The granting of the charter for the town of Coventry in 1780 had nothing whatsoever to
do with the current town of Coventry. Someone made a mistake and thought that Coventry
would be located down south in Addison County. That erroneous assumption was the beginning of
a 20 year battle for control of the town. It began with the struggling young republic
of Vermont selling off its vacant lands to raise the funds to defend itself from
threatening neighboring states. And it ended with the temporary triumph of a single
land speculator who managed to acquire title to almost the entire township, only to
fall into bankruptcy a few years later with the resulting confusion causing hardship
to the actual settlers on the land.|
The year 1780 was a dangerous time to be living in the independent republic of Vermont. With
its northern Canadian border, and the long corridor of Lake Champlain open to enemy
incursion, the Vermont militia was on constant guard against the threat of British
attack. Yet they got little to no support from the Continental Congress of the United
Colonies. In fact Vermont was threatened by the colonies of New York, New Hampshire
and Massachusetts, each one claiming some portion of the Vermont lands as their own.
They used their political strength in Congress to deny Vermont its repeated requests
to be admitted as the 14th state in the union. In fact there were plans drawn up to divide
the Vermont lands along the spine of the Green Mountains with the western half going
to New York and the eastern half to New Hampshire.
The Vermont republic was less than 3 years old, and it was being set upon by enemy nations and jealous colonies. The government had no financial standing, no credit anywhere and could not borrow funds from any source at any price. Yet it had an army which was defending both itself and the United Colonies from attack and the army needed feeding. The treasury had bills to pay. The new government needed a source of revenue and it found one in its vast acres of unsettled and unclaimed lands.
To raise the funds necessary to equip the militia, run the government, and also with the political foresight of making new friends from out of state, Vermont opened up it's vacant lands to speculators. Despite a direct admonition from the Continental Congress in 1779 to grant no more new land until the legal status of Vermont was finally settled, the Vermont legislature, meeting in Bennington in November of 1780, made 50 grants of land. One of the 50 was to be the fledgling township of Coventry.