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HALDIMAND, Sir FREDERICK (baptized François-Louis-Frédéric), army officer and colonial administrator; b. 11 Aug. 1718 in Yverdon, Switzerland, second of four sons of François-Louis Haldimand, receiver for the town, and Marie-Madeleine de Treytorrens; d. there unmarried 5 June 1791.
Frederick Haldimand came from a German family of comparatively humble origins which apparently settled at Thun in Switzerland during the 16th century. In 1671, however, Gaspard Haldimand, Frederick’s grandfather and a wet cooper by trade, became an inhabitant of the commune of Yverdon. Frederick’s position as the son of a minor functionary may have been responsible for his receiving only a limited education. He evidently possessed a strong interest in military life from an early age, but the various cantonal and city forces of Switzerland offered limited possibilities for advancement. Haldimand later commented that his native land was no place for someone with ambition, and this belief may have persuaded him to look for a career with a foreign army, a course of action very popular in his homeland.
Various accounts have been given of Haldimand’s early military service, but it now appears that in 1740 he joined the Markgraf Heinrich infantry regiment of the Prussian army, evidently with commissioned rank. During the War of the Austrian Succession the regiment was in the thick of the action. In addition to being present at the battle of Mollwitz (Małujowice, Poland) in 1741 Haldimand probably also participated in the fighting at Hohenfriedberg (Dąbromierz, Poland) and Kesseldorf (German Democratic Republic) in 1745. This experience may have been responsible for his being offered a position in the regiment of Swiss Guards in the Dutch army. In 1748 he became a first lieutenant, and on 1 July 1750 he was promoted captain commandant, with the army rank of lieutenant-colonel. While in the Guards he formed a close friendship with Henry Bouquet, a fellow Swiss who would also serve with distinction in North America.
In November 1755, as Britain and France were edging closer to full-scale war in North America, Jacques Prévost, a former Swiss officer of the French army, proposed to the British government that a regiment be raised among the numerous deserters from various armies who had taken refuge in Germany. He soon modified his plan to suggest that the regiment also recruit from among the Swiss and German settlers of Pennsylvania. Prévost’s scheme appeared to satisfy the government’s need to augment its forces in North America and its desire to have the Pennsylvania settlers defend themselves, and he received provisional royal authorization to approach suitable Protestant Swiss and German officers in other armies. By March 1756 some 90 officers and non-commissioned officers, among them Haldimand, Bouquet, Samuel Johannes Holland, and Prévost’s brother Augustin, had agreed to transfer to the British army, where they were to be joined by such persons as Conrad Gugy* and Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres*. In the mean time, the British government had introduced bills into the House of Commons to permit the raising of the regiment and to allow the foreign officers to hold British commissions, which an act of 1701 forbad them to do. The bills were duly passed, but “certain Restrictions and Qualifications” were laid upon the foreigners. There were to be only 50 of them – or about one-third of the officers – and they could hold active commands only in North America. It also appears that they could not serve outside the new regiment. The unit, named the Royal Americans (62nd, later 60th, Foot), was officially approved in March 1756, at a strength of four battalions. To ensure that seniority would be retained, the officers’ commissions were backdated to late 1755 and early 1756. Haldimand received the rank of lieutenant-colonel of the 2nd battalion with effect from 4 Jan. 1756.
In June of that year some 40 foreign officers, including Haldimand, arrived at New York. The remainder of 1756 and most of 1757 were taken up with the physical creation and training of the new regiment, and during these formative months clashes occurred between the British and foreign officers. The influx of foreigners into an army almost totally national in composition, combined with the widespread tendency of Britons to dislike foreigners, resulted in British officers slighting and harassing their new comrades in arms. Haldimand’s unhappy experiences undoubtedly helped form his conviction that the British service would never completely accept foreigners, as did the failure of the British government to honour its promise to appoint Bouquet and himself colonels commandant. But in order to deal immediately with the antipathy of British officers, he and Bouquet agreed to serve “with application and activity” during the war and to avoid involvement in army politics. After the conflict, if hostility towards them persisted, they could retire honourably. As it happened, both men had little to fear personally, since their intelligent professionalism soon made them respected and admired by many British officers. Indeed, as early as March 1757 Lord Loudoun, the commander-in-chief in North America, commented, “These two Lieut Colonels will do extremely well, and are very good officers.”
