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principally pass the ship canal, yet when the reader takes into consider
ation the length of the river St. Lawrence, the frozen season, that goods
are seldom imported but once a year to Quebec, that spring and fall ship
ments are seasonably made to New York, the necessity of making early
2QQ remittances, &c. the proprietors of the canal from Hudson s River
would be benefited by said ship canal, in consequence of the exten
sion of business ; one circumstance that would tend much to draw com
merce from the east to said Lake is, that it is customary for the merchant
and farmer to move most of their heavy goods and produce by sleighs, in
the frozen season ; that the changeable weather on the sea coast at Bos
ton, &c. spoils the sleigh path, so that about one journey in three are lost,
while the more temperate and healthy climate of Vermont insures good
sleighing for about two months.

The British merchants and manufacturers know their capitals and con
nexions, and that the treaty of 1794 permits them to navigate said Lake,
and need not be further informed how to take the advantage of that ex
tensive business, which is better policy than confining commerce in a
narrow channel, badly calculated for the present day.

You ask me with regard to timbers ? I answer, a great variety, so
great that the mere catalogue would exceed the limits of a letter. You
call the oak the patriarch of the wood, and I assure you we have different
species of that hardy race, the white, the black, red and swamp, all useful
in civil and nautical architecture. The white pine is applied to so many
uses that I can scarcely enumerate them, it may be applied to every use
Q-Q of the deal, and the turpentine which it produces might be made a
useful article of exportation. In short the trees and plants of this


Ira Allen"* s History of Vermont. 481

country would enrich even the Linnean system, but that must be the
work of a future day ; as yet we have not discovered any gold or silver
ore in this state, but if it does not boast such precious metals, it contains
much more useful, such as iron, lead, copper, &c. The mineralogist
would find it well worth his while to explore the very bowels of our
mountains, and I am persuaded that the chymist and natural philosopher
would not be disappointed in making experiments on many of the native
productions in the mineral and vegetable kingdoms, and that many things
which now contribute to the pride and luxury of the European countries,
in colour and formation would find a rival in plants trod under foot, or
minerals buried in unfrequented spots, such as red and yellow ochre, &c.
putty, which even in its native state, equals in tenacity and induration
the composite material of that article in your country, and employed in
similar purposes.

As to your query relative to domestic animals, I feel myself able to
answer you on that important head, to begin with that which is univer
sally acknowledged to be the most useful, I mean the sheep. The breed is
good, but the crossing is not studied as in England. They are remark
ably prolific, the mutton sweet, and the wool generally fine and good,
every farmer has a flock more or less. The breed of black cattle is daily
2*M improving, butter is good, and so is the cheese, but a few English
farmers, from what I have seen, would, in a short time, bring about
a surprizing change for the better in these articles ; we want a Bakewell
and a Colley, and I think, if we had a few of them, in a few years we
could equal the sheep walks of Lincolnshire, and the bulls of Lord Egre-
mont, as our vegetation is at least as luxuriant and nutricious as any
county in England. As to the breed of horses, it is also improving in
this State, from the laudable exertion of individuals, who have learned to
place a due estimate on this generous animal, either for the saddle or
agriculture. I could name individuals, with pleasure, in the southern
part, who have turned their attention to this article, but I do not wish
to pay any personal compliment to one part, at the expence of another ;
competition produces emulation, and emulation always finds its level.

I cannot help saying that it distresses me a little to think that a man
of your information should seem to treat Vermont as a little sucking
State, I assure you that you will find on a correct information, that even \s*
the mechanic arts are not in their infancy in this quarter, new roads are
every day extending, bridges erecting, population advancing, agriculture
improving, towns multiplying, and rivers marked out as objects worthy
of inland navigation. We contracted no debt during the American war ;
272 our taxes, if they can be called taxes, are light, our climate is mild,
our soil fertile, our inhabitants industrious) our provisions abundant
and cheap, and it is our determination to avail ourselves of these bless
ings, and to hand them down at least unimpaired to our children. I
Cl know

482 Ira Allen* s History of Vermont.

know that roads arc a very important article in any country, either for
pleasure, safety, or use, the one through the medium by which neighbor
hood and communication are kept alive and improved ; they are laid out
in as good a manner as the circumstances of the country will admit, and as
it abounds with stone, gravel, and sand, they may be rendered equal to
any in Europe ; and even in the present state, they are passable for car
riages, &c. especially in the oldest settlements. Licensed inns are erected
on all the public roads, with good beds, a plentiful larder, and moder
ate bills.

