|State of Vermont|
The Green Mountain State
|Motto(s): Freedom and Unity and Stella quarta decima fulgeat (May the 14th star shine bright)|
|State song(s): These Green Mountains|
|Largest metro||Greater Burlington|
|• Total||9,616 sq mi |
|• Width||80 miles (130 km)|
|• Length||160 miles (260 km)|
|• % water||4.1|
|• Latitude||42° 44′ N to 45° 1′ N|
|• Longitude||71° 28′ W to 73° 26′ W|
|• Total||626,299 (2018)|
|• Density||67.7/sq mi (26.1/km2)|
|• Median household income||$57,513 (28th)|
|• Highest point||Mount Mansfield|
4,395 ft (1340 m)
|• Mean||1,000 ft (300 m)|
|• Lowest point||Lake Champlain|
95 to 100 ft (29 to 30 m)
|Before statehood||Vermont Republic|
|Admitted to the Union||March 4, 1791 (14th)|
|Governor||Phil Scott (R)|
|Lieutenant Governor||David Zuckerman (P)|
|• Upper house||Senate|
|• Lower house||House of Representatives|
|U.S. Senators||Patrick Leahy (D) |
Bernie Sanders (I)
|U.S. House delegation||Peter Welch (D) (list)|
|Time zone||Eastern: UTC −5/−4|
|Vermont state symbols|
The Flag of Vermont
The Seal of Vermont
|Amphibian||Northern leopard frog|
Sander vitreous vitreous
|Insect||Western honey bee|
|Rock||Granite, marble, slate|
|State route marker|
Released in 2001
|Lists of United States state symbols|
For some 12,000 years indigenous peoples inhabited this area. The historic, competitive tribes known as the Algonquian-speaking Abenaki and Iroquoian-speaking Mohawk were active in the area at the time of European encounter.
During the 17th century French colonists claimed the territory as part of France's colony of New France. After England began to settle colonies to the south along the Atlantic coast, the two nations carried out their competition in North America as well as Europe. For years each enlisted Native American allies in continued raiding and warfare between the New England and New France colonies. This produced an active trade in captives taken during such raids and held for ransom. Some captives were adopted by families into the Mohawk or Abenaki tribes.
After being defeated in 1763 in the Seven Years' War, France ceded its territory east of the Mississippi River to Great Britain. Thereafter, the nearby British colonies, especially the provinces of New Hampshire and New York, disputed the extent of the area called the New Hampshire Grants to the west of the Connecticut River, encompassing present-day Vermont. The provincial government of New York sold land grants to settlers in the region, which conflicted with earlier grants from the government of New Hampshire. The Green Mountain Boys militia protected the interests of the established New Hampshire land grant settlers against the newly arrived settlers with land titles granted by New York.
Ultimately, a group of settlers with New Hampshire land grant titles established the Vermont Republic in 1777 as an independent state during the American Revolutionary War. The Vermont Republic partially abolished slavery before any of the other states.
Vermont was admitted to the newly established United States as the fourteenth state in 1791. Vermont is one of only four U.S. states that were previously sovereign states (along with California, Hawaii, Texas).
During the mid 19th century, Vermont was a strong source of abolitionist sentiment, but it was also tied to King Cotton through the development of textile mills in the region, which relied on southern cotton. It sent a significant contingent of soldiers to participate in the American Civil War. In the 21st century, Protestants (30%) and Catholics (22%) make up the majority of those reporting a religious preference, with 37% reporting no religion. Other religions individually contribute no more than 2% to the total.
The geography of the state is marked by the Green Mountains, which run north–south up the middle of the state, separating Lake Champlain and other valley terrain on the west from the Connecticut River valley that defines much of its eastern border. A majority of its terrain is forested with hardwoods and conifers. A majority of its open land is in agriculture. The state's climate is characterized by warm, humid summers and cold, snowy winters.
Vermont's economic activity of $26 billion in 2010 ranks 34th in gross state product. In 1960, Vermonters' politics started to shift from being reliably Republican toward favoring Democratic candidates. Starting in 1963, Vermont voters have alternated between electing Republican and Democratic governors. Since 2007, Vermont has elected only Democrats and Independents to Congress. In 2000, the state legislature was the first to recognize civil unions for same-sex couples. In 2011–2012, the state officially recognized four Abenaki tribes.
The origin of the name "Vermont" is uncertain, but likely comes from the French Les Monts Verts, meaning "the Green Mountains". Thomas Young introduced it in 1777. In 1913, the Secretary of State of Vermont speculated that the archaic French term Mont Verd (green mountain) may have inspired Young. Another source points out the predominance of mica-quartz-chlorite schist, a green-hued metamorphosed shale, as a possible reason.
The name "Green Mountain" (Montaña Verde) appears on a 1562 map of North America by Spanish cartographer Diego Gutierrez. The name is one of many located in what is now New England but not obviously connected to the current borders of Vermont.
Vermont is located in the New England region of the Northeastern United States and comprises 9,614 square miles (24,900 km2), making it the 45th-largest state. It is the only state that does not have any buildings taller than 124 feet (38 m). Land comprises 9,250 square miles (24,000 km2) and water comprises 365 square miles (950 km2), making it the 43rd-largest in land area and the 47th in water area. In total area, it is larger than El Salvador and smaller than Haiti. It is the only landlocked state in New England, and it is the easternmost and the smallest in area of all landlocked states.
The Green Mountains in Vermont form a north–south spine running most of the length of the state, slightly west of its center. In the southwest portion of the state are located the Taconic Mountains. In the northwest, near Lake Champlain, is the fertile Champlain Valley. In the south of the valley is Lake Bomoseen.
The west bank of the Connecticut River marks the state's eastern border with New Hampshire, though much of the river flows within New Hampshire's territory. 41% of Vermont's land area is part of the Connecticut River's watershed.
Lake Champlain, the sixth-largest body of fresh water in the United States, separates Vermont from New York in the northwest portion of the state. From north to south, Vermont is 159 miles (256 km) long. Its greatest width, from east to west, is 89 miles (143 km) at the Canada–U.S. border; the narrowest width is 37 miles (60 km) near the Massachusetts border. The width averages 60.5 miles (97.4 km). The state's geographic center is approximately three miles (5 km) east of Roxbury, in Washington County. There are fifteen U.S. federal border crossings between Vermont and Canada.
Several mountains have timberlines with delicate year-round alpine ecosystems, including Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain in the state; Killington Peak, the second-highest; Camel's Hump, the state's third-highest; and Mount Abraham, the fifth-highest peak. Areas in Vermont administered by the National Park Service include the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (in Woodstock) and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
Vermont has nine incorporated cities.
The most populous city in Vermont is Burlington. Its metropolitan area is also the most populous in the state, with an estimate of 218,395 as of 2017.
Although these towns are large enough to be considered cities, they are not incorporated as such.
The annual mean temperature for the state is 43 °F (6 °C). Vermont has a humid continental climate, with muddy springs, in general a mild early summer, hot Augusts; it has colorful autumns: Vermont's hills reveal red, orange, and (on sugar maples) gold foliage as cold weather approaches. Winters are colder at higher elevations. It has a Köppen climate classification of Dfb, a warm humid continental climate.
The rural northeastern section known as the "Northeast Kingdom" often averages 10 °F (5.6 °C) colder than the southern areas of the state during winter. The annual snowfall averages between 60 and 100 inches (1,500 and 2,500 mm) depending on elevation. Vermont is the seventh coldest state in the country. In winter, until typical El Niño conditions, Vermont's winters are "too cold to snow"; the air is too cold to contain sufficient moisture to prompt precipitation.
