Thomas Young (American revolutionary)

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Thomas Young
BornFebruary 19, 1731
Little Britain, New Windsor, New York Province, British North America
DiedJune 24, 1777 (aged 46)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation Physician
Known forRole in Boston Tea Party

Thomas Young (February 19, 1731 – June 24, 1777) was doctor, philosopher and a member of the Boston Committee of Correspondence and an organizer of the Boston Tea Party. Young was a mentor and teacher to Ethan Allen.

Boston Tea Party political protest in Boston in the British colony of Massachusetts

The Boston Tea Party was a political and mercantile protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1773. The target was the Tea Act of May 10, 1773, which allowed the British East India company to sell tea from China in American colonies without paying taxes apart from those imposed by the Townshend Acts. American Patriots strongly opposed the taxes in the Townshend Act as a violation of their rights. Demonstrators, some disguised as Native Americans, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company.

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 Vermont and for the capture of Fort Ticonderoga early in the Revolutionary War. He was the brother of Ira Allen and the father of Frances Allen.


Early life and activities

Thomas Young was born February 19, 1731 in Little Britain, New Windsor, New York. He was the son of first cousins John and Mary Crawford Young. John Young emigrated from Ireland to America in 1729 with a group led by Charles Clinton of County Longford.

New Windsor, New York Town in New York, United States

New Windsor is a town in Orange County, New York, United States. It is in the eastern part of the county, bordering the town and the city of Newburgh. The population was estimated at 25,244 in 2010 by the US Census. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located on Route 300 in the Town of New Windsor.

Charles Clinton Anglo-Irish soldier and politician in colonial America

Col. Charles Clinton was an Anglo-Irish soldier and politician in colonial America. A colonel of the French and Indian War, he was the father of General James Clinton and George Clinton, and the grandfather of DeWitt Clinton.

County Longford County in the Republic of Ireland

County Longford is a county in Ireland. It is in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Longford. Longford County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county was 40,873 at the 2016 census. The county is based on the historic Gaelic territory of Annaly (Anghaile), formerly known as Teffia (Teathbha).

Charles Clinton, John Young, and Mary Crawford Young were all second cousins through their grandparents, siblings James Clinton 1667-1718 and Margaret Clinton Parks 1650-1710. The Clintons, Youngs, and Crawfords shared a distant grandmother, Elizabeth Blount mistress of King Henry the VIII and mother of the king's son Henry FitzRoy. As Covenanters, the Clinton family had escaped from Scotland to Ireland in the seventeenth century ( New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 1882, Vol. 12: p. 193).

James Clinton American continental army general

Major General James Clinton was an American Revolutionary War officer who, with John Sullivan, led the Sullivan Expedition. He obtained the rank of brevet major general.

Elizabeth Blount, commonly known during her lifetime as Bessie Blount, was a mistress of Henry VIII of England.

Henry FitzRoy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset royal bastard of Henry VIII

Henry FitzRoy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, was the son of King Henry VIII of England and his mistress, Elizabeth Blount, and the only illegitimate offspring whom Henry VIII acknowledged. He was the younger half-brother of Queen Mary I, as well as the older half-brother of Queen Elizabeth I and King Edward VI. Through his mother he was the elder half-brother of the 4th Baroness Tailboys of Kyme and of the 2nd and 3rd Baron Tailboys of Kyme. He was named FitzRoy, which means "son of the king".

Although Charles Clinton and John Young had emigrated from Ireland with the intention of settling in Pennsylvania, near a group of fellow-Covenanters, their chartered ship, the George and Anne , was taken off-course by an unscrupulous captain who held Clinton and Young captive until they paid a ransom. During their captivity, most of their fellow passengers perished of small-pox, starvation, or ship fever. Finding themselves in Boston after this ordeal, within a year Young and Clinton made their way to Little Britain. It is unclear when Mary Crawford joined them in Little Britain or whether she was among the passengers of the George and Anne , although it seems likely that she emigrated with her cousins ( New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 1882, Vol. 13, p. 882).

Pennsylvania U.S. state in the United States

Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the Northeastern, Great Lakes, and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.

A biographical sketch of Charles Clinton describes Little Britain thus: "after investigation, [Charles Clinton] settled at a place designated (for town purposes until 1763) as 'the precinct of the highlands.' It is embraced in modern Orange County, but until after the Revolutionary War it was in Ulster County. His neighborhood was called Little Britain. James Kennedy, a New York merchant . . . James Alexander, a New York lawyer and member of the Governor's council, and his co-partner, William Smith, had before secured grants of land in the precinct of the highlands. It was border-land toward the Indians, west of the Hudson, not yet settled by white men. It was without habitations, except Indian huts, and without roads, except Indian trails. So late as about 1845, more than one hundred years after this settlement, a living occupant could describe the appearance of one hundred wigwams on the side hills within sight of her father's house (Eager, p. 619)" (ibid.). Thomas Young's parents settled in farmland adjoining the Clintons, and here Thomas Young was born soon after the group's arrival in Little Britain.

After demonstrating much intellectual brilliance as a child, Thomas Young was apprenticed to a local physician and then began his own medical practice in Amenia, Dutchess County in 1753.

