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Canada under British Rule 1760-1900 by John G. Bourinot

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fortune. George Grenville, who was responsible for the rigid enforcement
of the navigation laws and the stamp act, had none of that worldly
wisdom which Sir Robert Walpole showed when, years before, it was
proposed to him to tax the colonies. "No," said that astute politician,
"I have old England set against me already, and do you think I will have
New England likewise?" But Grenville and his successors, in attempting
to carry out a new colonial policy, entirely misunderstood the
conditions and feelings of the colonial communities affected and raised
a storm of indignation which eventually led to independence. The stamp
act was in itself an equitable measure, the proceeds of which were to be
exclusively used for the benefit of the colonies themselves; but its
enactment was most unfortunate at a time when the influential classes in
New England were deeply irritated at the enforcement of a policy which
was to stop the illicit trade from which they had so largely profited in
the past. The popular indignation, however, vented itself against the
stamp act, which imposed internal taxation, was declared to be in direct
violation of the principles of political liberty and self-government
long enjoyed by the colonists as British subjects, and was repealed as a
result of the violent opposition it met in the colonies. Parliament
contented itself with a statutory declaration of its supremacy in all
matters over every part of the empire; but not long afterwards the
determination of some English statesmen to bring the colonies as far as
practicable directly under the dominion of British law in all matters of
commerce and taxation, and to control their government as far as
possible, found full expression in the Townshend acts of 1767 which
imposed port duties on a few commodities, including tea, imported into
those countries. At the same time provision was made for the due
execution of existing laws relating to trade. The province of New York
was punished for openly refusing to obey an act of parliament which
required the authorities to furnish the British troops with the
necessaries of life. Writs of assistance, which allowed officials to
search everywhere for smuggled goods, were duly legalised. These writs
were the logical sequence of a rigid enforcement of the laws of trade
and navigation, and had been vehemently denounced by James Otis, so far
back as 1761, as not only irreconcilable with the colonial charters, but
as inconsistent with those natural rights which a people "derived from
nature and the Author of nature"--an assertion which obtained great
prominence for the speaker. This bold expression of opinion in
Massachusetts should be studied by the historian of those times in
connection with the equally emphatic revolutionary argument advanced by
Patrick Henry of Virginia, two years later, against the ecclesiastical
supremacy of the Anglican clergy and the right of the king to veto
legislation of the colony. Though the prerogative of the crown was thus
directly called into question in a Virginia court, the British
government did not take a determined stand on the undoubted rights of
the crown in the case. English statesmen and lawyers probably regarded
such arguments, if they paid any attention to them at all in days when
they neglected colonial opinion, as only temporary ebullitions of local
feeling, though in reality they were so many evidences of the opposition
that was sure to show itself whenever there was a direct interference
with the privileges and rights of self-governing communities. Both Henry
and Otis touched a key-note of the revolution, which was stimulated by
the revenue and stamp acts and later measures affecting the colonies.

It is somewhat remarkable that it was in aristocratic Virginia, founded
by Cavaliers, as well as in democratic Massachusetts, founded by
Puritans, that the revolutionary element gained its principal strength
during the controversy with the parent state. The makers of
Massachusetts were independents in church government and democrats in
political principle. The whole history of New England, in fact, from the
first charters until the argument on the writs of assistance, is full of
incidents which show the growth of republican ideas. The Anglican church
had no strength in the northern colonies, and the great majority of
their people were bitterly opposed to the pretensions of the English
hierarchy to establish an episcopate in America. It is not therefore
surprising that Massachusetts should have been the leader in the
revolutionary agitation; on the other hand in Virginia the Anglican
clergy belonged to what was essentially an established church, and the
whole social fabric of the colony rested on an aristocratic basis. No
doubt before the outbreak of the revolution there was a decided feeling
against England on account of the restrictions on the sale of tobacco;
and the quarrel, which I have just referred to, with respect to the
stipends of the clergy, which were to be paid in this staple commodity
according to its market value at the time of payment, had spread
discontent among a large body of the people. But above all such causes
of dissatisfaction was the growing belief that the political freedom of
the people, and the very existence of the colony as a self-governing
community, were jeopardised by the indiscreet acts of the imperial
authorities after 1763. It is easy then to understand that the action of
the British government in 1767 renewed the agitation, which had been
allayed for the moment by the repeal of the stamp act and the general
belief that there would be no rigid enforcement of old regulations which
meant the ruin of the most profitable trade of New England. The measures
of the ministry were violently assailed in parliament by Burke and
other eminent men who availed themselves of so excellent an opportunity
of exciting the public mind against a government which was doing so much
to irritate the colonies and injure British trade. All the political
conditions were unfavourable to a satisfactory adjustment of the
colonial difficulty. Chatham had been one of the earnest opponents of
the stamp act, but he was now buried in retirement--labouring under some
mental trouble--and Charles Townshend, the chancellor of the exchequer
in the cabinet of which Chatham was the real head, was responsible for
measures which his chief would have repudiated as most impolitic and
inexpedient in the existing temper of the colonies.

The action of the ministry was for years at once weak and irritating.
One day they asserted the supremacy of the British parliament, and on
the next yielded to the violent opposition of the colonies and the
appeals of British merchants whose interests were at stake. Nothing
remained eventually but the tea duty, and even that was so arranged that
the colonists could buy their tea at a much cheaper rate than the
British consumer. But by this time a strong anti-British party was in
course of formation throughout the colonies. Samuel Adams of
Massachusetts, Patrick Henry of Virginia, and a few other political
managers of consummate ability, had learned their own power, and the
weakness of English ministers. Samuel Adams, who had no love in his
heart for England, was undoubtedly by this time insidiously working
towards the independence of the colonies. Violence and outrage formed
part of his secret policy. The tea in Boston harbour was destroyed by a
mob disguised as Mohawk Indians, and was nowhere allowed to enter into
domestic consumption. The patience of English ministers was now
exhausted, and they determined to enter on a vigorous system of
repression, which might have had some effect at an earlier stage of the
revolutionary movement, when the large and influential loyal body of
people in the colonies ought to have been vigorously supported, and not
left exposed to the threats, insults, and even violence of a resolute
minority, comprising many persons influenced by purely selfish
reasons--the stoppage of illicit trade from which they had profited--as
well as men who objected on principle to a policy which seemed to them
irreconcilable with the rights of the people to the fullest possible
measure of local self-government. As it was, however, the insults and
injuries to British officials bound to obey the law, the shameless and
continuous rioting, the destruction of private property, the defiant
attitude of the opposition to England, had at last awakened the home
authorities to the dangers latent in the rebellious spirit that reckless
agitators had aroused in colonies for which England had sacrificed so
much of her blood and treasure when their integrity and dearest
interests were threatened by France. The port of Boston, where the
agitators were most influential and the most discreditable acts of
violence had taken place, was closed to trade; and important
modifications were made in the charter granted to Massachusetts by
William III in 1692. Another obnoxious act provided that persons
"questioned for any acts in execution of the laws" should be tried in
England--a measure intended to protect officials and soldiers in the
discharge of their duty against the rancour of the colonial community
where they might be at that time. These measures, undoubtedly unwise at
this juncture, were calculated to evoke the hostility of the other
colonies and to show them what was probably in store for themselves. But
while the issue certainly proved this to be the case, the course pursued
by the government under existing conditions had an appearance of
justification. Even Professor Goldwin Smith, who will not be accused of
any sympathy with the British cabinet of that day, or of antagonism to
liberal principles, admits that "a government thus bearded and insulted
had its choice between abdication and repression," and "that repression
was the most natural" course to pursue under the circumstances. Lord
North gave expression to what was then a largely prevailing sentiment in
England when he said "to repeal the tea duty would stamp us with
timidity," and that the destruction of the property of private
individuals, such as took place at Boston, "was a fitting culmination of
years of riot and lawlessness." Lord North, we all know now, was really
desirous of bringing about a reconciliation between the colonies and the
parent state, but he servilely yielded his convictions to the king, who
was determined to govern all parts of his empire, and was in favour of
coercive measures. It is quite evident that the British ministry and
their supporters entirely underrated the strength of the colonial party
that was opposing England. Even those persons who, when the war broke
out, remained faithful to their allegiance to the crown, were of opinion
that the British government was pursuing a policy unwise in the extreme,
although they had no doubt of the abstract legal right of that
government to pass the Grenville and Townshend acts for taxing the
colonies. Chatham, Burke, Conway, and Barre were the most prominent
public men who, in powerful language, showed the dangers of the unwise
course pursued by the "king's friends" in parliament.

As we review the events of those miserable years we can see that every
step taken by the British government, from the stamp act until the
closing of the port of Boston and other coercive measures, had the
effect of strengthening the hands of Samuel Adams and the other
revolutionary agitators. Their measures to create a feeling against
England exhibited great cunning and skill. The revolutionary movement
was aided by the formation of "Sons of Liberty"--a phrase taken from one
of Barre's speeches,--by circular letters and committees of
correspondence between the colonies, by petitions to the king winch were
framed in a tone of independence not calculated to conciliate that
uncompromising sovereign, by clever ingenious appeals to public
patriotism, by the assembling of a "continental congress," by acts of
"association" which meant the stoppage of all commercial intercourse
with Great Britain. New England was the head and front of the whole
revolution, and Samuel Adams was its animating spirit. Even those famous
committees of correspondence between the towns of Massachusetts, which
gave expression to public opinion and stimulated united action when the
legislative authority was prevented by the royal governor from working,
were the inspiration of this astute political manager. Prominent
Virginians saw the importance of carrying out this idea on a wider field
of action, and Virginia accordingly inaugurated a system of
intercolonial correspondence which led to the meeting of a continental
congress, and was the first practical step towards political
independence of the parent state. Adams's decision to work for
independence was made, or confirmed, as early as 1767, when Charles
Townshend succeeded in passing the measures which were so obnoxious to
the colonists, and finally led to civil war.

At a most critical moment, when the feelings of a large body of people
were aroused to a violent pitch, when ideas of independence were
ripening in the minds of others besides Samuel Adams, General Gage, then
in command of the British regular troops in Boston, sent a military
force to make prisoners of Adams and Hancock at Lexington, and seize
some stores at Concord. Then the "embattled farmers" fired the shot
"which was heard around the world." Then followed the capture of
Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and the battle of Bunker's Hill, on the
same day that Washington was appointed by congress to command the
continental army. At this critical juncture, John Adams and other
prominent colonists--not excepting Washington--were actually disavowing
all desire to sever their relations with the parent state in the face of
the warlike attitude of congress--an attitude justified by the
declaration that it was intended to force a redress of grievances. Tom
Paine, a mere adventurer, who had not been long in the country, now
issued his pamphlet, "Common Sense," which was conceived in a spirit
and written in a style admirably calculated to give strength and
cohesion to the arguments of the people, who had been for some time
coming to the conclusion that to aim at independence was the only
consistent and logical course in the actual state of controversy between
England and the colonies. On March 14th, 1776, the town of Boston, then
the most important in America, was given up to the rebels; and British
ships carried the first large body of unhappy and disappointed Loyalists
to Halifax. On July the fourth of the same year the Declaration of
Independence was passed, after much hesitation and discussion, and
published to the world by the continental congress assembled at
Philadelphia. The signal victory won by the continental army over
Burgoyne at Saratoga in the autumn of the following year led to an
alliance with France, without whose effective aid the eventual success
of the revolutionists would have been very doubtful The revolutionists
won their final triumph at Yorktown in the autumn of 1781, when a small
army of regulars and Loyalists, led by Cornwallis, was obliged to
surrender to the superior American and French forces, commanded by
Washington and Rochambeau, and supported by a French fleet which
effectively controlled the approaches to Chesapeake Bay.

