Thomas Rowley (poet)

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Thomas Rowley (1721–1796) was a famous poet of Vermont, known both as the spokesman for Ethan Allen and dubbed “The Bard of the Green Mountains.” During his lifetime and before the American Revolution, his poetry gained the reputation with the catchphrase of "Setting the Hills on Fire."

Vermont State of the United States of America

Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders the U.S. states of Massachusetts to the south, New Hampshire to the east, New York to the west, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north. Vermont is the second-smallest by population and the sixth-smallest by area of the 50 U.S. states. The state capital is Montpelier, the least populous state capital in the United States. The most populous city, Burlington, is the least populous city to be the most populous city in a state. As of 2015, Vermont was the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States. It was ranked as the safest state in the country in 2016.

Ethan Allen 18th-century American general

Ethan Allen was a farmer, businessman, land speculator, philosopher, writer, lay theologian, American Revolutionary War patriot, and politician. He is best known as one of the founders of the U.S. state of Vermont, and for the capture of Fort Ticonderoga early in the American Revolutionary War along with Benedict Arnold. He was the brother of Ira Allen and the father of Frances Allen.

American Revolution Political upheaval, 1775–1783

The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of America. They defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) in alliance with France and others.



Thomas Rowley was born on March 24, 1721 in Hebron, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Rowley and Elizabeth Fuller and great grandson of Samuel Fuller (Mayflower). [1] Thomas married Lois Cass in Hebron in 1744 and they had seven known children in Hebron and Kent, Connecticut.

Hebron, Connecticut Town in Connecticut, United States

Hebron is a town in Tolland County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 9,686 at the 2010 census. Hebron was incorporated May 26, 1708. In 2010, Hebron was rated #6 in Top Towns in Connecticut with population between 6,500 and 10,000, according to Connecticut Magazine.

Kent, Connecticut Town in Connecticut, United States

Kent is a town in Litchfield County, Connecticut, alongside the border with New York. The population was 2,858 at the 2000 census. The town is home to three boarding schools: Kent School, The Marvelwood School and South Kent School. The Schaghticoke Indian Reservation is also located within town borders.

Thomas Rowley moved to the town of Danby, Rutland County, Vermont in 1768, with his wife and family. The Rowleys are listed as some of the first settlers of Danby, Thomas was the first town clerk. In Rutland County, Thomas became acquainted with and joined with Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys a growing Vermont militia named after the Green Mountains of Vermont comprised mostly from freemen in Rutland County and neighboring Addison County. The Green Mountain Boys were concerned New York would claim all the lands of Vermont known at the time as a dispute over the New Hampshire Grants. As Ethan Allen's spokesman, Rowley's poetry became legendary for the proverbial "setting the hills on fire." That is, he motivated the men of Vermont to fight for their independence as a state against the threat of the New York state feudal system.

Danby, Vermont Town in Vermont, United States

Danby is a town in Rutland County, Vermont, United States. The population was 1,311 at the 2010 census.

Rutland County, Vermont County in the United States

Rutland County is a county located in the U.S. state of Vermont. As of the 2010 census, the population was 61,642, making it the second-most populous county in Vermont. Its county seat and most populous municipality is the city of Rutland. It is named after the English county of Rutland.

Green Mountain Boys infantry of the American Revolutionary War

The Green Mountain Boys was a militia organization first established in the late 1760s in the territory between the British provinces of New York and New Hampshire, known as the New Hampshire Grants and later in 1775 as the Vermont Republic. Headed by Ethan Allen and members of his extended family, it was instrumental in resisting New York's attempts to control the territory, over which it had won de jure control in a territorial dispute with New Hampshire.

As early as 1774, Thomas Rowley moved even further north to the eastern shore of Lake Champlain to the town of Shoreham in Addison County, Vermont, with his wife and family. The state of New York was visible right across the lake. Here Thomas built a hotel. His land was known as "Rowley's Point" at the current landmark of Larabee's Point.