At the beginning of 1758 Haldimand was at Annapolis, Md, but he was soon called to Philadelphia, Pa, to supervise preparations for the embarkation of troops, including his battalion, for the expedition against Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island). But Major-General James Abercromby*, Loudoun’s successor, valued his services so highly that he persuaded Haldimand to exchange temporarily into the 4th battalion of the Royal Americans, which was to accompany him on his expedition against Fort Carillon (near Ticonderoga, N.Y.). During the disastrous British attack of 8 July on that post Haldimand was slightly wounded while occupying the prestigious post of commander of the massed British grenadiers. He spent the winter of 1758–59 at Fort Edward (also called Fort Lydius; now Fort Edward, N.Y.), occasionally sending Robert Rogers* and his rangers on patrols.
For the 1759 campaign Haldimand and the 4th battalion were assigned to Brigadier-General John Prideaux’s expedition against Fort Niagara (near Youngstown, N.Y.), and he was appointed second in command. But on Amherst*’s orders Haldimand and his battalion were left behind at Oswego to guard Prideaux’s communications and to build a fort to replace the ones that Louis-Joseph de Montcalm* had destroyed three years previously. The latter task was not even begun when on 5 July a force under Louis de La Corne* swooped down on the British positions. Haldimand disposed his men in hastily dug trenches and exchanged a desultory fire with the enemy. The next morning, when La Corne attempted to mount an attack, the cannon that Haldimand had concealed and the musketry “played wt such fury” that the French retreated, and soon afterwards made off. Both sides suffered only minor casualties, and La Corne probably did not press his attack because the British force was larger and more aggressive than he had believed. At all events, Oswego was not attacked again during the war.
Late in July Haldimand heard of Prideaux’s death before Niagara and he immediately set out for that post. However, on his arrival, he found that Sir William Johnson* had not only taken the fort but was also unwilling to part with the command he had assumed. Rather than start a dispute with the Indian affairs agent, a chagrined Haldimand returned to Oswego to await Amherst’s instructions. His superior praised Haldimand’s tact, but at the same time sent Brigadier-General Thomas Gage* to assume command in the region. Haldimand remained at Oswego over the winter, continued to work on the fort, and kept watch for French activity. Since Oswego was the assembly point of Amherst’s army for the 1760 campaign, Haldimand worked during the spring on preparing transports and storing supplies. His services during the ensuing campaign won him the honour of taking possession of Montreal after its surrender on 8 September. Moreover, his non-British background and command of French were probably responsible for his being named liaison officer with Governor Vaudreuil [Pierre de Rigaud*] and François de Lévis* to arrange the embarkation of the French troops and civil officials.
Haldimand then became second in command to Gage, the military governor of the District of Montreal. Although the war had brought him distinction and advancement (to colonel in America on 8 Jan. 1758), he believed that his foreign birth still militated against his chances of rising in the British service. Just after the capture of Montreal he therefore fulfilled his pact with Bouquet and asked Amherst for leave to resign. He was, however, dissuaded from this course. Peace-time left comparatively little of military importance to do in Montreal, although its social life was some compensation for the periods of isolation Haldimand had spent in frontier posts. On 28 Feb. 1762 he was promoted full colonel.
That May Haldimand got his first opportunity to direct a civil administration when he became acting military governor of Trois-Rivières with the departure of Ralph Burton* on campaign. He occupied the post until March 1763, when Burton returned. The same year he again went from Montreal to Trois-Rivières, Burton having transferred to Montreal on Gage’s appointment as commander-in-chief. This time he held the governorship from October 1763 to the establishment of civil government in September 1764. In accordance with the policy of the other two military governors, Burton had retained the majority of the French laws and regulations governing commerce, agriculture, currency, and other matters. These Haldimand also retained, but he made one significant change in the administration of justice. Influenced by the system Gage had used in Montreal, in June 1762 he established four courts of militia captains in the district to hear cases on a regular basis, and he also set up four councils of military officers to hear appeals from those courts. The arrangement was an improvement over Burton’s system of using the militia captains as arbiters in their own parishes, and if the captains and the officers were somewhat ignorant of French civil law, this disadvantage was offset by the conferral of greater responsibility on local officials.
