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.
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.

Early life and activities[edit]

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

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]

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 Museuam, 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.[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]


  • A Poem to the Memory of James Wolfe ... Who was slain upon the Plains of Abraham, (1761)
  • Reflections on the Disputes Between New York, New Hampshire and Col. John Henry Lydius in which he railed against land speculators and the New York aristocracy. (1764)[11]
  • Reason: the Only Oracle of Man - with Ethan Allen (published posthumously by Allen 1785)[12]


  1. ^ a b c 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. ^ a b c "Thomas Young" profile,; accessed January 10, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "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.
  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[edit]

External links[edit]