Vermont was initially settled in the early 18th century by both the British and French, and conflicts between the two nations continued until the French defeat in the French and Indian War, after which the land was ceded to England. During the American Revolution, Vermont declared independence separately from the original 13 colonies, although the Continental Congress refused to recognize it. Vermont was finally admitted to the union as the 14th state in 1790, after 14 years as an independent republic. The name of the state is derived from”montagne verte,” French for green mountain, giving rise to the state’s “Green Mountain State” nickname. Today, Vermont’s mountains are a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. It is the country’s leading producer of maple syrup and is the home of the popular Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
Date of Statehood: March 4, 1791
Population: 625,741 (2010)
Size: 9,616 square miles
Nickname(s): Green Mountain State
Motto: Freedom and Unity
Tree: Sugar Maple
Flower: Red Clover
Bird: Hermit Thrush
- On October 5, 1798, congressman Matthew Lyon was indicted under the Sedition Act for criticizing President John Adams in a letter he had written to Spooner’s Vermont Journal. Fined $1,000 and sentenced to four months in jail, Lyon was re-elected to Congress while incarcerated.
- In 1814, Emma Willard began teaching scientific and classical subjects to women out of her home in Middlebury after noticing the large discrepancy in the quality of education between women and men. After her ideas on improving women’s education gained the attention of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in 1819, she was invited to open a school in New York and later taught at the Troy Female Seminary, which opened in 1821.
- One of the first ski lifts in the U.S. was developed on a farm in Woodstock in 1934. Designed by Wallace “Bunny” Bertram and powered by an antique Model-T Ford engine, the tow pulled people up a hill while holding onto a moving rope.
- The first monthly Social Security benefit check was issued to Ludlow, Vermont, resident Ida May Fuller on January 31, 1940. After retiring from her job as a legal secretary, Fuller received her first check in the amount of $22.54—$2.21 less than the total taxes withdrawn from her salary during the three years that she worked under the Social Security program.
- On May 5, 1978, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened their first Ben & Jerry’s Homemade ice cream shop in a refurbished gas station in Burlington. In 2000, the infamous brand was acquired by Unilever for roughly $326 million in cash.
- Vermont became the first state to legally recognize civil unions between partners of the same sex in April 2000. Nine years later, the state legislature granted full marriage rights to same-sex couples.
- Montpelier, with fewer than 9,000 people, is the smallest state capital in the United States.