Vermont History and Genealogy

March 6, 2007

Men of Vermont – Elisha Payne

Filed under: Elisha Payne, Famous Vermont Residents — thedarwinexception @ 5:23 pm

Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of Vermonters and Sons of Vermont.

Payne, Elisha.–Lieutenant-Governor in 1781, simultaneously chief judge of the Supreme Court, and in 1782 one of the delegates to Congress, appears only briefly in Vermont history, during the continuance of the “East union” of New Hampshire towns with Vermont. He was born at Canterbury, Conn., in 1731, became quite prominent in New Hampshire in colonial days, doing good service in the French war, rising to be colonel and deputy surveyor-general of the King’s woods, to preserve the pine trees reserved in all grants for the royal navy. In the short-lived union of the sixteen New Hampshire towns with Vermont in 1778, Colonel Payne appeared as representative of Cardigan, N. H., and was elected councilor, though he refused the position because he thought he could be more useful in the House in resisting the effort he knew would be pressed to dissolve the union. He was a leader in the Charleston convention of 1781 which, with the aid of Ira Allen’s manipulation, resolved to ask annexation to Vermont of all of New Hampshire west of a line seventy miles from the sea-coast, instead of attempting to form still another new state of this part of New Hampshire and the eastern half of Vermont, as had been originally planned.

He urged the union energetically and eloquently before the Vermont Legislature until it was consummated in the April following, when he enjoyed a liberal share of the honors of the new state as above stated. His election as Lieutenant-Governor was by the Legislature, as there had been no choice by the people. In the winter following, when New Hampshire started to regain the seceded territory by force, Mr. Payne’s address and firm stand undoubtedly went far to avert bloodshed. When Governor Chittenden ordered him to call out the militia “to repel force by force,” he at once wrote President Weare of New Hampshire stating his instructions, but in a tone so conciliatory and yet firm that peace was restored. When this last “union” was dissolved, Governor Payne adhered to New Hampshire, though he had now such a hold on the respect and affections of the people of Vermont that he could have commanded high honors from them which were impossible from the former state. He died at Lebanon, July 20, 1807, aged seventy-six. One of his descendants was Col. E. P. Jewett, of Montpelier.

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