This place in history: the city of Dresden
At This Place in History, we are in Hanover, New Hampshire, formerly known as the city of Dresden, which belonged to the Republic of Vermont.
“Steve, why don’t we start with why we’re standing here on the Dartmouth College campus?”
“So Dartmouth College has a great history with the state of Vermont. In fact, on this very show that we talked about, we talked about the town of Wheelock, which provided money to help fund this college. But the real reason we’re here today is because we want to talk about how this was once part of Vermont, and that was the Republic of Vermont,” said Steve Perkins, executive director of the Vermont Historical Society.
“So it was a very brief period, several months between 1778 and 1779. Ultimately what happened was that there were 16 towns in northern New Hampshire along the river Connecticut who said, you know, we’re sick of you Hampshire politicians, we’re going to be part of the Republic of Vermont, and they did for this short time and this area of Hanover, this village where Dartmouth is, has really become the focus of this kind of political intrigue,” Perkins said.
“Explain a little more the importance of Dresden.”
“We are very close to the Connecticut River. I mean, you can just walk over the bridge and you’re in Vermont. So you can see how those towns would be much more aligned with cities and Vermont than they would say with the New Hampshire coast,” Perkins added.
“And so there is this plane where the college is where the university is, and the village was called Dresden. Researchers have found a number of different reasons for this. My feeling is certainly that we are in Hannover, which is named after a part of Germany, and Dresden is named after a part of Germany. While it was Vermont, they went ahead and just called the whole Dresden, I think to separate it from this Hanover, New Hampshire idea,” Perkins said.
“And what’s also important is the first official media house.”
“So you had a university, Dartmouth University, and you had a printing press. We think, oh, it’s okay. You know, whatever. A printing shop. But the law is based on the written law and when you have a written law, you need to have a press. So having an official state press legitimized Vermont state laws, and it was also a way for political parties to be heard. There was no television, there was no radio, there were no people going through towns to give speeches. You took it out, like the impression, you know, all you had to say. And so there was a press that was set up right here in Dresden, and that was the official Vermont press.
“The state of Vermont also said in their constitution that they would have a state university, of course Eleazer Wheelock who was the president of Dartmouth at the time, accepted that wholeheartedly because now you have a republic that helps fund your university,” Perkins said. “So Dartmouth was by default, Vermont State University as defined in our Constitution and our state press was here in Dresden.”
“I’m curious when New Hampshire claimed this area when they called it their own?”
“Yeah they never claimed it if that’s a word we can use, you know it was always considered part of New Hampshire. You know, the seceding towns of New Hampshire were considered illegal. You know, in the end, it didn’t work for either the Republic of Vermont or the State of New Hampshire that those 16 cities were part of the Republic. So, you know, by the summer of 1779, things had returned to the areas we know today, the Republic of Vermont at the end of the state of Vermont and New Hampshire.
“At this place in history.”