Upper Canada York, July, 28.
Yesterday, at an early hour, his Honour, Isaac Brock, Esq. administering the Government of Upper Canada, and Major-General, commanding his Majesty’s forces therein, arrived at this place from Fort-George, and accompanied by a numerous suite proceeded to the Government Building at four p.m. when he opened the present extra session of the Legislature, and delivered the following speech to both houses :–
“Honourable Gentlemen of the Legislature, Council and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly,
“The urgency of the present crisis is the only consideration which would have induced me to call you together, at a time when public as well as private duties elsewhere demand your care and attention.
“But, Gentlemen, when invaded by an enemy whose avowed object is the entire conquest of this province, the voice of loyalty, as well as of interest, calls aloud to every person, in the sphere in which he is placed, to defend his country.
“Our militia have heard that voice and have obeyed it ; they have evinced, by the promptitude and loyalty of their conduct, that they are worthy of the King whom they serve and of the constitution which they enjoy ; and it affords me particular satisfaction, that, while I address you as Legislators, I speak to mean who, in the day of danger, will be ready to assist, not only with their counsels, but with their arms.
“We look, Gentlemen, to our militia, as well as to the regular forces, for our protection ; but I should be wanting to that important trust committed to my care, if I attempted to conceal (what experience, the great instructor of mankind, especially of legislators, has discovered) that amendment in our militia laws is necessary to render them efficient. It is for you to consider what further improvements they still may require.
“Honourable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly,
“From the history and experience of our mother country, we learn, that in times of actual invasion or internal commotion the ordinary course of criminal laws has been found in adequate to secure his Majesty’s Government from private treachery, as well as from open disaffection ; and that at such times its Legislature has found it expedient to enact laws restraining, for a limited period, the liberty of individuals, in many cases where it would be dangerous to expose the particulars of the charge ; and although the actual invasion of the province might justify me in the exercise of the full power reposed in me on such an emergency, yet it will be more agreeable to me to receive the sanction of the Houses.
“A few traitors have already joined the enemy–have been suffered to come into the country with impunity–and have been harboured and concealed in the interior ; yet the general spirit of loyalty which appears to pervade the inhabitants of this province, is such as to authorise a just expectation that their efforts to mislead and deceive will be unavailing– The disaffected, I am convinced, are few–To protect and defend the loyal inhabitants from the machinations, is an object worthy of your most serious deliberations.”
The speech concludes with a call for supplies.
The unprovoked declaration of war by the United States of America, against the united kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and its dependencies, has been followed by the actual invasion of this province in a remote frontier of the western districts, by a detachment of the United States. The officer commanding that detachment has thought proper to invite his Majesty’s subjects, not merely to a quiet and unresisting submission, but insults them with a call to seek voluntarily the protection of his Government.
Without condescending to repeat the illiberal epithets bestowed in this appeal of the American Commander to the people of Upper Canada, on the administration of his Majesty, every inhabitant of the province is desired to seek the confutation of such indecent slander in the review of his own particular cirumstances. Where is the Canadian subject, who can truly affirm to himself that he has been injured by the Government in his person, his property, or his liberty? Where is to be found, in any part of the world, a growth so paid in prosperity and wealth as this colony exhibits? Settled not thirty years by a band of veterans, exiled from their former possessions on account of their loyalty, not a descendant of these brave people it to be found, who, under the fostering liberality of their Sovereign, has not acquired a property and means of enjoyment, superior to what were possessed by their ancestors. This unequalled prosperity would not have been attained by the utmost liberality of the Government, or the persevering industry of the people, had not the maritime power of the mother country secured to its colonists a safe access to every market where the produce of their labour was in request. The unavoidable and immediate consequence of a separation from Great Britain, must be the loss of this inestimable advantage, and what is offered to you in exchange? To become a territory of the United States, and share with them that exclusion from the ocean which the policy of their Government enforces ; you are not even flattered with a participation of their boasted independence ; and it is but too obvious, that once exchanged from the powerful protection of the United Kingdom, you must be re-annexed to the dominion of France, from which the provinces of Canada were wrested by the arms of Great Britain at vast expence of blood and treasure, from no other motive than to relieve her ungrateful children from the oppression of a cruel neighbour ; the restitution of Canada to the empire of France, was the stipulated reward for the aid afforded to the revolted colonies, now the United States ; the debt is still due, and there can be no doubt but the pledge has been renewed as a consideration for commercial advantages, or rather for an expected relaxation in the tyranny of France over the commercial world. Are you prepared, inhabitants of Canada, to become willing subjects, or rather slaves to the despot who rules the nation of Europe with a rod of iron? If not, arise in a body, exert your energies, co-operate cordially with the King’s regular forces, to repel the invader, and do not give cause to your children, when groaning under the oppression of a foreign master, to reproach you with having too easily parted with the richest inheritance of this earth–a participation in the name, character, and freedom of Britain.
[The proclamation concludes with a declaration, that should the Americans refused quarter in consequence of Indians being found in Canadian ranks, that a severe and rigorous retaliation will take place.]
Isaac Brock, Major-Gen. and President Head-quarters, Fort George, July 22, 1812.
Citation: Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, United Kingdom), 03 October 1812, available at the Scissors and Paste Database, http://www.scissorsandpaste.net/105.