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WHEN, six years ago, I began to make researches for the purpose of ascertaining at what time the first settlements were made in Vermont, on the banks of the Connecticut river, by the whites, it was my intention, if I put pen to paper, to write but a small book, and to treat only of the southeastern portions of the state. As I continued my investigations, I became convinced that it would be very difficult to carry out this plan in an intelligible manner, without introducing into my contemplated work much that would appear too general for its narrow limits. At the same time, I discovered that the disputes in which New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont were so long engaged respecting the jurisdiction of the latter state, exerted an influence at the time, which told on the progress and development of every town and village and hamlet in Vermont. I then sought for some publication containing a clear and full statement of these disputes. My search was unrewarded. I found that the Natural and Civil History of Vermont, by the learned Dr. Samuel Williams, was more particularly devoted to the discussion of questions of a scientific nature, and to a general account of the condition of the northern frontier of the United States, than to a specific description of the settlement and growth of Ver
I found that the Natural and Political History of the State of Vermont, prepared by Col. Ira Allen, while in London, and printed at a London press, abounded in inaccuracies, and was only minute in the narration of affairs with which the author had been connected. I found that the Descriptive Sketch of the Present State of Vermont, by Dr. John Andrew Graham, was little else than a collection of unreliable, gossiping, entertaining letters, written more for self-gratification than to subserve any worthy or permanent interest. In the carefully collated History of Vermont, Natural, Civil, and Statistical, by the late Prof. Zadock Thompson, I found the evidences of thorough research and patient investiga
tion, and much information illustrative of the natural resources of Vermont.
Failing in these efforts to find a clear statement of the subject on which I desired light, I judged it necessary to extend my own examination to sources hitherto undeveloped, and to accompany whatever I might write with an outline sketch of the jurisdictional controversy already referred to, that so the reader might not be ignorant of the causes which led to the internal commotions with which Vermont was for many years afflicted. Becoming convinced that the connection between the early history of the towns in the southeastern part of Vermont, was much closer than I had anticipated, I determined to enlarge my work so as to include in it the annals of the old counties of Cumberland and Gloucester. Having reached this stage in my proceedings, I was led to fix the western limit of my historical bailiwick at the Green Mountains, the natural division of Vermont.
In the pages that follow, I think I have rescued from oblivion many facts which the lover of American history will rejoice to know. The work, it is true, is local, but in it are described the character and deeds of a people who were pioneers in the march of civilization, patriots in the day of danger, useful citizens in the time of peace. In the preparation of this volume, I have collected a mass of unedited materials, from which the task would be comparatively easy, to construct a history of the whole state. Such a history should contain, not only a narrative of all the warlike events which have occurred within the limits of Vermont, but a full account, also, of the controversy for jurisdiction, which began in 1749 and closed in 1791; of the skilfully designed but unsuccessful diplomatic efforts of the British government in Canada, for more than two years previous to the peace of 1783, to reduce Vermont to the condition of a Crown dependency; of the struggles of Vermont for her own separate independence; and of the manner in which, unaided by Congress, she maintained her name, her rank, and her honor unsullied, until admitted into the Union as a sovereign state. Should an interest be hereafter awakened in the minds of the citizens of Vermont, to know more of the thoughts and acts of their virtuous, manly, and independent ancestry—an ancestry which I am proud to claim as my own-I shall not deny myself the pleasure of aiding in increasing that knowledge.
By far the largest part of this volume has been prepared from papers wbich have never before been consulted for their historic value. In the offices of the Secretaries of the states of Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, thorough and critical examinations have been made of the documents and papers which are there preserved. The twenty-three
large volumes, called the “George Clinton Papers,” which have been lately added to the New York State Library, at Albany, have been diligently consulted, and from them has been drawn much information that has never until now been made public. The letters and memoranda contained in these well arranged and carefully indexed volumes are invaluable to the historian, not only of New York but of Vermont also.
To the Hon. William C. Bradley, of Westminster, a statesman, a lawyer, and a man of letters, whose learning and ability have for a half century been the boast of his native state, I would make my grateful acknowledgments for the many personal recollections and family papers he has placed at my service, without which, indeed, this work would have been incomplete in many particulars. From the Hon. James H. Phelps, of West Townshend, I have received much aid and encouragement, and many MSS. of importance relating to the part which his ancestors bore in the intestine struggles that so long disturbed the peace of the state. For these manifestations of his kindness, and for the active interest he has ever evinced in the success of my labors, I own my obligation. I would also express my appreciation of the value of the assistance I have received from the Hon. Ferrand F. Merrill, of Montpelier, the Hon. William M. Pingry, of Bethel, and other citizens of Vermont, whose services I may not have elsewhere acknowledged. To the skilful pencil of Larkin G. Mead Jr., Esq., of Brattleborough, I am indebted for the drawings from which have been engraved several of the illustrations which adorn the work.
I cannot but indulge a hope that not only those who still remain among the hills and valleys of their native state, but those also who have wandered from the old roof-tree to find a home in the different sections of the Union, may receive some gratification from the perusal of the history of their ancestors.
Troy, N. Y., July 80th, 1857.