New Hampshire Regions Secede to Join Vermont Republic

A coin from the Vermont Republic

For a while, during the early days of the United States, Vermont was an independent republic of sorts, though with aspirations for statehood. Some regions of neighboring New Hampshire felt more loyal to the Vermont Republic than to the confederation of United States, and expressed this by refusing to pay taxes to the latter.

Here is one piece of evidence of this tax resistance, in the form of a statement by the Selectmen of Swanzey, New Hampshire, issued on (excerpts):

That under the Present unhappy Situation of our affairs in this part of the State, when most in many and many in all the Towns have Revolted from under the Government and Jurisdiction of the State, bidding defiance to the Authority and Laws of the same; Absolutely Refusing to pay Taxes, or to contribute any thing in any way or manner towards Raising men for the Continental Army or Providing Supplies for the same — We find it Extreemly Difficult for us to Comply with the Requisitions of the State for altho’ the greatest part of the People in this Town Remain firm in their Allegiance to the state; Utterly averse to the late and present factious and Seditious conduct of a great (if not the greatest) part of the People in this Western part of the State, Yet our affairs are extreemly Embarrassed, for if Taxes are Assessed they cannot be Collected, as some will Refuse to pay, and if Constables or Collectors should Distrain Such Delinquents for their Rates, mobs would Arise, and perhaps the power of the State of Vermont would be employed for their protection—

This was still a problem in , when the Selectmen and Assessors of Swanzey sent another message, complaining that “some [Inhabitants] were delinquent Refusing to pay their State Tax, Occasioned principally by the Union of the Grants (so called) with Vermont” and that the government had therefore ordered Swanzey to make up the difference by further taxing those inhabitants who had complied.

…your petitioners think it very unjust to Assess Levy and Collect the aforesaid Sum of those Persons who paid their Tax in due Time and your Petitioners have no Warrant to Assess said Sum on those that were Delinquent, and dare not venture to Assess said Sum either on the whole or part of the Inhabitants, lest it should make great confusion, murmuring and Complaining among the People of Said Town…

In , the Selectmen’s exasperation rose to a delightful pitch:

[We] would undoubtedly Collected the whole [tax], had it not been for a number of Political Heriticks in this and Adjacent Towns, who by their Instigations and artful insinuations Shook the Allegiancy (of the ignorant and unprincipaled part of the community) from the State of New Hampshire and Attached them to the usurped State of Vermont and the Imbecillity of Government was so great at that Day that your Petitioners thought it not wise to compel or use Coercive measures with those who would not freely pay their proportion of Said tax, and Since the Energy of Government has increased, and this Town has been caled upon to pay Said Tax with a Doomage [penalty], the Selectmen have taken up the Matter, and finde it Difficult if not Impossable to make an Assessment for said Doomage in any way which will not blow up an unquenchable fire in this Town — for if we Should Assess it on the Delinquants only, who in Justice Ought to pay the Same we Should in so doing do injustice for a Number of said Delinquants are Removed out of this Town and consiquently out of the Reach of an Assessment: and should an Assessment be made on the whole Town, it would be to make the Righteous be as the Wicked which the Patriarch of the Hebrews Saith is far from the Almighty.

Curiously, today there is a secession movement by a community in Vermont — in the middle of Vermont, mind you — that wants to become a part of New Hampshire. The issue animating today’s secession movement? You won’t be surprised when I say “taxes.”

From the Spirit of the Times (“The American Gentleman’s Newspaper”) comes this wee tidbit:

G.A. Blarney, of Woburn, Mass., annually refuses to pay his taxes. He is locked up in jail, pays the tax under protest, and walks out a free man, until the next year rolls round. He enjoys the fun.

I haven’t been able to find out any more about Mr. Blarney or what his game was all about.