Birthday: January 21, 1738
Died At Age: 51
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Born in: Litchfield, Connecticut
Famous as: Revolutionary War Hero
Spouse/Ex-: Frances Montresor Brush Buchanan (m. 1784–1789), Mary Brownson (m. 1762–1783)
siblings: Heber Allen, Heman Allen, Ira Allen, Levi Allen, Lucy Allen, Lydia Allen, Zimri Allen
children: Fanny Allen
Died on: February 12, 1789
U.S. State: Vermont, Connecticut
education: Yale University
Who was Ethan Allen?
Ethan Allen was an American Revolutionary War hero, farmer, politician, and philosopher. He is best known as one of the founders of the U.S. state of Vermont, and also for the capture of Fort Ticonderoga during the American Revolutionary War. Ethan was born in rural Connecticut and had a strict upbringing right from his childhood. He was the oldest of the eight children in the family and took over the family landholdings after his father’s death. Allen along with his brother explored the lands in the New Hampshire Grants and purchased land over there which is now known as the state of Vermont. He was the leader of the group named as Green Mountain Boys that carried out the campaign against New Yorkers to leave their land. The group later fought for the American colonies against Great Britain. Allen along with Benedict Arnold and the Green Mountain Boys easily captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British soldiers. After his retirement from the military services, Allen along with his philosopher friend, Dr. Thomas Young published a book ‘Reason the Only Oracle of Man’ on Deist philosophy. Ethan Allen died following an apoplectic fit in Burlington, Vermont.
Childhood & Early Life
Ethan Allen was born on January 21, 1738 in Litchfield, Connecticut and was the first child of Joseph and Mary Baker Allen. He had five brothers (Heman, Heber, Levi, Zimri, and Ira) and two sisters (Lydia and Lucy).
His family moved to Cornwall soon after his birth. Allen began his studies under a minister in the town of Salisbury and aspired to join Yale College. With his father’s death in 1755, Allen took over the family landholdings.
He volunteered for militia service in 1757 during the early phases of the French and Indian war. He became a part owner of an iron furnace in Salisbury in 1762.
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Ethan Allen first visited New Hampshire Grants in 1757 and acquired land in the area. A dispute over the land in the Champlain Valley arose between New York and New Hampshire and the New York Supreme Court passed an order in 1770 stating that New Hampshire’s claims were invalid. Thus Allen became the Colonel Commandant of a local group called Green Mountain Boys that initiated a campaign against the New Yorkers to leave their land.
Allen, along with a group of Boys, drove off a group of Scottish settlers near Rupert in October 1771. New York’s Governor, William Tryon issued warrants against the ones responsible including Allen. A reward of £20 which was later increased to £100 was put up on Allen and company by March 1774.
He spent the summer of 1774 writing a pamphlet titled ‘A Brief Narrative of the Proceedings of the Government of New York Relative to Their Obtaining the Jurisdiction of that Large District of Land to the Westward of the Connecticut River’. He began selling and giving away copies in 1775.
On March 13, 1775, a small riot broke out in the shire town of Westminster resulting in the death of two men. Allen along with his committee travelled to Westminster and started working on a petition to the king to remove them "out of so oppressive a jurisdiction." The American Revolutionary War began less than a week after that.
Ethan Allen led 60 men from Massachusetts and Connecticut along with 130 Boys at Castleton to capture Fort Ticonderoga from the British soldiers in May 1775. Soon Benedict Arnold also joined them, and from then the mission was jointly led by Allen and Arnold. The troop began with the capturing of Fort Crown Point and St. John followed by Fort Ticonderoga.
With the successful conquest of Crown Point and Fort Ticonderoga, Ethan Allen and his men tried to seize Montreal in the latter half of 1775. But, they failed and Allen was captured and sent to prison in Cornwall, England, for two years.
After his release, Allen traveled to Salisbury, arriving on May 25, 1778 and found out about the death of his brother, Heman. He set out for Bennington and learned that the Vermont Republic had declared independence in 1777.
He spent several years working on issues associated with Vermont's political and military matters. He was also appointed as one of the judges responsible for deciding whose property was subject to seizure under the law.
In September 1778, he appeared before the Continental Congress on behalf of Vermont, seeking recognition as an independent state. He was involved in the negotiations with the British between 1780 and 1783
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In 1779, Ethan Allen published the account of his time in captivity in ‘A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen's Captivity’. The book was an instant bestseller and is still available today.
Several years ago, he had begun working on a manuscript for a book with his philosopher friend Dr. Thomas Young who had since died. Allen recovered the manuscript and published ‘Reason: the Only Oracle of Man’ in 1785. The book was a complete failure and received a lot of criticism.
Ethan Allen is best known as an American Revolutionary War hero and key founder of the Republic of Vermont. He led several campaigns with the local group called the Green Mountain Boys and also captured Fort Ticonderoga from British soldiers.
Allen published his book ‘A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen's Captivity’ in 1779 which became an instant bestseller. The book described his time and struggles in prison along with the struggles of his fellow prisoners.
Awards & Achievements
Ethan Allen was ranked as Major General in Vermont Republic Militia. He was ranked as Colonel in Continental Army.
Personal Life & Legacy
Ethan Allen’s first marriage was in July 1762 to Mary Brownson, a woman five years senior to him. Allen and Mary had five children together (Loraine, Joseph, Lucy, Mary, and Pamela) of who only two reached adulthood. His first marriage was an unhappy one; however, it lasted till Mary’s death in 1783.
He met his second wife, Frances "Fanny" Montresor Brush Buchanan, a young widow in early 1784 and married her the same year. The couple had three children: Fanny (1784–1819), Hannibal Montresor (1786–1813), and Ethan Alphonso (1789–1855). This marriage proved to be a happy one.
Ethan Allen travelled to South Hero, Vermont, on February 11, 1789 and suffered an apoplectic fit during his return journey. He did not gain consciousness after that and died several hours later in Burlington. He was buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Burlington.
Two scholarly biographies of Allen have been written by John Pell, ‘Ethan Allen’ (1929), and Charles A. Jellison, ‘Ethan Allen: Frontier Rebel’ (1969).
Allen's final home, on the Onion River (now called the Winooski River), is a part of the Ethan Allen Homestead and Museum. A couple of ships of the United States Navy were named USS Ethan Allen in his honor, as were two 19th-century fortifications.
A statue of Allen represents Vermont in National Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol. The ‘Spirit of Ethan Allen III’ is a tour boat operating on Lake Champlain. In 1988, the Ethan Allen School was added to the National Register of Historic Places.