Monday, February 28, 2011

Maverick Media: Guide for Visitors

WELCOME TO MAVERICK MEDIA, an interactive, online resource for news, analysis and informed opinion. More than 400 articles and comments, plus unique video and audio, are posted here, including chapters of works in progress about media, politics and life in the US over the last half century. The goal is to offer a larger context for understanding the evolution of culture and society, along with problems confronting progressive movements.
Recent Articles

-->Mission Improbable: Revisiting 9/11
Scared Socialist (or, How Deregulation Trashed the US Economy and Government Intervention Became the Only Way Out)
Media, Democracy & the Post-Modern Age
The Oil Spill: Accident or Cyber Attack? Blog Post * Toward Freedom
Obama: Myths & Realities Part One Part Two Part Three
Below you will find a Content Guide providing access to more articles and videos, along with other recommended material. Using the links will take you to specific articles, major works, or special features. At the foot of the site you’ll find an up-to-the minute, rotating Alternative News crawl. On the Sidebar are more special features, a photo gallery, plus links to recordings, new videos, recommended websites, and links to Maverick Media books, documentaries, and videos. Click Subscribe Here for notification of new posts. Search for any reference via the search option, top left. Comments are welcome in response to any article, and reviewed before posting within 24 hours.

As noted in the first article posted on this site, “corporate media's handling of the news has become increasingly unreliable over the years. In fact, mainstream journalists find it difficult, if not dangerous, to cover stories that do not fit neatly into what is known as the Washington Consensus. Meanwhile, corporations have developed sophisticated strategies to promote the stories they want to see, and prevent others from being aired or published. The result is perception management, a highly effective form of social engineering.”

That’s why alternative sources are important: they help people to challenge the knowledge monopoly of elites. Maverick Media is part of that challenge.
Greg Guma
Editor and Writer

Content Guide

PLANET PACIFICA: An Inside Story An examination of the original listener-supported network and challenges facing independent media in an age of deception and decline in the credibility of journalism
* DANGEROUS WORDS: A Maverick Memoir Education of an Outsider in the 1960s * Fragile Paradise: A Vermont Memoir * Prelude to a Revolution: Vermont before the People’s Republic, Haiti under Baby Doc, and how the FBI manufactured a terrorist scare
PRISONERS OF THE REAL: An Odyssey Incorporating insights from linguistics, psychology, physics, literature, philosophy and management science, Prisoners of the Real examines the cost of society’s preoccupation with certainty and order, and opens the door to a new vision of freedom and cooperation – Dionysian leadership.

-->VERMONT & THE PROGRESSIVE PARADOX This eight-part essay looks at the movement that began with the election of Bernie Sanders on March 3, 1981 and subsequently changed the face of Vermont politics.THE AFTERLIFE & THE ROOTS OF THEOSOPHY A four-part essay discussing various theories about ghosts and the afterlife, and offering excerpts from my novel, Spirits of Desire.
PRESIDENTIAL DEATH MATCH: Fatal Distractions Managing Perceptions on the Campaign Trail (2000-2008)
LABOR & THE FIRST RED SCARE Unions are portrayed today as just another special interest group. Yet the true, largely ignored early history of the labor movement tells a very different story.
TALES FROM THE COVERT CRYPT A three-part series covering covert activities in Afghanistan, Congo, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Chile and Georgia, plus the roles of Kissinger and Brzezinski in managing misdirection*
CONVENTION WATCH 2008 News, daily highlights, videos, history, and the first US “third party”
MAVERICK NEWS (text and audio versions)
Breaking Out of the Empire Box
Obama on Brzezinski: Trilateral Redux
Remembering Hiroshima: How & Why
For more videos, see Convention Watch 2008, Maverick News & Presidential Death Match
VIDEO FEATURE: The New World Order - Hidden in Plain Sight

MLK’s Life & Death: Facing Untold Stories
Nonviolence & the Road to Independence
Also See: Planet Pacifica
Michael Parenti: Dubious Design Part One Part Two

Saddam Sans Mustache (2004)
Executing Justice: Vermont’s Death Penalty Debate (2005)
Outsourcing Defense (2004)

Material is also organized by topic. The Topic List currently includes: Conventions, Democracy, Economics, Elections, Germany, Haiti, Independent Media, Labor, McCain, Media Analysis, Nonviolence, Obama, Pacifica History, Pacifica News, Perception Management, Satire, Theory, Vermont, War and Peace, and Weekly News. Type the word or phrase into Search to see every article on the topic. Thanks to the various websites and organizations that have also published my work via the Internet, including Common Dreams, ZNet, Countercurrents, Toward Freedom, Alternet, UPI, Third World Traveler, Buzzflash, Reclaim the Media, Media Channel, Second Vermont Republic, Pacificana, Pacifica Radio Waves, Vermont Guardian, and many more.
Keep in touch with Maverick Media for updates, essays and videos on politics, perception management, and alternative media.

