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tv   Life Influence of Ira Allen  CSPAN  November 19, 2017 11:47am-12:11pm EST

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folks like you all ensure that a century and a half later their voices are still heard and they matter. chris m.: thank you so much. ladies and gentlemen, our panel. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> you're watching american history tv. at c-spanon twitter history for information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. university of vermont was founded in 1791, making it the third oldest university in new england. the land it sits on was donated by ira allen, the youngest brother of ethan allen grade we
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talked to local historian vince feeney about the life of ira allen and his influence on the city in vermont. vince: here we are in what's called college green of the university of vermont. probably one of the prettiest spots in burlington. behind me we have a statue of ira allen. was the youngest of the six allen brothers, the most famous of whom was ethan allen. the statue is here because some would say that ira allen was the founder of the university of vermont and as this inscription on the statue says, some claim he was the founder of the state of vermont. i think there would be a lot of people who would contend that is not exactly true, particularly his older brother ethan might have something to say about that and people like the first governor of the independent
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state of vermont. allen, andthat ira about 1772, came up here to vermont from connecticut, where the allen's live, and at the time for montt was a new territory being opened up. it was a territory claimed by the governor of the province of new hampshire, this is in colonial times, and the governor of the royal province of new york. it is a contentious area. the allen brothers were very much speculators and land and they became very interested in the land up here and began to buy titles under the new hampshire brands -- under the new hampshire grants, as opposed to the new york grants. ira came up here in 70 72 -- in
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1772 and he saw this region and said this is the land my heart delighted in. he became the principal developer of what is today northwestern vermont. he centered his development activities on the lower stretches of the river, which is just east of the spot we are on by a mile or so. he owned the land we are standing on, he owned most of the land in what is burlington today. i should qualify this by saying most of that land he bought on ious. money not have much himself and he was buying the land from speculators who had picked up grants of land as he himself had done, speculators who lived in new york city and massachusetts, but were willing to sign over
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witheeds to these rights the stipulation they would then be paid in five years. this is 1772, 1773. that probably would have been fine had there been no revolutionary war. what i wrote was doing, he came allen was doing, he came up here and he began developing the land to make it more valuable. to flip the properties. the war intervened. became a dangerous place to live, given that the british were just up the road in canada and secure lines were further south. is very much involved in the conflict, he is involved
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with the founding of the state of vermont at that time. the state of vermont is founded because vermonters that owned land here were afraid that if new york ever got control of the , those deedsrants would be tainted, would be worth nothing. decide the best thing to do is become an independent state. that is why ira allen and thomas chittenden say we will become an independent state and vermont does not become a part of the federal union until 1791 when the issue of who had valid titles. when the war ends, there is no money in these new american states. everyone is in debt and ira allen's creditors began closing
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in on him. ou and youave this i owe me money. he is desperately trying to make money with these lands. he begins to focus on burlington , on this particular piece of land in the late 1780's. he sees the future as being in burlington. it is on the lake so it has the potential to have shipping up and down the lake between canada and eventually to new york state through the whitehall area. if a canal would ever be built there. way he begins to develop burlington is he begins to make it a more attractive place for developers. region is madeis 1790.ty around named after the first governor. ira allen ensures that
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burlington becomes the shire town, which means it will have the courthouse, there will be lawyers, there will be judges. that makes it an important place. he also make sure it has the first u.s. post office in vermont. that may not be true. it may have been the second u.s. post office. he knew that if you have a college in your town, that is a major draw, as we know it is today. it is one of the things that makes burlington such a wonderful place. around 1790, he begins to agitate the legislature to make burlington the site of a university. in order to entice the legislature to give burlington a charter for that, he pledges a piece of land again, this land that we stand on, as the site of
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the university. he also pledges $3000 to get the university up and going. here's where the story becomes more complicated. he is totally broke at the time -- he is land rich, he has no money. he is very desperate. 1796, he embarks on a desperate plan. he goes to europe. he is trying to convince the british to put in a canal to bypass the shallows on the ric hileau river. vermont's is that fortune is tied to the north. , through then saint, is tied to canada and to europe. thee could have seen
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future, what chicago eventually became is what she had in mind for burlington. an important shipping center. he tries to interest the british in that. they have no interest. ira allen becomes more devious. he becomes not a very patriotic american at this point. the issue with new york has been resolved, vermont is a state after 1791. money,en, owing all this he thinks the best thing for vermont would be for it to become either independent again or to attach itself to canada. after failing to talk to the british, convince the british over tonal, he goes revolutionary france and he begins telling the french, if you give me a lot of guns, i
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will lead vermont out of the and joined with a rebellion, with the french in lower canada -- that is to say quebec, or vermont might become an independent state again like switzerland. he pursues that plan. not a very patriotic american. staying in europe for five years. he is gone for five years. in the meantime, all of his creditors have closed in on the money they owe him and they take virtually all of his land. this man that was land rich is now land poor. he comes back to vermont totally frustrated in 1801, debtors are still pursuing him. he is in jail once or twice for debt.
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about 1809, he leaves vermont and goes to kentucky. he ends up in philadelphia. he is constantly trying to recoup his losses. he dies in philadelphia, this man who had so much to do with evenormation of the state, though i might find it hard to say he was the founder, he was one of the key people. he had a lot to do with the founding of the university of vermont. ira allen ends up a popper in philadelphia and dies there in 1814. 's is buried in a pauper grave. we have no idea where that grave is. this great name, who we attach with vermont, basically ends up auper and virtually unknown.
