Hi Richard _ I have been meaning to get backto you - I hope that this isn't
too late. Last year I did a talk entitled <How the Civil War Changed
Vermont>. Part of my text is excerpted here:
"The war hastened the industrial and technological revolution by a
generation or two, as factories geared up to produce goods for the war. It
fostered an era of rapid urbanization into the industrial and commercial
centers of the north. Many moved to the city from rural areas to find work,
and immigration brought hundreds of thousands of people to the United
This was true in Vermont. Some Vermont towns, especially those on the
railroad, grew rapidly, fed by wartime contracts and the money that they
brought. Many jobs were created, and sectors of the Vermont economy boomed.
Centers of wartime activity prospered: Burlington, Rutland, Brattleboro,
Bennington, St. Albans, and St. Johnsbury, for example.
This is going to rearrange Vermont's political landscape and its
demographics. Along with the war-induced prosperity of some commercial
centers in Vermont came the "drying up" of many of the rural hill towns.
Many residents of these hill towns moved to the industrial and commercial
towns to find work. Many emigrated from the state altogether, as lands to
the west were opened by the railroad. As these towns shrank, the other "big
towns" grew in population, economic vitality, and political clout. This
helps to establish the "big town - little town" rivalry that prevails in
state politics for decades.
Finally, I would like to address the notion that the Civil War caused a
mass exodus of former soldiers and their families from the state. The
argument is that soldiers in the war, once they left Vermont and saw the
rest of the world, did not bother to return. Or, if they returned, it was
to get their families, settle their affairs, and then move to greener
pastures out of state.
One can cite the population figures for the state in 1860 and in 1870 to
discredit this. In 1860, the population was about 315,000; in 1870 it had
grown to about 330,000. This is a gain of 15,000 persons, or about 5%. If
there was a mass migration, why isn't there a decrease in the overall
First, the war, rather than beginning an exodus of young Vermonters from
the state, continued it and perhaps gave further impetus for emigration.
Surely, as soldiers in the Union Army these young men had seen flatter
ground, better soil, warmer weather, and a longer growing season south of
New England. It must have induced them to move south, or west, as
Vermonters before them had done. Indeed, George Benedict cites that in 1860
over 68,000 Vermont natives were living in other states of the Union.
Another source states that 42% of Vermont born citizens were living out of
state in 1860.
Secondly, offsetting this continued emigration, many European and Franco
American immigrants from Canada moved into Vermont, lured by jobs in the
developing industries. This meant a shift in the make up as well as the
size of the population. Therefore, under what looks to be a rather static
number is an active rearrangement of the population."
Hope that helps.
Jack and Dee Anderson
RR 2 Box 164
Woodstock, VT 05091