[Marxism] Deja vu all over again, or 1812 --note on the first Vermont republic

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Fri Dec 3 07:14:03 MST 2004

Vermont was not an independent republic originally by its own choice.
The "New Hampshire Grants" were also claimed by New York--with lesser
bids for legitimacy made by residents of Massachusetts and Connecticut
from time to time.  It declared independence from these other colonies
as well as Britain, making it unofficially a kind of fourteenth colony.

The new revolutionary government was headed by Ethan Allen and his
brothers and the state was named by Dr. Thomas Young, a doctor driven
into exile by the British and landing in Philadelphia by 1776.  The lot
of them were very militant freethinkers and ardent radicals, allied with
the Tom Paine faction in the Revolution.  That is, they rejected the
entire idea of checks and balances on the will of the people and favored
government by a single, directly and annually elected assembly, the
members of which could not succeed each other. 

The American Revolution required all of the thirteen colonies to agree
upon a fight for independence, but Pennsylvania, big and right in the
middle of them absolutely had to go along with it.  However, its old
"proprietary" government already gave its local rulers a lot more
autonomy than the government of the directly ruled royal colonies.  So
Pennsylvania's rulers held out against independence, even as they hosted
the Continental Congress.  In May 1776, the pro-independence forces
(including Paine and Dr. Young) lost an election (fraud, they charged)
to the conservatives.  The Continental Congress passed a resolution
authorizing local peoples to rise up and overthrow all colonial
governments "not up to the exigencies of the time" (I think that was the
term used).  Pennsylvanians overthrew their old government and the
"nobodies" took over the state, establishing a Paineite structure of
government, eliminating slavery, expanding the suffrage, etc.

Now, it so happened that Heman Allen (one of Ethan's brothers) had been
in Philadelphia, trying to get the Congress to accept representation by
Vermont.  Since New York and New Hampshire were particularly hostile to
this, it appeared that Vermont would have to go it alone.  Heman took
the Congressional resolution and a copy of the radical constitution of
Pennsylvania back to Vermont and it became the basis for its independent

However, the intention was always to make it a fourteenth state.  The
Revolutionary War, the issues of the Confederation and the Constitution,
and the continued hostility of New York and New Hampshire delayed its
admission to the U.S.  ...Oh, that and the radical nature of its
constitution.  After the establishment of the U.S., rulers of the rest
of the new country had the wherewithal to pressure any incoming states
to adopt the same eighteenth century mossback divisions of
executive-bicamarel legislative-judicial branches, building into the
process a series of major braking mechanisms to prevent any genuinely
radical change from being adopted as a kind of "business as usual".

Mark L.

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