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1775. fupplying an army at fuch a distance, was now for the first time experimentally felt.
Whether it was, that these orders were not iffued in time, or that delays, occurred in the execution, which could neither have been foreseen or prevented, however it was, the tranfports were not ready to proceed on their voyage, until the year was so far advanced as to render it nearly impoffible. By this means they were detained upon our own coafts by contrary winds, or toft about by tempefts, until the greater part of their live cargoes of hogs and fheep, particularly the latter perifhed, fo that the channel was every where ftrewed with the floating carcaffes of these animals, as they were driven about by the winds and tides. A great part of the vegetables, over fermented and perished.
Nor was the condition of the transports mended when they got clear of our own coafts. They were peculiarly unfortunate as to winds and weather in the mid feas, and as they approached to the place of their deftination, the American perio dical winds were fet in, which blew in their teeth, and drove them of from the coafts.
Motives which led to the invafion of Canada. The taking of feveral Forts on the Lakes, by Montgomery and Arnold. The city of Quebec befieged.
S the hopes of a reconciliation with the mo
ther country, upon the conditions claimed by the Americans, became more faint, so they grew more daring in their defigns, and extended their views to the remote confequences, as well as to the immediate conduct of a war. The apparent tendency, and avowed defign of the Quebec act, had early drawn their attention and awakened their apprehenfions, in relation to the dangers with which they were threatened from that quarter. These apprehenfions produced the addrefs to the French inhabitants of Canada, of which we have formerly taken notice.
led to the
The fuccefs which attended the expedition to Motives the Lakes, with the reduction of Ticonderoga which and Crown-Point, in the beginning of this fummer, invafion by which, it might be faid, that the Gates of Ca- of Cananada were thrown open, rendered the affairs of da. that country more immediately interesting, and encouraged the Congrefs to a bold measure, which they would not otherwife perhaps have ventured upon. This was no less than the fending of a force for the invafion and reduction of that country.
A measure of fo extraordinary a nature required the most serious confideration. The commencing an offenfive war with the Sovereign, was a new and perilous undertaking. It feemed totally to change the nature of the ground on which they flood in the prefent difpute. Oppofition to government had hitherto been conducted on the apparent defign and avowed principle only, of fupporting and defendG g
CHAP. IX. 1775. ing certain rights and immunities of the people, which were fuppofed, pretended, to be unjustly invaded. Oppofition, or even refiftance, in fuch a cafe, fuppofing the premises to be fairly stated, is thought by many to be entirely confiftent with the principles of the British conftitution; and this opinion is faid to have received the fanction of precedents of the first authority. At any rate, the queftions in difpute were of fuch a nature, that mankind might for ever be divided in opinion, as the matter of right or wrong, juftice or injuftice, oppreffion or good government. But to render themselves at once the aggreffors, and not content with vindicating their own real or pretended rights, to fly wantonly in the face of the Sovereign, carry war into his dominions, and invade a province to which they could lay no claim, nor pretend no right, feemed fuch an outrage, as not only overthrew every play of juftifiable refiftance, but would militate with the established opinions, principles, and feelings of mankind in general.
On the other hand, the danger was preffing and great. The extraordinary powers placed in the hands of General Carleton, the Governor of Canada, by a late commiffion, were new, alarming, and evidently pointed out the purposes for which they were granted. By thefe he was authorized to embody and arm the Canadians, to march them out of the country for the fubjugation of the other colonics, and to proceed even to capital punishments, against all thofe, and in all places, whom he should deem rebels and oppofers of the laws. The ftrong powers of government which he alfo poffeffed within his province, were equal to thofe of the most arbitary European Monarchs, and had been already felt both by the English and French fubjects. Thus, though the Canadians had hitherto refufed to be embodied, or to march upon any terms out of the province, it was eafily feen, that as foon as the Go
vernor's authority was fupported by the arrival of 1775a body of English forces, they would be obliged implicitly to obey him, as well in that, as all other matters. He had befides, already engaged a confiderable number of the Canada and other Indians in his fervice, and if his arms once became predominant, the defire of fpoil and blood would bring them in crowds from the remoteft defarts to his affiftance. Befides they were perfectly acquainted with, and therefore had every thing to dread, from the zeal, the spirit of enterprize, and the military talents, of that able and refolute officer.
In these circumftances, confidering a war as not only inevitable, but as already begun, they deemed it inconfiftent with reafon and policy, to wait to be attacked by a formidable force at their backs, in the very inftant that their utmost exertions would be requifite, and probably infufficient, for the protection of their capital cities and coafts, against the refentment of the mighty power whom they had fo grievoufly offended, and with whom they were entering into fo untried and arduous a conteft. They argued, that preventing the known hoftile intentions of an enemy, by foreftalling his designs ere they could be carried into execution, was as much a matter of felf-defence, and lefs cruel, than waiting to be attacked by him under every difadvantage, and when he had arrived at his utmoft force. There was no natural law, nor convention among mankind, by which a perfon is bound to be a fimple and inactive looker-on, while his enemy was loading a gun for his deftruction; was he to wait till the execution took place, for fear he fhould be deemed an aggreffor! Queftions in cafuiftry, however edifying upon other occafions, have nothing to do in circumstances upon which the fate of nations depend. Were they only to feek a remedy, when the favages had penetrated into their country, and the fury of the flames which confumed their fettlements,
1775. were only retarded by the blood of their women and infants,
The Congrefs were all fenfible, that they had already gone fuch lengths as could only be justified by arms. The fword was already drawn, and the appeal made. It was too late to look back, and to waver would be certain deftruction. If a certain degree of fuccefs did not afford a fanction to their refiftance, and difpofe the court of Great Britain to an accommodation upon lenient terms, they would not only loose thofe immunities for which they at prefent contended, but all others would lie at the mercy of a jealous and irritated government. In fuch a ftate, their moderation in the fingle inftance of Canada, they thought, would be a poor plea for compaflion or indulgence.
The knowledge they had of the present state of affairs, and the temper of the people in Canada, alfo contributed much to encourage them in this enterprize. They knew that the French inhabitants, excepting the nobleffe and clergy, were in general as much difcontented at the overthrow of the English laws, and the introduction of the prefent fyftem of government, as even the British fettlers. It feemed therefore probable, that this difcontent, operating with the rooted averfion which they bore to their ancient proud and oppreffive tyrants, the nobleffe, or lords of the manors and the mortal dread which they entertained of being again reduced to their former ftate of feudal and military vaffalage, would induce them to confider the Provincials rather as friends than invaders, and to embrace fo favourable an opportunity of obtaining a fhare in that freedom for which they were contending. Though they were perfectly unacquainted with the nature of the particular controverty, and little interested in it, it feemed to be for freedom, and American freedom, and the name of