Ethan Allen


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Ethan AllenAllen, ETHAN, military officer, Patriot; born in Litchfield, Connecticut, January 10, 1737. In 1762 he was one of the proprietors of the ironworks at Salisbury, Connecticut. In 1766 he went to the frontier region between the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain, where he was a brave leader of the settlers on the New Hampshire grants in their controversy with the authorities of New York. (See NEW HAMPSHIRE.) During this period several pamphlets were written by Allen, in his peculiar style, which forcibly illustrated the injustice of the action of the New York authorities. The latter declared Allen an outlaw, and offered a reward of 150 for his arrest. He defied his enemies, and persisted in his course. Early in May, 1775, he led a few men and took the fortress of Ticonderoga. His followers were called "Green Mountain Boys." His success as a partisan caused him to be sent twice into Canada, during the latter half of 1775, to win the people over to the republican cause. In the last of these expeditions he attempted to capture Montreal.

With less than 100 recruits, mostly Canadians, Colonel Allen crossed the St. Lawrence, September 25, 1775. This was done at the suggestion of Colonel John Brown, who was also recruiting in the vicinity, and who agreed to cross the river at the same time a little above the city, the attack to be made simultaneously by both parties. For causes never satisfactorily explained, Brown did not cross, and disaster ensued. General Robert Prescott was in command in the city. He came out with a considerable force of regulars, Canadians and Indians, and after a short skirmish made Allen and his followers prisoners. When Prescott learned that Allen was the man who captured Ticonderoga, he treated him very harshly. He was bound hand and foot with irons, and these shackles were fastened to a bar of iron 8 feet in length. In this plight he was thrust into the hold of a vessel to be sent to England, and in that condition he was kept five weeks; but when she sailed from Quebec the humane captain struck off his irons. He was confined seven weeks in Pendennis Castle in England, when he was sent to Halifax, and thence to New York, where he was exchanged in the spring of 1778, and returned home, where he was received with joy and honors. He was invested with the chief command of the State militia. Congress immediately gave him the commission of lieutenant-colonel in the Continental army. When, in the course of the war, Vermont assumed and maintained an independent position, a fruitless attempt was made by Beverly Robinson to bribe Allen to lend his support to a union of that province with Canada. He was supposed to be disaffected towards the revolted colonies, and he fostered that impression in order to secure the neutrality of the British towards his mountain State until the close of the war. As a member of the legislature of Vermont, and as a delegate in Congress, he secured the great object of his efforts--namely, the ultimate recognition of Vermont as an independent State. He removed to Burlington before the close of the war, and died there February 13, 1789. In 1894 the United States' government established a new military post 5 miles from Burlington and named it after him.



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