Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Independent Republic of Vermont

Vermont has always been an enigma as a state in the union. Like New Hampshire, Vermont still uses the town meeting to legislate. Unlike any other state, Vermont was once an independent republic, completely self-sufficient. Over the last two decades, a lot of Vermont citizens have been feeling that it is time to secede from the Union and be an independent republic again.

I'm pretty sure it will never happen. But in becoming more vocal about their issues with the federal government, secessionists can bring attention to the abuses of power that Washington simply takes as its right.

From AlterNet:

Vermont seceded from the British Empire in 1777 and stood free for 14 years, until 1791. Its constitution -- which preceded the U.S. Constitution by more than a decade -- was the first to prohibit slavery in the New World and to guarantee universal manhood suffrage. Vermont issued its own currency, ran its own postal service, developed its own foreign relations, grew its own food, made its own roads and paid for its own militia. No other state, not even Texas, governed itself more thoroughly or longer before giving up its nationhood and joining the Union.

But the seeds of disunion have been growing since the beginning. Vermont more or less sat out the War of 1812, and its governor ordered troops fighting the British to disengage and come home. Vermont fought the Civil War primarily to end slavery; Abraham Lincoln did so primarily to save the Union. Vermont's record on the slavery issue was so strong that Georgia's legislature resolved that a ditch be dug around the "pestiferous" state and it be floated out to sea.

After the Great Flood of 1927, the worst natural disaster in the state's history, President Calvin Coolidge (a Vermonter) offered help. Vermont's governor replied, "Vermont will take care of its own." In 1936, town meetings rejected a huge federal highway referendum that would have blacktopped the Green Mountain crest line from Massachusetts to Canada.

Nor did Vermont sign on when imperial Washington demanded that the state raise its drinking age from 18 to 21 in 1985. The federal government thereupon resorted to its favored tactic, blackmail. Raise your drinking age, said Ronald Reagan, or we'll take away the money you need to keep the interstates paved. Vermont took its case for state control to the Supreme Court -- and lost.

It's quite simple. The United States has destroyed the 10th Amendment, which says that "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."

The present movement for secession has been gathering steam for a decade and a half. In preparation for Vermont's bicentennial in 1991, public debates -- moderated by then-Lt. Gov. Howard Dean -- were held in seven towns before crowds that averaged 230 citizens. At the end of each, Dean asked all those in favor of Vermont's seceding from the Union to stand and be counted. In town after town, solid majorities stood. The final count: 999 (62 percent) for secession and 608 opposed.

In early 2003, transplanted Southerner and retired Duke University economics professor Thomas Naylor gave a speech at Johnson State College opposing the Iraq war. When he pitched the idea of secession to the crowd, he saw many eyes "light up," he said. Later that year, he and several others started a loosely organized movement (now a think tank) called the Second Vermont Republic, which has an independent quarterly journal, Vermont Commons, and a Web site.

In October 2005, about 300 Vermonters attended a statewide convention on the question of secession. Six months later, the annual Vermont Poll of the University of Vermont's Center for Rural Studies found that about 8 percent of respondents replied "yes" to peaceful secession, arguably making Vermont foremost among the many states with secessionist movements (including Alaska, California, Hawaii, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Texas).

We secessionists believe that the 350-year swing of history's pendulum toward large, centralized imperial states is once again reversing itself.

Read the whole article.


1 comment:

Tom said...

I can't see why Vermont seceded from the British Empire in 1777 since the Declaration of Independence was posted everywhere in early July 1776. Maybe they seceded from New York.

I notice that the article was first published on April Fools Day in the Washington Post. I'm suspicious.

It says Coolidge was a Vermonter, when the one thing I remember learning about him was that he rose to fame as mayor of Boston, in Massachusetts of course, by stopping a police strike.

I think Vermont could easily secede from the USA if they did it now. Our military is overextended and the American people have no stomach for getting in the middle of another Civil War. I don't know if we could stand a surge designed by Bush in Montpelier and seeing our soldiers getting pelted by scoops of Chunky Monkey.