LCB Metals & Glass Since 1993
VTMap.gif (1868 bytes) You name it, and we did it, but many times, we did it first. Sometimes first in the world, and more often, first in the USA. I'm happy to present this compilation of interesting things we Vermonters were responsible for throughout American history. Thanks to all contributors, past and present.

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Calvin Coolidge was born in Plymouth Vermont, on July 4, 1872, and became the 30th president, (so we invented him, OK?)  As president, he broadcast the first radio address to America from the White House.

Vermont was the first State to join the original thirteen colonies in the new Union after the ratification of the Constitution on March 4, 1791.

Vermont's State Constitution was the first such document to outlaw slavery in 1777.

In 1954, Consuelo Northrup Bailey of Fairfield, Vermont was elected as the first female Lieutenant Governor in US history.

The first State Constitution to abolish the requirement that voters must be property owners was Vermont's in 1777.

The first American Revolutionary War soldier to shed British blood was at the Battle of Lexington, April 18, 1775. Solomon Brown of New Haven, Vermont, fired the first effective shot in the Revolutionary War.

The first use of the stars and stripes flag to lead American armed forces on land was the Bennington Flag used at the Battle of Bennington on August 16, 1777 by Colonel John Stark who routed a group of German mercenaries.

The first state to offer additional troops in the Civil War was Vermont.

The first United States Ambassador to the United Nations was Warren R. Austin of Burlington, Vermont. Before that, Austin was a United States Senator.

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US Patent Number One, signed by George Washington in 1790, was issued to Samuel Hopkins of Pittsford, for a process he had developed for making potash from firewood ashes. Vermont's first main economy was founded on this ingredient of soap manufacturing.

The first US Postage stamp was printed in Brattleboro in 1846, and officially issued by Postmaster Frederick N. Palmer. The US Post Office began Rural Free Delivery for the first time in Grand Isle, Vermont.

The first Social Security benefits check, in the amount of $22.54 and numbered check #00-000-001,  was issued on  January 31, 1940 to Ida May Fuller, a Ludlow, Vermont widow. By the time she died in 1975 at the age of 100, Ida had received more than $20,000 in benefits.

Civil unions were first signed into law by the Vermont legislature in July 2000.

The first state absentee voting law was enacted in 1896 by Vermont.

The first bottle bill, used to deter littering, was drafted by the Vermont legislature. Soon after, it was used as a blueprint for a similar bill in Oregon.

Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords, Republican, was the first in America to shift the balance of power in the Senate during a non-election year by switching parties from Republican to Independent in June, 2001. After his affiliation change, the Senate seats numbered 50 Democrats, 49 Republicans and one Independent.

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Lemuel Haynes became the first black Pastor of a white congregation in America in 1783 in Brandon, Vermont.

Joseph Smith of Sharon, Vermont founded the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was Smith who reportedly received the Golden Plates of Nephi, which became the foundation for the Book of Mormon. Later, Brigham Young of Whitingham, Vermont led the Mormons to their present home in Utah.

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The first platform scale was invented in St Johnsbury, Vermont by Thaddeus Fairbanks, in 1830. (Thanks PP)

Tree grafting wax was invented in 1773 by Dr. David Millington of Shaftsbury, Vermont. It was originally made of tallow, rosin and beeswax.

Wilson A. Bentley of Jericho, Vermont was the first person to photograph individual snowflakes. He prepared a velvet covered board by refrigerating it to near zero and then used it to catch the snowflakes. He then place them under a microscope equipped with a camera, also in a refrigerated area. It earned him the nickname, "Snowflake" Bentley, after an article about him was published in a magazine by Henry Crocker of Fairfax, Vermont.

Laughing gas was discovered by Gardner Colton of Georgia, but Horace Wells of White River Junction, Vermont was the first person in America to use laughing gas as an anesthetic for pulling teeth in 1844.

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The first state symphony orchestra was founded in Rutland, Vermont on Jan 5, 1935, with Alan Carter conducting.

The first comedic stage play in America was written by Royall Tyler of Brattleboro, a lawyer. Entitled "The Contrast", the play was first produced in NYC in 1787. Later, Tyler wrote the first American novel to be published outside of America, called "The Algerine Captive".

Violin cases and guitar cases designed to protect the contents from damage during transportation were invented by Joel A.H. Ellis of Springfield, Vermont in the mid 1800's, replacing the canvas bags or traditional luggage previously used.  He also invented a few other things. Look below.

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The ventilated fly fishing reel was developed in Vermont by Charles Orvis of Manchester, who devised a method of allowing fishing lines to dry quickly on the reel. His invention was so successful that the company he founded in 1856, (still in Manchester), remains as one of the country's most known suppliers of fishing and sporting goods.

Julio Buel of Castleton Vermont invented the Fishing Spoon lure in 1830. He patented it and established a company to manufacture it, which is still in business today.

The first gold medal in the Olympic nordic skiing event awarded to an American was won by Bill Koch of Guilford, Vermont  in 1976.

The first ski lift in America was set up in Woodstock in 1934. It was powered by a Model T Ford engine, and consisted of a long rope and two pulleys. Later improvements on the idea were also invented and implemented in Vermont. The J Bar was invented at ski areas in Manchester, the T Bar in Pico, and the first time a chair was incorporated into a ski lift took place at Mt. Mansfield, Vermont in 1940. In addition, the first snow grooming for skiing took place at Bromley Mountain, and the Graduated Length Method of ski instruction began in Vermont at Hogback. Vermonter C. Minot Dole created the National Ski Patrol in 1938 in the town of Stowe.

