The Northern Townships of New England, also known simply as the Northern Townships, are a group of towns consisting of the far northern portions of the former boundaries of the U.S. states of Vermont and New Hampshire (both states which now are part of the Republic of Vermont), and the far southwestern corner of the former U.S. state of Maine bordering former New Hampshire. Its eastern border is with the Provisional Republic of Aroostook.
The townships comprise all towns in the following former counties of the U.S. states of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. They are adjacent to the current Republic of Vermont from the south, Aroostook from the east and former Quebec from the north.
- Northern Coos in former New Hampshire
- Northern Essex in Vermont
- Northern Franklin in former Maine
- Franklin in Vermont
- Lamoille in Vermont
- Orleans in Vermont
- Oxford in Maine
- Northern Somerset in Maine
After , the towns within the current boundaries of the Northern Townships saw their best chance of survival as banding together in a sort of confederation.
Over the years, they had shown great resistance to joining nearby Vermont and Aroostook. This was due to heavy influence from the Lawrence Raiders group of warlords and gangs based in what was once southern Quebec, and from influential leaders within the communities themselves concerned with the safety of the people and in some cases their own personal survival.
As the Vermont and Aroostook militaries grew in strength, the influence of the raiders lessened. The raiders have not been seen for several years, and the townships have been slowly developing into their own independent community while emerging from their isolation and becoming a part of the regional community of nations.
The northern townships of the state of Vermont were gradually drawing away from state affairs and acting more on their own or in union with townships in northern New Hampshire. The first sign of serious problems between the townships and Burlington came in early 1984 when local militia overwhelmed the few Vermont state police and militia troops in the area; the next came when parties from Burlington ran into roadblocks built up along state roads 109, 100, 105 and 58.
In May 1984, Vermont State Police and Vermont militia attempted to break the roadblock at Morrisville and ran into an ambush; twenty-seven state policemen and government militia members died. Survivors fled down state road 12 to the capital, informing the governor of what had happened and the 27 who had died. Snelling was also told that the ambushers seemed "very well organized."
Governor Richard Snelling made the first controversial decision of his post-Doomsday career: he declined to send in forces to break the roadblock and take northern Vermont by force, citing his uncertainty as to "whether the state can fight such a war at this point in time, with the other challenges we face." Public sentiment in Montpelier and the south was to fight whomever took over the townships up north, but Snelling had enough support in the General Assembly to hold his ground.
In New Hampshire, the Manchester government made a couple of attempts to go into their state's northern towns, securing Dartmouth College and using it as a staging area. Aware of what had happened in Morrisville, the New Hampshire forces avoided an ambush, but were not able to negotiate with the militia forces holding the roadblocks.
In November 1984, Snelling and his representatives met representatives of the northern townships of Vermont and former New Hampshire in Morton. The northern townships insisted on going their own way, and again gave a show of force to Snelling and his party. Those who gave a show of force were representatives of warlords, thought to likely be from Quebec, who would become a thorn in Vermont's side over the next several years.
The townships soon formalized an economic union with townships in northern New Hampshire. In 1989, they also began to become the subject of intermittent raids by warlords believed to be from Quebec. After putting up resistance in Swanton and Newport and losing battles both times - and realizing the raiders' military advantage - the townships were presented with a proposal by an emissary: provide medical aid and food, and limited "comfort women", and the raiders would leave the townships (largely) alone. The township leaders accepted, and the warlord raiders kept their word.
Meanwhile, now-President Snelling and Vermont general assembly leaders saw the need to build up a strong militia for defense against any rogue raiders and warlords that would pose a threat; the militia became The Republic of Vermont Army in 1986.
The Army initially guarded the Republic's borders against threats of rogue raiders. Snelling thought it wise to build up a strong defensive force to scare away any intruders, and Dean continued that policy after becoming President. The Army fought what is now believed to have been the infamous "Lawrence Raiders" (who were behind the raids in the townships) four times in the early 1990s, the biggest battles being one just north of Dartmouth College in 1991, and a final battle just south of old Plattsburgh in 1995. The raiders/warlords seemed to be well-organized, and Dean and his military leaders wondered aloud where they would have gotten their training from. Speculation ranged from a rogue Canadian army unit, to Quebec survivalists, even to undercover Soviet agents. For whatever reason, after the battle of Plattsburgh in 1995 - in which the Vermont Army overwhelmed its opponent - the rogue raiders disappeared, and to this day have not been spotted in or near Vermont territory.