The highest recorded temperature was 105 °F (41 °C), at Vernon, on July 4, 1911. The lowest recorded temperature was −50 °F (−46 °C), at Bloomfield, on December 30, 1933; this is the lowest temperature recorded in New England alongside Big Black River, also recorded a verified −50 °F (−46 °C) in 2009. The agricultural growing season ranges from 120 to 180 days. The United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones for the state range between zone 3b, no colder than −35 °F (−37 °C), in the Northeast Kingdom and northern part of the state and zone 5b, no colder than −15 °F (−26 °C), in the southern part of the state. The state receives between 2,200 and 2,400 hours of sunshine annually. New England as a whole receives a range of less than 2,000 hours of sunshine in part of New Hampshire to as much as 2,600 hours of sunshine per year in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
There are five distinct physiographic regions of Vermont. Categorized by geological and physical attributes, they are the Northeastern Highlands, the Green Mountains, the Taconic Mountains, the Champlain Lowlands, and the Vermont Piedmont.
About 500 million years ago, Vermont was part of Laurentia and located in the tropics. The central and southern Green Mountain range include the oldest rocks in Vermont, formed about one billion years ago during the first mountain building period (or orogeny). Subsequently, about 400 million years ago, the second mountain building period created Green Mountain peaks that were 15,000–20,000 feet (4,600–6,100 m) tall, three to four times their current height and comparable to the Himalayas. The geological pressures that created those peaks remain evident as the Champlain Thrust, running north–south to the west of the mountains (now the eastern shore of Lake Champlain). It is an example of geological fault thrusting where bedrock is pushed over the newer rock formation.
As a result of tectonic formation, Vermont east of the Green Mountains tends to be formed from rocks produced in the Silurian and Devonian periods, and western Vermont mainly from the older Pre-Cambrian and Cambrian material. Several large deposits within the state contain granite. The remains of the Chazy Formation can be observed in Isle La Motte. It was one of the first tropical reefs. It is the site of the limestone Fisk Quarry, which contains a collection of ancient marine fossils, such as stromatoporoids, that date to 200 million years ago. At one point, Vermont is believed to have been connected to Africa (Pangaea); the fossils found and the rock formations found on the coasts in both Africa and America are evidence affirming the Pangaea theory.
The state contains 41 species of reptiles and amphibians, 89 species of fish, of which 12 are non native; 193 species of breeding birds, 58 species of mammals, more than 15,000 insect species, and 2,000 higher plant species, plus fungi, algae, and 75 different types of natural communities. Vermont contains one species of venomous snake, the timber rattlesnake, which is confined to a few acres in western Rutland County.
Wildlife has suffered because of human development of the state. By the mid-19th century, wild turkeys were exterminated in the state through overhunting and destruction of habitat. Sixteen were re-introduced in 1969, and had grown to a flock estimated to number 45,000 in 2009. In 2013, hunters killed 6,968 of these. Since 1970, reduction of farmland has resulted in reduced environment for, and resulted in a decline in numbers of various shrubland birds, including the American woodcock, brown thrasher, eastern towhee, willow flycatcher, golden-winged warbler, blue-winged warbler, field sparrow, and Baltimore oriole.
The use of DDT for insect control resulted in ospreys laying eggs that were too thin to support the development of young. This species disappeared from the state. It began to reappear in 1998, when ospreys were observed again locally. As of 2010, they were no longer endangered in the state. From 2008 to 2010, White-nose syndrome killed an estimated two-thirds of all cave-wintering bats in the state.
The New England cottontail disappeared from the state in the early 1970s, out-competed by the eastern cottontail rabbit, imported in the 1800s for hunting. It is better able to detect and avoid predators. Out of a total of 33 species of bumblebee, by 2013 the number declined to 19 or 20 species in the state. Bombus terricola (the yellow-banded bumblebee), although once common in Vermont, has not been seen in most of its range since 1999 and is now absent from the state. For honey bees, colony collapse disorder has affected bee population in the state, as elsewhere.
Invasive species included the Asian spotted-wing drosophila, which started damaging berry crops in 2012. Vermont was the initial point of invasion in New England. Since 2010, the Vermont Department of Health has worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct blood serum surveys of the state's deer and moose populations. Tests for eastern equine encephalitis virus antibodies were positive in moose or deer in each of Vermont's counties. In 2012, 12% of deer and 2.4% of moose tested positive.
Vermont is in the temperate broadleaf and mixed forests biome. Much of the state, in particular the Green Mountains, is covered by the conifers and northern hardwoods of the New England-Acadian forests. The western border with New York and the area around Lake Champlain lies within the Eastern Great Lakes lowland forests. The southwest corner of the state and parts of the Connecticut River are covered by northeastern coastal forests of mixed oak.
Invasive wild honeysuckle has been deemed a threat to the state's forests, native species of plants, and wildlife. Many of Vermont's rivers, including the Winooski River, have been subjected to man-made barriers to prevent flooding.
Climate change appears to be affecting the maple sugar industry. Sugar maples have been subject to stress by acid rain, asian longhorn beetles, and pear thrips. In 2011 the deer herd had grown too large for habitat, and many resorted to eating bark to survive the winter, destroying trees in the process. In addition, the sugar maples need a certain period of cold to produce sap for maple syrup. The time to tap these trees has shrunk to one week in some years. The tree may be replaced by the more aggressive Norway maples, in effect forcing the sugar maples to "migrate" north to Canada.
Between 8500 and 7000 BCE, at the time of the Champlain Sea, Native Americans inhabited and hunted in present-day Vermont. During the Archaic period, from the 8th millennium BCE to 1000 BCE, Native Americans migrated year-round. During the Woodland period, from 1000 BCE to 1600 CE, they established villages and trade networks, and developed ceramic and bow and arrow technology. Their population in 1500 CE was estimated to be around 10,000 people.
During colonial times, where encounters and settlement were initiated by French colonists, the territory was occupied mainly by an Abenaki tribe known as the Sokoki, or Missiquois. The eastern part of the state may have also been occupied by the Androscoggin and Pennacook peoples.
To the west, the Misssiquois competed with the Iroquoian Mohawk, based in the Mohawk valley but with a large territory, and the Algonquin Mohican peoples. Many of the tribes later formed the Wabanaki Confederacy during King Philip's War. The warfare by English colonists defeated and scattered most of the surviving Abenaki tribes.
The first European to see Vermont is thought to have been French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1535. On July 30, 1609, French explorer Samuel de Champlain claimed this territory as part of New France. In 1666, French settlers erected Fort Sainte Anne on Isle La Motte, the first European settlement in Vermont.
The "violent" 1638 New Hampshire earthquake was centered in the St. Lawrence Valley and reported throughout New England. This was the first seismic event noted in Vermont. In 1690, a group of Dutch-British settlers from Albany established a settlement and trading post at Chimney Point, 8 miles (13 km) west of present-day Addison. During Dummer's War, the first permanent English settlement was established in 1724 with the construction of Fort Dummer. It was intended to protect the nearby settlements of Dummerston and Brattleboro.
From 1731 to 1734, the French constructed Fort St. Frédéric, which gave them control of the New France–Vermont frontier region in the Lake Champlain Valley. With the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754, the North American front of the Seven Years' War between the French and British, the French began construction in 1755 of Fort Carillon at present-day Ticonderoga, New York. The British failed to take either fort between 1755 and 1758. In 1759 a combined force of 12,000 British regular and provincial troops under Sir Jeffery Amherst captured Carillon, after which the French abandoned Fort St. Frédéric. Amherst constructed Fort Crown Point next to the remains of the Fort St. Frédéric, securing British control over the area.
Following France's loss in the French and Indian War, through the 1763 Treaty of Paris, it ceded control of land east of the Mississippi River to the British. The Crown attempted to limit colonial settlement to lands east of the Appalachians, in order to prohibit encroachment on Native American lands. The territory of Vermont was divided nearly in half in a jagged line running from Fort William Henry in Lake George diagonally north-eastward to Lake Memphremagog. With the end of the war, new settlers arrived in Vermont. Ultimately, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York all claimed this frontier area.
On July 20, 1764, King George III established the boundary between New Hampshire and New York along the west bank of the Connecticut River, north of Massachusetts, and south of 45 degrees north latitude. New York refused to recognize the land titles known as the New Hampshire Grants (towns created by land grants sold by New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth) and dissatisfied New Hampshire settlers organized in opposition. In 1770 Ethan Allen, his brothers Ira and Levi, and the Allens' cousins Seth Warner and Remember Baker, recruited an informal militia known as the Green Mountain Boys to protect the interests of the original New Hampshire settlers against newcomers from New York.
