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Vermont was home to the indigenous Abenaki peoples when the first French explorers appeared in the 16th century. In 1609 Samuel de Champlain claimed the region surrounding the lake that now bears his name as part of New France, naming it les Verts Monts (the Green Mountains). More colonists soon arrived from France, as well as from Britain (settling further south in Bennington and Brattleboro).

Unsurprisingly, the French and Indian War (1754–63) exacerbated tensions between the two, including two battles at the French fort of Fort Carillon – renamed Fort Ticonderoga after the British victory in the second skirmish in 1759. Britain received Vermont as part of the Treaty of Paris four years later.

As British settlers poured into the territory, it was claimed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Province of New York and the Province of New Hampshire. In 1741 King George II invalidated Massachusetts’s claim, but the conflict between New Hampshire and New York persisted. In the 1770s the Green Mountain Boys were formed by Ethan Allen to fight for the rights of the New Hampshire settlers against the New Yorkers and, ultimately, the British.

While the sole battle of the American Revolution to take place in Vermont was the comparatively insignificant Hubbardton in 1777, Vermonters played a very major role that same year in the Battle of Bennington, which actually took place over the border in New York. A major victory, it was a significant turning point in the war. In 1791 Vermont became the 14th state of the new Union.