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History of Montpelier, Vermont

Montpelier, the capital of the state of Vermont, is situated on the Winooski River in the central part of the state. It is the smallest capital city in the United States. Montpelier's first settler was Colonel Jacob Davis, who built a log cabin in 1787 or 1788. The charter for Montpelier was given to Colonel Davis and others on August 14, 1781, and the charter for Calais was given to essentially the same group of people on the next day. The choice of names is probably due to the generally good feelings Americans had towards France following the Revolutionary War, and the fact that Colonel Davis found the names generally appealing. In 1848, the legislature divided the town into two new entities: Montpelier and East Montpelier. Montpelier was given a city charter in 1895. Montpelier was chosen to become the permanent state capital in 1805, after some strenuous debate, due to its central location. When the time came to build a new capitol in 1831, the citizens of Montpelier pledged $15,000 to support its construction, preventing the state government from being transferred to any of the other five competing cities. When the second capitol burned down in 1857, there was considerable support for moving the capital to Burlington, but Montpelier carried the day. The third Vermont Statehouse, which still stands, was 25 percent larger than the one it replaced, but still modest by the standards of other states. Admiral George Dewey of Manila Bay fame was born in Montpelier on December 26, 1837. After the Spanish-American war, Dewey was given an enormous homecoming celebration on October 12, 1899, in Montpelier. Three ships of the U.S. Navy have borne the name Montpelier, and the city has a USS Montpelier museum to commemorate their exploits. Montpelier is home to Vermont College, the first campus in the nation dedicated entirely to brief-residency programs. It is affiliated with Union Institute and University. The T. W. Wood Gallery and Arts Center is located on the campus of Vermont College. The Vermont Historical Society Museum in Montpelier is located in the Pavilion Building.