In 1775, after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, the Green Mountain Boys assisted a force from Connecticut, led by Benedict Arnold, in capturing the British fort at Ticonderoga. Thereafter, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia directed the New York colony's revolutionary congress to fund and equip Allen's militia as a ranger regiment of the Continental Army, which it did. Seth Warner was chosen by the men of the regiment to lead, while Ethan Allen later served as a colonel in Schuyler's Army of Northern New York.
On January 15, 1777, representatives of the New Hampshire Grants declared the independence of Vermont. For the first six months of its existence, it was called the Republic of New Connecticut.
On June 2, 1777, a second convention of 72 delegates met and adopted the name "Vermont." This was on the advice of a friendly Pennsylvanian, Dr. Thomas Young, friend and mentor of Ethan Allen. He was advising them on how to achieve admission into the newly independent United States of America as the 14th state. On July 4, they completed the drafting of the Constitution of Vermont at the Windsor Tavern, and adopted it on July 8. This was the first written constitution in North America to ban adult slavery, saying male slaves become free at the age of 21 and females at 18. It provided for universal adult male suffrage and required support of public schools. It was in effect from 1777 to 1786.
The Battle of Bennington, fought on August 16, 1777, was a seminal event in the history of the state of Vermont and the United States. A combined American force, under General John Stark's command, attacked the Hessian column at Hoosick, New York, just across the border from Bennington. It killed or captured virtually the entire Hessian detachment. General Burgoyne never recovered from this loss and eventually surrendered the remainder of his 6,000-man force at Saratoga, New York, on October 17 that year.
The battles of Bennington and Saratoga together are recognized as the turning point in the Revolutionary War because they were the first major defeat of a British army. The anniversary of the battle is still celebrated in Vermont as a legal holiday.
The Battle of Hubbardton (July 7, 1777) was the only Revolutionary battle within the present boundaries of Vermont. Although the Continental forces were technically defeated, the British forces were damaged to the point that they did not pursue the Americans (retreating from Fort Ticonderoga) any further.
Vermont continued to govern itself as a sovereign entity based in the eastern town of Windsor for 14 years. The independent state of Vermont issued its own coinage from 1785 to 1788 and operated a national postal service. Thomas Chittenden was the Governor in 1778–89 and in 1790–91.
Because the state of New York continued to assert a disputed claim that Vermont was a part of New York, Vermont could not be admitted to the Union under Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution until the legislature of New York consented. On March 6, 1790, the legislature made its consent contingent upon a negotiated agreement on the precise boundary between the two states. When commissioners from New York and Vermont met to decide on the boundary, Vermont's negotiators insisted on also settling the property ownership disputes with New Yorkers, rather than leaving that to be decided later in a federal court. The negotiations were successfully concluded in October 1790 with an agreement that Vermont would pay $30,000 to New York to be distributed among New Yorkers who claimed land in Vermont under New York land patents. In January 1791, a convention in Vermont voted 105–4 to petition Congress to become a state in the federal union. Congress acted on February 18, 1791 to admit Vermont to the Union as the 14th state as of March 4, 1791. Vermont became the first to enter the Union after the original 13 states.
The revised constitution of 1786, which established a greater separation of powers, continued in effect until 1793, two years after Vermont's admission to the Union. Slavery was officially banned by state law on November 25, 1858, less than three years before the American Civil War. Vermonters provided refuge in several sites for escaped slaves, fleeing to Canada, as part of what was called the Underground Railroad.
From the mid-1850s on, some Vermonters became activists opposing slavery, which they had previously worked to contain in the South. Abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens was born in Vermont and later represented a district in Pennsylvania in Congress. He developed as a national leader and later promoted Radical Republican goals after the American Civil War. While the Whig Party shriveled, and the Republican Party emerged, Vermont supported Republican candidates. In 1860 it voted for Abraham Lincoln for US President, giving him the largest margin of victory of any state.
The northernmost land action of the war was the St. Albans Raid—the robbery of three St. Albans banks, perpetrated in October 1864 by 21 Confederate agents. A posse pursued the Confederate raiders into Canada and captured several of them. They had to turn their captives over to Canadian officials. Canada reimbursed the banks, released, and later re-arrested some of the perpetrators.
As English speakers came to dominate the population in Vermont, they anglicized the names of many ethnic French residents and often discriminated against them. In the mid-20th century, descendants began to reclaim their French names, especially surnames.
Beginning in the mid-19th century, Vermont industries attracted numerous Irish, Scots-Irish and Italian immigrants, adding to its residents of mostly English and some French-Canadian ancestry. Many of the immigrants migrated to Barre, where the men worked as stonecutters of granite, for which there was a national market. Vermont granite was used in major public buildings in many states.
In this period, many Italian and Scottish women operated boarding houses to support their families. Such facilities also helped absorb new residents and help them learn the new culture; European immigrants peaked in number between 1890 and 1900. Typically immigrants boarded with people of their own language and ethnicity, but sometimes they boarded with others.
Gradually the new immigrants were absorbed into the state. Times of tension aroused divisions. In the early 20th century, some people in Vermont became alarmed about what they considered to be a decline in rural areas; people left farming to move to cities and others seemed unable to fit within society. In addition, there was a wave of immigration by French Canadians, and those of Protestant Yankee stock feared being overtaken by the new people, who added to the Catholic population of Irish and Italians. Based on the colonial past, some Yankee residents considered the French Canadians to have intermarried too frequently with Native Americans.
In an era influenced by ideas of Social Darwinism, some Vermont leaders promoted eugenics, an idea that the population could be managed and improved by limiting marriage and reproduction by certain members classified as unfit or defective. It passed a marriage law, to limit marriage by people considered unfit. In 1915 the Brandon State School for the Feebleminded opened, the beginning of a related effort to segregate and control those judged unfit to reproduce.
The state followed efforts to improve children's welfare by establishing other institutions to house the mentally ill or disabled. From 1925–1928 the Eugenics Survey of Vermont conducted research and recorded the histories of families it determined were degenerate or dependent. It also attempted to educate the public about why restrictive measures, including voluntary sterilization, were desirable. Review by current historians reveals the results were socially prejudiced, as the surveys tended to target the poor and disenfranchised minorities, including French Canadians, Abenaki, and disabled.
In 1931 Vermont was the 29th state to pass a eugenics law. Vermont like other states, sterilized some patients in institutions and persons it had identified through surveys as degenerate or unfit. It nominally had permission from the patients or their guardians, but abuses have been documented. Two-thirds of the sterilizations were done on women, and poor, unwed mothers were targeted, among others. The surgery was performed at institutions and hospitals in the state supposedly devoted to care of people in need. There is disagreement about how many sterilizations were performed; most were completed from 1931 to 1941, but such procedures were recorded as late as 1970.
The state has suffered some natural disasters in the 20th and 21st centuries related to hurricanes, and extensive rain and flooding. Large-scale flooding occurred in early November 1927. During this incident, 84 people died, including the state's lieutenant governor.
The 1938 New England hurricane in the fall of that year blew down 15,000,000 acres (61,000 km2) of trees, one-third of the total forest at the time in New England. Three billion board feet were salvaged. Today many of the older trees in Vermont are about 75 years old, dating from after this storm.
A major flood occurred in 1973, causing the deaths of two people and millions of dollars in property damage.
The state suffered severe flooding in late August 2011 caused by Tropical Storm Irene. Heavy rains caused flooding in many towns built along narrow river valleys. The governor described it as one of the worst natural disasters of the 20th and 21st centuries, second only to the flood of 1927. The state was classified as a federal disaster area.
Vermont approved women's suffrage decades before it became part of the national constitution. Women were first allowed to vote in the elections of December 18, 1880, when women were granted limited suffrage. They were first allowed to vote in town elections, and later in state legislative races.