Friday, February 11, 2011


2/11/11, PART TWO

This is Maverick Media’s Rebel News Round Up,* broadcast live at approximately 11:30 a.m. Friday on WOMM (105.9-FM/LP – The Radiator) in Burlington.

In Part One: Endangered shellfish, death of a detainee, Tea Party developments, creationist
nation, New Orleans demographics and Big Brother in Chicago, and an immigration video game.

Live Stream:

Last Monday night Burlington’s City Hall was packed, mainly with people upset about a proposed agreement between the city and military contractor Lockheed Martin. After more than an hour of brief, informed and sometimes moving public comments – all critical of the deal – the City Council took up a resolution by Progressive Emma Mulvaney-Stanak that said the project should be put on hold until more information is provided and a public hearing is held.

Sensing an opening to go after Mayor Bob Kiss, Ed Adrian proposed an amendment that would have killed the deal outright. But some on the Council didn’t want to completely close the door on Lockheed yet. Adrian’s amendment failed in a 7-7 tie. The original resolution, which does criticize the corporation but mainly focuses on climate change work, passed easily.

Seven Days reporter Ken Picard has published a cover story on the overriding issues. Some of the new information he uncovered includes:

*The agreement between Lockheed and the city is largely due to the work of Jennifer Green, who heads the mayor’s sustainability action team. She says the idea behind the Carbon War Room, which led to meetings between Lockheed and Mayor Kiss, is to bring together cities with visionary ideas for reducing their carbon footprint and major financiers who want to make some money while doing good.

* Mayor Kiss envisions working with Lockheed on a variety of issues related to energy efficiency, like increasing the fuel efficiency of city-owned vehicles and capturing and reusing steam from the McNeil Generating Station.

*One of the economic benefits for Vermont in the development of the F-35, a Lockheed plane that may be stationed at Burlington Airport, is that some of the engines could be built at the General Electric plant in Rutland.

* Sandia Labs, a Lockheed subsidiary, is already working with UVM and Vermont’s energy companies, including Green Mountain Power, on cybersecurity and smart-grid development. It’s part of a $69 million federal matching grant that Vermont received to modernize and secure its energy infrastructure. UVM envisions a long-term relationship.

* In April 2010, UVM’s board of trustees adopted a recommendation from the university’s socially responsible investing group to divest any holdings in companies involved in the manufacture or distribution of cluster bombs or munitions that contain depleted uranium. Lockheed Martin does both.

* Bernie Sanders, who was instrumental in attracting Sandia to Vermont, declined to be interviewed by Picard about Sandia, the F-35s or the Lockheed Martin deal with Burlington. However, he insists that none of the work Sandia does in Vermont will involve weapons research or development.

This issue is far from being settled. One attorney for the city noted at the Council meeting that since the mayor had the authority to make the deal as the city’s executive officer, he isn’t bound by any decision made by the legislative branch – even if it declares the letter of cooperation signed by Mayor Kiss and Lockheed null and void. Work between Sandia, the University of Vermont and Vermont entrepreneurs will also proceed, unless students apply sufficient pressure to stop it. And the future of the F-35s, as well as whether any will end up at Burlington International Airport, has more to do with the Pentagon budget and public opposition than any influence Lockheed may exert. Stay Tuned.

For Ken Picard’s story, go to Up in Arms.


Here’s a story from Vermont’s past – more than two centuries past. The year is 1798 and the new United States is preparing for war. French armies are marching across Italy and Austria under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Meanwhile in Philadelphia, another kind of battle is underway in Congress Hall. Until now arguments in Congress have been limited to intense verbal exchanges. But when Roger Griswold, a Connecticut Federalist, attacks the war record of Matthew Lyon, a Vermont Republican, Lyon strides across the chamber and spits in his critic’s face. Griswold replies with his cane, and Lyon defends himself with fire tongs. They end up kicking each other viciously and rolling around on the floor until they’re separated.

