Category Archives: SVR – Historical Documents

George F. Kennan: Godfather of the Vermont Independence Movement

With the publication of John Lewis Gaddis’s new book George F. Kennan:  An American Life (Penguin Press, 2011), the name of the former dean of the American diplomatic corps is once again on the national radar screen.  When George F. Kennan died on March 17, 2005, at the age of 101, few Americans were aware that he had become a staunch advocate of the peaceful dissolution of the American Empire and of the fledgling Vermont independence movement.  Although best known as the father of “containment,” the mainstay of American Cold War policy, Kennan first revealed his radical decentralist tendencies in his 1993 book entitled Around the Cragged Hill.

We are, if territory and population be looked at together, one of the great countries of the world—a monster country, one might say, along with such others as China, India, the recent Soviet Union, and Brazil.  And there is a real question as to whether “bigness” in a body politic is not an evil in itself, quite aside from the policies pursued in its name.

Although virtually unnoticed by the media, Ambassador Kennan came right to the brink of calling for the peaceful break-up of the United States in this book.

I have often diverted myself, and puzzled my friends, by wondering how it would be if our country, while retaining certain of the rudiments of a federal government, were to be decentralized into something like a dozen constituent republics, absorbing not only the powers of the existing states but a considerable part of those of the present federal establishment.  I could conceive of something like nine of these republics—let us say, New England; the Middle Atlantic states; the Middle West; the Northwest (from Wisconsin to the Northwest, and down the Pacific coast to central California); the Southwest (including Southern California and Hawaii); Texas (by itself); the Old South; Florida (perhaps including Puerto Rico); and Alaska; plus three great self-governing urban regions, those of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles—a total of twelve constituent entities.  To these entities I would accord a larger part of the present federal powers than one might suspect—large enough, in fact, to make most people gasp.

About American imperialism, Kennan had this to say in the same book:

There is a further quality of greatness of size in a country that deserves mention here.  One might define it as the hubris of inordinate size.  It is a certain lack of modesty in the national self-image of the great state—a feeling that the nation’s role in the world must be equivalent to its physical size, with the consequent relative tendency to overweening pretensions and ambitions.  I don’t mean to say that the great power is always and everywhere imperialistic.  There have been times, to be sure, when the United States was very much that.

Between February 7, 2001 and February 14, 2003, I received ten personal letters from Ambassador Kennan and several telephone calls.  The subject was always the same—secession, the peaceful dissolution of the United States with Vermont leading the way.  Kennan was a closet secessionist.

In January 2001 I sent him a copy of my book with William H. Willimon entitled Downsizing the U.S.A., a book which unabashedly called for Vermont independence as a first step towards the peaceful break-up of the Union.  On February 7, 2001, Professor Kennan responded,

There can be no doubt of the closeness of many of our views.  But we are, I fear, a lonely band; until some of the things we have written are discovered by what we may hope will be a more thoughtful and serious generation of critics and reviewers, I am afraid we will remain that way.  I, in any case, being just on the eve of my 97th birthday, can no longer look forward to continuing the battle.  Writing is itself becoming difficult for me.  Let me wish you well in your own struggle for understanding. Much of your thinking must at least, I feel, break through.

Then on April 3, 2001, I received a letter from Ambassador Kennan’s secretary Terrie Bramley at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in which she said,

Mr. Kennan asked me to tell you how sorry he is that he is unable to pursue the correspondence with yourself further than he did, but his health is demanding his respect.  He asked me to tell you that…he felt much more well inclined to your suggestion that the state of Vermont should demand its independence.

On October 22, 2001, Ambassador Kennan dictated the following letter from his sick bed to Terrie Bramley.

Dear Prof. Naylor:

I am, for reasons of age and health, not normally able to reply in person to incoming letters.  I am, however, trying to make an exception in the case of your recent letter (I seem, unfortunately to have mislaid) because the content of it interests me greatly at this final stage in my life, and I have a few thoughts about it that I would like to see put into written form before it becomes too late.

You cited in your letter, if my memory is correct, the views of a lady in Maine who urged the establishment of independence for the three states of Main, New Hampshire and Vermont and their union with certain political entities of Canada to form something resembling a northeast federative state, separated from both the U.S. and Canada.  And while I cannot comment on that part of this vision that suggests the inclusion of what are at present parts of Canada (I know too little about them), I write to say that in the idea of three American states ultimate independence, whether separately or in union, I see nothing fanciful, and nothing towards the realization of which the efforts of enlightened people might not be usefully directed.  Such are at present the dominating trends in the U.S. that I can see no other means of ultimate preservation of cultural and societal values that will be not only endangered but eventually destroyed in an endlessly prolonged association of the northern parts of New England with the remainder of what is now the U.S.A.

