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another party blacked and dressed like Indians, as I was
informed." The people of Durham (Clarendon)
assured Cockburn that these men, probably Allen and
his party, intended to murder the surveyor and his asso-
ciates if they did not leave, and advised him to abandon
his task. He learned of a plan to convey his party to
Danby and so on to the south, adding, "by all accounts
we should not have been very kindly treated." For
that reason he informed Mr. Duane: "I found it vain
to persist any longer as they were resolved at all events
to stop us." When Cockburn gave assurance that he


would survey no more in those parts he was allowed to
proceed along the Crown Point Road, as he observes,
"with the hearty prayers of the women, as we passed
never to return."

Samuel Gardenier purchased of James Delancy of
New York City three hundred and ten acres of land in
what was known as the Walloomsack Patent, and found
one Ichabod Cross settled on a part of the property,
holding it under a New Hampshire title. Some ar-
rangement was made between Gardenier and Cross,
according to a deposition by Gardenier, whereby he
secured possession, but his neighbors evidently were in
sympathy with Cross, and frequently the new owner
found his fences thrown down. One morning in
August, 1771, about two hours before daybreak, Gar-
denier was called to the door and was surrounded by
eleven men, some of them disguised with blankets, like
Indians, others with handkerchiefs or women's caps on
their heads. They were armed chiefly with sickles and
clubs, one man having a pistol. After some discussion
Gardenier was given a fortnight to give up the papers
executed to him by Cross. He was threatened, accord-
ing to his version of the affair, that "if he did not do
as he was ordered, they would come the next time Devil
like and times should be worse for him."

Just before the two weeks' limit expired Gardenier
fled and thus escaped a visit from one hundred men.
Some of them were disguised with wigs, horses' tails,
women's caps, etc. They were armed with clubs, pis-
tols, guns and swords and searched the premises for
Gardenier. Later, his fences were broken down and


some of them burned, his haystacks overturned in the
mud, and threats were made by the "rioters" that if any
of the settlers holding New Hampshire titles were sent
to jail, "they would raise a mob and go in a body to
Albany, break open the jail there and take them out of

The New York Council minutes for September 30,
1771, show that a deposition taken the second day of
September, of that year, declares that on the night of
August 2 a number of men came to the deponent's house,
turned the deponent, his wife and children out of doors,
and pulled the house to the ground. Seth Warner of
Bennington was said to be the "Captain of the mob."
The name of the deponent is not given, nor is his place
of residence mentioned.

Holders of military grants issued by New York in
the present town of Rupert attempted to occupy such
lands in June, 1771, but were driven off by a consider-
able number of men led by Robert Cochran of that town,
who became one of the active leaders of the Green Moun-
tain Boys. Two brothers named Todd had begun work
on a lot in the western part of Rupert, owned by
Robert Cochran under a New Hampshire title. Charles
Hutchison, formerly a Corporal in a Highland regiment,
began the construction of a log house in Rupert on land
previously granted by Governor Wentworth, and John
Reid had commenced the clearing of land in Pawlet, and
had erected a rude shelter.

On October 29, 1771, Ethan Allen, Remember Baker,
Robert Cochran and six others drove the Todds from


their work, informing them that they would permit no
man to settle there under a New York title.

Hutchison, in a deposition before Justice Alexander
McNaughton, described the visit of the same party in
the following words : "There assembled nine men who
call themselves New Hampshire men about the de-
ponent's house which he had built on said lot and the
deponent observing all having fire arms and attempting
to demolish his house he left his work, came and
eventually desired them to stop, whereupon one sirnamed
Allen, another Baker, and one Sevil, with Robert Coch-
ran and five other names unknown to the deponent said
that they would burn it, for that morning they had re-
solved to offer a burnt sacrifice to the gods of the world
in burning the logs of that house. That then they
kindled four fires on the logs of the house, said Allen
and Baker holding two clubs over the deponent's head
commanded him to leave that land and not say one word
to them. That if ever he returned he should be bar-
barously used. That the fires being kindled said Allen
and Baker insolently said to the deponent вАФ 'Go your
way now and complain to that damned scoundrel your

According to the deposition, Allen and Baker poured
"horrible curses" upon the King, the Governor, the
Council, the Assembly and the laws, declaring that if
any Constable attempted to arrest them they would kill
him, and that if any of them were put in jail they would
break it down and rescue him. The deponent was in-
formed that the "rioters" boasted that on short warn-
ing they could raise many hundreds of New Hampshire


men to prevent any Yorkers from settling on their lands.
The same day of the affair at Hutchison's, Reid's shelter
was destroyed, and the deposition stated that eight or
nine more New York families were driven off by New
Hampshire sympathizers.

