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THE UPPER POSTS.
Haldimand. Clinton wrote to Haldimand that he had applied to Arbuthnot for a convoy to the troop-ship to convey the exchanged convention troops to Quebec, and to take under his protection the victualling ships destined for Canada. Arbuthnot declined, as there were frigates at Quebec to perform the duty. Haldimand, in reporting the matter to Germain, very mildly put the case, that the admiral could not have been well informed. The one frigate was the “ Hind.” The “Canceaux,” though an armed vessel, was so worn out that she could only be used as a prisoner ship; the “Jack” was the one provincial ship of any force.
A constant subject of complaint from London, in spite of Haldimand's efforts to control it, was the expense of the upper posts. It was very great, but it could scarcely be otherwise. All the provisions had, in the first instance, to be conveyed up the Saint Lawrence to Carleton-island and to Oswego and Niagara. There they had to be bodily carried across the long and severe portage to lake Erie, and thence by water to their destination. Moreover, it was not only the garrisons which had to be maintained. The Indians, likewise, had in many cases to be fed, and their friendship secured by presents; for it was by their aid only that the posts could be held, and without the occupation of the posts, no western trade could have been carried on.
In 1782, Townshend, then colonial secretary, was able to send the news of Rodney's great victory. Haldimand was likewise informed that the government of Canada would, for the future, be conducted by Carleton, the reason assigned being, that the preservation of the province was so strongly enforced upon Carleton, that he had received orders to proceed to Canada in person, and, if he should find it necessary, with such part of his force as he might judge fitting. *
Haldimand at the same time was assured that the king had the highest opinion of his merit and services, and that no other motive than that suggested “could have induced
[Can. Arch., B. 50, p. 168. Shelburne to Haldimand, 22nd April, 1782.]
the shadow of a wish for your withdrawing yourself from your government.”*
It was one of those impracticable theories of the colonial office in London which have so frequently worked mischief in Canada, that the commanding officer in New York should conduct the political affairs of Canada at Quebec. Carleton saw the absurdity of the plan, and took his own means of avoiding compliance. He wrote in September that it was not possible for him to go to Canada that fall, and what reads somewhat strangely, when his presence in Canada in 1786 and the part he took in carrying out the provisions of the Canada act are considered, that he should have added : “It is wholly unlikely that I shall do so at any time. I did not quit that government with a purpose upon any event of returning thither.” In December, he wrote : “No occasion whatever can bring me into your Province.”
In April, Shelburne brought to the notice of Haldimand certain complaints made against him, and while asking for explanations, desired him to secure the affections of the people by his administration. Shelburne was a disciple of Jeremy Bentham, and the advice was a cheap exhibition of philanthropy. The complainants were the French prisoners, or their wives, who had been confined for treasonable communication with congress in order to incite to invasion ; together with Mrs. Hay, the wife of a prisoner, who made great efforts to prove the innocence of her Scotch husband. There was also a Canadian seignior among the number who brought a charge of wrong suffered: Cuthbert who had held a commission in the army, and was a member of the legislative council. Orders had been given for a supply of cordwood, to be taken from the seigniories in the neighbourhood of the garrison of Sorel, among them from that of Berthier. Cuthbert protested, on the ground that the government had no such power. Haldimand maintained the contrary view. He contended that the crown was entitled, in the emergency, to the supply of wood. No objections were raised by other
[Can. Arch., B. 45, p. 53. Townshend to Haldimand, 31st July, 1782.]
PROSPECTS OF PEACE.
seigniors from whom the privilege was exacted. As there was, however, doubt on the point, Haldimand gave instructions for the quantity taken to be measured and receipts given, so that, if the claim could be established, payment could be made. In 1777-8, Cuthbert paid for the seigniories of La Noraye and D'Autray, £ 1,000. He now claimed as damages, £3,937 IOS.
Another grievance was the construction of a bridge in Cuthbert's seigniory. In order to improve the communications Haldimand had ordered the erection of bridges at the river du Loup, the Maskinonge and at Berthier. Cuthbert maintained a profitable ferry at the last named river, and he contended that the newly-built bridge was an interference with his rights of property.
Haldimand required merely to send a narrative of the circumstances under which he had acted to vindicate his character; we owe to this circumstance the preservation of many facts, all record of which would otherwise have passed away.