In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Reynolds v. Sims required "one man, one vote" redistricting in all states. It had found that many state legislatures had not redistricted and were unjustly dominated by rural interests, years after the development of densely populated and industrial urban areas. In addition, it found that many states had an upper house based on geographical jurisdictions, such as counties. This gave disproportionate power to rural and lightly populated counties. The court ruled there was no basis for such a structure. Major changes in political apportionment took place in Vermont and other affected states.
This ruling required districts to be reassessed after every census and to be based on roughly equal population, rather than geography (such as counties). Under redistricting, residents in urban areas were to gain an equitable share of apportionment in both houses in every state. Vermont and some other northern states had long been dominated by rural districts, as were several Southern states in those years, who had not redistricted since the turn of the century. Until that time, apportionment of upper houses was often based on county jurisdictions, which had given more power to rural counties and failed to acknowledge the increased population in urban areas. This arrangement had meant that urban areas did not have proportionate political power and often suffered from underinvestment in needed infrastructure; other urban issues were also neglected by rural-dominated legislatures.
Since the late 20th century, Abenaki peoples in Vermont lobbied for recognition. In 2011 the state officially recognized their continued presence in the region by recognizing the Elnu Tribe of the Abenaki and the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation; in 2012 it recognized the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi and the Koasek Traditional Band of the Koos Abenaki Nation. In 2016 the state governor proclaimed Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day.
On January 22, 2018, Vermont became the first of the United States to legalize cannabis for recreational use by legislative action, and the ninth state in the United States to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. This law was signed by Republican Governor Phil Scott.
According to the United States Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2018, Vermont has an estimated population of 626,299, This includes a natural increase 3,178 (31,716 births minus 28,538 deaths) and a decrease due to net migration of 2,432 people out of the state. In 2006 it had the second lowest birthrate in the nation, 42/1000 women. The center of population of Vermont is located in Washington County, in the town of Warren.
As of 2014, 51.3% of Vermont's population was born in the state (compared with 58.7% for the United States). The changing demographics between those with multi-generational ties to the state and those who are newcomers, bringing different values with them, has resulted in a degree of tension between the two perspectives. This tension is expressed in the terms, "Woodchuck", being applied to those established in the state, and "Flatlander", applied to the newcomers. Vermont is the least populous New England state. As of 2012, Vermont was one of only two states in the U.S. with fewer people than the District of Columbia—the other was Wyoming.
From 2010 to 2013, 16 out of Vermont's 251 towns experienced an increase in population. All towns in Chittenden increased with the exception of Burlington. More than 180 towns experienced a decrease, which hadn't happened since the mid-19th century.
Note: Births in table do not add up, because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.
|White:||5,696 (95.3%)||5,825 (95.0%)||5,554 (94.1%)||...||...|
|> Non-Hispanic White||5,597 (93.7%)||5,724 (93.4%)||5,370 (91.0%)||5,208 (90.5%)||5,134 (90.8%)|
|Asian||153 (2.6%)||163 (2.7%)||175 (3.0%)||154 (2.7%)||159 (2.8%)|
|Black||115 (1.9%)||126 (2.1%)||149 (2.5%)||70 (1.2%)||115 (2.0%)|
|American Indian||11 (0.2%)||16 (0.3%)||25 (0.4%)||11 (0.2%)||16 (0.3%)|
|Hispanic (of any race)||92 (1.5%)||92 (1.5%)||139 (2.3%)||136 (2.3%)||123 (2.2%)|
|Total Vermont||5,975 (100%)||6,130 (100%)||5,903 (100%)||5,756 (100%)||5,655 (100%)|
94.3% of the population identified as white not of Hispanic or Latino origin in a 2013 US Census estimate. As of the 2010 census, Vermont was the second-whitest state in the Union after Maine.
In 2009, 12.6% of people over 15 were divorced. This was the fifth highest percentage in the nation. As of 2008, the median age of Vermonters was 40.6 and that of the work force was 43.7, compared with the national average of 41.1 years.
Linguists have identified speech patterns found among Vermonters as belonging to Western New England English, a dialect of New England English, which features full pronunciation of all r sounds, pronouncing horse and hoarse the same, and pronouncing vowels in father and bother the same, none of which are features traditionally shared in neighboring Eastern New England English. Some rural speakers realize the t as a glottal stop (mitten sounds like "mi'in" and Vermont like "Vermon' "[a]). A dwindling segment of the Vermont population, generally both rural and male—especially in northwestern Vermont, pronounces certain vowels in a distinctive manner (e.g. cows sounds like "cayows," fight like "foight," calf like "caaf," there like "thair," hand like "hay-nd," and back like "bah-k").
Eastern New England English—also found in New Hampshire, Maine and eastern Massachusetts—was common in eastern Vermont in the mid-twentieth century and before, but has become rare. There the practice of dropping the r sound in words ending in r (farmer sounds like "farm-uh") and adding an r sound to words ending in a vowel (idea sounds like "idee-er") was common. Those characteristics in eastern Vermont appear to have been inherited from West Country and Scots-Irish ancestors.
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In 2015, Vermont was ranked by Forbes magazine as the 42nd best state in which to do business. It was 32nd in 2007, and 30th in 2006. In 2008 an economist said that the state had "a really stagnant economy, which is what we are forecasting for Vermont for the next 30 years." In May 2010 Vermont's 6.2% unemployment rate was the fourth lowest in the nation. This rate reflects the second sharpest decline among the 50 states since the prior May.
According to the 2010 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report, Vermont's gross state product (GSP) was $26 billion. Not accounting for size, this places the state 50th among the 50 states. It stood 34th in per capita GSP.
The median household income from 2002 to 2004 was $45,692. This was 15th nationally. The median wage in the state in 2008 was $15.31 hourly or $31,845 annually. In 2007 about 80% of the 68,000 Vermonters who qualify for food stamps received them. 40% of seniors 75 years or older live on annual incomes of $21,660 or less. In 2011, 15.2% of Vermonters received food stamps. This compares to 14.8% nationally.
Agriculture contributed 2.2% of the state's domestic product in 2000. In 2000 about 3% of the state's working population engaged in agriculture. As of 2014, the Pew Research Center estimated that farms in the state employed fewer than 5,000 illegal immigrants. In 2017, Vermont Governor Phil Scott announce that the state was "exploring a legal challenge" to the executive order signed by President Donald Trump for Vermont law enforcement authorities to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and “perform the functions of immigration officers in relation to the investigation, apprehension, or detention of aliens”.
Dairy farming is the primary source of agricultural income. In the second half of the 20th century, developers had plans to build condos and houses on what was relatively inexpensive, open land. Vermont's government responded with a series of laws controlling development and with some pioneering initiatives to prevent the loss of Vermont's dairy industry. Still, the number of Vermont dairy farms has declined more than 85% from the 11,206 dairy farms operating in 1947. In 2003 there were fewer than 1,500 dairy farms in the state; in 2006 there were 1,138; and in 2007 there were 1,087. The number of dairy farms has been diminishing by 10% annually.
The number of cattle in Vermont had declined by 40%; however, milk production has doubled in the same period due to tripling the production per cow. While milk production rose, Vermont's market share declined. Within a group of states supplying the Boston and New York City markets (called "Federal order Class I"), Vermont was third in market share, with 10.6%; New York has 44.9% and Pennsylvania has 32.9%. In 2007 dairy farmers received a record $23.60 for 100 pounds (45 kg) (11.63 gallons at $2.03/gallon) of milk. This dropped in 2008 to $17 ($1.46/gallon). The average dairy farm produced 1.3 million pounds of milk annually in 2008.
The dairy barn remains an iconic image of Vermont, but the 87% decrease in active dairy farms between 1947 and 2003 means that preservation of the dairy barns has increasingly become dependent upon a commitment to maintaining a legacy rather than basic need in the agricultural economy. The Vermont Barn Census, organized by a collaboration of educational and nonprofit state and local historic preservation programs, has developed educational and administrative systems for recording the number, condition, and features of barns throughout Vermont.
In 2009, there were 543 organic farms. Twenty percent of the dairy farms were organic and 23% (128) vegetable farms were organic. Organic farming increased in 2006–07, but leveled off in 2008–09.
