Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Allen, Ethan

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ALLEN, Ethan, soldier, b. in Litchfleld, Conn., 10 Jan., 1737; d. in Burlington, Vt., 13 Feb., 1789. In early life he removed to Bennington, Vt., which at that time was disputed territory, known as the New Hampshire grants, claimed by the colonies of New York and New Hampshire. In 1770 he was appointed agent to represent the settlers at Albany, where litigation on the claims was pending. A decision adverse to them was rendered, and resistance to the New York authorities followed. Allen was made colonel of an armed force known as the “Green Mountain boys,” raised in order to protect holders of land granted by New Hampshire. He was declared an outlaw, and £150 was offered for his capture by Gov. Tryon, of New York. When hostilities with Great Britain began, after the Green Mountain boys had proved their patriotism and efficiency by the capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, the continental congress granted them the same pay that was received by the soldiers of the continental army, and, after consulting Gen. Schuyler, recommended to the New York convention that they should be employed in the army to be raised in defence of America under such officers as they (the Green Mountain boys) should choose. Allen and Warner went where the New York assembly was in session, and requested an audience. Many members objected to holding a public conference with proclaimed felons. Yet there was a large majority in favor of admitting Ethan Allen to the floor of the house, on the motion of Capt. Sears. The assembly resolved, in accordance with the recommendation of congress, that a regiment of Green Mountain boys should be raised, not to exceed 500 men; and Allen, in a letter of thanks to the assembly, pledged his word that they would reciprocate the favor by boldly hazarding their lives in the common cause of America. In seizing the British fortresses the Green Mountain boys forestalled the action of congress, who ordered Arnold to raise troops for the purpose; but before that a force was collected at Castleton, Vt., and placed under the command of Allen. At daybreak, May 10, he effected the capture of the entire British forces, who were called upon to surrender “in the name of the great Jehovah and of the continental congress.” The subsequent capture of Skenesborough and of Crown Point by forces detached from Allen's command placed valuable military stores at the disposal of the Americans, and gave them the mastery of Lake Champlain. The invasion of Canada was proposed by Allen to the New York authorities, but was rejected. He then joined Gen. Schuyler's forces as a volunteer, and was sent to Canada on several secret missions to ascertain the views of the Canadians. While on his last trip he was met by Col. Brown, and a joint expedition for the capture of Montreal was proposed and eagerly accepted. The project proved unsuccessful, and Allen was captured on 25 Sept. and sent as a prisoner to England. lie was very cruelly treated at first, and for a time was confined in Pendennis castle, near Falmouth; then he was sent to Halifax, N. S., and later to New York, where, 6 May, 1778, he was exchanged for Col. Campbell. On his return to Vermont he was placed in command of the state militia, and he further received from congress the commission of lieutenant-colonel in the continental army. An unsuccessful attempt to bribe him was made by the British, through Beverly Robinson, for his influence toward effecting a union between Vermont and Canada; and, by temporizing with this offer, he was able to prevent any active demonstration by the British in that part of the country. Toward the close of the war he settled in Bennington, and subsequently in Burlington. He was a member of the state legislature, and also a special delegate to congress, where he ultimately succeeded in obtaining the recognition of Vermont as an independent state. He was the author of a history of the controversy between New York and Vermont, a narrative of his captivity, and several political pamphlets, and published also “Reason the only Oracle of Man” (Bennington, 1784). Sketches of his life were written by Jared Sparks (Boston, 1834), by Hugh Moore (Plattsburg, N. Y., 1834), and by H. W. Du Puy (Buffalo, 1853). It is believed that no portrait of Allen was ever made. The one given is copied for this work by our artist, from the ideal heroic statue at Montpelier, Vt.