Shelburne was now engaged in the opening negotiations for peace; he wrote accordingly to Haldimand to discontinue all predatory excursions on the frontiers of the revolted provinces. None were to be made. Haldimand was also informed, that all United States prisoners in Great Britain were to be sent back in exchange, and that the same course should be followed in Canada. These letters were received by Haldimand in July.
The whole summer was passed in Canada in expectation of an invasion. Cornwallis' surrender was regarded as the forerunner of active operations against the province. What increased the doubt regarding the sentiments of the French Canadians was the report industriously circulated, that the pope had absolved them from their oath of allegiance to Great Britain, if they would return to the government of France. The United States congress had issued proclamations promising pardon to all loyalists who would accept the new constitution. On all sides the reports were of a character to cause alarm. French commissaries were forming magazines of provisions on the frontier. It was stated that a brigade of French troops was on the march towards Albany. The Canadians were to be armed as the troops entered the province. Simultaneously with these operations the upper posts were to be attacked from the valley of the Mohawk, an army from New England was to proceed against Halifax, and a powerful force was to ascend the Saint Lawrence. To meet these dangers Haldimand had not 3,000 men under his command.
The year however passed away without these dreaded operations having been attempted. As measures had been taken to assure the safety of the province as far as possible, the season likewise furnished hope that its severity would deter any attempt from being made. The winter came to an end without the tranquillity of the province having been disturbed. Spring opened with its warmth and freshness; the ice no longer bound the rivers and the lakes. The Saint Lawrence became again navigable and the season had arrived when the projected invasion was feasible. The first ships, however, brought neither men nor arms. On the 25th of April, 1783, news was received of the cessation of hostilities, and that the treaty of peace would, in a few weeks, be definitely signed: a peace by which, of the vast continent of America, Canada remained the only part under the British flag. The southern provinces had parted company with the mother country, henceforth to be known as the United States.
A charge has been made against Haldimand that he systematically opened letters and carried on his government by a system of espionage. He opened one letter and received a reproof from lord George Germain, who never lost the opportunity of being insolent to those who were not his creatures. The facts of the case were, that seeing a letter from Guy Johnson to Germain marked" On His Majesty's Service," sent to Quebec to be forwarded to England, Haldimand opened it, and wrote to Guy Johnson that he had so acted, as all letters upon public business should be trans1782]
THE CHARGE OF OPENING LETTERS.
mitted through him. He rebuked Johnson, because without communicating with him as governor, he had submitted schemes for raising corps in Canada, a measure which he ought to have known was impossible. He had forwarded the letter, and trusted that he would be spared the painful necessity of a similar communication.*
Johnson replied to Haldimand by a letter of apology, stating that he had acted through ignorance. +
In January, Haldimand had reported to Germain the unfitness of Guy Johnson for his position, as not possessing either the abilities or the temper to conduct a department of importance. He had left the province in 1775, when the whole business of his branch fell into the greatest confusion, from which it was only rescued by the unwearied attention, application, and judicious conduct of his deputy, Butler. I
Johnson complained to Germain that Haldimand had opened his letter, and the consequence was the official rebuke of Haldimand, but, even when administering it, Germain admitted Guy Johnson's inefficiency. S
It is from this circumstance only, that the charge has been
* Haldimand to Guy Johnson, 10th February, 1780 : “I was more surprised than I can well express to find that an officer at the head of a department under my command, should so far forget his duty as to propose to the king's ministers schemes for raising corps, in and upon the frontiers of the province of which I am governor, to serve in an army of which I am commander-in-chief; but still more so, that he should venture to mislead the minister by recommending as an eligible measure what he ought to know is impossible to accomplish.” “Sir John Johnson, although empowered to raise two regiments, had not been able in the course of four years to complete the first. Lt. Col. McLean had not been more successful. Major Butler had attempted completing the corps of rangers, to eight companies. His own rank as lieutenant-colonel, that of his son as major, had depended upon his success, but he had been unable to raise them.” (Can. Arch., B. 107, p. 72.] + [26th April, 1780. Can. Arch., B. 107, p. 74.]
[29th January, 1780. Can. Arch., B. 54, p. 271.] $ Germain to Haldimand, Sth August, 1780. [Can. Arch., B. 44, p. 46.] “I have to acquaint you that it is the king's express command that you do not detain or suppress any letter whatever that may come to your hand addressed to his secretary of state, nor upon any pretence break it open if it be sealed.
“But I agree so far with you in colonel Johnson's unfitness to conduct the business of the Five Nations."