Allen, Ethan, 1738-1789

Alternative names
Birth 1738-01-21
Death 1789-02-12

Biographical notes:

Ethan Allen (1738-1789), Revolutionary War officer and Vermont leader, achieved a place in history by capturing Fort Ticonderoga in 1775. He championed Vermont's drive for statehood. Ethan Allen was a distinct type of frontier soldier. His influence on the settlers of Vermont was comparable to that of John Sevier on the inhabitants of Watauga, East Tennessee, and of Thomas Sumter on the up-country men of South Carolina. Frontier people possessed clan-like loyalties, and they looked to strong men to lead them. Allen had all the credentials. Tall and broad-shouldered, he had great physical strength, along with "rough and ready humor, boundless self-confidence and shrewdness in thought and action equal to almost any emergency." When Vermonters were threatened by New York authorities who claimed the area and denied the validity of their land titles, they formed in 1770 a military association, an unauthorized militia which Allen commanded. The members were mostly rough, roistering young men, and they called themselves the Green Mountain Boys. Allen was the eldest son of a substantial farmer in Litchfield, Connecticut. His father's early death left him with the responsibility of caring for his mother and seven other children, and it brought his schooling (preparation to enter Yale College) to a permanent end. Allen, however, had a genuine intellectual bent, and he was to write a number of pamphlets on such diverse subjects as the taking of Ticonderoga, Vermont's controversies with New York, and religion.

From the description of Allen, Ethan, 1738-1789 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10582855

Leader of the American Revolution and author, of Burlington, Vt.

From the description of Deed, 1772. (Portsmouth Athenaeum Library & Museum). WorldCat record id: 70960982

Militia officer.

From the description of Papers of Ethan Allen, 1773-1784. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71132342

Continental Army officer.

From the description of Ethan Allen correspondence, 1775. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79449292

Ethan Allen was born on January 21, 1738, in Litchfield, CT, the eldest of six sons of Joseph and Mary (Baker) Allen. Moving to Vermont around 1769, Allen became a prominent figure in the disputes surrounding the New Hampshire Grants. He helped form the Green Mountain Boys to thwart New York's efforts to impose its jurisdiction in the dispute territory. With his brothers Heman, Zimri, and Ira, Ethan formed the Onion River Land Company. Together they became the largest landowners in the Champlain Valley.

In 1775 Ethan joined the forces of the Revolutionaries and with Benedict Arnold captured Fort Ticonderoga. Later, upon attempting the capture of Montreal, Allen was himself captured by the British. He was imprisoned in England for over two years. Released in 1778, Allen returned to Vermont and continued his campaign against New York.

Ethan was a leading spokesman for an independent state of Vermont. Along with his brother Ira he was instrumental in forming and protecting the Republic of Vermont (1777-1791). Ethan was an active promoter not only of Vermont independence, but also of Deism. His "Reason, the Only Oracle of Man" was one of the first American Deist tracts. Allen died in Burlington, Vt, on February 12, 1789.

From the description of Papers, 1753-1789. [microform]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122640935


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Ark ID:


  • Real property
  • Rationalism
  • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
  • Religion--Philosophy
  • Land titles
  • Canadian invasion, 1775-1776
  • Real estate investment


  • Army officers
  • Landowners--New Hampshire
  • Militia officers


  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • New Hampshire (as recorded)
  • Vermont (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Ticonderoga (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Vermont (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New Hampshire--Strafford County (as recorded)
  • New Marlborough (Mass. : Town) (as recorded)
  • Ticonderoga (N.Y.) (as recorded)