A significant amount of milk is shipped into the Boston market. Therefore the Commonwealth of Massachusetts certifies that Vermont farms meet Massachusetts sanitary standards. Without this certification, a farmer may not sell milk for distribution into the bulk market.
Forest products have always been a staple to the economy, comprising 1% of the total gross state output and 9% of total manufacturing as of 2013. In 2007, Windham County contained the largest concentration of kilns for drying lumber east of the Mississippi River. The decline of farms has resulted in a regrowth of Vermont's forests due to ecological succession. Today, most of Vermont's forests are secondary. The state and non-profit organizations are actively encouraging regrowth and careful forest management. Over 78% of the land area of the state is forested compared to only 37% forest in 1880s when sheep farming was at its peak and large amounts of acreage were cleared for grazing land. Over 85% of that area is non-industrial, private forestland owned by individuals or families. In 2013, 73,054 million cubic feet of wood was harvested in Vermont. A large amount of Vermont forest products are exports with 21,504 million feet being shipped overseas plus an additional 16,384 million cubic feet to Canada. Most of it was processed within the state. In this century the manufacture of wood products has fallen by almost half. The annual net growth has been estimated at 172,810 million cubic feet. The USDA estimates that 8,584 billion cubic feet remain in the state. Forest products also add to carbon sequestration since lumber and timber used in houses and furniture hold carbon for long periods of time while the trees that were removed are replaced overtime with new growing stock.
In 2017, the price of wood products had either plummeted or remained the same when compared to previous decades. Workers are discouraged. For example, in 1994, the price of a thousand board feet was $300, the same as it was in 2017. The price of wood chips has halved in the same time frame. In 1980, the price for a cord of wood was $50; in 2017, $25. For lack of demand, Vermont's forests are growing twice as fast as they are being cut.
An important and growing part of Vermont's economy is the manufacture and sale of artisan foods, fancy foods, and novelty items trading in part upon the Vermont "brand," which the state manages and defends. Examples of these specialty exports include Cabot Cheese, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Fine Paints of Europe, Vermont Butter and Cheese Company, several microbreweries, ginseng growers, Burton Snowboards, King Arthur Flour, and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.
There were about 2,000 maple products producers in 2010. Production rose to 920,000 US gallons (3,500,000 l; 770,000 imp gal) in 2009. The state's share of the nation's production rose to 42% in 2013. It had the second lowest price at $33.40/gallon.
The wine industry in Vermont started in 1985. As of 2007, there were 14 wineries.
An increasingly aging population is expected to improve the position of aging services and health care in the state economy. The University of Vermont Medical Center, with approximately 7,000 employees, is the largest employer in the state.
In 2010, all of Vermont's hospitals billed patients $3.76 billion, and collected $2 billion. 92,000 people are enrolled in Medicare. In 2011, Medicare spent $740 million on health care in the state.
In 2007, Vermont was the 17th highest state in the nation for mortgage affordability. However, in 41 other states, inhabitants contributed within plus or minus 4% of Vermont's 18.4% of household income to a mortgage.
Housing prices did not rise much during the early 2000s. As a result, the collapse in real estate values was not that precipitous either. While foreclosure rose significantly in 2007, the state stood 50th—the most favorable—in ratio of foreclosure filings to households. While housing sales dropped annually from 2004 to 2008, prices continued to rise.
In 2007, Vermont was best in the country for construction of new energy efficient homes as evaluated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under the Energy Star program. However, about 60% of Vermont homes were heated with oil in 2008. In August 2008, the cost in Vermont of various heating sources per 1 million BTU ranged from $14.39 for cord wood to $43.50 for kerosene.
While the number of houses sold in the state has dropped from 8,318 in 2004 to 8,120 in 2005, 6,919 in 2006, and 5,820 in 2007, the average price has continued to rise to $202,500 in 2008 ($200,000 in 2007).
In 2009, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $920 per month. Rental vacancy was 5.4%, the lowest in the nation. 2,800 people were counted as homeless in January 2010, 22% more than in 2008.
In 2011, Vermont was fifth among the states with the greatest backlog of foreclosures needing court processing, taking an estimated 18 years. The national average was eight years.
In 2009, the state attained a high of 361,290 workers.
Employment grew 7.5% from 2000 to 2006. From 1980 to 2000, employment grew by 3.4%; nationally it was up 4.6%. Real wages were $33,385 in 2006 constant dollars and remained there in 2010; the nation, $36,871.
Captive insurance plays an increasingly large role in Vermont's economy. With this form of alternative insurance, large corporations or industry associations form standalone insurance companies to insure their own risks, thereby substantially reducing their insurance premiums and gaining a significant measure of control over types of risks to be covered. There are also significant tax advantages to be gained from the formation and operation of captive insurance companies. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Vermont in 2009 was the world's third-largest domicile for captive insurance companies, following Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. In 2009, there were 560 such companies. In 2010, the state had 900 such companies.
Tourism is an important industry to the state. Resorts, hotels, restaurants, and shops, designed to attract tourists, employ people year-round. Summer camps such as camp Abenaki, camp Billings, camp Dudley, and camp Hochelaga contribute to Vermont's tourist economy. Visitors participate in trout fishing, lake fishing, and ice fishing. Some hike the Long Trail.
In 2011, the state government earned $274 million in taxes and fees from tourism. 89% of the money came from out-of-state visitors. Tourism supported over 26,000 jobs, 7.2% of total employment.
According to the 2000 Census, almost 15% of all housing units in Vermont were vacant and classified "for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use".[clarification needed] This was the second highest percentage nationwide, after Maine. In some Vermont cities, vacation homes owned by wealthy residents of New England and New York constitute the bulk of all housing stock. According to one estimate, as of 2009, 84% of all houses in Ludlow were owned by out-of-state residents. Other notable vacation-home resorts include Manchester and Stowe.
Hunting is controlled for black bear, wild turkeys, deer, and moose. There are 5,500 bears in the state. The goal is to keep the numbers between 4,500 and 6,000. In 2010, there were about 141,000 deer in the state, which is in range of government goals. However, these are distributed unevenly and when in excess of 10–15 per square mile, negatively impact timber growth.
Some of the largest ski areas in New England are located in Vermont. Skiers and snowboarders visit Burke Mountain Ski Area, Bolton Valley, Smugglers' Notch, Killington Ski Resort, Mad River Glen, Stowe Mountain Resort, Cochrans Ski Area, Sugarbush, Stratton, Jay Peak, Okemo, Suicide Six, Mount Snow, Bromley, and Magic Mountain Ski Area. Summer visitors tour resort towns like Stowe, Manchester, Quechee, Wilmington and Woodstock. The effects of global warming have been predicted to shorten the length of the ski season across Vermont, which would continue the contraction and consolidation of the ski industry and threaten individual ski businesses and communities that rely on ski tourism.
In winter, Nordic and backcountry skiers visit to travel the length of the state on the Catamount Trail. Several horse shows are annual events. Vermont's state parks, historic sites, museums, golf courses, and new boutique hotels with spas were designed to attract tourists.
In 2000–01, there were 4,579,719 skier and snowboarder visits to the state. There were 4,125,082 visits in 2009–2010, a rise from recent years.
In 2008, there were 35,000 members of 138 snowmobiling clubs in Vermont. The combined association of clubs maintains 6,000 miles (9,700 km) of trail often over private lands. The industry is said to generate "hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business."
The towns of Rutland and Barre are the traditional centers of marble and granite quarrying and carving in the U.S. For many years Vermont was also the headquarters of the smallest union in the U.S., the Stonecutters Association, of about 500 members. The first marble quarry in America was on Mount Aeolus overlooking East Dorset. The granite industry attracted numerous skilled stonecutters in the late 19th century from Italy, Scotland, and Ireland. Barre is the location of the Rock of Ages quarry, the largest dimension stone granite quarry in the United States. Vermont is the largest producer of slate in the country. The highest quarrying revenues result from the production of dimension stone. The Rock of Ages quarry in Barre is one of the leading exporters of granite in the country. The work of the sculptors of this corporation can be seen 3 miles (4.8 km) down the road at the Hope Cemetery, where there are gravestones and mausoleums.