Let me having said that, now add a few thoughts, some of a cautionary nature, the others essentially encouraging.  Any attempt to separate territories from the remainder of the U.S. could, if it were to be any less than tragically unsuccessful, have to be gradual and protractive.  It has long been an established principle in my own mind that no abrupt attempt at change (or even ostensibly achieved change) in the lives of entire peoples can have enduring useful effects.  To be successful, changes of this nature must proceed in close companionship with comparable developments in the minds and customs of the peoples in whose lives they are to take place; and such changes take time and patience. For this reason the changes that the lady from Maine envisaged could, if they are going to have any prospects for enduring success, only be slow ones, gradually and patiently pursued.  With this in mind, it occurs to me that those who would like to see such changes brought about could do worse than to study and consider the protracted historical process, both patient and non-violent, by which the Canadians succeeded in extracting themselves from the original dependence upon London and achieving complete independence.

One ought also to have in mind the experience and responses of other parts of the country which have either immediate boundaries with Canada, or as in the case, with the regions of relative compact Scandinavian immigration, in Minnesota, South Dakota, and my native Wisconsin.  In some instances, particularly in the relationships between the cities of Spokane and Vancouver, the relations seemed to have achieved a higher degree of natural intimacy than could be said to exist between either of those places and southern California or Ottawa.  Such consultations ought to be useful for anyone contemplating closer relationship between extreme northeastern regions of our country and neighboring parts of Canada. While, as I have said, any significant change will have to be a gradual one, it is therefore, to my mind, neither fanciful or unjustified to us to hold in mind at this time the whole problem of the future development of the relationship with the northern parts of this country and their immediate Canadian neighbors.

I offer these thoughts to you, for whatever they are worth.  My present state of health excludes any possibility of my writing about any of this for publication.  But I thought that you, more than anyone else of my acquaintance, ought to know the directions in which my thoughts are leading at this late stage in my own life. With all best wishes I remain,


George Kennan

On May 1, 2002, Mr. Kennan wrote, “All power to Vermont in its effort to distinguish itself from the USA as a whole, and to pursue in its own way the cultivation of its own tradition.”

By far the most poignant of all of the letters which I received from Professor Kennan was a handwritten one dated August 1, 2002.  In the concluding paragraph he said,

I continue to be of poor and deteriorating health, and too much should not be looked for from me.  But my enthusiasm for what you are trying to do in Vermont remains undiminished; and I am happy for any small support I can give to it.

My last letter from Ambassador Kennan was written on February 14, 2003, two days before his 99th birthday and just prior to the beginning of the war with Iraq.  In this letter he expressed concern about the negative political impact which the war might have on the Vermont independence movement.

Although I never heard form him again, George Kennan was a major source of inspiration for the Second Vermont Republic, Vermont’s independence movement.  In every sense of the word, he was truly the godfather of the movement.

Thomas H. Naylor

January 1, 2012

Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the USA, and The Search for Meaning.

History of the Second Vermont Republic

Nearly three years before I moved to Vermont, on October 9, 1990, the Bennington Banner published my article entitled “Should the U.S. Be Downsized?”  Four years later in Challenge (Nov.-Dec. 1994) I wrote “The time has come both for the individual states and the federal government to begin planning the rational downsizing of America.”  Continuing I suggested that Vermont might lead the way by helping “save our nation from the debilitating effects of big government and big business” and by “providing an independent role model for the other states to follow.”

In 1997 William H. Willimon and I published Downsizing the U.S.A., which not only called for Vermont independence, but the peaceful dissolution of the American Empire.  We argued that the U.S. government had become too big, too centralized, too powerful, too undemocratic, too militaristic, too imperialistic, too materialistic, and too unresponsive to the needs of individual citizens and small communities.  However, since we were in the midst of the greatest economic boom in history, few Americans were interested in downsizing anything.  The name of the game was “up, up, and away.”  Only bigger and faster were thought to be better.

A year or so later I joined an organization called the New England Confederation whose objective was to have New England split away from the United States and establish itself as an independent nation-state.  Unfortunately, the Confederation turned out to be mostly an Internet website rather than a real political organization.  However, its website survived several years after the demise of the Confederation itself under the leadership of Bristol, Vermont resident Michael Patno.

For the most part, before September 11, 2001, my call for Vermont independence and the dissolution of the Empire fell on deaf ears.  It was as though I were speaking to an audience of one, namely myself.  But a year or so after 9/11 that gradually began to change.  On March 4, 2003, two weeks before the second war with Iraq began, Michael Patno and I met for lunch in Burlington to discuss the possibility of organizing a serious, nonviolent independence movement in Vermont opposed to the tyranny of the U.S. government, Corporate America, and globalization and committed to the return of Vermont to its status as an independent republic as it was between 1777 and 1791.  The following day I spoke at an anti-war rally at Johnson State College and decided to test-market the idea of an independent Vermont.

Basically my pitch to the students was, “If you want to prevent future wars in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq, we have no choice but to break up the United States into smaller regions, and that process should begin with Vermont declaring its independence from the United States.”  They were stunned, but they got it.  Their positive response literally provided the energy for Michael Patno and I to launch the Second Vermont Republic.

Ten days after the bombing began in Baghdad on March 19, 2003, we held the first of four monthly meetings at the Village Cup in Jericho to discuss how such a movement might evolve.  These meetings were attended by only a handful of people.  Early on we decided not to become a political party but rather a civic club.  The name “Second Vermont Republic” was proposed by Jeffersonville high school student Walker Brook and registered with the Secretary of State on June 19, 2003.

