Monthly Archives: September 2006

Vermont's Declaration of Independence (1777)

To the honorable convention of representatives from the several towns on the west and east side of the range of Green Mountains, within the New-Hampshire grants, in convention assembled.

Your committee to whom was referred the form of a declaration, setting for the right the inhabitants of said New-Hampshire grants have, to form themselves into a separate and independent state, or government, beg leave to report, viz.

Right 1. That whenever protection is withheld, no allegiance is due, or can of right be demanded.

2nd. That whenever the lives and properties of a part of a community, have been manifestly aimed at by either the legislative or executive authority of such community, necessity requires a separation. Your committee are of opinion that the foregoing has, for many years past, been the conduct of the monopolizing land claimers of the colony of New-York; and that they have been not only countenanced, but encouraged, by both the legislative and executive authorities of the said state or colony. Many overt acts in evidence of this truth, are so fresh in the minds of the members, that it would be needless to name them.

And whereas the Congress of the several states, did, in said Congress, on the fifteenth day of May, A.D. 1776, in a similar case, pass the following resolution, viz. “Resolved, That it be recommended to the respective assemblies and conventions of the United Colonies, where no government, sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs, has been heretofore, established, to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and of America in general.” –Your committee, having duly deliberated on the continued conduct of the authority of New-York, before recited, and on the equitableness on which the aforesaid resolution of Congress was founded, and considering that a just right exists in its people to adopt measures for their own security not only to enable them to secure their rights against the usurpations of Great-Britain, but also against that of New-York, and the several other governments chaining jurisdiction in this territory, do offer the following declaration, viz.

“This convention, whose members are duly chosen by the free voice of their constituents in the several towns, on the New-Hampshire grants, in public meeting assembled, in our own names, and in behalf of our constituents’, do hereby proclaim and publicly declared, that the district of territory comprehending and usually known by the name and description of the New-Hampshire grants, of right ought to be, and is hereby declared forever hereafter to be considered, as a free and independent jurisdiction, or state; by the name, and forever hereafter to be called, known, and distinguished by the name of New-Connecticut, alias Vermont: And that the inhabitants that at present are, or that may hereafter become residents either by procreation or emigration, within said territory, shall be entitled to the same privileges, immunities, and enfranchisements, as are allowed; and on such condition, and in the same manner, as the present inhabitants, in future, shall or may enjoy; which are, and forever shall be considered to be such privileges and immunities to the free citizens and denizens, as are, or at any time hereafter may be allowed, to any such inhabitants of any of the free and independent states of America: And that such privileges and immunities shall be regulated in a bill of rights, and by a form of government, to be established at the next adjourned session of this convention….”

Your committee [recommends] … that proper information be given to the honorable Continental Congress of the United States of America, of the reasons, why the New-Hampshire grants have been declared a free state, and pray the said Congress to grant said state a representation in Congress; and that agents be appointed to transfer the same to Congress, or the committee be filled up that are already appointed, and that a committee be appointed to draw the draught: That a committee of war be appointed on the east side of the mountains, to be in conjunction with the committee of war on the west side of the mountains, to act on all proper occasions: That some suitable measures be taken to govern our internal police for the time being, until more suitable measures can be taken: that some suitable way be taken to raise a sum of money, to defray the expenses of the agents that are to go to Congress; and for printing the proceedings of the convention, which, we are of opinion, ought to be printed. All which is humbly submitted to the convention, by your committee.

By order of Committee,
The Declaration and Petition of the Inhabitants of the New-Hampshire Grants, to Congress, announcing the District to be a Free and Independent State

The declaration and petition of that part of North America, situate south of Canada line, west of Connecticut river, north of the Massachusetts Bay, and east of a twenty mile line from Hudson’s river, containing about one hundred and forty four townships, of the contents of six miles square each, granted your petitioners by the authority of New-Hampshire, besides several grants made by the authority of New-York, and a quantity of vacant land, humbly sheweth.

That your petitioners, by virtue of several grants made them by the authority aforesaid, have, many year since, with their families become actual settlers and inhabitants of the said described premises; by which it is now become a respectable frontier to three neighboring states, and is of great important to our common barrier Tyconderoga; at it has furnished the army there with much provisions, and can muster more than five thousand hardy soldiers, capable of bearing arms in defense of American liberty:

That shortly after your petitioners began their settlements, a party of land-jobbers in the city and state of New-York, began to claim the lands, and took measures to have them declared to be within that jurisdiction:

That on the fourth day of July, 1764, the king of Great-Britain did pass an order in council, extending the jurisdiction of New-York government to Connecticut river, in consequence of a representation made by the late lieutenant governor Colden, that for the convenience of trade, and administration of justice, the inhabitants were desirous of being annexed to that state:

