Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

Federal government; history; 18th century; New York; Continental Congress; New Hampshire; Congress


Vermont’s declaration of independence in 1777 created a unique and unprecedented situation in the brief history of the United States. Individuals in the newly independent New York and New Hampshire each claimed portions of present-day Vermont as part of their own state, and while Vermonters wished to become the fourteenth state in the brand-new country, the Continental Congress was in no hurry to take action. This paper analyzes how the Vermont issue affected the broader debate over the nature and limits of American federalism and the channels and limits of congressional power.

Lay Summary

While Vermont may now be known mostly for Ben & Jerry's, in the early United States it was known as a hotbed for revolutionary sprit. Technically a part of New York, its residents made an effort to become their own sovereign jurisdiction. Delegates to the Continental Congress were tasked with settling a bitter debate between Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire over their power to become a new state. Ultimately unable to settle the issue, a new Constitution proved to be the only solution. This paper analyzes how the leaders of the era used the Vermont controversy to develop institutions of American government.