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Peacham. On the following day Eleazer Weld of Roxbury, Mass., who was
attending this meeting in Peacham, conveyed to William Chamberlain, the
consideration mentioned being ;^6o, a one hundred acre lot (no. 28 in the
Square). The conveyance was witnessed by Peter Blanchard and Samuel
Miner of Peacham and acknowledged the same day before Alexander Harvey,
J. P., in Barnet. This was the lot on which William Chamberlain's house


was built and which became the nucleus of his home-farm, considered later
the best farm in the town. November lo, 1787, he purchased of Jabez Bige-
low of Westminster, Worcester County, Mass., for £()i. 10 sh., the adjoining
lot to the southeast, on which his mill was built. This farm was one mile
west of the present village of Peacham.

William Chamberlin was active in town affairs, being Town Clerk for
twelve years and serving on the most important committees. In 1785 he was
sent as the Town's Representative to the State Legislature. Oct. 24, 1786,
he was commissioned a Justice of the Peace for Orange County by Governor
Chittenden. In 1787 he was again elected to the Legislature, and continued
as the Town's Representative until he was chosen a member of the Governor's
Council in 1796.

William Chamberlain surveyed lands in other Vermont towns. His de-
scendants possess the original plan of the township of Barton, Vt., which he
surveyed for the Proprietors, and several letters from Colonel William Barton
of Providence, R. I., concerning the affairs of Barton. In 1792 he was col-
lector of taxes for the Proprietors of Groton and Cabot. (Nov. 3, 1786, he
received lot no. 60 in the first allotment of lands in Cabot.) His papers show
that at some time in his life he was interested in lands in Barton, Cabot, Gro-
ton, Danville, Greensborough, Hardwick, Littleton (later Waterford), Lyndon,
Walden, Cannaan, Lewis, Marshfield and Woodbury. How many of these
towns he served as a surveyor is not known. A patent, signed by President
Madison, protecting an improvement he devised in his surveying instruments,
is still in existence, as are also his brass compass with its tripod.

The first church services in Peacham were held in the house of his nearest
neighbor, Moody Morse, half a mile east of his home-farm. By 1791 the
town was prepared to build a meeting-house, but its location proved a difficult
problem. Those who lived on the west side of the town wished the meeting-
house built near the house of Moody Morse, near which the minister's and
the school lots had been located in the town survey. But apparently the east
part of the town was not only increasing in size, but was also possessed by
determined men. Unable to agree on a site, the town voted to choose as a
committee to fix the stake Colonel Charles Johnson and Colonel Joseph
Hutchins of Haverhill, N. H., and James Whitelaw, Esq., of Ryegate, Vt., and
appointed four men to accompany them and point out the different sites
desired. Ashbel Martin, brother-in-law of William Chamberlin and his near-
est neighbor to the south, was chosen from the west side of the town. Thirty-
eight voters signed a paper binding themselves to abide by the decision of
the committee. Sept. 27, 1791, the committee set the stake near the house
of Moody Morse. This decision dissatisfied many residents ; a call extended
to Rev. Israel Chapin to become the settled minister of the town failed of
acceptance ; the meeting-house was not built. The first church organized


(1784) was Presbyterian, but it languished and was dissolved. In 1794 a
new church was organized on the Congregational model. The town pro-
ceeded again to choose a committee to set a stake for the meeting-house ; but
in 1795 a building was erected for the Caledonia County Grammar School,
and this was used for church services until 1806. It would appear that this
dispute concerning the location of the meeting-house did not lessen General
Chamberlin's popularity in the town. September i, 1795, in casting its votes
for governor and councillors, the Town cast for him as councillor eight votes
more than the sum of all the votes it cast for the four candidates for the

While a member of the Vermont Assembly, General Chamberlain secured
the incorporation of the Caledonia County Grammar School and its location
at Peacham. Sept. 2, 1795, a warning was issued for a town meeting on
Sept. 15th containing the item, "2d to see if the town will Authorize Wm.
Chamberlin, Esq., to engage in behalf of the Town to build a Court House or
County Grammar School House or any other Publick Building upon the
Expense of the Town with what will be subscribed, if any of the above priv-
ileges are granted by the Legislature." At the town meeting it was :

"II. Voted That in case a Grant of the County Grammar vSchool can be obtained
by Act of Assembly and established in the town of Peacham, that the Town will support a
Preceptor for the term of three years from the first day of January, A. D. 1797, Provided
the Persons who live in the vicinity of the place where the Buildings will probably be built
will subscribe a sum sufficient for erecting the Buildings that shall be required by the
Trustees and that the Town Clerk [William Chamberlin] be Directed to receive subscrip-
tions to the amount of three Hundred Pounds. And that each person be holden to pay
the sum by him subscribed when the sum of 300 Pounds shall be subscribed in the whole.
And also receive subscriptions for a Court House if the Grant shall be obtained.

