Inaugurals and Farewells

Inaugural and farewell addresses offer fascinating views of the interests and styles of particular governors. More importantly, in their aggregate they document how Vermonters defined and resolved the continuing issues of governance over time. Most address financial conditions, taxation, education, transportation, economic development, and State institutions and agencies. Governors often expounded on what they saw as core Vermont values and how they should be promoted and preserved. 

While inaugurals were used to promote a governor’s agenda, farewell addresses allowed for more reflection, weighing the expectations of inaugurals against the experience of governing. Like the inaugurals the farewells address a consistent set of topics, providing a unique longitudinal view of how we defined and executed government responsibilities.

The first inaugural was delivered by Governor Thomas Chittenden on October 14, 1779.  Governor Chittenden also provided the first farewell address following his 1789 defeat. Inaugurals did not become routine until 1797, starting with Governor Isaac Tichenor, while a tradition of farewell addresses was not established until Governor Horace Fairbanks in 1878.

Scope of this web presentation: Only inaugural and farewell addresses are included. Budget messages and state of the state addresses (offered to the adjourned sessions starting in the 1960s) are omitted. Until 1870 Vermont had annual elections and there is an inaugural for each year. With the adoption of two-year terms in 1870 inaugurals were offered every other year, since the legislature usually only met in the first year of the biennium. From 1870 until 1928 an informal tradition limited governors to a single two-year term and from 1928 until 1962 most governors served two two-year terms. Since the 1960s three or more terms have become common.

This page was last updated: 2014-08-04