The Story of Ethan Allen (1738-1789)

Chapter VII

Vermont had come very close to independence, but not close enough. Vermont still did not have the majority in Congress. The members of Congress still did not have reason enough to approve such a radical thing as settlers just demanding another state. This could establish a precedent that Congress did not want to have to deal with later on. However, it was just those other settlers that would force Congress to recognize Vermont.

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Ethan retired from politics in 1783 only to return in 1786. However, this time in response to a dispute in another state. Settlers were buying grants from Connecticut and moving into the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania in the late 1760s. Pennsylvania wanted the settlers to pay them for the same deeds. They refused. Philadelphia asked Connecticut to revoke the legitimacy of the deeds and in 1783 Connecticut did. The settlers still refused to pay for the deeds a second time, but Pennsylvania was going to base "its authority in the region on an interstate agreement, not the consent of the governed." after fifteen years of resistance with no help from Congress, many settlers paid Pennsylvania for their grants. However, some turned to Ethan Allen for assistance. Persuaded by the promise of land (still the number one source of economic security) Ethan gave instructions to the Pennsylvania settlers to arm themselves.(61)

Led by John Franklin, the settlers formed a militia of four hundred men. Then they waited for Ethan Allen who arrived on April 27, 1786. Allen promised he would form another new state. The settlers regained their resolve to fight on against the Pennsylvania elite. (62)

Ethan first wrote a pamphlet announcing that the settlers of Pennsylvania would no longer stand for the oppression of the landholding aristocracy. The arguments were similar to those made against New York. The settlers did not fight a revolution against the British just to be oppressed by Philadelphia. Ethan offered to compromise before initiating any action. Wyoming settlers would recognize that Pennsylvania had lawful jurisdiction over the area only if their land titles were recognized as legitimate. If this did not work, the settlers would appeal to Congress as an independent state. Finally, the last resolution would be to appeal to a foreign country.63 (63)

Allen instituted the right to land as well as radical republicanism into his reasons. " When the rich subvert government and law and attempt 'to dispossess and ruin a large settlement of industrious yeomanry (the supporters of the world of mankind),' then the people are in . state of nature' and have the right to resist under .he greatest of all laws, to wit, that of self-preservation.'" In March of 1787, Pennsylvania passed the Confirming Act, which formed an independent county in Wyoming and recognized the land titles. (64)

Washington, Madison, and Hamilton were all concerned that settlers disgruntled with a disproportion of wealth, would employ Allen's tactics, if not Allen himself.(65)They decided the best way to avoid that was to grant Vermont statehood.(66) This fear was again imminent when farmers in western Massachusettes that were heavily in debt, attacked the Springfield arsenal. Led by Daniel Shays, this rebellion was quickly put down by the Massachusettes militia. Shays then retreated to the Green Mountains. (67)

When Vermont was asked by the Governor of Massachusettes, James Bowdoin, to assist in capturing Shays and his partners, Chittenden did as little as he could. The governors of Massachusettes and New York became worried Vermont would fight for the rebels. Alexander Hamilton, of New York, offered statehood to Vermont if they complied in putting down the rebellion.(68)

In February, 1787, Hamilton asked the New York assembly to recognize Vermont's statehood. This would eliminate Vermont's reason for assisting Shays. Until Hamilton's offer, Vermont had no reason to listen to colonial authorities and surrender Shays. Afraid that getting involved in the rebellion would divide the people of Vermont, Allen ordered Lude Day and Eli Parsons, lieutenants of Shays, out of Vermont when they offered him command of the rebel army. As promised by Hamilton, Vermont would now have "stability" and "autonomy" as a member of the Union. (69)

Allen wrote Colonel Benjamin Simmons of the Massachusettes militia in July, 1787, that Vermont would not harbor Shay's rebels. Vermont was no longer a rebel state, but worthy of statehood. With this act, Vermont garnered the support of even New York. In 1791, Vermont was admitted into the Union as the fourteenth state.(70)

Ethan's property was safe, therefore, so was his family. Hundreds of acres would be inherited by each of his six children. He now lived on a three hundred and fifty acre farm. While returning with hay from a neighboring farm on February 15, 1789, during a winter after a bad harvest, Ethan Allen died. He was fifty one.(71)