The conduct of the war on the part of England was noted for the singular
incapacity of her generals. Had there been one of any energy or ability
at the head of her troops, when hostilities commenced, the undisciplined
American army might easily have been beaten and annihilated Boston need
never have been evacuated had Howe taken the most ordinary precautions
to occupy the heights of Dorchester that commanded the town. Washington
could never have organised an army had not Howe given him every possible
opportunity for months to do so. The British probably had another grand
opportunity of ending the war on their occupation of New York, when
Washington and his relatively insignificant army were virtually in their
power while in retreat. The history of the war is full of similar
instances of lost opportunities to overwhelm the continental troops. All
the efforts of the British generals appear to have been devoted to the
occupation of the important towns in a country stretching for a thousand
miles from north to south, instead of following and crushing the
constantly retreating, diminishing, and discouraged forces of the
revolutionists. The evacuation of Philadelphia at a critical moment of
the war was another signal illustration of the absence of all military
foresight and judgment, since it disheartened the Loyalists and gave up
an important base of operation against the South. Even Cornwallis, who
fought so bravely and successfully in the southern provinces, made a
most serious mistake when he chose so weak a position as Yorktown, which
was only defensible whilst the army of occupation had free access to the
sea. Admiral Rodney, then at St. Eustatius, is open to censure for not
having sent such naval reinforcements as would have enabled the British
to command Chesapeake Bay, and his failure in this respect explains the
inability of Clinton, an able general, to support Cornwallis in his hour
of need. The moment the French fleet appeared in the Chesapeake,
Cornwallis's position became perfectly untenable, and he was obliged to
surrender to the allied armies, who were vastly superior in number and
equipment to his small force, which had not even the advantage of
fighting behind well-constructed and perfect defences. No doubt, from
the beginning to the end of the war--notably in the case of
Burgoyne--the British were seriously hampered by the dilatory and unsafe
counsels of Lord George Germaine, who was allowed by the favour of the
king to direct military operations, and who, we remember, had disgraced
himself on the famous battlefield of Minden.

All the conditions in the country at large were favourable to the
imperial troops had they been commanded by generals of ability. The
Loyalists formed a large available force, rendered valueless time after
time by the incapacity of the men who directed operations. At no time
did the great body of the American people warmly respond to the demands
made upon them by congress to support Washington. Had it not been for
New England and Virginia the war must have more than once collapsed for
want of men and supplies. It is impossible to exaggerate the absence of
public spirit in the States during this critical period of their
history. The English historian, Lecky, who has reviewed the annals of
those times with great fairness, has truly said: "The nobility and
beauty of the character of Washington can hardly be surpassed; several
of the other leaders of the revolution were men of ability and public
spirit, and few armies have ever shown a nobler self-devotion than that
which remained with Washington through the dreary winter at Valley
Forge. But the army that bore those sufferings was a very small one, and
the general aspect of the American people during the contest was far
from heroic or sublime." This opinion is fully borne out by those
American historians who have reviewed the records of their national
struggle in a spirit of dispassionate criticism. We know that in the
spring of 1780 Washington himself wrote that his troops were "constantly
on the point of starving for want of provisions and forage." He saw "in
every line of the army the most serious features of mutiny and
sedition." Indeed he had "almost ceased to hope," for he found the
country in general "in such a state of insensibility and indifference to
its interests" that he dare not flatter himself "with any change for the
better." The war under such circumstances would have come to a sudden
end had not France liberally responded to Washington's appeals and
supported him with her money, her sailors and her soldiers. In the
closing years of the war Great Britain had not only to fight France,
Spain, Holland and her own colonies, but she was without a single ally
in Europe. Her dominion was threatened in India, and the king prevented
the intervention of the only statesman in the kingdom to whom the
colonists at any time were likely to listen with respect. When Chatham
died with a protest on his lips "against the dismemberment of this
ancient monarchy," the last hope of bringing about a reconciliation
between the revolutionists and the parent state disappeared for ever,
and the Thirteen Colonies became independent at Yorktown.

SECTION 2.--Canada and Nova Scotia during the Revolution.

If Canada was saved to England during the American Revolution it was not
on account of the energy and foresight shown by the king and his
ministers in providing adequately for its defence, but mainly through
the coolness and excellent judgment displayed by Governor Carleton. The
Quebec act, for which he was largely responsible, was extremely
unpopular in the Thirteen Colonies, on account of its having extended
the boundaries of the province and the civil law to that western country
beyond the Alleghanies, which the frontiersmen of Pennsylvania and
Virginia regarded as specially their own domain. The fact that the
Quebec act was passed by parliament simultaneously with the Boston port
bill and other measures especially levelled against Massachusetts, gave
additional fuel to the indignation of the people, who regarded this
group of acts as part of a settled policy to crush the British-speaking

Under these circumstances, the invasion of Canada by Arnold in 1775,
with the full approval of the continental congress, soon after the
taking of Crown Point and Ticonderoga by the "Green Mountain boys" of
Vermont, was a most popular movement which, it was hoped generally,
would end in the easy conquest of a province, occupied by an alien
people, and likely to be a menace in the future to the country south of
the St. Lawrence. The capture of Chambly and St. John's--the keys of
Canada, by way of Lake Champlain--was immediately followed by the
surrender of Montreal, which was quite indefensible, and the flight of
Carleton to Quebec, where he wisely decided to make a stand against the
invaders. At this time there were not one thousand regular troops in the
country, and Carleton's endeavour to obtain reinforcements from Boston
had failed in consequence of the timidity of Admiral Graves, who
expressed his opinion that it was not safe to send vessels up the St.
Lawrence towards the end of the month of October. No dependence
apparently could be placed at this critical juncture on a number of the
French _habitants_, as soon as the districts of Richelieu, Montreal and
Three Rivers were occupied by the continental troops. Many of them were
quite ready to sell provisions to the invaders, provided they were paid
in coin, and a few of them even joined Montgomery on his march to
Quebec. Happily, however, the influence of the clergy and the
_seigneurs_ was sufficiently powerful to make the great mass of the
people neutral during this struggle for supremacy in the province.

The bishop and the priests, from the outset, were quite alive to the
gravity of the situation. They could not forget that the delegates to
the continental congress, who were now appealing to French Canada to
join the rebellious colonists, had only a few weeks before issued an
address to the people of England in which they expressed their
astonishment that the British parliament should have established in
Canada "a religion that had deluged their land in blood and dispersed
impiety, bigotry, persecution, murder, and rebellion through every part
of the world." Almost simultaneously with the capture of the forts on
Lake Champlain, Bishop Briand issued a _mandement_ in which he dwelt
with emphasis on the great benefits which the people of French Canada
had already derived from the British connection and called upon them all
to unite in the defence of their province. No doubt can exist that these
opinions had much effect at a time when Carleton had reason to doubt
even the loyalty of the English population, some of whom were
notoriously in league with the rebels across the frontier, and gave
material aid to the invaders as soon as they occupied Montreal. It was
assuredly the influence of the French clergy that rendered entirely
ineffectual the mission of Chase, Franklin, and the Carrolls of
Maryland--one of whom became the first Roman Catholic archbishop of the
United States--who were instructed by congress to offer every possible
inducement to the Roman Catholic subjects of England in Canada to join
the revolutionary movement.

Richard Montgomery, who had commanded the troops invading Canada, had
served at Louisbourg and Quebec, and had subsequently become a resident
of New York, where his political opinions on the outbreak of the
revolution had been influenced by his connection, through marriage, with
the Livingstones, bitter opponents of the British government. His merit
as a soldier naturally brought him into prominence when the war began,
and his own ambition gladly led him to obey the order to go to Canada,
where he hoped to emulate the fame of Wolfe and become the captor of
Quebec. He formed a junction, close to the ancient capital, with the
force under Benedict Arnold, who was at a later time to sully a
memorable career by an act of the most deliberate treachery to his
compatriots. When Montgomery and Arnold united their forces before
Quebec, the whole of Canada, from Lake Champlain to Montreal, and from
that town to the walls of the old capital, was under the control of the
continental troops. Despite the great disadvantages under which he
laboured, Carleton was able to perfect his defences of the city, which
he determined to hold until reinforcements should arrive in the spring
from England. Montgomery had neither men nor artillery to storm the
fortified city which he had hoped to surprise and easily occupy with the
aid of secret friends within its walls. Carleton, however, rallied all
loyal men to his support, and the traitors on whom the invaders had
relied were powerless to carry out any treacherous design they may have
formed. The American commanders at once recognised the folly of a
regular investment of the fortress during a long and severe winter, and
decided to attempt to surprise the garrison by a night assault. This
plan was earned out in the early morning of the thirty-first of
December, 1775, when the darkness was intensified by flurries of light
blinding snow, but it failed before the assailants could force the
barricades which barred the way to the upper town, where all the
principal offices and buildings were grouped, just below the chateau and
fort of St. Louis, which towers above the historic heights. Montgomery
was killed, Arnold was wounded at the very outset, and a considerable
number of their officers and men were killed or wounded.

Carleton saved Quebec at this critical hour and was able in the course
of the same year, when General Burgoyne arrived with reinforcements
largely composed of subsidised German regiments, to drive the
continental troops in confusion from the province and destroy the fleet
which congress had formed on Lake Champlain. Carleton took possession of
Crown Point but found the season too late--it was now towards the end of
autumn--to attempt an attack on Ticonderoga, which was occupied by a
strong and well-equipped garrison. After a careful view of the situation
he concluded to abandon Crown Point until the spring, when he could
easily occupy it again, and attack Ticonderoga with every prospect of
success. But Carleton, soon afterwards, was ordered to give up the
command of the royal troops to Burgoyne, who was instructed by Germaine
to proceed to the Hudson River, where Howe was to join him. Carleton
naturally resented the insult that he received and resigned the
governor-generalship, to which General Haldimand was appointed. Carleton
certainly brought Canada securely through one of the most critical
epochs of her history, and there is every reason to believe that he
would have saved the honour of England and the reputation of her
generals, had he rather than Burgoyne and Howe been entrusted with the
direction of her armies in North America.

Carleton's administration of the civil government of the province was
distinguished by a spirit of discretion and energy which deservedly
places him among the ablest governors who ever presided over the public
affairs of a colony. During the progress of the American war the
legislative council was not able to meet until nearly two years after
its abrupt adjournment in September, 1775. At this session, in 1777,
ordinances were passed for the establishment of courts of King's bench,
common pleas, and probate.

A critical perusal of the valuable documents, placed of late years in
the archives of the Dominion, clearly proves that it was a fortunate day
for Canada when so resolute a soldier and far-sighted administrator as
General Haldimand was in charge of the civil and military government of
the country after the departure of Carleton. His conduct appears to have
been dictated by a desire to do justice to all classes, and it is most
unfair to his memory to declare that he was antagonistic to French
Canadians. During the critical time when he was entrusted with the
public defence it is impossible to accuse him of an arrogant or
unwarrantable exercise of authority, even when he was sorely beset by
open and secret enemies of the British connection. The French Canadian
_habitant_ found himself treated with a generous consideration that he
never obtained during the French regime, and wherever his services were
required by the state, he was paid, not in worthless card money, but in
British coin. During Haldimand's administration the country was in a
perilous condition on account of the restlessness and uncertainty that
prevailed while the French naval and military expeditions were in
America, using every means of exciting a public sentiment hostile to
England and favourable to France among the French Canadians. Admiral
D'Estaing's proclamation in 1778 was a passionate appeal to the old
national sentiment of the people, and was distributed in every part of
the province. Dr. Kingsford believes that it had large influence in
creating a powerful feeling which might have seriously threatened
British dominion had the French been able to obtain permission from
congress to send an army into the country. Whatever may have been the
temper of the great majority of the French Canadians, it does not appear
that many of them openly expressed their sympathy with France, for whom
they would naturally still feel a deep love as their motherland. The
assertion that many priests secretly hoped for the appearance of the
French army is not justified by any substantial evidence except the fact
that one La Valiniere was arrested for his disloyalty, and sent a
prisoner to England. It appears, however, that this course was taken
with the approval of the bishop himself, who was a sincere friend of the
English connection throughout the war. Haldimand arrested a number of
persons who were believed to be engaged in treasonable practices against
England, and effectively prevented any successful movement being made by
the supporters of the revolutionists, or sympathisers with France, whose
emissaries were secretly working in the parishes.

Haldimand's principal opponent during these troublous times was one
Pierre du Calvet, an unscrupulous and able intriguer, whom he imprisoned
on the strong suspicion of treasonable practices; but the evidence
against Calvet at that time appears to have been inadequate, as he
succeeded in obtaining damages against the governor-general in an
English court. The imperial government, however, in view of all the
circumstances brought to their notice, paid the cost of the defence of
the suit. History now fully justifies the action of Haldimand, for the
publication of Franklin's correspondence in these later times shows that
Calvet--who was drowned at sea and never again appeared in Canada--was
in direct correspondence with congress, and the recognised emissary of
the revolutionists at the very time he was declaring himself devoted to
the continuance of British rule in Canada.

