1775 Ethan Allen is captured After aborting a poorly planned and ill-timed attack on the British-controlled city of Montreal, Continental Army Colonel Ethan Allen is captured by the British on September 25, 1775. After being identified as an officer of the Continental Amy, Allen was taken prisoner and sent to England to be executed. Although Allen ultimately escaped execution because the British government feared reprisals from the American colonies, he was imprisoned in England for more than two years until being returned to the United States on May 6, 1778, as part of a prisoner exchange. Allen then returned to Vermont and was given the rank of major general in the Vermont militia. In 1777, Vermonters had formally declared their independence from Britain and their fellow colonies when they created the Republic of Vermont. Forever loyal to the colony he founded, Allen spent the rest his life petitioning the Continental Congress to grant statehood to Vermont. After the war concluded, the independent Vermont could not join the new republic as a state, because New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut all claimed the territory as their own. In response, frustrated Vermonters, including Allen, went so far as to negotiate with the Canadian governor, Frederick Haldimand, about possibly rejoining the British empire. Ethan Allen died on his farm along the Winooski River in the still independent Republic of Vermont on February 12, 1789, at the age of 51. Two years after his death, Vermont was officially admitted into the Union and declared the 14th state of the United States. 1789 September 25 Bill of Rights passes Congress The first Congress of the United States approves 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and sends them to the states for ratification. The amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and exercise of religion; the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms; and that powers not delegated to the federal government were reserved for the states and the people. Influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the Bill of Rights was also drawn from Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason in 1776. Mason, a native Virginian, was a lifelong champion of individual liberties, and in 1787 he attended the Constitutional Convention and criticized the final document for lacking constitutional protection of basic political rights. In the ratification process that followed, Mason and other critics agreed to approve the Constitution in exchange for the assurance that amendments would immediately be adopted. In December 1791, Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to approve 10 of the 12 amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal. Of the two amendments not ratified, the first concerned the population system of representation, while the second prohibited laws varying the payment of congressional members from taking effect until an election intervened. The first of these two amendments was never ratified, while the second was finally ratified more than 200 years later, in 1992. 1867 Cattle pioneer Oliver Loving dies of gangrene On September 25, 1867, the pioneering cattleman Oliver Loving dies from gangrene poisoning in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. A few weeks before, Loving had been trapped by 500 Commanche braves along the Pecos River. Shot in the arm and side, Loving managed to escape and reach Fort Sumner. Though the wounds alone were not fatal, Loving soon developed gangrene in his arm, a common infection in the days before antibiotics. Even then he might still have been saved had his arm been removed, but unfortunately the fort doctor “had never amputated any limbs and did not want to undertake such work.” Sometimes referred to as the “Dean of the Trail Drivers,” Loving had been braving the Commanche territory along the Pecos in order to make his second pioneering drive of cattle from Texas to Denver. In the 1860s, the Texas cattle herds were booming, but as long as the cattle were in Texas they were essentially worthless. To make money, they had to be moved over thousands of miles to the big cities where Americans were becoming increasingly fond of good fresh western beef. To overcome this challenge, a number of Texans pioneered the technique known as the “long drive,” hiring cowboys to take massive cattle herds overland to the first cattle towns like Wichita and Dodge City where they could be loaded on trains for the East. Along with his partner Charles Goodnight, Oliver Loving tried a brilliant alternative approach. Goodnight and Loving proposed to drive a herd of cattle directly to the growing population centers in New Mexico and Colorado where they could avoid middlemen and earn higher prices per head. The result was the Goodnight-Loving Trail, a 700-mile route through west Texas and New Mexico that eventually brought the cattle right into the booming mining regions of Colorado. During the course of their first long and often treacherous drive in 1866, Loving and Goodnight lost more than 400 head, mainly to dehydration and drowning. But the 1,600 cattle that survived the trip brought good prices, and when Goodnight headed back to Texas his mule carried $12,000 in gold. Encouraged, the two men were preparing to follow the same route the next year when Loving’s fatal encounter with the Commanche abruptly ended the partnership. However, Goodnight and others continued to use the Goodnight-Loving Trail, and it soon became one of the most successful cattle trails of the day.