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allen was,d who ira they might not know much about him. are cities tour staff recently traveled to burlington, vermont, to learn about its rich history. burlington andt other stops on our tour at c-span.org/citiestour. historyatching american tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. as a79 c-span was created public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> we are outside burlington, vermont, where c-span is
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learning more about the history. we talk about the ticonderoga. >> the ticonderoga is, without a doubt, one of the most visited site at the museum. it just stands out as -- what the heck is this? doing inhis big boat the middle of a field, but it begs you to come on board. museum, it'sburne a mostly historic structures that sit on about 40 acres. it is a village setting, in many respects. within the village from every structure houses an amazing collection put together were collected by the founder in 1947. she amassed an amazing collection which the shelburne museum houses in its 39 buildings. objects andhora of
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collections within collections to see here with weathervanes and cigar store indians. to one of the largest objects should collected was the ticonderoga, a steamboat from 1906 to 1903. -- 1953. it was built in 1906, which was really, with hindsight, you can look at it as the cusp or changeover from the steamboat era to in turtle combustion -- internal combustion engine. the last boats built from lake champlain, one of 29 steamers built for the lake. she was the last one. basically operated on lake , and ran from the
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vermont shoreline to the newark shoreline and the homeport was burlington, vermont. an hour, hour and a half, she had a very regular schedule. , thes owned and operated champlain transportation company in the lake george steamboat company in the delaware and has an railroad company. they kept a really tight time schedule for the steamers as well. you could board the train in new york city heading up towards burlington, vermont, which you had to go out to new york shoreline up to lake george. shorele further up the off the west court and board and fill the burlington the next day. it was a link in the transportation network is a time. through most of her time on the lake, she ran a regular route
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with delaware and hudson railroad company is a very strict schedule between the shores of vermont and the shores of new york state. into theme they got mid-20's into the late 20's, things started to change. there was a lot more mobility for folks and more people have gone to road transportation. the roads were much better. then in 1929, bridge was built across lake champlain. and that took a big cut out of the ties usage, in terms of ridership. from that time forward, you get into the depression years, there were some years it didn't run because of financial restraints, but prior to that, we had world amazing that the talk on
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that and then world war ii, because of the need for material for the war effort. a lot of vessels were decommissioned and scrapped. the ticonderoga was saved in the backwater of vermont, it wasn't noticed so much. , and it keptaming its same engine, the same coal-fired engine with hand fired coal boilers that boiled water and formed the steam to run the engine. all that time, none of it had been changed or converted eerie -- converted. the depression, and shortly after that, the delaware and hudson company decides we are not going to run the champlain transportation company anymore. make ends meet with these steamers. they are antiquated.
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so a private investor came along and purchased the ticonderoga and the champlain transportation company. he was assisted in high-speed ferries and he bought the ticonderoga, but kept a running as a steamboat. , the cost ofrouble in thes rising and he late 40's decided to get out of the steamboat business. it.he sold and eventually, the two individuals purchased it and kept running. they were former captains of the ticonderoga. they kept it going through those years. and they were instrumental in terms of saving the ticonderoga from the scrapheap. they ran into financial problems and that it became a friend of electra's. purchaseced electra to
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the ti for the museum. at that point, in 1953, after three years of the museum on the water, the red difficult defining engineers to operate it. the boilers were tired. the amount of money that had to go into them to make impassable was too much -- to make them passable was too much to sustain. electra and the board of the museum decided not to run the ti. electra thought let's bring it to the museum. here we are, two miles from the lake. it kind of defies the imagination of how i got here, but it was quite a feat. it took a solid year of planning it was pulled be a rail, they built double railway system and hold through the was in the
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fields. and across another operating railroad track to bring it here down to the museum in 1955. keep in mind that when a vessel is on the water and operating, it has a crew. the ticonderoga had a crew of 26 the vessely operated in major the passengers were comfortable, but also maintain and keep the vessel. when it came overland through the museum, a lost that crew. here, the museum now had another structure. it already had many buildings by then, and a fairly small and limited crew of masons and workmen and carpenters and painters to keep those buildings. but now they had a 220 foot steamboat to maintain. it was difficult to say the least.
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i stepped on board as the director and project manager of that crew. initially i would take us three years and it turned out to be 5.5 years. because once you start tearing into her used to the deterioration is not much deeper. this was 1993 through 1998. essentially put the -- took the ti apart and put it back together again. all in mind that she is national historic landmark. she was one of the first vessels are to achieve that. most of the other awards were given to buildings. we had a duty and obligation to
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preserve as much of the vessel as possible. it was humbling to be able to work on that. from that perspective. humbling to look at the history of the ti and what she represented. by that time, she was the last one of her type in the world. engine and the passenger steamer. we knew that we had to preserve her family and your very best. and perhaps, that's why it took a few years more than what we initially anticipated, because you felt obligated to do it right. the ticonderoga is so important for future generations. not only the current generation, the families the visit today, but it is so important to preserve. and the key elements of our national heritage and maritime heritage, the last remaining steamboat that you kenexa go
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actually go -- can board and touch the different areas and see what it was like be aboard, it was key to our national maritime heritage for this country. to be able to come up close and personal in touch and feel what it's like to be on board. >> our cities tour staff travel to burlington, vermont to learn about its rich history. learn more at c-span.org/ citiestour. you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> next on "lectures in history," jeffrey morrison, teaches a class on the role of religion and the american revolution. he explores the meaning of words or phrases in the declaration of independence such as references

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