Haldimand also took an interest in the operation of the Saint-Maurice ironworks, which had been mismanaged and neglected in the latter part of the French régime [see François-Étienne Cugnet*; René-Ovide Hertel* de Rouville]. The works had been reopened by Burton in 1760 and soon made a profit on the iron produced. Under Haldimand’s active supervision they became, in addition to a source of new iron, the depot for the rendering down of surplus iron from old cannon and other objects. In the military régime production went from 30,000 pounds in 1760 to more than 150,000 pounds in 1763, and the profits made were sufficient to pay the costs of the military government of Trois-Rivières. The works were enlarged, much iron was sold to the local merchants François Lévesque* and Jacques Terroux*, and badly needed hard currency was disbursed in the district in the form of workers’ salaries, pay for casual labourers, and money paid to habitants for providing firewood and making access roads. Haldimand cannot be given sole credit for this improvement, but his keen interest ensured that Burton’s initial work would be continued.
Little of real importance occurred at Trois-Rivières during the military régime. In the spring of 1764, however, Haldimand was unwillingly drawn into the controversy that surrounded James Murray*’s appointment as civil governor of Quebec. Murray had been officially appointed in November 1763, but Gage had directed Burton and Haldimand to continue as independent military governors until Murray’s commission arrived. This order led to friction since Murray claimed, as governor-designate, to have overall military command from the beginning of 1764, and he also tried to take sole responsibility for the raising of the Canadian volunteers who were to assist in the suppression of Pontiac*’s uprising. This dispute had unpleasant consequences for Haldimand. Since he was without extensive private means – a state of affairs not as unusual for British officers as has been represented – his lavish spending to uphold the dignity of the governor’s office had caused him financial problems. He believed, however, that a partial compensation could be provided by one of the two salaried positions of lieutenant governor established for the civil government. But the assistance he expected from Murray in attaining this position was not forthcoming, since the governor was piqued by Haldimand’s earlier refusal to cede any of his powers prematurely. Thus, once Haldimand handed over the civil administration of Trois-Rivières to Hector Theophilus Cramahé* on 28 Sept. 1764, he was reduced to commander of the troops. Refused leave to go to Europe, he spent a cheerless winter, a season worsened by his failure to obtain the sinecure of lieutenant governor of the garrison of Quebec, even though this time he had Murray’s support. Despite his failure and his belief that foreigners were badly treated in the British service, he remained philosophical and confided to Gage that he had decided to forget his disappointments, promising, “I will shut myself up . . . in my trade.”
In May 1765 Haldimand learned of Burton’s appointment as brigadier of the Northern Department and the cessation of his own independent command, and he immediately and successfully applied for leave. He apparently left Quebec in September for Europe, but when he arrived at New York his plans changed once again: Bouquet had died in September at Pensacola (Fla), where he had gone to take up his appointment as brigadier of the Southern Department. The death of his closest friend ironically was beneficial to Haldimand, since as senior colonel in North America he was now promoted brigadier-general in Bouquet’s place. Moreover, Burton had been recalled from Quebec, and Gage intended to appoint Haldimand brigadier of the Northern Department in his room. But when the British government appointed Guy Carleton lieutenant governor of Quebec in April 1766 to act in Murray’s absence, it also decided to make him brigadier of the Northern Department in order to avoid renewal of the sorts of quarrels that had developed between Murray and Burton and had hampered the operation of government. Consequently, despite Haldimand’s eagerness for the Northern Department appointment, Gage was obliged to send him to the remote and much less desirable Southern Department.
In March 1767 Haldimand arrived at his headquarters of Pensacola, where he was to remain, with the exception of one year at St Augustine (Fla) between April 1769 and April 1770, until the spring of 1773. As brigadier, he was responsible, under Gage’s supervision, for military affairs in the provinces of West and East Florida. Problems of communication between the two, however, confined his command to whichever colony he was stationed in. Fortunately, his relations with the governors of both provinces were, apart from minor disputes, good, and he was able to avoid the rather spectacular confrontations, paralleling incidents in Quebec [see George Allsopp], that had previously occurred between the military and civil authorities. Nor was there much danger externally. The powerful Indian tribes on the northern border of West Florida were by and large friendly and, apart from a short period in 1770 when Britain and Spain were on the verge of war, relations with the Spaniards in Louisiana were amicable.
