Bennington is a town in Bennington County, Vermont, in the United States. It is one of two shire towns (county seats) of the county, the other being Manchester. The population is 15,764, as of the 2010 US Census. Bennington is the most populous town in southern Vermont, the third-largest town in Vermont (after Essex and Colchester) and the sixth-largest municipality in the state including the cities of Burlington, Rutland, and South Burlington in the count.
The town is home to the Bennington Battle Monument, which is the tallest human-made structure in the state of Vermont. The town has ready access to natural resources and waterpower, and a long history of manufacturing, primarily within wood processing. The town is also recognized nationally for its pottery, iron, and textiles.
First of the New Hampshire Grants, Bennington was chartered on January 3, 1749, by Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth and named in his honor. It was granted to William Williams and 61 others, mostly from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, making the town the oldest to be chartered in Vermont and outside of what is now New Hampshire, though Brattleboro had been settled earlier as a fort. The town was first settled in 1761 by four families from Hardwick and two from Amherst, Massachusetts. They were led by Capt. Samuel Robinson, who camped in the river valley on his return from the French and Indian War.
Prior to the arrival of colonialists, the land belonged to the Western Abenaki of the Wabanaki Confederacy. These peoples were indigenous to Ndakinna - also known as Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Quebec.
There are three historic districts within the town today: Old Bennington, Downtown Bennington and North Bennington. Of these, Old Bennington is the original settlement, dating back to 1761 when Congregational Separatists arrived from Connecticut and from Amherst and Hardwick, Massachusetts. In the early 1800s, Downtown Bennington started developing, and by 1854 the county's population had reached 18,589.
The town is known in particular for the Battle of Bennington, which took place during the Revolutionary War. Although the battle took place approximately 12 miles (19 km) to the west in what is now the state of New York, an ammunition storage building located in Bennington was an important strategic target. On August 16, 1777, Gen. John Stark's 1,500-strong New Hampshire Militia defeated 800 German (Hessian) mercenaries, local Loyalists, Canadians and Indians under the command of German Lt. Col. Friedrich Baum. German reinforcements under the command of Lt. Col. Heinrich von Breymann looked set to reverse the outcome, but were prevented by the arrival of Seth Warner's Green Mountain Boys, the Vermont militia founded by Ethan Allen.
In 1891, the Bennington Battle Monument was opened. The monument is a 306-foot-high (93 m) stone obelisk that is the tallest human-made structure in Vermont. It is a popular tourist attraction.
As of the 2010 US census, there were 15,764 people, 6,246 households, and 3,716 families residing in the town. The population density was 370.92 people per square mile (143.18/km2). There were 6,763 housing units at an average density of 159.3 per square mile (61.4/km2). The ethnic/racial makeup of the town was 95.9% White, 1.3% from two or more races, 1.2% Black, 0.8% Asian, 0.4% from other races, 0.3% Native American, and 0.1% Pacific Islander. Latino of any race were 1.7% of the population.
There were 6,246 households out of which 25.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.2% were couples living together and joined in either marriage or civil union, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.5% were non-families. 33.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.88.