Letter in Response to the Declaration of War

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Letter in Response to the Declaration of War  (1812) 
by Isaac Brock
July 22, 1812

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 District by a detachment of the Armed Force 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 circumstances: Where is the Canadian Subject who can truly affirm to himself that he has been injured by the Government in his person, his liberty, or his property? Where is to be found in any part of the world, a growth so rapid in wealth and prosperity as this Colony exhibits,—Settled not 30 years by a band of Veterans exiled from their former possessions on account of their loyalty, not a descendant of these brave people is 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 could 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 labor was in demand.

The unavoidable and immediate consequence of a seperation from Great Britain, must be the loss of this inestimable advantage, and what is offered 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 present 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 reannexed to the dominion of France, from which the Provinces of Canada were wrested by the Arms of Great Britain, at a vast expense of blood and treasure, from no other motive than to relieve her ungrateful children from the oppression of a cruel neighbor: this 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 Upper Canada to become willing Subjects or rather Slaves, to the Despot who rules the Nations 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 on Earth.—a participation in the name, character and freedom of Britons.

The same spirit of Justice, which will make every reasonable allowance for the unsuccessful efforts of Zeal and Loyalty, will not fail to punish the defalcation of principle: every Canadian Freeholder is by deliberate choice, bound by the most solemn Oaths to defend the Monarchy as well as his own property; to shrink from that engagement is a Treason not to be forgiven; let no Man suppose that if in this unexpected struggle his Majesties Arms should be compelled to yield to an overwhelming force, that the Province will be eventually abandoned; the endeared relation of its first settlers, the intrinsic value of its Commerce and the pretensions of its powerful rival to repossess the Canadas are pledges that no peace will be established between the United States and Great Britain and Ireland, of which the restoration of these Provinces does not make the most prominent condition.

Be not dismayed at the unjustifiable threat of the Commander of the Enemies forces, to refuse quarter if an Indian appear in the Ranks.—The brave bands of Natives which inhabit this Colony, were, like his Majesty's Subjects, punished for their zeal and fidelity by the loss of their possessions in the late Colonies, and rewarded by his Majesty with lands of superior value in this Province: the Faith of the British Government has never yet been violated, they feel that the soil they inherit is to them and their posterity protected from the base Arts so frequently devised to overreach their simplicity. By what new principle are they to be prevented from defending their property? If their Warfare from being different from that of the white people is more terrific to the Enemy, let him retrace his steps—they seek him not—and cannot expect to find women and children in an invading Army; but they are men, and have equal rights with all other men to defend themselves and their property when invaded, more especially when they find in the enemies Camp a ferocious and mortal foe using the same Warfare which the American Commander affects to reprobate.

This inconsistent and unjustifiable threat of refusing quarter for such a cause as being found in Arms with a brother-sufferer in defence of invaded rights, must be exercised with the certain assurance of retaliation, not only in the limited operations of War in this part of the King's Dominions but in every quarter of the globe, for the National character of Britain is not less distinguished for humanity than strict retributive justice, which will consider the execution of this inhuman threat as deliberate Murder, for which every subject of the offending power must make expiation.

Isaac Brock. Maj. Gen. and President.

God Save the King.

Head Quarters Fort George, 22nd July 1812.

By order of His Honor the President,

J. B. Glegg, Capt. A.D.C.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).