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Inventing Ethan Allen

John J. Duffy

Publication Year: 2014

Since 1969, Ethan Allen has been the subject of three biographical studies, all of which indulge in sustaining and revitalizing the image of Allen as a physically imposing Vermont yeoman, a defender of the rights of Americans, an eloquent military hero, and a master of many guises, from rough frontiersman to gentleman philosopher.

Seeking the authentic Ethan Allen, the authors of this volume ask: How did that Ethan Allen secure his place in popular culture? As they observe, this spectacular persona leaves little room for a more accurate assessment of Allen as a self-interested land speculator, rebellious mob leader, inexperienced militia officer, and truth-challenged man who would steer Vermont into the British Empire.

Drawing extensively from the correspondence in Ethan Allen and his Kin and a wide range of historical, political, and cultural sources, Duffy and Muller analyze the factors that led to Ethan Allen’s two-hundred-year-old status as the most famous figure in Vermont’s past. Placing facts against myths, the authors reveal how Allen acquired and retained his iconic image, how the much-repeated legends composed after his death coincide with his life, why recollections of him are synonymous with the story of Vermont, and why some Vermonters still assign to Allen their own cherished and idealized values.

Published by: University Press of New England

Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

...that no evidence points to Ethan Allen uttering what has become his famous “The gods of the hills are not the gods of the valleys,” he had noticed anomalies, contradictions, and exaggerations surrounding Allen’s death. His son, Brook...

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Prologue

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pp. 1-7

...not even Calvin Coolidge, has achieved such cachet in Vermont. How did he acquire and retain that iconic status? How does the memory of Ethan Allen coincide with the reality of his life as well as the much repeated supplemental...

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I | Confused Accounts of Ethan Allen’s Death

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pp. 8-21

...The simple, if unexpected, and inevitable act of dying demonstrates a pattern that surrounds much of Ethan Allen’s half-century of life. He could not attempt to give shape to the event and write his own account as he had with...

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II | Seeking the Main Chance

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pp. 22-42

...To characterize Ethan Allen’s roots and origin as a preparation for his adult heroics, biographers have consistently mixed a bit of Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier theory of the ever-advancing edge of settlement with the legends...

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III | Chasing Fame and Glory

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pp. 43-60

...On May 10, 1775, Ethan Allen, along with Benedict Arnold of Connecticut and James Easton and John Brown of Massachusetts, led a band of eighty-three New Hampshire Grants farmers as well as Connecticut and...

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IV | Ethan Allen and the Historians

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pp. 61-93

...Though Ethan Allen had not participated in Vermont’s declaration of independence, the drafting of its constitution, or the formation of its government, over time he received credit as a prime mover in the state’s early years. During...

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V | The Many Guises of the Hero

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pp. 94-115

...Historians, biographers, and novelists created Vermont’s paramount hero in the first half-century after his death and then sustained the image with little compromise even in the face of countervailing evidence. In other media, sculptors...

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VI | Making It Up

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pp. 116-137

...Writers who presented Ethan Allen in postures compatible with their views of the Haldimand Negotiations had little doubt about his stance when he harangued fellow Vermonters. He took to the ubiquitous and convenient stump. The same...

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VII | Silence and Exclusion

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pp. 138-166

...The evidence documents some of Ethan Allen’s activities beyond dispute. On May 10, 1775, he and Benedict Arnold captured Fort Ticonderoga with eighty-three of the “valiant Green Mountain Boys” who had gathered at Hand’s Cove...

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VIII | The Hero Keeps His Reputation

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pp. 167-194

...When it came to the Haldimand Negotiations, the real Ethan Allen did not wish to stand up. In the late spring of 1781 the British pressed the Vermonters who had conducted negotiations with them for more than a year to take concrete...

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Epilogue | The Hero Lives

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pp. 195-208

...Who was Ethan Allen? The pattern of his life and the limited reliable details of his deeds and character reveal several configurations of the man. Broad, bland strokes in earthen tones lay out the first thirty- two years of Allen’s life. From his...

Appendixes

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pp. 209-210

Appendix A. Vermont Historiography, 1807–50

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pp. 211-217

Appendix B. The Vermont Historical and Antiquarian Society: Documenting and Promoting a Hero

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pp. 218-223

Appendix C. The Vermont Historical and Antiquarian Society: Early Membership Roll

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pp. 224-228

Notes

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pp. 229-256

Bibliography

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pp. 257-274

Index

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pp. 275-285

Map

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pp. 286-288


E-ISBN-13: 9781611685558
E-ISBN-10: 1611685559
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611685534

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Allen, Ethan, 1738-1789.
  • Soldiers -- United States -- Biography.
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Biography.
  • Vermont -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783.
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