The Second Vermont Republic was a short-lived state in North America, which arose during the Vermont War of Independence against the the Kingdom of New England. At its height, it controlled over 60% of Vermont, and claimed sovereignty over the rest of the state. However, by 1999 it was conquered and reclaimed by New England.
Of all the provinces of New England, Vermont was the most disinclined to remain a member of the federation; it had already been an independent state (the First Vermont Republic) from 1777 to 1791, and a strong independent spirit remained from that time. After New York left New England in 1933, Vermont made moves to similarly secede, but these were quickly quashed by increased federal funding. The only major secessionist incident was in 1965 in the Winter Rising, when Vermont radicals seized the State House and held all inside, including the governor of Vermont, hostage, in order to force independence. The incident was quickly put down by the New England government, who used it as an pretext to end direct gubernatorial elections, to reduce provincial independence. For this reason, many Vermonters regard the Winter Rising as being set up by the New England government.
The Winter Rising served as a trigger for the so-called Green Mountain Movement, a cultural movement that achieved widespread popularity in Vermont throughout the 1970s and 1980s. This counter-culture movement was inspired by the ideologies of socialism and Vermont nationalism, and sparked off a plethora of art, literature and music in support of a socialist Vermont. This radicalisation of the populace and disillusionment with New England laid the groundwork for the Vermont Revolution.
The Second Vermont Republic's modern-day roots lie in the North Eastern portion of the North American War, during which anti-New England sentiment arose in Vermont over the invasion of the Republic of New York, due to its cultural proximity to New York. In March 1997, the Liberation Army of Vermont was formed by Howard Dean, a former Whig politician who was expelled for voicing anti-New England sentiments.
The Liberation Army of Vermont began a series of guerrilla attacks on New England military and political facilities, particularly in south-western Vermont. Its successes triggered a rise in nationalist sentiment in Vermont, which culminated in the beginning of secessionist protests in August 1997. During this time, LAV cells began to be formed in all major towns and cities. It also began bombings outside Vermont, the most infamous example of which was the bombing of the Kennedy Islands Legislature on November 5, 1997. This bombing brought the struggle of the Vermont seperatists to global attention, and brought them both praise and censure.
Finally, on January 3, 1998, the Vermont Revolution began, with attempts by urban cells to seize control of over 70 towns and cities. Although many of these attempts failed, particularly in eastern and northern Vermont, by the end of January over 60% of the state had fallen. On 22 January, Montpelier fell to the LAV, forcing the resignation of Governor Jim Douglas. General Howard Dean proclaimed himself President of the independent Second Vermont Republic, and elections were held on February 4.
The republic's early success was short-lived; although it had support from Quebec and New York, the Liberation Army of Vermont lacked the military resources to preserve its borders against the technologically superior New England forces. In the long term, New England's blockade ensured that it lacked the capability to fend off enemy invasion.
Within the Second Vermont Republic, the Dean administration began widespread socialist reforms. A land reform bill, which allowed the redistribution of land by the government, was passed on July 4. As well, bills providing universal health care and tertiary education were passed. More controversially, however, the government retained widespread powers to deal with dissent; over 500 people were imprisoned for collaboration with New England. Reports of this time speak of LAV troops attacking and destroying villages known for New England links, although this was denied by President Dean.
The pivotal battle of the war was the Battle of Burlington. On September 9, a force of 8000 LAV troops, New York soldiers and ships and Quebecois mercenaries advanced on Burlington, which was defended by German and New England forces. New York naval forces engaged German forces on Lake Champlain, while LAV forces advanced through the town, aided by widespread revolt by residents. The advancing forces were quickly cut off from reinforcement by German tanks, cutting LAV reinforcements off five miles from the town. A series of napalm bombing raids destroyed much of the LAV force, and the town was quickly retaken by New England forces. Over 5 000 LAV soldiers perished in the fighting, with up to 5 000 civilian casualties. The battle effectively crippled Vermont's military capabilities, leaving it incapable of resisting New England invasion. Although the New York war turned against New England at this time, with the creation of the People's Republic of Quebec to aid New York, Vermont remained incapable of stopping the New England advance.
