Railroads, in addition to waterways like the Champlain and Erie Canals, made it easier to travel west. Vermont’s population growth lagged behind other states as many of her sons and daughters moved west seeking cheaper land and new opportunities. In a few instances Vermonters purchased large tracts of land and moved west together creating new communities such as Vermontville, Michigan. Many native Vermonters such as politician Stephen A. Douglas, inventor John Deere, and educator John Dewey achieved great success in their adopted states.
The small increase that did occur in Vermont’s population was due to the influx of new immigrant groups. The Irish came to Vermont in large numbers to work on the railroads. As transient workers and Catholics they were not widely accepted. Other groups such as Italians, French Canadians, Swedes, Scots, and Welsh, were also recruited to the state to work in Vermont’s expanding industrial sector. This influx helped to keep Vermont’s population stable but changed social dynamics. The majority of these people settled near their work in growing urban areas, and their customs, languages, and religions set them apart from Yankee Vermonters.
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