Today in 1777, the Republic of Vermont seceded from the state of New York and declared its independence as a new republican state.
Thereafter, the fledgling republic acted as an independent sovereignty throughout the War of Independence and remained outside of the union under the Articles of Confederation. The state’s new constitution, drafted and ratified at a local tavern in Windsor, became one of the first written constitutions in North America.
Officially naming itself the “Republic of New Connecticut,” the state changed its name to Vermont within only a few months. The state’s autonomy became a subject of contention for many years. Despite Vermont’s aspirations for political independence, New York maintained a territorial claim over the state for over a decade.
When popular New York Governor George Clinton called for Congress to declare war on Vermont in 1784 in order to assert his state’s claim over the region, he was rebuked. Congress insisted instead that Vermont was independent and could join the Confederation on its own accord. More tellingly, it was said that using force to coerce a region into a government they wanted no part of was a terrifying prospect that would be antithetical to republicanism.
Maintaining a fierce streak of individuality, Vermont was not even admitted to the union under the Constitution until 1791, after Washington had been president for about two years.