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The Republic of Vermont was formed from portions of the former U.S. states of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut, in the years after the Doomsday event of September 26, 1983. Vermont's origins date to the 18th century, as a former possession of Great Britain, then as an independent republic from 1777-1791 before joining the United States of America as its 14th state. It again became an independent nation in 1984, and over the years absorbed former New Hampshire as well as counties in former Massachusetts and Connecticut. It also claims the entire territory of former Connecticut and Rhode Island, and most of former Massachusetts, not belonging to the Outer Lands and other survivor states in the region.
As with every other state, Vermont was affected by Doomsday. Burlington, its largest city, suffered moderate to significant damage from the blast that destroyed Plattsburgh, New York and the air force base there.
Once it became apparent that the situation was greater and more severe than a rogue blast over Plattsburgh, Montpelier fell into a state of panic. Vermont Governor Richard Snelling was whisked away out of his offices in the Pavilion by guards and policemen before any harm could come to him. While Snelling was being taken to the Montpelier mayor's house - secured by Montpelier and Vermont State policemen - a large crowd of panicked citizens overran the Pavilion and the Vermont State House, resulting in dozens of deaths. Both buildings were ransacked by looters as panicked state workers fled in all directions. It also meant the temporary loss of the state government, although that would not be immediately understood.
Snelling and the Montpelier city officials committed to working together and getting control of the situation as quickly as they could. However, the chaotic and rapidly deteriorating conditions in the city led the police to the decision to escort Snelling and the mayor and his family out of town, on foot. They finally found shelter at a spot along the Winooski River, where Snelling and the mayor began to discuss ways to stablize the situation. Snelling was described as "anxious, angry and forceful" in taking personal control on the spot; he is said to have told everyone present that "although we find ourselves in a terrible dilemma, we will not go quietly into that night that has been thrust upon us. We will solve this dilemma and we will survive."
Snelling was determined to stay in Montpelier; his guards were insistent on fleeing. Reluctantly he followed them down State Road 12 to Bethel, then by horseback to Rutland. Montpelier's mayor and other city officials decided to stay and stabilize the city.
Meanwhile, in Montpelier a civilian militia led by a city official helped police gain the upper hand over rioters and looters, and they re-established control of the city. Finding out from a guard that Snelling was said to have been escorted down State Road 12, the provisional city government set scouts out to find him. In Rutland, Snelling met with town leaders, and urged them to set up a coalition with other area townships to coordinate food distribution and mutual defense.
By Thanksgiving, the situation in the various towns throughout the state had stabilized; warlords and rogue parties were terrorizing the rural areas, making travel between towns almost impossible, and Snelling knew that if he was to restore state government, the warlords would have to be neutralized.
In December, the southern towns had taken control enough of the general area to set up patrols in and between the towns. In Rutland on December 5, Snelling called for volunteers to "retake" the state, with two goals: retake Manchester and re-establish a stable government, and eliminate any and all threats from rogue elements that would threaten the peace and stability of the state. 95 percent of men and 25 percent of women volunteered for the effort; the group was then split in half, one to defend the southern towns, the other to retake the middle of the state.
Montpelier city officials had a similar goal, having stablized the town and the region linking it to Barre and Northfield; a similar militia was formed, with half headed south to find Snelling and stabilize the state. They were joined by refugees from Burlington and a group from Haverhill who had similar goals.
Snelling's militia and the Montpelier and Haverhill militias confronted the warlords in the middle of the state, at Randolph, Salisbury and Fairlee in December. The three militias merged into one, with Snelling as their de facto commander-in-chief. Battles raged through New Year's Day, when the last warlords finally fell under the might of the combined Vermont militia, and local citizens who had joined it. 11,000 died in the battles.
Snelling returned to the Pavilion on January 4 to resume his duties as Governor of Vermont.
1983-84: Vermont Rises from the Chaos
Snelling asked for volunteers to travel to all portions of the state as quickly as possible and contact legislators to convene for a special session. The General Assembly members were finally able to convene on January 25. They formalized Vermont as a state of the United States of America, but "acting with the powers of an independent state for the duration of the crisis."
There was hope that the U.S. would eventually reform, and soon, but as the weeks and months went by, without any contact from federal officials nor any type of signs of life outside the immediate area, a movement arose to formalize Vermont's independence. Given the growing belief amongst the people that Doomsday may have signalled the end of known civilization, and that they were alone, with no help coming from the United States government nor any other entity, advocates of the Second Vermont Republic approached Snelling and his administration about an idea that long had held some sway in state culture: the formation of an independent Republic of Vermont. Snelling was open to the idea, and agreed to bring the topic before the people.
