Introduction to the General

In Vermont, where I was born and where my people have lived since Colonial times, the name of Ethan Allen is well known, even if few Vermonters know much about the man. In foreign parts (which is to say, anywhere outside the small confines of the Green Mountain State), Allen, if heard of at all, is at best a misty character.

The taking of a fort was responsible for putting Allen into history books and fine marble; and the taking of that fort, regrettably, is about all most Americans know of him. He appears suddenly in school histories as if rising by magic out of the dark backwoods for one magnificent moment. He is seen there at the top of a barrack stairs, waving his great sword and shouting his deathless incredible line. Then, just as suddenly, history swallows him again and he is seen no more.

This is unfortunate, for not in the American scene has there been a livelier, lustier character than the late and profane General Allen. As a tosspot none could match him. His humor was often rude, and boundless always. He was a violent enemy, a staunch friend, and ever a highly original thinker. His command of language, including profanity, was so prodigious that many fine examples have been carefully preserved in old records, which seem still to glow with baleful light, such as brimstone makes.

His judgment--or maybe it was impulse and not judgment at all--was hasty, and usually but not always sound. Not one of the very greatest of Americans, he assuredly was one of

-vii-

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