Post towns are distributed over all the country, and weights and meas
ures, leather sealers, &c. are regulated according to law, and inspected
by proper officers.

The greatest legislators from Lycurgus down to John Lock, have laid
down a moral and scientific system of education as the very founda
tion and cement of a State ; the Yermontese are sensible of this, and for
this purpose they have planted several public schools, and have estab
lished a university, and endowed it with funds, and academic rewards, to
draw forth and foster talents. The effects of these institutions are al-
070 ready experienced, and I trust that in a few years the rising genera
tion will evince that these useful institutions were not laid in vain ;
remember, however, that our maxim is rather to make good men than
great scholars : let us hope for the union, for that makes the man, and
the useful citizen.

You see I have followed your queries in the order in which you ar
ranged them ; with regard to the succession of seasons, they are by no
means sudden, as you suppose ; spring pays its welcome visit in April,
and is soon followed by summer, October and November are pleasant,
and the rest of the year is resigned to the rigid reign of winter ; too for
ward a spring is unfavourable, particularly if attended with a north-east
erly wind, south and south-west are the rainy points ; these observations
are founded on experience and accurate meteorological observations.
The weather, however, is sometimes capricious, a fall of snow serves as
a covering to inhale the radical moisture of the earth, and as it is re
plete with nitre, it supplies the place of manure, and when it is gradually
dissolved, vegetation shoots forth in the highest luxuriancy. With re
spect to seed time and harvest, spring wheat and spring rye may be Sown
in April, or in May. Indian corn is planted in May, as well as barley,
oats, peas, beans, &c. Winter wheat and winter rye are sown in Sep
tember and October, These are the regular seed months, but sometimes
2 _^ they are later or earlier. Red and white clover, Timothy and other
grasses are generally sown in May and September, but not always
confined to these months. Winter wheat and winter rye are the earliest
harvest ; spring wheat, and spring rye, if sown in the last of April or


Ira Allen s History of Vermont. 483

beginning of May, are cut in July or August ;. Indian corn is the latest
harvest, and all the rest that I have mentioned are intermediate crops.

Flax and hemp answer well in many parts. The hay harvest usually
begins in July and generally ends in August, but the season is commonly
favourable in that period. The produce is not gathered in with all
the neatness and attention that it is in England, for to use a scripture
phrase, " the harvest is great but the labourers are few," I say few com
paratively speaking ; nor are the lands carried to that height of cul
tivation for the same reason.

The price of labour is thus raised in consequence of the scarcity of
labourers ; and to use another scripture phrase, " the labourer is worthy
of his hire," so that you see there is one part of the world where the
reaper and the binder are held in proper degree of estimation.

You ask about the succession of crops, I shall endeavour to answer
you presently on that head ; but in the first place, I must beg that you
will cast your eye over the political history of the country, to which this
is annexed, you will find the struggles that we were engaged in for years
o-,- to attain our independence. When war draws the sword, the
plough-share is left to rust. When our independence w r as gained,
our first care was to repair the devastations of war ; under these circum
stances, it is not to be expected that agriculture was studied as a science.
Bread, figuratively speaking, is called the staff of life ; our first care was
to raise such crops as best suited with the nature of the soil, in its rude
state almost ; our winter crops are rye and wheat ; our summer crops
are white beans, Indian corn, summer rye and wheat, buck wheat, oats,
barley, peas, flax, hemp, turnips, &c. I have touched on these things
already, but my wish to give you every information, may lead me to re
peat some particulars, which I hope you will excuse, for the reasons I
have just mentioned ; I shall only add, that such is the certainty of the
seasons, that all these crops, if sown and planted in due time, seldom
fail to repay the toil and expence of the husbandman.

