Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Vermont

Plate V. VERMONT, one of the New England States of the American Union, lies between 42° 44' and 45° 0' 43" N. lat. and 71° 38' and 73° 25' W. long. It is bounded on the N. by the Canadian province of Quebec, on the E. by New Hampshire, from which it is separated by the Connecticut river, on the S. by Massachusetts, and on the W. by New York, from which it is separated for more than 100 miles by Lake Champlain. The Canadian boundary is 90 miles long; but from this the width of Vermont continually grows less towards the southern border, where it is 41 miles. The length is 158 miles. The boundary between Vermont and New York passes through the western side of Lake Champlain, so that three-fourths of the lake and most of its islands belong to the former. The area of the State is 10,212 square miles.

Physical features. The surface is greatly diversified, so that the scenery is everywhere attractive and often grand. The Green Mountains, following a south-westerly trend, divide the State into nearly equal portions. Near Canada there are two ranges, the western being the larger; but near the forty-fourth parallel they unite and continue through western New England as a single range. The highest mountain is Mansfield (4430 feet), and there are five others over 4000 feet and twelve over 3500 feet. Except upon the loftiest summits, the whole range is densely covered with forests of spruce (Abies nigra), mingled with which are other ever green and deciduous trees.[1] Many of the streams flowing west unite to form five rivers which enter Lake Champlain. Eleven smaller rivers flow into the Connecticut, which drains about one-third of the area of Vermont. Three streams run north and enter Lake Memphremagog, about one-fifth of which is within the State, and two flow south to join the Hudson river. Most of the larger streams pass through wide, fertile valleys. Small lakes and ponds are abundant.

Geology. The rocks of Vermont are largely metamorphic. Their age has long been disputed among geologists; it appears now, however, to be clearly established that most of them are Palæozoic, although there are a few small areas which may prove to be Archæan. Along Lake Champlain there are many outcrops of unaltered fossiliferous strata, which, from the Lower Cambrian through the Hudson River or Cincinnati formations, lie in a regular conformable series, and upon these rest Quaternary deposits. The strata have a northerly strike and a dip 5°-90° E. They form frequent headlands and cliffs upon the shore of Lake Champlain, where they can be most easily studied. The Cambrian beds, nowhere more than a few miles broad, extend from Canada southwards for about 90 miles, having a total thickness of probably not less than 10,000 feet. They consist of limestone, sandstone, shale, slate, quartzite, and conglomerate. The limestone is often arenaceous and dolomitic, sometimes magnesian. There are great masses of reddish, silicious limestone, the Red Sandrock of geologists, which, often destitute of fossils, contains here and there species of Ptychoparia, Olenellus, Orthisina, Obolus, Salterella, &c. Included in these beds are thick layers of a beautifully mottled red and white dolomite, the “Winooski marble,” long used for architectural purposes. Similar fossils occur in the “Georgia shales” and elsewhere. Above the Cambrian are small patches of Calciferous and Quebec, then larger areas of Chazy, Trenton, Utica, and Hudson River. In the Chazy and Trenton there are extensive quarries upon Isle la Motte, and these formations are finely exhibited in many localities near the lake. The rocks are mostly limestones and shales of a black or dark grey colour, and frequently afford Silurian fossils in great abundance. Within a few miles of Lake Champlain the sedimentary rocks are replaced by schists, quartzites, and other metamorphic rocks, which continue beyond the mountains to Connecticut river. In the southern part of Vermont there are Lower Helderberg strata, and in the northern, about Lake Memphremagog, Upper Helderberg. These occupy but limited areas and are unconformable with the underlying rocks. Rev. A. Wing determined the age of the great marble beds of Rutland county to be mostly, if not wholly, of the Chazy epoch. He then extended his observations to the rocks of the Green Mountain mass; and by means of the results thus gained, as well as by his own long-continued independent researches, Prof. J. D. Dana seems to have substantially settled the age of the rocks which compose the mountains as Lower Silurian, and shown that the uplift ending in the range took place after the close of the Hudson River and before the Helderberg period. In the Champlain valley the rocks are traversed by dykes of trap and porphyry, which in some instances have spread over the strata. In the Utica and Hudson River shales there is most beautiful veining: innumerable seams of white calcite, from the finest line to several inches in width, cross and recross the black strata in every direction. In a narrow strip from Canada to Bennington there are Tertiary beds, which are well seen at Brandon. In this formation there are great masses of lignite, containing fossil fruits, also bog iron, manganese, kaolin, and variously and often brightly coloured clays. The entire surface of Vermont shows the effects of glaciation. Some of the Silurian ledges are striated and polished most beautifully. Drift, boulders, sands, clays occur everywhere; every stream is bordered by terraces; remains of mammoth, mastodon, beluga, are found in the drift deposits, as well as Mya, Saxicava, Mytilus, and other marine Mollusca. Sea-beaches over 2000 feet and terraces over 1000 feet above the present sea-level testify to movements of the surface. From the early Cambrian to the late Quaternary epoch Lake Champlain was an arm of the sea, and for a portion of this time it was connected with the ocean at each end, so that a current flowed from what is now New York Bay to St Lawrence Gulf, converting New England into an island.


