Thomas Chittenden

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Thomas Chittenden
Governor Thomas Chittenden (presumed likeness)
1st Governor of Vermont
In office
March 5, 1791 – August 25, 1797
LieutenantPaul Brigham
Preceded byHimself (as Governor of the Vermont Republic)
Succeeded byPaul Brigham
1st & 3rd Governor of the Vermont Republic
In office
October 20, 1790 – March 4, 1791
LieutenantPeter Olcott
Preceded byMoses Robinson
Succeeded byHimself (as Governor of the State of Vermont)
In office
March 13, 1778 – October 13, 1789
LieutenantJoseph Marsh
Preceded byNone
Succeeded byMoses Robinson
Member of the Connecticut Colonial Assembly
In office
Personal details
Born(1730-01-06)January 6, 1730
East Guilford, Colony of Connecticut, British America
DiedAugust 25, 1797(1797-08-25) (aged 67)
Williston, Vermont, U.S.
Resting placeThomas Chittenden Cemetery,
Williston, Vermont
Political partyNone
SpouseElizabeth Meigs Chittenden (m. 1749-1797, his death)
Children10, including Martin

Thomas Chittenden (January 6, 1730 – August 25, 1797) was an American politician from Vermont, who was a leader of the territory for nearly two decades. He was the state's first and third governor, serving from 1778 to 1789—when it was a largely unrecognized independent state called the Vermont Republic—and again from 1790 until his death. Vermont was admitted to the Union in 1791 as its 14th state.

Early and personal life[edit]

Thomas Chittenden was born in East Guilford in the Connecticut Colony on January 6, 1730. He lost one of his eyes and was referred to as "one eye Tom" by his opponents.[1] He married Elizabeth Meigs on October 4, 1749, in Salisbury, Connecticut. They had four sons and six daughters while they were living in Connecticut, all of whom survived to adulthood.


Chittenden served as a justice of the peace and in the Connecticut Colonial Assembly from 1765 to 1769.[1] He served in Connecticut's 14th Regiment of Militia from 1767 to 1773, rising to the rank of colonel.

Chittenden was one of the residents of Salisbury, Connecticut, who purchased land from the Onion River Land Company ran by Ethan Allen, Ira Allen, Heman Allen, and Remember Baker.[2] Chittenden moved to the New Hampshire Grants, now Vermont, in 1774, where he was the first settler in the town of Williston.

Chittenden was a delegate to the 1777 constitutional convention that established Vermont's constitution and drafted its Declaration of Independence. Chittenden was selected as governor of the Vermont Republic on March 12, 1778, by the legislature and Joseph Marsh was selected as lieutenant governor.[3]

During the American Revolution, Chittenden was a member of a committee empowered to negotiate with the Continental Congress to allow Vermont to join the Union. The Congress deferred the matter to avoid antagonizing the states of New York and New Hampshire, which had competing claims against Vermont. During the period of the Vermont Republic, Chittenden served as governor from 1778 to 1789 and 1790 to 1791, and was one of the participants in a series of delicate negotiations with British authorities in Quebec over the possibility of establishing Vermont as a British province.[4]

After Vermont entered the federal Union in 1791 as its 14th state, Chittenden continued as governor until his death in 1797.[5]


Chittenden died in Williston on August 25, 1797, and is interred at Thomas Chittenden Cemetery, Williston, Chittenden County, Vermont. Citing Vermont's tumultuous founding, his epitaph reads: "Out of storm and manifold perils rose an enduring state, the home of freedom and unity."[6]

Legacy and honors[edit]

In 1894, a monument to Chittenden was begun at the entrance to the cemetery in Williston which is named for him; it was dedicated in 1896.[7] An engraved portrait of Chittenden can be found just outside the entrance to the Executive Chamber, the ceremonial office of the governor, at the Vermont State House at Montpelier.[8] The portrait is based on a likeness of one of Chittenden's grandsons, who was believed to resemble Chittenden.[8] In the late 1990s, a bronze sculpture of Chittenden, which was created by Frank Gaylord, was placed on the grounds of the State House near the building's west entrance.[9] Another Chittenden statue, also created by Gaylord, was erected in front of the Williston Central School.[7] Chittenden County is named for him,[10] as is the town of Chittenden in Rutland County.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Doyle 1992, p. 30.
  2. ^ Doyle 1992, p. 7-8.
  3. ^ Doyle 1992, p. 29-30.
  4. ^ Smallwood, Frank (1997). Thomas Chittenden : Vermont's first statesman. Shelburne, Vt.: New England Press. p. 108. ISBN 1-881535-28-2. OCLC 37966532.
  5. ^ "Thomas Chittenden". National Governors Association. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  6. ^ Morrissey, Charles T. (1984). Vermont: A History. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-393-34871-2.
  7. ^ a b Baynes, Luke (January 10, 2013). "Celebrating Williston's 250th Anniversary: The Thomas Chittenden Connection". Williston Observer. Williston, VT.
  8. ^ a b Kelley, Kevin J. (May 5, 2010). "Portrait of a State: A walk through the "people's house" is a lesson in art history". Vermont Seven Days. Burlington, VT.
  9. ^ CB (November 4, 2019). "Bronze Sculpture Conservation in Montpelier". Arts Management Montpelier, VT: Arts Management Services.
  10. ^ Gannett, Henry; Beck, Jürgen (2018). Encyclopedia of Place Names in the United States. North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace. p. 72. ISBN 978-3-8496-7510-3 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ Chittenden Town Planning Commission (October 19, 2015). Town of Chittenden Municipal Plan (PDF). Chittenden, VT: Chittenden Select Board. p. 8.

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Office established
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by