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FIFTH PERIOD

RAPID SETTLEMENT

(1783–1812)

CHAPTER XXII

VERMONT'S PROSPERITY_HER ADMISSION INTO THE UNION

Rapid Increase in Population. The fifth period, which covers a space of about thirty years, may well be called the period of rapid settlement; for never before or since in the history of the State have such gigantic gains in population been realized. From the close of the war to the time Vermont entered the Union her population had more than doubled, numbering at that date (1791) over 85,000. In the next ten years it had nearly doubled again ; and the census of 1810 showed another long stride, the population numbering at that date 217,895.

The Indians of Swanton had generally withdrawn from the State; and now that the war with Great Britain was ended and Vermont was no longer threatened by invasion on the north, her settlements began to spread rapidly in that direction, emigrants flocking in great numbers from the other States.

Many of the lands in this section had been granted by Benning Wentworth as early as 1763, but most of the original shares had been transferred and were no longer the property of the original shareholders. The Allens, especially Ira Allen, had come into possession of very extensive tracts in different localities; there was scarcely a town in the western border of the State in which Ira Allen had not some landed property. Indeed, it is said that in 1786 fiftynine of the sixty-four original shares of the town of Swanton were owned by that gentleman ; and a dozen years previous to this time he had owned the greater part of the town of Burlington.

Prosperity and Contentment.--Vermont was no longer in danger of a foreign foe; she had more than once proved that she was able to defend herself against the claims of neighboring States; she had a well-organized government, which was daily increasing in strength and efficiency; she coined her own money ; she had her own standard of weights and measures; she had established a postal service and had appointed a postmaster-general ; taxes were low; the State still had large quantities of valuable land to dispose of, out of the avails of which she was able to supply her treasury and pay her debts without greatly burdening the people; moreover, allured by the cheapness of these lands, the light taxes and the democratic government, settlers were constantly coming into the State from all parts of the New England States, thus swelling her numbers and consequently her importance. word, Vermont was prosperous. To be sure, Vermont was still nominally under the jurisdiction of New York, but for all practical purposes she was as independent as any republic on earth.

In striking contrast, the close of the war found the United States heavily in debt ; her paper currency, issued during the war, worthless; and the country itself without

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any adequate means to furnish the way for its payment; her government was weak; it could advise but could not compel, and had to depend upon the will of each individual State for the carrying out of its resolves. Many of the States were also heavily burdened with debt. From the very fact that Vermont had not been admitted into the Union, she was in a great measure free from the embarrassments in which other States found themselves. Entirely outside of the sisterhood of States, she was under no obligation to help meet the national debt and was, evidently, happy to be free from it.

The people of Vermont were not unconscious of their own powers and well realized that they were much better off than their neighbors. A union with the United

A post-rider. States was certainly no longer a necessity; and, indeed, as time went on, most of the inhabitants of the State ceased to regard it as a thing to be desired.

Postal Service; Currency.-In the year 1784, the Legislature of Vermont established five post-offices in the State. They were at Newbury, Windsor, Brattleboro, Bennington, and Rutland. To post-riders was given the exclusive right of carrying letters and packages, and these were transmitted once a week each way between these points. The postage was the same as that established by the United States.

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To be sure, the post-offices of that day differed somewhat from those of the present, consisting, in the main, of a drawer in the village store or a shelf in the bar-room of some tavern, where papers and letters alike were piled to

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gether in great disorder to be searched over on the entrance of each inquirer.

For many years after Vermont organized her State government, a majority of her leading men were much opposed to the issue of paper money, in spite of the fact that bank-bills were the circulating medium in other States. Although we had nothing that we could call a bank previous to the year 1806, the Legislature was, during the year 1781, obliged to issue bills of credit for the payment of the State debts, the carrying on of the war, and the

enlargement of the circulating medium. These bills were to be redeemed in about a year's time; and to raise the money necessary for their redemption a tax was laid on the grand lists of the State. Be it said, to the credit of the State, that these bills were all faithfully redeemed.

To Reuben Harmon, of Rupert, was given the exclusive right of coining copper within the State. Specimens of these coins are seldom to be met with at the present day, but are of rare interest. The accompanying are facsimiles of some of them. The first records the fact of the former existence of the Green Mountain Republic; the second proclaims the sentiment of her people : “ Independence and Liberty,” and is known as the baby-head coin.

Vermont regains Confidence in Congress; at Peace with New York.- By the year 1789, the aversion which the Vermont people had felt to a union with the United States had become much lessened. The United States had adopted a constitution, and there were indications that the government was now founded upon a strong and creditable basis. The public confidence in that body was everywhere being restored ; and at the head of the nation, as President, stood George Washington, a man in whom the people of Vermont had unlimited confidence.

The question as to whether New York or Philadelphia should be the permanent seat of the Federal Government had been recently decided by Congress in favor of Philadelphia by a small majority. This showed that the southern influence was stronger than the northern ; and the fact that Kentucky, another southern State, would, undoubtedly, become a member of the Union at no distant day, thus increasing southern influence, caused all the northern States some little anxiety. New York, among the rest,

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