The Gods of the Hills

Ethan Allen knew well enough that if he moved to the New Hampshire Grants he was entering a howling wilderness, compared to which his native Connecticut was a highly civilized and populous place. It wasn't that white men had never been there, but that they hadn't remained.

As early as 1609 the French explorer Samuel de Champlain had viewed the lake that bears his name and fought, on July 4, a brief battle with Iroquois. This land between the lake and the Connecticut had long been disputed hunting ground, fought over and for by Iroquois and the various Algonquin tribes. With Champlain, the French claimed it by right of discovery, and during the interminable wars between them and the English the Grants formed the highway for battles.

Geography did it. From Quebec and Montreal, the French and their Indian allies found it easy to run up the Sorel River into Lake Champlain. Continuing up the lake and to the head of connecting Lake George, they reached a quick portage to the Hudson. Or, starting in Canada, they could run up the St. Francis to Lake Memphremagog, up the Clyde to Island Pond, and down the Nulhegan to the long Connecticut.


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