This is when relations between Vermont and the townships began to thaw. Vermont businesses began doing business in the townships, and Vermonters with family in the townships ventured north for long-awaited reunions.
During the Army's numerous battles and skirmishes with the raiders, the Army learned of one important piece of information - the existence of a possible government of some sort in upper Maine. Snelling decided that, despite the risks of going through the northern townships and dealing with the raiders, the risk was worth taking.
In 1993, a group of explorers and soldiers ventured into Maine from former New Hampshire. They made it as far as Flagstaff Lake before observing scouts from Aroostook. Both sides were initially cautious, then reportedly began "shouting and screaming with joy" once they realized where the other side was from. President Snelling addressed the General Assembly on November 3, stating
- Today is the day we realize that we not only are alone in the world but we are not alone on our continent. Vermont is not the only place where civilization has survived, and there is at least one place outside of our borders that is not harassed or controlled by barbarians. Today is a day of celebration, and soon there will be a day when all Vermonters can meet up with all from Aroostook County in Maine, in peace, to rebuild relationships and help build a new society.
Vermont officials eventually decided to try and establish formal relations with . While transporting supplies into the northern townships, parties from Vermont were introduced to parties from Aroostook. President Dean was informed and personally went to the township of Pittsburg to meet with his counterpart from Aroostook in October. Their meeting went well, and both countries pledged to continue relations.
In 1998 and again in 1999, Aroostook formally approached both the northern township and the Republic about merging into a single political entity. Both times, Vermont reiterated its current desire to retain its independence, and the northern townships reiterated to Aroostook AND Vermont their desire to remain politically separate from both countries. However, all sides agreed to examine the idea of some sort of New England common market, and if viable and beneficial to all sides, to act upon it. That idea grew into the concept of a Confederation of New England, a primarily economic union which respects each entity's political independence, while providing for a strong economic union and mutual military defense.
Relations improved to the point where the townships became an important middle ground between Vermont and Aroostook.
The present day
The townships' reliance on Vermont and Aroostook for food, clothing and other goods have largely eliminated their self-imposed isolation. Many older residents still tend to stay within the townships, rarely venturing out except for business or visiting family. On the other hand, students are taking advantage of opportunities to attend college in Vermont, Aroostook, Plymouth and Canada.
There was discussion amongst leaders and residents about either joining Aroostook or Vermont, or formalizing their alliance into a nation that would be part of the long-proposed Confederation of New England. While the Confederation seems to be a long way off, the townships have begun formalizing their union, and discussions are underway on a wide variety of changes that would, among other things, institute a federal-style government as the nation's ruling body and impose limited taxes on residents.
On February 1, 2010, three Vermont legislators proposed the additions of various items to the much-debated "balanced budget" bill that would provide economic incentives for Vermont businesses to locate factories and offices in the townships, as well as funding for schools in the region and for a highway that would connect Manchester to the townships. The measure was approved in September 2010, and the highway has been extended through the townships into Aroostook proper; the highway should be finished by fall of 2012.
Each town is autonomous, governing themselves under the New England town government system. A central council, headed by a manager appointed from amongst the council members, coordinates all matters involving two or more of the townships; if there is a tie amongst the members, the manager casts the deciding vote. One representative per town, directly elected by eligible voters, serves on the council.
More to come....
The Vermont Broadcasting System opened a radio station in October 2010 specifically geared towards the townships. VBS Townships operates from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, and ninety percent of its programming is township-specific.
The three VBS television stations also share a translator located in Swanton.
Most VBS and privately-owned stations in Vermont and Aroostook can easily be heard in the townships, as well as the clear-channel stations broadcasting from Saint John's and Stowe, Superior.
The Townships Times-Journal newspaper was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Swanton. It publishes on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The central council approved ambassadors to represent the townships in October 2010. Thus far ambassadors have been sent to Vermont, Canada, Aroostook and to Niagara Falls.
The United Communities has approached the townships about formal membership.