A small and comparatively homogenous state, Vermont has the fewest foreign-born residents of any New England state. Its percentage of foreign-born residents was only about 4 percent during the early twenty-first century, but it was rising rapidly, thanks to a growing influx of Mexican workers, many of whom were undocumented.
In 1609, the French explorer
Because Vermont shares a border with French-speaking Quebec, it has a long history of immigration from the north. The first significant influx of
As the only New England state without an Atlantic coastline, Vermont attracted fewer immigrants from overseas, but the composition of European immigrants who did come was similar to that of other New England states. The first group to come in significant numbers were
Post-Civil War immigration into Vermont was characterized by the arrival of new immigrants from southern and eastern European countries. Russian Jews contributed to the business life of Burlington, the largest city, during the 1870’s. Other immigrants from southern and eastern Europe found work in Vermont’s urban centers. These new arrivals include small numbers of
The peak moment in Vermont immigration history came in 1910, when U.S. Census figures show that the state’s foreign-born population was 14 percent. The bulk of these immigrants were French Canadians. By the early years of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, Franco-Americans made up 75 percent of the workforce in Vermont’s cotton and woolen mills. However, they were slower to assimilate than Irish and Jewish immigrant communities.
The predominantly Anglo-Protestant population of Vermont was never comfortable with the influx of eastern and southern European settlers. During the 1920’s, one of its U.S. senators, William P. Dillingham
Despite nativist tendencies in Vermont history, the state has generally succeeded in accommodating foreign immigrants. For example, its educational system has ranked above national averages in all levels of education, reflecting the fact that immigrant children have not caused a decline in standards. Another measure of Vermont’s success in accommodating immigrants has been its high rate of immigrant naturalization.
Brault, Gerard J. The French-Canadian Heritage in New England. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1986. Gallagher, Nancy L. Breeding Better Vermonters: The Eugenics Project in the Green Mountain State. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1999. Graffagnino, J. Kevin, et al. Vermont Voices, 1609 Through the 1990’s: A Documentary History of the Green Mountain State. Montpelier: Vermont Historical Society, 1999. Woolfson, A. Peter. The French in Vermont: A Civil Rights Perspective. Burlington: University of Vermont Center for Research on Vermont, 1983.
Immigration Act of 1924