It was the first physical fight in the national legislature, a sign of things to come. The Ethics Committee recommended censure, which also made Lyon the first Congressional Representative charged with such a violation. But House members rejected the proposal.

Jump to a year later. Rumors of war with France were spreading widely. Some said French troops were already moving on Florida and Louisiana. But rather than declare war, President Adams and Congress focused on enemies at home, passing the notorious Alien and Sedition Acts. The Alien Acts increased the period of residency required to qualify for citizenship and gave the President the power to deport any foreigner he considered dangerous. The Sedition Act made it a crime to stir people up or write anything criticizing the government, Congress, or the President.

The Acts violated free speech and were an obvious attempt to intimidate critics of US policy. And Matthew Lyon was high on Adams’ hit list. But what triggered the President into action was a letter to the editor in which Lyon not only said the US should stay out of war with France, but also that the Adams administration had forgotten the welfare of the people “in an unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation and selfish avarice.”

That was enough. Lyons was placed on trial in Vermont and convicted by a jury stacked with his political opponents. He was fined $1,000, sentenced to four months, and marched through the streets of Vergennes to jail. It was just a month before the next elections. But the Federalists had made a tactical error. They had targeted a popular figure. In apparent defiance, Vermont voters re-elected him in a landslide while he was still in jail.

The next year, 1800, was a president election year. In the race were Adams, Thomas Jefferson, New Yorker Aaron Burr and Charles Pinckney, a Federalist from South Carolina. It was close. Adams did well in New England, but lost in New York, the West and the South. Counting up the electoral votes from the country’s 16 states, Jefferson had 73 to 65 for Adams and 63 for Pinckney. But Burr also had 73 votes, which created a tie. Therefore, the outcome would be decided by the House of Representatives.

And who broke the tie? Matthew Lyon, the argumentative Vermonter, who had become known as “the spitting Lyon,” the man Adams had targeted a year before. Lyon decided that Jefferson rather than Burr, and certainly Adams, should be the next president.

Moral: Today’s so-called traitor may be tomorrow’s kingmaker. Also, don’t mess with Vermont.

RUMOR OF THE WEEK: Obama is taking over the Internet

FCC Commissioners voted last week to require TV and radio stations, cable systems and satellite TV providers to participate in a test that would have them receive and transmit a live code that includes an alert message by the president. As the latest version of the Nation’s Emergency Alert System becomes operational over the next few years, it complements other public alert and warning systems being developed, including FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System and a Commercial Mobile Alert System that will enable consumers to receive alerts through a variety of multi-media platforms on their smart-phones, blackberries and other mobile broadband devices.

As far as some people are concerned, this means that President Obama will be able to commandeer your smart phone any time he wants and for any reason the government deems necessary. If they want to scare us about another bomber – they’ve tried shoes and underwear, what’s next? – Obama will suddenly appear on your TV, no matter what you’re watching, or call your cell phone.

What’s the evidence? For one thing, communications company Alcatel-Lucent has announced that it is creating a Broadcast Message Center that will allow government agencies to send cell phone users information in the event of an emergency. Under the new Commercial Mobile Alert System, all phones could receive emergency alerts directly from the government.

According to the rumor, the government also wants to take control of Internet broadband. The evidence for this? Lisa Fowlkes, deputy chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the FCC, told Federal News Radio last Monday that the FCC is looking at how wireless broadband could enhance the Emergency Alert System. Does this mean the government will break into computers or wireless devices with alerts? We’ll see.

Homeland Security has unveiled a new, two-level terror alert system. It will provide alerts that are more specific to a threat and even recommend some actions. Certain alerts may be limited to a specific audience such as law enforcement.

But here’s the weirdest development. In December, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the expansion of the Department’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign to hundreds of Walmart stores across the country. It’s a new public-private partnership between DHS and Walmart – helping people to play a more active role in informing on each other.

So, there it is – a big business-government takeover of cyberspace. An excellent rumor – with legs. But worst yet, the emergence of an enormous new threat – the Walmart-Intelligence Complex.

Until next time, if you see something.... say whatever you want. Say Walmart sucks. Or say we’re millions, not thousands of years old. Or America needs some R & R. Or Save the Shellfish! It’s week 528, 3696 days since the country was taken hostage in a court-ordered coup. This is Greg Guma with the Rebel News Round Up for February 11, 2011 on WOMM-LP. From Burlington in the People’s Republic of Vermont.

