Colonel Ethan Allen, the author of Oracles of Reason, was the son of Joseph Allen, a native of Coventry, Connecticut, a farmer in moderate circumstances. He afterwards resided in Litchfield, where Ethan was born in the year 1739. The family consisted of eight children, of whom our author was the eldest. But few incidents connected with his early life are known. We are apprised, however, that notwithstanding his education was very limited, his ambition to prove himself worthy of that attention which superior intellect ever commands, induced him diligently to explore every subject that came under his notice. A stranger to fear, his opinions were ever given without disguise or hesitation; and an enemy to oppression, he sought every opportunity to redress the wrongs of the oppressed.
At the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, he raised in Vermont, where he had resided, a company of volunteers, consisting of two hundred and thirty, with which he surprised the fortress of Ticonderoga, May 10, 1775, containing about forty men, and one hundred pieces of cannon. He was unfortunately taken prisoner in September following, in an attempt on Montreal, and sufferred a cruel imprisonment for several years. For an account of which, the reader is referred to his narrative, contained in a memoir of the author, by Mr. Hugh Moore, Plattsburg, 1834.
Soon after the close of the revolution, Col. Allen composed the following work; which, on account of the bold and unusual manner, particularly in this country, that the subject of religion is treated, he had great difficulty to get published. It lay a long time in the hands of a printer at Hartford, who had not the moral courage to print it. It was finally printed by a Mr. Haswell, of Bennington, Vt. in 1784. Not long after its publication, a part of the edition, comprising the entire of several signatures, was accidentally consumed by fire. Whether Mr. H. deemed this fire a judgment upon him for having printed the work or not, is unknown — but, the fact is, he soon after committed the remainder of the edition to the flames, and joined the Methodist Connection; so that but few copies were circulated.
Col. Allen died in the town of Burlington, Vt., on the 12th of February, 1789, of apoplexy.
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