Over lunch in the backyard of the Bread & Puppet Theater Museum in Glover, Vermont on July 18, 2003, the puppeteers, under the leadership of Peter Schumann, agreed to cooperate with the Second Vermont Republic to promote Vermont independence.  Since the outset, the Lake Parker Country Store in West Glover has been a focal point of SVR activity.

In conjunction with the release of my book The Vermont Manifesto on October 11, 2003, the first statewide meeting of the Second Vermont Republic was held in the New Building of Bread & Puppet Theater in Glover.  The daylong meeting was attended by around fifty people.  Wes Hamilton served as facilitator.

About the idea of Vermont independence, Ambassador George F. Kennan said, “I see nothing fanciful, and nothing towards the realization of which the efforts of enlightened people might not be usefully directed.”  Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith added, “I must assure you of my pleasure in, and approval of, your views of the Second Vermont Republic.”  “From the standpoint of puppeteers and their subversive papier-mâché, the Second Vermont Republic sounds like a very good idea to fight the megalomania of the globalizers,” echoed Peter Schumann.

On November 16, 2003, the Times-Argus published the first major article on the Second Vermont Republic.  This was followed by Jay Walljasper’s piece in Utne on the Vermont independence movement.  Chicago based economist and SVR member David Hale proposed in The Burlington Free Press on January 6, 2004 that Vermont should secede from the United States and join the British Commonwealth.

On January 4, 2004, SVR’s website came on stream with Sam Young of West Glover as webmaster.  In 2005 the website received an average of 3,000 unique visitors per month.  It was substantially revised by Rob Williams in July 2006.  Since August 2007 it has been managed by NEK Information Associates based in Glover, Vt.

Throughout the spring of 2004, we held monthly planning meetings at the Institute of Social Ecology in Plainfield.  Then on June 19th SVR and Bread & Puppet Theater held a parade in downtown Montpelier which originated in front of the Firehouse and proceeded six blocks to the steps of the State House.  Nearly 350 people attended the rally which followed in front of the State House.  It included a performance by Bread & Puppet, live music, and a dozen or so speakers calling for Vermont independence.  John Remington Graham, author of A Constitutional History of Secession, was the keynote speaker.  The rally ended with the reading of the Vermont Declaration of Independence.  Copies of the new 32-page, glossy Journal of Vermont Independence edited by David White were also distributed.  Nearly a year later, this journal evolved into Vermont Commons.

Two events which took place in November of 2004 put the Second Vermont Republic on the map, so to speak – statewide, nationally, and internationally.  They were the November 2nd re-election of George W. Bush and a conference sponsored by SVR in Middlebury, Vermont three days after the election.

On November 5-7 forty people from eleven states and England attended a conference at the Middlebury Inn co-sponsored by SVR and the Fourth World of Wessex, England entitled “After the Fall of America, Then What?”  The Fourth World, which published The Fourth World Review, a periodical inspired by Leopold Kohr and Fritz Schumacher, was committed to small nations, small communities, small farms, small shops, the human scale, and the inalienable sovereignty of the human spirit.  Speakers included Kirkpatrick Sale, Donald Livingston, Rober Allio, Frank Bryan, and Thomas H. Naylor.

The underlying premise of the conference was that the United States had become unsustainable, ungovernable, and unfixable.  If that were indeed the case, then do we go down with the Titanic or seek other alternatives?  Among the options discussed at Middlebury were denial, compliance, and political reform, proven to be deadends; revolution, rebellion, and implosion, equally problematic; and decentralization, devolution, and peaceful dissolution.  The conference also included a mock town meeting open to the public with guest appearances by Ethan Allen (Jim Hogue) and Thomas Jefferson (Gus Jaccaci).

At the close of the meeting over half of the delegates including Kirkpatrick Sale, Donald Livingston, and Thomas H. Naylor signed The Middlebury Declaration which called for the creation of a movement that would “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.”  The Middlebury Institute headed by SVR member Kirkpatrick Sale is now engaged in the pursuit of these goals.

The combined effect of Bush’s re-election and the Middlebury Conference resulted in a significant increase in SVR’s membership, over 5,000 unique visits to our website in November, and an enormous amount of state, national, and international media attention. The Quebec newspaper Le Devoir published a front-page article on the conference.

As a follow-up to the Middlebury Conference, SVR held several meetings in Montpelier at the Langdon Street Café, a worker-owned collective which supports creative dialogue, sustainability, local products, and community.  Such a meeting was held on January 15, 2005 to commemorate the day in 1777 when Vermont declared its independence and became a separate republic for fourteen years.  Ethan Allen (Jim Hogue) again made a guest appearance.  One of the aims of the meeting was to promote the Vermont Independence Day Resolution being considered by the Vermont Legislature.  During the previous September SVR members Linda and John Whitney launched a statewide campaign calling for the Legislature to make January 15, 1777 Vermont Independence Day.