Following the Battle of Burlington, New England began a major offensive into Vermont, retaking much of the southern half of the state within three months. The retreating Vermont forces lead a guerrilla, 'scorched earth' campaign against the advancing New England forces. Although this managed to slow the enemy down considerably, and even managed to force them into retreat in some cases, it was unable to stop their advance. On March 3, 1999, Bennington fell to New England forces after five days of street to street fighting. On March 4, local council elections saw a large swing against Dean's Socialist Party, as part of a greater loss of confidence in the Second Vermont Republic. Many of the newly elected counselors spoke for the need for peace with New England, leading to the defection of many towns to New England.
By August, Montpelier, the last town loyal to the Second Vermont Republic, was surrounded. On 11 August, New England troops invaded the town, killing President Dean and ending the Second Vermont Republic.
The rump of the Liberation Army of Vermont continued attacking New England forces in the Green Mountains for the next two years, but enjoyed little success. On 3 March 2001, the last cell of Liberation Army of Vermont was destroyed by New England bombers, and the revolt was crushed.
Vermont was governed under the presidential system, with a directly elected president separate from the legislature. Legislative functions were held by the unicameral Vermont House of Representatives (also known as the Vermont General Assembly).
Only one election was held in the Republic of Vermont, on the 4th of February, 1998. In this election, President Dean was re-elected unopposed, due to the New England Whig Party's boycott of the election and the lack of other organised opposition until after the election. In the House election, political alliances were fluid, and individual candidates ran on pro or anti-administration lines. After the election, these alliances solidified into parties during the debate over the Nationalisation Bill, with the Socialist Party of Vermont supporting Dean and the Liberal Party of Vermont opposing him. The polarising figure of Howard Dean, and especially his ideology, proved the major partisan divide during the life of the Second Vermont Republic. In many ways, the Vermont party system resembled that of the early United States, with pro and anti-administration factions solidifying into parties based on levels of state control.
Local elections were also held in the Second Vermont Republic; the elections of March 5 1998 resulted in a large victory for pro-Dean candidates, which prompted the formation of the Socialist Party to serve as an electoral vehicle for socialist candidates. Conversely, the elections of 4 March 1999 resulted in a large swing to the Liberal Party, in response to dissatisfaction with the Dean administration in light of recent military defeats. This loss of confidence is often attributed to one of the factors that led to the defeat of the Second Vermont Republic.
The politics of the Second Vermont Republic ran generally along socialist lines, although its short life prevented any major reforms. A land reform bill, however, which allowed the redistribution of land by the government to help the needy, was passed on July 4, proving highly controversial. As well, bills were passed to ensure universal health care and removing subsidies from private schools.
The Second Vermont Republic was primarily woodland, with agriculture a major source of income. In areas under SVR control, only 30% of the population lived in urban areas. Dairy farming was the primary industry in the Second Vermont Republic. Over 70% of soldiers in the Liberation Army of Vermont were farmers, and Vermont's agriculture allowed it to withstand New England's economic blockade. During the blockade, most equipment travelled across the Appalachian Trail through Maine into New York, allowing small groups to evade New England control. Woodland cover allowed guerrilla groups to move against New England forces with impunity.
Despite foreign aid, the Second Vermont Republic remained desperately poor; the pressure of the blockade forced most Vermonters within the republic into subsistence farming. As well, the campaign against New England took its toll on the environment; large quantities of Agent Orange, a German derivative of dioxin that destroyed much of the region's forest cover, as well as many local ecosystems.
The Liberation Army of Vermont (LAV) was formed to fight against the Kingdom of New England by Howard Dean on March 15, 1998. The LAV waged a nine-month terror campaign against New England authorities in Vermont, and succeeding in rallying thousands of Vermont citizens to their cause. On January 3, LAV resistance cells across the state launched an uprising which eventually secured 60% of the state, with 20% more an active battleground between the LAV and the New England Defence Force. After the proclamation of the Second Vermont Republic, the LAV was incorporated into the armed forces of Vermont.