Ores of copper, silver, lead, gold, manganese, and iron occur; but, although numerous attempts at mining have been made, very few have continued or ever been profitable. A large amount of copper is obtained at the Ely mines, where the ore is chalco-pyrite; and gold has been found in paying quantity in river gravel, and also in veins, and is still sought in one or two places. The chief mineral wealth of the State is in its quarries. No other State in the Union produces so great a variety or quantity of marble. The annual production is nearly 2,000,000 cubic feet, and is increasing. Roofing and other slate is obtained in very large quantities and of fine quality. Most excellent granite is quarried in increasing amount, and there are large beds of soap-stone, which are worked. Besides what may be called useful minerals, the State affords a large variety of species, e.g., rutile, actinolite, talc, serpentine, which are of interest to the mineralogist. The State has many mineral springs,

some of which have long been places of popular resort. Most of them are sulphurous, some chalybeate, carbonate, or alkaline.


The climate of Vermont, like that of New England generally, is subject to extremes and to sudden changes. In summer the temperature varies from 65° to 75° Fahr., sometimes rising to 90°; in winter it ranges from 18° to 50°, sometimes falling to -10° or rarely -20°. At Burlington the mean annual temperature is 45°. The climate is milder in the Champlain valley than east of the Green Mountains. During the winter there is often much snow, which in the colder parts of the State covers the ground for three months. The average annual rainfall is 33 inches. The air is clear and pure. Notwithstanding the changeable climate, the death-rate is low and the people robust.


Most of the large mammals formerly common,—the panther, wolf, lynx, beaver, otter, moose,—have either disappeared or are very rare; others, as the black bear, red deer, mink, and marten, are found only in certain localities. More common are the red fox, raccoon, skunk, porcupine, woodchuck, rabbit, squirrel, and other smaller species. Birds have changed less; but the wild turkey, golden eagle, raven, &c., have become very rare, and the white-headed eagle, large hawks, owls, herons, bitterns, and the like are far from common. The lakes are visited at certain seasons by great numbers of ducks, geese, and other water-fowl. Thrushes, blue birds, titmice, sparrows, swallows, warblers, vireos, blackbirds, crows, and woodpeckers are common, as well as many other small birds. In Lake Champlain and the large streams which flow into it are found sturgeon, garpike, muskalonge, bass, pike, pickerel, shad, as well as many smaller species. Trout abound in the mountain streams and in some of the ponds. Reptiles and batrachians are not numerous either in species or individuals.