In the meantime, Snelling was also interested in the situation in the New England and New York areas. He sent parties into neighboring New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York on February 6, and learned four important things
- Troy, Schenectady, and Albany, New York and Springfield, Massachusetts had all been bombed. From the few refugees heading into Vermont from New York who ran into the Vermont parties, it was learned that the situation on the ground was "chaotic". One person was quoted as saying "in New York, it's warlords left and right, and people are either killing one another or killing themselves." The parties, of course, brought the refugees back with them. Vermont parties found a better situation in Greenfield, Massachusetts, where refugees from Springfield had congregated. Greenfield officials were heartened to learn that Montpelier had survived, and requested assistance.
- Portsmouth, New Hampshire - site of the naval shipyards and a SAC/Air Force base - had been bombed.
- The New Hampshire state government in Concord had "fallen apart at the seams." Governor John Sununu was assassinated by rogue gunmen who broke into the State House and started randomly shooting, screaming "it's hopeless, it's hopeless." Concord police and National Guardsmen found the Supreme Court members and evacuated them to a more secure location in south Concord; when a horsemen told them that Manchester had survived and former governor Vesta Roy was there, the decision was made to leave the rapidly destabilizing situation in Concord for Manchester.
- Despite the chaos in Concord, the city of Manchester government was relatively stable, because it was led by a host of Manchester civic leaders and police, National Guard, military and civilian personnel determined to survive. Roy, the President of the Senate (and interim governor in late 1982 until Sununu took office in January 1983) convened a emergency meeting of all available legislators in Manchester in October, of which there were only 15. Under article 49 of the state constitution, with Sununu incapacitated, Roy was sworn in as acting governor. On that authority, she, the Supreme Court and surviving legislators formed a provisional state government with its capital in Manchester, but its authority stretched only past the city limits. The situation in the city had stabilized thanks in large part to efforts by National Guardsmen, surviving US military personnel, city and state police and a impromptly-formed civilian militia that pledged to help "keep the peace no matter the cost". Roy had been near Portsmouth when its bomb went off and took a heavy dose of radiation; she sucumbed to it, and died in her sleep in December. Other towns in New Hampshire were looking to Manchester for guidance.
Surviving legislators and other leaders in Manchester quickly formed a provisional state government with other surviving New Hampshire cities February 4. When Vermont parties arrived in town on February 19, the provisional government leaders were heartened to learn in March that Snelling and the Vermont government had survived the chaos.
Conflict, Independence and Unification with New Hampshire
Northern townships were gradually drawing away from state affairs and acting more on their own or in union with townships in northern New Hampshire. The first sign of serious problems between the townships and Burlington came when militia overwhelmed the few Vermont state police and militia troops in the area; the next came when parties from Burlington ran into roadblocks built up along state roads 109, 100, 105 and 58.
In May, Vermont State Police and Vermont militia attempted to break the roadblock at Morrisville and ran into an ambush; twenty-seven state policement and government militia members died. Survivors fled down state road 12 to the capital, informing the governor of what had happened and the 27 who had died. Snelling was also told that the ambushers seemed "very well organized."
Snelling made the first controversial decision of his post-Doomsday career: he declined to send in forces to break the roadblock and take northern Vermont by force, citing his uncertainty as to "whether the state can fight such a war at this point in time, and with the other challenges we face." Public sentiment in Montpelier and the south was to fight whomever took over the townships up north, but Snelling had enough support in the General Assembly to hold his ground.
In New Hampshire, the Manchester government made a couple of attempts to go into their state's northern towns, securing Dartmouth College and using it as a staging area. Aware of what had happened in Morrisville, the New Hampshire forces avoided an ambush, but were not able to negotiate with the militia forces holding the roadblocks.
Meanwhile, Vermonters began seriously discussing becoming a separate nation, spurred by representatives of the Second Vermont Republic group and especially with no sign of any US presence existing. Public sentiment for independence grew and grew, and was solidified when Snelling admitted in a town meeting in Brattleboro on March 8 that "independence is a sound idea, and one I would support." A special election was called for May 24. Results were fully counted by June 3, with 96 percent of voters in the central and southern areas of the state approving formal independence with a provision to rejoin the United States "if it reconstitutes itself."
New Hampshire/Manchester officials, already working closely with Vermont in several areas, discussed a formal union with Vermont. Public sentiment in New Hampshire grew to form a single state, and on May 4 voters went to the polls to choose independence or pursuit of a merger with Vermont. On May 18, it was announced that 84 percent of voters chose a merger with Vermont. State officials traveled to Montpelier to formally request a merger, but were told to wait until the special election formalized Vermont independence.