For the next nine months, the LAV fought against New England forces to preserve Vermont's borders, and launched guerrilla attacks across Vermont that left hundreds of New England soldiers dead. Unfortunately, Vermont suffered from a number of military disadvantages; while Vermont was a nation of poor, untrained farmers, New England had a large, experienced, technologically superior army. In ordinary circumstances, the Second Vermont Republic would probably have fallen much sooner; the fact that it survived for 19 months can be largely attributed to New England's commitments on the New York front. As it was, though, Vermont did not have the military capability to stop the New England advance in the long term.
The turning point came during the Battle of Burlington; 8000 LAV, New York and Quebecois mercenary soldiers attempted to take the city, but were repulsed by a joint New England-German offensive. Over 5000 LAV soldiers, nearly one third of the army, were killed in the attack.
For the next eleven months, the LAV waged a guerrilla war against the advancing New England forces, and succeeding in slowing their advance. However, they were unable to prevent the fall of Montpelier. After the conquest of the Republic, the LAV continued their armed resistance in the Green Mountains, but without any major success due to a lack of public support. The last active LAV cell was destroyed in a bombing raid on March 3, 2001.
During its short life, the Second Vermont Republic was recognised by only three states, the Republic of Quebec, the People's Republic of Quebec (a successor state to the secessionist Republic of Quebec) and New York. As both Quebecois states were themselves unrecognised and New York's government were currently in exile from their capital of New York City, this effectively meant that Vermont's sovereignty was unrecognised by most of the world. A letter from King Charles III of the United Kingdom to Howard Dean referred to him as 'the Honorable President Howard Dean', a gesture seen by some as recognition by the United Kingdom. However, the orthodox view is that Charles III was simply showing politeness to an ally of British-supported New York.
After the Vermont Revolution, New England refused to recognise the Second Vermont Republic, instead referring to them as 'enemy combatants'. Their control over the areas comprising the Second Vermont Republic went unrecognised. After Jim Douglas was forced to resign as Governor of Vermont by LAV combatants, General Robert Newman (later Lord Newman of Maine) of the New England Defence Force was appointed as military governor of Vermont, and given extensive powers. Newman headed the state government from Burlington, even though his authority covered less than 40% of the state. After the fall of Montpelier, Newman moved his administration into the Vermont State House. His military government over the state ended in 2002, when John Baldacci of the New England Whig Party was appointed as the new governor of Vermont.
Although the Second Vermont Republic was relatively shortlived, it had wide-reaching implications. The drain on men and logistics caused by the revolt to New England allowed New York to launch a counterattack into Connecticut in 1999, thus playing a pivotal role in changing the course of the war. The relatively developed political structure of Vermont attracted attention across America, with some comparing its struggle against an oppressive monarchy to that of the early United States. Its socialist government attracted both praise and censure from around the world, with vocal support from 1998 Pacifican presidential candidate Gary Locke, who praised Dean's economic policies. At the same time, Prime Minister of Pacifica Ralph Nader attacked the regime's authoritarian tendencies. The Vermont separatists gained some support from within New England, with outspoken independent member of the New England Parliament Angus King publically vouching support to the right to secession. In general, however, the Second Vermont Republic was condemned within New England, as a totalitarian regime intent on the destruction of New England unity.
The Second Vermont Republic also had a notable cultural impact, due in part to Vermonter Frank Miller's sequential art book The Green Knight Returns, which sparked the cultural movement known as the Comic Book Revolution. Vermont separatism attracted widespread support amongst social liberals across the many nations of America, with Howard Dean becoming elevated to the status of a cult hero amongst many young people.
Within Vermont, the Republic's legacy has been mixed; although it attracted large amounts of initial support, a series of damaging defeats in 1999 led to an increasing desire for reunification with New England, as indicated by the local council elections of March 5 1999, which saw a large swing to the anti-administration Liberal Party. The widescale economic collapse of Vermont and the subsequent depression have made the province dependant on New England aid. As such, a future secession is unlikely, with a recent poll showing that only 25% of the population support a unilateral secession, with only 40% supporting secession in general. As New England have publicly ruled out any talk of a referendum on the status of Vermont, this makes a future revolt unlikely.