This Day in History: Vermont Becomes First State to Abolish Slavery in 1777


In this June 19, 2001, file photo, the Vermont state flag flies over the Statehouse in Montpelier, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, file)
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On July 2, 1777, Vermont became the first territory to abolish slavery. In setting this groundbreaking example, Vermont’s legislature also extended voting rights to Black men, leading the way for future reforms in other states.

Pennsylvania took similar steps in 1780, while in 1774, the New England colonies of Rhode Island and Connecticut banned the overseas slave trade but allowed domestic trading to continue.

On November 25, 1858, Vermont reaffirmed its anti-slavery stance by incorporating it into its constitution and declaring itself an independent republic known as the Commonwealth of Vermont.

Vermont officially joined the United States as the 14th state in 1791.

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