Vermont is widely known as the “Green Mountain State” for a couple of different reasons, but the biggest one usually has to do with the story of how the state came to be called “Vermont” in the first place. The land making up the northeastern state was explored and mapped by the French geographer Samuel de Champlain, who called the land “green mountain,” or “vert mont” in French. The state is home to the Green Mountain range, which is one of the northeast’s most significant topological formations; the name also recalls a group of young foot soldiers led by Ethan Allen who fought for independence against the British and were known as the “Green Mountain Boys” thanks in part to their rugged hideouts. Many scholars think that the first time Vermont was formally called the “Green Mountain State” was in a sermon given to a number of prominent patriots in the mid-1700s, but the name has become widely popular today. Although it has not formally been adopted by the state legislature as an “official” nickname, it is incorporated into many official state documents and is even printed on most modern license plates issued there.
Original Naming and Land Discovery
The state of Vermont is in the far northeastern corner of the United States, bordering the Canadian province of Quebec to the north, New York to the west, Massachusetts to the south, and New Hampshire to the east. It is home to a range of mountains known predominantly as the Green Mountains, thanks in large part to their lush foliage; from a distance, the rolling hills often appear to be covered in a carpet of grass or other soft green, though in most cases the color is owing to thick groupings of evergreen trees and shrubs.
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These green mountains are unlike most of the mountains in Europe, which tend to be much taller and typically have a more rocky, barren terrain. When the French explorer Samuel de Champlain visited the region in 1609, he recorded it on his maps and in his correspondence as “vert mond,” presumably in reference to the range; many of his papers note that he found the land and the topography to be quite extraordinary.
The Mountain Range Today
The Green Mountains are one of the best known natural landmarks in the northeastern US, and are a part of the larger Appalachian Mountain range. Vermont’s borders are situated almost entirely within this mountainous land, and by some estimates the state is over 75% woodland; logging and paper milling are some of the state’s top industries as a consequence. The highest point is Mount Mansfield, which rises 4,393 feet (1,339 m) above sea level. This peak, as well as much of the central Green Mountain range, is protected as a state park.
Green Mountain Boys
The range has long been a part of the state’s history. Vermont was one of the earliest colonies, and was the 14th state to join the newly formed United States. It has long been known for the independent and freedom-seeking character of its residents, and this perhaps originated with some of the original patriots here who helped the nation as a whole claim its independence from the British. Some of the best known of these are called the “Green Mountain Boys”; led by statesman Ethan Allen, these men camped and fought in the woods in order to secure their land. They are an often reviled and well-loved facet of Vermont history.
Use in a Popular Sermon
A clergyman by the name of Reverend Dr. Peters is widely recognized as having been the first to call Vermont the Green Mountain State during a public address in 1761. Peters is also believed to have been the first clergyman to ever visit the state, and while he was there, he gave an address on top of a mountain. While standing atop a large rock, he is said to have used the name Green Mountain State in front of several colonial leaders of the time. Most often the reference is remembered in connection to the state’s lush natural beauty.
Widespread Modern Use
The name quickly gained popularity as a nickname for Vermont, and has remained so throughout the subsequent years. It has appeared on a wide variety of Vermont paraphernalia. In fact, the nickname is so well established that it has adorned many Vermont license plate designs.