* This is an edited transcript and does not include extemporaneous comments and last minute changes or additions.

Thursday, February 10, 2011



Four in 10 Americans believe that humans were created by God about 10,000 years ago, while only 16 percent of us think we developed over millions of years without divine assistance. The rest say we’ve been evolving for millions of years – but God certainly helped.

Actually it’s not as bad as it sounds. The number of people who accept the “creationist” idea has actually gone down. The high was 47 percent back in the 1990s. As you might suspect, people with less education are more like to be creationists.

Most Americans believe in some sort of God, so it’s no shock that about 8 in 10 think human origins involve some kind of divine intervention—either God created humans according to The Book of Genesis, or merely guided a process of evolution. But it’s nevertheless noteworthy that 40 percent embrace the first of these explanations since such attitudes have political and cultural consequences. For example, communities have been arguing for decades about which explanation of human origins should be offered in school textbooks and curricula.

Soon we could hear it debated bit time, by people who want to run the country – people like Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and other presidential wannabes. So, the question for this week is: What are the chances that the country will someday accept a true radical as its leader? I’m not talking about a leftist, of course, but rather someone who thinks science has a liberal bias and the Bible is a history book? Can it happen here?

This is Maverick Media’s Rebel News Round Up,* broadcast live at approximately 11:30 a.m. Friday on WOMM (105.9-FM/LP – The Radiator) in Burlington.

This Week’s Ten Big stories: Endangered shellfish, death of a detainee, Tea Party developments, creationist nation, New Orleans demographics and Big Brother in Chicago, an immigration video game, Burlington vs. Lockheed, a Great Moment in political payback history, and the rumor of the week.

Live Stream:



Here’s another addition to the list of creatures in jeopardy – shellfish. According to the Nature Conservancy, which has completed the first-ever comprehensive review of the state of the world's shellfish, the prognosis is basically awful. That’s a technical term.

Globally, about 85 percent of the world's oyster reefs have vanished. In other words, they’re functionally extinct. The main factors in the decline are – surprise! – destructive fishing practices, coastal over-development, and the effects of upstream activities like altered river flows, dams, poorly managed agriculture, and poor water quality.

Oysters are natural water filters and improve water quality. They are also natural coastal buffers, helping to protect shorelines and keep coastal wetlands intact. Basically, they protect coastal communities from storm surges and sea-level rise. So, that’s one more point for climate change.


Another casualty last week was Guantanamo detainee Awal Gul, a 48-year-old Afghan who died on Tuesday of an apparent heart attack. Gul was a father of 18 children and had been kept in a cage by the US for more than 9 years. In late 2001 he was captured in Afghanistan and brought to Gitmo. But he was never officially accused of a crime.

The US claimed he was a Taliban commander, but Gul insisted that he quit the Taliban a year before the 9/11 attack. As his lawyer put it, "he was disgusted by the Taliban's growing penchant for corruption and abuse." His death means that we’ll never know.

So, just to be clear, the US government’s detention policy is that it can impose a life sentence without bothering to prove that the person accused actually did anything wrong.


Here is a strange development. More than two dozen Republicans, some of them new members with Tea Party credentials, joined Democrats in opposing extension of parts of the Patriot Act. A measure to extend counterterrorism-based surveillance provisions of the Act failed in the House when the Republicans bucked their party to oppose the measure.

Three key provisions of the law are set to expire on Feb. 28 unless Congress reauthorizes them. One says the FBI can continue using roving wiretaps on surveillance targets; another allows the government to access “tangible items" like library records as part of surveillance; and the third, known as a "lone wolf" provision, allows surveillance of people who aren’t connected to an identified terrorist group.

“The Patriot Act represents the undermining of civil liberties," says Dennis Kucinich, one of the few Congressmen who consistently speaks out and keeps his eye on this issue. But the Republican House establishment says that he’s wrong and blame Democrats for denying “their own administration's request for key weapons in the war on terror." With a little help from the Tea Party.


The big Tea Party news this week is that Ron Paul may be on the verge of announcing another presidential run. What’s the evidence – aside from wishful thinking? The Texas Congressman will give a speech in Iowa at an event called “presidential lecture series” that features likely Oval Office candidates.