Leaving the valley of the St. Lawrence, and reviewing the conditions of
affairs in the maritime provinces, during the American revolution, we
see that some of the settlers from New England sympathised with their
rebellious countrymen. The people of Truro, Onslow, and Londonderry,
with the exception of five persons, refused to take the oath of
allegiance, and were not allowed for some time to be represented in the
legislature. The assembly was always loyal to the crown, and refused to
consider the appeals that were made to it by circular letters, and
otherwise, to give active aid and sympathy to the rebellious colonies
During the war armed cruisers pillaged the small settlements at
Charlottetown, Annapolis, Lunenburg, and the entrance of the St. John
River. One expedition fitted out at Machias, in the present state of
Maine, under the command of a Colonel Eddy, who had been a resident of
Cumberland, attempted to seize Fort Cumberland--known as Beausejour in
French Acadian days--at the mouth of the Missiquash. In this section of
the country there were many sympathisers with the rebels, and Eddy
expected to have an easy triumph. The military authorities were happily
on the alert, and the only result was the arrest of a number of persons
on the suspicion of treasonable designs. The inhabitants of the county
of Yarmouth--a district especially exposed to attack--only escaped the
frequent visits of privateers by secret negotiations with influential
persons in Massachusetts. The settlers on the St. John River, at
Maugerville, took measures to assist their fellow-countrymen in New
England, but the defeat of the Cumberland expedition and the activity of
the British authorities prevented the disaffected in Sunbury county--in
which the original settlements of New Brunswick were then
comprised--from rendering any practical aid to the revolutionists. The
authorities at Halifax authorised the fitting out of privateers in
retaliation for the damages inflicted on western ports by the same class
of cruisers sailing from New England. The province was generally
impoverished by the impossibility of carrying on the coasting trade and
fisheries with security in these circumstances. The constant demand for
men to fill the army and the fleet drained the country when labour was
imperatively needed for necessary industrial pursuits, including the
cultivation of the land. Some Halifax merchants and traders alone found
profit in the constant arrival of troops and ships. Apart, however, from
the signs of disaffection shown in the few localities I have mentioned,
the people generally appear to have been loyal to England, and rallied,
notably in the townships of Annapolis, Horton and Windsor, to the
defence of the country, at the call of the authorities.

In 1783 the humiliated king of England consented to a peace with his old
colonies, who owed their success not so much to the unselfishness and
determination of the great body of the rebels as to the incapacity of
British generals and to the patience, calmness, and resolution of the
one great man of the revolution, George Washington. I shall in a later
chapter refer to this treaty in which the boundaries between Canada and
the new republic were so ignorantly and clumsily defined that it took
half a century and longer to settle the vexed questions that arose in
connection with territorial rights, and then the settlement was to the
injury of Canada. So far as the treaty affected the Provinces its most
important result was the forced migration of that large body of people
who had remained faithful to the crown and empire during the revolution.


SECTION 3.--The United Empire Loyalists

John Adams and other authorities in the United States have admitted that
when the first shot of the revolution was fired by "the embattled
farmers" of Concord and Lexington, the Loyalists numbered one-third of
the whole population of the colonies, or seven hundred thousand whites.
Others believe that the number was larger, and that the revolutionary
party was in a minority even after the declaration of independence. The
greater number of the Loyalists were to be found in the present state of
New York, where the capital was in possession of the British from
September, 1776, until the evacuation in 1783. They were also the
majority in Pennsylvania and the southern colonies of South Carolina and
Georgia. In all the other states they represented a large minority of
the best class of their respective communities. It is estimated that
there were actually from thirty to thirty-five thousand, at one time or
other, enrolled in regularly organised corps, without including the
bodies which waged guerilla warfare in South Carolina and elsewhere.

It is only within a decade of years that some historical writers in the
United States have had the courage and honesty to point out the false
impressions long entertained by the majority of Americans with respect
to the Loyalists, who were in their way as worthy of historical eulogy
as the people whose efforts to win independence were crowned with
success. Professor Tyler, of Cornell University, points out that these
people comprised "in general a clear majority of those who, of whatever
grade of culture or of wealth, would now be described as conservative
people." A clear majority of the official class, of men representing
large commercial interests and capital, of professional training and
occupation, clergymen, physicians, lawyers and teachers, "seem to have
been set against the ultimate measures of the revolution". He assumes
with justice that, within this conservative class, one may "usually find
at least a fair portion of the cultivation, of the moral thoughtfulness,
of the personal purity and honour, existing in the community to which
they happen to belong." He agrees with Dr. John Fiske, and other
historical writers of eminence in the United States, in comparing the
Loyalists of 1776 to the Unionists of the southern war of secession from
1861 until 1865. They were "the champions of national unity, as resting
on the paramount authority of the general government." In other words
they were the champions of a United British Empire in the eighteenth

"The old colonial system," says that thoughtful writer Sir J.R. Seeley,
"was not at all tyrannous; and when the breach came the grievances of
which the Americans complained, though perfectly real, were smaller than
ever before or since led to such mighty consequences." The leaders among
the Loyalists, excepting a few rash and angry officials probably,
recognised that there were grievances which ought to be remedied. They
looked on the policy of the party in power in Great Britain as
injudicious in the extreme, but they believed that the relations between
the colonies and the mother-state could be placed on a more satisfactory
basis by a spirit of mutual compromise, and not by such methods as were
insidiously followed by the agitators against England. The Loyalists
generally contended for the legality of the action of parliament, and
were supported by the opinion of all high legal authorities; but the
causes of difficulty were not to be adjusted by mere lawyers, who
adhered to the strict letter of the law, but by statesmen who recognised
that the time had come for reconsidering the relations between the
colonies and the parent state, and meeting the new conditions of their
rapid development and political freedom. These relations were not to be
placed on an equitable and satisfactory basis by mob-violence and
revolution. All the questions at issue were of a constitutional
character, to be settled by constitutional methods.

Unhappily, English statesmen of that day paid no attention to, and had
no conception of, the aspirations, sentiments and conditions of the
colonial peoples when the revolutionary war broke out. The king wished
to govern in the colonies as well as in the British Isles, and
unfortunately the unwise assertion of his arrogant will gave dangerous
men like Samuel Adams, more than once, the opportunity they wanted to
stimulate public irritation and indignation against England.

It is an interesting fact, that the relations between Great Britain and
the Canadian Dominion are now regulated by just such principles as were
urged in the interests of England and her colonies a hundred and twenty
years ago by Governor Thomas Hutchinson, a great Loyalist, to whom
justice is at last being done by impartial historians in the country
where his motives and acts were so long misunderstood and
misrepresented. "Whatever measures," he wrote to a correspondent in
England, "you may take to maintain the authority of parliament, give me
leave to pray they may be accompanied with a declaration that it is not
the intention of parliament to deprive the colonies of their subordinate
power of legislation, nor to exercise the supreme power except in such
cases and upon such occasions as an equitable regard to the interests of
the whole empire shall make necessary." But it took three-quarters of a
century after the coming of the Loyalists to realise these statesmanlike
conceptions of Hutchinson in the colonial dominions of England to the
north of the dependencies which she lost in the latter part of the
eighteenth century.

Similar opinions were entertained by Joseph Galloway, Jonathan Boucher,
Jonathan Odell, Samuel Seabury, Chief Justice Smith, Judge Thomas Jones,
Beverley Robinson and other men of weight and ability among the
Loyalists, who recognised the short-sightedness and ignorance of the
British authorities, and the existence of real grievances. Galloway, one
of the ablest men on the constitutional side, and a member of the first
continental congress, suggested a practical scheme of imperial
federation, well worthy of earnest consideration at that crisis in
imperial affairs. Eminent men in the congress of 1774 supported this
statesmanlike mode of placing the relations of England and the colonies
on a basis which would enable them to work harmoniously, and at the same
time give full scope to the ambition and the liberties of the colonial
communities thus closely united; but unhappily for the empire the
revolutionary element carried the day. The people at large were never
given an opportunity of considering this wise proposition, and the
motion was erased from the records of congress. In its place, the people
were asked to sign "articles of association" which bound them to cease
all commercial relations with England. Had Galloway's idea been carried
out to a successful issue, we might have now presented to the world the
noble spectacle of an empire greater by half a continent and
seventy-five millions of people.

But while Galloway and other Loyalists failed in their measures of
adjusting existing difficulties and remedying grievances, history can
still do full justice to their wise counsel and resolute loyalty, which
refused to assist in tearing the empire to fragments. These men, who
remained faithful to this ideal to the very bitter end, suffered many
indignities at the hands of the professed lovers of liberty, even in
those days when the questions at issue had not got beyond the stage of
legitimate argument and agitation. The courts of law were closed and the
judges prevented from fulfilling their judicial functions. No class of
persons, not even women, were safe from the insults of intoxicated
ruffians. The clergy of the Church of England were especially the object
of contumely.

During the war the passions of both parties to the controversy were
aroused to the highest pitch, and some allowance must be made for
conditions which were different from those which existed when the
questions at issue were still matters of argument. It is impossible in
times of civil strife to cool the passions of men and prevent them from
perpetrating cruelties and outrages which would be repugnant to their
sense of humanity in moments of calmness and reflection. Both sides,
more than once, displayed a hatred of each other that was worthy of the
American Iroquois themselves. The legislative bodies were fully as
vindictive as individuals in the persecution of the Loyalists.
Confiscation of estate, imprisonment, disqualification for office,
banishment, and even death in case of return from exile, were among the
penalties to which these people were subject by the legislative acts of
the revolutionary party.

If allowance can be made for the feelings of revenge and passion which
animate persons under the abnormal conditions of civil war, no
extenuating circumstances appear at that later period when peace was
proclaimed and congress was called upon to fulfil the terms of the
treaty and recommend to the several independent states the restoration
of the confiscated property of Loyalists. Even persons who had taken up
arms were to have an opportunity of receiving their estates back on
condition of refunding the money which had been paid for them, and
protection was to be afforded to those persons during twelve months
while they were engaged in obtaining the restoration of their property.
It was also solemnly agreed by the sixth article of the treaty that
there should be no future confiscations or prosecutions, and that no
person should "suffer any future loss or damage, either in his person,
liberty or property," for the part he might have taken in the war. Now
was the time for generous terms, such terms as were even shown by the
triumphant North to the rebellious South at the close of the war of
secession. The recommendations of congress were treated with contempt by
the legislatures in all the states except in South Carolina, and even
there the popular feeling was entirely opposed to any favour or justice
being shown to the beaten party. The sixth article of the treaty, a
solemn obligation, was violated with malice and premeditation. The
Loyalists, many of whom had returned from Great Britain with the hope of
receiving back their estates, or of being allowed to remain in the
country, soon found they could expect no generous treatment from the
successful republicans. The favourite Whig occupation of tarring and
feathering was renewed. Loyalists were warned to leave the country as
soon as possible, and in the south some were shot and hanged because
they did not obey the warning. The Loyalists, for the most part, had no
other course open to them than to leave the country they still loved and
where they had hoped to die.

The British government endeavoured, so far as it was in its power, to
compensate the Loyalists for the loss of their property by liberal
grants of money and land, but despite all that was done for them the
majority felt a deep bitterness in their hearts as they landed on new
shores of which they had heard most depressing accounts. More than
thirty-five thousand men, women and children, made their homes within
the limits of the present Dominion. In addition to these actual American
Loyalists, there were several thousands of negroes, fugitives from their
owners, or servants of the exiles, who have been generally counted in
the loose estimates made of the migration of 1783, and the greater
number of whom were at a later time deported from Nova Scotia to Sierra
Leone. Of the exiles at least twenty-five thousand went to the maritime
colonies, and built up the province of New Brunswick, where
representative institutions were established in 1784. Of the ten
thousand people who sought the valley of the St Lawrence, some settled
in Montreal, at Chambly, and in parts of the present Eastern Townships,
but the great majority accepted grants of land on the banks of the St.
Lawrence--from River Beaudette, on Lake St. Francis, as far as the
beautiful Bay of Quinte--in the Niagara District, and on the shores of
Lake Erie. The coming of these people, subsequently known by the name of
"U.E. Loyalists"--a name appropriately given to them in recognition of
their fidelity to a United Empire--was a most auspicious event for the
British-American provinces, the greater part of which was still a
wilderness. As we have seen in the previous chapters, there was in the
Acadian provinces, afterwards divided into New Brunswick and Nova
Scotia, a British population of only some 14,000 souls, mostly confined
to the peninsula. In the valley of the St. Lawrence there was a French
population of probably 100,000 persons, dwelling chiefly on the banks of
the St. Lawrence between Quebec and Montreal. The total British
population of the province of Quebec did not exceed 2000, residing for
the most part in the towns of Quebec and Montreal. No English people
were found west of Lake St. Louis; and what is now the populous province
of Ontario was a mere wilderness, except where loyal refugees had
gathered about the English fort at Niagara, or a few French settlers had
made homes for themselves on the banks of the Detroit River and Lake St.
Clair. The migration of between 30,000 and 40,000 Loyalists to the
maritime provinces and the valley of the St. Lawrence was the saving of
British interests in the great region which England still happily
retained in North America.

