Triumph of Freedom, 1775-1783

By John C. Miller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
CANADIAN ADVENTURE

TO temper Americans' exultation over their victory at Boston it was necessary merely to look at the progress of the war in Canada. There the prospect for American arms was as gloomy as it was bright in New England, and many patriots were beginning to regret that they had allowed themselves to be drawn into an adventure in the North. Late in 1775, the high drama of war had shifted to Montreal and Quebec, where a heroic band of Americans were besieging a no less courageous army of Englishmen and Canadians. The decisive battle in the hundred years' struggle of the British and French for mastery of the North American continent had been fought upon the Plains of Abraham, and now Americans and Englishmen were meeting on the same battlefield and contending for equally high stakes.

American patriots could have given convincing reasons for their decision to invade Canada, but the causes of their failure to conquer that British colony were not to them equally manifest. It is clear that from the beginning there was a powerful expansive ideology in the American Revolution. As has been said, Americans expected ultimately to revolutionize the world; but that, they candidly admitted, would take some doing. In the meantime, they proposed to incorporate within the American union all British territory upon the North American continent and even some of the Atlantic islands belonging to England. Americans spoke of bringing freedom to oppressed peoples, but the compelling and immediate motive for carrying the war into Canada was the necessity of making their frontiers secure. It was expansionism in the interests of security.

Nova Scotia, for example, early caught the eye of American expansionists. Settled partly by immigrants from New England. Nova Scotia seemed likely to follow the leadership of Boston rather than that of London; but

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