It appears that John Reid was a Constable, and he
was directed by Justice McNaughton "forthwith to call
a competent number of His Majesty's good subjects in
your vicinity to arms," and apprehend the rioters.
Evidently Justice McNaughton did not have much con-
fidence in the prowess of Constable Reid, for the same
day he wrote Colonel Fanning, saying he had "issued
warrants to apprehend the New Hampshire rioters and
traitors, but their number and situation on the moun-
tains is such that I am of the opinion that no Sheriff
or Constable will apprehend them." Therefore he came
to the conclusion that it would be "highly necessary for
His Majesty's peace" that the Governor should offer a
reward "for apprehending those abominable wretches."

In compliance with an order of the New York Coun-
cil, dated November 27, 1771, Governor Tryon issued a
proclamation on December 9, offering the sum of twenty
pounds for the apprehension of Allen, Baker, Cochran,
Sevil and five other persons charged with felony and
rioting. A counter proclamation followed, aimed at
James Duane, a prominent New York attorney, active in
the proceedings against the settlers on the New Hamp-
shire Grants, and against Attorney General Kempe,
which was issued as a burlesque on Governor Tryon's
proclamation, the text of the document being as follows :


Twenty-five Pounds Reward
"Whereas, James Duane and John Kempe, of New
York, have by their menaces and threats greatly dis-
turbed the pubHc peace and repose of the honest peasants
of Bennington, and the settlements to the northward,
which peasants are now and ever have been in the peace
of God and the King, and are patriotic and liege subjects
of George III. Any person that will apprehend these
common disturbers, viz, James Duane and John Kempe,
and bring them to Landlord Fay's at Bennington, shall
have fifteen pounds for John (James?) Duane and ten
pounds for John Kempe, paid by

"Ethan Allen
Dated Poultney, "Remember Baker

February 5, 1772. "Robert Cochran''

It is evident that Governor Tryon's proclamation only
intensified the resentment felt against the New York
authorities. Justice of the Peace John Munro, writing
to Governor Tryon on February 17, 1772, told of the
formation of a militia company at Bennington, with
John (Seth?) Warner as its commander, and said that
on New Year's day the company was reviewed and "con-
tinued all day firing at marks." Commenting on the
state of public opinion, Munro observed: "I find that
every act of indulgence which the Government offers is
rejected with disdain, and by the best information I can
get they are determined to oppose the authority of this
Government assigning for reason that should they com-
ply it will weaken their New Hampshire title, and they
shall lose all their lands, for this reason they shall fight
'till they die'; however if this Bennington was well drest


I presume all the rest will fall of course and that the
Government will be restored to peace." Doubtless there
were many others who were ready during the next ten
or fifteen years to join very heartily in Esquire Munro's
opinion that it would be eminently satisfactory to them-
selves and exceedingly helpful to their cause, ''if this
Bennington was well drest."

Sheriff Ten Eyck, in a letter to Governor Tryon, read
before the New York Council March 26, 1772, men-
tioned his inability to arrest any of the rioters and de-
clared that he found "the greatest appearance of a deter-
mined resolution not to submit to the Government."

Justice Munro was not ready to concede that the
arrest of the rioters was impossible, and with much care
he laid his plans for the capture of Remember Baker.
Two days before the arrest was made Bliss Willoughby,
under pretence of a friendly business call, went to
Baker's house, and observing that the Green Mountain
leader "was somewhat careless and secure," made his
report to Munro.