There were 2,682 non-profit organizations in Vermont in 2008, with $2.8 billion in revenue. The state ranked ninth in the country for volunteerism for the period 2005–08. 35.6% of the population volunteered during this period. The national average was 26.4%.
Vermont's main mode of travel is by automobile. 5.7% of Vermont households did not own a car in 2008. In 2012, there were 605,000 motor vehicles registered, nearly one car for every person in the state. This is similar to average car ownership nationwide. In 2012, about half the carbon emissions in the state resulted from vehicles.
On average, 20–25 people die each year from drunk driving incidents; as well as 70–80 people in fatal car crashes in the state. Motorists have the highest insurance rates in the country, 93%, tied with Pennsylvania.
In 2010, Vermont owned 2,840 miles (4,570 km) of highway. This was the third smallest quantity among the 50 states. 2.5% of the highways were listed as "congested," the 5th lowest in the country. The highway fatality rate was 1 per 100,000,000 miles (160,000,000 km), tenth lowest in the nation. The highways cost $28,669 per 1 mile (1.6 km) to maintain, the 17th highest in the states. 34.4% of its bridges were rated deficient or obsolete, the 8th worst in the nation.
Individual communities and counties have public transit, but their breadth of coverage is frequently limited. Greyhound Lines services a number of small towns. Two Amtrak trains serve Vermont, the Vermonter and the Ethan Allen Express. In early 2011, Amtrak evaluated the track used by the Ethan Allen Express between Rutland and Whitehall as the worst in the nation, but subsequent improvements to the track later in 2011 vastly improved its performance going forward.
Trucks weighing less than 80,000 pounds (36,000 kg) can use Vermont's interstate highways. The limit for state roads is 99,000 pounds (45,000 kg). This means that vehicles too heavy for the interstates can legally only use secondary roads.
The state has 2,843 miles (4,575 km) of highways under its control. Three Interstate highways and five U.S. highways enter Vermont, in addition to its own state highway network.
A 2005–06 study ranked Vermont 37th out of the states for "cost-effective road maintenance", a decline of thirteen places since 2004–05.
Federal data indicates that 16% of Vermont's 2,691 bridges had been rated structurally deficient by the state in 2006. In 2007 Vermont had the sixth worst percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the country.
The Ethan Allen Express serves Castleton and Rutland, while the Vermonter serves St. Albans, Essex Junction, Waterbury, Montpelier, Randolph, White River Junction, Windsor, Bellows Falls, and Brattleboro.
Greyhound Lines stops at Bellows Falls, Brattleboro, Burlington, Montpelier, and White River Junction. Megabus, as of November 2014, stops in Burlington and Montpelier. Vermont Translines, an intercity bus company started by Premier Coach in 2013 partnering with Greyhound and starting service on June 9, 2014, serves Milton, Colchester, Burlington, Middlebury, Brandon, Rutland, Wallingford, Manchester and Bennington on its Burlington to Albany line, and Rutland, Killington, Bridgewater, Woodstock, Queechee and White River Junction along the US Route 4 corridor. The town of Bennington also has the weekday-operating Albany-Bennington Shuttle, an intercity bus operated by Yankee Trails World Travel.
Other transportation includes:
There is a year-round ferry service to and from New York State across Lake Champlain from Burlington, Charlotte, Grand Isle, and Shoreham. All but the Shoreham ferry are operated by the LCTC (Lake Champlain Transportation Company).
Vermont is served by two commercial airports:
Vermont hosts 93 radio broadcast stations. The top categories are talk/information (11), country (9) and classic rock (9). The top owner of radio broadcast stations is Vermont Public Radio (11 broadcast frequencies and 13 low-power, local transmitters). Other companies had five or fewer stations. The state has 15 online radio stations.
Vermont hosts 10 high-power television broadcast stations, three of which are satellites of a primary station. Represented are the following networks and number of high-power transmitters, ABC (1), CBS (1), Fox (1), NBC (2), PBS (4), and RTV (1). In addition, it has 17 low-power television broadcast stations, which in several cases are satellites of the high-power stations.
2008 peak demand in the state was 1,100 megawatts (MW).
While Vermont paid the lowest rates in New England for power in 2007, it is still ranked among the highest eleven states in the nation; that is, about 16% higher than the national average.
In 2009, the state paid the highest rates for energy (including heating) in the U.S. and had the worst affordability gap nationwide.
In 2009, the state received one-third (400 MW) of its power from Hydro-Québec and one-third from Vermont Yankee. In total, the state got half its power from Canada and other states. It received 75% of the power it generated in the state from Vermont Yankee. The state is part of the Northeast Power Coordinating Council for the distribution of electricity.
The state has 78 hydropower dams. They generate 143 MW, about 12% of the state's total requirement. Vermont experts estimate that the state has the capacity to ultimately generate from 134 to 175 megawatts of electricity from hydro power.
In 2006, the total summer generating capacity of Vermont was 1,117 megawatts. In 2005, the inhabitants of the state used an average of 5,883 kilowatt-hours (21,180 MJ) of electricity per capita. Another source says that each household consumed 7,100 kilowatt-hours (26,000 MJ) annually in 2008.
Until the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant was shut down in 2014, Vermont had the highest rate of nuclear-generated power in the nation, 73.7%. Vermont is one of two states with no coal-fired power plants.
A 2013 survey found that of 18,790 miles (30,240 km) of roads surveyed, all but 3,118 mi had cellular coverage by at least one carrier. The roads surveyed are concentrated in the more heavily populated areas.
A June 2013 survey found that of nearly 249,976 addresses surveyed, 84.7% had fixed (as opposed to mobile) broadband available. It was projected that all but 29 addresses would have fixed broadband available by the end of 2013.
Vermont is federally represented in the United States Congress by two senators and one representative.
The state is governed by a constitution which divides governmental duties into legislative, executive and judicial branches: the Vermont General Assembly, the Governor of Vermont and the Vermont Supreme Court. The governorship and the General Assembly serve two-year terms including the governor and 30 senators. There are no term limits for any office. The state capital is in Montpelier.
There are three types of incorporated municipalities in Vermont: towns, cities, and villages. Like most of New England, there is slight provision for autonomous county government. Counties and county seats are merely convenient repositories for various government services such as state courts, with several elected officers such as a state's Attorney and sheriff. All county services are directly funded by the state of Vermont. The next effective governmental level below state government are municipalities. Most of these are towns.
Vermont is the only state in the union not to have a balanced budget requirement, yet Vermont has had a balanced budget every year since 1991. In 2007 Moody's gave its top bond cr rating (Aaa) to the state.
The state uses enterprise funds for operations that are similar to private business enterprises. The Vermont Lottery Commission, the Liquor Control Fund, and the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund, are the largest of the State's enterprise funds.
In 2007, Vermont was the 14th highest out of 50 states and the District of Columbia for state and local taxation, with a per capita load of $3,681. The national average was $3,447. However, CNNMoney ranked Vermont highest in the nation based on the percentage of per capita income. The rankings showed Vermont had a per capita tax load of $5,387, 14.1% of the per capita income of $38,306.
Vermont collects a state personal income tax in a progressive structure of five different income brackets, with marginal tax rates ranging from 3.6% to 9.5%. In 2008, the top 1% of Vermont residents provided 30% of the income tax revenue; around 2,000 people had sufficient income to be taxed at the highest marginal rate of 9.5%.
Vermont's general state sales tax rate is 6%, which is imposed on sales of tangible personal property, amusement charges, fabrication charges, some public utility charges and some service contracts. Some towns and cities impose an additional 1% Local Option Tax. There are 46 exemptions from the sales tax, including exemptions for food, medical items, manufacturing machinery, equipment and fuel, residential fuel and electricity, clothing, and shoes. A use tax is imposed on the buyer at the same rate as the sales tax. The buyer pays the use tax when the seller fails to collect the sales tax or the items are purchased from a source where no tax is collected. The use tax applies to items taxable under the sales tax.
