US Stamps

Born Jan. 21: Ethan Allen

Jan 20, 2016, 10 PM
A figure representing patriot Ethan Allen is shown at right on the 1955 3¢ Fort Ticonderoga commemorative.

By Michael Baadke

A 3¢ commemorative stamp issued in 1955 honors Ethan Allen for his role in the successful capture of the British Fort Ticonderoga during the earliest days of the American Revolutionary War.

But Allen is a complex figure who earlier had organized his men — the Green Mountain Boys — in an active resistance against the government of New York as it imposed land claims affecting them, and who years later looked into offering Vermont to the British after his request for U.S. statehood was rejected.

Allen was born Jan. 21, 1738, in Litchfield, Conn., and was raised on the frontier. He fought in the French and Indian War, and then settled in a region that is now part of Vermont.

When the government of New York claimed the land west of New Hampshire and demanded payment from the settlers, Allen led the resistance and fought with government officials.

But when the Revolutionary War began in 1775, Allen and his men joined Col. Benedict Arnold in capturing the British fort and claiming its weaponry. Months later, Allen was captured by the British and held prisoner for three years.

After the war, Allen’s persistent negotiations with Congress for statehood fell through because the region was still claimed by other states, so he turned to his former captors with a proposal that Vermont become a British colony.

Two years after Allen died in 1789, Vermont was admitted to the Union as the 14th state.

The 3¢ Fort Ticonderoga commemorative was issued Sept. 18, 1955 (Scott 1071).