Last modified on 12 April 2014, at 22:20

Ethan Allen

In the name of the great Jehovah, and the Continental Congress!

Ethan Allen (21 January 1738 {10 January 1737 O.S.} – 12 February 1789) was an early American revolutionary and guerrilla leader during the era of the Vermont Republic.

QuotesEdit

It is bad policy to fear the resentment of an enemy.
Ever since I arrived to a state of manhood, I have felt a sincere passion for liberty.
I have generally been denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed...
  • In the name of the great Jehovah, and the Continental Congress!
    • His reply as to by what authority he demanded the surrender of Fort Ticonderoga, as recounted in A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen's Captivity (1779). Other reports indicate that he initially declared: "Come out of there you sons of British whores, or I'll smoke you out!" According to historian and folklorist B.A.Botkin, one Israel Harris was present at the time, and later told his grandson (the late Professor James D. Butler of Madison, Wisconsin) that Allen's actual words were "Come out of there, you goddam old rat!" See Paul F. Boller, Jr., and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (1989), p. 4.
  • Ever since I arrived to a state of manhood, I have felt a sincere passion for liberty. The history of nations doomed to perpetual slavery, in consequence of yielding up to tyrants their natural born liberties, I read with a sort of philosophical horror; so that the first systematical and bloody attempt at Lexington, to enslave America, thoroughly electrified my mind, and fully determined me to take part with my country.
    • As quoted in "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!" - American Heritage magazine Vol. 14, Issue 6 (October 1963)
  • I didn’t hire you to come here and lie! That’s a true note. I signed it. I’ll pay it.… What I employed you for was to get this business put over to the next court — not come here and lie and juggle about it!
    • Courtroom exclamation to his lawyer, who had begun to deny that Allen's signature on a document was genuine, as quoted in "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!" - American Heritage magazine Vol. 14, Issue 6 (October 1963)

