Manifesto Addressed to the Canadians

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Manifesto Addressed to the Canadians  (1759) 
by James Wolfe

This manifesto was posted in a French translation on the doors of the Church in the village of Beaumont on June 28, 1759. Extracted from Wright, Robert (1864). The Life of Major-General James Wolfe, London: Chapman and Hall, p. 517-518

By his Excellency James Wolfe, Esq., Colonel of a Regiment of Infantry, Major-General, and Commander-in-chief of his Britannic Majesty's Forces in the River St. Lawrence, etc.

The formidable sea and land armament which the people of Canada now behold in the heart of their country, is intended by the King, my master, to check the insolence of France, to revenge the insults offered to the British colonies, and totally to deprive the French of their most valuable settlement in North America. For these purposes is the formidable army under my command intended. The King of Great Britain wages no war with the industrious peasant, the sacred orders of religion, or the defenceless women and children; to these, in their distressful circumstances, his royal clemency offers protection. The people may remain unmolested on their lands, inhabit their houses, and enjoy their religion in security. For these inestimable blessings I expect the Canadians will take no part in the great contest between the two crowns. But if, by a vain obstinacy and misguided valour, they presume to appear in arms, they must expect the most fatal consequences,– their habitations destroyed, their sacred temples exposed to an exasperated soldiery, their harvest utterly ruined, and the only passage for relief stopped up by a most formidable fleet. In this unhappy situation, and closely attacked by another great army, what can the wretched natives expect from opposition?

The unparalleled barbarities exerted by the French against our settlements in America might justify the bitterest revenge in the army under my command; but Britons breathe higher sentiments of humanity, and listen to the merciful dictates of the Christian religion. Yet, should you suffer yourselves to be deluded by an imaginary prospect of our want of success; should you refuse these terms, and persist in opposition, then surely will the law of nations justify the waste of war, so necessary to crush an ungenerous enemy; and then the miserable Canadians must in the winter have the mortification of seeing their very families, for whom they have been exerting but a fruitless and indiscreet bravery, perish by the most dismal want and famine. In this great dilemma, let the wisdom of the people of Canada show itself. Britain stretches out a powerful, yet merciful hand; faithful to her engagements, and ready to secure her in her most valuable rights and possessions. France, unable to support Canada, deserts her cause at this important crisis, and during the whole war has assisted her with troops, who have been maintained only by making the natives feel all the weight of grievous and lawless oppression.

Given at Laurent, in the Island of Orleans, this 28th day of June 1759.