As to gardening, it has been attended to pretty much of late, but I
cannot say that it is in that advanced state which you wish, and of which
it is certainly capable, from climate, situation and soil.- There is a garden,
however, annexed to every house, always well stored with pulse and
roots for the supply of the table ; parsnips, carrots, turnips, cabbage,
potatoes, pumpkins, &c. grow in such abundance, that we begin to fatten
270 swine with them. A swine is said to be the only animal that is
found from pole to pole, capable of contending with rattle-snakes,
and their poison free of danger. As soon as the acorns, beech-nuts, &c.
begin to fall, they are driven to the woods, in large herds, to feed on
them. The delicacy, taste, and nutrition of these nuts are particularly


484 Ira Allen s History of Vermont.

suited to the palate of these animals, so that in a short time they
grow to a great size. The hog prefers the beech nut to any other,
and the effect of that preference is visible in growth and fat, hence
a good beech nut year may be called a good swine year. At a proper
period they are prepared for the knife, this is done by giving them
a certain quantity of sulphur, and when it has sufficiently operated,
they are then fed with Indian corn or meal, which render their flesh
firmer than any other food. We have 110 windmills, nor is there any oc
casion for them in a country so well watered. Corn or grist mills are
every day erecting, a proof of the advancement of agriculture. Mill
stones are found in almost every part of the country. Sumach grows
in great plenty over all the state, and of the finest quality too. It is
hoped that one day it will be turned to more use than it is at present.

I have abstained from entering into the natural history of Vermont, as
it would lead into a w r ide field. The butter nut tree, however, should be
mentioned, I think it may be classed as a species of the walnut ; it bears
an immense quantity of nuts, in clusters, the size of a hen s-egg each.
277 They make excellent pickle, and w r hen pressed or boiled, produce
great quantities of oil, which is of a sanative quality, in rheumatism,
&c. The bark of this tree is used in dying black, which preserves a fine
jetty gloss for a long time ; wainscotting are sometimes formed of the
wood. The cows in winter are fed with hay, clover, turnips, pumpkins,
&c. Those that give milk in that season are fed with oats, Indian
corn, ground together and mixed with wheat bran.

Marl is found in many parts of Vermont, but as the ground is fertile
and in good heart, it is not used as a manure, but it is probable that it will
be found very useful in that line hereafter, when on sandy grounds, &c.
as sand is good on marly ground. Lime stone is also abundant, and I
need not tell you that it is an excellent manure. Maple sugar forms a
great article of domestic consumption, the material is plenty, the prepa
ration is easy, the taste agreeable, it seldom cloys the stomach, it is an
excellent anti-scorbutic, and so innocent, that it may be taken in almost
any quantity by infants.

I cannot say that. we have any birds that are not common to the other
States, such as the swallow, woodcock, quail, &c.

Notwithstanding I have said that every farmer is in some respect a
mechanic, you should take it as I intended it, rather a general expres
sion, for there are handicrafts who find encouragement enough to apply
2 ~g to particular trades, without so much as scarce ever putting the hand
to the plough, such as smiths, taylors, carpenters, shoemakers, &c.
they find employment enough, and in a few years I am persuaded that


Ira Allen s History of Vermont. 485

the manual arts will become more visible and distinct, and that one man
will not be found to trench on the business of another, but at the same
time t^it all will be thrown open to merit, industry, and persever
ance ; and that the State, like a well regulated machine, will be com
posed of different members, and every one in it s place.

You wish to know which is the usual and best mode of travelling, I
have told you already that our roads are rather indifferent. The usual
mode is on horse back, but of late stage coaches are established, and
the fare is moderate, the inn-keepers civil, and the entartainment good.
In winter, when the roads are rendered good by the frost, we travel in
sleighs, as in Sweden, Denmark, &c.

I scarce know of any nation that pays a greater deference to the fair
sex than the Americans, and very deservedly too, for it is but justice to
my fair country-women to say, that they are highly worthy of it in every
situation, maid, wife and widow. Their education is virtuous, and suited
to the line in which fortune has destined they should move, thus every
woman thinks it sufficient to shine in her own domestic sphere. The
men willingly assume all the toils of the field, and every species of ser-
2~g vile labour. Women are employed in the concerns of the house,
such as preparing the frugal repast, spinning, weaving, knitting, &c.
sometimes they assist in binding the sheaves, or other light labours in
the harvest. Every mother generally nurses her own child, unless
through bodily infirmity. The winter nights are passed in reading rus
tic jokes and tales. Dancing is a favourite amusement in this season.