On July 24, 1984, representatives from communities across central and southern Vermont met in Windsor to formally approve, and sign, the constitution for the Republic of Vermont. The signing was held in Windsor's Old Constitution House, the same site the constitution for the first Vermont Republic had been signed nearly 207 years earlier. Snelling became the interim President, and was easily elected in elections that fall. On July 25, New Hampshire County was admitted into the Republic, with its provisional capital in Manchester.
One of Snelling's priorities were to provide necessities for residents, and survivors who found their way to the borders of the new Republic of Vermont. He met with farmers at the Old Constitution House and hammered out an agreement regarding food supplies. Another of his priorities was what to do with the survivors from the Plattsburgh, Burlington and Portsmouth areas, many of whom had been routed to triage centers near Middlebury, Bennington, Brattleboro, Hartford, Rutland, Springfield, Keene, and Manchester. He ordered state hospitals and doctors to help as many as possible, but nevertheless thousands died of radiation poisoning or burns from the blast.
In October 1984, Snelling suggested that Plattsburgh and Portsmouth be declared "off limits" to civilians indefinitely, and that Burlington and Chittenden County be abandoned temporarily due to "an uncomfortable presence of radiation" coming from Plattsburgh. The General Assembly approved Snelling's ideas, while confirming Republic control over all of the destroyed areas, and Burlington, and the intention to repopulate them once "it is safe to do so".
In November 1984, Snelling and his representatives met representatives of the northern townships of Vermont and former New Hampshire in Morton. The northern townships insisted on going their own way, and again gave a show of force to Snelling and his party. Those who gave a show of force were representatives of warlords, thought to likely be from Quebec, who would become a thorn in Vermont's side over the next several years.
Isolationism and Neutrality
Over the next few years, the Republic of Vermont became self-sufficient in nearly every way.
In 1986, the government formed the Republic of Vermont Army from the unofficial militia, State Police and National Guardsmen that had been serving the state as its defenders. The Army set its headquarters in Montpelier, with bases in Rutland and Manchester; the 158th Fighter Wing of the former Vermont Air National Guard, formerly based in Burlington, was moved to Manchester.
The leaders behind the Second Republic concept gained more power in the General Assembly and pushed through a policy of isolationism, the idea being that Vermont was self-sufficient and needed no one else.
It was a policy that made little sense to Snelling and others, given that the state of the rest of the U.S, as well as the entire world, was entirely unknown. Vermont was isolated by default, but had no reason not to engage with other states, or countries, should their presence be known.
When amateur ham radio operators made contact with their counterparts in Guyana, the nation rejoiced, even while discovering that they were as much in the dark about the global situation as Vermont was.
Even when Vermont became aware of the existence of survivor nations within North America, including Canada, the isolationists for several years pushed to keep Vermont to itself. President Howard Dean, finally grew tired of their tactics and, in a series of speeches in 1995, implored Vermonters to "get out of the house and off the porch." He helped spearhead a 15-year strategy to not only help Vermont become a leading nation in North America, but become the "Switzerland of North America" - a nation integrated with the regional and global community, yet politically neutral. This strategy which began to pay off in the final years of his administration and took off once Jim Douglas took office in 2004.
As it gradually became clear that there were other survivor states in the region and the world, Dean's dream of a Vermont that had an official policy of neutrality, and serve as a Switzerland for North America. Vermont would live in peace with all countries, and have no enemies to speak of (save for rogue warlords) took hold amongst the populace. Dean and Douglas both embraced the idea. Strict neutrality remains one of Vermont's core policies despite small minorities of citizens who supported Canada or Saguenay in the recent Saguenay War, or support the Committee to Restore the United States of America.
Snelling served as President until he died of heart failure in 1991. He was succeeded by his Vice-President, Howard Dean, who served out Snelling's term, then five more terms until deciding to serve the Republic as an ambassador in 2003. The Republic learned of the existence of other nation-states through ham radio, and that Vice-President George H. W. Bush had survived and was running an American Provisional Administration in Australia. Citizens of the Republic and of the northern townships hotly debated whether to maintain independence or rejoin a reformed United States. That argument was rendered moot when radio operators received word that the APA had dissolved in 1995. Dean then took to the Republic's radio station in Montpelier, and pledged that the Republic would carry on the American ideals of "life and liberty." Plans to salvage and resettle Burlington were drawn up and set into motion.
In the north, the townships formalized an economic union with townships in northern New Hampshire. In 1989, they also began to become the subject of intermittent raids by warlords believed to be from Quebec. After putting up resistance in Swanton and Newport and losing battles both times - and realizing the raiders' military advantage - the townships were presented with a proposal by an emissary: provide medical aid and food, and limited "comfort women", and the raiders would leave the townships (largely) alone. The township leaders accepted, and the warlord raiders kept their word.
