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An independence movement arises in Vermont

| January / February 2004

American history, mathematically speaking, has been a story of constant addition. When the Declaration of Independence was signed, there were 13 colonies wanting to break free of British domination. They eventually teamed up, and the sum of United States kept rising at a steady clip until 1912, when Arizona entered the union as the 48th. That was the final tally until 1958, when, in the midst of the Cold War, we added Russia's neighbor across the Bering Strait as number 49. The next year Hawaii joined to make a round 50.

Thomas H. Naylor, a retired Duke University economics professor and corporate consultant, thinks it's time for Americans to do some subtraction. At an antiwar rally last spring, he proposed that Vermont leave the United States, and he was surprised at the enthusiastic reaction. Since then he has spoken around the state, advocating that Vermont's citizens elect a special convention to explore the idea of establishing its own republic. "I am dead serious about this," he says, noting that Vermont was an independent nation with its own money, stamps, and legislature from 1777 to 1791. He outlines ideas for a Second Vermont Republic in The Vermont Manifesto (Xlibris), a surprisingly compelling argument for applying the small-is-beautiful philosophy to the United States itself.

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