Baker lived about one mile east of the present village
of Arlington. A little before daylight, on the morning
of March 21, 1772, Justice Munro, Constable Stevens,
and a party surrounded Baker's house, and after a des-
perate struggle succeeded in overpowering Baker, and
after binding him he was placed in a sleigh and the party
started for Albany, Baker was severely wounded, one
thumb being cut off. Mrs. Baker received a severe
wound from a sword cut and their little son is said to
have been injured.


Two neighbors, Caleb Henderson and John Whiston,
attempted to stop the sleigh carrying Baker, but did not
succeed in releasing the prisoner, and Whiston was cap-
tured. Henderson escaped and gave the alarm, the
news being sent by messenger to Bennington. Munro
and his party, having driven about sixteen miles, stopped
at Sancoick, N. Y., to rest. This halt proved fatal to
Munro's plans to lodge in Albany jail one of the chief
rioters of the New Hampshire Grants. As soon as the
news of Baker's arrest reached Bennington ten men
mounted their horses and rode at great speed to the
ferry across the Hudson River at what is now the city
of Troy. Learning that Munro and his prisoner had
not passed there, the rescuing party turned back toward
Arlington, and proceeded six or seven miles before meet-
ing Baker and his captors. The approach of the Ben-
nington men struck terror to the hearts of most of the
New York party, and to quote from Munro's report,
"they all ran into the woods when they ought to have
resisted." Munro and two Constables were detained but
later were released. Baker was so exhausted from loss
of blood that it was necessary, after his wounds were
dressed, for one of the rescuing party to ride on the
same horse with him to keep him from falling. On the
way back they met another rescuing party, probably
from Arlington. Mr. Breakenridge's house in Ben-
nington was reached at two o'clock the next morning,
the party having travelled more than sixty miles in
twenty- four hours.

The attempt to imprison Baker, and the harsh treat-
ment inflicted upon him, still further embittered the


people of the New Hampshire Grants against New York.
Writing soon after the Baker episode, Munro informed
the New York Governor that the rioters "are Hsting men
daily, and ofifer fifteen pounds bounty to every man that
joins with them, and thus strike terror into the whole
country ; that they have too many friends in the country
owing to self interest, and that he is afraid of the con-
sequences every moment, as he cannot find any Justice
or one officer now that will act or say against them."
To this the writer added the information that "he is
almost wore out with watching."

In view of the fact that Bliss Willoughby played the
part of spy upon Baker before Munro's attack upon him,
it is not altogether surprising to read in a communica-
tion from Governor Tryon to the New York Council a
report from Justice Munro to the efifect that on May
first Remember Baker and others went to Willoughby's
house "and cut him in a barbarous manner."

In April, 1772, news was received in Bennington to
the effect that Governor Tryon and a detachment of
British troops was proceeding by way of the Hudson
River to Albany "in order to subject or destroy the
Green Mountain Boys." This report was given credence
because regular troops had been used in the province
of New York to quell an outbreak regarding land titles.
The Committee of Safety met the officers of the Green
Mountain Boys and consulted regarding proper measures
to be taken. Ira Allen, writing of the effect of this
report upon the Committee of Safety, said: "They
found matters had come to a crisis that compelled them
either to submit and become tenants of the land jobbers


of New York, or to take the field against a royal Gov-
ernor and British troops ; either seemed like the forlorn
hope. Having reflected on the justice of their cause,
the hardships, expense of money and labor they had
been at in building and cultivation, they therefore unani-
mously resolved that it was their duty to oppose Gov-
ernor Tryon and his troops to the utmost of their power
(and thereby convince him and his Council that they
were punishable by the Green Mountain Boys) for dis-
obeying His Majesty's prohibitory orders of July,

Two cannon and a mortar were brought to Benning-
ton from a fort at East Hoosick (Williamstown), and
powder and ball were also supplied. Ira Allen is
authority for the statement that the older persons among
the people of the Grants advised sending a flag of truce
to the Governor to inquire if some compromise were not
possible. The militia objected to this plan on the
ground that such an act would indicate pusillanimity,
and would show a confidence in the Governor of which
he was unworthy.