In the south, it was a different story. Early on, President Snelling and assembly leaders saw the need to build up a strong militia for defense against any rogue raiders and warlords that would pose a threat; the militia became The Republic of Vermont Army in 1986.
The Army initially guarded the Republic's borders against threats of rogue raiders. Snelling thought it wise to build up a strong defensive force to scare away any intruders, and Dean continued that policy after becoming President. The Army fought what is now believed to have been the infamous "Lawrence Raiders" four times in the early 1990s, the biggest battles being one just north of Dartmouth College in 1991, and a final battle just south of old Plattsburgh in 1995. The raiders/warlords seemed to be well-organized, and Dean and his military leaders wondered aloud where they would have gotten their training from. Speculation ranged from a rogue Canadian army unit, to Quebec survivalists, even to undercover Soviet agents. For whatever reason, after the battle of Plattsburgh in 1995 - in which the Vermont Army overwhelmed its opponent - the rogue raiders disappeared, and to this day have not been spotted in or near Vermont territory.
This is when relations between Vermont and the townships began to thaw. Vermont businesses began doing business in the townships, and Vermonters with family in the townships ventured north for long-awaited reunions.
During the Army's numerous battles and skirmishes with the raiders, the Army learned of one important piece of information - the existence of a possible government of some sort in upper Maine. Snelling decided that, despite the risks of going through the northern townships and (potentially) dealing with the raiders, the risk was worth taking.
In 1993, a group of explorers and soldiers ventured into Maine from former New Hampshire. They made it as far as Flagstaff Lake, before observing scouts from Aroostook. Both sides were initially cautious, then reportedly began "shouting and screaming with joy" once they realized where the other side was from. President Snelling addressed the General Assembly on November 3, stating
- today is the day we realize that we not only are alone in the world but we are not alone on our continent. Vermont is not the only place where civilization has survived, and there is at least one place outside of our borders that is not harassed or controlled by barbarians. Today is a day of celebration, and soon there will be a day when all Vermonters can meet up with all from Aroostook County in Maine, in peace, to rebuild relationships and help build a new society.
Concerns over the raiders overshadowed contact between Vermont and Aroostook individuals and businesses for several years, despite there being no signs of the raiders in the area after 1995.
The experience gained fighting the raiders from the north would serve the Army well in fighting warlords from southern New England.
Vermont sent expeditions into Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island in 1996. They found much of Massachusetts and Connecticut and virtually all of Rhode Island to be a wasteland. Survivor settlements were found in Torrington, Connecticut and Fitchburg, Greenfield, Millers Falls, Orange, Winchedon, Baldwinville, and Gardner, Massachusetts, all controlled by warlords. In October 1996, at Orange, the Army was able to make peace with the warlords there; they ruled their town with a show of strength and control to keep it from being overrun by the other warlords, and allowed the Vermont Army to use Orange as it saw fit.
While representatives of President Dean met with the Orange town mayor, the Orange warlords gave crucial intelligence information to the Vermont Army on the Massachusetts warlords. This proved crucial in crafting a defense, and offense, against them.
The Vermont Army staged an "invasion" from North Adams and Orange into the other Massachusetts townships in March 1997. It took two months to defeat the warlords while sparing as many civilian lives as possible. Nevertheless, while 90 percent of the warlord forces were killed, 40 percent of the civilians also were killed, either by the fighting or directly by the warlords themselves. Once the Vermont Army established control over northern Massachusetts, it sent explorers - accompanied by Army divisions - into southern Massachusetts and Connecticut. In July 1997, the Army fought the Connecticut warlords, who lost half their forces before surrendering. With the situation in southern New England stabilized, the General Assembly passed acts establishing Berkshire, Franklin, Worcester and Litchfield counties in November 1997, and admitting them to the Republic.
While dealing with the situation in old Massachusetts, Vermont officials decided to try and establish formal relations with Aroostook. While transporting supplies into the northern townships, parties from Vermont were introduced to parties from Aroostook. President Dean was informed and personally went to the township of Pittsburg to meet with his counterpart from Aroostook in October. Their meeting went well, and both countries pledged to continue relations.
It was at that meeting that Dean learned of the dissolution of the United States of America. Dean decided he needed to travel to St. John's, the new capital of Canada, personally; his will prevailed over that of his military and political advisors. Dean left for Aroostook in March 1998, and retraced the route the Canadians took through old New Brunswick to get to Aroostook. Canadian military troops were surprised to see Dean and the Vermont/Aroostook party on the old Confederation Bridge that May; after some radio contact with Canadian Army in St. John's - and a conversation between Dean and Canadian Prime Minister Georges Farrah over radio - Farrah ordered Army troops to escort Dean and his party to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and "extend every courtesy". On June 11, Farrah and Dean began a three-day meeting; formal relations between the two countries were established, and Farrah visited Vermont in 2000.
