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Connecticut State Flag

Ethan Allen

Born: January 10, 1738
Place: Litchfield, Connecticut
Died: February 12, 1789
Place: Burlington, Vermont

Ethan Allen Ethan Allen was born in Litchfield, Connecticut on January 10, 1738. Like many of the young men of his day, he grew strong and athletic through farming and other physical chores. Sometime around 1769 he ventured north to Bennington, Vermont. Ownership of this territory had been in dispute because the British crown had issued conflicting land grants to both New Hampshire and New York. Although the dispute was settled in 1764 in favor of New York, it was not the end of the problem because New Hampshire's Governor Benning Wentworth had already granted some 128 townships. In fact, he continued to issue grants until the time of the American Revolution. New York was also issuing grants to this same territory. The settlers who had populated the area did not take this lightly, and they forcefully ejected surveyors and claimants from New York. Ethan Allen took the side of the existing settlers, and soon became a leader in the settler's quest to retain their lands. They assembled a regiment and Ethan Allen became colonel of "The Green Mountain Boys". The governor of New York, William Tryon, proclaimed Ethan Allen an outlaw, and offered a reward of 20 pounds in 1771 for his capture. Allen and his band kept the New York claimants at bay, however, even after the reward for his capture was raised to 100 pounds in 1774.

With the American Revolution at hand, the Green Mountain Boys assembled under Ethan Allen's command, and set about to disable British fortifications on the New York border. On May 10, 1775, they captured Fort Ticonderoga, and then went on to capture Crown Point and Skenesborough, effectively gaining control of the Lake Champlain area. Congress had originally ordered Benedict Arnold to raise troops and seize these British fortifications, but the Green Mountain Boys beat them to the punch. Following their success, Congress ordered that the Green Mountain Boys should be granted the pay of Continental soldiers, and that the New York Assembly should take in the regiment of Green Mountain Boys as part of their army. Although there were protests from those who viewed Ethan Allen and his band as a bunch of outlaws, the assembly complied, and Allen and his militia were brought in to serve under the army's officers.

As a member of the Continental Army, Ethan Allen participated in several secret missions to Canada, but on September 25, 1775 he was captured by the British. He was sent to England, imprisoned, and is reported to have been treated very harshly while a prisoner there. He was later moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, but because of his imprisonment, he missed most of the American Revolution. On May 6, 1778, he was released in an exchange of prisoners. When he returned to Vermont he was appointed commander of the militia, and Congress declared him a lieutenant colonel in the Regular Army. When the war ended, he settled in Vermont and became a member of the legislature and then a delegate to Congress. He hoped to see Vermont become part of the Union, and worked toward the state's admission, but Vermont remained an independent republic until March 4, 1791. Ethan Allen did not live to see Vermont gain statehood, as he died in Burlington, Vermont on February 12, 1789.

Read more about this amazing American hero. Click on the following titles to purchase our recommendations directly from Amazon.com. Ethan Allen by Stewart H. Holbrook is a very entertaining compilation of the life and legends of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys. Or, for another point of view, purchase Revolutionary Outlaws : Ethan Allen and the Struggle for Independence on the Early American Frontier by Michael A. Bellesiles. It is a well-researched look at both Ethan Allen and the independent spirit of the settlers he led.


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