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Free State of Montzoar Palatinate
Freistaat Montzoar-Pfalz
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: " Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit"
Anthem: Montzoar Stand Tall
Capital Montzoar
Largest village Montzoar
Official languages German English
 -  Elector-Palatine Khristina Bormann (Social Democratic Party)
 -  Second Elector-Palatine Erik Trump (Social Democratic Party)
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  July 2000 estimate 170,000 (385th)
GDP (PPP) 2000 estimate
 -  Total $95.2 million (47th)
 -  Per capita $39,0401 (11th)
Currency United States dollar (USD)
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4 (DST) (UTC+10)
 -  Summer (DST) (no DST) (UTC)
Calling code 1-802
Internet TLD .gu
1. 2000 estimate.

The Free State of Montzoar Palatinate (German: Freistaat Montzoar-Pfalz) is a small semi-autonomous region located within the boundaries of the U.S. State of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. It was settled by immigrants from the former German state of Hesse-Kassel.



During the American Revolution more than 30,000 German soldiers termed "Hessians" because most of them came from the former German state of Hesse-Kassel, had been brought to battle as mercenaries by Great Britain. At the war's conclusion 17,313 Hessians returned to Germany. More than 5,000 were financially unable to return to Germany, or faced debtors' prison there, and chose not to return. During the Revolution an estimated 7,600 died, about 1,200 of these were killed in action, and the rest died from accident or disease. Nearly 3,000 of the hired soldiers following the example of Count Carl Emil von Donop and changed their allegiance to the United States or the Vermont Republic which was aligned with the Continental Congress and Continental Army.

In 1785 Thomas Chittenden, first governor of the Vermont Republic began negotiations with Hessian leader Brigadier Commander Herbert Wienhold (born at Kassel, August 14, 1751, died at Montzoar Palatinate, December 9, 1828) on the establishment of a Hessian settlement in the form of a grant of a 5.5 square mile area located in the present Northeast Kingdom as a semiautonomous homeland for the 2,373 Hessians who had aligned with Vermont and the United States. On July 8, 1789 Moses Robinson, second governor of the Vermont Republic, and Wienhold initialed an agreement at Windsor outlining the establishment of the settlement. On December 8, 1789 the General Assembly and Council of Censors ratified creation of the new Hessian homeland to be styled the " Free State of Montzoar Palatinate." Robinson and Wienhold signed the accord on December 14, 1789 at Castleton to take affect on January 1, 1790.


By spring of 1790 453 Hessian men had moved into the Montzoar Palatinate. An October 1790 Zählung (census) recorded 5 American born women of English ancestry, 6 American born women of Scottish ancestry, 14 Indisch Frauen (Native American women), 1 American born woman of Bavarian ancestry, and 21 women born in Hesse-Kassel, Germany also moved into the new free state. Land was cleared and planted, venison was preserved by drying, a saw-mill was erected near the Staves Brook, and 244 log and sod cabins were built in a dense village pattern to keep land open for agriculture. Settlement was rapid, and the dense layout of Montzoar houses differed dramatically from land use in Vermont towns and villages where a more open style of development, similar to rural England, was taking place.

By November 1790 an additional 447 Hessian men had moved into the Palatinate. The ratio of men to women was now about 32:1, and prompted the term Mannwinter (man winter) for the winter of 1790–1791. A diary entry for February 21, 1791 describes a dinner in the community house, where after there was beer, music, and dancing, and men had to dance with men, or wait nearly an hour for a turn to dance briefly with a women. To address the imbalance, ads seeking new women settlers were placed in the newspapers of American states with large German settlements and in Germany. Transportation for new women settlers was paid for by a public subscription. Lutheran churches also circulated handbills, promising "rich land, handsome and kind men, and gentle seasons." By early January of 1792 nearly 400 German-born women had arrived in the Palatinate. But an additional 138 Hessian men, most unmarried, did little to alleviate the imbalance. An 1800 census recorded a population of 1,270 persons, 593 were adult males, 268 were adult females, 409 were children. Only two decades later, the 1820 census recorded a growing population of 3,863 persons. Much of the population growth occurred by birth, but two substantial waves of Hessians and other German speaking U.S. immigrants arrived in 1814 and 1817. The largest increase in new non-native born residents occurred in the three years following the Financial Panic of 1884 when the population ballooned to near its present number of 19,000. Unemployed German speaking workers from the U.S. and from eastern Canada were attracted to the Montzoar Palatinate's stave and barrel making industry, as well as the agricultural sector which grew apples, cabbage, fennel, hops, potatoes, winter wheat, and high-bush cranberries.