Reason: The Only Oracle Of Man (1784)Edit

If mankind would dare to exercise their reason as freely on those divine topics as they do in the common concerns of life, they would, in a great measure, rid themselves of their blindness and superstition...
Reason: The Only Oracle Of Man A Compendious System Of Natural Religion
As creation was the result of eternal and infinite wisdom, justice, goodness, and truth, and effected by infinite power, it is like its great author, mysterious to us...
To suppose that God Almighty has confined his goodness to this world, to the exclusion of all others, is much similar to the idle fancies of some individuals in this world, that they, and those of their communion or faith, are the favorites of heaven exclusively...
Who would imagine that the Deity conducts his providence similar to the detestable despots of this world?
Those who invalidate reason, ought seriously to consider, "whether they argue against reason, with or without reason; if with reason, then they establish the principle, that they are laboring to dethrone"...
Was a revelation to be made known to us, it must be accommodated to our external senses, and also to our reason, so that we could come at the perception and understanding of it, the same as we do to that of things in general.
That Jesus Christ was not God is evident from his own words, where... he ranks himself with finite beings, and with them acknowledges, that he did not know the day and hour of judgment.
Reason therefore must be the standard by which we determine the respective claims of revelation...
So far as prejudice, or prepossession of opinion prevails over our minds, in the same proportion, reason is excluded from our theory or practice.
There is an original something in him that commands admiration; and his long captivity and sufferings have only served to increase if possible, his enthusiastic zeal. ~ George Washington
  • I have generally been denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious I am no Christian, except mere infant baptism make me one; and as to being a Deist, I know not, strictly speaking, whether I am one or not, for I have never read their writings; mine will therefore determine the matter; for I have not in the least disguised my sentiments, but have written freely without any conscious knowledge of prejudice for, or against any man, sectary or party whatever; but wish that good sense, truth and virtue may be promoted and flourish in the world, to the detection of delusion, superstition, and false religion; and therefore my errors in the succeeding treatise, which may be rationally pointed out, will be readily rescinded.
    • "Preface"
  • Though "none by searching can find out God, or the Almighty to perfection," yet I am persuaded, that if mankind would dare to exercise their reason as freely on those divine topics as they do in the common concerns of life, they would, in a great measure, rid themselves of their blindness and superstition, gain more exalted ideas of God and their obligations to him and one another, and be proportionally delighted and blessed with the views of his moral government, make better members of society, and acquire, manly powerful incentives to the practice of morality, which is the last and greatest perfection that human nature is capable of.
    • Chapter I Section I - Of Reforming Mankind from Superstition and Error, and the Good Consequences of it"
  • As creation was the result of eternal and infinite wisdom, justice, goodness, and truth, and effected by infinite power, it is like its great author, mysterious to us. How it could be accomplished, or in what manner performed, can never be comprehended by any capacity.
    Eternal, whether applied to duration, existence, action, or creation, is incomprehensible to us, but implies no contradiction in either of them; for that which is above comprehension we cannot perceive to be contradictory, nor on the other hand can we perceive its rationality or consistency.
    • Ch. II Section I - Of The Eternity of Creation
  • It is altogether reasonable to conclude that the heavenly bodies, alias worlds, which move or are situate within the circle of our knowledge, as well all others throughout immensity, are each and every one of them possessed or inhabited by some intelligent agents or other, however different their sensations or manners of receiving or communicating their ideas may be from ours, or however different from each other. For why would it not have been as wise or as consistent with the perfections which we adore in God, to have neglected giving being to intelligence in this world as in those other worlds, interspersed with another of various qualities in his immense creation? And inasmuch as this world is thus replenished, we may, with the highest rational certainty infer, that as God has given us to rejoice, and adore him for our being, he has acted consistent with his goodness, in the display of his providence throughout the university of worlds.
    • Ch. II Section III - Of The Eternity and Infinitude of Divine Providence
  • To suppose that God Almighty has confined his goodness to this world, to the exclusion of all others, is much similar to the idle fancies of some individuals in this world, that they, and those of their communion or faith, are the favorites of heaven exclusively; but these are narrow and bigoted conceptions, which are degrading to a rational nature, and utterly unworthy of God, of whom we should form the most exalted ideas.
    • Ch. II Section III - Of The Eternity and Infinitude of Divine Providence
  • It may be objected that a man cannot subsist in the sun; but does it follow from thence, that God cannot or has not constituted a nature peculiar to that fiery region, and caused it to be as natural and necessary for it to suck in and breathe out flames of fire, as it is for us to do the like in air.
    • Ch. II Section III - Of The Eternity and Infinitude of Divine Providence
  • Certain it is, that any supposed obstructions, concerning the quality or temperature of any or every one of those worlds, could not have been any bar in the way of God Almighty, with regard to his replenishing his universal creation with moral agents. The unlimited perfection of God could perfectly well adapt every part of his creation to the design of whatever rank or species of constituted beings, his Godlike wisdom and goodness saw fit to impart existence to; so that as there is no deficiency of absolute perfection in God, it is rationally demonstrative that the immense creation is replenished with rational agents, and that it has been eternally so, and that the display of divine goodness must have been as perfect and complete, in the antecedent, as it is possible to be in the subsequent eternity.