"3d. Voted That Jonathan Ware, Wm. Chamberlin and Wm. Buckminster be a
Committee to draft a Memorial to be presented to the Legislature for the Purpose of
obtaining a grant of the County Grammar School."

General Chamberlain did not forget his boyhood's desire for the best education
■the country could offer, and threw his influence for the school in preference
to the court-house and prison, notwithstanding the fact that as a judge of the
county he would have a drive of six miles to the court-house in Danville. On
the first Friday in October the town accepted the memorial drawn by this
committee of three, and authorized William Chamberlin, the Town's Repre-
sentative, to present it to the Legislature. It agreed to pay the salary of a
preceptor for three years, and to relinquish to the County Grammar School,
if located in Peacham, the lot reserved by the Charter of the Town for the
British missionary society, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in
Foreign Parts. General Chamberlin carried the memorial to the Legislature,
and Oct. 28, 1 795, secured the passage of an act locating the Caledonia County
Grammar School in Peacham. Eight days before, Oct. 20, an act had been


passed appointing a committee, "to Determine the Place for erecting the County
Buildings in the County of Caledonia". This committee located them June
1 6, 1796, in the adjoining town of Danville, nearer the geographical center of
the county. (Records of the Governor and Council of Vt., iv. 94, 96; Journal
of the General Assembly of Vermont, 1796, p. 30.) Peacham retains to-day
its endowed school, but the county seat has been removed eight miles further
away to St. Johnsbury.

The act incorporating the school named nine trustees, leading men in
their respective towns, William Chamberlain alone living in Peacham ; and
appointed the first meeting of the Board of Trustees at his house on the third
Tuesday of November, 1795. At this first meeting, Alexander Harvey, who
represented the adjoining town of Barnet in the Legislature, and had many
years before served as colonel of the regiment of militia of this region, was
chosen President of the Board of Trustees and General Chamberlin, Secre-
tary. Dec. 2, the town voted that, "a Committee consisting of John W.
Chandler, Wm. Chamberlin, R'n Blanchard, Jonathan Ware, Abiel Blanchard,
Jonathan Elkins, Jr., Jacob Guy & Abel Blanchard, be appointed to wait on
the Trustees and express their wishes with respect to the place for erecting
the County Grammar School House." The question seems to have been
promptly settled by the choice of a site half a mile further from General
Chamberlin's house to the east than the stake struck for the meeting-house in
179 1, a somewhat bleak location on what has since been known as Academy
Hill. December 23, a building of two stories, forty feet long by thirty feet
wide, was decided upon, and the Board of Trustees and the Town agreed
upon General Chamberlin and Captain Jonathan Elkins as a committee to
superintend the building operations. General Chamberlin was also appointed,
with three trustees from three adjoining towns, to devise, adopt and execute
the best method of securing to the institution the profits of the lands and
other property of the school. Caledonia County was then more extensive
than now, and the school received as its endowment lands in Montpelier, St.
Andrews (now Plainfield), Calais, Cabot, Marshfield, and Woodbury, as well
as in the several towns now included in the county. It was decided to lease
the lands on long or perpetual leases. Possibly the leasing of the lands in
Hopkinton, Mass. (where General Chamberlin spent his boyhood) for the
benefit of Harvard College by the Trustees of Edward Hopkins' estate sug-
gested this. In November, 1796, he and one other trustee were appointed
to secure a preceptor and regulate the school. He journeyed in person to
Concord, N. H., to hire the first principal, Ezra Carter, a great-grandson of
Captain Ebenezer Eastman, a graduate of Dartmouth College, and so well
beloved that both General Chamberlin and Rev. Leonard Worcester, the first
pastor of Peacham, named a son Ezra Carter. The Board of Trustees met
annually at William Chamberlin's house as long as he lived. He was Secre-


tary of the Board from 1795 to 1812, and President from 1813 until his death
in 1828. ("looth Anniversary of Caledonia Co. Grammar School", pp. VII,
41 ; MSS. records of the Trustees. See also "Rec. of Gov. and Council of
Vt.", VI. 53, 54, 58-)

