New Frontier: Rioters vs. Rebels
Grants owners tried to settle their disputes peacefully in the New York courts. They lost. Most were not willing to give up the lands they worked so hard for and many refused to compromise with Yorkers. They were suspicious of New York authorities, considering them aristocratic and self-serving. Many also disapproved of the manorial system of land ownership prevalent in New York. When Yorkers showed up to survey or claim someone’s land they were met by armed men. The homes of some Yorkers who managed to settle in the area were destroyed and the inhabitants were beaten and banished.
Though many Grants settlers didn’t approve of the violence, they felt abandoned and betrayed by their government. Upon the call for independence from Great Britain, they were quick to join the cause feeling they were not being well represented by the Parliament and King.
The Catamount Tavern was the gathering place of men who played vital roles in the creation of the state of Vermont. Built in the mid-1760s by Stephen Fay, one of Bennington’s original settlers, it was first called the Green Mountain Tavern. It was one of three taverns in the town that served people journeying to their new homes on the frontier.
When the Grants controversy escalated, patrons placed a stuffed catamount on the signpost of the tavern to taunt Yorkers. Dr. Jonas Fay, Ethan Allen, Remember Baker, and Thomas Chittenden were some of the patriots that gathered in the Catamount’s rooms. They plotted the course of the Green Mountain Boys, the Council of Safety, and later the government of the new Republic of Vermont.
Image: The Catamount Tavern photographed in the late nineteenth century.
This page was originally created as part of the Vermont Historical Society’s Freedom & Unity exhibit in 2006. Some materials may have been updated for this 2021 version.