Development and early prosperity[edit]

Growth of the Montzoar Palatinate's population and the establishment of agriculture and light industries was rapid, especially in comparison with neighboring English-speaking Vermont towns. By 1820 the Montzoar Palatinate had 6 sawmills, 2 gristmills, 2 brick kilns, a linen mill, 3 banks, 3 lace-makers, 27 apiaries, 2 potteries, a brewery, 4 stave and barrel factories, 4 cabinetmakers' shops, and 2 private printing presses. Excess wheat flour was sold as far away as Montreal. Agricultural produce was sold in Burlington, Vermont, Sherbrooke, Quebec and Montreal. Large wood and brick houses were built in the Montzoar Palatinate's densely laid out village. In 1833 construction was begun on four new buildings to replace the crude temporary public buildings built in 1791 and 1792. Two of these exist today in the old post office which is now occupied by the State Historical Museum and Study Center, and the central portion of the Regierunghaus (government house).


Most of the original settlers in the Montzoar Palatinate spoke German exclusively. Herbert Wienhold the founder and first Elector-Palatine (governor) of the Montzoar Palatinate spoke German, English, and French. Wienholm fostered the idea that to live in the new world, all citizens of the Palatinate must also speak English. His example took root in the form of Paragraph 14 in the Constitution of the Free State of Montzoar Palatinate which establishes two official languages, English as well as German, and requires instruction in both. Proximity to the almost exclusively English speaking state of Vermont contributed to the use of English. Close proximity to Quebec, and the Palatinate's trade with the French speaking Canadian province, in modern times for hydroelectricity, has caused the use of French to increase.

Both at the conclusion of the First World War, and again as World War II approached the Montzoar Palatinate considered completely abandoning the German language out of fear of being perceived by Americans as sympathizers with Germany. While several business changed the lettering on their signs and trucks to English and abandoned the Fraktur types to appear less Germanic, use of the language did not decline, and the Bildungsministerium der Montzoar (Montzoar Department of Education) in 2005 reported that 100 percent of citizens aged 14 and above are fluent in German, and 94 percent are conversationally proficient in English.



The Montzoar Palatinate continues to be governed by its 1790 constitution, called Die Verfassung des Freistaat der Montzoar Pfalz (The Constitution of the Free State of Montzoar Palatinate), which like the Constitution of Vermont and Constitution of the United States divides power into three co-equal branches. The constitution is organized around a series of numbered paragraphs. Paragraphs 1 through 8 act as a bill of rights. Universal male suffrage is established in Paragraph 1. Slavery and indentured servitude is outlawed in Paragraph 2. Paragraph 3 establishes a free unregulated press. Paragraph 4 establishes freedom of conscience and religion. Paragraph 5 establishes the right of public assembly. Paragraph 6 forbids unwarranted government intrusion in private homes. Paragraph 7 establishes the right to a free public education to age 16. Paragraph 8 establishes the right to seek redress of grievances.

Paragraph 57 specifies that on completion of secondary school each graduating student receive copies of the Constitution of the Free State of Montzoar Palatinate. In 1947 that paragraph was amended to also include distributing copies of the Constitution of the State of Vermont, and the United States Constitution.

