After the declaration of war against England by the republican convention of France in 1793, French agents found their way into the French parishes of Lower Canada, and endeavoured to make the credulous and ignorant habitants believe that France would soon regain dominion in her old colony. During General Prescott’s administration, one McLane, who was said to be not quite mentally responsible for his acts, was convicted at Quebec for complicity in the designs of French agents, and was executed near St. John’s gate with all the revolting incidents of a traitor’s death in those relentless times. His illiterate accomplice, Frechette, was sentenced to imprisonment for life, but was soon released on the grounds of his ignorance of the serious crime he was committing. No doubt in these days some restlessness existed in the French Canadian districts, and the English authorities found it difficult for a time to enforce the provisions of the militia act. Happily for the peace and security of Canada, the influence of the Bishop and Roman Catholic clergy, who looked with horror on the murderous acts of the revolutionists of France, was successfully exerted for the support of British rule, whose justice and benignity their church had felt ever since the conquest. The name of Bishop Plessis must always be mentioned in terms of sincere praise by every English writer who reviews the history of those trying times, when British interests would have been more than once in jeopardy had it not been for the loyal conduct of this distinguished prelate and the priests under his direction.
I shall now proceed to narrate the events of the unfortunate war which broke out in 1812 between England and the United States, as a result of the unsettled relations of years, and made Canada a battle ground on which were given many illustrations of the patriotism and devotion of the Canadian people, whose conquest, the invaders thought, would be a very easy task.
THE WAR OF 1812—15.
SECTION I.—Origin of the war between England and the United States.