Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys must have liked to fight. Even as they took on King George III's troops in an effort to win America's independence from Great Britain, they battled another opponent right at home: New York. Before becoming a state, what is now Vermont was just a beautiful forested land that lay contested between the British colonies of New York and New Hampshire. In 1764, the king decided that it should belong to New York, but that didn't sit well with Allen and many others. Allen formed his gang to take on New York at every opportunity. Then, to really make the point, delegates from all over the territory met in 1777 and decided to claim independence for what they decided to call New Connecticut. Obviously, the name wasn't as successful as the fight for independence, and it was soon changed to Vermont, which means "green mountains" in French. For 14 years -- from 1777 until 1791 -- Vermont remained an independent republic until eventually joining the Union as the 14th state. For the record, Vermont was the first state to abolish adult slavery, which it did in its 1777 constitution, but the law was not universally enforced until Vermont earned statehood.
A view of Vermont:
- Vermont is known for its maple syrup, but it's also the birthplace of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, which opened in a renovated gas station in Burlington in 1978.
- Two U.S. presidents -- Chester A. Arthur and Calvin Coolidge -- were born in Vermont.
- Wisconsin might be the "Dairy State," but Vermont has more cows per capita: one for every 3.8 residents.