MONTPELIER, Vt. — Hard cider, birthday cake and finger food were on the menu Friday at the Vermont Historical Society as the state observed its 225th anniversary.

It was on March 4, 1791, that the first Federal Congress admitted Vermont as the 14th state in the United States of America.

Vermont had been an independent republic for the previous 14 years, the only state aside from Texas to go out on its own for a while. Vermont’s 1777 Constitution was the first in North America to ban slavery.

In the latter half of the 20th century, an influx of newcomers helped turn Vermont from a longtime Republican stronghold into one of the most liberal states.

Its Legislature has produced a series of laws that have been swatted down by the U.S. Supreme Court: limiting campaign contributions, trying to restrict the pharmaceutical industry’s collection of doctors’ prescribing records and trying to force health insurers to share data about their subscribers with state regulators.

Steve Perkins, executive director of the historical society, also noted that some of Vermont’s ideas have caught on: The state’s civil union law in 2000 marked the first time gay couples’ relationships had been legally recognized in the U.S.