Oliver Johnson, the well-known anti-slavery leader, said in 187 1 : — "Two
things earl}^ gave Peacham an honorable pre-eminence among the towns in
this part of the State. The first was the settlement of a minister of rare
ability, catholicity, and worth ; a man, taking him for all in all, such as is not
often found in the pulpit of a small frontier town. The second was the estab-
lishment here of the Caledonia County Grammar School ; an institution which
has been of unspeakable value to each successive generation of the boys and
girls of the town, to say nothing of the hundreds who came from other places
to avail themselves of its advantages. * * * The effect of such a ministry
and such a school was seen in the high standard of morals that prevailed
here, in a thirst for knowledge on the part of the young, and in the fixed
habit on the part of the people of attending public worship. I doubt if there
is another town in the whole State, in which, fifty or sixty years ago, there
was so small a fraction of the inhabitants who did not go to meeting on Sun-
day as there was in Peacham." (Addresses delivered at the Re-Opening of
the Congregational Church in Peacham, Vt., Sept. 28, 187 1. Publ. Montpe-
lier 1872, p. 34.) Rev. Leonard Worcester, the first minister of the Church
in Peacham, said: "The establishment of a County Grammar School here was
pretty early sought for and obtained, on terms which were honorable to the
inhabitants generally ; as, while several individuals made very considerable
donations, the town at large subjected itself to no little expense to secure the
grant. That this institution has been of inestimable value to this people, and
to all the region round about * * * is beyond all question. No less than
twenty-six young men, from among the inhabitants of this town, have obtained
a college education, having been prepared to enter college in this institution.
Six of these are, or have been, favorably known as preachers of the gospel ;
one of whom is now a missionary among the Cherokee Indians, and another
in the Sandwich Islands." Twelve, he adds, after completing the course of
instruction in this school, studied medicine without pursuing a college course.
This was written in 1839. (Ibid, p. 51.) Until the building of the railways,
Peacham, a hilltown, was one of the most prosperous in the county. The
market road from Boston to Montreal passed through Newbury and Peacham.
To-day the population is less than it was in 1800, when Peacham was next to
Danville the most populous town in the county. According to the General
List of the State of Vermont in 18 13, the town ranked third in Caledonia
County in the number of polls (Danville, Barnet, Peacham, Wheelock) ; fourth
in the number of acres of improved land (Danville, Barnet, Ryegate, Peacham,
Lyndon); second in the number of its houses (Danville, Peacham, Barnet);


second in the value of its mills (Barnet, Peacham, Ikirke, Wheelock); second
in its tax on mechanics (Danville, Peacham); third in the number and value
of its oxen and other cattle, and of its horses ; fourth in luxuries (pleasure-
carriages, clocks, watches); third in its total assessment (Danville, Barnet,
Peacham, Ryegate). In 1832 the number of names on the church roll was
370, "which, I think", Rev. Leonard Worcester added, "was the largest num-
ber then belonging to any one church in this state, excepting that of Middle-
bury." (Ibid, pp. 59, 60.)

William Chamberlain, Captain Elkins and John W. Chandler were chosen
a committee to "obtain subscriptions for the printing a Paper at Peacham".
As a result the Green Mountain Patriot was published in Peacham by Samuel
Goss and Amos Farley from 1798 to 1807, when it was removed to Montpe-
lier, Vt. Several times William Chamberlin served on a committee to secure
as preachers candidates for the pastorate of the church, and he was appointed
on many other committees of the Town. Rev. Asaph Boutelle wrote to the
"Gazetteer of Vermont" that General Chamberlin "ran lines both for land and

October 24, 1786, William Chamberlain was commissioned a Justice of
the Peace for Orange County by Governor Thomas Chittenden. In 1795 he
was chosen an Assistant Judge for Orange County. November 5, 1792, an act
had been passed for the division of Orange County, appointing the years 1795
and 1796 for the reorganization. October 19, 1796, William Chamberlin w^as
chosen the first Chief Judge of Caledonia County, with Benjamin Sias and
David Wing as Assistant Judges. A little later, Novembers, 1796, an act
was passed fixing the times for holding the Supreme and County courts in
Caledonia County. (Records of Gov. & Council of Vt., iv. 15, 2,2,, 36, 94,
loi, 123; Journal of the General Assembly of 1796, pp. 30, 45, 136, 167,
184.) He held this office from 1796 until elected to Congress in 1803.

