Daniel Pierce Thompson

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For other people named Daniel Thompson, see Daniel Thompson (disambiguation).
Thompson in 1856's Cyclopaedia of American Literature. Volume II.

Daniel Pierce Thompson (October 1, 1795 – June 6, 1868) was an American author and lawyer who served as Vermont Secretary of State and was New England's most famous novelist prior to Nathaniel Hawthorne.[1]

Early life[edit]

Daniel P. Thompson was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts on October 1, 1795 and moved to Vermont with his family in 1800.[2] He was raised in Berlin, Vermont, and graduated from Middlebury College in 1820. He then moved to Virginia, where he taught school, studied law, and attained admission to the bar before returning to Vermont to become an attorney in Montpelier.[3][4]

Legal and political career[edit]

Thompson was Washington County Register of Probate from 1825 to 1830, and Engrossing Clerk of the Vermont House of Representatives from 1830 to 1833 and 1834 to 1836.[5]

Thompson became active in the Liberty Party and was active in the abolition movement. From 1849 to 1856 he edited the anti-slavery Green Mountain Freeman newspaper.[6]

He was Washington County Probate Judge from 1837 to 1842,[7] and he compiled 1835's Laws of Vermont.[8] In 1838 he was a founder of the Vermont Historical Society.[9]

He served as Washington County Clerk from 1844 to 1846.[10] From 1853 to 1855 he was Vermont Secretary of State.[11]

He joined the Republican Party at its founding in the 1850s.[12]

Career as author[edit]

Influenced by James Fenimore Cooper and Walter Scott, he wrote historical adventure and romance novels, many of which feature life in Vermont.

In 1835 he authored May Martin, or the Money Diggers. Its favorable reception established his popularity, and he specialized in Vermont during the Colonial and Revolutionary War eras.

His writings include a satirizing of Anti-Masonry, The Adventures of Timothy Peacock (1835); The Green Mountain Boys (1840); Locke Amsden, or the Schoolmaster (1845); The Shaker Lovers, and Other Tales (1848); Lucy Hosmer, or the Guardian and the Ghost (1849); The Rangers, or the Tory's Daughter (1850); The Tales of the Green Mountains (1852); Gaut Gurley, a Tale of the Umbagog (1857); The Doomed Chief, or King Philip (1860); and Centeola (1864).

Thompson also authored 1859's History of the Town of Montpelier.

New England's most famous novelist of the 1840s and 1850s, Thompson's work was responsible for imprinting the story of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys in the public's consciousness.[13] His ability to tell action and adventure stories plainly and quickly made his novels popular well into the 1900s, and many of his books are still in print.

Death and burial[edit]

Thompson died in Montpelier on June 6, 1868.[14] He was buried at Green Mount Cemetery in Montpelier.[15]


He and Eunice Robinson of Troy, Vermont married in 1831 and they had five children—George Robinson (1834-1871); Alma (b. 1837); William P. (b. 1839); Frances (b. 1842); and Daniel Greenleaf (1850-1897).[16]

Thompson was an ancestor of U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.[17]


  1. ^ American Unitarian Association, The Unitarian Register: A Forgotten Storyteller, Volume 108, 1929, page 783
  2. ^ Kevin J. Hayes, editor, Jefferson in His Own Time, 2012, page 133
  3. ^ Middlebury College, Catalogue of Officers and Students of Middlebury College, 1917, page 56
  4. ^ William Adams, Gazetteer of Washington County, Vt., 1783-1889, 1889, page 79
  5. ^ Vermont Historical Society, The Unveiling of the Daniel P. Thompson Tablet at Montpelier, Vermont, January 19, 1915, pages 295-310
  6. ^ Abby Maria Hemenway, The Vermont Historical Gazetteer: Washington County, 1882, page 312
  7. ^ Harry Thurston Peck, Frank Richard Stockton, The World's Great Masterpieces, Volume 19, 1901, page 10581
  8. ^ Daniel Pierce Thompson, compiler, The Laws of Vermont, 1835, title page
  9. ^ Vermont Historical Society, Vermont History News, Volumes 41-47, 1990, page 108
  10. ^ Abby Maria Hemenway, The History of the Town of Montpelier, Including that of the Town of East Montpelier, 1882, page 274
  11. ^ Vermont Secretary of State, Vermont Legislative Directory, 1896, page 165
  12. ^ Stanley Kunitz, Howard Haycraft, American Authors, 1600-1900: A Biographical Dictionary of American Literature, 1938, page 742
  13. ^ Alexander Cowie, The American Novel, 1951, page 270
  14. ^ Marcus Davis Gilman, The Bibliography of Vermont, 1897, page 275
  15. ^ Charles T. Morrisey, Daniel P. Thompson and the early History of Vermont. The New-England Galaxy, Volumes 11-12, 1969, page 15
  16. ^ Vermont Historical Society, A Guide to the Daniel P. Thompson Manuscripts, ca. 1841-1866, 1995, page 2
  17. ^ Edwin Palmer Hoyt, William O. Douglas: A Biography, 1979, page 3

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Farrand F. Merrill
Secretary of State of Vermont
Succeeded by
Charles W. Willard