The Northeast Kingdom

Well, summer seems to have produced a lull in the ever-exciting soapbox blogging, so I thought I would fill in the gap with a question. Does anyone know why the northeast region in good ol' VT is called the Northeast Kingdom? The barn girls & friends had the opportunity to spend some time on beautiful Lake Willoughby and I couldn't help but ponder over "the kingdom". The only explanation I found was that a beloved VT senator exclaimed that area was so beautiful that it should be called the northeast kingdom. However, I feel like this explanation is a bit sketchy and certainly anticlimactic, so if anyone knows a better story or just wants to make up one, I'd be all ears.

You should all spend time here if you can.
Lake Willoughby: You should all spend time here if you can.

6 thoughts on “The Northeast Kingdom”

  1. So, back when I started at Dmouth, there was still a requirement to take classes outside of the sciences and I took an ethnobotany/ethnohistory class where we learned about the "northeast kingdom." It's really an exceptionally interesting story.

    Basically, it all started in the 1670s with a man named Ferd Leopold. His mother was French and his father was English and he happened to be in exactly the right spot at the right time. Tensions were starting to heat up in the NH/VT/Canada area as the French pushed further in and the English realized that they were RIGHT THERE. Ferd managed to convince King Edward that he could safeguard what is now VT if he were made governor and, at the same time, used his French connections to convince Louis XIV that he could expand France's power in the area if he were given control of the area that is now Canada. Of course, both crowns paid significant amounts of money for Ferd's services and he was able to manage the entire area on only half of the money coming in.

    [Sarah just woke up, so I'll have to finish later.]

  2. oooOOOooo....I'm on the edge of my seat. 🙂 Thanks Nathaniel! I can't wait to hear the rest.

  3. Ok, back to the history...

    Given that Ferd was collecting so much money from the crown, he was able to keep taxes on his subjects extreme low. Because of this of this, he had very high approval ratings and no one reported the scam to anyone in Europe. The first major test though came with the "Frenchman's Indian" war in 1695. Ferd was ordered by both kings to attack. The solution at first was simply report back on imaginary battles, however Ferd overestimated what his host governments wanted to hear and both the French and the English sent representatives to learn from his successes. While this could have destroyed the scheme, Ferd came up with a genius plan. He had uniforms sewn up for nearly every member of the area with a French uniform on the left side and an English uniform on the right side. This allowed him to create dynamic armies on demand. He chose a valley for the battle and set up viewing stations on either side for the representatives and then set people to running back and forth in formation below. The plan worked perfectly on the French side, but the English representative had a bit too much blood lust and slipped down into the valley himself to try to kill some of the enemy. Ferd followed him in close pursuit claiming it was too dangerous, but didn't catch him in time to prevent the ruse from being discovered. In the end, Ferd was forced to stab the representative in the back while he stared in shock creating the only real casualty of the war. It wasn't a complete loss though as the dead high-ranking English officer convinced the French to send more financial support and loss of their man convinced the English to do the same. When "hostilities" ended in 1697, European financial support had expanded by over 63%.

    Unfortunately, Ferd was felled by a combination of stroke and heart attack a few years later in 1701. This is where "the Northeast Kingdom" came into its own. Ferd's sons had grown to enjoy the prestige and privilege of their father's position so they made a move to silence news of Ferd's death and instead impersonated him claiming that the shadows of the deep oak woods had age-defying powers. European mysticism was taking off and people wanted to believe enough that the obvious lie was mostly ignored. However, support from across the pond did diminish. The Leopold brothers also didn't believe in sharing the foreign booty as much and raised taxes to build themselves a string of large houses to keep their various love interests. Conditions in the area declined rapidly under the brothers, especially after the younger, and more well liked, Linus Leopold was killed by a bear in 1705. His brother, Ethan Leopold, later proclaimed in a speech that as his father's last heir he should be "King of the Northeast Kingdom." The Vermonter's independent streak existed even then and Linux was quickly ignored as people formed a more conventional government. The north-south split of the area was achieved in 1717 when it was realized that people in the north half of the "kingdom" were sicker on average than the southern half and the southerners refused to enter into a government-supported medical plan.

    Given the remoteness of the area, few people have bothered studying the history of Ferd Leopold, but it is truly a fascinating bit of American history.

  4. Well done Nathaniel, and thanks Jules for a quality post. Maybe you can acquire a few posting recruits? It seems as though it takes 4 or 5 regular posters to really achieve critical mass.

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