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The Making of the 50 States: Vermont

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Part 2: The Rest of the Story

The Revolutionary War got in the way of the New Connecticut-Vermont independence, however, when British forces under General John Burgoyne retook Fort Ticonderoga. In one battle during the French and Indian War, 4,000 French troops ensconced in the heavily fortified Fort Carillon (as it was known then) had held off nealry 15,000 British troops. American defenders of Fort Ticonderoga in July 1777 numbered 3,000. The British force that attacked on July 6 numbered more than 7,000. On this occasion, superior numbers overcame the fort's enhanced defenses, and Americans were forced to retreat.

The very next day, American forces and a combined British and German force fought the only Revolutionary War battle on Vermont soil, the Battle of Hubbardton. The numbers were about even, but the British and Germans prevailed.

American forces regrouped and struck back under General John Stark, defeating a British force near Bennington. Stark led his forces in a spirited assault on a fortified British redoubt and won the day. These were British and German forces that were supposed to be with Burgoyne on his drive toward Saratoga. Because of this defeat, which came on August 16, 1777. the force with which Burgoyne arrived at that pivotal battle a month later was reduced.

The British surrender at Saratoga lessened the strife in and around Vermont, leaving settlers there a bit more free to consolidate their new state. A group of Vermont political leaders, including Vermont Gov. Thomas Chittenden, caused anxiety in neighboring states by talking with the British governor of Quebec, Frederick Haldimand, about Vermont's becoming a British province. The surrender at Yorktown ended that possibility, however.

Vermont carried on as its own entity, establishing a General Assembly, passing tax laws, and setting up a postal service and weekly newspaper, the Vermont Gazette.

Meanwhile, land disputes with New Hampshire and New York continued. These finally ended in 1790, when Vermont, having already settled with New Hampshire by setting the Connecticut River as a boundary, agreed to pay a settlement to New York.

In the end, Vermont became a state on March 4, 1791.

First page > In the Beginning > Page 1, 2

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