    • Ch. II Section III - Of The Eternity and Infinitude of Divine Providence
  • Who would imagine that the Deity conducts his providence similar to the detestable despots of this world? Oh horrible? most horrible impeachment of Divine Goodness! Rather let us exaltedly suppose that God eternally had the ultimate best good of beings generally and individually in his view, with the reward of the virtuous and the punishment of the vicious, and that no other punishment will ever be inflicted, merely by the divine administration, but that will finally terminate in the best good of the punished, and thereby subserve the great and important ends of the divine government, and be productive of the restoration and felicity of all finite rational nature.
    • Ch. III Section II - The Moral Government of God as Incompatible With Eternal Punishment
  • It appears that mankind in this life are not agents of trial for eternity, but that they will eternally remain agents of trial. To suppose that our eternal circumstances will be unalterably fixed in happiness or misery, in consequence of the agency or transactions of this temporary life, is inconsistent with the moral government of God, and the progressive and retrospective knowledge of the human mind. God has not put it into our power to plunge ourselves into eternal woe and perdition; human liberty is not so extensive, for the term of human life bears no proportion to eternity succeeding it; so that there could be no proportion between a momentary agency, (which is liberty of action,) or probation, and any supposed eternal consequences of happiness or misery resulting from it.
    • Ch. III Section III - Human Liberty, Agency and Accountability, cannot be attended with Eternal Consequences, either Good or Evil
  • Physical evils are in nature inseparable from animal life, they commenced existence with it, and are its concomitants through life; so that the same nature which gives being to the one, gives birth to the other also; the one is not before or after the other, but they are coexistent together, and contemporaries; and as they began existence in a necessary dependance on each other, so they terminate together in death and dissolution. This is the original order to which animal nature is subjected, as applied to every species of it. The beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, the fishes of the sea, with reptiles, and all manner of beings, which are possessed with animal life; nor is pain, sickness, or mortality any part of God's Punishment for sin. On the other hand sensual happiness is no part of the reward of virtue: to reward moral actions with a glass of wine or a shoulder of mutton, would be as inadequate, as to measure a triangle with sound, for virtue and vice pertain to the mind, and their merits or demerits have their just effects on the conscience, as has been before evinced: but animal gratifications are common to the human race indiscriminately, and also, to the beasts of the field: and physical evils as promiscuously and universally extend to the whole, so "That there is no knowing good or evil by all that is before us, for all is vanity." It was not among the number of possibles, that animal life should be exempted from mortality: omnipotence itself could not have made it capable of externalization and indissolubility; for the self same nature which constitutes animal life, subjects it to decay and dissolution; so that the one cannot be without the other, any more than there could be a compact number of mountains without valleys, or that I could exist and not exist at the same time, or that God should effect any other contradiction in nature...
    • Ch. III Section IV - Of Physical Evils
  • Those who invalidate reason, ought seriously to consider, "whether they argue against reason, with or without reason; if with reason, then they establish the principle, that they are laboring to dethrone;" but if they argue without reason, (which, in order to be consistent with themselves, they must do,) they are out of the reach of rational conviction, nor do they deserve a rational argument.
    • Ch. IV Section I - Speculation on the Doctrine of the Depravity of Human Reason
  • That there are degrees in the knowledge of rational beings, and also in their capacities to acquire it, cannot be disputed, as it is so very obvious among mankind.
    • Ch. IV Section I - Speculation on the Doctrine of the Depravity of Human Reason
  • Such people as can be prevailed upon to believe, that their reason is depraved, may easily be led by the nose, and duped into superstition at the pleasure of those in whom they confide, and there remain from generation to generation: for when they throw by the law of reason the only one which God gave them to direct them in their speculations and duty, they are exposed to ignorant or insidious teachers, and also to their own irregular passions, and to the folly and enthusiasm of those about them, which nothing but reason can prevent or restrain...
    • Ch. IV Section I - Speculation on the Doctrine of the Depravity of Human Reason
  • Princes may make laws and repeal them, but they can neither make nor destroy virtue, and how indeed should they be able to do what is impossible to the Deity himself? Virtue being as immutable in its nature as the divine will which is the ground of it.
    • Ch. IV Section II - Containing a Disquisition of the Law of Nature, as it respects the Moral System, interspersed with Observations on Subsequent Religions.
  • The author of human nature impressed it with certain sensitive aptitudes and mental powers, so that apprehension, reflection or understanding could no otherwise be exerted or produced in the compound nature of man, but in the order prescribed by the creator.
    • Ch. V Section I - Argumentative Reflections on Supernatural and Mysterious Revelation in General
  • The idea of a God we infer from our experimental dependence on something superior to ourselves in wisdom, power and goodness, which we call God; our senses discover to us the works of God which we call nature, and which is a manifest demonstration of his invisible essence. Thus it is from the works of nature that we deduce the knowledge of a God, and not because we have, or can have any immediate knowledge of, or revelation from him.
