Ethan Allen

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Allen, Ethan

Allen, Ethan, 1738–89, hero of the American Revolution, leader of the Green Mountain Boys, and promoter of the independence and statehood of Vermont, b. Litchfield (?), Conn. He had some schooling and was proud of his deist opinions, which he later incorporated in Reason the Only Oracle of Man (1784). After fighting briefly in the French and Indian Wars, he interested himself in land speculation, and in 1770 he appeared as one of the proprietors in the New Hampshire Grants. He and his brothers, notably Ira Allen, became the leaders of the New England settlers and speculators in the disputed lands—inveterate enemies of the Yorkers (settlers under New York patents) and violent opponents of all attempts of New York to exert control in the area. He was active in forming the Green Mountain Boys and became their leader in defying the New York government and harrying the Yorkers. Gov. Tryon of New York put a price on the heads of Allen and two of his followers, but Ethan was not captured. After the outbreak of the American Revolution, he made the Green Mountain Boys into an independent patriot organization. Joined by Benedict Arnold (with a commission from Massachusetts) and some Connecticut militia, Ethan Allen and his men captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British on May 10, 1775. Legend says that when the British officer asked him under what authority he acted, Ethan Allen roared, “In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!” The story is, however, apocryphal. Allen then urged an expedition against Canada, and the Green Mountain Boys were attached to Gen. P. J. Schuyler's invasion force, but the men chose not Allen, but his cousin Seth Warner, as leader. Allen went on the expedition and, in a rash effort to capture Montreal before the main Continental army arrived, was captured (Sept., 1775) by the British. He told his own story of this in the popular Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen's Captivity, which appeared in 1779, a year after he had been exchanged. He returned to Vermont, which had declared its independence but was unrecognized by the Continental Congress. Ethan and his brother Ira then devoted themselves to insuring the new political unit in one way or another. The region remained in danger of British attack, and the British late in 1779 opened negotiations with Ethan Allen in an attempt to attach Vermont to Canada. No conclusion was reached, and the victory at Yorktown ending the American Revolution also ended the talks. Ethan Allen withdrew from politics in 1784. When he died, Vermont was still independent and still dickering with Congress and dealing with internal struggles between the Allen party and their opponents.


See biographies by C. A. Jellison (1969) and W. S. Randall (2011).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Allen, Ethan


Born Jan. 21, 1738, in Litchfield; died Feb. 11, 1789, in Burlington. American educator. Participant in the North American War of Independence (1775—83), commander of partisan forces in Vermont. Author of the first antireligious pamphlet in America, Reason—the Only Oracle of Man (1784), most copies of which were burned. Allen opposed the biblical myths by supporting rational knowledge of the laws of nature.


In Russian translation:
Amerikanskie prosvetiteli: Izbr. proizv., vol. 1. Moscow, 1968.


Gol’dberg, N. M. Svobodomyslie i ateism v SShA (XVIII-XIX vv.). Moscow-Leningrad, 1965. Chapter 3.
Pell, J. Ethan Allen. Boston, 1929.
Holbrook, S. Ethan Allen. Portland, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Allen, Ethan

(1738–1789) soldier, Vermonter; born in Litchfield, Conn. He and his brothers acquired large landholdings in the "New Hampshire Grants" as Vermont was then known. He formed the Green Mountain Boys, and resisted all efforts by New York and New Hampshire to control the Vermont area. He and Benedict Arnold jointly captured Fort Ticonderoga (1775) but he was then captured by the British during an attack on Montreal. After his imprisonment (1775–78), he returned to the new Republic of Vermont. He sought to represent Vermont as an independent political entity—he even negotiated with the British in pursuit of this goal. He died two years before Vermont achieved statehood.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.