The resolution endorsed by Senator Jim Jeffords, Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle, Lt. Governor Brian Dubie, and most members of the Vermont House and Senate was approved in an amended form in April.  By then it had become a resolution naming January as Vermont history and independence month.

Then on March 4, 2005, a memorial service was held at the Langdon Street Café led by Rev. Ben Matchstick of Bread & Puppet Theater and General Ethan Allen (Jim Hogue) commemorating the day in 1791 when Vermont joined the Union.  The service included a reading from Ecclesiastes with Chopin’s “Funeral March” playing in the background.  A funeral procession with a New Orleans-style funeral band carried the flag-draped coffin containing the deceased First Vermont Republic to the State House where it was placed at the foot of the statue of Ethan Allen.  The funeral received extensive statewide media coverage.

In April 2005 publisher Ian Baldwin, editor Rowan Jacobsen, and webmaster Dr. Rob Williams introduced an exciting print and online forum for exploring the idea of Vermont independence called Vermont Commons.  The print version is a twenty-four-page bi-monthly newspaper distributed to paid subscribers and 200 venues through Vermont.  Contributors to Vermont Commons have included Wendell Berry, Peter Clavelle, Kirkpatrick Sale, Bill McKibben, and James Howard Kunstler.  Utne Magazine named Vermont Commons the “Best New Publication in 2005.”  Rob Williams is now editor and publisher of Vermont Commons.

Thomas H. Naylor and Jim Hogue, who speaks French, participated in the fifteenth national Congress of the Parti Québécois in Quebec City on June 3-5 at the invitation of Vice Premiere Marie Malavoy. The invitation to the PQ Congress represented a form of political recognition of the Second Vermont Republic by a major political party in a neighboring country.

In 2005 SVR supporters participated in Fourth of July parades in Barton, Cabot, and Warren.  The politically radical, funky, grassroots, seat-of-the-pants Warren parade attracts as many as 20,000 people each year to the Mad River Valley.  The parade, whose homemade floats are held together by duct tape and baling twine, has no marching bands, only bands that march.  It combines New England Americana with vintage Vermont culture and the residual effects of 1960s hippie culture.  In the 2006 Warren parade, SVR had its own float.  The Warren parade has become an annual event in which to promote Vermont independence.

To celebrate the signing of the Vermont Constitution in 1777, SVR held a mock town meeting on the Constitution House lawn in Windsor, Vermont on July 9, 2005.  The meeting was led by Ben Matchstick and Rick Foley.  Participants received their own personal Vermont passport.  SVR appeared at this event again in 2006, which was covered by the Los Angeles Times.

On October 28, 2005, SVR held the first statewide convention on secession in the United States since North Carolina voted to secede from the Union on May 20, 1861.  The daylong event took place in the House Chamber of the State House in Montpelier.  Only in Vermont would such a meeting be possible.

Over 300 people heard keynote speaker James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, warn that “the end of the cheap fossil fuel era will lead to the most serious challenge to our collective identity, economy, culture, and security since the Civil War.”  He further warned that “turbulence will be the rule” and that “all bets will be off for politics, economics, and social cohesion.”  Continuing he said, “the Federal government will be impotent and ineffectual – just as they were after Hurricane Katrina.”

He predicted that (1) American life will become intensely and profoundly local, (2) We will have to grow a lot more of our food in the regions where we live, and (3) We are going to have to reconstruct local economies, local networks of interdependency.  He also took note of the fact that Vermont is uniquely situated to meet the challenge of the cheap oil endgame because of its small towns, small businesses, small farms, and strong sense of community.

The objectives of the convention were twofold.  First, to raise the level of awareness of Vermonters of the feasibility of independence as a viable alternative to a nation which has lost its moral authority and is unsustainable.  Second, to provide an example and a process for other states and nations which may be seriously considering separatism, secession, independence, and similar devolutionary strategies.

Other convention speakers included Kirkpatrick Sale, author of Human Scale; Professor Frank Bryan, University of Vermont;  J. Kevin Graffagnino, Executive Director, Vermont Historical Society;  G. Roderick Lawrence, CEO, Stevenson Kellogg (Toronto); (Rev.) Ben T. Matchstick; and General Ethan Allen (aka Jim Hogue).  The meeting began after General Allen arrived at the State House on a black stallion named “Duke.”

Two resolutions were approved by the convention delegates in the concluding session.  One called for Vermont to return to its status as an independent republic as it had between January 15, 1777 and March 4, 1791.  The other called for the Second Vermont Republic to seek membership in the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization.

The convention attracted extensive statewide and national media attention.  It was covered by Burlington Free Press, Times Argus, Brattleboro Reformer, Seven Days, Vermont Guardian, Associated Press (state/national), Channel 3 News, WDEV, Vermont Public Radio, Christian Science Monitor, American Conservative, Boston Globe, and the Alex Jones Show.  The SVR website received nearly 10,000 unique visits during October.  The meeting was attended by a major gubernatorial candidate and several legislators.

During the spring of 2006 SVR launched a campaign to promote Vermont sovereignty.  The “Vermont Sovereignty Declaration” calls for the State of Vermont to reaffirm (1) its right of sovereignty, (2) its right to nullify acts of the central government deemed to be unconstitutional, (3) its right to secede from the Union, and (4) its right to call a statewide convention of the People to decide whether or not it remains in the Union.