I know you will be pleased to hear that that art, which is the conser-
vatrix of all others, printing, is encouraged and protected ; four or five
newspapers are printed in this State, and have a circulation ; several use
ful books arc also printed, as the laudable passion for reading is daily en-
creasing. You seem to be very much alarmed at the bare mention of
the rattle-snake, and I am not surprized at it, from the frightful accounts
of modern travellers, permit me to say a word or two on this reptile. The
rattle-snakes, in the early frosts about the month of October, retire to
craggy rocks, where they find some subterraneous cavity, in which they
remain in a state of torpor till the return of spring, when they crawl
forth ; at this season they are not poisonous, as they are too feeble, and
their venom is not sufficiently concocted till they drink water, which
ferments and increases the virus. Their dens or haunts are sought for
the purpose of destroying them, as their grease is valuable in many med
ical cases, which is an incentive to trace and destroy them, so that they
ogn are diminished in proportion as the country is cultivated and


486 Ira Allen s History of Vermont.

And as it seems to be a dictate in nature that there is no bane for
which there is not a remedy, the Indians are in possession of one, and
can effectually cure their bite ; nor is the secret confined to them alone.
The swine eat or feed on them, this also tends to lessen their number, so
that at present they are to be found in very few places in Vermont; these
plain facts I hope will quiet your fears.

Pot and pearl ash form at present no inconsiderable article of export
and home consumption.

Our Vermontese house-wives are not a little vain of their knowledge
in making home-made wines, such as gooseberry, rasberry, &c. these na
tive productions are exceedingly pleasing, refreshing, and healthy.

Cyder is a favorite beverage, the flavor is fine, of a proper age it
sparkles and mantles in the glass ; it is found to be an excellent anti
scorbutic, and if used for a certain period, corrects impurities of the

Some lead-mines have been discovered of late, and I doubt not, when

the naturalists and mineralogists explore those regions, that they will

2 o-j discover many treasures in their respective lines highly estimable at

this day in Europe in the materia medica, dying, building, ornament

and use.

Hats are composed of beaver, and manufactured by the inhabitants.
Felt hats are also worn and manufactured in the State.

Inocculation has been introduced with great success, and by this means
thousands of lives are preserved to the community. The mcazlcs are
not so dangerous as heretofore, as the treatment of this disorder has de
prived it in a great degree of its malignity.

You ask what manufactures would thrive best in Vermont ? I am
persuaded the difficulty would be to point out the manufactory that would
not flourish in it.

Thus I have attempted to give you a short but faithful answer to your
queries ; if you favour this country with a visit, you will find that I have
only failed in one thing, and that is, that my descriptive powers cannot
do justice to the fertility and beauty of the country, to the hospitality of
its inhabitants, to the plenty that is found in every house, and the con
tent that is pictured in every countenance, and that reigns in every
heart would that all mankind were as happy this minute as the Ver




A Marginal page.

BBOT, Colonel, with militia 200 442

Adams, Samuel Dr. punished 40 356

Agriculture, state of 275 493

Allen, Ethan, Esq ; Agent to defend the title 23 343

his reply to Mr. Kemp 24 344

made Colonel Commandant 26 345

his offer, 51 for Mr. Kemp 29 346

his escape with Mr. Roberts 43 355

ditto with Ira Allen 48 357

collection of documents 52 360

applied for a royal colony, 1774 53 360

made prisoner by the British 64 367

his noble conduct 65 367

his ill treatment 65 367

agent to Congress 115 395

cartel and truce 152 415

letter to Congress 154 417

exchanged for Campbell Ill 393

made General Ill 393

refused Mr. Shay s offer 248 469

wrote to General Lincoln 248 469

Allen, Ileman, Captain, sent with prisoners 68 369

at Bennington, and his death 101 388

Allen, Ebenezer, Captain, bravery 105 389

Allen, Ira, Esq ; publication 92 382

financier of Vermont 96 384

letter to "Weare 94 384

agency at New Hampshire 116 396

at ditto 118 397

at ditto 120 397

to the southern States 134 406

to Congress 140 409

remonstrance ... 142 409

488 Ira Allen s History of Vermont.

Mar. page.