That on this alteration of jurisdiction, the said lieutenant governor Colden did grant several tracts of land in the above described limits, to certain persons living in the state of New-York, which were, at that time, in the actual possession of your petitioners; and under color of the lawful authority of said state, did proceed against your petitions, as lawless intruders upon the crown lands in their province. This produced an application to the king of Great-Britain from your petitioners, setting forth their claims under the government of New-Hampshire, and the disturbance and interruption they had suffered from said post claimants, under New-York. And on the 24th day of July, 1767, an order was passed at St. James’s, prohibiting the governors of New-York, for the time being, from granting any part of the described premises, on pain of incurring his Majesty’s highest displeasure. Nevertheless the same lieutenant governor Colden, governors Dunmore and Tryon, have, each and every of them, in their respective turns of administration, presumed to violate the said royal order, by making several grants of the prohibited premises, and countenancing on actual invasion of your petitioners, by force of arms to drive them off from their possessions.

The violent proceedings, (with the solemn declaration of the supreme court of New-York, that the charters, conveyance, &c. of your petitioners’ lands, were utterly null and void) on which they were founded, reduced your petitioners to the disagreeable necessity of taking up arms, as the only means left for the security of their possessions. The consequence of this step was the passing twelve acts of outlawry, by the legislature of New-York, on the ninth day of March, 1774; which were not intended for the state in general, but only for part of the counties of Albany and charlotte, viz. such parts thereof as are covered by the new-Hampshire charters.

Your petitioners having had no representative in that assembly, when these acts were passed, they first came to the knowledge of them by public papers, in which they were inserted….These laws were so evidently calculated to intimidate your petitioners into a tame surrender of their rights, and such a state of vassalage, as would entail misery on their latest posterity….

By a submission to the claims of New-York your petitioners would be subjected to the payment of two shillings and six pence sterling on every hundred acres annually; which, compared with the quit-rents of Livingston’s Phillip’s, and Ransalear’s manors, and many other enormous tracts in the best situations in the state, would lay the most disproportionate share of the public expense on your petitioners, in all respects the least able to bear it….When the declaration of the honorable, the Continental Congress, of the fourth of July last past, reached your petitioners they communicated it throughout the whole of their district; and being properly apprized of the proposed meeting, delegates from the several counties and towns in the district, described in the preamble to this petition, did meet at Westminster in said district, and after several adjournments for the purpose of forming themselves as a free and independent state, capable of regulating their own internal police, in all and every respect whatsoever; and that the people, in the said described district, have the sole, exclusive right of governing themselves in such a manner and form, as they, in their wisdom, should choose; not repugnant to any resolves of the honorable the Continental Congress. And for the mutual support of each other in the maintenance of the freedom and independence of said district or separate state, the said delegates did jointly and severally pledge themselves to each other, by all the ties that are held sacred among men, and resolve and declare that they were at all times ready, in conjunction with their brethren of the United States, to contribute their full proportion towards maintaining the present war against the fleets and armies of Great-Britain.

To convey this declaration and resolution to your honorable body, the grand representative of the united states, were we (your most immediate petitioners) delegated by the united and unanimous voices of the representatives of the whole body of the settlers on the described premises, in whose name and behalf, we humbly pray, that the said declaration may be received, and the district described therein be ranked by your honors, among the free and independent American states, and delegates therefrom admitted to seats in the grand Continental Congress; and your petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray.
New-Hampshire Grants, Westminster, Jan. 15th, 1777.

Signed by order, and in behalf of said inhabitants,

Source: William Slade, comp., Vermont State Powers
(Middlebury, Vt.: J.W. Copeland, 1823), pp. 69-73. Also in J. Kevin Graffagnino, Samuel B. Hand, and Gene Sessions, Vermont Voices (Montpelier, VT: Vermont Historical Society, 1999), pp. 55-57.(Montpelier, VT: Vermont Historical Society, 1999), pp. 55-57.

The Manifesto

Thoughtful Vermonters, opposed to the tyranny of the United States government, corporate America, and globalization, believe that Vermont should once again become an independent republic as it was between 1777 and 1791.

First, we find it increasingly difficult to protect ourselves from the debilitating effects of big government, big business, big markets, and big agriculture, who want all of us to be the same and to love bigness as much as they do.

Second, in addition to being too big, our government is too centralized, too powerful, too intrusive, too materialistic, and too unresponsive to the needs of individual citizens and small communities.

Third, the U.S. government has lost its moral authority because it is owned, operated, and controlled by corporate America. National and Congressional elections are bought and sold to the highest bidders.

