George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Vermont Legislature, 29 October 1789

From the Vermont Legislature

[Westminister, Vt. 29 October 1789]


The Governor, Council, and Representatives of the State of Vermont in General Assembly, convened.

Considering the natural connexion of this State with the United States, and deeply impressed with a sense of your affection for your Country, and the eminent Services you have rendered the United States, by your Wisdom perseverance and fortitude so constantly displayed in the recovery and establishment of their Rights, embrace the earliest opportunity of congratulating you on your Appointment to the exalted station in which the Suffrages of a free people have placed you.

The Citizens of this State, though early and uniformly engaged in the late revolution, have had no voice in forming that Federal System, which not only promisses stability to the Government, but peace and Security to the United States, Yet we should do injustice to their feelings, should we omit to express their warmest Sentiments of friendship to the United States, and their general wish to participate in the benefits of that Government to which from their local situation they chearfully contribute a proportionable part of their property.

Be assured Sir, they feel the sincerest satisfaction in your appointment to the highest Station in the Federal Government, and wish you all that support and Assistance which may be necessary to the discharge of so important a trust, relying on the justice of the Government over which you preside, we presume those Obstacles which hitherto have prevented a Union of this State with the United States, will speedily be removed; and when we contemplate the disinterested principles which have always adorned your Character we cannot doubt your influence to hasten that happy period.

Permit us Sir, to close this address with the most fervent prayers, to Almighty God, for a continuance of his Blessings on your person and Family, and that under your Administration, America may long be continued a free and happy Nation.1

L, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

Since the end of the American Revolution, Vermont, led by Ethan Allen, his brothers Ira and Levi, and their supporters, had pursued accord with the British government more assiduously than connections with the other American states. The Allen faction considered Vermont’s ties with the province of Quebec a necessity to the state’s economic survival and in the course of the decade secured important trade concessions from the Crown. Ethan Allen and his supporters set up the Republic of Vermont in 1778, but New York and New Hampshire, both engaged in land disputes with Vermont, and some large southern states opposed Vermont’s entrance into the Union. Vermont sent no representatives to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and was not admitted to the Union until 1791. Ethan Allen died in February 1789, but at the time this letter was written Levi Allen was in London negotiating with the British for closer political and economic ties. During the Confederation years, however, a coalition of opponents to the Allen-Thomas Chittenden faction had developed, consisting largely of conservative and nationalist merchants, lawyers, and former Revolutionary War officers, many of whom lived in the Connecticut Valley and in Vermont’s southwestern region, within the commercial sphere of the United States. The leaders, most of whom supported the Federalist party after Vermont joined the Union, included Lewis R. Morris of the New York Morris family, Moses Robinson, Jacob Bayley, Isaac Tichenor, and Nathaniel Chipman. Although the Allen-Chittenden faction controlled Vermont politics for more than a decade—Chittenden was elected governor without interruption after 1778—a land scandal involving the group in 1789 so outraged Vermont voters that the control of the executive branch passed to the conservatives with Moses Robinson as governor. This letter to GW was a step in the direction of Vermont’s settlement of its disputes with its neighbors and its admission to the Union.

1At the bottom of this letter the following statement appears: “State of Vermont In General Assembly Westminster Octr 29. 17⟨89.⟩ Resolved that the foregoing Address be presented to his Excellency the President of the United States, by the Agents appointed to attend on Congress, and that the same be sent to the Governor & Council for Concurren⟨ce.⟩ Attest Lewis R. Morris Clerk[.] State of Vermont In Council Westminster October 29th 1789[.] Read & concurred. Attest Joseph Fay Secy.” The letter from the Vermont legislature was sent to GW on 9 Feb. 1790 by the commissioners Isaac Tichenor, Stephen R. Bradley, and Elijah Paine (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

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