Four constitutional conventions[edit]

The constitution has been amended in convention four times. In 1862 a constitutional convention placed control of the Montzoar Palatinate's infantry battalions under control of the Governor of Vermont so that they could be activated to fight with Union forces in the American Civil War. In 1919 a constitutional convention, amended the constitution to allow women's suffrage, and allowed women to seek and hold public office. The constitutional convention of 1947 was the longest, lasting 16 days, and made the most dramatic changes. The 1947 convention ended the Grundbesitzer Electoral College, a group of landowning proprietors who selected the Elector-Palatine, and replaced it with direct elections. The 1947 convention also ended compulsory military service for men, and reduced the already small military to four purely ceremonial battalions. In 2003 a fourth constitutional convention established a provision for same-sex civil marriage, the protection of water quality, the regulation of environmental impact in the areas of carbon emissions, and limits on energy consumption.

Executive power[edit]

1909 postcard of the Zustandhaus in the Montzoar Palatinate. Built in 1833, the building is modeled on the New Guards House in Berlin by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. A fire in March 1971 damaged the interior which has since been restored.

Paragraph 9 outlines executive power vested in an Elector-Palatine and Second Elector. The Elector Palatine is head of state, and was originally elected to a seven year term by the now defunct Grundbesitzer Electoral College established by Paragraph 21 of the constitution. In 1947 direct election to a 4 year term was adopted. The Elector Palatine lives and works in the Zustandhaus. The Zustandhaus is modeled on architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel's Neue Wache in Berlin, Germany. It was largely rebuilt in 1971 following a fire that destroyed much of the interior.

Legislative branch[edit]

The Montzoar Palatinate has a two chamber legislature. The upper house is called the Haus der Grundbesitzer (House of Land Proprietors), and has 16 members. Members have a 6 year term and half are elected every 3 years. From 1791 until 1947 the Haus der Grundbesitzer was reserved for the largest landowners. In 1947 a constitutional convention was convened under pressure from the Montzoar Palatinate's two largest political parties, the Demokratische Sozial Partei (Social Democratic Party) and the Freie Boden-Partei (Free Soil Party) both seeking a more democratic and open political system.

The lower house is called the Völkerhaus (People's House). It has 44 members who have a four year term. Half of the body is elected every two years. Most laws originate in the Völkerhaus, are debated there, and if a simple majority is achieved the bill moves next to the Haus der Grundbesitzer. If a simple majority is achieved in both houses, the bill is reviewed by a resolution committee made up of members of both houses. A final version is voted on and if approved by a two-thirds majority automatically becomes law following a 30 day period where the high court may review it. If a bill passes with a smaller majority it must be signed by the Elector Palatine in order to become law.

The Haus der Grundbesitzer and the Völkerhaus meet in a three-story neoclassical building called the Regierunghaus. Begun in 1833, it is the single largest building in the Free State of Montzoar Palatinate.

The Judiciary[edit]

Law in the Free State of Montzoar Palatinate is interpreted by the Hohes Gericht (high court). Montzoar Palatinate law is a combination of Roman law, German law and American law. Tort, probate, land, and family law are administered by 3 Montzoar Palatinate district courts. Unlike either Vermont or American courts judges are called Doktors (doctors). Crimminal law is administered by Vermont state courts and the U.S. District court. The high court originally met in a room in the Regierung Haus. In 1957 a separate building called the Justizpalast Hohes Gericht was built for the high court.


Mainstream political parties[edit]

The Montzoar Palatinate has three major political parties, and several smaller ones. The largest political party both in terms of voter registration and elected office-holders is the Social Democratic Party of Montzoar. The next largest is the Free Soil Party. The Social Democratic Party and Free Soil Party have maintained a coalition governing majority for all but 6 years (1982–1988) since 1933. In 1982, for the first time since 1928 candidates of the Nationaler Demokratischer Union (National Democratic Union) won the offices of Elector-Palatine, Second Palatine, and a majority of seats in the House of Land Proprietors. For two years they formed a majority governing coalition with the Lutherische Landwirt-Partei (Lutheran Farmers Party).