On April 27, 2006, SVR held a legislative briefing on Vermont independence in the State House in Montpelier for legislators.  The meeting was well attended and a lively discussion ensued.

In August 2006 SVR ceased being a membership organization and evolved into a think tank and citizens’ network.

On November 3-5, 2006 the Middlebury Institute hosted the first North American Convention on Secession in Burlington, Vermont.  Delegates from eighteen states attended including representatives from Texas, Alaska, Louisiana, Hawaii, California, New Hampshire, and Tennessee to mention only a few.  Kirkpatrick Sale was the keynote speaker.

In April 2007 the Center for Rural Studies of the University of Vermont released the results of its annual “Vermonter Poll” showing that thirteen percent of the eligible voters in Vermont support secession, up from eight percent a year earlier.  An astonishing 74.3 percent of Vermont voters expressed the view that the U.S. government had lost its moral authority.  A year later that percentage had jumped to 77.1.

On June 3, 2007 the Associated Press released a piece entitled “In Vermont, Nascent Secession Movement Gains Traction.”  The article was picked up worldwide by hundreds of newspapers, websites, radio stations, and TV stations.  As a result SVR founder Thomas H. Naylor was interviewed by Fox News three times within two days including an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor.  The SVR website received over 25,000 unique visits that month.

On October 3-4, 2007, the Second North American Secessionist Convention took place in Chattanooga, TN.  The convention attracted delegates representing secessionist organizations in 36 states.  The convention received worldwide media attention as a result of an AP story which described the meeting as bringing “the far left and the far right of American politics together.”

On November 7, 2008 SVR sponsored the Second Statewide Convention on Vermont Independence in the House Chamber of the State House in Montpelier.  The convention took the form of an all-day forum, circus, and medicine show entitled “The Vermont Village Green: Alternative to Empire.”  It consisted of a potpourri of radical music, art, theater, circus, conversation, politics, and community aimed at fomenting a Genteel Revolution against the American Empire.  Participants included trends forecaster Gerald Celente, New Mexico writer Chellis Glendinning, Alaskan Independence Party leader Lynette Clark, Bread & Puppet Theater, folk musician Pete Sutherland, peak oil writer James Howard Kunstler, Rural Vermont leader Amy Shollenberger, UVM student Tyler Wilkinson-Ray, and Kirby businessman Dennis Steele.  A new grass roots Vermont independence group was launched by Mr. Steele.

The following week the Third North American Secessionist Convention took place in Manchester, New Hampshire on November 14-15.

On May 22, 2009, Kirby businessman Dennis Steele launched Radio Free Vermont, an Internet radio station devoted exclusively to playing music produced by Vermont artists.  Today Radio Free Vermont has listeners in over 130 countries.

The Second Vermont Republic issued 500 SVR Scott Nearing 50 clover silver tokens in October of 2009 for those contributing financially to the Vermont independence movement.  The tokens contained one ounce of .999 fine silver.  The limited supply of tokens was sold out within a few months.

On January 15, 2010, Vermont Independence Day, ten secessionists announced their candidacy for the November 2nd election including candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, seven Senate seats, and one House seat.  Dennis Steele and Peter Garritano, our candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor respectively, each ran third in their statewide races.

Time magazine named SVR one of the “Top 10 Aspiring Nations” in the world in January 2011.  Matt Cropp and Dan Murphy launched the Vermont Independence Alliance, a statewide grass roots political organization in July 2011.

Thomas H. Naylor

August 1, 2011

The Second Vermont Republic Mission Statement

The Second Vermont Republic is a nonviolent citizens’ network and think tank committed to: (1) the peaceful breakup of meganations such as the United States, Russia, and China; (2) the political independence of breakaway states such as Quebec, Scotland, and Vermont; and (3) a strategic alliance with other small, democratic, nonviolent, affluent, socially responsible, cooperative, egalitarian, sustainable, ecofriendly nations such as Austria, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland which share a high degree of environmental integrity and a strong sense of community.

Supporters of the Second Vermont Republic subscribe to the following set of principles:

1.  Political Independence.  Our primary objectives are political independence for Vermont and other breakaway states as well as the peaceful dissolution of meganations such as the United States, Russia, and China.

2.  Human Scale. We believe life should be lived only on a human scale.  Small is still beautiful.  Our role models include Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.

3.  Sustainability. We celebrate and support Vermont’s small, clean, green, ecofriendly, sustainable, socially responsible towns, farms, businesses, schools, and churches.  We encourage family-owned farms and businesses to produce innovative, premium-quality, healthy products.  Energy independence is an important goal towards which to strive.

4.  Economic Solidarity.  We encourage Vermonters to buy locally produced products from small local merchants rather than purchase from giant, out-of-state megastores controlled by Wall Street and Corporate America.  We support trade with nearby states and other small nations.  Globalization is antithetical to our humanity.

