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Definition: Vermont from Collins English Dictionary


1 a state in the northeastern US: crossed from north to south by the Green Mountains; bounded on the east by the Connecticut River and by Lake Champlain in the northwest Capital: Montpelier. Pop: 619 107 (2003 est). Area: 24 887 sq km (9609 sq miles) Abbreviation: Vt or with zip code VT

Summary Article: Vermont
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

State in northeastern USA, one of the New England states, bordered to the north by Québec, Canada, to the east by New Hampshire along the Connecticut River, to the south by Massachusetts, and to the west by New York, two-thirds of this border running down the centre of Lake Champlain; area 23,957 sq km/9,250 sq mi; population (2010) 625,741; capital Montpelier. Physically, the state varies between mountainous, in particular the Green Mountains running north–south through the centre of the state, and fertile lowland river valleys, such as the Champlain Valley in the northwest and the Connecticut Valley in the east. The Green Mountain National Forest, with its brilliant autumn foliage, is one of many attractions for Vermont's tourist industry, along with skiing and hiking. The river valleys support a thriving dairy industry. Other agricultural products include apples and maple syrup. Mining of granite, marble, slate, and talc has been economically important throughout the state's history. Burlington is the state's most populous city; other notable towns and cities include Rutland, Brattleboro, Barre, Woodstock, Bennington, and Waterbury. The region was home to the Abnaki American Indian people. Explored by Samuel de Champlain, Vermont was settled first by the French and then the English. Vermont was admitted to the Union in 1791 as the 14th US state, the first to join after the original Thirteen Colonies.

Physical Vermont is the only New England state without a coastline, and its topography is the most complex. The state can be divided into six physical regions: the northeast highlands, the Vermont Piedmont, the Green Mountains, the Vermont Valley, the Taconic Mountains, and the Champlain Valley.

Located in the northeast corner of Vermont, above St Johnsbury, is the small, mountainous region of the northeast highlands, characterized by isolated granite peaks and elevations above 600 m/1,970 ft. The tallest of these peaks are Gore Mountain at 1,015 m/3,330 ft and Burke Mountain at 996 m/3,267 ft. The northeast highlands owes much of its topography to the scouring action of glaciers, which covered Vermont and began to retreat 13,000 years ago. The many lakes and ponds in this area were formed by glacial erosion. An example is Lake Willoughby, which is a glacial trough carved in the granite bedrock.

Eastern Vermont comprises a physically diverse region called the Vermont Piedmont, or the western New England Upland. Elevations here tend to be less than 600 m/1,970 ft, with the exception of Mount Ascutney (958 m/3,144 ft). The northern Vermont Piedmont contains rugged forested hills and deep valleys carved by rivers and streams, such as Quechee Gorge, carved by the Ottauquechee River after the glaciers retreated. The southern Vermont Piedmont is characterized by gentle hills and broader valleys of the Black, West, and White rivers, which ultimately drain into the broad, fertile Connecticut river valley.

The Green Mountains run up the centre of Vermont, spanning the entire length of the state. The range consists of a single ridge, which periodically splits into two parallel ridges. An extension of the Appalachian Mountains, the range is made up of complex metamorphic rocks, which are 1.2 billion years old and are related to New York's Adirondacks. Mount Mansfield (1,339 m/4,393 ft), the highest peak in the state, is located in the northern Green Mountains.

The Vermont Valley in the southwest of the state occupies a narrow stretch of land between the Green Mountains to the east and the Taconic Mountains to the west. Only 8 km/5 mi across at its widest point, this valley extends from the Massachusetts border into west-central Vermont and is underlain by limestone, marble, and related rocks, creating fertile soils that are excellent for agriculture. The Waloomsac and Baton Kill are the region's two most prominent rivers. The Taconic Mountains are a range of the Appalachians running north–south from Massachusetts along the southwestern border with New York. They also contain ancient metamorphic rocks and were formed about the same time as the nearby Adirondack Mountains. Equinox Mountain (1,163 m/3,816 ft) and Dorset Peak (1,149 m/3,770 ft) are the two highest peaks.