In 1755 he married Mary Winegar of Litchfield, Connecticut. They had two sons and four daughters. [1] In August 1758 Young was indicted in the Crum Elbow Precinct of Dutchess County, New York for speaking and publishing "blasphemous words" concerning the Christian religion. [2]

Litchfield, Connecticut Town in Connecticut, United States

Litchfield is a town in and former county seat of Litchfield County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 8,466 at the 2010 census. The boroughs of Bantam and Litchfield are located within the town. There are also three unincorporated villages: East Litchfield, Milton, and Northfield. Northfield, located in the southeastern corner of Litchfield, is home to a high percentage of the Litchfield population.

Dutchess County, New York County in New York

Dutchess County is a county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 297,488. The county seat is the city of Poughkeepsie. The county was created in 1683, one of New York's first twelve counties, and later organized in 1713. It is located in the Mid-Hudson Region of the Hudson Valley, north of New York City.

Young met the young Ethan Allen while Allen was living in Salisbury, Connecticut and Young was practicing medicine just across the provincial boundary in Amenia, New York. Only five years older than Allen, Young taught the younger Allen a great deal about philosophy and political theory. Young and Allen eventually decided to collaborate on a book intended to be an attack on organized religion, as Young had convinced Allen to become a Deist. They worked on the manuscript until 1764, when Young moved away from the area, taking the manuscript with him. [3]

Salisbury, Connecticut Town in Connecticut, United States

Salisbury is a town in Litchfield County, Connecticut, United States. The town is the northwesternmost in the state of Connecticut; the Massachusetts-New York-Connecticut tri-state marker is located at the northwest corner of the town. The population was 3,741 at the 2010 census.

Deism is the philosophical position that rejects revelation as a source of religious knowledge and asserts that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to establish the existence of a Supreme Being or creator of the universe.

They also shared an interest in ingrafting, an early form of inoculation, particularly in relation to smallpox. Ingrafting was considered a heresy by New England clergy and punishable by law, if not conducted with the consent of the town selectman. In 1764 Allen insisted that Young inject him with the virus on the Salisbury meeting house steps to prove whether or not ingrafting worked. They did this on a Sunday. Allen did not suffer from the virus, but when news of what they had done spread Allen was hauled into court for a blasphemous response to the investigating official. [4]

In October 1764, Young moved to Albany to establish a medical practice. While there his son Rasman was baptized at the Lutheran Church. [1] Young invested in a real estate venture with John Henry Lydius which subsequently failed. Young became involved in the resistance movement in Albany in the 1760s and helped found the Sons of Liberty there. [5]


Young arrived in Boston in 1765 and became a family physician to John Adams. [6] He was active in the city’s Committee of Correspondence [5] and became a committeeman for the Sons of Liberty.

In 1773 Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush and member of the Sons of Liberty authored a diatribe inveighing against British Tea and its harmful properties, both physical and political. It was quickly reprinted in Boston, where Young had already spoke out in a similar vein in a letter to the Boston Evening Post of October 25. [7] Young is considered to be one of the active organizers of the Boston Tea Party although he himself did not actually participate in the destruction of the tea chests. At the time he was addressing a crowd at the Old South Meeting House on the negative health effects of tea drinking. According to the Boston Tea Party Museum, this was probably a diversion intended to help the Tea Party organizers by keeping the crowd in the Meeting House while the tea was being destroyed. [6]


In 1774 Young, having received death threats (although for his political or religious views is unclear) left Boston for Newport. In 1775, he moved to Philadelphia and helped frame the state constitution, the most democratic constitution among the original states. [5]

Young also suggested the name of Vermont for the new state north of Massachusetts, which was originally called New Connecticut. The reasoning in his letter to the Vermont Constitutional Convention in 1777 was that most of Vermont was in the Green Mountains, said to have been named by Samuel de Champlain. Young chose to combine "vert" (green) with "mont" (mountain) [8] to honor the Green Mountain Boys. Young named several communities in New York state, including Amenia. [9]

Young died in Philadelphia on June 24, 1777, aged 46. [1]


In 1772 Young published a deist statement of beliefs in a Boston newspaper. [10]


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  1. 1 2 3 Bielinski, Stefan. "Thomas Young", New York State Museum,; accessed January 10, 2016.
  2. Raphael, Ray. Founders, The New Press, 2013 ISBN   9781595585066
  3. Jellison, Charles Albert. Ethan Allen: Frontier Rebel. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press (1969); ISBN   0-8156-2141-8
  4. "Story of Ethan Allen",; accessed January 10, 2016.
  5. 1 2 3 "Thomas Young" profile,; accessed January 10, 2016.
  6. 1 2 "Thomas Young", Boston Tea Party Museum
  7. Knott, Sarah. Sensibility and the American Revolution, UNC Press Books, 2009 ISBN   9780807831984
  8. "Origins of the Names of U.S. States", World Almanac, (Edward A. Thomas, ed.), 2005
  9. Hoheisel, Tim and Nielsen, Andrew R. (2007). Cass County. Andrew R. p. 47. ISBN   9780738541457.
  10. Aldrich, A. Owen. "Natural Religion and Deism in America before Ethan Allen and Thomas Paine", The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 54, No. 4 (Oct., 1997), pp. 835-848, DOI: 10.2307/2953885
  11. Nash, Gary B., The Unknown American Revolution, Penguin, 2006 ISBN   9780143037200
  12. Holbrook, Stewart H. Ethan Allen, New York: The MacMillan Company. (1940), ISBN   0-395-24908-2, pp. 194–195,225

Further reading