5.  Power Sharing.  Vermont’s strong democratic tradition is grounded in its town meetings.  We favor devolution of political power from the state back to local communities, making the governing structure for towns, schools, hospitals, and social services much like that of Switzerland.  Shared power also underlies our approach to relations with other small nations.

6.  Equal Opportunity.  We support equal access for all Vermont citizens to quality education, housing, employment, and health care.  Any effective health care system must take cognizance of the fact that the demand for health care services is driven by fear of death and supply is driven by greed.  The highly decentralized Swiss health care system is second to none.

7.  Tension Reduction.  Consistent with Vermont’s long tradition of “live and let live” and nonviolence, we do not condone any form of state-sponsored violence.  An independent Vermont will have no standing army.  In its place will be a voluntary citizens’ brigade to reduce tension and restore order in the event of civil unrest and to provide assistance when natural disasters occur.  Tension reduction is the bedrock principle on which all international conflicts are to be resolved.

8.  Community.  We support a strong sense of community among our citizens and their neighbors including their international neighbors.  An invitation to join the Vermont community must be sponsored by a town meeting vote as evidence of community support.

Thomas H. Naylor

May 30, 2011

Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the USA, and The Search for

Associated Press: In Vermont, Nascent Secession Movement Gains Traction

June 3, 2007

MONTPELIER, Vt. – At Riverwalk Records, the all-vinyl record store just down the street from the state Capitol, the black “US Out of Vt.!” T-Shirts are among the hottest sellers. But to some people in Vermont, the idea is bigger than a $20 novelty. They want Vermont to secede from the United States—peacefully, of course.

Disillusioned by what they call an empire about to fall, a small cadre of writers and academics is plotting political strategy and planting the seeds of separatism. They’ve published a “Green Mountain Manifesto” subtitled “Why and How Tiny Vermont Might Help Save America From Itself by Seceding from the Union.” They hope to put the question before citizens at Town Meeting Day next March, eventually persuading the state Legislature to declare independence, returning Vermont to the status it held from 1777 to 1791.

Whether it’s likely is another question.

But the idea has found plenty of sympathetic ears in Vermont, a left-leaning state that said yes to civil unions, no to slavery (before any other) and last year elected a socialist to the U.S. Senate.

About 300 people turned out for a 2005 secession convention in the Statehouse, and plans for a second one are in the works. A poll this year by the University of Vermont’s Center for Rural Studies found that 13 percent of those surveyed support secession, up from 8 percent a year before.

“The argument for secession is that the U.S. has become an empire that is essentially ungovernable – it’s too big, it’s too corrupt and it no longer serves the needs of its citizens,” said Rob Williams, editor of Vermont Commons, a quarterly newspaper dedicated to secession.

“Congress and the executive branch are being run by the multinationals. We have electoral fraud, rampant corporate corruption, a culture of militarism and war. If you care about democracy and self-governance and any kind of representative system, the only constitutional way to preserve what’s left of the Republic is to peaceably take apart the empire.”

Such movements have a long history. Key West, Fla., staged a mock secession from America in the 1980s. The Town of Killington, Vt., tried to break away and join New Hampshire in 2004, and Hawaii, Alaska, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Texas all have some form of secession organizations today.

The Vermont movement, which is being pushed by several different groups, has been bubbling up for years but has gained new traction in the wake of disenchantment over the Iraq war, rising oil prices and the formation of the pro-secession groups. Among its architects:

–Thomas Naylor, 70, a retired Duke University economics professor and author who wrote the manifesto and founded Second Vermont Republic, a group pressing for secession, in 2003.

–Author Kirkpatrrick Sale, 69, founder of the Middlebury Institute, a Cold Spring, N.Y., think tank that hosted a North American Separatist Convention that drew representatives from 16 organizations last fall in Burlington. The group is co-sponsoring another one Oct. 3-4 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

–Author Frank Bryan, 65, a professor at the University of Vermont who has championed the cause for years.

Naylor’s 112-page manifesto contains precious little explanation of how Vermont would do without federal aid and programs when it comes to security, education and social programs. Some in the movement foresee a Vermont with its own currency and passports, for example, and some form of representative government formed once the secession has taken place.

The cachet of secession would make the new republic a magnet, Bryan said recently during a strategy session with organizers in Naylor’s home. “People would obviously relish coming to the Republic of Vermont, the Switzerland of North America.” He said. “Christ, you couldn’t keep them away.”

But there are plenty of skeptics.

“It doesn’t make economic sense, it doesn’t make political sense, it doesn’t make historical sense. Other than that, it’s a good idea,” said Paul Gillies, a lawyer and Vermont historian.

While neither the Vermont Constitution nor the U.S. Constitution forbids secession per se, few think it’s viable. “I always thought the Civil War settled that,” said Russell Wheeler, a constitutional law expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

“If Vermont had a powerful enough army and said, ‘We’re leaving the union,’ and the national government said, ‘No, you’re not,’ and they fought a war over it and Vermont won, then you could say Vermont proved the point. But that’s not going to happen,” he said.

For now, the would-be secessionists are hoping to draw enough support to get the question on Town Meeting Day agendas.

