New Hampshire Grant

The land that is today Vermont was once claimed by Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire.  The Massachusetts claim originated from a fort established in the Connecticut River Valley in present-day Brattleboro.  New York based their claim on original Dutch territorial claims that all the lands west of the Connecticut River to Delaware River were theirs.  When the Dutch were ousted from North America New York followed the same general borders, which were validated by King George II.

New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth chose to follow his own guidelines, choosing the western border of Massachusetts and going north to Canada and east to the Connecticut River as land he had jurisdiction over, which he then granted to middle class farmers who settled the land.  New York was granting the very same land to wealthy landowners and wasn’t particularly pleased by Wentworth’s interpretation of the borders.  These wealthy landowners then tried to tax the middle class farmers on “their” land, which led to even more tensions.

The most famous of these middle class farmers was Ethan Allen, who was a natural self-promoter.  Allen and other farmers formed the Green Mountain Boys, who organized armed resistance to New York.  The escalating confrontations between the New Hampshire Grantees and the New York grantees continued until the beginning of the Revolutionary War forced all parties to focus on a larger problem.  Eventually New York gave up and Vermont would become a state.  There’s still an independent streak in Vermont and New Hampshire to this day.  Perhaps there’s still some lingering annoyance on the part of some wealthy New York family who’s ancestors gave up the fight for lands they were granted.