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tv   Economic History of Burlington  CSPAN  November 19, 2017 9:27pm-10:01pm EST

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time with this object? how did, even the people who were critical of our family and --itmned our family is true that work is done around primary sources but it is ultimately about people. that is what is interesting to me. thank you for the question. [applause] >> let me thank you all for comi ng and remind you there are copies of the book you can take home and take home with a signature. thank you for coming. announcer: you are watching american history tv, all
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weekend, every weekend on c-span three. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. >> the history of burlington, vermont is tied directly to lumber, textiles and even politics. next, we speak with local historians about the history of burlington and its role in vermont. vince: we are standing above what in the 1790's was referred to as burlington bay on lake champlain. of course, the fact that it is on lake champlain is part of the reasons why we have the city here today. the early europeans, the new englanders who came up here, allen, saw the
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potential of burlington bay as a port city. lake champlain flows north and it flows into the richelieu river. which then flows into the st. which gives burlington, interestingly enough even though it is an in land place, access to the atlantic ocean. early settlers saw that and became interested. but the area really did not take off, despite the attempts by ira allen to make this an important place by putting the university it the shire town of the county with the courts. it did not take off until 1823. in 1823, the champlain canal was finished which connected the southern end of lake champlain to the hudson river. in essence, it opened up all those markets to the south of vermont.
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one historian has said that before 1823, lake champlain tipped north. after 1823, it tipped south. burlington grew tremendously in the 1820's. having said that it grew tremendously, the population of burlington in 1830, seven years after the canal opened, was only 3000. in 1800, it had only been about 1000. it was a prosperous, little place in the 1820's. again, i emphasize the word little. in the 1840's, because of this connection, this waterway connection to canada, some very entrepreneurial types saw the potential for bringing canadian lumber up the richelieu river down to burlington.
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burlington, at that time, was being connected to the railroad system, which was in its embryonic form. railroads being introduced in this country in 1830's and 1840's. two railroad lines came into burlington by the late 1840's. burlington had the potential of people bringing down either raw timber or lumber. lumber that was milled in canada, into burlington. and then transported onto railroad cars and shipped to places south. that also meant that people that made various products out of wood, for example, broom handles, window frames, doors, were attracted to the area to come in, set up shop. they set up shop behind me to the west of me right down on the
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lake. that wood came in, it was either milled here and made into goods and shipped out. or it was simply transshipped to markets south as finished lumber. fortunately for burlington, maybe i should have mentioned this earlier, in the late 1830's, textile mills had been established in burlington's twin town, because it is right across the river from burlington. and that is the town of winooski. big wool and textile mills were built there. besides being a lumber town, burlington was also a textile town. that helped carry burlington through the difficult times when the lumber trade fell off. that lumber business grew tremendously, beginning with the civil war. beginning with the 1860's. right up to the end of the
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century, specifically right up to the early 1890's, there was one man who is primarily responsible about, a fellow called lawrence barnes, he figured out you put that lumber on railroad cars in burlington and there is money to be made. a well loved man, a great philanthropist, built a lot of prominent buildings in town. what they saw in the 1890's was a real dropping off in the lumber trade. that was a tricky time for burlington. what was going to pick it up? ironically, it was the world wars that carried the burlington area economy because of those textile mills. the textile mills in winooski were making a heavy woolen cloth that were made into blankets for the military, were made into topcoats, all the heavy
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materials. sadly, for burlington's history, the mills as we all know in new england, could not compete with the low labor cost and the low fuel cost of mills in the south. you did not have to heat mills in the south like you had to heat mills in new england. millwork began to dry up. in 1954, the big mills here and winooski, shut down. and through probably about 3000 -- and threw probably about 3000 workers in the area out of work. that was probably one of the real low points in burlington's history. the 1950's. fortunately, there was a group of businessmen, the publisher of the local newspaper, who put their heads together, created a development company, and this is
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a case where it really worked, and began trying to figure out, how do we bring jobs to the burlington area? burlington in the 1950's was a sleepy town, certainly was not the place it has become in the last 20 years. these businessmen who got together, what they decided to do was they would build a state-of-the-art facility that a business could move into. as luck would have it, just as gbic was looking for a tenant for this facility, ibm was looking for an expansion facility to build its chips and chose this facility. that was a game changer not just for burlington, but for the whole burlington area. it brought in good paying jobs. a lot of professionals.