Haldimand’s years in the Floridas were nevertheless frustrating. The poor condition of the forts in his command gave him constant concern, and a parsimonious government refused to advance much money for their repair and improvement. Their dilapidated state would have made little difference to Haldimand if his recommendations to withdraw most of the garrisons to Charleston, S.C.. and leave the defence of the Floridas to the navy had been accepted. A promising start was made in 1769 when much of the West Florida garrison was transferred to St Augustine, but complaints from the inhabitants of West Florida forced the British government to return the troops and Haldimand in 1770. On a day-to-day level, Haldimand had ongoing disputes with the provincial board of ordnance about the employment of engineers and the responsibility for military stores, and with the barracks officials about the regulation of their department. These imbroglios were accompanied by the constant problems of poor communications, extremes of climate, the high cost of living, and the rough-and-ready style of frontier life. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that he should have bombarded Gage with bitter complaints about the “frightful labyrinth” of his command or that he should have described his service as “the most disagreeable . . . of my life.” Haldimand was also troubled by his failure to advance in the army, which he rightly attributed to his distance from the seats of power in London and New York. His principal object was the colonelcy of a battalion, since the considerable income of that rank would help him deal with the debts contracted in the Floridas. But despite his efforts to persuade his superiors of his merits, it was not until 25 May 1772 that he was appointed a colonel commandant in the 60th Foot. Exactly five months later he was promoted major-general by the normal process of seniority.
In the spring of 1773 Haldimand was pleasantly surprised when he was summoned by Gage to New York, where he became acting commander-in-chief on the latter’s departure on leave to England in June. His period in office, from June 1773 to May 1774, was relatively uneventful, despite the worsening political climate. On two occasions, however, he was called upon to make decisions of some importance. In the autumn of 1773 he successfully resisted the demand of Governor William Tryon of New York for troops to intervene in the ongoing dispute with New Hampshire over the “Hampshire grants” (now Vermont). Then, early in 1774, in the wake of the Boston Tea Party, when it was feared that New York would oppose the landing of East India Company tea, Haldimand decided not to provide military protection for the tea unless formally requested and authorized to do so by the civilian authorities. He was determined not to weaken the military’s position by involving it in situations that could lead to violence with the population. Both decisions were fully supported by the home government, and his “Temper and Prudence” were applauded. When Gage arrived at Boston in June 1774, Haldimand became second in command but remained at New York. The dangerous situation in Massachusetts soon forced Gage to concentrate his forces in Boston, and in September he ordered Haldimand and the New York garrison there. Gage’s position as governor of Massachusetts left him little time for military duties, and in November he appointed Haldimand commander of the army at Boston. Haldimand remained in the background, however, because of Gage’s policy of deliberately avoiding confrontations with the inhabitants. It is also of interest that Gage did not inform him of the expedition to Concord in April 1775.
In the mean time, the British government’s increasing concern at Gage’s gloomy reports prompted it in February 1775 to assign major-generals William Howe, John Burgoyne*, and Henry Clinton to be advisers to Gage. This step naturally entailed the supersession of Haldimand, and in April he was advised that his foreign birth made him unsuitable for command in what was then seen as a civil war. He was also informed that he had been granted leave and was urged to take advantage of the permission. The government’s reasoning must have seemed familiar to Haldimand, whose appointment as commander-in-chief had been delayed while the legality of giving a foreigner such a position had been debated. It was, however, tactless for his replacements to arrive on the same boat as the government’s letter, and for them to be junior officers with little collective experience of North American conditions. From a purely military standpoint, Haldimand’s removal was ill advised, and it was a pity for the British cause that he was not given an active command. Not only was he probably the best British general on the continent, but apart from Gage he had the most experience of North American conditions in both peace and war. He was also, in contrast to his superior, widely respected in the army.
