February 12

This Day in History

American Revolution

Feb 12, 1789:

Ethan Allen dies

On this day in 1789, Vermont Patriot Ethan Allen dies of a stroke at age 52 on his Winooski River homestead.

Allen is best remembered as the patriotic leader of the Green Mountain Boys, who took the British fort at Ticonderoga with Benedict Arnold in May 1775. He also had a varied career defending his land interests in the New Hampshire Grants (now part of Vermont) from any challenge. Allen, like Arnold, faced charges of treason; he attempted to negotiate terms by which Vermont could rejoin the British empire in the early 1780s when New York blocked its acceptance as one of the United States.

Allen was the eldest of eight children born to Joseph and Mary Baker Allen in Connecticut. Joseph Allen was among a group of New Englanders who had acquired titles to land in what is now Vermont from the government of New Hampshire. When New York claimed the right to sell the same land and began to do so, Allen led the protest in defense of the New Hampshire Grants. When his father died in 1755, Ethan assumed the mantle of leadership, and led the Green Mountain Boys in guerrilla actions against New York landowners in Vermont. New Yorkers responded by issuing a warrant for his arrest and a reward of £100 for anyone bringing him into custody.

Allen earned the title of Patriot by his actions at Ticonderoga. Although displeased with his colonial neighbors, Allen had no affection for the British. He and Arnold took Ticonderoga and seized the cannon that would allow the Patriots to drive the British from Boston before the 22 British troops stationed at the fort realized that they were at war with their colonies. Allen continued into Canada, where he was taken prisoner by the British in Montreal in August 1775. He was held for three years before being released in the colony he most despised, New York.

Allen spent the rest of his life serving and promoting the interests of Vermont.

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