Jesse Benton, advisor to Paul’s Campaign for Liberty organization, confirmed that he is seriously considering another run. Given the likelihood that Sarah Palin will put her assault rifle in the race, it’s important to note that a new Rasmussen poll gives Paul a better chance of defeating Obama than the Mama Grizzly. Palin trails Obama by 11 percent in current approval ratings. Paul is only 9 points behind the President.

The conventional wisdom is that Obama’s second term is virtually guaranteed if the Republicans go with Palin. Of course, that kind of wisdom sometimes proves to be closer to an old wives tale – due respect to “old wives.”

Still, an even bigger surprise is possible. Ron Paul could end up running against his own son, Rand. Last week the freshman Senator from Kentucky dropped hints that he too might make a run for the White House, according to the Wall Street Journal. He admitted such a decision would be premature, yet also told ABC News that he would step up if nominated. He put it this way: “Come back and ask me in a few months.”

Given Rand’s aspirations and his father’s chance of beating Obama, maybe the Republican dream ticket for 2012 is a father/son combination. Very Ayn Rand. Personally, I still prefer a Sanders-Paul independent alliance to a Ron / Rand combo. Nevertheless, here’s a possible slogan for a Paul-Paul slate:

America needs some R & R.


What changes a place more – public fears or man-made disasters? Let’s consider the cases of two cities, New Orleans and Chicago.

Since hurricane Katrina overpowered the levees of New Orleans and caused such extensive flooding that almost half the city’s residents had to flee, the population has dropped by almost 30 percent. In 2000 there were 485,000 people living there. Census figures released last week say that now there are no more than 343,000.

Before Katrina, New Orleans was an overwhelmingly black city. African Americans made up 67 percent of the population. Today there are 118,000 fewer black residents. Meanwhile, the white population has crept up to 30 percent. There has been a rise in the Hispanic presence, mostly due to a major influx of workers needed for reconstruction.

Almost 60,000 fewer children live in the city, a drop of about 44 percent. In the past New Orleans was proud of its vibrant youth culture. But the disaster has apparently turned the city both older and whiter.

Chicago also used to be a pretty wild and crazy place. Less so now that cameras watch people wherever they go. Last Monday the ACLU chapter in Illinois reported that the city has 10,000 cameras in public places. They’re operated by the police, schools, the public transit system and businesses linked to Chicago’s 911 Center. ACLU wants the city to stop adding more cameras and, perhaps more to point, stop zooming in on people, tracking their movements, or using facial recognition technology without probable cause.

Mayor Richard Daley calls surveillance a cost-effective way to help police fight crime. “We’re not spying on anyone or identifying anyone, or racially profiling anyone,” he claims. “We’re not.” Really. But he also says that it’s impractical to prove probable cause before zooming in. The nightmare scenario he sees involves a judge being awakened at two in the morning. “Judge, we have probable cause,” says the cop. “The person is walking down 22nd Street. By the time we get there,” Daley imagines, “the person’s already at Halsted Street.” Scary.

If you look around almost anywhere in Chicago, you’ll probably spot a surveillance camera: red light cameras, security surveillance cameras, police “blue light” pod cameras. The blue-light cameras have been strategically placed in high-crime areas since 2003. Police say the system works. But the public is divided. Some residents agree with the cops and don’t think privacy is being invaded if you know the camera is there. Others see it as a violation of their rights, or say criminals and gangs have simply moved from major streets with cameras to side streets without them.

It’s the most extensive and integrated camera network of any US city, according to former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Civil libertarians consider it step toward Big Brother. “Chicago’s camera network invades the freedom to be anonymous in public places, a key aspect of the fundamental American right to be left alone,” says the ACLU report. “Each of us then will wonder whether the government is watching and recording us when we walk into a psychiatrist’s office, a reproductive health care center, a political meeting, a theater performance, or a bookstore.”

On the other hand, the cameras have played a role in several high-profile cases. In 2007 footage from a city bus camera helped persuade a suspected gang member to plead guilty to shooting a 16-year-old high school student. Cameras also helped police determine that the 2009 death of a school board president was a suicide.

So, concerns about crime have turned Chicago into a surveillance city-state, while unfortunate events have robbed New Orleans of its cultural edge. It’s hard to imagine how the latter can recapture its Mojo – aside from incentives for artists to move there. But Chicago could just stop installing the cameras.


Who says video games can’t have a social conscience? Take the game being developed that has users drive a truck full of immigrants through the desert. The object is to prevent them from being tossed out along the way.