Haldimand left Boston the day before the battle of Bunker Hill, and after a stop in New York arrived in London on 9 Aug. 1775. Partly because of his knowledge of the colonists and partly because of government embarrassment over his recall, he was well received. Private interviews with the king and with Lord North, the leader of the government, were followed in September by his appointment to the sinecure of inspector general of the forces in the West Indies. Moreover, in July 1776 he was granted £3,000 as indemnification for expenses incurred while commander-in-chief. But while these events were gratifying, they did not conceal the fact that there was no chance of his receiving a military command against the rebels. Thus late in 1776 Haldimand could undertake his long-postponed journey to his home town. There he purchased the property of Champettit, on whose improvement he was to spend lavishly.
In the spring of 1777 Guy Carleton, now governor of Quebec, learned that Burgoyne was to command the army which would invade the rebel colonies from that province during the summer, and in a fit of pique he promptly submitted his resignation. It was just as promptly accepted, primarily because of the poor relations he had had with Lord George Germain, secretary of state for the American Colonies. Germain had evidently been considering Haldimand as a potential successor to Carleton for some time, since soon after the latter’s resignation was received the minister informed Haldimand that he had been successfully recommended to the king as the new governor of Quebec.
Although he had often proved his devotion to the crown since agreeing to serve under the British flag, Haldimand owed his selection for this new responsibility to his long experience in the North American colonies. His various posts and duties had allowed him to acquire a good geographical knowledge of this vast domain and adapt himself to the social and cultural diversity of its inhabitants. He had been able to familiarize himself with the numerous problems – particularly those of territorial organization, colonial administration, and defence – arising from the expansion of the British empire in North America.
Since Haldimand had left that continent in 1775, the imperial government had been engaged in a military operation of considerable magnitude to quell the revolt of the Thirteen Colonies, an operation undertaken in the hope – as tenacious as it was illusory - of averting an unhappy conclusion to the grave crisis. When Haldimand informed Germain that he accepted with gratitude the governorship at Quebec, the course of large-scale military operations [see John Burgoyne] was so preoccupying the secretary of state’s attention that he apologized for being unable to give Haldimand any details or clear indications of what was expected of him. But even under these conditions Germain did not fail to stress to Haldimand the importance of the office being entrusted to him by the king. His insistent reminders that he owed this office to the king clearly indicated that in the eyes of the British authorities he was still a Swiss mercenary. It was probably because there were no other candidates of the same calibre seeking the post that the military command and the government of one of the crown’s colonies were both entrusted to this foreigner. In addition to his commission as “Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over our Province of Quebec in America” Haldimand was entrusted with the same powers of commander-in-chief that had been granted Carleton.
Nine months were to elapse before the new governor could occupy his headquarters, because continuing bad weather in early October 1777 prevented him from leaving Portsmouth. His departure was put off until spring, and then was delayed again. When he finally landed at Quebec on 26 June 1778, the situation in North America had changed greatly. The disaster at Saratoga (Schuylerville, N.Y.) in October 1777 had wrecked Germain’s original plan for suppressing the rebels, and the official entry of France into the conflict on 6 Feb. 1778 had forced the British government to disperse its resources in men and material more widely. Fortunately Haldimand’s situation as commander-in-chief of Quebec enabled him to escape, at least in part, the constraints that the strategy of dispersal of forces imposed upon his colleague Sir Henry Clinton, commander-in-chief for the rest of North America. Although that policy created problems for Haldimand, in particular serious ones concerning troop reinforcements and supply procurement, he did not have to suffer such disastrous consequences as Clinton did in regard to strategic organization. Haldimand was not faced with instructions from the home authorities obliging him to give up sensitive places, withdraw to defensive positions, and part with a portion of his forces.
Because of the turn of events it had become of paramount importance, from London’s point of view, to hold on to the province of Quebec, maintain its territorial integrity, repel any external attack, and repress any internal agitation. These were the main objectives assigned Haldimand, on which he was to focus in performing his dual function as commander-in-chief and governor. When reminded of them by the home authorities before his departure, he is said to have replied, “I shall do my Duty as a Soldier.”
Haldimand could not have described better his line of conduct. He was governed by a sense of duty, as much by temperament as by military training and the professional commitment of a mercenary, and he tended to govern the province with the general’s baton. How can he be blamed? To praise his conduct as commander-in-chief but stigmatize his behaviour as governor is to risk making an unsound judgement. All factors conspired to favour his combining the civil and military roles in the discharge of his duties: the mission he was to carry out, the situation itself, which allowed no choice in means and methods, and the system of government that had been established under the Quebec Act and that Carleton had brought under his authority, thus preparing the way for his successor.