Bordering Lake Champlain in northwestern Vermont, the Champlain Valley contains fertile farmland. The area is relatively flat, due to extensive post-ice age erosion, and has mature meandering rivers, such as the Winooski River. Lake Champlain is Vermont's largest lake. The second largest is Lake Memphrémagog, part of which is in Canada. Vermont's national parks include the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, which runs partially through the Green Mountains and coincides with Vermont's Long Trail, the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, and the Green Mountain National Forest.

Features Vermont is a largely rural state, known for its picturesque scenery, and has no large cities or industrial areas. One of Vermont's earliest settlements is Chimney Point, an area important during the French and Indian War (1756–63), with a museum detailing its role in regional history. Old Constitution House in Windsor is an historic tavern that played a key role during the struggle for independence. Other American Revolution sites include Mount Independence at Orwell on Lake Champlain, a fort complex built to guard against the British attacking from Canada, and Hubbardton Battlefield, marking the site of a battle between the Green Mountain Boys and the invading British in 1777. Bennington Battle Monument marks the site of an American defeat of the British in 1777, and Bennington is also home to a former American Indian camp, dating from 5000 BC.

Vermont has 107 historic covered bridges. The Fisher Bridge at Wolcott is an example of a covered bridge built for the age of steam. Another example is Scott Covered Bridge in Townshend, spanning 84 m/276 ft across the West River. Quarrying was an important industry in Vermont, and Barre is the site of one of the world's largest granite quarries. Other historic towns include Montpelier, with the State House; Victorian Chester with many typically regional stone houses; Newfane, which has a Greek Revival courthouse; and Woodstock, the site of the USA's first ski tow (1934). Windsor is home to the American Precision Museum, which contains a history of machine tools. At Shelburne is a museum of the history of US life, with an emphasis on local history. Brattleboro was once a popular spa town.

Southwestern Vermont is considered most typically representative of Vermont's rolling landscape, with fields, mountains, and small farms and villages. Addison County in central-western Vermont is home to the scenic towns of Bristol, Middlebury, and Vergennes, with historic downtowns and the Vergennes Opera House. The Plymouth Notch Hill Historic Site is a rural Vermont village and the birthplace of US president Calvin Coolidge. The birthplace of Chester Alan Arthur, the 21st president of the USA, is recreated in Fairfield.

Vermont has over 50 state parks. Woodford State Park is the highest state park in Vermont and is surrounded by Green Mountain National Forest. Many state parks allow opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, especially on the West River.

Culture Vermont has a very distinctive and progressive culture, often considered off-beat and ruggedly ‘Yankee’ individualist. A largely agricultural state, famous for its mountains, heavy snowfalls, and winter sports as well as its summer lushness, Vermont became the centre of a back-to-the-land movement during the 1970s. Its culture is still influenced by a 1970s spirit of environmental and social concern. Although largely rural, it has a highly educated and progressively minded population and hosts a range of summer schools and festivals popular with people from New York, Boston, and other cities. Politically, Vermont has remained a fiercely independent state, regardless of party politics. It was the first US state to outlaw slavery, and in the 1950s Vermont Senator Ralph Flanders was a vociferous opponent of McCarthyism. In 2000, the Vermont legislature voted to recognize civil unions of same-sex couples.