Vermont does not collect inheritance taxes, but does impose a state estate tax; a Vermont estate tax return must be filed if the estate must file a federal estate tax return (the requirement for which depends on federal law).
Property taxes are levied by municipalities for the support of education and municipal services. Vermont does not assess tax on personal property. Property taxes are based on appraisal of the fair market value of real property. Rates vary from 0.97% on homesteaded property in Ferdinand, Essex County, to 2.72% on nonresidents' property in Barre City. Statewide, towns average 1.77% to 1.82% tax rate. In 2007, Vermont counties were among the highest in the country for property taxes. Chittenden ($3,809 median), Windham ($3,412), Addison ($3,352), and Windsor ($3,327) ranked in the top 100, out of 1,817 counties in the nation with populations greater than 20,000. Twelve of the state's 14 counties stood in the top 20%. Median annual property taxes as a percentage of median homeowners income, 5.4%, was rated as the third highest in the nation in 2011.
Vermont is one of four states that were once independent nations (the others being Texas, California, and Hawaii). Notably, Vermont is the only state to have voted for a presidential candidate from the Anti-Masonic Party, and Vermont was one of only two states to vote against Franklin D. Roosevelt in all four of his presidential campaigns (the other was Maine).
Republicans dominated local Vermont politics from the party's founding in 1854 until the mid-1970s. Before the 1960s, rural interests dominated the legislature. As a result, cities, particularly the older sections of Burlington and Winooski, were neglected and fell into decay. People began to move out to newer suburbs.
Vermont was for many years a stronghold of the Republican Party. Ethno-political culture of the last century has seen a dramatic shift in voter turnout in the Green Mountain State. Since 1992, Vermont has voted for the Democrat in every Presidential election. Before 1992, Vermont voted for the Republican in every single Presidential election with the exception of 1964.
A series of one man, one vote decisions made by the United States Supreme Court in the 1960s required states to redraw their legislative districts to accurately reflect population. As a result, urban areas in Vermont gained political power.
The legislature was redistricted under one-person, one-vote in the 1960s. It passed the Land Use and Development Law (Act 250) in 1970 to discourage suburban sprawl and to limit major growth to already developed areas. The law, the first of its kind in the nation, created nine District Environmental Commissions appointed by the Governor, who judged land development and subdivision plans that would have a significant impact on the state's environment and many small communities. As a result of Act 250, Vermont was the last state to get a Wal-Mart (there are now six Wal-Marts in the state, as of November 2017, but only three – in Williston, St. Albans, and Derby – were newly built from the ground up). Because of the successful attempts to dilute what is perceived as the original intent of Act 250, and other development pressures, Vermont has been designated one of America's most "endangered historic places" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
In 1995, the state banned the spreading of manure from December 15 to April 1, to prevent runoff and protect the water. Therefore farms must have environmentally approved facilities to store manure during this time frame.
While the state voted largely Democratic, Republican Governor Douglas won all counties but Windham in the 2006 election.
A controversy dating from 1999 has been over the adoption of civil unions, an institution which grants same-sex couples nearly all the rights and privileges of marriage at the state, but not federal, level. In Baker v. Vermont (1999), the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that, under the Constitution of Vermont, the state must either allow same-sex marriage or provide a separate but equal status for them. The state legislature chose the second option by creating the institution of civil union; the bill was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Howard Dean. In April 2009, the state legislature overrode governor Jim Douglas's veto to allow same-sex marriage, becoming the first state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage through legislation. In September 2009, Vermont became the fourth state in which same-sex couples could marry.
In 2007, the state's House of Representatives rejected a measure which would have legalized assisted suicide for the terminally ill, by a vote of 82–63. With the governor's signature on May 20, 2013, Vermont became the fourth state to pass a "death with dignity" law—the first to be passed through legislation rather than by ballot initiative.
Minor parties and Independents flourish. Rules which eliminate smaller parties from the ballot in most states do not exist in Vermont. As a result, voters often have extensive choices for general elections. Among others, this more open policy enabled independents like Bernie Sanders to win election as mayor of Burlington, U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senator.
A political issue has been Act 60, which balances taxation for education funding. This has resulted in the town of Killington trying to secede from Vermont and join New Hampshire due to what the locals say is an unfair tax burden.
The Vermont constitution and the courts supports the right of a person to walk (fish and hunt) on any unposted, unfenced land. That is, trespass must be proven by the owner; it is not automatically assumed.
In 2013, Vermont became the 17th state to decriminalize marijuana. The statute makes possession of less than an ounce of the drug punishable by a small fine rather than arrest and possible jail time.
In 2014, Vermont became the first state to mandate labeling of genetically modified organisms in the retail food supply.
In January 2018, Governor Phil Scott opted to sign H.511, the Vermont marijuana legalization bill, which allows adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to two mature plants starting July 1, 2018.
Historically, Vermont was considered one of the most reliably Republican states in the country in terms of national elections. From 1856 to 1988, Vermont voted Democratic only once, in Lyndon B. Johnson's landslide victory of 1964 against Barry M. Goldwater. It was also one of only two states—the other being Maine—where Franklin D. Roosevelt was completely shut out in all four of his presidential bids. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Republican presidential candidates frequently won the state with over 70% of the vote.
In the 1980s and 1990s, many people moved in from out of state. Much of this immigration included the arrival of more liberal political influences of the urban areas of New York and the rest of New England in Vermont. The brand of Republicanism in Vermont has historically been a moderate one, and combined with the newcomers from out of state, this made Vermont friendlier to Democrats as the national GOP moved to the right. As evidence of this, in 1990 Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, was elected to Vermont's lone seat in the House as an independent. Sanders became the state's junior Senator in 2007. However, for his entire career in the House and Senate, Sanders has caucused with the Democrats and is counted as a Democrat for the purposes of committee assignments and voting for party leadership.
After narrowly supporting George H. W. Bush in 1988, it gave Democrat Bill Clinton a 16-point margin in 1992—the first time the state had gone Democratic since 1964. Vermont has voted Democratic in every presidential election since.
Since 2004, Vermont has been one of the Democrats' most loyal states. It gave John Kerry his fourth-largest margin of victory in the presidential campaign against George W. Bush; he won the state's popular vote by 20 percentage points, taking almost 59% of the vote. (Kerry, from neighboring Massachusetts, also became the first Northern Democrat ever to carry Vermont; Johnson was from Texas, Clinton from Arkansas and Al Gore, triumphant in the Green Mountain State in 2000, from Tennessee.) Essex County in the state's northeastern section was the only county to vote for Bush. Vermont is the only state that did not receive a visit from George W. Bush during his tenure as President of the United States. Indeed, George W. Bush and Donald Trump are the only Republicans to win the White House without carrying Vermont. In 2008, Vermont gave Barack Obama his third-largest margin of victory (37 percentage points) and third-largest vote share in the nation by his winning the state 68% to 31%. Only Obama's birth state of Hawaii and Washington, D.C. were stronger Democratic victories. The same held true in 2012, when Obama carried Vermont 67% of the vote to 31% for Romney, and in 2016, when Hillary Clinton won with 57% of the vote to 30% for Donald Trump.
Vermont's two Senators are Democrat Patrick Leahy, the longest-serving member of the Senate, and independent Bernie Sanders. The state is represented by an at-large member of the House, Democrat Peter Welch, who succeeded Sanders in 2007.
In 2010, Vermont was ranked the highest in the country for health outcomes.
In 2000, the state implemented the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program to improve preventive services and management of chronic conditions. In 2011, the state ranked third in the nation in child health system performance. In 2011, the March of Dimes gave Vermont an "A," ranking it number one in the country on its Prematurity Report Card.
In 2008, Vermont was ranked number one in the nation as the healthiest place to live for the seventh time in eight years. Criteria included low teenage birth rate, strong health coverage, the lowest AIDS rate in the country, and 18 other factors. The state scored well in cessation of smoking, obesity, fewer occupational fatalities, prevalence of health insurance, and low infant mortality. A problem area was a high prevalence of binge drinking. While ranking sixth from best for adults in obesity in 2009, the state still had 22% obese with a rate of 27% for children 10–17. The ranking for children was ninth best in the nation. In 1993, the obesity rate for adults was 12%. Vermonters spend $141 million annually in medical costs related to obesity. The combined figures for overweight and obese adults rose from 40.7% in 1990 to 58.4% in 2010. This is better than most other states.