The circumstances did not lend themselves to the setting up of a constitutional régime devised to protect the rights and liberties of British subjects. In fact, not only did the Quebec Act seem to have as much raison d’être as when it had been passed by the imperial parliament in 1774, but Haldimand’s mission was similar to the one entrusted to Gage under the Massachusetts Government Act. Haldimand, who had been Gage’s assistant in Boston for more than six months and had witnessed the difficulties he experienced at the head of a rebellious province, knew very well where he himself stood. His stay in Boston had made him deeply distrust the operations of the Sons of Liberty, and certainly the American invasion could not have reassured him about their designs. For example there is a note in the personal memorandum that he wrote with his return to Canadian soil in mind “to tell [the Catholic clergy] that their religion and rights will suffer if the rebels, and especially the Bostonnais, gained the upper hand . . . [and that] the latter are most interested in reducing Canada in order to settle it with their own people so as to assure their independence.”
Haldimand must have been somewhat relieved to receive the welcoming addresses from the English-speaking citizens of Quebec and Montreal, who seemed to be aware of the dangers in prospect and were counting on obtaining both military and civil protection to promote their economic interests and their political rights as British subjects. The French speaking-citizens of the town of Quebec also paid their respects, expressing their wish to continue under the protection of the crown’s representative to enjoy the benefits of the Quebec Act, which guaranteed “the ownership and peaceful enjoyment of our property and our rights as citizens.” These addresses showed respectively what the spokesmen of the two opposing communities were anticipating. They conveyed publicly the expectations that the legislative councillors entertained of the new governor and gave a foretaste of their different viewpoints.
Divergence of opinion was a normal state of affairs among legislative councillors since, in the absence of representative institutions, the council constituted the only centre of power where the political forces of the colony came face to face. When Haldimand arrived, there was already a well-defined split between two parties: the French party rallied the defenders of the authoritarian system put in place by Carleton; the English party grouped the forces opposed to that system and in favour of innovation. Whereas the latter party drew recruits exclusively from the Protestant minority and basically represented the views of the British bourgeoisie, the French party not only had in its ranks representatives of both peoples but contained elements from different social and professional groups. As reconstituted under Haldimand’s administration the French party would include, in addition to the seigneurs and French Canadian militia officers, the commander of the British militia (subsequently the receiver general), Henry Caldwell, judges John Fraser and Adam Mabane*, and surveyors John Collins* and Samuel Johannes Holland.
Haldimand quite naturally found within the French party his strongest support for maintaining the system of government that had been set up since the Quebec Act; but if by doing so he was able to exercise his authority as he thought best, it was less from a desire to consolidate his personal power, as Carleton had done, than from the wish to serve the interests of the crown as best he could. Haldimand’s civil administration was characterized by resistance to change. It was as much through the force of circumstance as through personal choice that he resolutely set out along the path traced by his predecessor. He soon perceived that the established system would make it easier to maintain political control of the situation at a time when he had to concentrate on assuring the province’s security and defence.
Despite the vigilance that his heavy responsibilities required, Haldimand displayed some flexibility from the earliest days of his administration. Having learned of the presence in Montreal of printer Fleury Mesplet*, who had been in the service of the Philadelphia-based Continental Congress, he at first ordered him expelled from the province but changed his mind following the intervention of “respectable” Montrealers on their fellow citizen’s behalf. The weekly newspaper that Mesplet and his partner, Valentin Jautard*, had founded a month before the new governor’s arrival continued to appear for nearly a year. The two journalists were, however, kept under close surveillance by Lieutenant Governor Cramahé and were required to avoid involvement in politics. They did not escape ecclesiastical censure from the vicar general and Sulpician superior, Étienne Montgolfier*; he had little liking for their literary efforts, which were inspired by the Enlightenment. Montgolfier hastened to put Haldimand on his guard against these members of the Académie de Montréal. The governor preferred to play for time, replying that “the matter . . . merited careful reflection” and that he had “very explicitly had attacks on religion or the clergy forbidden.”
