First in the Nation

Many important historical firsts, right here in Vermont.

Famous Vermonters

1775 The first Revolutionary soldier to shoot a British soldier was Solomon Brown, of New Haven, at the Battle of Lexington on April 19.

1777 The first Constitution to outlaw slavery, and also to abolish the requirement that voters must be property owners.

1777 The first stars and stripes flag to lead American armed forces on land was the Bennington Flag, used at the Battle of Bennington on August 16.

1777 The first Constitution to provide for a system of public school education.

1785 The first marble quarry was started in East Dorset by Isaac Underhill.

1785 The first copper currency minted by a state was authorized by the Vermont General Assembly and made by Reuben Harmon, Jr. in Rupert.

1790 The first U.S. patent, signed by George Washington, was issued to Samuel Hopkins of Pittsford for making potash out of wood ashes. Potash is used to make soap.

1791 The first state admitted to the Union after the ratification of the Constitution on March 4. Vermont was the 14th state.

1791 Justin Morgan brought the first Morgan Horse to be foaled from Springfield, Massachusetts to Randolph, Vermont.

1799 The first seeding machine patent was issued to Eliakim Spooner.

1802 The first canal was built in Bellows Falls.

1804 The first educational society was established in Pawlet.

1813 The first geographic globe factory was established by James Wilson of Bradford, who made the first artificial globe.

1814 The first school for higher education of women was established by Emma Willard in Middlebury.

1814 The first steel carpenter's square was invented by Silas Hawes of Shaftsbury.

1819 The first private military college, Norwich University, was established in Norwich by Captain Alden Partridge. It offered the first Civil Engineering course. The college later moved to Northfield.

FAMOUS VERMONTER: Joseph Smith (1805-44) Founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).

FAMOUS VERMONTER: Brigham Young (1801-77) Second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

1821 FAMOUS VERMONTER: Alexander Twilight (1795-1857) First person of African-American descent to graduate from a U.S. college (Middlebury in 1825) and to serve in a state legislature.

1823 The first Normal school excusively for the preparation of teachers was established by S.R. Hall in Concord. Hall also wrote the first textbook on teaching and was the first person to use the blackboard in the classroom.

1830 The first platform scale was built by Thaddeus Fairbanks in St. Johnsbury.

1830 The first fishing spoon lure was invented by Julio Buel of Castleton.

1834 The first sandpaper was invented by Isaac Fischer in Springfield.

1837 The first marble-cutting saw was invented by Hiram Kimball of Stockbridge.

1837 The first patent for an electric motor (used for a printing press) was issued to Thomas Davenport of Brandon.

1844 Laughing gas was discovered by Gardner Colton of Georgia. Horace Wells of White River Junction was the first person to use laughing gas as an anesthetic for pulling teeth.

1846 The first postage stamp used in America was made in Brattleboro.

1846 The first steam-heated factory was the Burlington Woolen Company.

1853 The first safety elevator was invented by Elisha Graves Otis.

FAMOUS VERMONTER: Stephen A. Douglas (1813-61) Served as a U.S. Representative from Illinois (1843-47). Best known for his series of debates with Abraham Lincoln in 1858.

1862 The first agricultural land grant college act, proposed by Senator Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont, was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

FAMOUS VERMONTER: John Deere (1804-86) Produced the first commercially feasible, self-scouring steel plow from a broken saw blade, before establishing a company in Moline, Ill, in 1868 ,which manufactured farm implements.

1869 The first pulp paper mill was established by William A. Russell in Bellows Falls. Russell later became the first president of the International Paper Company.

1869 The agriculture society for dairymen, the Vermont Dairy Association, was organized in Montpelier.

1881 FAMOUS VERMONTER: Chester A. Arthur (1830-86) Born in Fairfield. 21st U.S. President from 1881-85.

1896 The first state absentee voting law was enacted.

1891 The first flat turret lathe, a basic industrial tool, was invented by James Hartness of Springfield.

1898 FAMOUS VERMONTER: Adm. George Dewey (1837-1917) A commander of the U.S. Navy. Secured his place in history during the Spanish-American War, when his fleet defeated Spain in Manila Bay, off the Philippines coast on May 1, 1898.

