Primary Source: Thomas Young to the Inhabitants of Vermont

Thos. Young to VermontersHere’s a printed document from Dr. Thomas Young, one of the more flamboyant radical democrats in Declaration. It’s a message he sent to his friends in “the Hampshire Grants,” which were becoming known as Vermont. Young’s old friend from the lower Berkshires, Ethan Allen, had been running a remarkable strongarm operation in the Grants.  Allen’s Green Mountain Boys threw out New York settlers, who had a claim on the area,  and basically took it over for themselves and their friends and families. Allen was an outlaw; he’d embarrassed the Congress by taking Fort Ticonderoga largely on his own hook on the Congress’s behalf (with the conflicted collaboration of Benedict Arnold, who found Allen outrageous) when the war was still supposed to be defensive.

Here Young passes the May 15, 1776, resolution of the Congress, with the preamble on to the Vermont outlaws. He calls Vermont (he’d come up with the name himself) a free and independent state, like the others, although it had no standing as such. He advises the inhabitants on how to become accepted as a state by the Congress (that didn’t work out until the 1790’s, I think; in the meantime, the self-described Vermonters had made overtures to the British). Young suggests the May 15 resolution as a way of pushing New York’s sovereignty out of the Grants for good.

I hadn’t seen this document until the other day, when Doug Swanson of the National Archives sent it to me; one of the archivists had attended my talk there and came up with this. Cool to see it.

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