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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, August 15, 2003


history: the Green Mountain Boys

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, August 15, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
When you hear the words "Ethan Allen" - it's tragically likely that the first thought that comes to mind is a furniture store. But just like Samuel Adams and Johnny Walker, there was a real historical figure being exploited for present-day commercialism. Ethan Allen was the leader of a militia, the Green Mountain Boys, around the time of the Revolutionary War. Formed to combat the land-grab by the Royal-appointed governors of New Hampshire and New York, the Green Mountain Boys became a legendary unit, which (alongside a unit commanded by Benedict Arnold) took Fort Ticonderoga in a bloodless victory. The victory at Ticonderoga supplied the cannon that helped Washington reclaim Boston, and sowed the seeds of the defeat of General Cornwallis.

The Green Mountain Boys - in the Green Mountain state (in french, Vert Mont) - exemplified the frontier spirit of American freedom. Ethan Allen played an integral role in Vermont's early history (including drafting its constitution, which predates the federal Constitution and is still in effect today).

An excellent and much more detailed biography of Ethan Allen is found on at the Ethan Allen Institute (a libertarian free-market think tank) website. Virtual also has more history about Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys.

Today, I see echoes of our Revolutionary history in Howard Dean's drive towards the white house. There's a similar struggle to assert the rights of the common man against the powerful forces of the elite. We even have a foe named George. I think that it is important to remember our history and to invoke it in the context of our modern struggles. I dearly hope to see Howard Dean invoke Ethan Allen on the campaign trail.

"They hewed this state out of the wilderness, they held it against a foreign foe,they laid deep and stable the foundation of our state life, because they sought not the life of ease, but the life of effort for a worthy end." -- President Theodore Roosevelt, 1902

any errors in history as related above are my sole responsibility and I welcome corrections in the comments.


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.