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Political life in Vermont


Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold

From the beginning, Vermont’s character and politics were marked by two distinct attitudes. The division roughly followed the line of the Green Mountains, crossing the state from the southwest corner toward the northeast. East of the mountains, the Connecticut River valley was settled largely by migrants from Massachusetts and Connecticut. They tended to be conservative and respectful of laws, members of the orthodox Congregational church, and supporters of the Federalist Party, which sought a stronger central government.

The region west of the mountains, however, was home to many independent, even revolutionary, Vermonters: religious dissenters; veterans of the “antirent” wars against large landholders in New York; independent speculators such as Ethan Allen, who fought New York law rather than give up their land; and a few free thinkers who embraced deism, a religious philosophy based on reason rather than revelation or church teachings.

Western Vermont tended to support the Democratic-Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson, which advocated individual and states’ rights. The presidential election of 1800 demonstrated the differences between the two regions. Jefferson carried the west, while John Adams and the Federalists won the east. During the War of 1812, Federalists, who opposed the war, and Jeffersonians alternately governed the state. But after the war’s end, the Federalists never held state or federal office in Vermont again. "Vermont" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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