He represented Peacham in the Constitutional Convention held at Ben-
nington in 1 79 1, and signed the ratification of the Constitution of the United
States on January 10, 1791. (Records of Governor and Council of Vermont,

His interest in military affairs during this period of his life is evinced by
the following commissions in the possession of his descendants : Major,
October 7, 1787, in the 2d Regiment, 5th Brigade (Alexander Harvey,
Colonel); Lieutenant Colonel in the same regiment April 29, 1791 ; Lieuten-
ant Colonel Commandant of the same regiment January i, 1794 (a reorganiz-
ation makes this regiment in the 2d Brigade instead of in the 5th Brigade);
Brigadier General of the 2d Brigade in the 4th Division of the Militia October
20, 1794; Brigadier General of the 3d Brigade in the 4th Division of the
Militia October 29, 1798 ; (he took the oath of office November 8th); Major
General of the 4th Division October, 1799. He resigned from the militia


October 27, 1799, in favor of Brigadier General Zebina Curtiss, as he found
that some officers felt that General Curtiss was the senior Brigadier General,
and should have been promoted. (Records of Governor and Council of Ver-
mont, IV, 239.) The militia at this time consisted of all able bodied men
from sixteen to forty-five years of age. It was customary for companies to
elect their captains and lower officers ; for the captains and subalterns to
choose the field officers ; and for the Governor and Assembly to elect the
eight Brigadier Generals and the four Major Generals. It is interesting to
note that his promotion in 1794 came at a time when there was danger of war
with England, because of her interference with American commerce during
the war then raging between France and England. The news of this war
arrived in America in April, 1793. In May, 1794, Congress ordered Vermont
to have 2,139 niilitia ready to march at a moment's warning, and the danger
did not pass until the ratification of Jay's Treaty with England in 1795.
There was danger of war when his next commission was signed in 1798. In
October of that year, a few days before this commission, he had voted as a
member of the Council for the address to President Adams, approving his
administration in general and especially his course toward France. This was
a few months subsequent to the famous X. Y. Z. disclosures and the suspen-
sion of intercourse with France. (Records of the Governor and Council of
Vermont, IV, 187, 201, 237, 239, 438, 471-484, 492 ; J. B. McMaster, Hist,
of People of U. S., ii, 168-170, 212-282, 374-384, 432, etc.)

A member of the General Assembly of Vermont in 1785 and from 1787
to 1796, William Chamberlin was a member of the Governor's Council from
1796 until his election to Congress in 1803. Before his election to the
Council, he had frequently served on joint committees of the Assembly
and Council, serving on four for instance in 1794. (Records of Governor and
Council of Vermont, IV, 69, 74, 76.) The Governor's Council consisted of
the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and twelve Councillors, all elected
on the same day, and by the State at large. He was active in the Council,
serving frequently on joint committees of the Assembly and Council. (See
Records of Governor and Council of Vermont, iv, no, 115, 125, 129, 138,
141, 143, 148, 149, 152, 153, 181, 184, 196, 198, 220, 221, 224, 230, 232,
etc.) He served on many important joint committees, as those to consider
amending the laws, to consider amending the judiciary system, on the militia,
and on the University of Vermont. (Ibid, 308, 335, 339, 340, 341, 349, 351,
etc.) In i8oo he was a Presidential elector. (Ibid, iv, 27S.)

General Chamberlin was a Member of Congress from October 17, 1803,
to March 3, 1805. It was a long journey to Washington over rough roads,
yet he and the three other Representatives from Vermont were present on the
opening day of each session. He served for both sessions on the Com-
mittee of Claims, one of the five Standing Committees of the House. He


was a Federalist, and seems to have voted with his party on the important
questions of the day. He was defeated for reelection by James Fiske,
Republican. The election was a very close one. January 9, 1805, W. B.
Banister wrote from Caledonia County to General Chamberlin in Washington
that neither candidate had received a majority of all the votes cast, and that
a second election would be necessary. (MSS. letter.)