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at the same time, a lot of those mill workers that have been put out of work when the mills closed, they could become line workers in the manufacturer of the chips, which were good paying jobs. all of a sudden, there was an infusion of new money, a new energy that came into the area. i think at its height, ibm around 1975 or 1980, employed 8000 or 9000 people. they were a major engine in the city. ibm is no longer here. but it was bought by a company called global industries. they are still in business. i would say in recent years, because of that excitement, all that money that came into the city, because of the fantastic growth of the university, the university has 14,000 students or so.
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back as recently as 1950, it had about 3000. that has been a major engine driving the local economy. also the hospital. the university hospital. it was a private hospital initially founded in the 1880's. it has grown tremendously. burlington became this surprisingly sophisticated place. and as probably many of your viewers know, in the last 25 years or so, burlington and a lot of either environmental magazines, outdoor magazines, has constantly been named as one of the best places to live in the united states. certainly, i think most people here would agree with that. except for maybe the tough months of march and april when there is still snow on the ground. we have talked about the local economy.
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one of the significant individuals in burlington's economic history was the man who built this home. it is now an office, by the way. built it as a home in the early 1840's. his name was timothy follett. old-timers would always refer to this place as the follett house. now it is known as the pomelo agency, named after the real estate company that owns it. timothy follett was an interesting man. he was born in bennington around 1800. came up to the university of vermont. he was in one of the first graduating class is at uvm purity he was one of those men like ira allen, lawrence barnes later on, who was very much forward thinking. he saw what was going to happen to burlington when the champlain canal opened in 1823.
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he kind of jumped careers at that point. he became a shipping magnate. he and another partner built a pier at the bay. they began acquiring boats, acquiring canal boats. follett was doing extremely well through the 1830's and 1840's. follett and his partner probably controlled 90% of the shipping on the lake. unfortunately in the 1840's, he made a serious business mistake. although you would not have thought so at the time. he saw -- he understood he was in the transportation business. he saw this new thing coming along, railroads. he became the leading investor and proponent of bringing a railroad line from over on the
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east side of the lake where lines were already coming up from boston, the east side of vermont along the connecticut river, he would build a line connecting those lines over to burlington. and he did that. he built a line that came into burlington in 1847, 1848. he was a little bit premature in the sense that the logging business that would develop in the late 1850's and in the 1860's was not quite there yet. follett ended up with a line that went from the east side of the state to burlington, the town of 3000 people, there was no traffic. also it was an expensive line to build because you had to go through the green mountains. so follett, who was one of the two wealthiest men in burlington in the 1830's and 1840's and is
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-- and this home is a relic of his wealth, he basically in the early 1850's goes belly up. he is impoverished. i'm not sure but he seems to be brokenhearted and disillusioned and depressed. burlington has produced some interesting political characters. one that i have been intrigued with for years as a man by the name of james edmund burke. burke was born in the early 1850's, learns the trade of blacksmith, moves into burlington around 1870 when he is 20 years old. he blacksmiths. his shop was not very far from where we are standing. probably a block or two over. he gained a reputation as the honest blacksmith.
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and he gets involved in politics. first as an alderman representing this area on the city council. in 1903, he takes on the republican establishment. the republicans were the textile people, the people. the business class had controlled the town. the town had become very diverse. we talk about diversity today as being more about a racial diversity or gender diversity. in those days, you had irish in burlington, french-canadians, we've had a fairly large jewish community in burlington, italians, lebanese, and all those people voted democrat. in 1903, they voted for burke. burke comes the second democratic mayor since the civil
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war. -- burke becomes the second democratic mayor since the civil war. there would be a long succession of irish mayors. burke would be mayor on and off, not consecutively, until the late 1930's. the last time burke was elected, i think he was 86 years old. he was elected in the midst of the depression because people wanted to shake things up. there was so much poverty. he was also an interesting character in the sense that he was very much a progressive. he wanted efficient government, he wanted city-owned utilities so private concerns would not be gouging thebe public. he was also socially very conservative. one year, he heard that emma goldman, the extreme left wing radical, was coming to town to give a talk. her advance man had rented a hall in the north end of
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burlington, the working class section of town. a half-hour before she is scheduled to show up to speak, burke shows up with two policeman armed and simply says, you are not going to speak in burlington. he was an interesting man that way. as i said, socially very conservative. but in many political ways, a progressive. but much beloved in the town. in terms of personalities, who have gone on to much bigger things, you had bernie sanders. bernie had come to vermont probably in the early 1970's. as many young people did. vermont already had that cachet of a place to get back to the earth, get back to your roots, be a real person, it away from corporate america. bernie was part of that movement.