“We’re normal human beings,” said Williams, 39, a history professor at Champlain College. “But we’re serious about this. We want people in Vermont to think about the options going forward. Do you want to stay in an empire that’s in deep trouble?”

Support SVR

Please help us save Vermont, America, and the rest of the world from the American Empire by helping tiny Vermont lead the nation into disunion. If SVR is to move to the next level, electing members of the state legislature who are open secessionists, we need your financial support. Those who contribute $100 or more receive a complimentary copy of Thomas H. Naylor’s widely acclaimed book, Secession: How Vermont and All the Other States Can Save Themselves from the Empire.

Complete this form and return it with your check to The Second Vermont Republic, P.O. Box 544, Charlotte, VT 05445.

Name: ________________________________________

Address: _______________________________________


Telephone: _____________________________________

E-Mail: ________________________________________

Vermont Independence Convention 2008 Videos

Vermont Independence Convention 2008: James Howard Kunstler – Part 1
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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: James Howard Kunstler – Part 2

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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: Kirkpatrick Sale

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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: Tyler Wilkinson Ray

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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: Amy Shollenberger – Part 1

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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: Amy Shollenberger – Part 2

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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: Bread and Puppet Performance

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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: Chellis Glendinning – Part 1

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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: Chellis Glendinning – Part 2

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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: Gerald Celente-Part 1

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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: Susan Ohanian – Part 1

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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: Susan Ohanian – Part 2

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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: Rob Williams – Part 1

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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: Rob Williams – Part 2

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Vermont Independence Convention 2008: Rick Foley

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Vermont Secession Videos

Interview on Iranian Press TV

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Glenn Beck: Torn in America

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Seven Days: Stuck in Vermont Secession Convention

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Infoman: French Canadian View on VT Secession

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Russia Today: US State Eyes Independence

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Globo TV from Brazil: Vermont Secession (in Portuguese)

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NECN: Vermont independence gains traction…

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Free Vermont!: FOX’s “Big Story” on VT independence effort

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The Factor Flashback – “Vermont Secession” (8/6/07)

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Mock Funeral Coverage by WCAX

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Second Vermont Republic?

The Second Vermont Republic is a nonviolent citizens’ network and think tank committed to the return of Vermont to its rightful status as an independent republic as it once was between 1777 and 1791 and more broadly to the dissolution of the Union.

What is the primary objective of the movement?

Independence. To extricate Vermont peacefully, legally, and democratically from the United States as soon as possible.

Does that mean secession?


Why does Vermont want to secede?

First, the United States suffers from imperial overstretch and has become unsustainable politically, economically, agriculturally, socially, culturally, and environmentally. Second, Vermont finds it increasingly difficult to protect itself from the debilitating effects of big business, big agriculture, big markets, and big government, who want all of us to be the same-just like they are. Third, the United States government has lost its moral authority because it is owned, operated, and controlled by Wall Street and Corporate America. Fourth, 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. Fifth, as long as Vermont remains in the Union its citizens face curtailed civil liberties, the risk of terrorist attack, and the risk of the conscription of its youth. Sixth, our government supports multitrillion dollar budget deficits, endless Wall Street bailouts, corporate greed and fraud, environmental degradation, dependence on imported oil, and a culture of deceit.

But isn’t secession unconstitutional?

Absolutely not. “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government,” 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 withdraw from a larger unit. The U.S. Constitution does not forbid secession. According to the tenth amendment, that which is not expressly prohibited by the Constitution is allowed. All states have a Constitutional right to secede.

Besides independence, what other principles does SVR subscribe to?

Living life on a human scale; sustainability in all aspects of life; economic solidarity; shared political power and devolution of government back to the people; equal access to health care, education, housing, and employment for all Vermonters; tension reduction and non-violence; and a strong sense of community.

Does the Second Vermont Republic want to take over the government of Vermont?

Absolutely not. The people of the independent republic of Vermont will decide how it is governed. Unlike the Free State Project in New Hampshire, our aim is not to take over the government.

Could Vermont survive economically as an independent nation-state?

Yes! Of the 200 or so independent nation-states in the world, 50 of them have a smaller population than Vermont (pop. 623,000). Six of the ten richest countries in the world as measured by per capita income are smaller than Vermont. Political independence is not a synonym for economic and political isolation. Over 600 Vermont firms export nearly 24 percent of the State’s gross state product. We see no reason why this should change after independence.

Is Vermont independence politically feasible?

Yes. Ultimately whether or not Vermont achieves political independence is a question of political will. Is the will of the people of Vermont for independence strong enough to overcome the will of the U.S. government to prevent them from achieving their goal? In 1989 six Eastern European allies of the Soviet Union unseated their respective Communist governments and seceded from the Soviet sphere of influence. With the bloody exception of Romania, this all took place nonviolently. The Second Vermont Republic has been particularly influenced by the solidarity movement in Poland and Czechoslovak leader Vaclav Havel’s concept of the “power of the powerless.”

What are the steps to independence?

