Vermont's George Aiken:
Balancing Freedom and Unity
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A film by Rick Moulton
© 2005 The University of Vermont. All rights reserved.
Documentary, 63 minutes
George D. Aiken, former Governor and thirty-four year Senator from Vermont hailed from a political movement with an extensive history in American politics: Progressive Republicanism in the vein of Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Rockefeller. Like Lincoln, Aiken possessed both a compassion for the social needs of his constituents and the needs of businesses for ensuring economic prosperity.
"Are we going to say to the common folk of America that we have to make world-wide markets for guns and oil and materials of war because a new crop of war millionaires is necessary for our well being, and that the sons of the common people must die in order to bring this about?"
Aiken's words resound in events unfolding today. During his thirty-four years in the United States Senate, George Aiken achieved national status as one of the great statesmen of his time. This film will look at his values, service, integrity, and bipartisanship. This project will portray Aiken, the "Progressive Republican", as a Vermont legacy whose wisdom, wit and political aplomb were important to the nation.
Telling the Vermont story is also very important. When Vermont history is taught in our schools, there are very few materials available to teachers to bring alive the Life and Times of George D. Aiken. As a key Vermont figure, there is a pressing need to create outreach materials to ensure our citizens understand his life and contributions and ensure that subsequent generations benefit from his experience as they chart Vermont's future.
Many of the people in the state who knew and worked personally with Aiken are passing away and this project needs to proceed if we are to include their personal accounts. Following Aiken's career the documentary will offers an insightful look at life in Vermont as it evolved through the 20th Century. Engaged in fruit farming with an extensive nursery business, it is logical that part of George Aiken's legacy is tied to his concern for the environment. His ties to the Earth made him mindful of the problems connected with farming. In the late twenties he became a champion for rural electrification bringing electricity to Vermont's scattered hill farms.
Although Aiken was against big government building power dams in Vermont to send our power to the cities, he found a way to create local electric co-ops where energy was utilized by the community they served. When the interstate system was planned he made sure this Federal program served Vermonters. Today Vermont has more interstate miles per capita than any other. A fiscal conservative, Aiken was also for the common man, he voted against his party on several occasions and always followed his own conscience.
- Aiken's Life Chronology
- Narrative Biography
- Landmark Legislation
- Text of Selected Speeches
- Vietnam Speech, Oct. 19 1966
- Senate Farewell Speech
- Quotable Aiken