Although Vermont has no major museum collection, visual arts are important, with many resident artists working in the state. Galleries are found throughout Vermont and crafts, pottery, hand-blown glass, woven textiles, woodworking, and decorative arts are widespread. Brattleboro Museum and Art Center holds many visual arts exhibitions, often drawing on contemporary regional work. The Robert Hull Fleming Museum of Art at the University of Vermont in Burlington has a permanent collection with US 20th-century works and a European collection. Shelburne Museum has vast collections of fine and decorative arts, paintings, folk sculpture, weathervanes, decoys, quilts, and toys. The Norman Rockwell Museum of Vermont in Rutland commemorates the artist's Vermont years with exhibits of magazine covers, advertisements, calendars, and other published works. The Bennington Museum houses the world's largest public collection of ‘Grandma’ Moses paintings, as well as an extensive collection of regional pottery, military artefacts, antique touring cars, furniture, paintings, toys, tools, and dolls.

The Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival is held annually in Randolph. The Manchester Music Festival is another major chamber music event. The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is based in Burlington. An annual Brattleboro Music Center's New England Bach Festival is held each year in October. The Marlboro Music Festival is one of the most important in the state and attracts international artists. Bluegrass, rock, reggae, world music, and jazz festivals are also popular in Vermont. Major folk music festivals include Champlain Valley Folk Festival in Burlington, Festival-on-the-Green at Middlebury, and the Vermont Family Bluegrass Festival at Essex Junction. Vermont is home to many small and alternative theatre companies.

Skiing and resorts play a major role in Vermont life. Traditional winter events include a seasonal rite in Sugarbush, where teams mount homemade dummies onto a pair of skis and point them towards a massive ski jump; the Stowe Winter Carnival's annual Snow Golf Tournament; an Ice Harvest Festival in Brookfield; the New England Championship Sled Dog Races in Waitsfield; the Middlebury Snow Bowl, during the annual winter carnival; and the US Open Snowboarding Championships, held every March in Stratton. Other ski resorts include Killington, Jay Peak, Okemo, Mount Snow, and Bromley.

Recreational activities centre on the outdoors and include hiking, canoeing and kayaking, camping, climbing, fishing, mountain biking, and trail riding. Vermont's autumn foliage is widely celebrated and draws many tourists each year. Antiques, apples, maple-tapping, small-scale brewing, and traditional arts and crafts are other important activities.

Vermont is home to several universities, including the University of Vermont (1791) in Burlington and Middlebury College (1800), one of the top liberal arts colleges in the USA. The Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) programme was founded at Norwich University (1819), the oldest private military college in the USA.

GovernmentVermont's state constitution Vermont adopted its first constitution in 1777, when Vermont became a republic. The constitution was modelled after Pennsylvania's constitution, but there were major differences: it outlawed slavery – the first state constitution to do so – and extended voting rights to all adult males, rather than to landowners. Conventions were held in 1786 and again in 1793 to amend and rewrite the constitution. The Vermont Constitution of 1793 is still used today, though it has since had minor amendments.

Structure of state government The Vermont legislature, the General Assembly, consists of an upper chamber, the Senate, with 30 members, and the Vermont House of Representatives, with 150 members. The members are elected every two years and there are no term limits.

Vermont sends one representative and two senators to the US Congress, and has three electoral votes in presidential elections. Democrats have tended to dominate state politics since the 1970s. The state has a tradition for political independence and has a small secessionist movement. It is also liberal on social and environmental issues, but conservative on fiscal issues.

The governor is elected every two years. Democrat Peter Shumlin took the governorship in January 2011. Other elected officials in the executive are the lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, and auditor.

Vermont's Supreme Court comprises one chief justice and three associate justices. In addition to hearing appeals of decisions made in the lower courts, it is also responsible for the administration of the court system in general. The court system was restructured as of July 2010. The former superior, district, family, and environmental courts were unified into 14 superior court units, one for each county. Each unit includes a civil, criminal, and family division and, since 2011, a probate division.

County officials are elected every four years. Each town or city is governed by a mayor and a city council. One of the unique features of Vermont politics is the Town Meeting, which is usually held on the first Tuesday in March. A remnant of Vermont's town-centred history, the Town Meeting is a chance for voters of a town to participate in local government business, such as electing municipal officials and voting on the budget.