It’s called "Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration," and is targeted for release in March. In the game players navigate through what appears to be the US-Mexican border. As their truck deals with cliffs, mountains and dead animals, immigrants may fall off the truck's bed. Your scores depends on the number of immigrants you help cross the border.

Alex Schwartz says the idea for the game arose from the frustration some friends of his faced while trying to immigrate. "We felt like this issue was kind of taboo for games and popular media," he says. "So we wanted to build something…about this struggle that we could put into our work and our passion, which is making games."

The message, he claims, is that it’s so tough to emigrate legally that it's almost easier to smuggle yourself over the border despite the dangers. But immigrant advocates aren’t impressed. Eva Millona, director of the Massachusetts Immigrants & Refugee Advocacy Coalition, says the game is in poor taste and trivializes the risks immigrants face under a broken immigration system.
"Last year, 170 human beings died crossing the border," Millona said in statement. "It's disgraceful that anyone would try to make money out of this tragedy by making light of it in a game."

Patricia Montes, executive director of Centro Presente, a Somerville, Mass.-based Latino immigrant advocacy group, adds that people who are trying to emigrate into the US don’t think they are part of a game. "They do it because they are desperate."

The developers claim they aren’t trying to offend immigrants and their advocates. In fact, they went out of their way to make sure the game's characters weren't stereotypical. How? "For example, one of the immigrants is a nerdy looking guy with a pocket protector," Schwartz explained.

The game is currently being tested around Boston.


PART TWO – Lockheed, Vermont and the Rumor of the Week

* This is an edited transcript and does not include extemporaneous comments and last minute changes or additions.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How Vermont Was Born

An excerpt from
Vermont’s Untold History

Long before Europeans set foot in Vermont there were Native Americans of several tribes living along the waters later named Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River. Early villages were established near the areas today known as Newport and Swanton, while Barton Landing was often used as a stopping point for river travel.

Central Vermont wasn’t much inhabited, but it was useful to many tribes for hunting and fishing. The Cossucks came there from the upper half of the Connecticut River region and Pequots traveled from the lower half. Iroqois and Abenakis – part of the Wabernaki Confederacy – lived near Lake Champlain and traveled widely by canoe, sometimes encountering members of the Algonquin and Mohawk tribes who also used the land.

Even after the French and English established settlements north and south of the Abenakis the tribe continued to live at the mouth of the Lamoille River. In 1765, however, they leased a five mile strip of land along the lake, near Swanton, to John Robertson. The agreement said that the land was to be returned after 91 years – in 1856. The tribe then left to winter with the St. Francis tribe on the St. Lawrence River and hunt at Lake Memphremagog.

In 1798 – 30 years later – the tribe sent a delegation to the legislature of Vermont, by then part of the new United States of America. The representatives carried a petition, signed by 20 chiefs on behalf of the seven nations of lower Canada Indians claiming their territory. This included all of the land west of the Green Mountains and between Ticonderoga and the provincial line.

Vermont’s legislature rejected the petition. The argument was that the tribes had forfeited their property by revolting from the English and joining the French. Their title had been lost, the White settlers argued, when the area was ceded to the English by right of conquest over the French. Since the colonists had since defeated the British, they concluded, the land now belonged to the government of Vermont.

Colonial Resistance

In the 18th Century, most Europeans viewed Vermont as an unnamed wilderness between the colonies on New Hampshire and New York. King George had allowed only small portions of it to be given away. However, governors of the bordering colonies saw it as a potentially valuable resource.

New Hampshire Governor Bennington Wentworth took advantage of this ambiguous situation. On the instruction of the King, he gave the first of the “New Hampshire Grants” to the King’s veterans. They in turn sold their holdings to land speculators. Wentworth later gave grants for entire towns. In return he received fees and a large tract of land for himself – in violation of the King’s orders.

Resenting the abuse of his authority, King George instructed the Lieutenant Governor of New York, Cadwallader Colden, to administer the territory. This essentially made the future state a colony of New York – and fair game for its speculators. Since New Hampshire speculators weren’t willing to stand aside, the stage was set for a battle between the two groups, as well as the region’s early White settlers.

Property rights was the rallying cry for New Hampshire grantees defending their homesteads. And their leaders were the Allen family – Ethan, Ira, Heman and Zimri Allen, along with their cousin Remember Baker – which eventually would come to control a third of the land between the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain.

