From the March 18, 1977 edition of the Gazette:

As the initial awe of the action fades, the Island’s secessionist movement is gaining way. Pending final approval from the Island’s selectmen this weekend, Rep. Terrence P. McCarthy has scheduled for Tuesday delivery to the General Court of the Islands’ declaration of intent to secede from the state if representation is lost.

That same day, he expects to file a bill petitioning the General Court for permission to secede from the state.

In Vermont this week, a move to invite the Islands to join that state was started. An official invitation from Vermont governor Richard Snelling may be forthcoming soon.

Tuesday, the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce voted to ask the county commissioners to “initiate whatever legal action is necessary to ensure the continued representation of Dukes County in the Massachusetts General Court.”

In the discussion preceding the vote, directors of the chamber noted that underlying the secessionist movement is the “urgent and immediate need to keep our seat in the legislature and to make certain that adoption of an unfair redistricting law does not leave us abandoned and separated. The threat is that the legislators will legislate us into isolation and votelessness, without even asking us whether we want to be separated.”

Mr. McCarthy said yesterday that a special meeting of the All0Island Selectman’s Association will be held this weekend for the selectmen to read the final draft of the declaration and officially approve it. The Nantucket selectmen approved it Wednesday.

In announcing his intention to file the bill, Mr. McCarthy hastened to add that “we will not pursue the bill until we have had a town meeting vote. The purpose of filing the bill is simply as a small step toward proving to the people of the Commonwealth that we are really aggrieved.”

On the ballot of every Island town this spring will be a non-binding referendum question asking, “Due to the present plan of the Massachusetts legislature to disenfranchise the voters of the town of..., do you wish to secede from the Commonwealth?”

Not until that vote is taken, and only if the move is approved by a majority of the voters, will the General Court bill be pressed by Mr. McCarthy and his Nantucket counterpart, Rep. J. Sidney Conway.

“I hope voters will vote yes on the question, if only as a symbolic act,” Mr. McCarthy said.

Vermont has taken no official action yet. Charles Kittredge, an aide to Governor Snelling, said yesterday the governor “likes to have things on paper in writing” before making decisions, and won’t have that until today. But, he said: “Yes, we’re interested.”

The idea apparently was conceived by David E. Sellers, an architect and planner of Warren, Vt., a town of 400 population located in the Mad River valley. Mr. Sellers teaches at the Yale School of Architecture; he is an ex-chairman of the Mad River Regional Planning Commission, among other official posts. He has apparently won the Warren representative, Mrs. Anne Just, to the idea also.

He is proposing that Gov. Snelling come to the Island to tell us about Vermont, and then invite Island officials to go to Vermont, sit in on a session of the state legislature, and have a look around.

“Both financially and governmentally, it is a much more reasonable connection for the Islands to be part of Vermont that part of Massachusetts,” Mr. Sellers says.

“Massachusetts for the most part is highly industrialized, and doesn’t have the problems associated withs seasonal variations in population. It is probably not as sympathetic to your problems as Vermont would be.

“Like the Islands, Vermont has very high energy costs; the state is doing a lot of work on alternative energy sources like wood, the sun, and the wind. We both have transportation problems; because we both have tourist economies, we have similar planning problems.

“And, both the Islands and Vermont are made up of real hard-core Yankees, people who are independent and not about to be put down by anyone.

“Vermont is the only New England state which has no seacoast. This would be a way for us to get some. We could have Vermont lobsters; you could have your own maple syrup.”

The Vermont legislature has 150 representatives, one for every 3,000 people. It has 30 senators - two from each county, with a few variations from that rule because of special circumstances. If the Islands were to join the state, they would be entitled to four senators, under those rules. The Vermont legislature convenes on Jan. 4 each year, and usually gets its business done by the middle of April.

Vermont is the only state in the union which has in its constitution a provision that allows it to withdraw from the nation anytime it wishes. “It’s a provision nobody thinks about much,” Mr. Kittredge says, “in which respect it is similar to a spare tire.”

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox