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Biography of Ethan Allen

Many people will think of Ethan Allen the company when they hear this famous name. However, it belongs to a man whose adventures before and during the American Revolution read like a biography comprised of several men's exploits. This landowner, politician, soldier and philosopher managed to fit in a lot in his 51 years on this planet.

Drawing of Ethan Allen Statue (No True Portrait Exists)
Public Domain -- Copyright Expired

Ethan Allen was born in Litchfield on January 21, 1738. He was a product of the Connecticut Colony and was perhaps a bit rugged because of it. Descriptions of his character say he was a bit boisterous and forward. He was by no means the full-time political and social man some of his contemporaries were. He had both a frontier life and enough education to juxtapose it. The latter is evidenced by his "Reason, The Only Oracle of Man." (Get the Kindle edition free here.)

Ethan Allen's adventures seem to begin around the French and Indian War, in which he fought. Sometime before the American Revolution, he purchased land in what was then the New Hampshire Grants. To which area this land belonged to was contested, sometimes violently. Allen responded by entreating Britain to help landowners out of the hostile situation in which they found themselves. Unfortunately for this endeavor, the American Revolution began before New Hampshire Grant landowners could even get a response.

Just after the start of the American Revolution in 1775, Ethan Allen became the leader of the Green Mountain Boys and went to make a move on Fort Ticonderoga. Benedict Arnold also arrived to attempt the same task. The story goes that Ethan Allen would not submit to the command of Arnold, so the two of them made a joint venture out of it and succeeded. Months later, in September of 1775, Allen made a move on Montreal. This was ill conceived and he found himself a prisoner of England. He remained in British custody until early 1778 when he was released as part of a prisoner exchange. Though given the rank of colonel, Allen did not return to the fight.

He may have lost interest in the war, but Ethan Allen did not lose interest in his land. He and others continued to fight against New York's claim to the New Hampshire Grants. Eventually, they would become Vermont, the 14th state. However, by then, Allen had already been dead for two years. Depending on who is telling the story, he died of either a stroke or a drunken fall from a sleigh on February 12, 1789.

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