In 1998 and again in 1999, Aroostook formally approached both the northern township and the Republic about merging into a single political entity. Both times, Vermont reiterated its current desire to retain its independence, and the northern townships reiterated to Aroostook AND Vermont their desire to remain politically separate from both countries. However, all sides agreed to examine the idea of some sort of New England common market, and if viable and beneficial to all sides, to act upon it. That idea grew into the concept of a Confederation of New England, a primarily economic union which respects each entity's political independence, while providing for a strong economic union and mutual military defense.
In 1999, Dean sent scouts to explore old New York and, if possible, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They returned two months later, in November, and found "no signs of life at all."
Jim Douglas was elected President in 2004, 2006 and 2008 (but does not plan to run in 2010). Under his administration, the Republic has sent exploratory parties to examine and salvage the ruins of Plattsburgh and Portsmouth. The Republic also has restarted the granite works in Barre, hoping that it can be used as a source of revenue in the post-Doomsday world. And, it has taken slow, gradual steps to build on Dean's dream of a "North American Switzerland", including:
- Sending supplies to the northern townships
- Sending diplomats to Saguenay, Aroostook, Superior and the Canadian Remainder Provinces
- Helping lay the groundwork for the establishment of an economic Confederation of New England.
In 2001, Vermont and Aroostook formally established embassies in their respective countries. Both nations engage in limited trade, primarily through the northern townships that border both countries. Through Aroostook, Vermont diplomats made radio contact with officials from the Virginian Republic and the League of Nations. Douglas had initially instructed diplomats to decline any offers of membership in the LoN, citing its neutrality "currently precluded" such involvement; Douglas and government leaders eventually changed their mind, and Vermont joined the LoN in 2009.
In 2006, the General Assembly voted to formalize Vermont's neutrality in international politics, a bill signed into law by President Douglas. Vermont also decided to send diplomats to Saguenay, presenting itself as a neutral nation that "wishes to live in peace with all its neighbors, but will defend itself whenever necessary."
Vermont was one of the founding members of the Committee to Restore the United States of America. CRUSA officials plan to visit the Republic in 2011.
Diplomats from Vermont and Superior met in Saguenay in 2007. Douglas visited Superior in 2009 and 2010.
Vermont also joined the United Communities in July 2010, hoping to build relations with UC members and serve as a force for good in the Great Lakes region.
Vermont maintains its neutrality in international matters, including the 2009 Saguenay War, but offers its facilities for peace talks in international disputes. Manchester was the site of the signing of the Treaty of Manchester in 2010.
The Republic has also offered to host WCRB facilities in eastern North America.
There was strong sentiment among the general public, as well as with the President and the general assembly, to pursue membership in the League of Nations and take on a more active role in international affairs; that became a reality in 2009.
An editorial jointly written by the editorial boards of the Republic's two newspapers of record - the Manchester Union-Leader and Montpelier Times-Argus - ran in those newspapers, and in the Rutland Herald, on August 28, 2008 calling for Vermont to "fully join the new society of nations." This is an excerpt from that editorial:
- ...the Republic has emerged from the early years of struggle and a blunt determination to survive in the wake of the greatest disaster humanity has ever faced. Self-sufficiency was necessary in those early years. Today, however, that is no longer an option. Other nation states, such as Aroostook and Saguenay in our region; Superior in the Great Lakes region; and the North American Union of nations in the west have risen and stabilized, and are communicating with one another. Our neutrality in the politics of this new world is desirable; our detachment is not. We must walk out of our homes, off the front porch, and interact with our neighbors. The Republic will be much better off for it.
Vermont also officially has no stance regarding the Committee to Restore the United States of America. There is a small percentage of citizens who would like to reform the U.S., but the overwhelming consensus in the Republic is to maintain its political independence.
Twenty-seven survivor nations, including Canada; the Celtic Alliance; Virginia, West Texas; Victoria; Superior; and Mexico; have embassies in Montpelier. Aroostook, Canada and Mexico also maintain consulates in Manchester.
Douglas spoke by phone and ham radio with the leaders of the other known North American survivor states, as well as Mexican President Ebrard and the League of Nations Secretary General, in 2008. This led to his trip to Tonga to League of Nations headquarters, as well as two trips to survivor nations across North America.
Douglas returned in November 2009 from a weeks-long trip across North America to Hawaii and League of Nations headquarters in Tonga, and then back from Hawaii across North America to Vermont. The trip had a two-fold purpose:
- Make known to the organization and the various national ambassadors Vermont's intent and desire to be involved in global affairs
- Meet the leaders of the various national governments in the former United States and Canada, to establish formal relations and formalize economic and cultural trade
There has been some sentiment among residents in former New Hampshire to separate politically from Vermont, while continuing to cooperate with it on political, cultural and humanitarian matters. Many of the more outspoken leaders of this movement left to help form the republic of Keene, in former New York State.