Economy The largest contributor to Vermont's economy is its service sector, in which the recreation and tourism industries play a significant role. There are over 25 ski areas; the most famous of these are Killington and Sugarbush.

Manufacturing is the second largest source of revenue. A once-prominent textile industry has been replaced by the manufacturing of computers and electronics parts. These and other high-tech industries have grown rapidly, particularly in Burlington and Rutland, and are now the primary source of manufacturing jobs. Forestry and wood products are also important to the economy, as are speciality consumer goods, such as maple syrup. In addition, the state manufactures machine tools and mining products. The quarries around Barre are among the world's largest, and are a source for finished granite and granite products, such as tombstones. Other mineral resources include talc and slate.

Although contributing a relatively smaller share, agriculture remains an important component of Vermont's economy and also its landscape. Dairy and apple orchard farms are dominant.

HistoryPre-contact to 1608 The first inhabitants of Vermont were the Western Abnaki Indians, who included the Pennacook Winnipesaukee, Pigwacket, Sokoki, Owasuck, and Missisquoi. The Abnaki were skilled hunters, fishers, and farmers, who used the remains of fish to fertilize their crops. Evidence of large cultivated fields of corn can be found in the Lake Champlain region, and there is evidence of other settlements along the Winooski and Connecticut rivers. Swanton, in northwest Vermont, is the site of the largest Abnaki settlement.

Colonization era By the end of the 16th century, the Algonquian tribes of New England and the Iroquoian tribes of New York were fighting for possession of the Vermont region. In 1609, French explorer Samuel de Champlain joined the Algonquians in Canada in an expedition to vanquish their Iroquois enemies. This journey up the St Lawrence River took him to the lake that bears his name on 4 July 1609, and first contact with the Abnaki peoples. The first French settlement in Vermont was at Fort Ste Anne in 1666, and the first permanent English settlers based themselves at Fort Dummer (now Brattleboro) on the Connecticut River in 1724.

European settlement had a major impact on the Abnaki people, reducing their population from 20,000 to 5,000 due to the introduction of disease, guns, and alcohol. Between the 17th and 18th centuries, the Abnaki watched as the French and the English vied for land, trading rights, and religious domination. This rivalry culminated in the French and Indian War. Siding with their Algonquian brethren in Canada, many Abnaki fought for the French and died, further reducing their numbers. At the end of the war, in 1763, the area was opened to English settlement. The remaining Abnaki, devastated and displaced, grew more dependent on the settlers and their economy.

Struggle for independence After the French and Indian War, the colonies of New Hampshire and New York both laid claim to Vermont, then called the New Hampshire Grants. Early charters of New York had placed its eastern boundary at the Connecticut River, while subsequent modifications by Connecticut and Massachusetts had pushed this line back to 32 km/20 mi east of the Hudson River. New Hampshire's governor, Benning Wentworth, assumed this latter boundary continued north and began issuing land grants west of the boundary to New England settlers, beginning with the settlement of Bennington in 1747. New York disputed New Hampshire's claims, appealing to the British courts, and was awarded rights to the New Hampshire Grants. But many of the settlers, who had come from Massachusetts and Connecticut, took exception to the claims of the ‘Yorkers’. In 1764 Ethan Allen, a settler from Connecticut, organized a small army, the Green Mountain Boys, to protect the New Hampshire Grants from New York's territorial claims.

In 1775, Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, aided by Benedict Arnold, captured Ticonderoga and Crown Point from the British, expelling them from the New Hampshire Grants. The army also played a significant role in winning the battles of Bennington and Hubbardton against the British in 1777. The Abnaki, too, fought alongside the colonists. Letters written by officers in George Washington's colonial army confirm that the Abnaki, then called the St John's Indians, helped secure the northern frontier.

In 1777, Vermont declared itself an independent republic, belonging neither to New York nor to New Hampshire. It had its own currency and postal service and remained independent until 1791, when it joined the Union.

