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Thomas Chittenden
Governor Thomas Chittenden (presumed likeness)
1st Governor of Vermont

In office
March 5, 1791 – August 25, 1797
Lieutenant Paul Brigham
Preceded by Himself as Governor of the Vermont Republic
Succeeded by Paul Brigham
1st & 3rd Governor of the Vermont Republic

In office
October 20, 1790 – March 4, 1791
Lieutenant Peter Olcott
Preceded by Moses Robinson
Succeeded by Himself as Governor of the State of Vermont

In office
March 13, 1778 – October 13, 1789
Lieutenant Joseph Marsh
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Moses Robinson
Member of the Connecticut Colonial Assembly

In office
Personal details
Born (1730-01-06)January 6, 1730
East Guilford, Colony of Connecticut, British America
Died August 25, 1797(1797-08-25) (aged 67)
Williston, Vermont, U.S.
Resting place Thomas Chittenden Cemetery,
Williston, Vermont
Political party None
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Meigs Chittenden (m. 1749-1797, his death)
Children 10 (including Martin Chittenden)
Profession Farmer

Thomas Chittenden (January 6, 1730 – August 25, 1797) was a major figure in the early history of Vermont, and was leader of the territory for nearly two decades. Chittenden was the first and third governor of the state of Vermont, serving from 1778 to 1789, when Vermont was a largely unrecognized independent state, called the Vermont Republic, and again after a year out of office, from 1790 until his death. During his first term after his return to office, Vermont was admitted to the Union as the 14th state.

Early life

Chittenden was born in East Guilford in the Colony of Connecticut on January 6, 1730. He married Elizabeth Meigs on October 4, 1749, in Salisbury, Connecticut. The couple had four sons and six daughters while they were living in Connecticut. All the children survived to adulthood. He was a justice of the peace in Salisbury and a member of the Colonial Assembly from 1765 to 1769. He served in Connecticut's 14th Regiment of Militia from 1767 to 1773, rising to the rank of colonel.[1]


Chittenden moved to the New Hampshire Grants, now Vermont, in 1774, where he was the first settler in the town of Williston. In 1777, a convention was held in Windsor, which drafted Vermont's first constitution, establishing Vermont as an independent republic. During the American Revolution, Chittenden was a member of a committee empowered to negotiate with the Continental Congress to allow Vermont to join the Union. The Congress deferred the matter in order to not antagonize the states of New York and New Hampshire, which had competing claims against Vermont. During the period of the Vermont Republic, Chittenden served as governor from 1778 to 1789 and 1790 to 1791, and was one of the participants in a series of delicate negotiations with British authorities in Quebec over the possibility of establishing Vermont as a British province.[2]

After Vermont entered the federal Union in 1791 as the fourteenth state, Chittenden continued to serve as governor until his death in 1797.[1]


Chittenden died in Williston on August 25, 1797 and is interred at Thomas Chittenden Cemetery, Williston, Chittenden County, Vermont. Citing Vermont's tumultuous founding, his epitaph reads "Out of storm and manifold perils rose an enduring state, the home of freedom and unity."[3]

Legacy and honors

In 1894, a monument to Chittenden was begun at the entrance to the cemetery in Williston which is named for him; it was dedicated in 1896.[4] An engraved portrait of Chittenden can be found just outside the entrance to the Executive Chamber, the ceremonial office of the governor, at the Vermont State House at Montpelier.[5] The portrait is based on a likeness of one of Chittenden's grandsons, who was believed to resemble Chittenden.[5] In the late 1990s, a bronze sculpture of Chittenden, which was created by Frank Gaylord, was placed on the grounds of the State House near the building's west entrance.[6] Another Chittenden statue, also created by Gaylord, was erected in front of the Williston Central School.[4] Chittenden County is named for him,[7] as is the town of Chittenden in Rutland County.[8]

See also

  • Vermont Republic
  • Constitution of Vermont
  • List of governors of Vermont


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Thomas Chittenden". National Governors Association. 
  2. Smallwood 1997, p. 108.
  3. Morrissey, Charles T. (1984). Vermont: A History. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-393-34871-2. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Baynes, Luke (January 10, 2013). "Celebrating Williston's 250th Anniversary: The Thomas Chittenden Connection". Williston Observer. Williston, VT. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Kelley, Kevin J. (May 5, 2010). "Portrait of a State: A walk through the "people's house" is a lesson in art history". Vermont Seven Days. Burlington, VT. 
  6. CB (November 4, 2019). "Bronze Sculpture Conservation in Montpelier". Montpelier, VT: Arts Management Services. 
  7. Gannett, Henry; Beck, Jürgen (2018). Encyclopedia of Place Names in the United States. North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace. p. 72. ISBN 978-3-8496-7510-3. 
  8. Chittenden Town Planning Commission (October 19, 2015). Town of Chittenden Municipal Plan. Chittenden, VT: Chittenden Select Board. p. 8. 

Further reading

  • Frank Smallwood, Thomas Chittenden: Vermont's First Statesman, The New England Press : 1997, 304 pages, ISBN 1-881535-27-4

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Office established
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Paul Brigham

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