Hiland Hall is probably the most remarkable native son of North Bennington. Judge, congressman, governor, partriarch, chair of the California Land Commission during the Gold Rush, Hall also made his mark as an historian.
Below is a series of articles which Hall originally titled "Historical Readings." It first appeared anonymously, sprinkled throughout the first weekly editions of the State Banner, published in Bennington in the spring of 1841.
Hall, then a veteran of ten years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, was among the paper's founders. The State Banner served as a Whig alternative to the Democratic Vermont Gazette. In part, Hall was simply filling column space in the new journal. Yet he clearly aspired to write a more complete Vermont history. After Hall had retired as governor, he expanded these "historical readings" into the 500-page Early History of Vermont, published in 1868.
In interpreting the dispute over the Vermont territory between New York and New Hampshire, Hiland Hall's thesis was strongly anti-New York. He effectively contested the earlier pro-New York History of Eastern Vermont by Benjamin H. Hall (no relation.) Hall's articles have here been re-titled Ruffian Democracy and edited by Tyler Resch. Click on the title of each article below to read the selection. Article 11 describes the famous standoff of the Green Mountain Boys with the New York sheriff at the Breakenridge Farm on Murphy Road, just outside North Bennington.
1. Bennington: In the Beginning
2. First Settlement of Bennington
3. Bennington’s First Days of Settlement
4. New York Claims Jurisdiction
5. N.H. Grants Settlers Reject N.Y.'s Claim
6. New York Establishes New Counties
7. A Confusion of Jurisdictions
8. Ethan Allen Arrives in Town
9. Ethan Allen Offers a ‘Vindication’
10. Defying the New York Authorities
11. Standoff at the Breakenridge Farm
12. The New Yorkers Persist
13. The Capture of Remember Baker
14. An Invitation from Gov. Tryon of New York
15. 'Men Conscious of Their Dignity'
16. A Rejoicing of Brief Duration
17. Animosities with the Yorkers Deepen
18. Dispute with the Yorkers is Reinvigorated
19. The ‘Bennington Mob’ Prevails in Clarendon
20. A New Law to Punish 'Rioters'
21. An Episode of Severe Punishment
22. Kindling the Flames of Revolution
23. Battle of Lexington Ends the Dispute
24. Seth Warner and Remember Baker