The flora is of great beauty and of unusual botanical interest. Saxifraga Aizoon, Poa laxa, Arenaria grœnlandica, and other alpine plants are found on the higher mountains. Lathyrus maritimus, Hudsonia tomentosa, and other maritime species recall the time when Lake Champlain was salt. A number of western species find their eastern limit in the Champlain valley, and a greater number of Canadian plants have ended their southward migrations in northern Vermont. Over 1300 species of phanerogams and higher cryptogams grow wild in the State. About 50 of these are found nowhere else in New England, and a few nowhere else in the United States. Ferns grow luxuriantly in many mountain forests and ravines, where 50 species may be collected, including such very rare forms as Asplenium viride, Pellæa gracilis, Woodsia glabella and hyperborea, Aspidium Braunii, &c. Orchids are also abundant. Of the 108 families found in the State the most numerous are the ranunculus, saxifrage, rose, composite, heath, lily, grass, and sedge. The once prevalent forests are now chiefly confined to the mountains. There are nearly 100 species of trees and large shrubs; the forests and groves consist chiefly of 11 species of oak, 6 of maple, 17 of willow, 6 of birch, 8 of poplar, 3 of elm, 17 of conifers, besides beech, ash, walnut, butternut, &c. No single species forms so characteristic a feature of the landscape as the American elm, which with great variety of form, always elegant and beautiful, grows singly or in small groups in every meadow and upon many uplands. The sugar maple is a common and conspicuous tree. (G. H. P.)


The population was estimated in 1777 at 30,000. The first census taken, in 1791, gave 85,425. The different enumerations from 1800 to 1880 inclusive have been as follows:—154,465; 217,895; 235,966; 280,652; 291,948; 314,120; 315,098; 330,551; 332,286. The very slight gain in the decades succeeding 1850 is accounted for by the large emigration from Vermont to the western portions of the country. Of the total population in 1880 291,327 were natives and 40,959 foreign-born. Of the latter class British America furnished the largest contingent, 24,620; Ireland 11,657; other parts of Great Britain 3773. The number of coloured was 1057; the excess of males over females 1488. The number gathered in towns of from 4000 to 12,000 inhabitants was 37,800. The largest towns are Rutland, 12,149 (in 1886 two new towns were formed from it); Burlington, 11,365; St Albans, 7193; Bennington, 6333; Brattleboro, 5880; St Johnsbury, 5800. Montpelier, the capital, has 3219. The average density of population is 36.4 per square mile. The insane numbered 1015; idiotic, 803; blind, 486; paupers, 1564; inmates of prisons and reformatories, 261. The births in 1885 were 6592, or 22.1 per 1000 of population, and the deaths 5358 (average age as reported, 41.95 years; percentage of deaths to population, 1.61). The number of divorces in 1860 was 94, one to every 23 marriages; in 1880 the number was 129 (one to 20 marriages); and in 1885 it was 94 (one to 287 marriages).


Agriculture is the chief occupation of the State. The 35,522 farms make up a total of 4,882,588 acres, of which 3,286,461 are improved land. The western portion of the State contains the finest tracts of arable land; the climate as well as the soil of the Champlain valley is especially adapted to fruit-raising, the surface of the lake being but 90 feet above sea-level. The average size of farms in Vermont is 137 acres; the total estimated value of the farms in 1880 was $109,346,010, and of the total products in 1879 $22,082,656. Subjoined are the figures relating to the leading crops:—wheat,

337,257 bushels, averaging 16.28 bushels per acre; oats, 3,742,282 bushels, averaging 37.6 bushels per acre; Indian corn, 2,014,271; potatoes, 4,438,172 bushels; hay, 1,051,183 tons. The wool clip was 2,551,113 ℔; and there were 217,033 cows, producing 25,245,826 ℔ of butter (12,137,980 ℔ in 1850) and 6,121,130 ℔ of cheese (8,720,834 in 1850). The value of orchard products amounted to $640,942. Of maple sugar Vermont produces more than any other State,—in 1880 11,261,077 ℔, or 30.8 per cent. of the whole production of the United States, besides 128,091 gallons of molasses.

Live Stock.

In 1880 the State possessed 75,215 horses, 283 mules and asses, 18,868 working oxen and 167,204 other cattle (exclusive of milch cows), 439,870 sheep, and 76,384 pigs. Much attention is given to the raising of improved stock. The rearing of fine breeds of sheep for exportation is a lucrative business.


Lake Champlain abounds in fish of various kinds. Great pains have been taken of late years to stock the numerous ponds and streams of the State with salmon, trout, carp, and bass. Both fish and game are protected by stringent laws, and to some extent by special police supervision.


