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FIRST FIFTY YEARS OF BRITISH RULE 107

 

criminal code, and vested authority in a governor and appointed council. This act had not the effect expected. It did, it is true, please the French-Canadian seigneurs and clergy, but it greatly displeased the few English-speaking colonists in Canada, and was viewed with suspicion by the mass of the French Canadians. At the same time the older English colonies were angered—Pennsylvania and Virginia by the extension of the Province of Quebec to what they regarded as their own hinter-land, Puritan New England by the religious liberties granted to the people of Quebec—and the Quebec Act was made one of the reasons for the rebellion.

The first blood was shed in the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord in April, 1775, and a few days later, an American force obtained the mastery of Lake Champlain without any loss of men. The invasion of Canada speedily followed. A detachment of revolutionary troops under Benedict Arnold was despatched from Crown Point down the old route of invasion—the Riche-lieu River—and, on June 9th, St. Johns, garrisoned by a sergeant and ten men, fell an easy prize. But Arnold immediately withdrew to his base, and, on the day following, this important fortress was re-occupied by M. de Beletre, or Belestre, at the head of eighty Canadian volunteer militia, raised in or near Montreal.

Carleton had to face a critical situation. The British regulars in Canada, owing to the exactions of the wars in Europe, had been reduced to an insignificant force. The whole population consisted of 90,000 souls, of whom perhaps 1,000 were English-speaking. The population of the revolting colonies was 3,000,000. The Governor, realizing the objections to enforcing the Militia Act and indeed to any form of compulsion, decided to try first what could be done with voluntary enlistment, and he held out tempting offers. Unmarried privates were promised grants of 200 acres of land each; married ones, 250 acres, with fifty more for each child, the land to be free for twenty years of all forms of taxation. But apart


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