FAMOUS VERMONTER: Andrew Ellicott Douglass (1867-1962) Born in Windsor. An archaeologist and astronomer; known as the father of dendrochronology (the method of dating events by analyzing the rings of trees).

FAMOUS VERMONTER: Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley (1865-1931) Born in Jericho Center. Began sketching snowflakes he observed under his microscope as a teenager. He later made more than 5,300 photos of snowflakes.

1903 The first person to cross the entire United States by automobile was Dr. H. Nelson Jackson, a Burlington physician, who started out from San Francisco.

1907 The first horse farm operated by the United States government was established in Middlebury.

1909 The first Boy Scout Club was organized in Barre by William F. Milne, a Scottish immigrant.

1910 The first long distance hiking trail, Vermont's 265-mile Long Trail, was begun in 1910 by James P. Taylor, and completed in 1930.

1919 The first 300-mile endurance horse race was from Burlington to Camp Devens, MA.

1923 FAMOUS VERMONTER: (John) Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) Born in Plymouth on July 4, 1872. 30th U.S. president from 1923-29.

Early 1930's Gasoline tax implemented to pay for road construction and maintenance.

1934 The first Air Traffic Regulations course was set up at Norwich University in Northfield.

1935 The first state symphony orchestra was organized, with Alan Carter of Rutland as its conductor.

1937 The first state anti-sit-down strike legislation was enacted.

1940 Ida M. Fuller of Ludlow receives the first social security check ($22.54) and first social security number (00-000-001) on January 31.

1941 The first wind turbine used to generate power for an alternating current power system, was operated at Grandpa's Knob in Castleton.

FAMOUS VERMONTER: Rudy Vallee (1901-86) Band leader, vocalist, radio and movie star.

1952 The first Olympic gold medals in women's skiing were won by Andrea Mead of Rutland.

1954 The first woman elected Lieutenant Governor was Consuelo N. Bailey.

1957 The first experimental eye surgery with a laser beam was performed at the University of Vermont.

1964 FAMOUS VERMONTER: Billy Kidd - Silver medalist (skiing) at the 1964 Olympic games in Innsbruck, Austria.

1968 The first state to outlaw billboards, on March 23.

1972 FAMOUS VERMONTER: Barbara Cochran - Gold medalist (skiing) at 1972 Olympic Games in Sapporo, Japan.

1976 FAMOUS VERMONTER: Bill Koch - Silver medalist (Nordic Skiing). First American to medal in an Olympic nordic skiing event.

1976 The first American gold medal in the Olympic three-day individual equestrian event was won by Tad Coffin of Strafford.

1984 FAMOUS VERMONTER: Madeleine Kunin - Born in Switzerland, moved to Vermont at the age of 6. Vermont's first woman governor, elected in 1984. Served three terms before becoming President Clinton's deputy secretary of education in 1993. U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland 1996-99.

1985 The first college for dyslexic students - Landmark College, Putney.

1993 FAMOUS VERMONTER: Patty Sheehan - Born in Middlebury, now lives in Reno, NV. 13th inductee into the LPGA's Hall of Fame in 1993.

1993 FAMOUS VERMONTER: John LeClair (1969- ) Born in St. Albans. The first native Vermonter to play for the NHL. First American to score 50 goals in three consecutive seasons. First NHL player to score two overtime goals to win two Stanley Cup final games. He did it in his rookie season (1993) as a Montreal Canadien.

1997 The first woman elected to the post of Adjutant General in the U.S. was Martha Rainville.

Other Firsts:
The first French-Catholic parish in the U.S.
The first state to promote tourism.
The first federal Head Start program in East Fairfield.
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