Rebuffed by the British, and forced to pay additional fees to New York to keep their land, early Vermonters turned to direct action. In the eastern section of the territory the first confrontation, in response to a New York plan to replace New England town government with county administration and courts, became known as the Windsor Riot. Forty Windsor residents arrested a New York Sheriff and his posse, thus ending the pursuit of four New Hampshire grantees.

In October 1774, at a county convention in Westminister, the violence at Windsor was rejected. Instead, those gathered advocated “manly, steady and determined procedures” to seek justice. But the expression of such principles apparently didn’t persuade more than a hundred men who stopped 25 New York Sheriff’s deputies from establishing a court six months later. On March 13, 1775, the deputies took the courthouse by force and, in what was called the Westminister Massacre, two New Hampshire grantees were killed. The next morning several hundred residents, led by the Green Mountain Boys, retook the building.

Tactics differed in the western section of the territory. Here farmers were evicted for non-payment of rent. But New Hampshire grantees were determined that the land be returned – by force if necessary. Thus, in July 1771 several hundred men blocked an eviction at the Breckenridge House in Bennington. In the inevitable showdown many of the New York Sheriff’s deputies refused to advance on the settlers.

The resistance activities of the Green Mountain Boys weren’t restricted to Sheriffs or their posses. On January 1, 1775, for instance, they arrested a man named Hough. The charge was that he had “dissuaded people from joining the mob” and accepted the office of Justice of the Peace under New York authority. The punishment of an ad hoc court headed by Ethan Allen was 200 lashes on Hough’s naked back.

The Boys used many types of force, some of which might today be defined as terrorism, to impose their authority. Settlers foolish enough to accept land under the New York Grants were compelled to pay the owner of the title under the “officially” void New Hampshire Grants. In such cases the Grantee was usually a speculator. If a settler refused to pay, Ethan Allen threatened that his “mob would reduce every house to ashes and leave every inhabitant a corpse.”

Conflicted Loyalties

On July 24, 1776 a broad cross-section of colonists in the region gathered in Dorset. The aim of this Dorset Convention was to consider the consequences of the Declaration of Independence signed three weeks earlier. Yet they were also confronted with the adoption of a more conservative Constitution in New York that claimed continued jurisdiction over Vermont.

New York’s Constitution called for the administration of the Green Mountain colony, as well as land granting authority and the power to collect rents. It restricted the right to vote to male property owners and called for life-long appointment of judges. Such choices in New York effectively ended debate in Vermont over secession from the Empire State. In a unanimous vote, New Hampshire grantees decided to form a separate district. At a later convention the name New Connecticut was selected. On June 4, 1777 the name of the region was changed to Vermont.

The Dorset Convention declared a basic allegiance with the revolution underway, and agreed that the men of Vermont would join the fight. But the support would be withdrawn, said the delegates, if people were placed under New York command “in such a manner to be detrimental to our private property.”

Many Green Mountain Boys were eager to please the Constitutional Congress, a position geared toward winning future statehood. Their plan was to capture Montreal from the General Frederick Haldimand, commander of the British army in the colonies. But two invasions failed, and so did negotiations with the Congress. Vermont congressional representatives who owned land in Vermont had been joined by powerful New York and New Hampshire interests in opposition to Vermont’s statehood proposal.

Action by the Vermont Assembly didn’t help much. It had accepted the petition of 16 disenfranchised frontier towns in New Hampshire that wanted to join Vermont. Heavy pressure from Ira Allen and threats of attack from the Congress eventually persuaded the Assembly to pull Vermont’s border back to the Connecticut River.

Ethan Allen wasn’t chosen to lead the Green Mountain Boys in their invasion of Montreal. But the rejected rebel marched with the troops anyway– without official rank or position. And during the mission he broke discipline, leading a group of soldiers into the arms of the opposition. Allen’s individualism – useful in raising the rebellion – was proving less helpful in waging a revolution.

The Allens are often talked about as “founding fathers.” Many people believe they were among the signers of the Declaration of Independence. In reality, however, Ira Allen received political overtures from the British. And rather than rejecting them, as a revolutionary patriot might, he opened up the first of the Haldimand negotiations. Allen basically offered the general Vermont support, as long as the British recognized and protected Vermont independence. He asked Haldimand to request autonomy for the region from his parliament, the proposal already rejected by the Continental Congress.

