ETHAN ALLEN, BENEDICT ARNOLD, AND POLITICS...

A remarkable resemblance in their early life

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cover new england

This is an extract of my article, with small photos. You will find the complete article with full-sized photos in my e-book View America: New England

In the travel series View America, this book describes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Each state is described with its own brief historical background and its main sights, points of interest and tourist attractions.

It is not a traditional travel story, but a non-commercial and more or less objective chronicle of an in-depth exploration of these states. My book does not describe lodgings, restaurants or entertainment, except where these may interact with the narrative. It is illustrated with more than 100 full-sized photos.

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Ethan Allen

Ethan Allen (1738-89) was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. In 1769 he moved to Bennington in the New Hampshire Grants, which include the present-day Vermont. He took a very active part in the conflict between New York and New Hampshire over the region's control.

Ethan AllenBut New York stubbornly refused to recognize Vermont as a separate province and Allen formed a militia, the Green Mountain Boys, to continue fighting. He was promptly accused of high treason, and just as promptly outlawed by the British governor of New York!

At the outbreak of the American Revolution (1775-1783) the outlaw Allen offered his home state of Connecticut his services against the British. In the same year, he conquered fort Ticonderoga with his Green Mountain Boys and overnight he became a national hero of the Revolution...

Later he garnered even more laurels during the military action against Canada. In 1778, after an imprisonment of three years in Montreal, he returned home with the title of lieutenant-colonel in the Army and Major General in the militia.

The war hero settled in Burlington and started a farm. He was now a popular and flamboyant public figure and became very active in land speculation, an activity that the history books lovingly cover with the cloak of oblivion.

Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold (1741-1801) was, like Ethan Allen, born in Connecticut. He preferred the military life over his father's pharmacy and took actively part on the British side of the French and Indian War (1754-1763). During this very cruel and bloody war he witnessed several atrocities that were committed by the French, and these would forever influence his opinion about them.

Benedict ArnoldAfter his father's death he expanded his business and founded a lucrative commercial fleet for trade with Canada and the West Indies. His commercial success earned him the title of militia captain.

In the beginning of the American Revolution (1775-1783) he was ordered, together with another freedom fighter named Ethan Allen, to conquer New York's Fort Ticonderoga from the British. However, the two were fierce rivals and dead set against each other. Eventually it was decided that Ethan Allen would attack over land and Benedict Arnold would attack by sea.

The joint attack succeeded but nevertheless only Ethan Allen received all the credit, and Arnold's quite as essential part in the victory was completely played down. The captured supplies helped George Washington's troops in their siege of Boston.

Nevertheless, Benedict Arnold also became a hero of the Revolution when he surreptitiously managed to capture a few British ships, and with them defeated the rest of the British fleet in the north of the lake! The Americans now went completely overboard and immediately decided to invade Canada and add it to their list of their God-given lands...

Arnold was called "the great helmsman" and an attack was launched on Quebec. Yet this romantic but rather impractical initiative went sour, because meanwhile the British had landed an army of 10,000 men and several warships in Canada. Not only was the American invasion promptly halted, but their troops quickly beat the retreat to Lake Champlain.

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