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On July 20, 1764, King George III established the boundary between New Hampshire and New York along the west bank of the Connecticut River, north of Massachusetts, and south of 45° north latitude. Under this decree, Albany County, New York, as it then existed, implicitly gained the land presently known as Vermont. When New York refused to recognize land titles through the New Hampshire Grants (towns created earlier by New Hampshire in present Vermont), it took the declaration of 1764 to apply retroactively, and considered the New Hampshire grants invalid. It therefore required land holders to purchase new grants for the same land from New York. New York then created counties in the region, with courthouses, sheriffs, and jails, and began judicial proceedings against those who held land solely by New Hampshire grants, causing considerable social unrest.

In 1767, the Privy Council forbade New York from selling land in Vermont that was in conflict with grants from New Hampshire, reversing the 1764 decision.

In 1770, Ethan Allen - along with his brothers Ira and Levi, as well as Seth Warner - recruited the Green Mountain Boys (1764-’77), to protect the interests of the original New Hampshire settlers against the new migrants from New York.

When a New York judge arrived in Westminster with New York settlers in March 1775, violence broke out as angry citizens took over the courthouse and called a sheriff's posse.


Vermont Republic 1777-1791

In the summer of 1776, the first general convention of freemen of the New Hampshire Grants met in Dorset, Vermont, resolving "to take suitable measures to declare the New Hampshire Grants a free and independent district." On January 15, 1777, representatives of the New Hampshire Grants convened in Westminster and declared their land an independent republic. For the first six months of the republic's existence, the state was called New Connecticut.

On June 2, a second convention of 72 delegates met at Westminster, known as the "Westminster Convention". At this meeting, the delegates adopted the name "Vermont" on the suggestion of Dr. Thomas Young of Philadelphia, a supporter of the delegates who wrote a letter advising them on how to achieve statehood. The delegates set the time for a meeting one month later. On July 4, the Constitution of Vermont was drafted at the Windsor Tavern owned by Elijah West. It was adopted by the delegates on July 8.. The tavern has been preserved as the Old Constitution House.


Flag of the Vermont Republic, after 1777

Photo by Amber Kinkaid used with permission - English Wikipedia, Amber Kincaid


The  flag shows the canton of the flag of the United States, adopted 14 June 1777.


State of Vermont 1791-present

As a result of an act passed by the State of New York on October 7, 1790, regarding a settlement of New York's claims, the Vermont General Assembly authorized a convention to consider an application for admittance to the "Union of the United States of America". The convention met at Bennington, on January 6, 1791. On January 10, 1791 the convention approved a resolution to make an application to join the United States. Vermont was admitted to the Union by 1 Stat. 191 on March 4, 1791. Vermont's admission act is the shortest of all state admissions, and Vermont is the only state admitted without conditions of any kind, either those prescribed by the congress or the state from which it was carved.


The Arms


In 1785 and 1786, the House of Representatives of the Freemen of Vermont issued copper coins bearing an emblem on their obverse which may have been the emblem of the republic of Vermont. It featured a sun rising above the Green Mountains and a plow in the foreground encircled by the inscription VERMONTIS. RES. PUBLICA., (Republic of Vermont).



The design of the reverse of the coin is an almost wholesale appropriation of an earlier 1783 American coin called the Nova Constellatio (new constellation) design. It features a large sun radiant, charged with an eye within, and surrounded by 13 stars, encircled by the motto STELLA QUARTA DECIMA which translates as ‘the 14th star’.  This legend refers to the ambition of Vermont to be admitted as the fourteenth state of the United States.


Vermont achievement on a three dollar bill, 1807


Arms: A Pine tree in chief and a cow in base

Crest: A buck’s head


Supporters: The allegories of  Commerce and Prosperity


Vermont coat of arms  on an 1821 military commission.

Henry Sheldon Museum


In 1840 it first appears on the title page of the annual official record of the Legislature’s activities, but someone has added a surround of pine branches, supposedly to commemorate the twigs carried by Vermont soldiers to remind them of their state as they entered into the Battle of Platts­burgh in 1814.

Over the years, various printers in Vermont vying for state printing contracts had dies engraved reflecting their own versions of the coat of arms.