Returning from Washington he represented Peacham in the General
Assembly of Vermont in 1805 and 1808. He represented Caledonia County
on the joint committee of ten from the Assembly and two from the Council
that located the seat of government at Montpelier in the autumn of 1805.
(Records of Governor and Council of Vermont, v, 66, 426, 427.) Previously
to this time the Legislature of Vermont had been migratory. Montpelier was
in the southwest corner of Caledonia County (until 18 10), about twenty-five
miles from Peacham. It was within ten miles of the geographical center of
the state, and the lines of travel passed through it in all directions.

General Chamberlin was elected to the Eleventh Congress, receiving a
majority of 169 votes over James Fiske. The four Representatives from Ver-
mont were present, May 22, 1809, on the opening day of the first session, which
lasted until June 28. The appointments assigned to Vermont on the Stand-
ing Committees were given to the two Representatives who had served in the
preceding Congress, — Martin Chittenden, Federalist (M. C. 1803-1813), and
Samuel Shaw, Republican (M. C. 1808-18 13). General Chamberlin was
appointed on the Select Committee of seven to whom that part of the Presi-
dent's message relating to "the fortification of our seaport towns", was
referred on May 26. This was an important committee appointment, as war
was then in progress between England and France, and it was feared that
America would become involved through the ill feeling aroused by the search
of American ships on the high seas and the impressment of American sea-
men. On May 27, the House of Representatives, at the request of the
Committee, called on the President for information from the Secretary of
War, which was received June 6. On June 7, a bill was reported from this
committee making an appropriation to complete fortifications already com-
menced at the seaports, etc., and also for fortifications on the northern and
western frontiers. On the following day a bill was received from the Senate
appropriating $750,000 for these same purposes, and this bill was passed the
following day, William Chamberlin voting against reducing the appropriation
and for the bill. Measures were moving rapidly at this extra session of Con-
gress, but he wished the pace accelerated as he voted June 7 with the minor-
ity (17 to 104) who wished all petitions of a private nature excluded for the
remainder of that session. On June 6 also he voted with a minority (59 to
60), who wished instructions given to the committee on that part of the Presi-
dent's Message referring to foreign affairs directing them to reduce to one


act all provisions relating to embargo, non-intercourse, etc. On June 7 he
voted for a resolution directing the Secretary of the Treasury to report to the
House at the next session a plan for protecting and fostering manufactures,
with a statement of the manufacturing establishments begun, and such other
statistics and facts as would give a general view of manufactures throughout
the United States. But it will not be possible to follow his Congressional
career in this detail. The second session lasted from Nov. 27, 1809, to May
1, 1 810. He was appointed December i on the Select Committee of nine to
whom was referred that part of the President's message concerning the rela-
tions of the United States with foreign nations, and he served on sundry
other select committees during the session. On December 7, he wrote his
wife that he arrived in Washington November 25, and was amidst congenial
surroundings in a boarding house with Messrs. Pickering, Hillhouse and
Hubbard. Surely at this point a reminder that he was a Federalist, and sup-
ported Federalist measures is not necessary. In October, 18 10, he was
defeated for reelection by James Fiske, Republican. The Governor and both
branches of the Legislature were Republican that year, and only one Feder-
alist was reelected to Congress, Martin Chittenden, Member of Congress from
1803 to 1813, who won his seat by a majority of twelve votes, it was said,
{^Vermont Republica7i, October 22, 18 10.) Peacham and Barnet were strongly
Federalist, but Danville was Republican and supported a Republican news-
paper. The North Star. General Chamberlin and the other Federalist mem-
bers from Vermont arrived two days late for the third session of this
Congress, taking their seats December 5, just in time to hear the President's
message read. He represented Vermont on the Select Committee of seven-
teen appointed to consider "that part of the President's message in regard to
the militia". He represented Vermont, also, on the Select Committee
appointed December 18, 18 10, to consider the petition of the stockholders of
the Bank of the United States praying the renewal of their charter. This
committee introduced a bill "continuing for a further time the Charter of the
Bank of the United States". After several days of debate this bill was post-
poned indefinitely on January 24, 1911, by a vote of 65 to 64, General Cham-
berlin voting against this postponement.

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