The refugees who arrived in Halifax in 1783 were so numerous that
hundreds had to be placed in the churches or in cabooses taken from the
transports and ranged along the streets. At Guysborough, in Nova
Scotia--so named after Sir Guy Carleton--the first village, which was
hastily built by the settlers, was destroyed by a bush fire, and many
persons only saved their lives by rushing into the sea. At Shelburne, on
the first arrival of the exiles, there were seen "lines of women sitting
on the rocky shore and weeping at their altered condition." Towns and
villages, however, were soon built for the accommodation of the people.
At Shelburne, or Port Roseway--anglicised from the French _Razoir_--a
town of fourteen thousand people, with wide streets, fine houses, some
of them containing furniture and mantel-pieces brought from New York,
arose in two or three years. The name of New Jerusalem had been given to
the same locality some years before, but it seemed a mockery to the
Loyalists when they found that the place they had chosen for their new
home was quite unsuited for settlement. A beautiful harbour lay in
front, and a rocky country unfit for farmers in the rear of their
ambitious town, which at one time was the most populous in British North
America. In the course of a few years the place was almost deserted, and
sank for a time into insignificance. A pretty town now nestles by the
side of the beautiful and spacious harbour which attracted the first too
hopeful settlers; and its residents point out to the tourist the sites
of the buildings of last century, one or two of which still stand, and
can show many documents and relics of those early days.

Over twelve thousand Loyalists, largely drawn from the disbanded loyal
regiments of the old colonies, settled in New Brunswick. The name of
Parrtown was first given, in honour of the governor of Nova Scotia, to
the infant settlement which became the city of St. John, in 1785, when
it was incorporated. The first landing of the loyal pioneers took place
on the 18th of May, 1783, at what is now the Market Slip of this
interesting city. Previous to 1783, the total population of the province
did not exceed seven hundred souls, chiefly at Maugerville and other
places on the great river. The number of Loyalists who settled on the
St. John River was at least ten thousand, of whom the greater proportion
were established at the mouth of the river, which was the base of
operations for the peopling of the new province. Some adventurous
spirits took possession of the abandoned French settlements at Grimross
and St. Anne's, where they repaired some ruined huts of the original
Acadian occupants, or built temporary cabins. This was the beginning of
the settlement of Fredericton, which four years later became the
political capital on account of its central position, its greater
security in time of war, and its location on the land route to Quebec.
Many of the people spent their first winter in log-huts, bark camps, and
tents covered with spruce, or rendered habitable only by the heavy banks
of snow which were piled against them. A number of persons died through
exposure, and "strong, proud men"--to quote the words of one who lived
in those sorrowful days--"wept like children and lay down in their
snow-bound tents to die."

A small number of loyal refugees had found their way to the valley of
the St. Lawrence as early as 1778, and obtained employment in the
regiments organised under Sir John Johnson and others. It was not until
1783 and 1784 that the large proportion of the exiles came to Western
Canada. They settled chiefly on the northern banks of the St. Lawrence,
in what are now the counties of Glengarry, Stormont, Dundas, Grenville,
Leeds, Frontenac, Addington, Lennox, Hastings and Prince Edward, where
their descendants have acquired wealth and positions of honour and
trust. The first township laid out in Upper Canada, now Ontario, was
Kingston. The beautiful Bay of Quinte is surrounded by a country full of
the memories of this people, and the same is true of the picturesque
district of Niagara.

Among the Loyalists of Canada must also be honourably mentioned Joseph
Brant (Thayendanega), the astute and courageous chief of the Mohawks,
the bravest nation of the Iroquois confederacy, who fought on the side
of England during the war. At its close he and his people settled in
Canada, where they received large grants from the government, some in a
township by the Bay of Quinte, which still bears the Indian title of the
great warrior, and the majority on the Grand River, where a beautiful
city and county perpetuate the memory of this loyal subject of the
British crown. The first Anglican church built in Upper Canada was that
of the Mohawks, near Brantford, and here the church bell first broke the
silence of the illimitable forest.

The difficulties which the Upper Canadian immigrants had to undergo
before reaching their destination were much greater than was the case
with the people who went direct in ships from American ports to Halifax
and other places on the Atlantic coast. The former had to make toilsome
journeys by land, or by _bateaux_ and canoes up the St. Lawrence, the
Richelieu, the Genesee, and other streams which gave access from the
interior of the United States to the new Canadian land. The British
government did its best to supply the wants of the population suddenly
thrown upon its charitable care, but, despite all that could be done for
them in the way of food and means of fighting the wilderness, they
suffered naturally a great deal of hardship. The most influential
immigration found its way to the maritime provinces, where many received
congenial employment and adequate salaries in the new government of New
Brunswick. Many others, with the wrecks of their fortunes or the
pecuniary aid granted them by the British government, were able to make
comfortable homes and cultivate estates in the valleys of the St. John
and Annapolis, and in other fertile parts of the lower provinces. Of the
large population that founded Shelburne a few returned to the United
States, but the greater number scattered all over the provinces. The
settlers in Upper Canada had to suffer many trials for years after their
arrival, and especially in a year of famine, when large numbers had to
depend on wild fruits and roots. Indeed, had it not been for the fish
and game which were found in some, but not in all, places, starvation
and death would have been the lot of many hundreds of helpless people.

Many of the refugees could trace their descent to the early immigration
that founded the colonies of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay. Some were
connected with the Cavalier and Church families of Virginia. Others were
of the blood of persecuted Huguenots and German Protestants from the
Rhenish or Lower Palatinate. Not a few were Highland Scotchmen, who had
been followers of the Stuarts, and yet fought for King George and the
British connection during the American revolution. Among the number were
notable Anglican clergymen, eminent judges and lawyers, and probably one
hundred graduates of Harvard, Yale, King's, Pennsylvania, and William
and Mary Colleges. In the records of industrial enterprise, of social
and intellectual progress, of political development for a hundred
years, we find the names of many eminent men, sprung from these people,
to whom Canada owes a deep debt of gratitude for the services they
rendered her in the most critical period of her chequered history.



SECTION I--Beginnings of the provinces of New Brunswick, Lower Canada
and Upper Canada.

On the 16th August, 1784, as a consequence of the coming of over ten
thousand Loyalists to the valley of the St. John River, a new province
was formed out of that portion of the ancient limits of Acadia, which
extended northward from the isthmus of Chignecto to the province of
Quebec, and eastward from the uncertain boundary of the St. Croix to the
Gulf of St. Lawrence. It received its present name in honour of the
Brunswick-Luneburg or Hanoverian line which had given a royal dynasty to
England, and its first governor was Colonel Thomas Carleton, a brother
of the distinguished governor-general, whose name is so intimately
associated with the fortunes of Canada during a most critical period of
its history. The first executive council, which was also the legislative
council, comprised some of the most eminent men of the Loyalist
migration. For instance, George Duncan Ludlow; who had been a judge of
the supreme court of New York; Jonathan Odell, the famous satirist and
divine; William Hazen, a merchant of high reputation, who had large
interests on the St. John River from 1763, and had proved his fidelity
to the crown at a time when his countrymen at Maugerville were disposed
to join the revolutionary party; Gabriel G. Ludlow, previously a colonel
in a royal regiment; Edward Winslow, Daniel Bliss and Isaac Allen, all
of whom had borne arms in the royal service and had suffered the loss of
valuable property, confiscated by the successful rebels.

The constitution of 1784 provided for an assembly of twenty-six members
who were elected in 1785, and met for the first time on the 3rd of
January, 1786, at the Mallard House, a plain two-storey building on the
north side of King Street. The city of St. John ceased to be the seat of
government in 1787, when the present capital, Fredericton, first known
as St. Anne's, was chosen. Of the twenty-six members elected to this
assembly, twenty-three were Loyalists, and the same class necessarily
continued for many years to predominate in the legislature. The first
speaker was Amos Botsford, the pioneer of the Loyalist migration to New
Brunswick, whose grandson occupied the same position for a short time in
the senate of the Dominion of Canada.

Coming to the province of Lower Canada we find it contained at this time
a population of about a hundred thousand souls, of whom six thousand
lived in Quebec and Montreal respectively. Only two thousand
English-speaking persons resided in the province, almost entirely in the
towns. Small as was the British minority, it continued that agitation
for an assembly which had been commenced long before the passage of the
Quebec act. A nominated council did not satisfy the political ambition
of this class, who obtained little support from the French Canadian
people. The objections of the latter arose from the working of the act
itself. Difficulties had grown up in the administration of the law,
chiefly in consequence of its being entrusted exclusively to men
acquainted only with English jurisprudence, and not disposed to comply
with the letter and intention of the imperial statute. As a matter of
practice, French law was only followed as equity suggested; and the
consequence was great legal confusion in the province. A question had
also arisen as to the legality of the issue of writs of _habeas corpus_,
and it was eventually necessary to pass an ordinance to remove all
doubts on this important point.

The Loyalist settlers on the St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers sent a
petition in 1785 to the home government, praying for the establishment
of a new district west of the River Beaudette "with the blessings of
British laws and British government, and of exemption from French tenure
of property." While such matters were under the consideration of the
imperial authorities, Sir Guy Carleton, once more governor-general of
Canada, and lately raised to the peerage as Lord Dorchester,
established, in 1788, five new districts for the express object of
providing for the temporary government of the territory where the
Loyalists had settled. These districts were known as Luneburg,
Mecklenburg, Nassau and Hesse, in the western country, and Gaspe in the
extreme east of the province of Quebec, where a small number of the same
class of people had also found new homes. Townships, ranging from eighty
to forty thousand acres each, were also surveyed within these districts
and parcelled out with great liberality among the Loyalists. Magistrates
wore appointed to administer justice with the simplest possible
machinery at a time when men trained in the law were not available.

The grants of land made to the Loyalists and their children were large,
and in later years a considerable portion passed into the hands of
speculators who bought them up at nominal sums. It was in connection
with these grants that the name of "United Empire Loyalists" originated.
An order-in-council was passed on the 9th of November, 1780, in
accordance with the wish of Lord Dorchester "to put a mark of honour
upon the families who had adhered to the _unity of the empire_ and
joined the royal standard in America before the treaty of separation in
1783." Accordingly the names of all persons falling under this
designation were to be recorded as far as possible, in order that "their
posterity may be discriminated from future settlers in the parish lists
and rolls of militia of their respective districts, and other public
remembrances of the province."

The British cabinet, of which Mr. Pitt, the famous son of the Earl of
Chatham, was first minister, now decided to divide the province of
Quebec into two districts, with separate legislatures and governments.
Lord Grenville, while in charge of the department of colonial affairs,
wrote in 1789 to Lord Dorchester that the "general object of the plan is
to assimilate the constitution of the province to that of Great Britain
as nearly as the differences arising from the names of the people and
from the present situation of the province will admit." He also
emphatically expressed the opinion that "a considerable degree of
attention is due to the prejudices and habits of the French inhabitants,
and every degree of caution should be used to continue to them the
enjoyment of those civil and religious rights which were secured to them
by the capitulation of the province, or have since been granted by the
liberal and enlightened spirit of the British government." When the bill
for the formation of the two provinces of Upper Canada and Lower Canada
came before the house of commons, Mr. Adam Lymburner, an influential
merchant of Quebec, appeared at the Bar and ably opposed the separation
"as dangerous in every point of view to British interests in America,
and to the safety, tranquillity and prosperity of the inhabitants of the
province of Quebec" He pressed the repeal of the Quebec act in its
entirety and the enactment of a perfectly new constitution "unclogged
and unembarrassed with any laws prior to this period" He professed to
represent the views "of the most intelligent and respectable of the
French Canadians"; but their antagonism was not directed against the
Quebec act in itself, but against the administration of the law,
influenced as this was by the opposition of the British people to the
French civil code. Nor does it appear, as Mr. Lymburner asserted, that
the western Loyalists were hostile to the formation of two distinct
provinces. He represented simply the views of the English-speaking
inhabitants of Lower Canada, who believed that the proposed division
would place them in a very small minority in the legislature and, as the
issue finally proved, at the mercy of the great majority of the French
Canadian representatives, while on the other hand the formation of one
large province extending from Gaspe to the head of the great lakes would
ensure an English representation sufficiently formidable to lessen the
danger of French Canadian domination. However, the British government
seems to have been actuated by a sincere desire to do justice to the
French Canadians and the Loyalists of the upper province at one and the
same time. When introducing the bill in the house of commons on the 7th
March, 1791, Mr. Pitt expressed the hope that "the division would remove
the differences of opinion which had arisen between the old and new
inhabitants, since each province would have the right of enacting laws
desired in its own house of assembly." He believed a division to be
essential, as "otherwise he could not reconcile the clashing interests
known to exist." Mr. Burke was of opinion that "to attempt to amalgamate
two populations composed of races of men diverse in language, laws and
customs, was a complete absurdity", and he consequently approved of the
division. Mr. Fox, from whom Burke became alienated during this debate,
looked at the question in an entirely different light and was strongly
of opinion that "it was most desirable to see the French and English
inhabitants coalesce into one body, and the different distinctions of
people extinguished for ever."