Disappointed with treatment by both sides in the revolutionary war, Vermont’s soldiers eventually marched home and the state adopted a stance of neutrality while continuing negotiations for independence.

The Allens knew that their commercial interests would be best served by an independent state under their control. Thus, the “radical” Allens formed a strange alliance with British loyalists who remained in the colonies. They wooed loyalists into settling within the Allen-controlled Champlain Valley. Here they would be near British-controlled Quebec, free from persecution. As a result, Vermont became a haven for deserters from both the British and colonial armies.

Despite all the politicking, the Allens made political enemies on their road to wealth and power. With economic power as a foundation they ruled the Green Mountains politically through their agent – Thomas Chittenden, first governor of the state. Many people resented the grip of the Allens on the new state. But Chittenden was both less known and less offensive to the voters. As a result his chances of election were better. He balanced the factions groping for influence during negotiations with the Brits and the new Congress.

Bargaining with the British ended with the conclusion of the revolution, as least for the moment. In 1783 American and British representatives signed the Treaty of Paris. The map accompanying the agreement indicated that Vermont was outside the protective boundary of Britain’s Canada. However, this didn’t obligate Vermonters to join the American fold, and the state’s loyalty to the new government remained in doubt until the War of 1812.

After the Revolution

In the western part of the state, the region in which the Allens had the greatest influence, commercial ties were maintained with Quebec. Timber, potash and meat went through the Richelieu rapids to Canadian markets. On the eastern side folks shipped their goods south, down the Connecticut River to the American states.

The Allens wanted to build ties with Quebec. Leading citizens in the east and southwest disagreed. This group of land speculators, merchants, lawyers, and Yorkers openly challenged the Allens and their governor. They wanted Vermont for themselves. Rebellions threatened the power of the Allen family for more than three decades after the American Revolution.

Farmers and workers had their own concerns. The state had an excess of merchants who were draining the region’s wealth, they complained. They also opposed the harsh tactics used by lawyers and sheriffs who foreclosed on settlers. Through calculated, expensive legal proceedings sponsored by the state government, many settlers were forced further into debt. Merchants and land speculators were starting to run Vermont both economically and politically. But many other Vermonters were hit particularly hard in the post-revolutionary depression.

They were also being forced into combat, opposing their new rulers just as they had their previous feudal overseers. In a raid on a creditor’s house in October 1783, for example, a group of Benningtonians seized notes, obligations and bonds. Vermonters also tried to close the courts of Windsor and Rutland counties in November 1786, mainly in order to prevent adjudication of law suits.

A few years later the state experienced its first Watergate-style scandal. Ira Allen was caught with his hand in the till. He had secured ownership of the Town of Woodbridge – now called Highgate – as a favor from Governor Chittenden. In 1789 the state Assembly investigated. The outcome: Ira lost much of his influence and Chittenden lost his next election.

Led by the Allens, the liberal wing of Vermont’s new power structure was weakened by these developments. Meanwhile, conservative leaders from other parts of the state began to gain control. This shift was accompanied by the move toward statehood. On January 10, 1791, the Vermont Convention on Ratification of the Constitution voted to ratify. On February 18, the US Congress held its vote to admit this quirky region as the 14th state. At this point there were 85,539 people living in 185 towns, according to a general census. But their leaders quickly stacked the deck, pushing to restrict voting rights to property owners.

Battles between the warring wings of the emerging ruling class for control of the state were far from over. Ethan Allen died in 1789, but his brother Ira visited Britain to establish an alliance with the old Empire. Brother Ebenezer settled in Quebec. The family was trying to orchestrate a comeback.

Around this time Ira went to Britain to bargain Vermont loyalty in exchange for a British-built canal around the Richelieu rapids. The project was designed to improve his commercial relations, as well as help Britain to defend Canada from France and the US in their latest war. But a shipload of guns, purchased in Paris, resulted in Ira’s arrest in Britain for possession of enemy weapons. His diplomatic mission ended abruptly.

With the aid of American authorities, Ira was eventually released, yet still pledged allegiance to England. Later he was jailed in France for a year, released only after he swore allegiance to revolutionary France. When he finally returned to Vermont he was an outcast – and in serious debt. Ira Allen died a pauper in Philadelphia.

This is an edited excerpt from Vermont’s Untold History: Labor and Capital in the Green Mountains, originally published in 1976 and written by Greg Guma and Robert Mueller.