    • Ch. V Section II - Containing Observations on the Providence and Agency of God, as it Respects the Natural and Moral World, with Strictures on Revelation in General
  • There has in the different parts and ages of the world, been a multiplicity of immediate and wonderful discoveries, said to have been made to godly men of old by the special illumination or supernatural inspiration of God, every of which have, in doctrine, precept and instruction, been essentially different from each other, which are consequently as repugnant to truth, as the diversity of the influence of the spirit on the multiplicity of sectaries has been represented to be.
    These facts, together with the premises and inferences as already deduced, are too evident to be denied, and operate conclusively against immediate or supernatural revelation in general; nor will such revelation hold good in theory any more than in practice. Was a revelation to be made known to us, it must be accommodated to our external senses, and also to our reason, so that we could come at the perception and understanding of it, the same as we do to that of things in general. We must perceive by our senses, before we can reflect with the mind. Our sensorium is that essential medium between the divine and human mind, through which God reveals to man the knowledge of nature, and is our only door of correspondence with God or with man.
    • Ch. V Section II - Containing Observations on the Providence and Agency of God, as it Respects the Natural and Moral World, with Strictures on Revelation in General
  • Comets, earthquakes, volcanoes, and northern lights (in the night,) with many other extraordinary phenomena or appearances intimidate weak minds, and are by them thought to be miraculous, although they undoubtedly have their proper natural causes, which have been in a great measure discovered. Jack-with-a-lantern is a frightful appearance to some people, but not so much as the imaginary specter. But of all the scarecrows which have made human nature tremble, the devil has been chief; his family is said to be very numerous, consisting of "legions," with which he has kept our world in a terrible uproar.
    • Ch. VI Section III - Rare and Wonderful Phenomena no evidence of Miracles, nor are Diabolical Spirits able to effect them, or Superstitious Traditions to confirm them, nor can Ancient Miracles prove Recent Revelations
  • In those parts of the world where learning and science has prevailed, miracles have ceased; but in such parts of it as are barbarous and ignorant, miracles are still in vogue; which is of itself a strong presumption that in the infancy of letters, learning and science, or in the world's non-age, those who confided in miracles, as a proof of the divine mission of the first promulgators of revelation, were imposed upon by fictitious appearances instead of miracles.
    • Ch. VI Section III - Rare and Wonderful Phenomena no evidence of Miracles, nor are Diabolical Spirits able to effect them, or Superstitious Traditions to confirm them, nor can Ancient Miracles prove Recent Revelations
  • That Jesus Christ was not God is evident from his own words, where, speaking of the day of judgment, he says, "Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels which are in Heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." This is giving up all pretention to divinity, acknowledging in the most explicit manner, that he did not know all things, but compares his understanding to that of man and angels; "of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son." Thus he ranks himself with finite beings, and with them acknowledges, that he did not know the day and hour of judgment, and at the same time ascribes a superiority of knowledge to the father, for that he knew the day and hour of judgment.
    • Ch. IX Section III - The Imperfection of Knowledge in the Person of Jesus Christ, incompatible with his Divinity
  • A revelation, that may be supposed to be really of the institution of God, must also be supposed to be perfectly consistent or uniform, and to be able to stand the test of truth; therefore such pretended revelations, as are tendered to us as the contrivance of heaven, which do not bear that test, we may be morally certain, was either originally a deception, or has since, by adulteration become spurious.
    Reason therefore must be the standard by which we determine the respective claims of revelation; for otherwise we may as well subscribe to the divinity of the one as of the other, or to the whole of them, or to none at all.
    • Ch. XIII Section II - Of The Importance of the Exercise of Reason, and Practice of Morality, in order to the Happiness of Mankind
  • Undoubtedly it is our duty, and for our best good, that we occupy and improve the faculties, with which our creator has endowed us, but so far as prejudice, or prepossession of opinion prevails over our minds, in the same proportion, reason is excluded from our theory or practice. Therefore if we would acquire useful knowledge, we must first divest ourselves of those impediments and sincerely endeavor to search out the truth: and draw our conclusions from reason and just argument, which will never conform to our inclination, interest or fancy but we must conform to that if we would judge rightly.
    • Ch. XIII Section II - Of The Importance of the Exercise of Reason, and Practice of Morality, in order to the Happiness of Mankind
  • An unjust composition never fails to contain error and falsehood. Therefore an unjust connection of ideas is not derived from nature, but from the imperfect composition of man. Misconnection of ideas is the same as misjudging, and has no positive existence, being merely a creature of the imagination; but nature and truth are real and uniform; and the rational mind by reasoning, discerns the uniformity, and is thereby enabled to make a just composition of ideas, which will stand the test of truth. But the fantastical illuminations of the credulous and superstitious part of mankind, proceed from weakness, and as far as they take place in the world subvert the religion of REASON, NATURE and TRUTH.
    • Ch. XIII Section II - Of The Importance of the Exercise of Reason, and Practice of Morality, in order to the Happiness of Mankind


