No Support for the Revolution

When the American revolutionaries entered Quebec in 1775, they enjoyed a considerable degree of support within the country. Many French Canadians sympathized with the American grievances outlined in the Intolerable Acts. However, the invasion brought about a substantial shift in public sentiment.

After the first weeks of the occupation, no longer were the revolutionaries considered as colonials protesting against injustices, but insurgents who were intent on exporting a revolution through violence and destruction. At first, residents of Montreal ignored Governor Sir Guy Carleton’s 13 November, 1775 evacuation order.

When American General Richard Montgomery led his force into the city, a group of prominent citizens had welcomed him with a document in which they declared than their chains were broken, blissful liberty restored… The Americans, in turn, promised “liberty and security”. The assurance had not met expectations.

Within weeks, many Montrealers suspected of being less than supportive of the revolution were rounded up and imprisoned at Fort Chambly. Besides, anti-Catholic sentiment, which was rampant among the occupying force, led to the banning of Christmas mass and the closing of churches.

Then, lacking provisions, the revolutionaries began looting farms and homes. Public opinion swung against the revolutionaries and became hostile. On 29 April 1776, tree men arrived in Montreal to propagate support for the revolution. They were charged by the Continental Congress. The delegation was led by Benjamin Franklin. He found the city openly hostile. It took the delegation one month to make a journey from Philadelphia to Montreal, but 12 days later he was on his way back, as he was understood than ‘the miserable situation”, as he described it, was hopeless.

The Continental Army had to withdraw from Quebec after a series of defeats in June 1776. The next month, the Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence. There were a few further intents to capture the colony. In 1777, the American Board of War charged the Marquis de Lafayette with leading the campaign.

As Lafayette made his was towards the border, he discovered that few preparation had been made. He was informed by scouts that the British and Canadians were well aware of the plans for invasion and were standing ready. Faced with certain defeat, Lafayette and the Board of War abandoned the plan. British North America remained untouched during the War of Independence and was never influenced by the revolutionaries.

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