also been successful. The state is famous for agricultural products, especially maple syrup, and dairy products such as cheddar cheese and ice cream.

Born in Vermont

  • Chester A. Arthur, U.S. president
  • Orson Bean (Dallas Frederick Burrows), actor
  • Calvin Coolidge, U.S. president
  • George Dewey, admiral
  • John Dewey, philosopher and educator
  • Stephen A. Douglas, politician
  • James Fisk, financial speculator
  • Richard Morris Hunt, architect
  • William Morris Hunt, artist
  • Elisha Otis, inventor
  • Joseph Smith, religious leader
  • Henry Wells, pioneer expressman
  • Brigham Young, religious leader