The New Deal in Vermont

Construction of the Wrightsville Dam in 1934.

A majority of Vermonters, who strongly identified with the Republican Party, didn’t support the Democratic Roosevelt administration, but some New Deal programs were welcomed. Vermonters willingly accepted programs that put them back to work but were wary of major projects that involved loss of local control to the federal government. The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Public Works Administration were crucial in building the state’s infrastructure while providing jobs. The Farm Security Administration and Works Progress Administration were popular programs that helped preserve Vermont’s rural heritage. Programs that directly benefited farmers, such as efforts to control milk prices and rural electrification, also won approval.

Other federal programs that involved land reclamation and resettlement projects were rejected. One of the most controversial New Deal projects proposed for Vermont in 1933 was the Green Mountain Parkway. The limited-access highway would cross the top of the Green Mountains from the Massachusetts border to Canada. The Parkways proponents believed it would create much-needed jobs, increase tourism, and help preserve large portions of the mountains from unplanned development. Its opponents felt the federal money could be better spent on reconstruction of existing roads and bridges destroyed in the 1927 Flood. Furthermore, they argued it would almost split the state in two with few cross roads between east and west, and large tracts of land would fall under federal control. The controversy continued for three years until Town Meeting Day on March 3, 1936. Vermonters said no to the $18 million in federal funds by a statewide vote of 42,318 to 30,897. Vermonters did not want the federal government to become a large property owner or regulator of their land. 

Green Mountain Parkway Map

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