A Eulogy For the First Vermont Republic
4 March 1791
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my solemn duty to inform you that on 4 March 1791 the First Vermont Republic, the only American republic which truly invented itself, entered immortality and became the fourteenth state of the American Empire. Fourteen years after declaring its independence, Vermont was seduced into the Union by the promise of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Over two hundred years later the Green Mountain state finds itself in a nation whose government condones the annihilation of Afghanistan and Iraq, a war on terrorism which it helped create, the illegal rendition of terrorist suspects, prisoner abuse and torture, citizen surveillance, the suppression of civil liberties, the suspension of habeas corpus, an impotent Homeland Security bureaucracy, corporate greed, pandering to the rich and powerful, a culture of deceit, and a foreign policy based on full spectrum dominance, imperial overstretch, and unconditional support for Israel.
A state convention convened by the Vermont Assembly on 10 January 1791 petitioned the United States Congress for admission into the Union. By a vote of 105 to 4 the delegates of the convention opted to sell the soul of the independent Republic of Vermont to the Empire. Vermont’s statehood petition was ratified by the U.S. Congress on 4 March, a day that will go down in history as a day of infamy.
America was supposed to have been immortal, but in the end it could not deliver. Its government has lost its moral authority. It has no soul. As a nation it has become unsustainable and unfixable because it is effectively ungovernable. The endgame is near. “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and institute a new government,” said Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. Just as a group has a right to form, so too does it have a right to disband, to subdivide itself, or to withdraw from a larger unit.
Vermont is smaller, more rural, more democratic, less violent, less commercial, more egalitarian, more humane, more independent, and more radical than most states. It provides a communitarian alternative to the dehumanized, mass production, mass consumption, narcissistic lifestyle which pervades most of America.
Fundamental to what it means to be a Vermonter is the right of self-preservation. The time has come for all Vermonters peacefully to rebel against the American empire by (1) regaining control of their lives from big government, big business, big cities, big schools, and big computer networks; (2) relearning how to take care of themselves by decentralizing, downsizing, localizing, demilitarizing, simplifying, and humanizing their lives; and (3) learning how to help others take care of themselves.
This is a call for Vermont to reclaim its soul. In so doing, it can provide a kinder, gentler model, that is clean, green, sustainable, and socially responsible, for a nation obsessed with money, power, size, speed, greed, and fear of terrorism.
Is it possible that out of the ashes of the First Vermont Republic a Second Vermont Republic might emerge? Might not Vermont experience a kind of resurrection from the dead, or at least from its 216 year slumber, resulting in a new state of consciousness opposed to the tyranny of corporate America and the U.S. government and committed to once again becoming an independent republic and more broadly to the dissolution of the Empire? Might such a republic embrace these principles: political independence, human scale, sustainability, economic solidarity, power sharing, equal opportunity, tension reduction, and mutuality?
As Reverend Ben T. Matchstick did in his invocation on October 28, 2005 in the Vermont State House at the first state convention on secession since 1861, we pray for Vermont independence “in the name of the flounder, the sunfish, and the holy mackerel.”
Thomas H. Naylor