In 1880 there were 2874 manufacturing and mechanical establishments, the average number of operatives 17,540, and the value produced in 1879 was $31,354,366. Eight firms manufactured cotton, 44 woollen goods, 227 flour and grist-mill products, 56 furniture, 77 leather, 95 tin-ware, copper-ware, &c., 35 agricultural tools, and 688 lumber. The State rates as nineteenth in value ($3,258,816) of lumber products, while Burlington ranks third in importance among the lumber markets of the United States. Eighteen marble quarries produced a value of $1,340,050; there are also granite and slate quarries,—61 quarries in all, with a total production in 1879 of $1,752,333.


Burlington is the only port of entry. The State has 9 steam vessels aggregating 2380 tons, 12 sailing vessels, and 14 unrigged vessels, the total tonnage being 4594. The imports for the year ending 31st December 1887 were $5,959,813 and the exports $1,433,564; the value of the pine, spruce, and hemlock lumber imported was $1,084,599. Most of this foreign trade is carried on with Canada.


Railroad construction was begun in 1846, and by December 1849 two lines were completed from the Connecticut river to Burlington. In 1853 the working mileage had risen to 493 miles, and in 1886 it was 946 miles, mainly of trunk lines. A State board of three commissioners, appointed by the governor and senate, exercises general supervision.


Bills of credit were issued as early as 1781, and were all faithfully redeemed. The first State bank was chartered in 1806, but closed an unsuccessful career in 1814. In 1818 banks were established at Windsor and Burlington. In 1841 there were 17 incorporated banking institutions, with a capital of $1,735,000. In October 1887 there were 49 national banks, with an aggregate capital of $7,566,000, a surplus fund of $1,571,864, and $668,329 undivided profits. The circulation was $3,478,100, secured by bonds to the amount of $3,891,000. The loans and discounts amounted to $12,879,765, and the individual deposits to $6,627,090. In 1860 there were 12 institutions for savings, with deposits to the amount of $1,111,532. In June 1887 there were 28 savings banks and trust companies, with $15,587,051 to the credit of 53,810 depositors, and a surplus of $776,113. Deposits pay a state tax of 616 per cent. The State proper has no debt.


The Congregationalists have 197 churches, 186 ministers, 20,271 members, 22,035 pupils in Sunday schools, and 13,748 families belonging to the congregations. The Baptists have 105 churches, 111 ministers, 8623 members, 8922 pupils in Sunday schools. The Methodists have 192 churches, 161 ministers, 16,067 members, 18,830 children in Sunday schools. The Episcopalians report 36 ministers in charge of 52 parishes, with 3926 communicants; number of families, 1789. The Free Baptists and Christians together have 60 churches and 4000 members; the Adventists 35 churches with 1750 members. The Roman Catholics have 39 priests in charge of 79 churches and number about 25,000.


Lands were set apart for the support of schools by the proprietors of townships as early as 1761. Legislative provision for education dates from 1782. The original educational system of the State contemplated primary schools in every township, a grammar or high school in each county, and one university. Towns were authorized to subdivide into districts of convenient size, each with power to choose its own officers, levy taxes, and maintain a school. In 1870 the towns were authorized to substitute the town for the district system, but in 1886 only one in nine had made the exchange. In 1886 there were 2557 public schools of all grades, with 71,667 pupils, besides 7247 in private schools. In 1880 the number of persons above ten years unable to read was 12,993, or 4.9 per cent., the population between 5 and 20 being 99,463. The total revenue for school purposes in 1886 was $621,370. This revenue is derived partly from funds held by the State, but chiefly from town and district taxes. Facilities for advanced instruction are offered by 39 public high schools and 25 incorporated academies. The State has 3 normal schools, founded in 1866. Since 1874 State supervision