Fourth, we have a single political party, the Republican Party, disguised as a two-party system. The Democratic Party is effectively brain dead, having had no new ideas since the 1960s.

Fifth, we have become disillusioned with the so-called American way—corporate greed, the war on terrorism, homeland security, the denial of civil liberties, pandering to the rich and powerful, environmental insensitivity and the culture of deceit.

Sixth, American foreign policy, which is based on the doctrine of full spectrum dominance, is immoral, illegal, unconstitutional, and in violation of the United Nations Charter.

Seventh, as long as Vermont remains in the Union, we face the risk of terrorist attack and military conscription of our youth.

Eighth, the U.S. suffers from imperial overstretch and has become unsustainable politically, economically, agriculturally, socially, culturally, and environmentally. It has become both ungovernable and unfixable.

“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive,…it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness,” said Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. Just as a group has a right to form, so too does it have a right to disband, to subdivide itself, or to withdraw from a larger unit.
Vermont is smaller, more rural, more democratic, less violent, less commercial, more egalitarian, more humane, more independent, and more radical than most states. It provides a communitarian alternative to the dehumanized, mass production, mass consumption, narcissistic lifestyle which pervades most of America.

Fundamental to what it means to be a Vermonter is the right of self-preservation. The time has come for us peacefully to rebel against the American Empire by (1) regaining control of our lives from big government, big business, big cities, big schools, and big computer networks; (2) relearning how to take care of ourselves by decentralizing, downsizing, localizing, demilitarizing, simplifying, and humanizing our lives; and (3) learning how to help others take care of themselves.

This is a call for Vermont to reclaim its soul—to return to its rightful status as an independent republic. In so doing, Vermont can provide a kinder, gentler model for a nation obsessed with money, power, size, speed, greed, and fear of terrorism.

Long live the Second Vermont Republic! If you live in Vermont, come join us. If you live outside Vermont, please support us, and please feel free to consider the possibility of starting your own independence movement as well.

Vermont Declaration of Independence

A Declaration of Independence by the People of the
Sovereign State of Vermont

“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and mankind entitle them,” let them declare “the causes which impel them to the separation.”

“We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations” evinces a design to compromise their sovereignty and to mandate their complicity in the building of empire, in oppression and exploitation throughout the world, and in the suppression of the rights of individuals, societies, tribes and nations, “it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future.”

Let the reasons for Vermont independence be submitted openly before the world.

Vermont is small, rural, democratic, peaceful, communitarian, egalitarian, and independent. Vermont has suffered, as have other states, from the debilitating effects of big business, big government, and big agriculture. Its people have seen big markets deliver inferior goods and produce. They have been burdened with technology that is inappropriate to their needs.

Since Vermont became the fourteenth state of the Union, the United States government has become too big, too centralized, too powerful, too intrusive, too materialistic, too impersonal, too grasping, too militarized, too imperialistic, too violent, too undemocratic, too corrupt, and too unresponsive to the needs of individual citizens and small communities. National and Congressional elections are sold to the highest bidder. State and local governments assume too little responsibility for the well-being of their citizens – too often abdicating their responsibilities to Washington.

The free people of Vermont have reached a turning point: whether to fight for “liberty and justice” or to trade in their heritage for the shackles known as progress. It is not progress. It is comfort. It is an illusion.

We, the people, here assembled choose “liberty and justice,” and we reject a system of intrusive federal control that is antithetical to a prosperous way of life, and to the well being of a sovereign state.

Fundamental to liberty, statehood and citizenship is the right to self-preservation. This right includes the obligation of each sovereign state to protect is citizens from the oppressive, harmful, or unlawful policies of the federal government. To wit:

First, the United States is no longer a sustainable nation-state: not politically, economically, agriculturally, socially, morally, culturally, nor environmentally.

Second, Vermont has been dragged into the quagmire of affluenza, technomania, megalomania, globalization, and imperialism by the U.S. government in collaboration with corporate America.

Third, the U.S. government provides Vermont with little protection from the ills of globalization including economic uncertainly, unemployment, environmental degradation, and the loss of sovereignty, political will, and cultural identity.

Fourth, the federal government is using its “war on terrorism” to undermine constitutionally guaranteed liberties.

Fifth, the U.S. government’s unprovoked, unilateral, pre-emptive attacks on nations with which it disagrees such as Afghanistan, Grenada, Guatemala, Iraq, Nicaragua, Panama and Serbia are unconstitutional and in violation of the U.N. charter and international law.

