A focused history of Ethan Allen (1738-1789) and his men, who faced “some of the harshest combat in the American Revolution” and “made their own rules to create an independent republic, called Vermont.”
In the mid-1700s, the area west of the Connecticut River was known as the New Hampshire Grants, so-called because that state’s governor granted several million acres for settlement, reserving a healthy cut of the land for himself. In 1765, the governor of New York claimed the same land and ordered those who held the grants to pay a confirmation fee “or face eviction.” Enter Allen and his followers, including Remember Baker and Seth Warner, who vowed to fight the “Yorkers” in a strategy of intimidation to drive them out. In 1773, Allen and his brothers formed a short-lived land company with leveraged land they didn’t own to buy land they couldn’t afford and to which New York said they weren’t entitled. The beginnings of the Revolutionary War saw a drive to take Fort Ticonderoga, a vital link between Montreal and New York City. The successes of the Green Mountain Boys were miraculous given their drunken lack of discipline and Allen’s reckless military calculations. Wren (Walking to Vermont: From Times Square into the Green Mountains, 2004, etc.), who has headed New York Times bureaus all over the world, explores the varied responses to the war; as he points out, many were happy to remain in the arms of Britain. Allen, taken as prisoner at Montreal and held for 32 months, earnestly worked with his brother Ira to that end. Even as Gen. Charles Cornwallis surrendered, the Allens secretly strove to secure acceptance as an independent colony of Britain at the same time Congress voted that they would not accept her statehood unless she acceded to New York’s dismemberment of the Grants. The narrative is fluid and well-researched, but it may be too focused for general readers of American history.
Will appeal to Revolutionary War buffs, mainly those interested in the back story of Vermont’s early import in that war.