Read CHAPTER VIII of The Hero of Ticonderoga / Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, free online book, by John de Morgan, on ReadCentral.com.

The convention.

Edwards was brought to trial on the charge of leading an armed invasion of New Hampshire.

He declared that he alone was responsible for the foray, and doubtless his statement was a true one, though Allen did not believe it.

The district court condemned Edwards to death by hanging, for his act was one of high treason, and the sentence was sure to be confirmed by the king, to whom it had to be sent.

When Gov. Tryon heard of the fight and the capture of Edwards, and his subsequent trial and sentence, he resolved on two things. He would bring all the pressure to bear on the king that he could to prevent the sentence being confirmed, and he would capture Allen and his friends, no matter what the consequences might be.

A proclamation was printed and sent through all the grants, in which the governor of New York offered a reward of one hundred and fifty pounds sterling for the capture of Ethan Allen, dead or alive, and a further sum of fifty pounds each for the bodies, dead or alive, of Seth Warner, Remember Baker, Sylvanus Brown, Robert Cochrane, Peleg Sunderland, James Breakenridge and John Smith.

When the proclamation had been well discussed the people got another sensation in a counter proclamation, signed by Ethan Allen on behalf of the mountaineers, offering two hundred pounds for the capture of the attorney-general of New York.

Both proclamations started out with a command to the parties named to surrender themselves within thirty days under pain of the forfeiture of all their property, of conviction of felony and sentence of death without benefit of clergy.

These proclamations placed the two sections on a war footing, and Ethan saw that it was necessary to organize on a larger scale than had been done.

He consulted his trusty friend, Seth Warner, and as a result a convention was called at Bennington.

“It is no use calling on New Hampshire to aid us. We must rely on ourselves,” Allen told all with whom he came in contact.

A larger number gathered at the convention than he expected, and his heart was full of joy.

He was the more pleased that he had called the men together, when, on the very morning of the gathering, he received a notice from Concord that the king had forbidden the colony to take an active part against New York in the matter of the grants.

In other words it meant that the king would protect New York and oppose all claims of New Hampshire to the lands.

“Men of the mountains,” Allen commenced, “we are met to form laws to protect ourselves and our property. We must rely on ourselves alone. I think that the time has come when we should declare ourselves independent of any colony, and apply to the king for a charter.”

“Good!”

“That is talk of the right kind.”

“Why cannot we have our own laws, our own governor and our own army?”

“You are rather previous, Sunderland.”

“Not a bit of it. I say that the king has never done anything for us, and New Hampshire has betrayed us into the hands of the Yorkers.”

“We will call ourselves the Green Mountain Colony.”

“I think, if you will let me suggest, that if we are going to have a new name it should be a pretty one.”

“Is not the Green Mountain Colony pretty?”

“Yes; but I have thought that Vermont ;it means Green Mountains ;would sound good.”

“Nothing could be better,” assented Allen, “so we will commence our deliberations with the declaration: ’We, the men of Vermont, in convention assembled’; that will place our name above controversy.”

“I propose that Ethan Allen be our governor.”

“Stay, that will never do. The king must appoint a governor, so we can only declare our desire to be independent of New Hampshire, and until the king accepts our independence we must nominally recognize Gov. Wentworth as our governor.”

It is not our purpose to give the proceeding of that convention in extenso, but this much we have given, in order that the whole country may know that the sturdy mountain boys talked of independence and liberty with spirit even before the Revolution began.

Warner stood on a chair and waved his hand for attention.

“I have heard,” he said, “that Gen. Gates is pressing the people of Boston so hard that the English are getting themselves disliked in that city, and I should not be surprised if a rebellion was talked of.”

“The sooner the better, say I.”

“Yes; why should England govern us?”

“We are too far away. The king ;”

“Leave his name out of the question. We can be loyal to him, even if we become independent as a new nation.”

“We want no kings ;”

“Silence!” shouted Allen; “I will not listen to treason to the king.”

