October 28, 1790 — New York gave up claims to Vermont for $30,000 today. Negotiations for the sale began three years earlier, in 1787, when Alexander Hamilton, who was then a member of the New York Assembly. He introduced a bill that called for the recognition of the independence of Vermont.
Historians explain that at the time there was debate as to whether the capital of the new nation would be located in New York or Philadelphia. “Hamilton realized that if Vermont were admitted to the Union, her vote would be most important. He also realized it was important that a northern free state be admitted to offset two southern slave states, Kentucky and Tennessee, which would soon join the Union.”
New York and Vermont agreed to negotiate the differences between conflicting land claims. After negotiations, Vermont agreed to pay New York $30,000 compensation while New York gave up her Vermont land claims.
Vermont’s next step in the process of admission to the Union was to ratify the new United States Constitution. In January 1791, a convention authorized by the Vermont General Assembly met in Bennington to consider ratification. One of the delegates to the convention, Supreme Court Judge Nathaniel Chipman, said Vermont was too small in relation to a new powerful union to remain independent.
“Whenever our interests clash with those of the union, it requires very little political sagacity to foretell that every sacrifice must be made on our part… United we become great, from the reflected greatness of the empire with which we unite.”
The United States Constitution was ratified 105 to 4 by Vermont. The adoption was favorably received throughout the nation. In Albany, New York, the event was celebrated by a parade and a 14-gun salute.
By Act of Congress on March 4, 1791, Vermont was admitted to the Union as the 14th state, the first state to join the union. The Congressional Act declared “that on the 4th day of March 1791, the said State, by the name and style of the State of Vermont, shall be received into this Union as a new and entire member of the United States of America.”
Words of Wisdom
One of the first subjects of deliberation with the new Congress will be the independence of Kentucky, for which the southern states will be anxious. The northern will be glad to send a counterpoise in Vermont.