Sixth, Vermont has no military bases, no strategic resources, few defense contractors, and no big cities, and is a threat to no one. However, as long as it remains in the Union it runs the risk of attack, it must accept the military conscription of its youth, and it remains complicit in the most egregious violations of international law.

There is a moral, legal, and absolute imperative for an independent-minded Vermont to revert back to its rightful status as the independent republic it was between 1777 and 1791. This is a call for Vermont to reclaim its soul, and, in so doing, provide an alternative to a nation obsessed with money, power, size, speed and greed. It is a call to reject the fear of terrorism. Let us secure our future with the skills and strengths of our past, our ingenuity and our self reliance.

Our founders Thomas Jefferson and James Madison held that the U.S. Constitution was a compact of sovereign states which had delegated specific powers, but not sovereignty, to a central government – powers which could be recalled. By international law, sovereignty cannot be surrendered by implication. It is surrendered only by an express act, and nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is there any express renunciation of sovereignty by the states. Each state was conceived and formed as sovereign, and, sovereign, each state remains.

According to the tenth amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” That which is not expressly prohibited by the Constitution is, therefore, within the legal province of the individual states. And therefore all states have a constitutional right to leave the Union. Indeed, when the federal government usurps their sovereignty and becomes destructive to “the preservation of life, and liberty and the pursuit or happiness,” they have a constitutional duty to reclaim the independence in which they were formed.

Therefore, we the sovereign people of the state of Vermont, while affirming our allegiance to the principles expressed in the U.S. Constitution, do hereby declare our independence from the United States of America, and call upon the Vermont Legislature to authorize a convention of the people to vote on rescinding the petition for statehood approved by the Vermont Assembly in January 1791 and ratified by the Congress on March 4, 1791.

James R. Hogue, Thomas Naylor and, posthumously, Thomas Jefferson.

James R. Hogue, September 7, 2003

Vermont's Radical Imperative

Few Americans realize that Vermont is hands down the most radical state in the Union in terms of its commitment to human solidarity, sustainability, direct democracy, and political independence, and it’s been that way for a very long time. With its 237 or so annual town meetings, the Green Mountain state is by far the most democratic state in America, ranking a close second behind Switzerland internationally.

Vermont’s radicalism can be traced back to 1777 when it first became an independent republic prior to joining the Union fourteen years later. Vermont was the only American state which truly invented itself before becoming a part of the United States. Unlike other New England states, Vermont was never an English colony, or any other kind of colony, thus avoiding a period of aristocratic oligarchy. Influenced by some of its earlier Iroquois and Yankee inhabitants, Vermont established an almost casteless society never to be replicated elsewhere in America.

Vermont was the first state to outlaw slavery in its constitution in 1777 and also the first to require universal manhood suffrage. By the 1830s, Vermont had the strongest abolitionist sentiment of any state in America. Vermonters were active participants in the “Underground Railroad” which helped runaway slaves find refuge in Canada. In 1858, in defiance of the Federal Fugitive Slave Law, Vermont freed all blacks who had been brought into the state.

As early as July 2, 1777, the Constitution of Vermont presciently anticipated the risks of the future military-industrial complex: “As standing armies in time of peace are dangers to liberty, they ought not be kept up; and the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.” No major battle between European invaders and Native Americans ever took place in Vermont territory. Although Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys had no love for New Yorkers or the British, both they and Allen himself managed to avoid ever killing anyone at Fort Ticonderoga or elsewhere – so the story goes. Only one minor skirmish occurred on Vermont soil during the American Revolution. The lone Civil War engagement fought in Vermont on October 18, 1864 in St. Albans was more like a Jesse James-style bank robbery carried out by a handful of Confederate soldiers. However, Vermont was the first state to send troops to fight in the Civil War. Half of the eligible men in Vermont served in the Union Army.

Even though Vermont has no death penalty and virtually no gun control laws, it is one of the least violent states in the Union. It also has no military bases, no strategic resources, and few military contractors. All three members of its Congressional delegation voted against the resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

Vermont has the highest percentage of unpaved roads in the nation and was the first state to ban billboards alongside highways. It’s unique environmental law regulating real estate development, Act 250, was the first in the nation and remains one of the toughest.Vermont was the first state to pass a “bottle bill.” It kept Wal-Mart at bay longer than any other state, and Montpelier remains the only state capital in America without a McDonald’s restaurant.

