MONTPELIER, Vt. — A 1774 arrest warrant for Vermont Revolutionary War Hero Ethan Allen and other leaders of the Green Mountain Boys is going on the auction block.
Swann Auction Galleries in New York will auction off the partial document — one of its two leaves is missing — on April 14.
"It's certainly a watershed document in the history of Vermont," said Rick Stattler, Americana specialist at Schwann.
The proclamation came at a crucial period right before the Revolution, during a conflict between Vermont and New York over land. It orders royal officers to be "vigilant in suppressing the said riots ... as well as for bringing to justice the perpetrators and authors of the said riots."
Allen and others had bought land around Bennington from New Hampshire, in land grants issued by New Hampshire's colonial Gov. Benning Wentworth. But other people in the area, called Yorkers, had grants from the New York governor. The Green Mountain Boys, a group of farmers, formed to defend their property from the Yorkers.
"There are struggles between groups of people. There is bloodshed. Remember Baker (Ethan Allen's cousin) lost a thumb in one of these skirmishes," said Vermont Historical Society librarian Paul Carnahan.
Copies of the proclamation would have been widely disseminated but Swann said it has found no others at auction. It estimates this partial copy is worth between $3,000 and $4,000.
Some have pegged its value higher, Carnahan said.
Putting out a bounty marks the document as an important government action, Carnahan said.
"It's showing that things have gotten to a point where it's going to be very hard to a come to a peaceful resolution of the conflict," he said. "The whole act, the original document itself is essential to Vermont's early history."
The question for Carnahan and other experts is whether this particular piece of paper is important enough to have and to bid on, he said.
The proclamation document is from the collection of the late Milton R. Slater of Sleepy Hollow, New York, who was a collector of books and manuscripts and had a particular interest in Vermont.
Allen is most known for capturing the British-held Fort Ticonderoga with the Green Mountain Boys and Benedict Arnold in 1775. He wasn't so successful when he tried to attack Montreal and was captured by British soldiers and held on a prison ship for three years during the Revolutionary War.
The arrest warrant came at a critical time of unrest, Stattler said.
"Ethan Allen was rebelling not only against the crown but against the local colonial authorities," he said.