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Why Canada Did Not Join the American Revolution

1) The British Parliament in London adopted the Quebec Act, 1774 which implies the right to the French language, and confirms the right to the Roman Catholic religion and to the French civil law, and the right of the Catholic Church and the seigneurs to impose taxes. The test oath was abolished. The purpose of the Act was to encourage the "canadiens" not to join the American rebellion.

2) Canada did not in fact join the American Revolution, 1775-1776, when George Washington of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia sent an army, under Major General Richard Montgomery, which conquered Montreal. Delegates Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Chase, Charles Carroll and John Carroll were sent to Montreal by General Washington, but failed to convince Quebec to join the American Revolution.

3) Montgomery then attacked Quebec City on December 31, 1775 in Lower Town from the west. General Benedict Arnold attacked Quebec at the same time in Lower Town from the east. Both American armies were later repulsed in heavy fighting in cold weather and retreated. Montgomery was killed and his body was found under the snow next spring. He was buried at Quebec.

4) Delegates Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Chase, Charles Carroll and John Carroll were sent to Montreal in 1776 by General Washington, but failed to convince Quebec to join the American Revolution.

5) In the summer of 1776, the American armies withdrew from Montreal and Canada, when the British Fleet came up the St. Lawrence River.

6) A monument was erected to Montgomery in 1777 on the porch of St. Paul's Church, Broadway (near the former World Trade Center) by Act of Congress of January 25, 1776.

This Monument is erected by order of Congress 25th January 1776 to transmit to Posterity a grateful remembrance of the patriotism conduct enterprise & performance of Major General Richard Montgomery Who after a series of successes amidst the most discouraging difficulties Fell in the attack on Quebec 31 December 1775. Aged 37 years Erected 1777

7) In 1819, a subscription was raised and the body of General Montgomery was returned from Quebec and buried beneath the porch of St. Paul's Church on July 8, 1819. A further monument was erected there.

The State of New York Caused the Remains of Major General Richard Montgomery to be conveyed from Quebec and Deposited beneath this Monument the 8th day of July 1819

8) The body is entombed under both monuments at St. Paul's.


Commentary by E-Mail from Robert C. Stone of Ajax, Ontario, a retired Royal Canadian Naval officer and amateur/semi-pro historian

Dear Bill,

The organization, content and intense focus together with a direct, pithy and humorous style of your web site are all vintage Tetley. Am now actively considering adding "read law on Professor Tetley's web site" to my educational curriculum vitae. Am sorry that you did not mention that it was the sailors and gunners of an R.N. frigate wintering at Quebec City who manhandled a carronade into position in a snow storm and held fire until it was point blank. Montgomery and all those around him at the time were slain or grievously wounded in one shot. Clean sweep. End of campaign. Canada saved. But of course it was and is Montgomery who is memorialized rather than the nameless matelots who with greart skill (rigging sheer legs in the middle of a Quebec winter to hoist a bloody great gun into position is not for amateurs) that put and end to an astonishingly bold invasion.

I read this anecdote in a first-rate biography of "Guy Carleton" by Paul R. Reynolds published by Gage, Toronto, 1980. The death of Montgomery is described in a paragraph on page 84 in Chapter 9 entitled "the Defeat of the Americans at Quebec". There were two ships crews involved drawn from H.M.S. "Lizard" and H.M.S. "Hunter". These ships wintered at Quebec on Carleton's direct orders and the crews added to his forces. Carleton outnumbered the American attackers 2 to 1, but it is said that 4/5 of his ground forces were unreliable (page 78). Thus the need for the sailors and marines from the Fleet who in the event proved decisive.

It was not a carronade but rather three 3-pounders mounted in the second storey of a house. Sheer legs seem to have been the practical way to get these guns hoisted into position, but the sailors may have used a strong enough hoist mounted on the roof for furniture moving, a not unusual fitting on houses in those days. The weather was severely cold.

Reference to the three 3-pounders was found in G.F.G. Stanley's "The Military History Of An Unmilitary People". They would have weighed in at about 300 pounds each. Might have been manhandled into position, but given the size of men in those days, poor diet and the availability of gear and skill, I think hoisting them into position would have been most practical.

Robert C. Stone