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Vermont State History

History | Symbols | Interesting Facts | Famous People


1609—Samuel de Champlain explorers and claims Vermont for France

1724—Fort Dummer becomes the first permanent white settlement

1763—England gains control of Vermont after the French and Indian War

1770—Ethan Allen organizes the Green Mountain Boys

1777—Vermont declares itself an independent state

1791—Vermont becomes the 14th state

1823—The Champlain Canal opens a water route to New York City

1970—The Environmental Control Law limits major developments

The Abenaki, Mahican and Penacook groups were among the first Native Americans in the Vermont region.  The New York Iroquois arrived around 1500, forcing many of the other groups away.  During the early 1600s, several groups returned to conquer the Iroquois with help from French explorers.

In 1609, Samuel de Champlain entered Lake Champlain and claimed the entire Vermont region for France.  Britain also claimed land in Vermont.  Colonists from Massachusetts built Fort Dummer, the first permanent white settlement of Vermont.  During the French and Indian War (1754-1763), France and Britain fought for control of North America.  At the end of the war Britain received all land east of the Mississippi River, including Vermont.

During the late 1600s, the governor of New Hampshire granted land to settlers.  New York claimed the same land and granted it to other settlers.  In 1764, King George III of England ruled that New York owned the land.  A group of New Hampshire settlers, the Green Mountain Boys, fought to keep their land and forced New Yorkers out of the region.

The Revolutionary War (1775-1783) began before the land disputes were settled.  Many of the Green Mountain Boys united to capture two British forts in New York.  They also helped to win a huge American victory in the Battle of Bennington.

In 1777, settlers of the New Hampshire Grants united to form their own state.  They named it Vermont, a French word for “green mountain.”  Vermont settled the dispute with New York in 1790 by paying $30,000 to the state.  On March 4, 1791, Vermont became the 14th state of the Union.

During the early 1800s, trade with Britain was important to Vermont’s economy.  After the War of 1812, restricted trade hurt the economy.  In 1823, completion of Champlain Canal gave Vermont direct access to a major market in New York.  Wool became the leading industry.  In 1850, prices dropped due to increased competition from western states.  Many farmers were forced to sell their sheep and dairy farming replaced wool as the leading industry of the state.

Vermont fought for the Union during the Civil War (1861-1865).  After the war, the agriculture industry became less important and many people moved to the cities.  Wood-processing and cheese industries grew quickly.  The quarry industry provided work cutting granite, marble, and slate.  Other factories manufactured lumber, tools, and guns.

During the early 1900s, manufacturing continued to lead Vermont’s industries.  The Great Depression (1929-1939) closed businesses and many lost their jobs.  The federal government helped to provide jobs by constructing dams, parks, and conserving natural resources.  World War II (1939-1945) also helped to provide jobs and improve the economy.  The Vermont Development Department was established in 1949 to attract new industries to Vermont.  Some large companies moved to the state and the tourism industry grew immensely. 

Recently, tourism and manufacturing continue to lead the industries of Vermont.  The population has also continued to grow.  Several laws have been passed to protect the environment from pollution and preserve farmland and forests.