Allen, Ira, agent at Cliaiiestown 147 413

surveyor general 112 393

agent at Canada 1G1 420

interview with the British commissioners 162 421

answers to questions 166 423

stipulations 170 425

return and reports 173 427

met a British guard 175 428

quelling Arlington mob 176 428

agent at Congress 176 428

at Skeensborough 184 429

reply to Major Reynolds 192 433

letter to British commissioners 192 437

agent to General Gansevoort 201 438

the conference and report 202 442

agent at New Hampshire 204 443

his conduct and report 207 444

agent at Congress, and remonstrance 208 446

saved 17 loyalists 231 446

letter to British commissioners 231 459

agent in 1783, at Canada 246 460

application to Gen. Haldimand for a canal A. D. 1784 . 264 467

to the Duke of Portland A. D. 1796 265 478

his benevolent wish 281 478

Arnold, Benedict, Colonel, conduct on Champlain 57 363

his march through a wilderness 71 371

beseiging Quebec 71 371

wounded in his leg 71 371

Ashes, pot and pearl 280 486

Atlee, Esq ; Agent 130 403


Baker, E. Captain and wife wounded 31 348

killed by the Indians 62 365

Bawm, Colonel, killed 102 388

singular orders 102 388

Belcher and Bill, hanged 43 355

Bellows, General, letter 129 403

Bennington, resolves 25 344

battle 101 387

Black cattle 270 481

Blanchard, Lieutenant 230 459

Bradley, S. R. Esq; letter 136 407

Ira Allen s History of Vermont. 489

Mar. page.

Bradley, S. R. Esq ; senator at Congress 250 470

Burgoyne, General, at Champlain 92 382

character of Yermontese 107 390

convention at Saratoga 107 390

Breckenridge, agent at London 47 357

Bridge of stone, natural 7 334

British agent s letter 240 464

ditto, April 1782 241 465

ditto, 1783 243 466

Brown, Colonel, exploit 104 389

Do. and Warner s bad conduct 64 366

Butler, Colonel, and Indians 160 420

Butter nut-tree 276 484


Canal from Champlain, cost * 4 333

Carleton, General, fled to Quebec 69 369

Chamblee Fort, taken 63 366

Champlain, Lake, its length 3 332

its islands "3 332

why so called 262 477

its description and utility 263 477

canal from it planned 264 478

Charlestown Convention 147 413

council of war 192 437

legislature, meeting 189 436

Charlotte county 26 345

Chimney Point, settled 1731 14 338

abandoned by the French 1761 16 339

Chipman, Nathaniel, Esq ; agent 250 470

Chittenden, Governor, letter to Congress 139 408

letter to General Haldimand 169 424

his prudence 191 437

prevented a civil war 200 442

orders to Lieutenant-Governor Payne 204 444

first Governor 110 392

his reply to Colonel Warner 232 460

letter to General Washington 221 454

Clinton, Governor, letter to Fitch 123 400

to Congress 124 400

to Congress 125 401

Clover, red and white, &c. &c 274 482

Colchester Fort 42 354


490 Ira Allen s History of Vermont.

Mar. page.

Cockborn, Surveyor 39 352

Cockran, Captain 36 351

Golden, Lieutenant [G-ov.], caused American war 16 339

College established, &c 272 482

Connecticut Assembly alarmed 103 388

Congress I. resolves, 5th September, 1774 55 361

answer to Vermont petition 73 372

resolves against Vermont 90 381

sent a committee to Vermont 126 401

resolves 131 404

resolves of 1781 177 429

committee, and 8 questions 178 430

proposal for a union 180 431

terms of 183 432

committee report 217 452

wanted candour 224 456

committee reported. . 233 461

resolutions, violent 235 462

Corn, Indian, when planted 273 482

Cornish Convention 149 414

Cornwallis, Lord, taken 107 391

the effect of the news 192 438

Crops, their succession 274 482

Crown Point fort, built 1731 [1755] 14 33S

Cumberland county 22 343

Curtis, Israel, Esq ; agent to Congress 208 446

Cyder, a good beverage 280 486


Dartmouth College 251 471

Defiance Mount, fort taken 105 389

Dewey, Kev. letters 38 352

Dog killed for his name 37 351

Duane, James, Esq ; loss of lands, &c 183 432

Dummer, Fort, built 1724 14 338

Dundas, Major, offended 165 422

his politeness, &c 171 426


Easton, Colonel, wise conduct < . . 69 370

Emigrants, Scotch, sent * 41 354

Ira Allen s History of Vermont. 491

Mar. page.

Enos, General, conduct 189 436

letter 190 437

Agent at Newhampshire 206 445


Fay, Dr. Jonas, wise manoeuvres 69 370

agent at Congress 134 406

agent at ditto 176 429

ditto at Congress 207 446

Fay, Major, to the British 192 438

Online LibraryVermont Historical SocietyCollections of the Vermont Historical Society (Volume 01) → online text (page 45 of 47)