The Constitutional act of 1791 established in each province a
legislative council and assembly, with powers to make laws. The
legislative council was to be appointed by the king for life, in Upper
Canada it was to consist of not less than seven, and in Lower Canada of
not less than fifteen members. The sovereign might, if he thought
proper, annex hereditary titles of honour to the right of being summoned
to the legislative council in either province--a provision which was
never brought into operation. The whole number of members in the
assembly of Upper Canada was not to be less than sixteen; in Lower
Canada not less than fifty--to be chosen by a majority of votes in
either case. The British parliament reserved to itself the right of
levying and collecting customs-duties, for the regulation of navigation
and commerce to be carried on between the two provinces, or between
either of them and any other part of the British dominions or any
foreign country. Parliament also reserved the power of directing the
payment of these duties, but at the same time left the exclusive
apportionment of all moneys levied in this way to the legislature, which
could apply them to such public uses as it might deem expedient. The
free exercise of the Roman Catholic religion was guaranteed permanently.
The king was to have the right to set apart, for the use of the
Protestant clergy in the colony, a seventh part of all uncleared crown
lands. The governor might also be empowered to erect parsonages and
endow them, and to present incumbents or ministers of the Church of
England. The English criminal law was to obtain in both provinces.

In the absence of Lord Dorchester in England, the duty devolved on
Major-General Alured Clarke, as lieutenant-governor, to bring the Lower
Canadian constitution into force by a proclamation on the 18th February,
1791. On the 7th May, in the following year, the new province of Lower
Canada was divided into fifty electoral districts, composed of
twenty-one counties, the towns of Montreal and Quebec, and the boroughs
of Three Rivers and William Henry (now Sorel). The elections to the
assembly took place in June, and a legislative council of fifteen
influential Canadians was appointed. The new legislature was convoked
"for the despatch of business" on the 17th December, in the same year,
in an old stone building known as the Bishop's Palace, which stood on a
rocky eminence in the upper town of the old capital.

Chief Justice Smith took the chair of the legislative council under
appointment by the crown, and the assembly elected as its speaker Mr.
Joseph Antome Panet, an eminent advocate, who was able to speak the two
languages. In the house there were only sixteen members of British
origin--and in later parliaments there was even a still smaller
representation--while the council was nearly divided between the two
nationalities. When the house proceeded to business, one of its first
acts was to order that all motions, bills and other proceedings should
be put in the two languages. We find in the list of French Canadian
members of the two houses representatives of the most ancient and
distinguished families of the province. A descendant of Pierre Boucher,
governor of Three Rivers in 1653, and the author of a rare history of
Canada, sat in the council of 1792 just as a Boucherville sits
now-a-days in the senate of the Dominion. A Lotbiniere had been king's
councillor in 1680. A Chaussegros de Lery had been an engineer in the
royal colonial corps; a Lanaudiere had been an officer in the Carignan
regiment in 1652; a Salaberry was a captain in the royal navy, and his
family won further honours on the field of Chateauguay in the war of
1812-15, when the soil of Lower Canada was invaded. A Taschereau had
been a royal councillor in 1732. The names of Belestre, Valtric, Bonne,
Rouville, St. Ours, and Duchesnay, are often met in the annals of the
French regime, and show the high character of the representation in the
first parliament of Lower Canada.

The village of Newark was chosen as the capital of Upper Canada by
Colonel (afterwards Major-General) Simcoe, the first lieutenant-governor
of the province. He had served with much distinction during the
revolution as the commander of the Queen's Rangers, some of whom had
settled in the Niagara district. He was remarkable for his decision of
character and for his ardent desire to establish the principles of
British government in the new province. He was a sincere friend of the
Loyalists, whose attachment to the crown he had had many opportunities
of appreciating during his career in the rebellious colonies, and,
consequently, was an uncompromising opponent of the new republic and of
the people who were labouring to make it a success on the other side of
the border. The new parliament met in a wooden building nearly completed
on the sloping bank of the river, at a spot subsequently covered by a
rampart of Fort George, which was constructed by Governor Simcoe on the
surrender of Fort Niagara. A large boulder has been placed on the top of
the rampart to mark the site of the humble parliament house of Upper
Canada, which had to be eventually demolished to make place for new
fortifications. The sittings of the first legislature were not
unfrequently held under a large tent set up in front of the house, and
having an interesting history of its own, since it had been carried
around the world by the famous navigator, Captain Cook.

As soon as Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe assumed the direction of the
government, he issued a proclamation dividing the province of Upper
Canada into nineteen counties, some of winch were again divided into
ridings for the purpose of electing the sixteen representatives to which
the province was entitled under the act of 1791. One of the first acts
of the legislature was to change the names of the divisions, proclaimed
in 1788, to Eastern, Midland, Home, and Western Districts, which
received additions in the course of years until they were entirely
superseded by the county organisations. These districts were originally
intended for judicial and legal purposes.

The legislature met under these humble circumstances at Newark on the
17th September, 1792. Chief Justice Osgoode was the speaker of the
council, and Colonel John Macdonell, of Aberchalder, who had gallantly
served in the royal forces during the revolution, was chosen presiding
officer of the assembly. Besides him, there were eleven Loyalists among
the sixteen members of the lower house. In the council of nine members
there were also several Loyalists, the most prominent being the
Honourable Richard Cartwright, the grandfather of the minister of trade
and commerce in the Dominion ministry of 1896-1900.

SECTION 2.--Twenty years of political development (1792-1812).

The political conditions of the two decades from 1792 until 1812, when
war broke out between England and the United States, were for the
greater part of the time quite free from political agitation, and the
representatives of the people in both the provinces of Canada were
mostly occupied with the consideration of measures of purely provincial
and local import. Nevertheless a year or two before the close of this
period we can see in the province of Lower Canada premonitions of that
irrepressible conflict between the two houses--one elected by the
people and the other nominated by and under the influence of the
crown--which eventually clogged the machinery of legislation. We can
also see the beginnings of that strife of races which ultimately led to
bloodshed and the suspension of the constitution given to Lower Canada
in 1791.

In 1806 _Le Canadien_, published in the special interest of "Nos
institutions, notre langue, et nos lois," commenced that career of
bitter hostility to the government which steadily inflamed the
antagonism between the races. The arrogance of the principal officials,
who had the ear of the governor, and practically engrossed all the
influence in the management of public affairs, alienated the French
Canadians, who came to believe that they were regarded by the British as
an inferior race. As a matter of fact, many of the British inhabitants
themselves had no very cordial feelings towards the officials, whose
social exclusiveness offended all who did not belong to their special
"set." In those days the principal officials were appointed by the
colonial office and the governor-general, and had little or no respect
for the assembly, on which they depended in no wise for their
continuance in office or their salaries. The French Canadians eventually
made few distinctions among the British but looked on them as, generally
speaking, enemies to their institutions.

It was unfortunate, at a time when great discretion and good temper were
so essential, that Sir James Craig should have been entrusted with the
administration of the government of Lower Canada. The critical state of
relations with the United States no doubt influenced his appointment,
which, from a purely military point of view, was excellent. As it was,
however, his qualities as a soldier were not called into requisition,
while his want of political experience, his utter incapacity to
understand the political conditions of the country, his supreme
indifference to the wishes of the assembly, made his administration an
egregious failure. Indeed it may he said that it was during his time
that the seed was sown for the growth of that political and racial
antagonism which led to the rebellion of 1837. It is not possible to
exaggerate the importance of the consequences of his unjustifiable
dismissal of Mr. Speaker Panet, and other prominent French Canadians,
from the militia on the ground that they had an interest in the
_Canadien_, or of his having followed up this very indiscreet act by the
unwarrantable arrest of Mr. Bedard and some other persons, on the charge
that they were the authors or publishers of what he declared to be
treasonable writings. It is believed that the governor's action was
largely influenced by the statements and advice of Chief Justice Sewell,
the head of the legislative council and the official class. Several
persons were released when they expressed regret for the expression of
any opinions considered extreme by the governor and his advisers, but
Mr. Bedard remained in prison for a year rather than directly or
indirectly admit that the governor had any justification for his
arbitrary act Sir James attempted to obtain the approval of the home
government; but his agent, a Mr. Ryland, a man of ability and suavity,
prominent always in the official life of the country, signally failed to
obtain the endorsement of his master's action. He was unable to secure a
promise that the constitution of 1791 should be repealed, and the
legislative council of the Quebec act again given the supremacy in the
province. Mr. Bedard was released just before the governor left the
country, with the declaration that "his detention had been a matter of
precaution and not of punishment"--by no means a manly or graceful
withdrawal from what was assuredly a most untenable position from the
very first moment Mr. Bedard was thrown into prison. Sir James Craig
left the province a disappointed man, and died in England a few months
after his return, from the effects of an incurable disease to which he
had been a victim for many years. He was hospitable, generous and
charitable, but the qualities of a soldier dominated all his acts of
civil government.

In the other provinces, happily, there were no racial differences to
divide the community and aggravate those political disputes that are
sure to arise in the working of representative institutions in a British
country. In Upper Canada for years the questions under discussion were
chiefly connected with the disposal of the public lands, which in early
times were too lavishly granted by Simcoe; and this led to the bringing
in for a while of some undesirable immigrants from the United States
--undesirable because they were imbued with republican and levelling
ideas by no means favourable to the development and stability of English
institutions of government. One of the first acts of the legislature was
the establishment of courts of law and equity, in accordance with the
practice and principles of English jurisprudence. Another very important
measure was one for the legalisation of marriages which had been
irregularly performed during early times in the absence of the clergy of
the Anglican Church by justices of the peace, and even the officers in
charge of military posts. Magistrates were still allowed to perform the
marriage ceremony according to the ritual of the Church of England, when
the services of a clergyman of that denomination were not available. Not
until 1830 were more liberal provisions passed and the clergy of any
recognised creed permitted to unite persons legally in wedlock.

It was in the second session of the first parliament of Upper Canada,
where the Loyalists were in so huge a majority, that an act was passed
"to prevent the further introduction of slaves and to limit the term of
contract for servitude within this province." A considerable number of
slave servants accompanied their Loyalist masters to the provinces at
the end of the war, and we find for many years after in the newspapers
advertisements relating to runaway servants of this class. The Loyalists
in the maritime provinces, like the same class in Upper Canada, never
gave their approval to the continuance of slavery. So early as 1800 some
prominent persons brought before the supreme court of New Brunswick the
case of one Nancy Morton, a slave, on a writ of _habeas corpus_; and her
right to freedom was argued by Ward Chipmim, one of the Loyalist makers
of New Brunswick. Although the argument in this case was not followed by
a judicial conclusion--the four judges being divided in opinion--slavery
thereafter practically ceased to exist, not only in New Brunswick, but
in the other maritime provinces, leaving behind it a memory so faint,
that the mere suggestion that there ever was a slave in either of these
provinces is very generally received with surprise, if not with

The early history of representative government in Prince Edward Island
is chiefly a dull narrative of political conflict between the governors
and the assemblies, and of difficulties and controversies arising out of
the extraordinary concessions of lands to a few proprietors, who
generally infringed the conditions of their grants and retarded the
settlement of the island. In New Brunswick the legislature was entirely
occupied with the consideration of measures for the administration of
justice and local affairs in an entirely new country. Party government
had not yet declared itself, and the Loyalists who had founded the
province controlled the legislature for many years until a spirit of
liberalism and reform found full expression and led to the enlargement
of the public liberty.