Arms of Vermont, 1856

As on the “Acts and resolves Passed by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont”


Finally, in 1862 Vermont codified a description of the state’s coat of arms:

“The coat of arms of the state shall be, and is described as follows: Green, a landscape occupying half of the shield ; on the right and left, in the background, high mountains, blue, the sky yellow

From near the base, and reacing nearly to the top of the shield, arises a pine tree of the natural color, and between three erect sheaves, yellow, placed bendwise on the dexter side, and a red cow standing on the sinister side of the field.

The Crest: A buck’s head, of the natural color, cut off and placed on a scroll, blue and yellow.\

The Motto: On a scroll beneath the shield , the motto: VERMONT; FREEDOM and UNITY.

The Vermonter’s Badge: Two pine branches of the natural color, crossed between the shield and scroll.”


The Seal


The adoption of the seal is believed to have been in 1778; such belief is established by records of the bill for engraving the same. The Journals of the House of Representatives and of the Governor and Council are silent upon the subject. The description of this seal is as follows:


Seal of the Republic of Vermont ca 1778


“The principal figure is a pine-tree rising from the centre of a thick growth of evergreens with conical tops. Above these tops start the limbs of the pine, and the bases of the evergreens extend in a horizontal line quite across the seal. A sheaf of grain stands on each side of the pine, far in the background and for want of proper perspective close up under high strata of clouds that occupy the upper edge of the seal. And below the sheaf on the right of the observer, and above the tops of the evergreens, stands a cow. Below the line of evergreens, and in the form in which they are here printed, are the words:



& Unity

A sheaf of grain stands at each end of the word freedom. All is encircled by a narrow border of consecutive arrow-heads, the point of each inserted in the socket of the next.”[1]


By whatever authority adopted, this was the seal of the State used by its officers until 1821, at which a new seal was procured substantially the same in design as the old seal; but the devices are more artistically  arranged


Seal of Vermont 1821

By Robert Blackwell 1861


The sheaves of wheat, now three in number, and the cow, were taken from their aerial perch and made to stand upon the earth. The pine-tree was well clothed with foliage; and in the background, instead of the conical evergreens, were seen the mountains which gave name to the State.

Around the margin of the seal the words “Vermont Freedom and Unity.”


In the middle of the 19th century a new seal appears on government publications. This shows the coat of arms, a farmer plowing added in dexter base, the American eagle for crest and a garland of  twigs of pine below, the whole surrounded by the legend VERMONT FREEDOM AND UNITY.


Seal of Vermont 1856

As on the “Acts and resolves Passed by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont”


As the devices of the State seal differed greatly in detail, apparently by the fancy of every officer that had occasion to procure a new die to impress upon official documents, the Vermont Historical, Society, in 1862, appointed a committee to petition the General Assembly to pass a law that would not change, but fix and establish the seal. The petition was acted upon favourably, and a description of the seal is entered in the General Statutes of Vermont, 1862 (P. 788)

The seal of the State of Vermont  includes  “The coat of arms (excluding the crest, scroll , and badge), and with the motto and cicular border around the same.”





The Vermont Legislative Directory of 1915 described the seal as the seal of 1778, descibed by Eugene Zieber in 1909. [2]


Vermont by an act of her legislative assembly, approved on April 9, 1937, adopted the present Seal of the State. [3] The act reads as follows:


“It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

“Section 1. Section forty-eight of the Public Laws is hereby amended so as to read as follows:

“Section 48. State Seal. The state seal shall be the great seal of the state, a faithful reproduction, cut larger and deeper, of the original seal, designed by Ira Allen, cut by Reuben Dean of Windsor, and accepted by resolution  of the general assembly, dated February 20, 1779. The seal shall be kept by the secretary of civil and military affairs.

“Section 2. New reproduction. The secretary of civil and military affairs is hereby directed to cause such reproduction of the original seal to be made and placed in a suitable press.

“Section 3. Old seal damasked. When the new reproduction of the original seal is ready the be brought into commission, the secretary of civil and military affairs shall present it to the governor, in the presence of the lieutenant governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the secretary of state, and shall submit the die and counter of the former seal to the governor, who shall in their presence damask both die and counter.