DisputedEdit

  • There is nothing that will make an Englishman shit so quick as the sight of General Washington.
    • Retort attributed to Allen, during his captivity among the British, commenting after a picture of Washington was hung in a outhouse, in an anecdote told by Abraham Lincoln, as quoted in Lincoln, Vol. 1 (1996) by David Herbert Donald; the documentation on this is scanty, and it conceivably arose as a comical anecdote as early as Lincoln's time.
    • Variants:
    • It is most appropriately hung. There is nothing that will make an Englishman shit so quick as the sight of General Washington.
      • As quoted in Strange But True, America : Weird Tales from All 50 States (2004) by John Hafnor, p. 114
    • It is most appropriately hung, nothing ever made the British shit like the sight of George Washington.

Quotes about AllenEdit

Without the loss of a single life, with a casual and even comic air wholly incommensurate with the importance of the event, Ethan Allen’s expedition reduced three key British strongpoints… and obtained for the American cause what was, for its time and place, an immense booty.
  • There is an original something in him that commands admiration; and his long captivity and sufferings have only served to increase if possible, his enthusiastic zeal. He appears very desirous of rendering his services to the States, and of being employed; and at the same time he does not discover any ambition for high rank.
  • General Ethan Allen of Vermont died and went to Hell this day.
    • Reverend Doctor Ezra Stiles, president of Yale College, on learning of the death of Allen. Diary entry (12 February 1789)
  • Passed by Ethan Allyn's grave. An awful Infidel, one of ye wickedest men ye ever walked this guilty globe. I stopped & looked at his grave with a pious horror.
    • Rev. Nathan Perkins in his Narrative Of A Tour Through The State Of Vermont on 25 May 1789.
  • Without the loss of a single life, with a casual and even comic air wholly incommensurate with the importance of the event, Ethan Allen’s expedition reduced three key British strongpoints — Ticonderoga, Crown Point, and St. Johns in the north (for the latter was impotent so long as the Americans controlled the lake) — and obtained for the American cause what was, for its time and place, an immense booty: upward of a hundred cannon (the figure is uncertain), several huge mortars and two or three howitzers, 100 stands of small arms, ten tons of musket and cannon balls, three cartloads of flints, a warehouse full of boat-building materials, thirty new carriages, and sundry other war supplies. Next winter, in one of the logistical triumphs of the Revolution, General Henry Knox, on orders from Washington, transported much of the Ticonderoga matériel by sled across the snows to Cambridge; Ticonderoga cannon, at once set up on Dorchester Heights, may well have decided the battle for Boston in favor of the Americans.

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