The Vermont Legislature must be persuaded 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 on March 4, 1791. To be credible the vote should pass by at least a two-thirds majority. Articles of Secession should then be submitted to the U.S. President, Secretary of State, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, etc. Diplomatic recognition should be sought from Canada, Quebec, Mexico, England, France, and the United Nations. And then the moment of truth-Vermont would start behaving like an independent nation-state.

If we secede, what government will we have?

Currently, Vermont’s state government is one of the most centralized governments in the United States. While it is up to the citizens of Vermont to decide on this question, we encourage Vermonters to adopt some form of small “r” republican representative government that draws on aspects of both existing town and state governments in a new and more decentralized relationship. Vermont’s own constitution provides an excellent foundation upon which to build an independent small “r” republican government.

Will we have our own currency?

Again, the citizens of Vermont will decide on this question. One option is to link Vermont’s currency exchange with a larger existing regional system: the E.U.’s Euro or the Canadian “Loonie,” for example. Other options would be to create an independent Vermont currency or several local currencies. Still another option would be to return Vermont to the gold standard. A thoughtful exploration of all the currency options is already underway.

What about the financial help the federal government gives us for education, transportation, and other programs?

For every dollar paid by Vermonters for federal taxes, Vermont gets back only 75 cents in federal expenditures. That’s not a very good deal.

With all the current immigration challenges, what about our borders? Will people need passports to go in and out of Vermont?

Passports may indeed be a handy way of allowing for easy cross-border travel in the new republic. Vermont citizens must decide on how best to protect our new republic’s borders and how best to allow for an immigration policy that balances safety with accessible cross-border travel. There are no easy answers here, but we remain confident that Vermonters will come to a judicious decision about how best to proceed in this area.

What about my social security? My Medicaid and Medicare?

Established during the Great Depression of the 1930s by FDR’s “New Deal” policies, social security represents an individual contract between each U.S. citizen and the federal government. Thousands of Americans living overseas collect social security payments. It is mainly a question of whether or not the federal government will honor individual contracts once Vermont peaceably secedes from the United States. With regard to Medicaid and Medicare benefits, we envision Vermont citizens developing a more decentralized and local alternative to the existing system. What it will look like will be up to Vermont citizens to decide.

Will our taxes be lower?

A family of three earning $50,000 per year would save $6,330 annually, if Vermont were an independent republic ($750 in income taxes and $5,580 in its pro rata share of the federal deficit).

What if Vermont independence fails?

Vermont still provides a communitarian alternative to the dehumanized, mass production, mass consumption, narcissistic lifestyle which pervades most of the United States. Vermont is smaller, more rural, more democratic, less violent, less commercial, more egalitarian, and more independent than most states. It offers itself as a kinder, gentler metaphor for a nation obsessed with money, power, size, speed, greed, and fear of terrorism.

How can I get involved with SVR?

Visit our website: You can also contact us at PO Box 544, Charlotte, VT 05445, or 802-425-4133.

What Others Have Said About the Vermont Independence Movement

“Tom Paine for the 21st century. A surprisingly compelling argument for applying the small-is-beautiful philosophy to the United States itself.”
–Jay Walljasper
Editor of Ode magazine

“I must assure you of my pleasure in, and approval of. . . the Second Vermont Republic. The assertion by Vermonters of a sensible foreign policy is wonderfully to the good. You have my agreement and my admiration.”
–John Kenneth Galbraith
Harvard Economist

“In the idea of the three American states’ ultimate independence, whether separately or in union, I see nothing fanciful, and nothing towards the realization of which the efforts of enlightened people might not be usefully directed. It is, to my mind, neither fanciful or unjustified for us to hold in mind at this time the whole problem of the future development of the relationship with the northern parts of this country and their immediate Canadian neighbors.”
–George F. Kennan
Former Ambassador to Russia
and Professor, Institute for
Advanced Studies, Princeton

“. . . a serious examination of our God given right of self governance and that right’s implication for secession . . . a persuasive case of the identical response to today’s ‘train of abuses’ that led the Founders to secede from King George’s tyranny.”
–Walter E. Williams
John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics,
George Mason University

“In 1991 the Soviet Union was peacefully dissolved by the secession of 15 states. It had become simply too large and centralized. So has the American Union. Thoughtful people from every side of the political spectrum are beginning to realize that the only check to the tyranny, insecurity, and spirit numbing mass culture that continued centralization would bring is to seriously consider breaking the American empire up into alternative unions and/or smaller polities. . . . a compelling case that little Vermont would be better off out of the Union.”
–Donald Livingston
Professor of Philosophy,
Emory University

“. . . a powerful case for an independent Vermont. I think folks may soon be ready to consider this kind of wise and humane radicalism.”
–Bill Kauffman
Author of Look Homeward, America

“. . . a serious case for an independent Vermont, a Second Vermont Republic that could immediately enter the world of nations and thereby begin the peaceful, democratic, and indeed moral process of disuniting the United States.”
–Frank Bryan
University of Vermont Professor
And Author of Real Democracy

“From the standpoint of puppeteers and their subversive papier-mâché, the Vermont Second Republic sounds like a very good idea to fight the megalomania of the globalizers.”
–Peter Schumann
Founder, Bread & Puppet Theater