Monday, April 11, 2011

The House Speaker of the Vermont General Assembly Labels Secession as Treason

Vermont began its observance of the Civil War sesquicentennial with a commemoration of the "special session of the legislature called by Gov. Erastus Fairbanks in April, 1861 in response to Abraham Lincoln's request for troops and funds at the outbreak of the Civil War."

House Speaker Shap Smith (as then Speaker Augustus Hunton), Lt. Gov. Phil Scott (as Governor Fairbanks) and Senate President pro tem John Campbell (as Lt. Gov. Levi Underwood) all portrayed the key players at that long-ago session who met in the very same House Chamber and doubled the amount of money requested by the Union from $500,000 to $1,000,000. The reenactment was the final 2011 Farmers' Night performance in the House Chamber at the State House, held on Wednesday, April 6th at 7:30pm.

Of that long ago special session, today's House Speaker, Shap Smith, reading from a House committtee's report said,
"Secession is treason!"

"To yield to its demands is to invite it again."

"If one state may secede, all may."

"However much Vermont deprecates the horror of civil war, she believes that the triumph of rebellion, and that anarchy and confusion necessarily resulting therefrom, would be infinitely more deplorable as it would result in the loss of our blood bought civil liberties and the entire subversion of the idea of free government."

"Vermont on this question has no hesitation in avowing her choice. She assures her sister states and the executive authority of the Union that she is ever loyal and true, and will do her part in this hour of trial and danger."

"We therefore respectfully recommend the most prompt, vigorous and decisive measures to quell this insurrection. We tender to the President of the United States such aid as he may judge to be the duty of Vermont to render in this emergency."
Click here to play video of House Speaker Shap Smith's stirring representation of these words said so long ago. The entire reenactment may be heard here.

It struck me that the truth in those words spoken in the Vermont State House reflecting the universal sentiment in Vermont at that time hold much relevance for today. During this past 2010 election we learned that the new seceshers of the 21st century have their own ideas about how to savage our Vermont civil liberties and society.

The Free Vermont crowd, led by the Second Vermont Republic's Thomas Naylor and his henchman, Rob Williams, had described their own plans to seize private property, suborn civil rights, reinstitute racism, homophobia and anti-Semitic tensions, enact population, asset and income controls, return capital punishment, just to name of few of their fantasies for an "independent" Vermont to be created in a Ernesto "Che" Guevara style liberaciĆ³n movement. [1] [2]

Vermonters have no more interest today in such subversions of their civil liberties than they did 150 years ago.

Re-enactors of the Vermont 1st and 18th Vermont Cavalry and other units attended the session.
Ron Tallman, of the 1st Vermont Cavalry, said he takes just as dim a view of the small secession movement that exists in Vermont today as his predecessors took of Southern secession a century and a half ago.

"They'd better think long and hard about the consequences involved with it," he said.

More information on sesquicentennial events yet to be held may be found at the Vermont Civil War Sesquicentennial website and the Vermont in the Civil War website

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