George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Ethan Allen, 6 March 1779

From Ethan Allen

Bennington [Vt.] 6th March 1779


The fifth Campaign drawing near Towards Opening, and Lake Champlain (from the last Intelligence) being broke up, and the Enemy’s Ships of Force and Scouting-parties Every day expected down the Lake; which may Annoy and Massacree the Frontier Inhabitants, has given rise to great uneasiness, as this Frontier is but weakly guarded and widely extended, which has Induced the Governor of this Infant State, with the Advice of his Council, and House of Assembly, to Lay before your Excellency the True Circumstances of the Inhabitants.1

From them facts your Excellency will be able with equal Justice to Adjust matters in this part of the Northern Department: and grant such relief as Shall be Adequate to their Necessitous Condition.

Undoubtedly your Excellency will readily Conceive, that this part of the Country have done more than their Equal Proportion in the War. And Tho’ they are greatly reduced as to materials to maintain standing forces, yet on sudden emergencies, their Militia is able and willing, to face any equal number of the Enemy, provided they should have no other Reward but the satisfaction of Defeating them.

As to any further Information I refer your Excellency to Joseph Fay Esqr. the Bearer, whose representation may be relied on, and whose Zeal for his Country hath been very Conspicuous on all Occasions, Especially in the Important Battle of Bennington.2 I am Sir with the Greatest Respect and Esteem, your Excellency’s Most Obet and Humle sert

Ethan Allen

ALS, partly at DLC:GW and partly at NIC. The DLC:GW portion of the manuscript consists of the salutation and the first three paragraphs of the letter. The NIC portion consists of the last paragraph of the letter, the dateline, the closing, Allen’s signature, and the address to “His Excellency General Washington.” Tench Tilghman docketed the DLC:GW manuscript: “Answer given to Mr Fay.”

2Vermont governor Thomas Chittenden and his council had designated Allen on 26 Feb. to visit GW “to acquaint him with the Situation of affairs Relative to the defence of the Northern Frontiers of this State,” but on 27 Feb. they replaced Allen with Joseph Fay (Walton, Vermont Records description begins E. P. Walton, ed. Records of the Governor and Council of the State of Vermont. 8 vols. Montpelier, 1873–80. description ends , 1:290–91). Joseph Fay (1752–1803) was named secretary to the Vermont governor and council in 1778 and assumed the duties of secretary of state that same year. Beginning in 1780, he and other Vermont leaders secretly negotiated with Maj. Gen. Frederick Haldimand, governor of Canada, to devise terms that would restore British rule over Vermont. These men justified their overtures as a way to protect the land titles of settlers and to eliminate the threat of Loyalist and Indian raids on the northern frontier, but the discovery and persistence of these negotiations provoked a political controversy that lasted until the official end of the Revolutionary War in 1783. Fay left Vermont after 1795 to work in New York City as an import merchant, and he died there of yellow fever.

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