|When the Americans invaded Upper Canada in 1812, both sides endeavoured to convince the locals, most of whom had come north from the US to be loyal to them. The Americans sought to have the Canadians, including the large number of French-Canadians living along the Detroit River to join with American ex-pats to defeat the British and to be welcomed into the fold of their US brothers. The Americans initially did not ask for military assistance but did ask for everyone to stay out of their way.|
Gen. Isaac Brock was very fearful that the former residents of the US who had come to Upper Canada for land, would aid and abet any American invasion force.
Trying to get ahead of the matter, Gen. Brock issued a proclamation on this date in 1812, anticipating an invasion.
I often wonder how many people could actually read these lengthy proclamations.
July 6, 1812 Brock's Proclamation
Province of Upper Canada.
Isaac Brock, Esquire, President, administering the Government of the Province of Upper Canada, and Major-General commanding his Majesty's Forces within our said Province.
To all whom these Presents shall come, greetings.
Whereas on the seventeenth day of June last the congress of the United States of America declared that war then existed between those States and their territories, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the dependencies thereof; and whereas, in pursuance of such declaration, the subjects of the United States have actually committed hostilities against the possessions of his majesty and the persons and property of his subjects in this province: now, therefore, by and with the advice of his majesty's executive council in the affairs of the province, I do hereby strictly enjoin and require all his majesty's liege subjects to be obedient to the lawful authorities, to forbear all communication with the enemy or persons residing within the territory of the United States, and to manifest their loyalty by a zealous co-operation with his majesty's armed force in defence of the province, and repulse of the enemy.
And I do further require and command all officers, civil and military, to be vigilant in the discharge of their duty, especially to prevent all communication with the enemy, and to cause all persons suspected of traitorous intercourse to be apprehended and treated according to law.
Given under my hand and seal at arms, at York, in the province of Upper Canada, this sixth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twelve, and in the fiftysecond of his majesty's reign.
ISAAC BROCK, President. By command of his honor,
William Jarvis, Secretary.
So this was an exhortation to do one's duty and a hint at retribution should one decide to be traitorous.
Six days later on the 12th of July, the American forces under an aging revolutionary warhorse, Gen. Hull, crossed into Upper Canada and seized small villages on the British side of the Detroit River.
And Hull felt compelled to issue his own Proclamation to the people of Upper Canada. He did so in English and in French. His proclamation was an appeal to join the country that only wished to free them from the bondage evident in their association with Great Britain. And just like Brock, Hull hinted at retribution should any citizens of Upper Canada take up arms against the invading US army and cautioned against any white man who fought alongside an Indian that he would pay the ultimate penalty.
Hull's letter to the people of Upper Canada
A PROCLAMATION INHABITANTS of CANADA!
After thirty years of PEACE & prosperity, the UNITED STATES have been driven to Arms. The injuries & aggressions, the insults & indignities of Great Britain have once more left them no alternative but manly resistance or unconditional submission.
The ARMY under my command, has invaded your country, & the Standard of the UNION now waves over the Territory of CANADA. To the peaceable unoffending inhabitant, it brings neither danger nor difficulty. I come to find enemies, not to snake them. I come to protect, not to injure you.
Separated by an immense Ocean, & an extensive Wilderness from Great Britain, you have no participation in her Counsels, no interest in her conduct. You have felt her Tyrany, you have seen her injustice, but I do not ask you to avenge the one or to redress the other. The UNITED STATES are sufficiently powerful to afford you every security, consistent with their rights, & your expectations.
I tender you the invaluable blessings of Civil, Political & Religious Liberty & their necessary result, individual and general prosperity; That Liberty which gave decision to our counsels and energy to our conduct, in our struggle for INDEPENDENCE, and which conducted as safely and triumphantly, thro' the stormy period of the Revolution. That Liberty which has raised us to an elevated rank among the Nations of the world, and which has afforded us a greater measure of PEACE and security, of wealth and improvement than ever fell to the lot of any people.
In the name of my Country and by the authority of my Government, I promise you protection to your persons, property and rights. Remain at your homes. Pursue your peaceful and customary avocations. Raise not your hands against your brethren.
Many of your fathers fought for the freedom & INDEPENDENCE we now enjoy. Being children therefore of the same family with us, and heirs to the same heritage, the arrival of an Army of friends, must be hailed by you with a cordial welcome.
You will be emancipated from Tyrany and oppression and restored to the dignified station of freemen. Had I any doubt of eventual success, I might ask you assistance, but I do not. I come prepared for every contingency. I have a force which will look down all opposition, & that force is but the vanguard of a much greater. If contrary to your own interest, and the just expectation of my Country, you should take part in the approaching contest, you will be considered & treated as enemies, & the horrors & calamities of war will stalk before you.
If the barbarous & savage policy of Great Britain be pursued, and the savages are let loose to murder our citizens, & butcher our women and children, the war, will be a war of extermination.
The first stroke of the Tomahawk, the first attempt with the scalping knife, will be the signal for one indiscriminate scene of desolation. No white man found fighting by the side of an Indian, will be taken prisoner. Instant destruction will be his lot. If the dictates of reason, duty, justice and humanity cannot prevent the employment of a force which respects no rights, & knows no wrong, it will be prevented by a severe and relentless system of retaliation.
I doubt not your courage and firmness: I will not doubt your attachment to Liberty. If you tender your services voluntarily, they will be accepted readily.
The UNITED STATES offer you peace, liberty and security. Your choice lies between these & WAR, slavery, and destruction. Choose then, but choose wisely; and may he who knows the justice of our cause; and who holds in his hand the fate of NATIONS, guide you to a result the most compatible with your rights and interest, your PEACE and prosperity.
Gen. Hull apparently had a great fear of Indians and when Gen. Brock and Tecumseh attacked Fort Detroit in August, Gen. Hull became dysfunctional. There weren't that many Indians but Tecumseh kept marching them in front of Fort Detroit, looping them through the woods, only to parade once more in front of the US forces. US soldiers and especially officers were astounded and angry when he surrendered. They said that he was sitting in a room, inconsolable and practically frothing at the mouth in fear. He was described as being catatonic. Poor "Granny" Hull as the men called him. He had served his country so well in the Revolution but was now well past his prime. It would take a couple of years for the US to weed out these old timers and to train a very professional army that compared favourably with the British regulars.
Long post I know but I love these documents that give us some insight into the thoughts of the participants.