Funeral for the Second Vermont Republic? | Politics | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
Pin It

Funeral for the Second Vermont Republic? 

Local Matters

BURLINGTON - Vermont became the 14th state on March 4, 1791 - a date that will live in infamy, according to the secessionist think tank Second Vermont Republic.

Two years ago, SVR commemorated the occasion by staging a mock funeral for Vermont's independence at the Langdon Street Café in Montpelier. More than two dozen "mourners" and a pack of reporters gathered there. After a few speeches, performers from Bread and Puppet led them in a merry march to the Statehouse, to the tune of "When the Saints Come Marching In."

The mood was more somber last Sunday, when seven SVR supporters - including founder Thomas Naylor, his son, and Jim Hogue, dressed in period garb as Ethan Allen - huddled in the snow around Allen's gravesite in Burlington for a second mock funeral. Naylor opened the short ceremony by playing a recording of Chopin's death march.

Turns out the deceased may as well have been SVR itself. The drop in attendance and change in tone is the result of a recent controversy; as reported here last week, in early February, Vermont bloggers began questioning SVR's ties to white supremacist groups such as the League of the South. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies LOS as a hate group.

An anonymous scribe blogging as former Green Mountain Boy "Thomas Rowley" criticized SVR for its connection to LOS at Vermont Secession - Liberal blogger John Odum, founder of Green Mountain Daily - - repeated and amplified Rowley's charges. "Some very ugly tendrils have infiltrated themselves into the progressive community right under our noses," Odum wrote on February 9, "and Rowley should be given a medal for bringing it out into the sunlight before it spreads any further."

In a February 26 press release responding to their allegations, Naylor defended SVR's connection to other secessionists, and claimed to be the victim of a "techno-facist cyber-smear campaign," orchestrated by Rowley and Odum. Naylor branded the SPLC a "McCarthy-like group of mercenaries." He also implied that Odum's employer, the Vermont Natural Resources Council, was behind the allegations, though Odum denies that VNRC has ever had any connection to his blog.

Odum has since quit writing for GMD, citing the personal nature of Naylor's attack, and implying that he was forced to choose between his job and his blog. VNRC executive director Elizabeth Courtney did not return a phone call for this story. Odum's departure has prompted more posts unfavorable to SVR on several Vermont blogs.

Naylor characterizes the brouhaha as "fundamentally much ado about nothing," but it's clearly having a negative affect on SVR. This year's funeral was supposed to take place at Langdon Street Café, but Naylor switched the location to the Burlington cemetery a few days before the event.

Naylor says he was told the collective that runs the Montpelier café was "skittish" about hosting his event, so he decided to relocate rather than feel unwelcome.

Langdon Street collective member Wes Hamilton offers a slightly different spin - "My interpretation was that they didn't feel comfortable with possibly being confronted," he says.

Hamilton confirms that people who frequent the café, many of them supporters of secession, have been "scratching their heads" over the allegations and SVR's response.

"There's a pretty broad consensus among the people that I talk to that they handled this situation really poorly," he says.

One of SVR's leaders has also just announced he's leaving. On Monday, March 5, a statement appeared on the SVR website (though it has since been removed) saying that co-chair Rob Williams has stepped down from his post to concentrate on editing Vermont Commons, a quarterly promoting Vermont independence. (The newspaper has had a distribution arrangement with Seven Days.)

According to the website, Williams resigned in a private letter to Naylor on February 24. Williams has declined to comment further on his reasons for leaving SVR.

Naylor, at least, seems unfazed by the turmoil. "Secession is a tough sell," he admits. "Whoever said trying to organize a secession movement in Vermont would be easy?"

Did you appreciate this story?

Show us your ❤️ by becoming a Seven Days Super Reader.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It

More by Cathy Resmer

  • Social Sentinel, Burlington Code Academy and Maureen McElaney Win Awards at 12th Vermont Tech Jam
  • Vermont's Top Innovators Honored at Tech Jam 2018

    Social Sentinel, a Burlington-based company that identifies threatening content on social media, was among the winners of the 2018 Tech Jam awards, presented last Friday at the 12th Vermont Tech Jam. The prizes, given annually by the Vermont Technology Alliance, BTV Ignite and Seven Days, recognize leaders in the state's tech ecosystem. The awards ceremony was the culmination of a busy day at the free career and tech expo organized by Seven Days and presented by Vermont Works. Representatives from more than 50 companies and colleges talked with hundreds of attendees who walked the expo floor. Jeff Couture, executive director of the Vermont Technology Alliance, said he talked with job seekers from across Vermont and outside the state at the event, "including someone, suitcase in hand, who visited from North Carolina."
    • Oct 23, 2018
  • Inspiring Projects to See, Hear and Play With at the Vermont Tech Jam
  • Inspiring Projects to See, Hear and Play With at the Vermont Tech Jam

    • Oct 17, 2018
  • The Tech Issue — 2018
  • The Tech Issue — 2018

    • Oct 17, 2018
  • More »

About The Author

Cathy Resmer

Cathy Resmer

Deputy publisher Cathy Resmer is an organizer of the Vermont Tech Jam, and compiles a weekly tech e-newsletter every Monday. She also oversees HR, helps manage Seven Days' digital staff and oversees its parenting publication, Kids VT. In 2018, she designed and administered a statewide youth civics project, the... more


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Recent Comments

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2019 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation