Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Dartmouth's Vermont Thanksgiving

Full-page view of ProclamationIt was the middle of the American Revolution. Thomas Chittenden, "Governor and Commander in Chief" of the recently formed "State of Vermont" (really more a republic, separate from the thirteen colonies, but fighting alongside them in the Revolution), issued a proclamation of Thanksgiving. It directed the people of Vermont to lay down all labor on Thursday, November 26, 1778, and embrace a day of thanksgiving for all the good that had arisen "amid the many private and public Distresses of a temporal Nature."

Chittenden issued the proclamation in Windsor, Vermont, but it was printed here at Dartmouth by Alden Spooner, during the brief period when Hanover flipped its allegiance to Vermont and called itself "Dresden, Vermont." Spooner made an egregious typo working in his dark quarters in Dartmouth Hall: Chittenden sprouted an extra T in his name.

Close-up of "Chitttenden" with three ts
Even now, when the Christian god is still routinely evoked in political discourse, the utter disregard of anything resembling a separation of church and state is a bit shocking. Of course there wasn't the Constitution yet, and the governor was comfortable ordering the citizens of the state to pause from their regular duties to "pay their vows to the LORD," and give thanks for "God's gracious Presence with the General Assembly of the United States of America.... That this once howling Wilderness may, in a spiritual Sense, bud and blossom like the Rose."

Close-up of "Dartmouth College" docketing
Come in and take a look at our copy, docketed Dartmouth College, by asking for Broadside 778568.