In Nova Scotia the Loyalists gradually acquired considerable influence
in the government of the province, as the imperial authorities felt it
incumbent on them to provide official positions for those men who had
sacrificed so much for the empire. Their power was increased after the
arrival of Governor John Wentworth--afterwards made a baronet--who had
been the royal governor of New Hampshire, and had naturally a strong
antipathy to democratic principles in any form. In his time there grew
up an official oligarchy, chiefly composed of members of the legislative
council, then embodying within itself executive, legislative and
judicial powers. A Liberal party soon arose in Nova Scotia, not only
among the early New England settlers of the time of Governor Lawrence,
but among the Loyalists themselves, for it is inevitable that wherever
we find an English people, the spirit of popular liberty and the
determination to enjoy self-government in a complete sense will sooner
or later assert itself among all classes of men. The first prominent
leader of the opposition to the Tory methods of the government was one
William Cottnam Tonge, who was for some years in the employ of the naval
department. Sir John Wentworth carried his hostility to the extent of
dismissing him from his naval office and also of refusing to accept him
as speaker of the assembly--the first example in colonial history of an
extreme exercise of the royal prerogative by a governor. Mr. Tonge's
only crime appears to have been his bold assertion from time to time of
the privileges of the house of assembly, as the guardian of the revenues
and expenditures, against the interference of the governor and council.
We find in Nova Scotia, as in the other provinces, during the period in
question, the elements of perpetual discord, which found more serious
expression after the war of 1812-15, and led to important constitutional

The governors of those times became, from the very nature of their
position, so many provincial autocrats, brought constantly into
conflict with the popular body, and unable to conceive any system of
government possible that did not place the province directly under the
control of the imperial authorities, to whom appeals must be made in the
most trivial cases of doubt or difficulty. The representative of the
crown brooked no interference on the part of the assembly with what he
considered his prerogatives and rights, and as a rule threw himself into
the arms of the council, composed of the official oligarchy. In the
course of time, the whole effort of the Liberal or Reform party, which
gathered strength after 1815, was directed against the power of the
legislative council. We hear nothing in the assemblies or the literature
of the period under review in advocacy of the system of parliamentary or
responsible government which was then in existence in the parent state
and which we now enjoy in British North America. In fact, it was not
until the beginning of the fourth decade of the nineteenth century that
the Liberal politicians of Nova Scotia, like those of Upper Canada,
recognised that the real remedy for existing political grievances was to
be found in the harmonious operation of the three branches of the
legislature. Even then we look in vain for an enunciation of this
essential principle of representative government in the speeches or
writings of a single French Canadian from 1791 until 1838, when the
constitution of Lower Canada was suspended as a result of rebellion.

During the twenty years of which I am writing the government of Canada
had much reason for anxiety on account of the unsatisfactory state of
the relations between Great Britain and the United States, and of the
attempts of French emissaries after the outbreak of the revolution in
France to stir up sedition in Lower Canada. One of the causes of the war
of 1812-15 was undoubtedly the irritation that was caused by the
retention of the western posts by Great Britain despite the stipulation
in the definitive treaty of peace to give them up "with all convenient
speed." This policy of delay was largely influenced by the fact that the
new republic had failed to take effective measures for the restitution
of the estates of the Loyalists or for the payment of debts due to
British creditors; but in addition there was probably still, as in 1763
and 1774, a desire to control the fur-trade and the Indians of the west,
who claimed that the lands between the Canadian frontier and the Ohio
were exclusively their hunting-grounds, not properly included within the
territory ceded to the United States. Jay's treaty, arranged in 1794,
with the entire approval of Washington, who thereby incurred the
hostility of the anti-British party, was a mere temporary expedient for
tiding over the difficulties between England and the United States. Its
most important result so far as it affected Canada was the giving up in
1797 of the western posts including Old Fort Niagara. It became then
necessary to remove the seat of government from Niagara, as an insecure
position, and York, which regained its original Indian name of Toronto
in 1834, was chosen as the capital by Lord Dorchester in preference to a
place suggested by Simcoe on the Tranche, now the Thames, near where
London now stands. The second parliament of Upper Canada met in York on
the first of June, 1797, when Mr. Russell, who had been secretary to Sir
Henry Clinton during the American war, was administrator of the
government after the departure of Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe from a
province whose interests he had so deeply at heart.

After the declaration of war against England by the republican
convention of France in 1793, French agents found their way into the
French parishes of Lower Canada, and endeavoured to make the credulous
and ignorant _habitants_ believe that France would soon regain dominion
in her old colony. During General Prescott's administration, one McLane,
who was said to be not quite mentally responsible for his acts, was
convicted at Quebec for complicity in the designs of French agents, and
was executed near St. John's gate with all the revolting incidents of a
traitor's death in those relentless times. His illiterate accomplice,
Frechette, was sentenced to imprisonment for life, but was soon released
on the grounds of his ignorance of the serious crime he was committing.
No doubt in these days some restlessness existed in the French Canadian
districts, and the English authorities found it difficult for a time to
enforce the provisions of the militia act. Happily for the peace and
security of Canada, the influence of the Bishop and Roman Catholic
clergy, who looked with horror on the murderous acts of the
revolutionists of France, was successfully exerted for the support of
British rule, whose justice and benignity their church had felt ever
since the conquest. The name of Bishop Plessis must always be mentioned
in terms of sincere praise by every English writer who reviews the
history of those trying times, when British interests would have been
more than once in jeopardy had it not been for the loyal conduct of this
distinguished prelate and the priests under his direction.

I shall now proceed to narrate the events of the unfortunate war which
broke out in 1812 between England and the United States, as a result of
the unsettled relations of years, and made Canada a battle ground on
which were given many illustrations of the patriotism and devotion of
the Canadian people, whose conquest, the invaders thought, would be a
very easy task.


THE WAR OF 1812--15.

SECTION I.--Origin of the war between England and the United States.

The causes of the war of 1812-15 must be sought in the history of Europe
and the relations between England and the United States for several
decades before it actually broke out. Great Britain was engaged in a
supreme struggle not only for national existence but even for the
liberties of Europe, from the moment when Napoleon, in pursuance of his
overweening ambition, led his armies over the continent on those
victorious marches which only ended amid the ice and snow of Russia.
Britain's battles were mainly to be fought on the sea where her great
fleet made her supreme. The restriction of all commerce that was not
British was a necessary element in the assertion of her naval
superiority. If neutral nations were to be allowed freely to carry the
produce of the colonies of Powers with whom Great Britain was at war,
then they were practically acting as allies of her enemies, and were
liable to search and seizure. For some time, however, Great Britain
thought it expedient to concur in the practice that when a cargo was
trans-shipped in the United States, and paid a duty there, it became to
all intents and purposes American property and might be carried to a
foreign country and there sold, as if it were the actual produce of the
republic itself. This became a very profitable business to the merchants
of the United States, as a neutral nation, during the years when Great
Britain was at war with France, since they controlled a large proportion
of all foreign commerce. Frauds constantly occurred during the
continuance of this traffic, and at last British statesmen felt the
injury to their commerce was so great that the practice was changed to
one which made American vessels liable to be seized and condemned in
British prize courts whenever it was clear that their cargoes were not
American produce, but were actually purchased at the port of an enemy.
Even provisions purchased from an enemy or its colonies were considered
"contraband of war" on the ground that they afforded actual aid and
encouragement to an enemy. The United States urged at first that only
military stores could fall under this category, and eventually went so
far as to assert the principle that under all circumstances "free ships
make free goods," and that neutral ships had a right to carry any
property, even that of a nation at war with another power, and to trade
when and where they liked without fear of capture. England, however,
would not admit in those days of trial principles which would
practically make a neutral nation an ally of her foe. She persisted in
restricting the commerce of the United States by all the force she had
upon the sea.

This restrictive policy, which touched the American pocket and
consequently the American heart so deeply, was complicated by another
question of equal, if not greater, import. The forcible impressment of
men to man the British fleet had been for many years a necessary evil in
view of the national emergency, and of the increase in the mercantile
marine which attracted large numbers to its service. Great abuses were
perpetrated in the operation of this harsh method of maintaining an
efficient naval force, and there was no part of the British Isles where
the presence of a press gang did not bring dismay into many a home.
Great Britain, then and for many years later, upheld to an extreme
degree the doctrine of perpetual allegiance; she refused to recognise
the right of any of her citizens to divest themselves of their national
fealty and become by naturalisation the subject of a foreign power or a
citizen of the United States Such a doctrine was necessarily most
obnoxious to the government and people of a new republic like the United
States, whose future development rested on the basis of a steady and
large immigration, which lost much of its strength and usefulness as
long as the men who came into the country were not recognised as
American citizens at home and abroad. Great Britain claimed the right,
as a corollary of this doctrine of indefeasible allegiance, to search
the neutral ships of the United States during the war with France, to
enquire into the nationality of the seaman on board of those vessels, to
impress all those whom her officers had reason to consider British
subjects by birth, and to pay no respect to the fact that they may have
been naturalised in the country of their adoption. The assertion of the
right to search a neutral vessel and to impress seamen who were British
subjects has in these modern times been condemned as a breach of the
sound principle, that a right of search can only be properly exercised
in the case of a neutral's violation of his neutrality--that is to say,
the giving of aid to one of the parties to the war The forcible
abduction of a seaman under the circumstances stated was simply an
unwarrantable attempt to enforce municipal law on board a neutral
vessel, which was in effect foreign territory, to be regarded as sacred
and inviolate except in a case where it was brought under the operation
of a recognised doctrine of international law. Great Britain at that
critical period of her national existence would not look beyond the fact
that the acts of the United States as a neutral were most antagonistic
to the energetic efforts she was making to maintain her naval supremacy
during the European crisis created by Napoleon's ambitious designs.

The desertion of British seamen from British ships, for the purpose of
finding refuge in the United States and then taking service in American
vessels, caused great irritation in Great Britain and justified, in the
opinion of some statesmen and publicists who only regarded national
necessities, the harsh and arbitrary manner in which English officials
stopped and searched American shipping on the high seas, seized men whom
they claimed to be deserters, and impressed any whom they asserted to be
still British subjects. In 1807 the British frigate "Leopard," acting
directly under the orders of the admiral at Halifax, even ventured to
fire a broadside into the United States cruiser "Chesapeake" a few miles
from Chesapeake Bay, killed and wounded a number of her crew, and then
carried off several sailors who were said to be, and no doubt were,
deserters from the English service and who were the primary cause of the
detention of this American man-of-war. For this unjustifiable act
England subsequently made some reparation, but nevertheless it rankled
for years in the minds of the party hostile to Great Britain and helped
to swell the list of grievances which the American government in the
course of years accumulated against the parent state as a reason for

The difficulties between England and the United States, which culminated
in war before the present century was far advanced, were also
intensified by disputes which commenced soon after the treaty of 1783. I
have already shown that for some years the north-west posts were still
retained by the English on the ground, it is understood, that the claims
of English creditors, and especially those of the Loyalists, should be
first settled before all the conditions of the treaty could be carried
out. The subsequent treaty of 1794, negotiated by Chief Justice Jay,
adjusted these and other questions, and led for some years to a better
understanding with Great Britain, but at the same time led to a rupture
of friendly relations with the French Directory, who demanded the repeal
of that treaty as in conflict with the one made with France in 1778, and
looked for some tangible evidence of sympathetic interest with the
French revolution. The war that followed with the French republic was
insignificant in its operations, and was immediately terminated by
Napoleon when he overthrew the Directory, and seized the government for
his own ambitious objects. Subsequently, the administration of the
United States refused to renew the Jay Treaty when it duly expired, and
as a consequence the relatively amicable relations that had existed
between the Republic and England again became critical, since American
commerce and shipping were exposed to all the irritating measures that
England felt compelled under existing conditions to carry out in
pursuance of the policy of restricting the trade of neutral vessels.
Several attempts were made by the British government, between the expiry
of the Jay Treaty and the actual rupture of friendly relations with the
United States, to come to a better understanding with respect to some of
the questions in dispute, but the differences between the two Powers
were so radical that all negotiations came to naught. Difficulties were
also complicated by the condition of political parties in the American
republic and the ambition of American statesmen. When the democratic
republicans or "Strict constructionists," as they have been happily
named, with Jefferson at their head, obtained office, French ideas came
into favour; while the federalists or "Broad constitutionalists," of
whom Washington, Hamilton and Adams had been the first exponents, were
anxious to keep the nation free from European complications and to
settle international difficulties by treaty and not by war. But this
party was in a hopeless minority, during the critical times when
international difficulties were resolving themselves into war, and was
unable to influence public opinion sufficiently to make negotiations for
the maintenance of peace successful, despite the fact that it had a
considerable weight in the states of New England.