is exercised through a superintendent elected by the general assembly. The State university at Burlington, chartered in 1791, was inaugurated in 1800; it provides instruction in arts, engineering, chemistry, agriculture, and medicine, with a teaching staff of 15 in the academic and 26 in the medical faculty; in 1887 there were 189 students in medicine, 148 in arts and sciences, and in all departments 487. The library contains 35,300 volumes. Middlebury College (Congregational), chartered in 1800, has a teaching staff of 9 with 63 students, and a library of 16,000 vols. Norwich university (Episcopalian) at Northfield is organized as a military school; there are 10 instructors and 56 students. The State library contains 18,600 vols., the free public library of Burlington 18,000 vols., that of St Johnsbury 12,000, and that of Lunenburg (free but not public) 14,000. In all 75 libraries were reported in 1880, 42 having over 1000 vols. each.


The governor and chief executive officers are elected by direct vote of the male citizens twenty-one years old and upwards who have resided within the State for one whole year preceding the election. The general assembly, or legislative body, is composed of a senate of 30 members apportioned among the 14 counties according to population, and a house of representatives consisting of one member from each organized township (244). The sessions of the legislature have been biennial since 1870. The State election occurs in September in the even years. The judiciary is elective throughout, the chief justice and 6 assistant justices of the supreme court being chosen by the senate and house in joint assembly. The term of service is usually a long one, by virtue of repeated re-elections. The assistant judges of county courts are chosen by the freemen of the counties, and justices of the peace by the several towns. The county courts hold two terms annually, a justice of the supreme court presiding. A general session of the supreme court is held at the capital in October or November. Probate courts are held in each county, six of the counties being divided each into two probate districts. The State is represented in the Federal Government by two senators and two representatives, and has four votes in the electoral college. Since 1852 the policy of the State in regard to intoxicating liquors has been that of prohibition.


History.—Vermont first became known to Europeans in 1609, when Champlain explored the lake since known by his name. During the next century the lake and its borders were a thoroughfare for various military expeditions in the Indian and colonial wars, and several points along the lake were occupied, mainly as military posts, by both French and English; but the first permanent settlement was made in 1724 at Fort Dummer in the limits of Brattleboro. In 1760 there were not more than 300 inhabitants, scattered along the Connecticut river within 50 miles of the southern border. Both New Hampshire and New York claimed jurisdiction over the territory under royal grants (see vol. xvii. p. 393). By 1763 New Hampshire had chartered 138 townships west of the Connecticut, and between 1765 and 1776 New York had issued grants of land, covering in all 2,418,700 acres, often embracing the same territory as the New Hampshire charters. The claims of New York were always stoutly, and sometimes forcibly, resisted by the great majority of the settlers. In 1776 the Vermonters sought admission to the provincial Congress, but through the influence of New York were refused. In January 1777 they proclaimed their independence, framed a State constitution, and again applied for a place in the confederacy. Congress hesitated as before. In 1780 British generals made overtures to the little republic, but with no result beyond a diplomatic intercourse continued until 1783, so managed by the envoys of Vermont as to gain time and save the State from invasion. In 1782 they knocked at the doors of Congress again without avail. By July 1789 New York was willing to waive its pretensions, and Vermont was admitted as the fourteenth State in March 1791. In May 1775 the “Green Mountain boys” under Ethan Allan and Seth Warner had captured Ticonderoga and Crown Point. The battle of Bennington in August 1777 was won by the combined forces of Vermont and New Hampshire. During the whole struggle the State, though unrecognized, contributed its full share of men and means. In the war of 1812-14 Vermont is credited with 5236 soldiers in regular service, exclusive of 2500 volunteers who were under arms at Plattsburgh in September 1814. In the Civil War of 1861-65 the State furnished more than its due quota of troops, 33,288 men from a total population (1860) of 315,098. The present organized force consists of but one regiment, with one battery, 565 men. The unorganized militia numbered 64,162 men in 1880.

The early history of the State may be found in Hiland Hall's and Thompson's Histories. Important documents are given in Vermont State Papers and in Collections of the Vermont Historical Society. Its part in the war of 1801-05 is told in Benedict's Vermont in the Civil War. (J. E. G.)

EB9 Vermont.jpg
W. & A. K. Johnston.

  1. Hence the old French name Verd Mont.