“Section 4. Proclamation. The governor shall, forthwith, by proclamation over his signature, with the counter signature of the lieutenant governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the secretary of state, and the attestation of the secretary of civil and military affairs, announce that the reproduction of the original seal has been brought into commission, and that he has damasked the former seal, and  he shall  cause the great seal to be thereto affixed. Copies of this proclamation, thus signed and sealed, shall be sent to the president of the United States, the secretary of state of the United States, and to the governors of every state and territory of the United States.

“Section 5. Appropriation. The sum of three hundred dollars or as much thereof as may be necessary is hereby appropriated to provide for the making of this seal, and the mounting of it in a suitable press; for an accurate drawing of the seal; and for a line cut thereof, the use of which shall be restricted to the reproduction of documents requiring the signature of the governor, and the affixing of the great seal.

“Section 6. This act shall take effect from its passage. [4]


Seal of Vermont 09.04.1937

Present seal of Vermont, colored version





Vermont Army National Guard




That for the regiments and separate battalions of the Vermont Army National Guard:  From a wreath of colors, a buck's head erased within a garland of pine branches, all Proper.


The buck's head and the "Vermonters' badge" (two pine branches) have long been a portion of the State seal.


The crest for color bearing organizations of the State of Vermont was approved on 25 February 1922


Distinctive Unit Insignia



A Gold color metal and enamel device 1 5/16 inches (3.33 cm) in height overall consisting of a White shield bordered Gold bearing the crest for the Vermont Army National Guard blazoned:  On a wreath Argent and Gules a buck's head erased within a garland of pine branches all Proper.


The buck's head and the "Vermonters' badge" (two pine branches) have long been a portion of the State seal.  As the predominant original settlement within the State was of English origin, the twists of the wreath are white and red.


The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for noncolor and nonstandard bearing units of the Vermont National Guard on 14 June 1929.  It was redesignated for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and noncolor bearing units of the Vermont Army National Guard on 13 January 1971.  The insignia was redesignated effective 1 October 1982, for Headquarters, State Area Command, Vermont Army National Guard.  It was redesignated effective 1 October 2003, for the Texas Army National Guard Element, Joint Force Headquarters and amended to update the description and add a symbolism.


Shoulder Sleeve Insignia



On a yellow diamond with a 1/8 inch (.32 cm) green border, horizontal axis 3 1/4 inches (8.26 cm) and vertical axis 2 inches (5.08 cm) overall, a black colonial cocked hat with white piping and white button with a pine sprig proper and gray lining.


The design is based on the historical origins of the Vermont National Guard, as the Green Mountain Boys, formed in 1764, who wore a sprig of pine in their hats.  The background colors of green and gold (yellow) are the traditional Vermont colors.


The first and current design of the shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Vermont National Guard on 15 February 1952.  That design was rescinded and a new/second design approved on 3 January 1957.  This second design was cancelled and the first design reinstated for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Vermont Army National Guard on 26 July 1976.  The insignia was redesignated with its description amended for Headquarters, State Area Command, Vermont Army National on 30 December 1983.  It was redesignated effective 1 October 2003, for the Vermont Army National Guard Element, Joint Force Headquarters and amended to update the authorizations and description and add a symbolism. (TIOH Dwg. No. A-1-182)



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© Hubert de Vries 2015-04-06



[1] Zieber, Eugene: Heraldry in America. Published by the Department of Heraldry of the Bailey, Banks and Biddle Company. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1895. Pp. 183-183.

[2] Shankle, Georg Earlie: State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and other Symbols. The H.W. Wilson Comp.. New York, 1951.Vermont Legislative Directory. Biennial Session 1915, prepared pursuant to law by G. W. Bailey, Secretary of State (St. Albans Messenger Pringt, St. Albans, Vermont, 1915) pp. 368-369.

[3] Shankle,op.cit.

[4]  Laws of Vermont, 1937: Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont at the Thirty-fourth Biennial Session 1937, Session Commenced January 6, 1937, Adjourned April 10, 1937, published by authority  (Vermopngt Printing Company, Brattleboro, Vermontt, 1937) p. 3-4

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