Extension of the Presidential Term
Douglas supported efforts in the Republic to extend Presidential terms to four years, out of a growing recognition of the President's importance in regional affairs and that a two-year term is too short to tend to the growing demands of the office while running for reelection. There is equal support for term limits, to two or three terms, for a President-elect.
The House and Senate passed a bill in late January 2010 extending Presidential terms to four years, beginning with the inauguration of the new President in 2011 (this meant that Douglas would have to run for the new four-year term later in 2010). Douglas signed it into law on January 30.
The Port of Kennebunkport
On February 18, 2010, Vermont opened up talks with Aroostook in regards to rebuilding either of the former Maine towns of Kennebunkport or York Harbor as a port. President Jim Douglas thought it was important to negotiate with Aroostook regarding both potential sites, as both lie in the borders of former Maine and Vermont considers Aroostook the bona-fide successor to the state of Maine. Douglas also wanted to offer Aroostook access to the port, which would give Vermont access to the Atlantic Ocean and allow for trade with European, Caribbean and South American countries and for expanded trade with Canada.
Saguenay Peace Talks
Vermont hosted its first major peace talk in April, as representatives from Canada, the Celtic Alliance, Saguenay, and Superior met in Manchester for negotiations to formally end the Saguenay War. Representatives from Aroostook and the League of Nations also were in attendance as observers. The negotiations went on for over a month, but concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Manchester on May 28. Aroostook and Vermont formally agreed to jointly develop a port in former Kennebunkport, Maine on May 25. Vermont and Aroostook companies were to receive preference for bids on the project, although Canadian and Celtic Alliance companies also would be allowed to bid for select portions. The target date for completion is June 2011.
2009, 2010 Trade Agreements
With the Saguenay War over, Douglas met Canadian Prime Minister Walter Natynczyk on July 28 to discuss building roads through former New Brunswick, and Aroostook, to facilitate road trade between Canada and Vermont.
On July 30, 2010, Douglas, Natynczyk, and Aroostook officials were present for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Aroostook/Vermont port in Kennebunkport. That day, Vermont formally established a road from the former New Hampshire town of Rochester to Kennebunkport, consisting mostly of former Maine State Road 9. Rochester is less than 30 miles northeast of Manchester and will be developed as the main thoroughfare to the Atlantic Ocean from Vermont proper.
Vermont diplomats have been working with their counterparts from Plymouth since late 2009 to work through the disputes the Cape Cod-area nation has with Vermont. Plymouth claims that Vermont has expansionist aims on the entire New England region, one that has been repeatedly denied by Douglas and his diplomats. One sticking point is Plymouth's insistence that it claims all of the former Massachusetts counties currently a part of Vermont; Douglas told reporters in April that Vermont would not give up those counties. Polls from Vermont media show that anywhere from 83 to 95 percent of residents prefer Vermont over any other nation state (even a revived United States). Plymouth officials also take issue with Vermont's neutrality and its insistence on not joining a "New England Confederation". Relations between the peoples of both countries are going well, as business and travel has picked up in the past year.
The Keene Question
The question of what to do regarding the Republic of Keene near Lake Champlain had been pushed to the side for sometime. The city-state was founded by residents of former New Hampshire who decided to leave Vermont and establish a libertarian state, similar in some ways and different in most from how Vermont and other post-Doomsday survivor republics had been established.
The early settlers of Keene were largely, and falsely, understood to be recluses and malcontents, and were dismissed as such for years by many Vermonters and in the Vermont media. The government, although allowing them to leave the relative safety of Vermont to found the new city-state, nevertheless did not extend formal recognition.
Even as debate increased in recent years over what to do with Keene, the administration of President Jim Douglas officially did next to nothing, focusing on what it considered to be more important issues and projects while pushing 'the Keene question' to the side.
Throughout 2009 and 2010, Douglas had been reconsidering his ambivalence regarding Keene. Once the Saguenay War was settled and negotiations for Atlantic Ocean ports were completed, Douglas quietly began the process of extending formal recognition to the republic.
Douglas, running for another term as president, also wanted to eliminate Keene as a potential issue. On September 4, 2010, in the first official debate for the upcoming election in Manchester, Democratic candidate Matt Dunne called out Douglas on the Keene question. "How can voters take you seriously as a proponent for neutrality and peace, when you won't even recognize your own fellow citizens who wish to start another country," Keene asked. Douglas said the issue would be resolved "very soon."