Warner continued:

“If the people of Boston talk of rebellion, so will the people of New Hampshire, and we Green ;I beg pardon, Vermonters ;we, too, can govern ourselves. Then, when two or three colonies show some spirit, New York will have to tackle us all, instead of a few mountaineers.”

“That is for the future, Capt. Warner; what we have to think of is, are we going to protect our farms?”

“Ay, to the death!”

The sentiment was the occasion for such cheering as Bennington had never heard before.

“We will hold our lands, even if every man has to carry a musket when he plows the ground or sows the seed or reaps the harvest.”

“Good for you, Warner! Now, then, let us have a good militia.”

Every man present enrolled his name on the list, and a very excellent start was made to form an army to defend the farms.

The district was divided into two parts, the northern part of the New Hampshire grants being under the command of Allen, the southern under the guidance of Warner.

Rules were laid down for the guidance of the mountaineers, and as good a system of government was inaugurated as existed in New Hampshire itself.

The strongest contingent of militia was sent with Allen to the north, for it was thought that the next attempt of New York would come from the Champlain section instead of Albany.

Everywhere Ethan Allan was received with open arms.

The farmers had reclaimed the lands from the mountain sides, and made them fruitful, and it was extremely hard that they should be turned from their farms without receiving compensation.

Resistance was popular, and the men who had taken the lead in organizing the farmers were looked upon as heroes.

Allen had taken Eben with him, and the young lad was the most useful member of his staff.

Eben had all the faithfulness of a hound, with the sagacity of a trained scout.

He was invaluable.

In some of the districts it was necessary to conceal their identity, for until the sentiment of the people was known treachery might be expected.

The reward offered for Allen was a large one for those days, and was a great temptation to the poor, struggling farmers.

So the leader had to be on the alert all the time, and Eben proved his usefulness by finding out all about the men before Allen made himself known.

The Green Mountain Boys camped on the shore of Lake Dunmore, and made the place their headquarters for the district.

Eben was returning to the camp one night when he was accosted by a lad about his own age.

“You’re a stranger about here, eh?” said the lad.

“Yes; just looking about.”

“Oh, from New York?”

“No, I come from New Hampshire.”

“So did I. I used to live in Concord. Ever in Concord?”

“Many times,” answered Eben.

“Then we ought to be friends. Looking for work?”

“Partly. My folks want a good grant somewhere, and I’m looking about for one.”

“There aren’t many good places now; most have been taken. They do say that a man called Ethan Allen is round stirring up the people so that he may get them their lands free.”

“So I have heard.”

“But some say that he wants the lands for himself.”

“How is that?” asked Eben, innocently.

“Why, I have heard a man say ;he came from Fort Ticonderoga ;that if Allen can get his way there will be a fight. Then he will surrender and will recognize York, and as a reward will get the best farms.”

“It’s a ;”

Eben was about to give the boy a piece of his mind, but checked himself in time.

“It’s a what?” asked the lad.

“Very unlikely story, I was about to say, but thought that I would not.”

“Why?”

“Because a man who would think such a thing about Col. Allen is not worth contradicting.”

“Oh, that is it. So you believe in this man, Allen?”

“I do.”

“So does father. He says that he will stick by him as long as he has a hand to hold a gun.”

“What is your father’s name?”

“Why do you want to know?”

“Only he might help me to find a good piece of farm land which I could get by applying.”

“So he might. Well, my father is Ezekiel Garvan ;Old Zeke, they call him round about. Glad to see you when you are near. See, that is our house over yon, where the smoke is rising up from among the trees.”

“And what is your name?” asked Eben.

“I am called Zeb; it is short for Zebedee. What is your name?”

Incautiously he answered, truthfully:

“Ebenezer Pike is my name.”

The boys separated, and Eben returned to the camp, feeling pleased with himself to think he had found a good friend, as he never doubted old Zeke would be.

Zeb stood watching Eben for a time, and then he too returned home.

“My old dad used to blame me for listening, and used to say that little pitchers had big ears, when anyone was there, just to prevent them talking, but the big ears will be useful now, or I am not fit to be my father’s son.”