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bernie threw his hat in the ring, the race for governor, i am in. race for house of representatives, i am in. he was a little bit of a laughingstock but he had a very clear message as we always know. he was very much for the working people. for the issues that concerned working people. in 1981, in a fluke election, a n incumbent mayor with french canadian background, well-known in the community, have been mayor for it quite a number of years, he was going to run, but there was one of the members and the old telling in community, ove who had a nice italian restaurant in town, very popular for years, there had been some ill feeling with
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dickey bove. he wanted to get the democratic mayor. bernie throws his hat in the ring. paquette still got most of the vote. but bove took enough votes away from him that bernie won the mayoral election, by i think 14 votes. bernie sanders, this person that no one thought would ever win an election, becomes mayor of burlington. what bernie showed, he brought in good, bright people to man posts andoast -- city set the groundwork for making burlington the progressive city it has become. something that we in burlington have known over the years, it might not be so readily apparent
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to someone who is visiting burlington from vermont, is epitomized by a saying, a joke, if you will, that we will pass around from time to time. the line is something like this -- the nicest ring about burlington is that it is so close to vermont. the reason it is meaningful is because i think everyone's image of vermont, even those of us who lives in it, is of this rural state, maybe a little backward in its ways, maybe a picture of america that used to exist but does not exist anymore. where in fact burlington is an extremely sophisticated place. it is sophisticated on a very small scale. we have a population of 41,000, 42,000. but you have the headquarters of
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all the banks here. you have the courts here. you have the main offices for most vermont businesses of any size. you have a very educated population here. it is not this backward, rural place that people think of when they think of vermont. >> our cities tour staff recently traveled to burlington, vermont to learn about its rich history. learn more about burlington and other stops on our tour at c-span.org/citiestour. you're watching american history tv all week every weekend on c-span3. >> ethan allen is known as the father of vermont. but this brash, controversial american patriot ruffled many feathers along the way. join us as we learn more about
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this complex individual as we visit the ethan our homestead museum and historic site in burlington, vermont. >> ethan allen was one of vermont's founding fathers. he was the first colonel commandant of the original green mountain boys. which was an unofficial militia organization that was trying to protect the land rights of new hampshire settlers in early vermont. before vermont was even a state or thought of. ethan allen was born in litchfield, connecticut. he actually moved -- he lived in several towns in connecticut. he was known as a scholar there. he was actually studying to enter yale when he had to leave when his father died to manage the family affairs. he had been forced out of several towns because of his dissident religious beliefs.
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he was a commercial game hunter at one point and he traveled extensively through this area in what is now vermont, which was unclaimed disputed territory until the 1740's and 1750's and into the 1760's. that was what brought him here for the first time. initially, vermont was claimed by both new hampshire and new york. both colonies and both governors would begin chartering towns in this area. new hampshire especially was especially active in doing this. the governor's name was benny wentworth. the governor of new york disputed the governor of new hampshire's right to issue land claims in this area, and the matter was put before the king's privy council. the council ruled that the land that is now vermont rightfully belongs to new york. the governor of new york had a charter issued by charles the
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second, later affirmed by queen ne, and they officially gave control of what is now vermont to new york. but there was still ambiguity as to what would happen to be people who purchased land from new hampshire. are those valid purchases or are they invalid purchases? the governor of new york stated that he would be willing to honor the new hampshire land titles if they had been purchased from him. essentially asking people to pay for their land twice. this is at a time where you could own hundreds of acres and have no money, be mortgaged heavily, so people were either not disposed to do it or not in a position to do it. in a sense, the new hampshire settlers were given two choices. either have their land sold from under them, or pay the fees to new york to have it validated. people chose both options, but a lot of people chose to resist.
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they formed an unofficial organization later called the green mountain boys. the green mountain boys were at one time the largest paramilitary force in north america. the numbers range from anywhere around 350 to as many as 1000 people that were members. allen,nd one, -- ethan who had arrived and purchased land titles in 1770, was elected to colonel. the green mountain boys acted as an unwelcoming committee. there are lots of stories, stories of beatings, stories of general intimidation, stories of houses being burnt down, new york settlers arriving to find new hampshire settlers already on their land. this area was really in a state of dispute. if you look at it, it was almost a state of civil war between people who bought land from new hampshire and people who bought land from new york.
