Yankee Kingdom: Vermont and New Hampshire

Yankee Kingdom: Vermont and New Hampshire

Yankee Kingdom: Vermont and New Hampshire

Yankee Kingdom: Vermont and New Hampshire

Excerpt

The happy union of the four seasons with the mountain and valley country has been put asunder. In A Study of History Arnold Toynbee has declared that New Hampshire is north of "the optimum climatic area" and that Maine is merely the habitat of "woodmen and watermen and hunters." Except as an offshoot of New York, Vermont is not mentioned. ". . . when we speak of New England and the part it has played in American history," says this distinguished assessor of civilizations, "we are really thinking of only three of its five little states--of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island." Since this book is written in admiration of Vermont and New Hampshire, the chronicler of the excellent state of Maine must fend for himself, and should make rewarding work of it.

If you are to accept Vermont as a part of New England, Mr. Toynbee, there are in all six states. And if your readers are to accept the phrase "optimum climatic area" for what it seems to mean, they must ask how it is possible to draw a line boldly through an area and assert that everything to the south is optimum and everything to the north more or less minimum. For if optimum areas are those where people respond most vigorously to their background of climate and geography, and you do not include New Hampshire and Vermont among them, then, Mr. Toynbee, your theory does not hold water.

Our winters are hard, no denying that, and back in the sheepraising days they used to joke about our special breed with pointed noses that evolved from eating grass between the stones. But the word "Yankee," which during recent wars at least has come to mean all Americans, has a unique significance when applied to the spare, silent and frugal people of the three northernmost New England states. In field and factory, in the councils of the nation during peace and war, the people of Vermont and New Hampshire, whether as a result of geography and climate, optimum or otherwise, have shown spirit and character that have marked American institutions permanently and irrevocably. They have done so to a degree that is all out of proportion to their numbers and to the size of their homeland.

Through the years the number of native-born Vermonters in Who's Who in America has been astonishingly high; indeed, in . . .

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