23. Battle of Lexington Ends the Dispute
On April 11, 1775, a meeting of the committees from the towns on the east side of the Green Mountains formally renounced by resolution the government of New York, and appointed a committee of which Ethan Allen was one to remonstrate to the court against that government and to petition His Majesty "to be taken out of so oppressive a jurisdiction and either annexed to some other jurisdiction or incorporated into a new one."
Thus were all or nearly all the inhabitants of the Grants united in opposition to the New York government, and in this condition were they found when the Revolution which for some time had been in preparation, was commenced by the massacre and battle of Lexington.
Gov. Tryon left New York for England in April, 1774, and did not return until July, 1775, when he found himself the governor in name only of a revolted province. When Messrs. Breakenridge and Hawley left England in 1773 they employed an agent residing in London to prosecute the claims of the settlers for relief against the oppressions of the New York government, and the agent was aided in his efforts by the Society for Propagating the Gospel in foreign parts, to which society, rights had been granted in most of the townships in the New Hampshire charters.
Gov. Tryon in his speech to the Colonial assembly in January, 1774, stated that "he had been command by his Majesty to repair to England for a short time to attend to discussions of this important matter," and took his departure as before stated in April following. What might have been the final decision of the crown cannot be known, because a decision was prevented by the breaking out of the Revolution.
These sketches of the pre-Revolutionary history of Bennington and its vicinity will be closed with a brief notice of three individuals who played prominent parts in the New York controversy, Ethan Allen, Seth Warner, and Remember Baker.
ETHAN ALLEN, it has been lately ascertained from the town records of Litchfield, Conn., was born at that place Jan. 10, 1737. He resided for several years at Salisbury in that state, from whence he removed to Bennington about the year 1773, certainly not earlier than 1772; though being a proprietor under New Hampshire he had spent much of his time on the Grants and taken an active part in the New York controversy for three or four of the previous years.
His situation during this period and up to the commencement of the Revolution, in common with that of the other individuals for whom rewards had been offered by New York, was one of constant watchfulness and peril. Whenever he made an excursion abroad it was necessary for him to go armed, which he usually did with a musket and a brace of pistols.
He was on two or three occasions very near being taken. Once this happened at a public house in Bridport where he in company with a single friend had put up for the night. In the evening six soldiers from Crown Point a few miles distant, all armed, as were Allen and his friend, stopped also for the night. Mrs. Richards, the landlady, overheard the soldiers making their arrangements to take Allen and get the bounty, and Allen himself was on the lookout for them.
All was quiet, however, until bedtime, when Mrs. Richards was lighting Allen and his friend to another room, and hoisted a window at which they silently escaped. When the soldiers discovered they were gone, they reprimanded Mrs. Richards severely for favoring their escape. But she excused herself on the ground of necessity, declaring that if Allen had been taken at her house the Hampshire men would have burnt it down over her head.
At another time while Allen was on a visit to Salisbury, Conn., a plot was laid by several persons residing between that place and the Hudson River, to come upon him by surprise, seize and carry him to jail in Poughkeepsie. The plot was accidentally discovered in time to defeat the designs of the conspirators.
Col. Allen acted a distinguished part in the early period of the Revolution, was taken prisoner by the enemy in the fall of 1775 and after being a close prisoner for over two years was exchanged in May 1778 and appointed a colonel in the Continental Army. He was also otherwise honorably noticed by George Washington and by Congress; and having subsequently rendered the state important honorable service, he died of apoplexy, in the vigor of manhood, at his residence in Colchester, near Burlington, Feb. 12, 1789.