In 2011, Vermont led the nation in the rate of young people who had consumed alcohol in the past month; one-third of people aged 11 through 20. One-fifth of that group had binged during that time. The state was second for the use of marijuana by young people; 30% of adults 18 to 25 in the past month.
In 2009, Vermont was ranked second in the nation for safety. Crime statistics on violence were used for the criteria.
Vermont has some of the least restrictive gun control laws in the country. A permit or license is not required for purchasing or carrying firearms. Concealed carry and open carry of a firearm is legal over the age of 16, with those below 16 requiring parental permission.
In 2007, Vermont was ranked among the best five states in the country for preventing "premature death" in people under 75 years of age. The rate of survival was twice that of the five lowest performing states.
In 2007, Vermont was ranked the third safest state for highway fatalities. In 2007, a third of fatal crashes involved a drunken driver. In 2008, Vermont was the fifth best state for fewest uninsured motorists – 6%.
In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency cited Chittenden and Bennington as counties with 70 parts per billion of smog which is undesirable.
In northern Vermont particularly, moose are not uncommon, including in urban areas. They constitute a traffic threat since they are unaware of vehicles. There are several deaths each year from automobiles striking moose.
In 2008, about 100,000 Vermonters got their health care through the federal government, Medicare, Tri-Care, and the Veteran's Administration. An additional 10,000 Vermonters work for employers who provide insurance under federal law under ERISA. About 20% of Vermonters receive health care outside of Vermont; 20% of the care provided within the state is to non-Vermonters. In 2008, the state had an estimated 7.6% with no medical insurance, down from 9.8% in 2005. In 2008, the Vermont Health Access Program for low-income, uninsured adults cost from $7 to $49 per month. A "Catamount Health" premium assistance program was available for Vermonters who do not qualify for other programs. Total monthly premiums ranged from $60 to $393 for an individual. There was a $250 deductible. Insured paid $10 toward each generic prescription. 16.9% of residents 18 to 35 were uninsured, the highest group.
Vermont was named the nation's smartest state in 2005 and 2006. In 2006, there was a gap between state testing standards and national, which is biased in favor of the state standards by 30%, on average. This puts Vermont 11th-best in the nation. Most states have a higher bias. However, when allowance for race is considered, a 2007 US Government list of test scores shows Vermont white fourth graders performed 25th in the nation for reading (229), 26th for math (247). White eighth graders scored 18th for math (292) and 12th for reading (273). The first three scores were not considered statistically different from average. White eighth graders scored significantly above average in reading. Statistics for black students were not reliable because of their small representation in the testing.
In 2017, spending $1.6 billion on education for 76,000 public school children, represents more than $21,000 per student.
In 2013, the ratio of pupils to teachers was the lowest in the country.
Experimentation at the University of Vermont by George Perkins Marsh, and later the influence of Vermont-born philosopher and educator John Dewey brought about the concepts of electives and learning by doing.
Vermont has five colleges within the Vermont State Colleges system, University of Vermont (UVM), and thirteen other private, degree-granting colleges, including Bennington College Champlain College, Goddard College, Marlboro College, Middlebury College, Saint Michael's College, the Vermont Law School, and Norwich University.
In 2016, the University of Vermont charged the second highest tuition in the nation for four years, $61,000 for in-state students, to $147,000 for out-of-state students. This compares with an average of 34,800 nationally for in-state students.
Vermont festivals include the Vermont Maple Festival, Festival on the Green, The Vermont Dairy Festival in Enosburg Falls, the Apple Festival (held each Columbus Day Weekend), the Marlboro Music Festival, and the Vermont Brewers Festival. The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is supported by the state and performs throughout the area.
Since 1973 the Sage City Symphony, formed by composer Louis Calabro, has performed in the Bennington area. In 1988 a number of Vermont-based composers including Gwyneth Walker formed the Vermont Composers Consortium, which was recognized by the governor proclaiming 2011 as The Year of the Composer.
Burlington, Vermont's largest city, hosts the annual Vermont International Film Festival in October, that presents 10 days of independent film from the US and around the world. The Brattleboro-based Vermont Theatre Company presents an annual summer Shakespeare festival. Brattleboro also hosts the summertime Strolling of the Heifers parade which celebrates Vermont's dairy culture. The annual Green Mountain Film Festival is held in Montpelier.
In the Northeast Kingdom, the Bread and Puppet Theatre holds weekly shows in Glover in a natural outdoor amphitheater.
One of Vermont's best known musical acts is the rock band Phish, whose members met while attending school in Vermont and spent much of their early years playing at venues across the state.
The rate of volunteerism in Vermont was eighth in the nation with 37% in 2007. The state stood first in New England. In 2011 Vermont residents were ranked as the healthiest in the country. Also in 2011, Vermont was ranked as the fourth most peaceful state in the United States. In 2011 Vermont residents were ranked as the sixth most fit/leanest in the country. Vermonters were the second most active citizens of state with 55.9% meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's physical activity requirements. Vermont was ranked as the 12th happiest state in the country.
There are a number of museums in the state.
Winter sports are popular in New England, and Vermont's winter sports attractions are a big part of Vermont tourism. Some well known attractions include Burke Mountain ski area, Jay Peak Resort, Killington Ski Resort, Stowe Mountain Resort, the Quechee Club Ski Area, and Smugglers' Notch Resort.
The largest professional franchise is the Vermont Lake Monsters, a single-A minor league baseball affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, based in Burlington. They were named the Vermont Expos before 2006. Up until the 2011 season, they were the affiliate of the Washington Nationals (formerly the Montreal Expos).
The Vermont Frost Heaves, the 2007 and 2008 American Basketball Association national champions, were a franchise of the Premier Basketball League, and were based in Barre and Burlington from the fall of 2006 through the winter of 2011.
The Vermont Bucks, an indoor football team, were based in Burlington and began play in 2017 as the founding team in the Can-Am Indoor Football League. For 2018, the Bucks joined the American Arena League, but folded prior to playing in the new league.
Vermont is home to the University of Vermont Men's and Women's hockey teams. Vermont's only professional hockey team was the Vermont Wild who played in the Federal Hockey League during the 2011–12 season, but the team folded before the season ended.
Annually since 2002, high school statewide all stars compete against New Hampshire in ten sports during "Twin State" playoffs.
Vermont also has a few auto racing venues. The most popular of them is Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont. It is well known for its tight racing and has become well known in short track stock car racing. Other racing circuits include the USC sanctioned Bear Ridge Speedway, and the NASCAR sanctioned Devil's Bowl Speedway. Some NASCAR Cup drivers have come to Vermont circuits to compete against local weekly drivers such as Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Kenny Wallace, and Joe Nemechek. Kevin Lepage from Shelburne, Vermont is one of a few professional drivers from Vermont. Racing series in Vermont include NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, American Canadian Tour, and Vermont's own Tiger Sportsman Series.
State symbols include:
The following were either born in Vermont or resided there for a substantial period during their lives and whose names are widely known.
State House in Montpelier—Vermont's capital city
Mount Mansfield—Vermont's highest mountain
Church Street in Burlington—Vermont's largest city
Sanders, Bernard – (I – VT)
Therefore, no male person, born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person, as a servant, slave, or apprentice, after he arrives to the age of twenty-one years; nor female, in like manner, after she arrives to the age of eighteen years, unless they are bound by their own consent, after they arrive to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.
Vermont's constitution was not only the first written national constitution drafted in North America, but also the first to prohibit slavery and to give all adult males, not just property owners, the right to vote.
American Community Survey (ACS), 5-year estimates, United States Census Bureau: Table B05002
Maine tops the nation with 96.9 percent of its population described as white, while 96.7 percent of Vermont and 96 percent of New Hampshire are white, according to the census.
| List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union
Admitted on March 4, 1791 (14th)