Lake Champlain lake in New York, Vermont and Quebec

Lake Champlain is a natural freshwater lake in North America mainly within the borders of the United States but partially situated across the Canada–U.S. border, in the Canadian province of Quebec.

Shoreham, Vermont Town in Vermont, United States

Shoreham is a town in Addison County, Vermont, United States. The population was 1,265 at the 2010 census.

During the American Revolution, the American settlers abandoned Shoreham and the Champlain Valley as the British dominated the lake region. Thomas returned to live in the town of Danby during the American Revolution. He served as Danby's town clerk and representative in the General Assembly from 1778 to 1782.

Champlain Valley region of the United States around Lake Champlain in Vermont and New York extending north slightly into Quebec, Canada

The Champlain Valley is a region of the United States around Lake Champlain in Vermont and New York extending north slightly into Quebec, Canada. It is part of the St. Lawrence River drainage basin, drained northward by the Richelieu River into the St. Lawrence at Sorel-Tracy, Quebec. The Richelieu valley is not generally referred to as part of the Champlain Valley.

The Vermont General Assembly is the legislative body of the state of Vermont, in the United States. The Legislature is formally known as the "General Assembly," but the style of "Legislature" is commonly used, including by the body itself. The General Assembly is a bicameral legislature, consisting of the 150-member Vermont House of Representatives and the 30-member Vermont Senate. Members of the House are elected by single and two-member districts. 58 districts choose one member, and 46 choose two, with the term of service being two years. The Senate includes 30 Senators, elected by 3 single-member and 10 multi-member districts with two, three, or six members each. It is the only state legislative body in the United States in which a third-party has had continuous representation and been consecutively elected alongside Democrats and Republicans.

After the war ended, Thomas Rowley returned to live in Shoreham as early as 1783. He is on record serving as the initial surveyor and clerk of Shoreham in 1783. He resided in Shoreham for the rest of his life as an innkeeper and farmer. Thomas died 1796 in Benson or Cold Springs, Vermont, at the home of his son, Nathan Rowley.

Benson, Vermont Town in Vermont, United States

Benson is a town in Rutland County, Vermont, United States. The population was 1,056 at the 2010 census. The town is rural, with a concentration of several homes and businesses in Benson Village, at the intersection of Stage Road and Lake Road. Benson village is the centerpiece of a complex local economy that includes obstacle courses, a taco truck, the Wheel Inn tavern, a general store, an alpaca farm, a museum, a town transfer station, a do-it-yourself furniture store, a bookshop, three antique stores, a tungsten mine,a sandwich shop, and a quaint Bed and Breakfast throughout the town's main road.

Poetry and influence

Thomas Rowley's verses were mainly published in the Rural Magazine and the Bennington Gazette. One of Rowley's motivational poems, simply called "To Rutland Go" over the years, was originally published with a longer title which invited new settlers to Vermont as the paradise compared to New York, as follows: An Invitation to the Poor Tenants that Live Under Their Poor Patrons in the Province of New York, To Come and Settle on Our Good Lands, Under the New Hampshire Grants . This poem is exemplary of his style and message:

West of the Mountains Green
Lies Rutland Fair
The best that ever was seen
For land and air...
We value not New York
With all her Powers
Here we'll stay and Work
The land is Ours...
This is the noble land by conquest won
Took from a savage band by sword and gun
We drove them to the west, they could not stand the test
from "To Rutland Go” by Thomas Rowley, 1760s [2] [3]

Rowley's poetry actually focused not only on politics, but also on the pleasantness and rustic nature of pioneer life, with humor and witty observations. For example, in another poetic inventory of his "estate", he sums up that he has virtually nothing, but still he was independent and happy.

Notable poems


  1. Mayflower Families Through Five Generations: Family of Samuel Fuller, General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1996
  2. Hemingway, 1860.
  3. Williams, 1869, pp. 240–242 .
  4. Williams, 1869, p. 30

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