The United States, Great Britain, and British North America from the Revolution to the Establishment of Peace after the War of 1812

By A. L. Burt | Go to book overview

THE UNITED STATES, GREAT BRITAIN, AND BRITISH NORTH AMERICA

CHAPTER I
THE PARTING OF THE WAYS

THE American Revolution created the problem of Canadian-American relations by tearing the thirteen colonies away from the British Empire and leaving two contiguous colonies behind: the old Nova Scotia, out of which New Brunswick was presently carved, and the old Canada, which was then officially known as the Province of Quebec and should not be confused with the modern province of that name. From 1713 the peninsula of Nova Scotia had been united under the same sovereignty with the English colonies on the Atlantic seaboard. For fifty years of this period they had been separated by French territory on the mainland, but in 1763, when France ceded the rest of Acadia, Nova Scotia was enlarged to make its boundary march with that of New England. At the same time France transferred her title to Canada, whose political association with the English colonies to the south was thus of much shorter duration. Why did these neighbors part company? A complete answer to this question would of course include a full statement of all the causes of the Revolution, which are so well known that there is no need to repeat them here, even in summary. Nor is it necessary to give a detailed account of the war as it affected Canada and Nova Scotia. For the purpose of this study, a sufficient answer may be found in an examination of the action and reaction between these two surviving colonies and the revolutionary movement.

The British conquest of Canada precipitated the American Revolution, which in turn threatened to engulf the colony on the St. Lawrence. Because Canada commanded the back doors of the thirteen colonies, it had long inspired fear in American hearts, and it continued to do so. Though the conquest killed one fear, it gave birth to another. In place of the old one which had kept them loyal to the mother country, arose a new one which made them fight her in Canada, where Britain seemed to have stepped into the shoes of France. The new danger assumed more menacing proportions than the old one, for France had been able to strike them only in the rear whereas Britain, with her sea power, could also smite them in front.

Though the passage of the Quebec Act1 has often been cited as a cause

____________________
1
For a fuller discussion of the Quebec Act and its relation to the Revolution, see A. L. Burt , The Old Province of Quebec ( Minneapolis and Toronto, 1933).

-1-

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