The Vermont Constitution
How is the Vermont Constitution like the Declaration of Independence?
The colonists complained that the government in England made decisions without asking them. The settlers felt the same way about New York’s government. New York was making decisions without asking the settlers. The colonies wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776. A year later, Vermont declared its independence from New York!
On July 8, 1777, a group of delegates met in Windsor to sign the Constitution of Vermont. The Constitution said that Vermont was an independent state. Vermont was not part of New York or part of New Hampshire.
The Vermont Constitution first said what King George III did wrong. Many were the same as complaints in the Declaration of Independence. Next, the Vermont Constitution said what New York did wrong. “They have, and still continue, an unjust claim to those lands” which the settlers bought from New Hampshire. But after Vermonters wrote their Constitution, Vermont was no longer part of New York.
The Vermont Constitution also established a government and laws for the state. The people would elect their government. Vermonters did not have to listen to King George III anymore. The Constitution said that the government had to pay people money if the state took their land away. And the Constitution limited slavery in Vermont. Since 1777, the Constitution has been changed a little. But the Constitution is still the basis for the Vermont government.
|The Westminster Massacre||The 14th State|
Thinking about History
How did the arguments between the Grants and the Yorkers influence the rights listed in the Vermont Constitution?
Should a colony or state be allowed to declare its independence? Why or why not?
|First page of the 1777 Vermont Constitution (high quality scan)|
Text of the 1777 Vermont Constitution (outside link)
PDF from the Vermont State Archives
|US Declaration of Independence (outside link)|
|Visit the Old Constitution House|
|More photographs of The Old Constitution House|