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Considered to be one of the key leaders in the American Revolutionary War effort, as well as a fighter for the incorporation of Vermont as a separate state within the United States of America, Ethan Allen left a permanent impression on the history of the nation.
Born on 21 January 1738, Ethan Allen was a big man who was understood to have a large and colorful vocabulary, which he used often. While his choice of verbiage often leaned toward the profane, Allen also was an articulate speaker with the ability to enthrall audiences with his oral presentations. After serving in the Colonial Militia during the French and Indian War, Allen settled into what is modern-day Vermont.
At the time, the land was the subject of much controversy, with the colony of New York claiming rights, and New Hampshire also claiming the territory as theirs. Ethan Allen soon distinguished himself as the leader of a dissenting militia named the Green Mountain Boys. The group had enough public support to lead to the creation of a Republic of Vermont that would later become a state in the Union. In the interim, however, the governor of New York declared a warrant for Allen’s arrest, with a substantial reward offered to anyone who would turn in Ethan Allen to state officials.
As the colonies began to move toward independence from Great Britain, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold teamed up to conduct raids on British outposts that would help supply the colonial forces with much needed resources. Together, they were able to raid and capture Fort Ticonderoga, although there are some historians that believe the two were actually latecomers to the plot and that colonial supporters in Connecticut were actually the power behind the raid. In any event, the forces under the command of Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold moved on to take the British outposts at Crown Point and on the Isle La sur-Roichelieu in Quebec. It is commonly accepted that the goods secured in all these raids allowed the Colonial forces to break the blockade at Boston Harbor that had been imposed by the British forces.
After the Revolutionary War, Ethan Allen returned to Vermont and continued his efforts to have Vermont recognized as a state that was independent of both New York and New Hampshire. When the newly formed Continental Congress seemed to drag their feet on the issue, Allen opened negotiations with Canada between 1780 and 1783, with an eye to joining Vermont as part of a British recognized province. In retaliation, the Continental Congress declared a charge of treason against Allen, but failed to follow through, since his actions were obviously intended to spark some action on the issue of statehood for Vermont.
Unfortunately, Allen did not live to see Vermont gain recognition as a state within the Union. Suffering a stroke shortly after his fifty-first birthday, Ethan Allen passed away on 12 February 1789. However, he was honored as a pioneer in the rights of the state, when Vermont officially became the 14th state of the United States on 4 March 1791.
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