The Annual 1777 Constitution Day Celebrates Vermont’s Birthplace with Re-Enactors and Period Festivities

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"The Birthplace of Vermont was in a tavern, in a hurry," - Vermont Tourism

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The Vermont Constitution.

The Vermont Constitution was ahead of its time, setting the stage for Vermont’s progressive path and beloved motto, "Freedom and Unity."

Today, the Old Constitution House hosts events that tell the tale of Vermont’s ground-breaking Constitution; a history buff’s perennial favorite is 1777 Constitution Day. Held on Saturday, July 6, this day-long celebration brings history to life with re-enactors and period festivities.

“The Vermont Constitution was ahead of its time, setting the stage for Vermont’s progressive path and beloved motto, ‘Freedom and Unity,’” Kathy Murphy, Chief Marketing Officer for the State of Vermont said. “It was the first to prohibit slavery, establish universal voting rights for all males, and to authorize a public school system.”

On 1777 Constitution Day, guides recreate the story of Vermont’s tumultuous formative years and its innovative constitution. Artisans will demonstrate traditional crafts such a woodworking and powder horn carving. Families are invited to test their skills at period games. The day culminates with “Vermont’s Revolutionary Trek” – a symbolic relay from Hubbardton Battlefield to Windsor’s Constitutional Convention. A messenger on horseback delivers the “news” about the British invasion at 3:00 p.m. Re-enactors and visitors will then help adopt Vermont’s Constitution.    

This year marks the 236th anniversary of the Constitution. In early July 1777, the British invaded the newly declared Republic of Vermont. The American forts at Mount Independence and Ticonderoga were captured and a battle fought at Hubbardton. Word of these alarming events reached Windsor on July 8, where a constitutional convention was being held. Before returning to their homes to face the British threat, the delegates quickly adopted the constitution at Elijah West’s tavern, now known as the Old Constitution House.                

Visitors can also explore this year’s exhibit at the Old Constitution House. Toasters, Spiders, and Dutch Ovens: 18th Century Tavern Cooking showcases the types of utensils that would have been used in Elijah West’s tavern. The display includes cooking equipment believed to be among the earliest in the state. For those who want to learn more, “History Happens at OCH,” is an on-going series by 18th century re-enactors Carl and Carolyn Malikowski.

Located at 16 North Main Street in Windsor, the Old Constitution House is open through October 14, Saturday and Sunday and Monday holidays, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For further information, call 802-672-3773, or visit and like the Vermont State Historic Sites on Facebook.

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Jen Butson
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