Kelly Clark, of Mt. Snow Vermont, was the first American to win a gold medal in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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The first turret lathe was invented by James Hartness of Springfield, Vermont around 1900. He was the Governor of Vermont for a time, and his family still runs a bed and breakfast business in Springfield today.

The country's first granite quarry was opened on Cobble Hill in Barre just after the War of 1812. Operated by Robert Parker and Thomas Courser, the quarry marked the beginning of one of Vermont's largest industries. In fact, there were over 3500 stonecutters in Barre Town alone before the advent of automatic quarrying tools. The first marble quarry was started at East Dorset in 1785 by Isaac Underhill.

First mass-produced nails, cut from steel rods, were made in Vermont.

A device for dampening shirt collars to assist in cleaning them was invented in Vermont, and led to the beginnings of the professional laundering business in America.

The first navigational canal in America was started in 1791 and took 10 years to complete. Construction costs exceeded $100,000 and the canal never showed a profit over the next 75 years. Located in Bellows Falls, the man-made waterway was designed by John Atkinson of London, England and required a series of 9 locks to cross the falls.

The first agricultural society for dairymen, the Vermont Dairy Association, was organized in 1869 in Montpelier, Vermont.

The first electric railway, American-made printing press, American-built piano, and motor were built by Thomas Davenport, a blacksmith from Brandon, Vermont. He was also the editor of the first electrical journal. In 1834 his electric motor used threads from his wife's wedding dress to wind the armature.

The steel carpenter's square was invented by Silas Hawes of Shaftsbury, Vermont in 1814.

Sandpaper was invented by Isaac Fisher of Springfield Vermont in 1834.

Toy carts, as sold in America were invented by Joel A.H. Ellis of Springfield in the mid 1800's. Ellis also invented doll carriages and jointed dolls.

A Vermonter was the first to create paper from wood pulp in America. William Russel of Bellows Falls did it in 1869, and he went on to become the president of International Paper, the same company we know today.

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In addition to being the first state to provide for a state-funded university in its Constitution, Vermont built the first Land-Grant Act college under a national plan conceived by Vermonter Justin Morrill of Strafford. The first agricultural college in America (as it is known officially, "The University of Vermont and State Agricultural College"), was thus begun. The first grade school, that is, a building constructed for the express and sole purpose of grade school education,  was in Springfield, Vermont, which still exists today, and the first school specifically established for the college training of women was also in Vermont. That school was established by Emma Willard at Middlebury in 1814. The first private military academy was also founded in Vermont. (See below.) 

The first American Boy Scout Club was organized in Barre, Vermont in 1909 by William F. Milne, a Scottish immigrant. This organization became the Boy Scouts of America within a few months of it's establishment, on February 8, 1910, finding a home base in Missouri.

The Head Start program, used to prepare disadvantaged preschool children for elementary school, was begun in East Fairfield Vermont with a class of 12 children.

The first private military academy (Norwich University) originally called The American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy, was founded by Capt. Alden Partridge in 1819. He believed that education should be more physically oriented, and the result was a military/business school hybrid of great renown in it's day. The school's current location is in Northfield Vermont, and has flourished since 1866.

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Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson, a Burlington physician, made the first transcontinental crossing by car in a two-cylinder, open-top Winton in 1903-04. He was accompanied by a mechanic named Crocker and a dog named Bud. It all happened because of a $50 bet. At the time, there was not a single mile of paved rural highway in the US. The roads as existed were unmarked dirt tracks, swamps in wet months and heavily rutted in dry. Steep uphill stretches across the Rockies often required driving in reverse, due to the lack of a fuel pump permitting gasoline to flow away from the engine rather than to it. The trip took 65 days, and Doc Jackson received his $50 a month later.

Clothespins were first made in a sawmill in Springfield, Vermont.

The Morgan horse was introduced to America in Vermont in 1795. The Morgan was known for it's ability to be both a riding horse and a draft horse, but also for it's dependability in passing on the traits for those abilities to offspring.  Joshua Stoddard of Pawlet, Vermont was first known for his invention of the horse-drawn rake, (try to get a mental picture of exactly how that would be done).  Josh also invented a longer lasting invention, the Steam Calliope, still used in circuses world wide.

The first rubber eraser was invented in Vermont. Apparently, other states had a need for them.

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Montpelier is the only state capital without a McDonald's inside the city limits.

Until 1996, Vermont was the only state without a Wal-Mart. We have since fallen, now with 5 stores in our midst.

Vermont was the last to allow cell phone transmission towers outside the borders of it's largest towns.

Vermont was the last state to acquire a semi-professional football team. The team, known as the Vermont Ice Storm, began it's first practice season in 2001. Finally, I can rest easy, knowing we are prepared to resist incursion from those other semi-professional football teams that surround us.

Vermont was, and is to this day, the last state to allow the carrying of a firearm without a Government permit to carry. Missouri has tried to amend their carry laws, and uses the Vermont law as it's model. Vermont is also the last state to be free from a federal requirement to annually balance their state budget. We have good credit in Washington.


Source: Vermont Firsts Collection