After aborting a poorly planned and ill-timed attack on the British-controlled city of Montreal, Continental Army Colonel Ethan Allen is captured by the British on this day in 1775. After being identified as an officer of the Continental Amy, Allen was taken prisoner and sent to England to be executed.
Although Allen ultimately escaped execution because the British government feared reprisals from the American colonies, he was imprisoned in England for more than two years until being returned to the United States on May 6, 1778, as part of a prisoner exchange. Allen then returned to Vermont and was given the rank of major general in the Vermont militia. In 1777, Vermonters had formally declared their independence from Britain and their fellow colonies when they created the Republic of Vermont. Forever loyal to the colony he founded, Allen spent the rest his life petitioning the Continental Congress to grant statehood to Vermont.
After the war concluded, the independent Vermont could not join the new republic as a state, because New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut all claimed the territory as their own. In response, frustrated Vermonters, including Allen, went so far as to negotiate with the Canadian governor, Frederick Haldimand, about possibly rejoining the British empire.
Ethan Allen died on his farm along the Winooski River in the still independent Republic of Vermont on February 12, 1789, at the age of 51. Two years after his death, Vermont was officially admitted into the Union and declared the 14th state of the United States.