Instead of sending a flag of truce to the Governor,
the military leaders sent to Albany a person not under
indictment as a rioter, to observe the Governor and his
principal officers, to obtain all possible information as
to the strength of the military force, their order of
marching and when they would leave Albany. Having
accomplished this he was to return, join six other good
marksmen, and they were to form an ambuscade in a
wood through which the royal troops must march.
Having observed the Governor, the marksmen were to


fire at him, one after the other, until he fell from his
horse, then raise an Indian war whoop and retire. If
the enemy continued the march they were to attempt an-
other ambuscade and try to kill two or three of the chief

The messenger, on his return, reported that the British
troops which had received marching orders were to re-
lieve the garrisons at Oswego, Niagara and Detroit, and
that Governor Tryon was not with them. In comment-
ing on this episode Ira Allen said: "The Governor and
his land jobbers soon got information of this prepara-
tion ; and they were both intimidated and convinced that
the Green Mountain Boys would fight even the King's
troops if sent to decide the titles of land and to dis-
possess the inhabitants who rescued them out of a state
of nature. This alarm answered every purpose that a
victory possibly could have done, without shedding

This deliberate plan by a handful of pioneer settlers
to ambush the British troops and to kill the royal Gov-
ernor, seems almost incredible, but it is given on the
authority of one of the greatest of Vermont's early lead-
ers, who was familiar with all the public afifairs of that
period. It afifords a striking illustration of the des-
perate courage of the Vermont pioneers, and the length
to which they were willing to go to defend their property
from invasion and seizure.

Soon after the capture and release of Remember
Baker, Sergt. Hugh Munro secured the services of a
surveyor named Campbell and some chain bearers and
accompanied them to Rupert for the purpose of survey-


ing a tract of land there. According to a New York
account the party was seized by Robert Cochran and
his associates, who conducted them to a tribunal "as if
they had really been malefactors" ; deliberated upon their
course, and decided to chastise them. Munro and the
chain bearers were beaten severely, and the deputy sur-
veyor was whipped, but less severely than his associates.
It is said that Cochran boasted that he was a son of
Robin Hood and would follow the mode of life of the
famous outlaw. The surveying party was conducted
several miles, and dismissed with the warning that a
repetition of this offense would be punished by death.

Ira Allen says that Munro was "an old offender."
After being tried he was ordered to be whipped on his
naked back. He was then tied to a tree and given three
separate whippings, and after each chastisement he
fainted. His wounds were dressed and he was banished
from the New Hampshire Grants. According to
Allen's account a convention of settlers had adopted a
resolution to the effect "that no officer from New York
be allowed to carry out of the district of New Hampshire
Grants any person without permission of the committees
of safety or the military commanders."

New York land surveyors were forbidden to run any
lines within the Grants, and transgressors of the rule
were to be punished according to the judgment of a
court chosen from the elders of the people or the mili-
tary commanders. Punishment sometimes consisted in
whipping the prisoner severely with beech twigs, not
easily broken, which left on the back of the offender
evidences of the punishment, which the Green Mountain


Boys, with a grim humor, called the "Beech Seal." In
addition to the whipping, the penalty of banishment
sometimes was added.

After describing Hugh Munro's punishment, Allen
declared: "These severities were used to deter people
from endangering their lives and to prevent aid being
given to the land claimants of New York; they proved
to answer the purpose and the Green Mountain Boys
soon became the terror of their adversaries. When the
Sherifif's officers came to collect debts they were used
with civility, and the cause of the people was explained ;
in this way the strength of the enemy was weakened, and
the cause of the settlers gained strength and credit."