Smaller parties[edit]

Since 1971 several smaller parties have joined the political scene. The New Democratic Party, slightly more conservative than the Social Democratic Party, has won seats in the lower house, and caucuses with the Social Democratic and Free Soil parties. The Green Party, once having over 25 percent of the seats in the lower house has had only minimal representation since 2000. In 1999 a new party called Progressive Partei Montzoar (PPM), affiliated with the Vermont Progressive Party, has won seats in both houses. A small conservative party called Lutherische Landwirt-Partei (Lutheran Farmers Party) presently has 1 seat in the upper house. That party's delegates opposed same-sex civil marriage during the 2003 constitutional convention.

Relations with Vermont[edit]

Relations between the Montzoar Palatinate and Vermont have historically been friendly and open. The Palatinate's status as "semi-autonomous" has never been formally defined though attempts to codify it in Vermont law have been made on several occasions. The low incidence of crime in the Montzoar Palatinate, and its historic cooperation with the state of Vermont have helped maintain what both parties describe as the policy of "Good Neighbor Relations." The 2003 constitutional convention produced some friction with the state of Vermont concerning environmental law, and concerns about how recognition of same-sex marriage in the Montzoar Palatinate would affect Vermont state courts.

Residents of the Montzoar Palatinate do not file Vermont state income tax returns but instead file with the Palatinate revenue authority. The state of Vermont is reimbursed for road care of the one Vermont state highway passing through the Palatinate, and for per diem social services the Palatinate uses.

The Governor of Vermont is customarily invited to the installation ceremony of a new Elector-Palatine, and the sitting Elector-Palatine of the Montzoar Palatinate is invited to the inauguration of a new governor in Vermont.

Relations with the United States[edit]

The United States government has never formally recognized the Montzoar Palatinate. Citizens of the Montzoar Palatinate file U.S. Internal Revenue Service tax returns on income. Citizens of the Palatinate pay U.S. Social Security withholding tax and are eligible to receive benefits. The U.S. Postal service treats the Montzoar Palatinate as a Vermont town, but the Montzoar Palatinate delivers local mail within the Palatinate. The U.S. Census Bureau regards the Palatinate as a Vermont town.

In 1959 U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, himself of German ancestry, visited the Palatinate during Octoberfest. Hermann Ruder, the Elector-Palatine received him on the lawn of the Zustandhaus with a 21 gun salute and played the U.S. National anthem. The two men attended a concert, visited the Bratwurst Festival, and shared lunch. Some members of the U.S. Press and the State Department were offended that the president was received like a foreign head of state. The president staff prepared what they thought would be an oblique response that would subtly indicate the Palatinate was a part of the U.S. They wanted Eisenhower to say "Montzoar, Vermont was one of the friendliest towns in America. Ike completely avoided the sovereignty issue by saying "Montzoar was just about the friendliest place I've been all year."


The economy is focused upon sustainable agriculture. Once the Montzoar Palatinate economy was dominated by barrel making, wool, linen, honey, and cheeses. Today honey and cheese remain a large part of the economy but has been joined by the raising of ruby-eyed white (REW) German Angora rabbits. The fur produces high quality wool, and most of it is exported to Italy and France for the fashion industry. Year round movable green houses produce peppers, salad greens, and tomatoes year round. The Montzoar Palatinate has the highest per-square foot production of mushrooms in North America. If the Palatinate were a Vermont town it would have the second highest per-capita income. While tourists are welcome, and contribute to the hospitality sector of the economy, this part of the economy has not been actively developed.


  • Lichtman, Horst. Montzoar: a German Free State in New England. Montzoar State Historical Museum and Study Center: 1957.
  • Schultheis, Edna M., and Earl V. Orton. A Country in a Kingdom in a State: the Story of Vermont's Montzoar Palatinate. The Abelard Press: 1995. ISBN 0-9648817-0-5.
  • Schumacher, Franz, and Gerhart Weiss. Herbert Wienhold's Vision for a German Homeland in Vermont. Fritz Lederer Institute for German-American Studies, Lyndon Normal School: 1928.
  • Thatcher, Brent. "A German Village in Vermont, New England's Best Kept Secret." Yankee Magazine, July 1997.
  • Weinhold, Klaus, Eva Kollwitz, et al. Statistiken betreffend sind Sprache. Bildungsministerium der Montzoar: 2005.