Ethan Allen (1738-1789), the folk hero of Vermont, was an unusually flamboyant farmer-turned statesman from Connecticut. In the 1760′s, the royal governor of New Hampshire, with no clear authority to do so, began to grant lands in the region now known as Vermont. After the King decided that New York’s governor wielded the rightful authority over the territory, the original settlers and their townships were subjected to burdensome New York fees; in some cases settlers found their lands confiscated. Not surprisingly, the settlers formed a citizens’ militia, the Green Mountain Boys, to protect their rights and chances of survival, electing Ethan Allen as their colonel. Ethan’s leadership and personality helped give Vermont the self identity and independent spirit which, many think, remains to this day.
But the Allen family, its friends and supporters did still more. Ethan was the guiding spirit in the taking of Fort Ticonderoga, the first Crown property to fall to America and the source of the cannon that allowed George Washington to drive the British from Boston.