A Few Lawless Vagabonds: Ethan Allen, the Republic of Vermont and the Canadian Connection (BOK)

David Bennett

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A Few Lawless Vagabonds is a study of the three-way relationship between Ethan Allen, the Republic of Vermont (1777-1791) and the British province of Quebec, also known as Canada. On these three interconnected tracks, the story is taken from the early days of the New Hampshire Grants (later Vermont) in the 1750s; the career of Ethan Allen starting with his political involvement over the legitimacy of the land grants in 1770; and the role of the British in Quebec and New York from the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in 1775 to its conclusion in 1783. The high point of this three-way relationship consisted of a sincere attempt (it is argued) on the part of Ethan Allen and his family to bring the Republic of Vermont back into the British Empire, as a "separate Government under the Crown" through the Haldimand Negotiations of 1780-1783. This attempt has not been systematically studied, either from the point of view of the Allen family or of the British in London, New York and Quebec. After a biographical sketch of Ethan Allen's early life, the book launches into the controversy over the New Hampshire Grants, which led to the establishment of the Republic and which, through Vermont's relations with the British, as well as the province of New York, lasted until after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. This controversy had two related aspects: whether it was New York or New Hampshire that had political jurisdiction over the Grants and whether the land titles granted by New Hampshire were still valid in view of the land patents in the Grants later issued by New York. The key issue was whether the King's Order in Council of 1764, awarding jurisdiction to New York in preference to New Hampshire, was by implication backdated so as invalidate the New Hampshire titles. The struggles of the Green Mountain Boys, led by Ethan Allen, on behalf of settlers under New Hampshire titles resulted in Vermont's Declaration of Independence -- from New York -- early in 1777 and thence to the establishment of the Republic later in the same year. The controversy over the Grants and the royal Order of 1764 were of a constant and important condition of the survival of the Vermont Republic against the territorial claims of revolutionary New York and New Hampshire, the hostility of the Continental Congress towards Vermont and the response of the British towards the conditions required by the Allens for Vermont's rejoining the British Empire. This author argues strenuously, against the stance of most previous scholars, that the royal Order created New York's jurisdiction rather than reconfirmed it, so Ethan Allen was correct in contending that the New Hampshire titles issued prior to 1764 had an enduring validity. Ethan Allen took part in the Revolutionary War from May, 1775, when the Green Mountain Boys captured Ticonderoga, until September 25, when he was captured by the British outside Montreal and spent nearly three years as a prisoner of war. The book covers the Ticonderoga and Montreal episodes in detail, then proceeds to an evaluation of Ethan Allen's motives, concluding that he was not a revolutionary by conviction and that he was not a great military commander of the American Revolution. While Ethan was a captive, Vermont became independent; the book recounts how this came about, then proceeds to an account of how Vermonters defended the Republic against the territorial claims of New Hampshire and New York and how they fended off the attacks of the British and the hostility of the Continental Congress. In doing so, there is an examination of how the Vermont Council, with Ethan back from captivity, lost control of the political agenda, allowing New Hampshire at one point to claim all of Vermont as its own. There are then two long chapters on the Haldimand Negotiations which show, as far as the evidence permits, that the Allens were utterly serious about rejoining the British Empire, a project that came close to realization in October, 1781. That the Allens were serious was suggested by Vermont historians in the 1920s but then went into abeyance, to be vehemently denied by Ethan Allen's biographers at the turn of this century. The thesis of the book is thus a radical proposition, showing that the Allens, in the course of the secret negotiations, actually took Vermont out of the Revolutionary War. A Few Lawless Vagabonds is a work of political history, with much analysis of military events, such as the British raids on Vermont and the battles of Hubbardton, Bennington and Saratoga. A stand-alone chapter on the political philosophy of Ethan Allen is unique in the literature, showing that Ethan was not a revolutionary, not a great republican, not an equalitarian democrat but an oligarch. He was, however, a Vermont nationalist who led the struggle to maintain Vermont's independence against all comers and thus deserves his reputation as the principal founder of the state of Vermont. But paradoxically so, since he worked for Vermont as a separate government under the Crown, a rare combination of patriot and betrayer of the public trust.


Språk Engelsk Engelsk Innbinding Innbundet
Utgitt 2014 Forfatter David Bennett
Casemate UK Ltd
ISBN 9781612002408
Antall sider 276 Dimensjoner 15,6cm x 23,6cm x 1,9cm
Vekt 599 gram Leverandør Bertram Trading Ltd
Emner og form History of the Americas, Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900, War & defence operations, American War of Independence