About this time Seth Warner and a companion named
Sherwood went to the house of John Munro to secure
Remember Baker's gun, which was not taken when
Baker was rescued from his captors. Munro refused
to deliver it, and seizing the bridle of Warner's horse
ordered a Constable and several bystanders to arrest
him. Warner drew his cutlass and struck Munro over
the head, felling the magistrate to the ground. Al-
though the blow was so severe that the weapon was
broken, the injury inflicted did not prove to be a dan-
gerous one, the weapon being dull. An illustration of
the temper of the inhabitants of the New Hampshire
Grants at this time is afforded by the action of the pro-
prietors of the town of Poultney, who voted Warner,
on May 4, 1773, one hundred acres of land in that town,
"for his valor in cutting the head of Esquire Munro, the







Evidently the news of the preparations made by the
people of Bennington to resist by force the rumored
attack by the King's troops, and the plan to shoot the
royal Governor, brought forcibly to the mind of Gov-
ernor Tryon the importance of making some effort to
conciliate the exasperated settlers on the New Hamp-
shire Grants, and on May 19, 1772, he addressed a com-
munication to "the Rev. Mr. Dewey, and the inhabitants
of Bennington, and the adjacent country on the east side
of Hudson's River." The Governor chided the people
for "the many violent and illegal acts" they had com-
mitted, hinted that a continuation of such a policy might
cause the interference of royal authority but expressed
a desire on his part and that of the Council to examine
into the grounds of their "behavior and discontent, with
deliberation and candor, and as far as in us lies to give
such relief as the nature of your situation and circum-
stances will justify." He promised full security and
protection to any persons whom they might send to
present their views, with the exception of Allen, Baker,
Cochran, Sevil and Warner. He suggested as suitable
persons Rev. William (Jedediah) Dewey, James Break-
enridge and Mr. Fay, particularly commending Mr.
Dewey. In the same letter he assured the people that
the decision of the King not to annex the Grants to
New Hampshire was final.

A reply signed by Rev. Jedediah Dewey and others,
dated June 5, 1772, was forwarded to Governor Tryon.
It expressed satisfaction at the opportunity afforded of
presenting the case of the people of Bennington and the
adjacent country before the Governor, set forth their


rights to the lands they held, and rehearsed their griev-
ances. This reply included the following statement:
"We flatter ourselves, from the candor of Your Excel-
lency's favorable letter that you will be friendly disposed
toward us; and we most earnestly pray and beseech
Your Excellency would assist to quiet us in our posses-
sions till His Majesty in his royal wisdom shall be
graciously pleased to settle the controversy. Should
Your Excellency grant this our humble request, our sat-
isfaction would be inexpressible." The earnestness of
this appeal from the harassed settlers, determined at
all hazards to defend their homes, but expressing a
passionate longing for peace, is not lacking an element
of pathos.

Capt. Stephen Fay and his son Dr. Jonas Fay were
appointed agents to represent the settlers on the Grants,
and they proceeded to New York, where they related
their grievances to the Governor and Council. These
grievances were set forth in an able and forceful man-
ner in a communication which they presented, signed by
Ethan Allen, Seth Warner, Remember Baker and Robert
Cochran, who had been declared unacceptable as agents
to present the views of the settlers to the New York
authorities. This statement is a notable one, coming
as it did, from men who had had little or no literary
training. It contained a vigorous argument for the
rights of the settlers on the New Hampshire Grants, and
exhibited great boldness in maintaining these rights.

After describing the sufifering caused by the eject-
ment of settlers, the statement declared : "Things hav-
ing come to this pass, the oppression was too great for


human nature, under English Constitution, to grope
under. * =k * Laws and society compacts were
made to protect and secure the subjects in their peace-
able possessions and properties, and not to subvert them.
No person or community of persons can be supposed to
be under any particular compact or law, except it pre-
supposeth that that law will protect such person or com-
munity of persons in his or their properties ; for other-
ways the subject would, by law, be bound to be acces-
sory to his own ruin and destruction, which is incon-
sistent with the law of self preservation."

Protesting against the "set of artful and wicked men"
who had concealed the truth from the Governor, and
explaining that they were poor people, at a great dis-
tance from the seat of government, "fatigued in settling
a wilderness country," and having little opportunity of
presenting their grievances, the letter continues: "If
we do not oppose the Sheriff and his posse, he takes
immediate possession of our houses and farms ; if we do
we are immediately indicted rioters, * * * and it
comes to this at last, that we must tamely be dispossessed
or oppose officers in taking possession; and as a neces-
sary step, oppose taking of rioters, so called, or run

Online LibraryWalter Hill CrockettVermont, the Green mountain state (Volume 1) → online text (page 22 of 34)