Primary tabs

Ethan Allen to the Continental Congress



[Read in Congress June 10, 1775.]

Crown Point, May 29, 1775.

WORTHY GENTLEMEN: An abstract of the minutes of Council from the Continental Congress, signed per Mr˙ Charles Thomson, Secretary, has just come to hand, and though it approves of the taking the fortresses on Lake Champlain, and the artillery, &c˙, I am nevertheless much surprised that your Honours should recommend it to us to remove the artillery to the sooth end of Lake George, and there to make a stand; the consequence of which must ruin the frontier settlements, which are extended at least one hundred miles to the northward from that place. Probably


your Honours were not informed of those settlements, which consist of several thousand families, who are seated on that tract of country called the New-Hampshire Grants.

The misfortune and real injury to those inhabitants, by making the south end of Lake George the northernmost point of protection, will more fully appear from the following consideration, namely: It was at the special request and solicitation of the Governments of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay and Connecticut, that those very inhabitants put their lives into the hand of their Governments, and made those valuable acquisitions for the Colonies. By doing it they have incensed Governour Carleton and all the ministerial party in Canada against them; and provided they should, after all their good service in behalf of their Country, be neglected and left exposed, they will be, of all men, the most consummately miserable.

The south promontory of Lake Champlain and Lake George, as to a southern direction, are near the same, and if we should give up the sovereignty of Lake Champlain, we may as well give up the whole. If the King' s Troops should be again in possession of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and command the lake, the Indians and Canadians will be much more inclined, to join with them, and make incursions into the heart of our Country. But the Colonies are now in possession and actual command of the lake, having taken the armed sloop from George the Third, which was cruising in the lake, and also seized a schooner belonging to Major Skene, at South-Bay, and have armed and manned them both for the protection of our Country, and the Constitution and civil privileges and liberties thereof.

By a council of war held on board the sloop, the 27th instant, it was agreed to advance to the Point Aufere, with the sloop and schooner, and a number of armed boats well manned, and there make a stand, and act on the defensive, and by all means command the lake and defend the frontiers, and wait for the special directions of the honourable Continental Congress, and govern ourselves accordingly. We are now almost ready to sail to that station, which is about six miles this side of latitude forty-five degrees north. A small force, with the armed vessels, will at present command the lake, and secure the frontiers.

The Canadians, all except the noblesse, and also the Indians, appear at present to be very friendly to us; and it is my humble opinion, that the more vigorous the Colonies push the war against the King' s Troops in Canada, the more friends we shall find in that country. Provided I had but five hundred men with me at St˙ John' s, when we took the King' s sloop, I would have advanced to Montreal. Nothing strengthens our friends in Canada equal to our prosperity in taking the sovereignty of Lake Champlain; and should the Colonies forthwith send an army of two or three thousand men, and attack Montreal, we should have little to fear from the Canadians or Indians, and would easily make a conquest of that place, and set up the standard of liberty in the extensive Province of Quebeck, whose limit was enlarged purely to subvert the liberties of America, Striking such a blow would intimidate the Tory party in Canada, the same as the commencement of the war at Boston intimidated the Tories in the Colonies. They are a set of gentlemen that will not be converted by reason, but are easily wrought upon by fear.

Advancing an army into Canada will be agreeable to our friends; and it is bad policy to fear the resentment of an enemy. If we lie easy, and in a supine state, and Governour Carleton exerts himself against us vigorously, as we know he will, and who, by a legal Constitution, can oblige our friends to assist him, he will, by slow degrees, discourage our friends, and encourage our enemies, and form those that are at present indifferent, into combinations against us. Therefore, the possible way to circumvent him and the scheme of the Ministry, is to nervously push an army into Canada. But if the wisdom of the Continent in Congress should view the proposed invasion of the King' s Troops in Canada as premature or impolitick, nevertheless I humbly conceive, when your Honours come to the knowledge of the before-mentioned facts, you will at least establish some advantageous situation towards the northerly part of Lake Champlain, as a frontier, instead of the south promontory of Lake George.


There are many advantages in forming the frontier near the country of the enemy, as, first: it will be in our power to ravage and make inroads into the heart of the enemy' s country, the same as they might easily do, were they in possession and command of Luke Champlain. This advantage will be of the utmost consequence, be it in the hands of which party it will. Though it is now in our hands, to give it up to them would be fatal to the interest of the Colonies, but more particularly to those who were instrumental in the achievement of the supremacy of that lake. But secondly: commanding the northerly part of the lake puts it in our power to work our policy with the Canadians and Indians. We have made considerable proficiency this way already. Sundry tribes have been to visit us, and have returned to their tribes to use their influence in our favour. We have just sent Captain Abraham Nimham, a Stockbridge Indian, as our ambassador of peace to the several tribes of Indians in Canada. He was accompanied with Mr˙ Winthrop Hoit, who has been a prisoner with the Indians, and understands their tongue. I do not imagine, provided we command Lake Champlain, there will be any need of a war with the Canadians or Indians.

Pray pardon me on account of any impertinency or inaccuracy in this composition, as it is but a rough draught, wrote in great haste, from your Honours' ever faithful, most obedient and humble servant,


To the Continental Congress.