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new york did issue arrest warrants for the green mountain boys. they were declared an outlaw organization. warner and, seth several other leaders were declared outlaws and had warrants issued for their arrests. the reward for capturing ethan allen was 80 pounds sterling. this continued for several years until a larger conflict came in to take over. that was that great britain had 20 colonies in north america and a revolt started in 13 of them. so the green mountain boys were involved in most of the actions in the northern campaign of the american revolution. one of the most well-known actions was the attack on fort ticonderoga. on may 10, 1775, the green mountain boys attacked fort
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ticonderoga and captured it without a shot being fired. part of the reason they captured it without a shot being fired, the garrison at the fort had not yet received word that an official revolt had begun. they were not prepared or on guard for defense. also, the fort was in a major state of disrepair at that time. most of the garrison were nearing the end of their careers as soldiers. they captured that fort on may 10. the next day, seth warner led a pointment capture crown in new york. all the canon that they secured were brought down through the adirondacks by colonel henry knox and they were set up on dorchester heights. they were used to drive off the british fleet and reopened boston harbor. appearedhan allen
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before congress. they were officially recognized as a regiment of the continental army. as one of the first official continental regiments. ethan would not remain in command of this regiment. the green mountain boys elected their officers. there was a lot of politics being played in the early continental congress. but also within the command apparatus of the continental army. ethan lost command of the green mountain boys in favor of his cousin, seth warner. ethan did stay on as a scout when the american army invaded canada in 1775. during the invasion of canada, the green mountain boys were involved in the attacks on montreal, the attacks on quebec city, would participate in the retreat of canada in 1776.
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ethan allen had led and advanced party with the intent of getting the canadians to support the american cause. he intended to attack montreal. he was unsuccessful in this. in fact, the attack on montreal was a botch and ethan was taken prisoner. he would remain a prisoner of war for three years. after he was freed, he published a famous account of his captivity and it described that he was beaten quite often, starvation, disease, but he was kept there for three years and he was exchanged for a british colonel. the exchange was negotiated by alexander hamilton. the policies and procedures that were created during the revolution to exchange ethan allen continued to influence u.s. prisoner of war policy through the civil war. burlington was very uninhabited during the revolution. there were maybe six households
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before the revolution. most of them evacuated while the war was going on for fear of ids coming south from canada. after ethan was freed from captivity, his health was severely ruined, his first wife had died, his son had died. he wanted to live the quiet life. he and his brother owned a land speculating business. it was not doing well financially. he decided to dissolve the partnership. this was part of his settlement. he received 1400 acres of prime land in burlington, and he decided to settle for his life as a frontier farmer and philosopher. but he settled on his 1400 acre estate to live that life of a frontier philosopher, or as he called it, a clot hopper
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philosopher, and he had his brother build a house for him on the land. this house was built by josiah april in 1785 and 1786. ethan and his family moved into it in 1787. the house behind me is the original house. it was continuously lived in until the late 1970's, early 1980's. each family that lived there added onto it in little bit. when the museum took it over, we had to remove all of the modern pieces. as they began moving the modern pieces, they found the original framework, the original sheathing, the original beams, and the original foundation that all dates back to the 1780's construction. a lot of it was dated by the shape of nails, the type of nails use, the construction methodology, and this house, the original foundation matches the
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description or the dimensions that ethan had asked for it to be built. the house was completely restored back to how it would have looked in the 18th century. this is where ethan spent the last two years of his life. vermont did not ratify the constitution and become the 14th state until 1791. ethan died two years earlier. he never got to actually see vermont become an independent state within the united states. in final negotiation, vermont agreed to compensate new york for its lost territory. we joined the union in february, 1791. we were the first state admitted after the original 13. if not for the actions of ethan allen and the other green mountain boys, vermont may very well have looked different than it does today.
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traveledaff recently to burlington, vermont, to learn more about its rich history. learn more about burlington and other stops at c-span.org/cities tour. you are watching american history tv all weekend on cspan3. artifactsek, american takes you to museums and historic places to learn about american history. next, we visit the henry ford museum in dearborn, michigan, to see the garage where ford built his first car, the quadricycle. historic structures curator kym johnson shows us his childhood home, where he was born in 1863. both buildings were relocated to greenfield village, the living history section of the henry ford.

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