The international difficulties of the United States entered upon a
critical condition when Great Britain, in her assertion of naval
supremacy and restricted commerce as absolutely essential to her
national security, issued an order-in-council which declared a strict
blockade of the European coast from Brest to the Elbe. Napoleon
retaliated with the Berlin decree, which merely promulgated a paper
blockade of the British Isles. Then followed the later British
orders-in-council, which prevented the shipping of the United States
from trading with any country where British vessels could not enter, and
allowed them only to trade with other European ports where they made
entries and paid duties in English custom-houses. Napoleon increased the
duties of neutral commerce by the Milan decree of 1807, which ordered
the seizure of all neutral vessels which might have been searched by
English cruisers. These orders meant the ruin of American commerce,
which had become so profitable; and the Washington government attempted
to retaliate, first by forbidding the importation of manufactures from
England and her colonies, and, when this effort was ineffective, by
declaring an embargo in its own ports, which had only the result of
still further crippling American commerce at home and abroad.
Eventually, in place of this unwise measure, which, despite its
systematic evasion, brought serious losses to the whole nation and
seemed likely to result in civil war in the east, where the discontent
was greatest, a system of non-intercourse with both England and France
was adopted, to last so long as either should press its restrictive
measures against the republic, but this new policy of retaliation hardly
impeded American commerce, of which the profits were far greater than
the risks. The leaders of the Democratic party were now anxious to
conciliate France, and endeavoured to persuade the nation that Napoleon
had practically freed the United States from the restrictions to which
it so strongly objected. It is a matter beyond dispute that the French
decrees were never exactly annulled; and the Emperor was pursuing an
insidious policy which confiscated American vessels in French ports at
the very moment he was professing friendship with the United States. His
object was to force the government of that country into war with
England, and, unfortunately for its interests, its statesmen lent
themselves to his designs.

The Democratic leaders, determined to continue in power, fanned the
flame against England, whose maritime superiority enabled her to inflict
the greatest injury on American shipping and commerce. The governing
party looked to the south and west for their principal support. In these
sections the interests were exclusively agricultural, while in New
England, where the Federalists were generally in the majority, the
commercial and maritime elements predominated. In Kentucky, Ohio, and
other states there was a strong feeling against England on account of
the current belief that the English authorities in Canada had tampered
with the Indian tribes and induced them to harass the settlers until
Harrison, on the eve of the war of 1812, effectually cowed them. It is,
however, now well established by the Canadian archives that Sir James
Craig, when governor-general in 1807, actually warned the Washington
government of the restlessness of the western Indians, and of the
anxiety of the Canadian authorities to avoid an Indian war in the
north-west, which might prejudicially operate against the western
province. This fact was not, however, generally known, and the feeling
against Canada and England was kept alive by the dominant party in the
United States by the disclosure that one John Henry had been sent by the
Canadian government in 1808 to ascertain the sentiment of the people of
New England with respect to the relations between the two countries and
the maintenance of peace. Henry's correspondence was really quite
harmless, but when it had been purchased from him by Madison, on the
refusal of the imperial government to buy his silence, it served the
temporary purpose of making the people of the west believe that England
was all the while intriguing against the national interests, and
endeavouring to create a discontent which might end in civil strife.
Under these circumstances the southern leaders, Clay of Kentucky, and
Calhoun of South Carolina, who always showed an inveterate animosity
against England, forced Madison, then anxious to be re-elected
president, to send a warlike message to congress, which culminated in a
formal declaration of hostilities on the 18th of June, 1812, only one
day later than the repeal of the obnoxious order-in-council by England.
When the repeal became known some weeks later in Canada and the United
States, the province of Upper Canada had been actually invaded by Hull,
and the government of the United States had no desire whatever to desist
from warlike operations, which, they confidently believed, would end in
the successful occupation of Canada at a time when England was unable,
on account of her European responsibilities, to extend to its defenders
effective assistance.

SECTION 2.--Canada during the war.

In 1812 there were five hundred thousand people living in the provinces
of British North America. Of this number, the French people of Lower
Canada made up at least one half. These people had some grievances, and
political agitators, notably the writers of the _Canadien_, were
creating jealousies and rivalries between the French and English races
chiefly on the ground of the dominant influence of the British minority
in the administration of public affairs. On the whole, however, the
country was prosperous and the people generally contented with British
rule, the freedom of which presented such striking contrast to the
absolutism of the old French regime. The great majority of the eighty
thousand inhabitants of Upper or Western Canada were Loyalists or
descendants of Loyalists, who had become deeply attached to their new
homes, whilst recalling with feelings of deep bitterness the sufferings
and trials of the American revolution. This class was naturally attached
to British rule and hostile to every innovation which had the least
semblance of American republicanism. In the western part of the province
of Upper Canada there was, however, an American element composed of
people who had been brought into the country by the liberal grants of
land made to settlers, and who were not animated by the high sentiments
of the Loyalists of 1783 and succeeding years. These people, for some
years previous to 1812, were misled by political demagogues like Wilcox
and Marcle, both of whom deserted to the enemy soon after the outbreak
of the war. Emissaries from the republic were busily engaged for months,
we now know, in fomenting a feeling against England among these later
immigrants, and in persuading them that the time was close at hand when
Canada would be annexed to the federal republic. Some attempts were even
made to create discontent among the French Canadians, but no success
appears to have followed these efforts in a country where the bishop,
priests and leading men of the rural communities perfectly appreciated
the value of British connection.

The statesmen of the United States, who were responsible for the war,
looked on the provinces as so many weak communities which could be
easily invaded and conquered by the republican armies. Upper Canada,
with its long and exposed frontier and its small and scattered
population, was considered utterly indefensible and almost certain to be
successfully occupied by the invading forces. There was not a town of
one thousand souls in the whole of that province, and the only forts of
any pretension were those on the Niagara frontier. Kingston was a
fortified town of some importance in the eastern part of the province,
but Toronto had no adequate means of defence. At the commencement of the
war there were only fourteen hundred and fifty regular troops in the
whole country west of Montreal, and these men were scattered at
Kingston, York, Niagara, Chippewa, Erie, Amherstburg, and St. Joseph.
The total available militia did not exceed four thousand men, the
majority of whom had little or no knowledge of military discipline, and
were not even in the possession of suitable arms and accoutrements,
though, happily, all were animated by the loftiest sentiments of courage
and patriotism. In the lower provinces of Eastern Canada and Nova
Scotia there was a considerable military force, varying in the aggregate
from four to five thousand men. The fortifications of Quebec were in a
tolerable state of repair, but the citadel which dominates Halifax was
in a dilapidated condition. The latter port was, however, the rendezvous
of the English fleet, which always afforded adequate protection to
British interests on the Atlantic coasts of British North America,
despite the depredations of privateers and the successes attained during
the first months of the war by the superior tonnage and equipment of the
frigates of the republic. But the hopes that were entertained by the war
party in the United States could be gathered from the speeches of Henry
Clay of Kentucky, who believed that the issue would be favourable to
their invading forces, who would even "negotiate terms of peace at
Quebec or Halifax."

The United States had now a population of at least six millions and a
half of whites. It was estimated that during the war the government had
a militia force of between four and five hundred thousand men available
for service, while the regular army amounted to thirty-four thousand
officers and privates. The forces that invaded Canada by the way of Lake
Champlain, Sackett's Harbour, the Niagara and Detroit Rivers, were
vastly superior in numbers to the Canadian army of defence, except in
the closing months of the war, when Prevost had under his command a
large body of Peninsular veterans. One condition was always in favour of
Canada, and that was the sullen apathy or antagonism felt by the people
of New England with respect to the war. Had they been in a different
spirit, Lower Canada would have been in far greater danger of successful
invasion and occupation than was the case at any time during the
progress of the conflict. The famous march of Arnold on Quebec by the
Kennebec and Chaudiere Rivers might have been repeated with more serious
consequences while Prevost, and not Guy Carleton, was in supreme command
in the French Canadian province.

I can attempt to limn only the events which stand out most plainly on
the graphic pages of this momentous epoch in Canadian history, and to
pay a humble tribute to the memory of men, whose achievements saved
Canada for England in those days of trial. From the beginning to the end
of the conflict, Upper Canada was the principal battle ground upon which
the combatants fought for the supremacy in North America. Its frontiers
were frequently crossed, its territory was invaded, and its towns and
villages were destroyed by the ruthless hand of a foe who entered the
province not only with the sword of the soldier but even with the torch
of the incendiary. The plan of operations at the outset of the campaign
was to invade the province across the Niagara and Detroit Rivers,
neither of which offered any real obstacles to the passage of a
determined and well-managed army in the absence of strong
fortifications, or a superior defensive force, at every vulnerable point
along the Canadian banks. Queenston was to be a base of operations for a
large force, which would overrun the whole province and eventually
co-operate with troops which could come up from Lake Champlain and march
on Montreal. The forces of the United States in 1812 acted with
considerable promptitude as soon as war was officially declared, and had
they been led by able commanders the result might have been most
unfortunate for Canada. The resources for defence were relatively
insignificant, and indecision and weakness were shown by Sir George
Prevost, then commander-in-chief and governor-general--a well meaning
man but wanting in ability as a military leader, who was also hampered
by the vacillating counsels of the Liverpool administration, which did
not believe in war until the province was actually invaded. It was
fortunate for Canada that she had then at the head of the government in
the upper province General Brock, who possessed decision of character
and the ability to comprehend the serious situation of affairs at a
critical juncture, when his superiors both in England and Canada did
not appear to understand its full significance.

The assembly of Upper Canada passed an address giving full expression to
the patriotic sentiments which animated all classes of people when the
perilous state of affairs and the necessity for energetic action became
apparent to the dullest minds. The Loyalists and their descendants, as
well as other loyal people, rallied at the moment of danger to the
support of Brock; and the immediate result of his decided orders was the
capture of the post of Michillimackinac, which had been, ever since the
days of the French regime, a position of great importance on the upper
lakes. Then followed the ignominious surrender of General Hull and his
army to Brock, and the consequent occupation of Detroit and the present
state of Michigan by the British troops. Later, on the Niagara frontier,
an army of invaders was driven from Queenston Heights, but this victory
cost the life of the great English general, whose promptitude at the
commencement of hostilities had saved the province. Among other brave
men who fell with Brock was the attorney-general of the province,
Lieutenant-Colonel John Macdonell, who was one of the general's aides.
General Sheaffe, the son of a Loyalist, took command and drove the enemy
across the river, in whose rapid waters many were drowned while
struggling to save themselves from the pursuing British soldiery,
determined to avenge the death of their honoured chief. A later attempt
by General Smyth to invade Canadian territory opposite Black Rock on the
Niagara River, was also attended with the same failure that attended the
futile attempts to cross the Detroit and to occupy the heights of
Queenston. At the close of 1812 Upper Canada was entirely free from the
army of the republic, the Union Jack floated above the fort at Detroit,
and the ambitious plan of invading the French province and seizing
Montreal was given up as a result of the disasters to the enemy in the
west. The party of peace in New England gathered strength, and the
promoters of the war had no consolation except the triumphs obtained at
sea by some heavily armed and well manned frigates of the United States
to the surprise of the government and people of England, who never
anticipated that their maritime superiority could be in any way
endangered by a nation whose naval strength was considered so
insignificant. But these victories of the republic on the ocean during
the first year of the war were soon effaced by the records of the two
subsequent years when "The Chesapeake" was captured by "The Shannon" and
other successes of the British ships restored the prestige of England on
the sea.

