Building Communities 1820 -1860

May 1, 1824
The Vermont Anti-slavery Party forms in Middlebury.
June 28, 1825
The Marquis de Lafayette visited Montpelier on a triumphal journey commemorating his loyal support of the American Revolution fifty years before.  Lafayette was a French nobleman who put his fortune and his life at the service of George Washington and became one of our nation's heroes.
October 7, 1827
Abby Maria Hemenway, the compiler of the Vermont Historical Gazetteer, was born in Ludlow.  Hemenway had been a schoolteacher, but decided to ask "a reliable person in every town in Vermont" to write down all he or she could about the town's history.  She worked for thirty years and finally published four thick volumes.
October 5, 1829
Chester A. Arthur, the 21st president of the United States, was born in Fairfield, Vermont.  Arthur was vice-president under President Garfield.  When James Garfield was assassinated in 1881 Chester Arthur became president.  Arthur was said to have owned a huge wardrobe of more than sixty suits of clothes.
July 26, 1830
The rising waters of the New Haven River surround nineteen people at New Haven West Mills.  They are swept downstream and only five escape.
November 13, 1833
On this night Vermonters were treated to a great meteor shower.  A witness in Reading, Vermont, described it like this: The meteoric shower of November 13, 1833, was one of the most wonderful sights I ever witnessed.  The night was perfectly clear, and about ten o'clock the display began.  Thousands of meteors fell, some of them of dazzling brilliance.  The flashing was incessant, many of the same time falling in all directions.  Some were awakened from sleep by the glare, and the superstitious thought that the end of the world had come.
June 14, 1834
Isaac Fisher of Springfield receives a patent from the United States government for the invention of sandpaper.
November 22, 1837
After a rebellion of French Catholics in Lower Canada fails, its leader, Louis Joseph Papineau, and other rebels flee to Swanton, St. Albans, Highgate, and other northern Vermont towns.
December 26, 1837
Admiral George Dewey, the hero of Manila Bay, was born on State Street in Montpelier across from the Vermont State Capitol.  His victory over the Spanish fleet in 1898 made Admiral Dewey the most famous American of the day and he was welcomed home to Vermont with a huge celebration in October, 1899.

March 2, 1839
Mathematical prodigy Zerah Colburn died at his birthplace in Cabot at the age of thirty-four.  Zerah amazed his family when he was five years old by adding and multiplying long numbers in his head.  Zerah spent ten years touring France and England, exhibiting his remarkable ability.
April 21, 1844
Preacher William Miller and his followers predict that the world will come to an end on this day.  Miller urges people to give away all they own and to devote themselves to prayer.
May 11, 1846
Henry Denison, legal advisor to several Japanese emperors, is born on this day in Guilford.
April 1, 1848
The Burlington Free Press becomes the first daily newspaper published in Vermont.
December 18, 1849
The first train arrives in Burlington via the new Rutland Railroad, connecting the city with Boston and the rest of the country.  Within the next forty years, the railroad helped make Burlington the third largest lumber port in North America.
January 6, 1857
Vermont's second State House was destroyed by fire.  A stove, left burning all night to warm the building for a special session of the General Assembly the next morning, became so hot that it ignited the timbers near it.

October 20, 1859
John Dewey, educator, philosopher, and reformer, was born in Burlington.  Dewey believed that children learn best by doing.  He changed the way school was taught in America and around the world.
December 8, 1859
Reverend Joshua Young of Burlington, an abolitionist, angers his congregation by crossing Lake Champlain to preach at the funeral of John Brown in New York State.  Brown had started a revolt to free southern slaves, but had been caught and hanged by the United States government.

Do you know of another important event in Vermont history that should be on this list?  Email the date and the details to

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