"Very soon" came on September 20, 2010, when Douglas signed off on formal recognition of Keene as a sovereign city-state. In a press conference where he was asked mostly about his upcoming second debate with Dunne in Burlington, Douglas said Vermont recognizes Keene's independence and hopes to establish peaceful relations with it and other nearby city-states, including engineers to help connect them to the New England power grid currently being expanded.
The 2010 Presidential Election
In early June 2009, President Douglas won the Republican Party's nomination, with Brian Dubie running as his Vice-President. Senator Peter Shumlin was favored to grab the Democratic Party's nomination during its convention in Manchester in late June, but withdrew right before the convention. Party members chose Shumlin's running mate, Matt Dunne, as the nominee. Dunne, a businessman and former senator and representative, chose to challenge Douglas on Vermont's economic future; Dunne, an outspoken supporter of an Atlantic common market, thought Douglas would be most vulnerable on that point.
The Dunne campaign began almost immediately going into attack mode, portraying Douglas as more concerned with his personal political status internationally and in promoting abstract ideas than in the more realistic economic concerns that Dunne suggested Vermont would face in the next 20 years. In one radio ad, Dunne even said Vermont's "precious neutrality...would be rendered null and void by Douglas's grandstanding."
The Douglas campaign did not respond in kind to the Dunne campaign's negative campaigning, instead emphasizing Douglas's own efforts on behalf of area business and for the national economy, as well as the importance of neutrality and making "friends" with all other nations.
Dunne also made the common market an important part of his campaign, proclaiming that it would be good for Vermont.
Ostensibly in response to Dunne and his repeated calls for a common market, Douglas told a radio reporter on July 14 that Vermont "would not be entering into any kind of arrangement that would violate (its) neutrality."
The Douglas and Dunne camps came to an agreement on three debates during the fall 2010 presidential campaign. The first, on September 4 in Manchester, saw Dunne attack Douglas on 'being too concerned with being a hero, spending more time in an airplane than in your own country running it' and 'talking a good game about peace and neutrality, but not recognizing your own citizens who wish to form their own nation, independent of ours'. Douglas's response, in which he detailed his administration's actions regarding national issues and keeping a 'close eye' on Vermont affairs, and how the various trade agreements and establishment of relations greatly benefited Vermont, helped give him a 64 percent approval rating in a media poll that weekend.
The second debate occurred on September 23 in Manchester, with Dunne pushing Douglas on the economy and "your reluctance to sacrifice Vermont's neutrality while you sacrifice its economy by refusing to enter into a New England/Atlantic trade agreement".
The third and final debate was October 22 in Montpelier. Douglas strongly emphasized his record in international politics, and insisted that strong alliances were necessary "to ensure a strong and secure future for Vermont". The consensus, even from the Democratic camp, was Dunne's responses to Douglas's arguments didn't come across strongly enough to threaten the incumbent's lead.
Nevertheless, Dunne continued to campaign throughout the Republic up to Election Day, November 2, 2010, hoping his efforts would somehow put him over the top in a race only he and his advisers thought was close. Numerous media polls had Douglas winning with as much as 63 percent of the vote. None of those polls had Dunne ahead.
Late in the race, Douglas reached out more to the business community, pledging his support for incentives to lower tax rates for Vermont businesses and create incentives for internationally-owned businesses and corporations to move to Vermont. Several key influencers within the business community believed a Douglas administration, because of his experience in working with other national leaders, would accomplish more for their interests than a Dunne administration would.
They were especially mindful of the Saguenay War, and not wanting a similar situation to erupt with neighboring Plymouth, which continued to dispute Vermont's claim over western Massachusetts. Despite a consensus that Dunne understood the long-term economic realities better than Douglas, the consensus that Douglas understood regional politics better than Dunne - and therefore would be better able to diffuse a potential war with Plymouth - prevailed.
So, late in the race, Vermont's influential business leaders threw their support behind Douglas...as did the voters.
On Election Day, Douglas won with 59 percent of the vote. Dunne garnered 38 percent, while third-party candidates received the remaining three percent.
The international community, including representatives from the League of Nations and the United Communities, by and large praised Douglas's re-election. Media in Saguenay hailed Douglas as a "statesman for the 21st century...who has proven his ability to bring nations from war into cooperation and peace. It would have been a shame to have lost him."
Douglas's inauguration was held January 20, 2011, in Montpelier. In his inauguration speech, Douglas reiterated that Vermont was to be a 'shining light' for the Atlantic region and the entire world, working towards peace and cooperation. He told reporters afterwards that it was "too early" to determine if he would run for a second four-year term in 2014.