Vermont always ranks near the top of the list of states who treat women and children well. Its Civil Union law was the first in the nation. Thanks to Mayor Peter Clavelle, employees of the City of Burlington will soon be able to purchase prescription drugs from Canada in spite of opposition from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Ultimately, secession represents the most radical form of peaceful rejection of the policies of the U.S. Government. Vermont is home to one of the most sophisticated political independence movements in the country today. But there is nothing new about Vermont’s secession movement. As far back as January 5, 1815, Vermont joined other New England states in signing the report of the so-called Hartford Convention in opposition to the proposal of the U.S. Secretary of War to implement a military draft for continuing the mismanaged War of 1812 with England. This report was, in fact, a declaration of secession.

In 1973, Chicago-based economist David Hale, who grew up in St. Johnsbury, called for Vermont independence in a provocative piece in The Stowe Reporter entitled “The Republic of Vermont: A Modest Proposal.” University of Vermont Professor Frank Bryan and State Representative Bill Mares dubbed Hale “the patron saint of Vermont secession,” in their 1987 book Out! The Vermont Secession Book. Then in a January 6, 2004 piece in The Burlington Free Press Hale proposed that Vermont rejoin the British Commonwealth.

As part of Vermont’s bicentennial celebration in 1990, Frank Bryan and Vermont Supreme Court Justice John Dooley debated the pros and cons of Vermont leaving the Union in seven different Vermont towns. After each debate a vote was taken and all seven towns voted in favor of secession. A few years earlier when Ronald Reagan was still president, over 180 Vermont towns voted to defy him and demanded a nuclear freeze. According to Frank Bryan, whose most recent book is the widely acclaimed Real Democracy, “Vermont is just obstinate. We’ll do anything to be on the wrong side.” But is Vermont or the rest of America on the wrong side?

More recently David Hale, Frank Bryan and several hundred other Vermonters have joined the Second Vermont Republic—a peaceful, democratic, grassroots solidarity movement opposed to the tyranny of the U.S. Government, Corporate America, and globalization and committed to the return of Vermont to its rightful status as an independent republic as it once was between 1777 and 1791.

Consistent with Vermont’s radical imperative, the Second Vermont Republic embraces libertarian populism, sustainability, direct democracy, and political independence. In so doing, it hopes to provide a kinder, gentler, more communitarian alternative to a nation obsessed with money, power, size, speed, greed, and fear of terrorism.

Thomas H. Naylor
December 1, 2004

Thomas Naylor is author of The Vermont Manifesto and one of the founders of the Second Vermont Republic. For information visit

The Middlebury Declaration

We the undersigned participants of Radical Consultation II held in Middlebury, Vermont on November 5-7, 2004, are convinced that the American Empire, now imposing its military might on 153 countries around the world, is as fragile as empires historically tend to be, and that it might well implode upon itself in the near future. Before that happens, no matter what shape the United States may take, we believe there is an opportunity now to push through new political ideas and projects that would offer true popular participation and genuine democracy. The time to prepare for that is now.

In our deliberations we have considered many kinds of strategies for a new politics and eventually decided upon the inauguration of a campaign to monitor, study, promote, and develop agencies of separatism. By separatism we mean all the forms by which small political bodies distance themselves from larger ones, as in decentralization, dissolution, disunion, division, devolution, or secession, creating small and independent states that rule themselves. Of course we favor such states that operate with participatory democracy and justice, which is only attainable as a small scale, but the primary principle is that states should enact their own separation and self-government as they see fit.

It is important to realize that the separatist and self-determination movement is actually the most important and most widespread political force in the world today and has been for the last half-century, during which time the United Nations, for example, has grown from 51 nations in 1945 to 193 nations in 2004. The break-up of the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia are recent manifestations of the separatist trend, and there are separatist movements in more than two dozen countries at this time, including such well-known ones as in Catalonia, Scotland, Wales, Lapland, Sardinia, Sicily, Sudan, Congo, Kashmir, Chechnya, Kurdistan, Quebec, British Columbia, Mexico, and the Indian nations of North America.

There is no reason that we cannot begin to examine the process of secession in the United States. There are already at least 28 separatist organizations in this country—the most active seem to be in Alaska, Cascadia, Texas, Hawaii, Vermont, Puerto Rico, and the South—and there seems to be a spreading sentiment that, because the national government has shown itself to be clumsy, unresponsive, and unaccountable, in so many ways, power should be concentrated at lower levels. Whether these levels should be the states or coherent regions within the states or something smaller still is a matter best left to the people active in devolution, but the principle of secession must be established as valid and legitimate.

To this end, therefore, we the undersigned are pledged to create a movement that will place secession on the national agenda, encourage secessionist organizations, develop communication among existing and future secessionist groups, and create a body of scholarship to examine and promote the ideas and principles of secessionism.

“Whenever any form of government is destructive of these ends—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government…in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”—Declaration of Independence, 1776

November 7, 2004 Middlebury, Vermont