During the second year of the war the United States won some military
and naval successes in the upper province, although the final results of
the campaign were largely in favour of the defenders of Canada. The war
opened with the defeat of General Winchester at Frenchtown on the River
Raisins in the present state of Michigan; but this success, which was
won by General Procter, was soon forgotten in the taking of York, the
capital of the province, and the destruction of its public buildings.
This event forced General Sheaffe to retire to Kingston, while General
Vincent retreated to Burlington Heights as soon as the invading army
occupied Fort George and dominated the Niagara frontier. Sir George
Prevost showed his military incapacity at Sackett's Harbour, where he
had it in his power to capture a post which was an important base of
operations against the province. On the other hand Colonel George
Macdonell made a successful attack on Ogdensburg and fittingly avenged
the raid that an American force had made a short time previously on
Elizabethtown, which was called Brockville not long afterwards in honour
of the noted general. An advance of the invading army against General
Vincent was checked by the memorable success won at Stoney Creek by
Colonel Harvey and the surrender at Beaver Dams of Colonel Boerstler to
Lieutenant Fitzgibbon, whose clever strategy enabled him to capture a
large force of the enemy while in command of a few soldiers and Indians.
When September arrived, the small, though all-important, British fleet
on Lake Erie, under the command of Captain Barclay, sustained a fatal
defeat at Put-in-Bay, and the United States vessels under Commodore
Perry held full control of Lake Erie. A few weeks later, General Procter
lost the reputation which he had won in January by his defeat of
Winchester, and was beaten, under circumstances which disgraced him in
the opinion of his superiors, on the River Thames not far from the
Indian village of Moraviantown. The American forces were led by General
Harrison, who had won some reputation in the Indian campaign in the
north-west and who subsequently became, as his son in later times, a
president of the United States.

It was in this engagement that the Shawenese chief, Tecumseh, was
killed, in him England lost a faithful and brave ally. English prospects
in the west were consequently gloomy for some time, until the autumn of
1813, when the auspicious tidings spread from the lakes to the Atlantic
that the forces of the republic, while on their march to Montreal by the
way of Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence, had been successfully met
and repulsed at Chateauguay and Chrysler's Farm, two of the most
memorable engagements of the war, when we consider the insignificant
forces that checked the invasion and saved Canada at a most critical

In the last month of the same year Fort George was evacuated by the
American garrison, but not before General McLure had shamelessly burned
the pretty town of Niagara, and driven helpless women and children into
the ice and snow of a Canadian winter. General Drummond, who was in
command of the western army, retaliated by the capture of Fort Niagara
and the destruction of all the villages on the American side of the
river as far as Buffalo, then a very insignificant place. When the new
year dawned the only Canadian place in possession of the enemy was
Amherstburg on the western frontier.

The third and last year of the war was distinguished by the capture of
Oswego and Prairie-des-Chiens by British expeditions; the repulse of a
large force of the invaders at Lacolle Mills in Lower Canada; the
surrender of Fort Erie to the enemy, the defeat of General Riall at
Street's or Usher's Creek in the Niagara district, the hotly contested
battle won at Lundy's Lane by Drummond, and the ignominious retreat from
Plattsburg of Sir George Prevost, in command of a splendid force of
peninsular veterans, after the defeat of Commodore Downey's fleet on
Lake Champlain. Before the year closed and peace was proclaimed, Fort
Erie was evacuated, the stars and stripes were driven from Lake Ontario,
and all Canadian territory except Amherstburg was free from the invader.
The capital of the United States had been captured by the British and
its public buildings burned as a severe retaliation for the conduct of
the invading forces at York, Niagara, Moraviantown, St. David's and Port
Dover. Both combatants were by this time heartily tired of the war, and
terms of peace were arranged by the treaty of Ghent at the close of
1814; but before the news reached the south, General Jackson repulsed
General Packenham with heavy losses at New Orleans, and won a reputation
which made him president a few years later.

The maritime provinces never suffered from invasion, but on the contrary
obtained some advantages from the presence of large numbers of British
men-of-war in their seaports, and the expenditure on military and naval
supplies during the three years of war. Following the example of the
Canadas, the assemblies of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia voted large
sums of money and embodied the militia for active service or general
purposes of defence. The assembly of New Brunswick, essentially the
province of the Loyalists, declared in 1813 that the people were "ready
and determined to repel every aggression which the infatuated policy of
the American government may induce it to commit on the soil of New
Brunswick." But the war was so unpopular in the state of Maine and other
parts of New England that the provinces by the sea were comparatively
safe from aggression and conflict. Soon after the commencement of
hostilities the governors of Maine and New Brunswick issued
proclamations which prevented hostilities for two years along their
respective borders. In Nova Scotia there was much activity during the
war, and letters of marque were issued to privateers which made many
captures, and offered some compensation for the losses inflicted on the
coasting and fishing interests by the same class of American vessels. In
1814 it was decided by the imperial authorities to break the truce which
had practically left Maine free from invasion, and Sir John Sherbrooke,
then governor of Nova Scotia, and Rear-Admiral Griffith took possession
of Machias, Eastport, Moose, and other islands in Passamaquoddy Bay.

The people of the United States generally welcomed the end of a war
which brought them neither honour nor profit and seemed likely to break
the union into fragments in consequence of the hostility that had
existed in New England through the conflict from the very beginning. The
news of Prevost's retreat from Plattsburg no doubt hastened the decision
of the British government to enter into negotiations for peace, which
was settled on terms by no means favourable to Canadian interests. The
question of the New Brunswick boundary might have been then adjusted on
conditions which would have prevented at a later day the sacrifice of a
large tract of territory in Maine which would be now of great value to
the Dominion. The only advantage which accrued to the Canadians was a
later convention which gave the people of the provinces full control of
fisheries, ignorantly sacrificed by the treaty of 1783.

No class of the people of Canada contributed more to the effectiveness
of the militia and the successful defence of the country than the
descendants of the Loyalists, who formed so large and influential a
portion of the English population of British North America. All the
loyal settlements on the banks of the St. Lawrence, on the Niagara
frontier, and on the shores of Lake Erie, sent many men to fight by the
side of the regular British forces. Even aged men, who had borne arms in
the revolutionary war, came forward with an enthusiasm which showed that
age had not impaired their courage or patriotism, and although they were
exempted from active service, they were found most useful in stationary
duties at a time when Canada demanded the experience of such veterans.
"Their lessons and example," wrote General Sheaffe, "will have a happy
influence on the youth of the militia ranks." When Hull invaded the
province and issued his boastful and threatening proclamation he used
language which must have seemed a mockery to the children of the
Loyalists. They remembered too well the sufferings of their fathers and
brothers during "the stormy period of the revolution," and it seemed
derisive to tell them now that they were to be "emancipated from tyranny
and oppression and restored to the dignified station of free men." The
proclamation issued by Governor Brock touched the loyal hearts of a
people whose family histories were full of examples of "oppression and
tyranny," and of the kind consideration and justice of England in their
new homes. "Where," asked Brock, with the confidence of truth, "is the
Canadian subject who can truly affirm to himself that he has been
injured by the government in his person, his property, or his liberty?
Where is to be found, in any part of the world, a growth so rapid in
prosperity and wealth as this colony exhibits?" These people, to whom
this special appeal was made at this national crisis, responded with a
heartiness which showed that gratitude and affection lay deep in their
hearts. Even the women worked in the field that their husbands, brothers
and sons might drive the invaders from Canadian soil. The 104th
Regiment, which accomplished a remarkable march of thirteen days in the
depth of winter, from Fredericton to Quebec--a distance of three hundred
and fifty miles--and lost only one man by illness, was composed of
descendants of the loyal founders of New Brunswick. This march was
accomplished practically without loss, while more than three hundred
men were lost by Benedict Arnold in his expedition of 1777 against
Quebec by the way of Kennebec--a journey not more dangerous or arduous
than that so successfully accomplished by the New Brunswick Loyalists.
In 1814 considerable numbers of seamen for service in the upper lakes
passed through New Brunswick to Quebec, and were soon followed by
several companies of the 8th or King's Regiment. The patriotism of the
Loyalists of New Brunswick was shown by grants of public money and every
other means in their power, while these expeditions were on their way to
the seat of war in the upper provinces.

Historians and poets have often dwelt on the heroism of Laura Secord,
daughter and wife of Loyalists, who made a perilous journey in 1814
through the Niagara district, and succeeded in warning Lieutenant
Fitzgibbon of the approach of the enemy, thus enabling him with a few
soldiers and Indians to surprise Colonel Boerstler near Beaver Dams and
force him by clever strategy to surrender with nearly 600 men and
several cannon. Even boys fled from home and were found fighting in the
field. The Prince Regent, at the close of the war, expressly thanked the
Canadian militia, who had "mainly contributed to the immediate
preservation of the province and its future security." The Loyalists,
who could not save the old colonies to England, did their full share in
maintaining her supremacy in the country she still owned in the valley
of the St. Lawrence and on the shores of the Atlantic.

As Bishop Plessis stimulated a patriotic sentiment among the French
Canadians, so Vicar-General Macdonell of Glengarry, subsequently the
first Roman Catholic bishop of Upper Canada, performed good service by
assisting in the formation of a Glengarry regiment, and otherwise taking
an active part in the defence of the province, where his will always be
an honoured name. Equally indefatigable in patriotic endeavour was
Bishop Strachan, then rector of York, who established "The Loyal and
Patriotic Society," which did incalculable good by relieving the
necessities of women and children, when the men were serving in the
battlefield, by providing clothing and food for the soldiery, and
otherwise contributing towards the comfort and succour of all those who
were taking part in the public defences. Of the engagements of the war
there are two which, above all others, possess features on which the
historian must always like to dwell. The battle which was fought against
such tremendous odds on the banks of the Chateauguay by less than a
thousand French Canadians, led by Salaberry and Macdonell, recalls in
some respects the defeat of Braddock in 1755. The disaster to the
British forces near the Monongahela was mainly the result of the
strategy of the Indians, who were dispersed in the woods which reechoed
to their wild yells and their ever fatal shots fired under cover of
trees, rocks and stumps. The British were paralysed as they saw their
ranks steadily decimated by the fire of an enemy whom they could never
see, and who seemed multitudinous as their shrieks and shouts were heard
far and wide in that Bedlam of the forest. The leaves that lay thick and
deep on the ground were reddened with the blood of many victims helpless
against the concealed, relentless savages. The woods of the Chateauguay
did not present such a scene of carnage as was witnessed at the battle
of the Monongahela, but nevertheless they seemed to the panic-stricken
invaders, who numbered many thousands, alive with an enemy whose
strength was enormously exaggerated as bugle sounds and Indian yells
made a fearful din on every side. Believing themselves surrounded by
forces far superior in numbers, the invaders became paralysed with fear
and fled in disorder from an enemy whom they could not see, and who
might close upon them at any moment. In this way Canadian pluck and
strategy won a famous victory which saved the province of Lower Canada
at a most critical moment of the war.

If we leave the woods of Chateauguay, where a monument has been raised
in recognition of this brilliant episode of the war, and come to the
country above which rises the mist of the cataract of Niagara, we see a
little acclivity over which passes that famous thoroughfare called
"Lundy's Lane." Here too rises a stately shaft in commemoration of
another famous victory--in many respects the most notable of the
war--won by a gallant Englishman, whose name still clings to the pretty
town close by.

This battle was fought on a midsummer night, when less than three
thousand British and Canadian troops fought six hours against a much
superior force, led by the ablest officers who had taken part in the
war. For three hours, from six to nine o'clock at night, less than two
thousand held the height, which was the main object of attack from the
beginning to the end of the conflict, and kept at bay the forces that
were led against them with a stern determination to win the position.
Sunlight gave way to the twilight of a July evening, and dense darkness
at last covered the combatants, but still the fight went on. Columns of
the enemy charged in such close and rapid succession that the British
artillerymen were constantly assailed in the very act of sponging and
loading their guns. The assailants once won the height, but only to find
themselves repulsed the next instant by the resolute daring of the
British. Happily at the most critical moment, when the defenders of the
hill were almost exhausted by the heroic struggle, reinforcements
arrived, and the battle was renewed with a supreme effort on both sides.
For three hours longer, from nine o'clock to midnight, the battle was
fought in the darkness, only relieved by the unceasing flashes from the
guns, whose sharp reports mingled with the deep and monotonous roar of
the great falls. It was a scene worthy of a painter whose imagination
could grasp all the incidents of a situation essentially dramatic in its
nature. The assailants of the Canadian position gave way at last and
withdrew their wearied and disheartened forces. It was in all respects a
victory for England and Canada, since the United States army did not
attempt to renew the battle on the next day, but retired to Fort Erie,
then in their possession. As Canadians look down "the corridors of
time," they will always see those flashes from the musketry and cannon

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