Agricultural, industrial, and social transition Early in Vermont's statehood its government and economy were centred on towns. The state legislature moved from town to town until construction of the Statehouse began in 1805 in Montpelier, chosen because it was central and accessible to all Vermonters. State and federal government did not affect the day-to-day lives of Vermonters, however, until later in the 19th century. Vermont towns developed around mill sites along the states' many rivers and streams, which supplied power for the first saw mills, tanneries, forges, and paper mills. Most goods were made locally, so Vermonters could rely on a barter economy. Woollen and cotton mills benefited from the War of 1812 and a high demand for textiles. The industry also saw substantial growth in the 1820s and 1830s, due to the newly built Champlain Canal, an 1824 tariff on woollen products imported from England, and a boom in sheep farming.

The introduction of the railway in 1850, an overdependence on agriculture, and the Industrial Revolution all affected Vermont society. The availability of merchandise from elsewhere meant that goods did not all need to be made locally and the barter system was gradually replaced by a cash economy. Urban centres shifted away from waterways to locations near railways, and mill towns went into decline. Rural areas suffered a slump as farmers went west in search of fertile land in Ohio and New York. State government began to play an increasing regulatory and financial role in the Vermont economy. The demands of wartime during the Civil War boosted Vermont's manufacturing, but this was not to last.

The growth and emergence of modern Vermont Vermonters were staunch opponents of slavery and strong supporters of abolitionism and the Underground Railroad. In the years leading up to the Civil War, Vermont refused to return runaway slaves. It opposed statehood for Texas because the state did not renounce slavery. Vermont representative Thaddeus Stevens encouraged President Abraham Lincoln to emancipate slaves in territory conquered by the Union. Half the men of military age in Vermont joined the army, and one in seven lost his life in the Civil War.

The end of the 19th century saw a shift in agriculture, from sheep raising to dairying and the rise of large-scale apple orchards. While manufacturing declined, tourism and mining industries grew. The telegraph was introduced in 1848 and gas lighting in the 1850s. The first hydroelectric plant in Vermont, built on the Winooski River, supplied electricity to the city of Burlington in 1886.

The Great Flood of 1927 was the greatest disaster in the history of Vermont and changed forever its political and social landscape. Over 10,000 people were left homeless. Hydroelectric plants, some 1,000 bridges, and railway tracks were washed away. Eighty-four people died. The disaster necessitated state financial assistance to local towns, and the state assumed responsibility for reconstruction. This was a huge change in the relationship between town and state, and expanded the state's authority. Similarly, Vermont received federal government assistance for the first time: $2.7 million in disaster relief.

The ‘back to the earth’ movement in the 1970s brought new farmers, businesses, and second-home owners to Vermont; the population and cultural activities grew as a result. The movement attracted many writers, artists, and environmentalists to the state. Today, tourism has become increasingly important in Vermont, as have high-tech industries. People from New York and other parts of New England are leaving big cities and suburbs, and resettling in Vermont's rural communities.

In 2007, Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, was elected to the US Senate representing Vermont, becoming one of only two independent senators in Congress. He was re-elected in 2012.

Famous peoplethe arts William Morris Hunt (1824–1879), painter

science Thomas Davenport (1802–1851), inventor of the electric motor; John Deere (1804–1886), inventor; Wilson Bentley (1865–1931), meteorologist; Donald James Cram (1919–2001), Nobel Prize-winning chemist

society and education Joseph Smith (1805–1844), Mormon leader; John Dewey (1859–1952), philosopher and educator

politics and law Thaddeus Stevens (1792–1868), abolitionist politician; Stephen Arnold Douglas (1813–1861), Democratic politician who debated with Abraham Lincoln over slavery; Chester A Arthur (1830–1886), 21st president of the USA; George Dewey (1837–1917), naval officer; Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933), 30th president of the USA.


Vermont – flag

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