Vermont's first United States senator, Moses Robinson of Bennington, took his seat and repeated the oath of office. Four days later, on November 4, Vermont's second senator, Stephen Bradley of Westminster, was sworn in.
Senators Moses Robinson and Stephen Bradley of Westminister drew lots to determine class assignments. Robinson drew Class 1, with a term to expire in 1797. Bradley drew Class 3, with a term to expire in 1795. Bradley returned to the Senate in 1801 and served another 13 years. He was the longest-serving Vermont senator until 1883.
The Senate elected Stephen Bradley as its president pro tempore. A biographer later described Bradley as an "able, hard-working senator whose ready wit and boundless store of amusing anecdotes made him popular with his colleagues."
The Senate ruled that appointed senator Samuel Phelps of Middlebury was not entitled to retain his seat. He had been appointed to the Senate on January 17, 1853, but the state legislature had twice met and failed to elect a successor. The question was whether an appointment expires when the legislature next meets, or only when the legislature elects a successor.
Jacob Collamer of Woodstock, an attorney, began his service in the Senate. For most of his Senate term Collamer also served as the last president of Vermont Medical College at Woodstock.
President Lincoln signed the Morrill Land Grant Act, sponsored by Senator Justin Morrill of Strafford, which set aside federal lands to create colleges to “benefit the agricultural and mechanical arts.”
In the years following the Civil War, as service in the Senate became more attractive, the seniority of Vermont's delegation soared. George Edmunds of Burlington served from this day in 1866 to November 1, 1891, a total of 25 years, 6 months, and 30 days. Justin Morrill held his seat from 1867 to 1898, a total of 31 years, 9 months, and 25 days. Edmunds' and Morrill's service records would not be broken for almost 50 years.
George Edmunds, former speaker of the Vermont house and president of the state senate, chaired the committee to develop rules to govern President Andrew Johnson's Senate impeachment trial. (He subsequently voted to remove Johnson from office.) During his 25-year Senate career, Edmunds carried on a profitable private law practice, arguing cases before federal courts, including the Supreme Court.
Justin Morrill began his eight-year chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds. In that capacity, he promoted a major redesign of the Capitol's grounds and a separate building for the Library of Congress.
The Senate passed the Sherman Antitrust Act, outlawing trade and commercial restraints imposed by trusts and monopolies. As chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, George Edmunds amended the measure to ensure its enactment.
Senator Redfield Proctor delivered a speech on the Senate floor on the conditions in Cuba, following an observation visit there. His remarks helped swing American opinion in favor of war with Spain to secure the island's independence.
Senator Justin Morrill died. At the time of his death, he had chaired a major Senate committee—the Committee on Finance—for 17 years, longer than anyone in history, setting a record that still stands for that committee. He served in the Senate for 31 years, 9 months, and 25 days, and held the record for longest-serving Vermont senator until George Aiken surpassed him in 1941.
A special nine-member commission to investigate U.S. immigration policies elected Senator William Dillingham of Montpelier as its chairman. Dillingham had chaired the Senate Immigration Committee since 1903. In its 41-volume report issued in 1911, the Dillingham Commission advocated more restrictive immigration policies out of fear that the influx of new residents "threatened to transform the republic into a non-Protestant nation of cities breeding disease, poverty, and crime." Dillingham promoted the quota system, implemented in 1920, that allowed entrance to three percent of a nationality already in the U.S.
The Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect, allowing the election of U.S. senators by popular vote. Vermont's first directly elected senator was William Dillingham, who won reelection in 1914.
Responding to constituent concerns about the divisive tactics of Wisconsin senator Joseph R. McCarthy, Vermont senator Ralph E. Flanders delivered the first of many speeches denouncing the injustices of McCarthy's hunt for subversive activity in the government. Flanders, a farmer and self-taught industrial economist, led his New England Republican Senate colleagues in the Senate's condemnation of the excesses of the Wisconsin senator.
George Aiken's nearly 34-year tenure in the Senate ended with his retirement. Until 2008 Aiken was Vermont’s longest-serving senator.
Patrick Leahy of Burlington became chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, serving until December 1, 1994.
James Jeffords of Shrewsbury became chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, which became the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in 1999. He served as chair until 2001.
Patrick Leahy became chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. During the 107th Congress, he served as chairman briefly from January 3 to January 20, at which time the Republicans took control of the Senate. Control changed back to the Democrats in June when Vermont senator James Jeffords left the Republican Party and began to caucus with the Democrats, and Leahy became Judiciary Chairman again until 2003. He became chairman again in 2007.
Senator James Jeffords announced his intention to leave the Republican Party and to take on status as an Independent, but to caucus with the Democratic Party. His change ended the Senate's historic 50-50 split and, when it took effect on June 6, shifted the floor leadership and committee organization to the Democratic Party. This was the first time in Senate history that party control shifted in mid-session.