2011: The American Spring
The first few months of Douglas's first four-year administration were as quiet as post-Doomsday Vermont had ever experienced. The bulk of his time was spent negotiating with the General Assembly on numerous domestic and regional economic projects. Officially his administration maintained a 'no comment' policy on Plymouth's disputes regarding former Massachusetts, but unofficially representatives of both countries continued to discuss ways to resolve the dispute.
On April 13, 2011, a group of 27 protesters, affiliated with a new political party called the Liberty Party, marched through Burlington, from the State House to Douglas's residence, in support of union with the United States successor government based in western North America.
The demonstration was peaceful - with no violence and no arrests. Early that afternoon - as the protesters were finishing up in front of the State House - Vermont Bureau of Investigation officials were tipped off that the protests were financed by the Committee to Restore the United States of America and that CRUSA agents were in the nation, with the eventual goal of destabilizing the Vermont government in a way that would move it to rejoin the western USA.
VBS Radio reported that as the group was breaking up, Vermont Bureau of Investigation agents asked to speak with the organizers; one agreed, while three others refused and began walking 'briskly' back to the Liberty Party headquarters eight blocks away from the State House. Those three - two men, one woman - were picked up by VBI officials three blocks down and taken to VBI headquarters for questioning. VBI spokeswoman Katherine Seelings told VBS Radio only that the Liberty Party organizers were 'persons of interest', and had no comment on a report that ran on Vermont News/Talk Radio Wednesday night and a related story to run in the Manchester Union-Leader newspaper Thursday, April 14. Union-Leader reporters, speaking to government officials on the condition of anonymity, learned that the Liberty Party organizers were asked about financing and influence by the Committee to Reform The United States of America (CRUSA), and potential actions by the organization aimed at destabilizing the Vermont government. President Douglas was not in the capital on Wednesday, as he was on the third day of a week-long trip to Canada and Saguenay; Douglas's press secretary had no comment Wednesday night for CBC reporters who asked him about the demonstration and the allegations.
Over the next few days, even as debate over the protests and arrests played out in Vermont and other regional media, the VBI and the President kept silent. Lawyers for the "Liberty Party Three" got to visit them on April 14, and got them released into the lawyers' custody on April 15.
April 18 saw a press conference held by the VBI, in which it announced that the Liberty Party Three were released with no evidence of seditious activities nor intentions against the Vermont government and its people, but that it was aware of "possible threats" against Vermont citizens and government facilities by "radical interests" somehow allied with either the CRUSA or the nearby nation of Plymouth.
The Liberty Party Three's main lawyer, Kenneth Brangton, called the charges "baseless...the government is grasping at straws because someone's threatened by a bunch of people down in Australia (referring to the CRUSA). Those Committee people are no threat to Vermont; these three people, and other members of the Liberty Party, are much less of a threat to this nation. They love Vermont, they love the ideals the United States stood for, and they are using their god-given and constitutional rights to speak their minds and hearts in a peaceful manner." Plymouth President Mark Stankiewicz said "Vermont's actions are an unfortunate step back in what we thought were slow, but steady, progress in building relations and solving our disputes. We know of no persons nor groups in our nation that even hope to threaten Vermont. Our disputes with Vermont over Massachusetts, and our displeasure at their political and military responses to those disputes, are well-known. But we would never stoop to what an agency of Vermont is effectively accusing us of: terrorism."
Over the next several weeks, the actions of the VBI proved to be controversial, surprisingly to government officials most so with the general public. Numerous media polls showed that anywhere from 60-70 percent of Vermonters believed the Liberty Party should be left alone, treated as any other political group. Up to 82 percent were said to believe the Liberty Party posed no threat to, well, anyone; 80 percent believed the Vermont government overreacted in some manner to the situation.
In the short-term, the situation shed light on the VBI, an organization that had been established soon after the founding of the Republic, but had largely stayed out of the limelight. Political pundits, along with prominent Senators, Representatives and Democratic Party members, called for "significant steps towards full transparency" regarding the department's purpose and actions. That criticism was not lessend by subsequent responses from President Douglas, and other government officials, stating that "full transparency" was not possible with such an agency, and attempts to convey how important the VBI was to national security.
May and June 2011 saw attempts by Douglas to connect with Plymouth President Stankiewicz in order to diffuse the political situation between the two countries. Taking hope in good relations amongst both nations' people and business communities, Douglas nevertheless remained uninterested in one of Plymouth's primary demands: formally ceding Vermont's portion of former Massachusetts to Plymouth. Talks regarding ceding the portion of uninhabited Massachusetts to Plymouth are said to be more responsive, with sticking points being when Plymouth would take formal possession of the territory.
As business leaders continue to press for both governments to reconcile and work together, some sort of compromise is seen as inevitable, but how it would look as of June 2011 was anyone's guess.