Time had its limits, of course. In April 1779 Mesplet was summoned before the Court of Common Pleas for daring to reflect in public on the administration of justice. Jautard, who as a lawyer could enter the “sanctuary of justice,” had revealed to the public the judicial irregularities being committed there, and Pierre Du Calvet* entered the fray in his turn to denounce the judges’ abuses of powers and to call René-Ovide Hertel de Rouville to account. Losing patience with the “misconduct of these insolent people,” the latter urged Haldimand to deal severely with them. The decision was not long in coming: it was directed against not only the newspaper, but also Mesplet and Jautard, who were put behind bars on 3 June 1779. Even though they were detained for political reasons, Haldimand justified his action by alleging reasons of security such as stifling “the licentious spirit” which had been infecting the atmosphere of the town of Montreal from the time of the American invasion.
The bad reputation Montreal had acquired as a centre for plots and a hotbed of agitation for seditious and turbulent minds lent some weight to the presumption, if not to the demonstration, of the two prisoners’ guilt, but above all it was the fact that they were natives of France which made them suspect in Haldimand’s eyes. Previously, in the spring of 1779, another French immigrant, Pierre de Sales Laterrière, had been imprisoned on suspicion of collaboration and conspiracy [see Christophe Pélissier*]. The governor waited until the spring of 1780 before proceeding with other arrests as warnings: these included the apprehension of Charles Hay*, a Scottish merchant at Quebec, and François Cazeau, a Montreal merchant of French origin. In September 1780 Brigadier-General Allan Maclean* had Du Calvet and the master surgeon Boyer Pillon, both of Montreal, detained.
In his well-known indictment, which he published in London in 1784 under the title Appel à la justice de l’État, Du Calvet claimed that the arrests of citizens under Haldimand’s “despotic and tyrannical” administration could be counted “by the hundreds.” Less than a month after his arrival Haldimand had published in the Quebec Gazette an act of the British parliament which from the spring of 1777 had authorized in the North American colonies the arrest and detention, without right to bail, of any person suspected or accused of high treason. This legislation justified in the governor’s eyes the prolonged imprisonment without legal recourse of persons considered undesirable or dangerous. The situation warranted such security measures, he informed Germain when explaining his actions. Consequently he waited until peace returned before releasing, in the spring of 1783, the people he considered mainly responsible for an espionage network. A year later he finally complied with article 13 of his instructions and issued an ordinance establishing habeas corpus.
Haldimand’s mission appeared the more difficult and sensitive since he was taking charge of a former French colony populated largely by erstwhile subjects of the king of France who could not remain indifferent to the alliance between France and the American colonies. After a French squadron had reached Delaware Bay in July 1778, schemes for conquering Canada began to give rise to rumours of invasion. However, an attempt to reconquer Canada did not enter into the plans of France because, as the French foreign minister, the Comte de Vergennes, observed, it was in that country’s interest to leave her former colony in the hands of the British to be “a useful source of unease and vigilance on the part of the Americans, because it will make them even more conscious of their need for the king’s friendship and alliance.” The minister plenipotentiary to the American Congress, Conrad-Alexandre Gérard, was none the less supposed “always to lend himself readily to anything that may suit the United States and to co-operate willingly in the execution of their plan for conquest as far as circumstances permit . . . but without making any formal commitment to do so.”
France’s secret designs were kept well hidden by the proposals for conquering the province of Quebec that the Marquis de La Fayette advanced. Early in the autumn of 1778 Congress studied and approved an invasion plan to be carried out with the assistance of France in the spring and summer of 1779. This plan envisaged the occupation of the province through a vast deployment of forces and a series of military operations both in the west, where capture of Detroit and Niagara and control of Lake Ontario were to be secured, and in the St Lawrence valley, which was to be penetrated through a double thrust via the Rivière Saint-François and the St Lawrence. While the soldiers of the revolutionary army setting off from the mouth of the Saint-François would invade the south shore, a French expeditionary corps would sail from Brest across the Atlantic to take the town of Quebec by surprise, incorporate as many Canadian volunteers as possible into its regiments, and then join the American troops to seize Montreal. But this invasion strategy, which was modelled on British operations during the Seven Years’ War, was considered impracticable by General George Washington; for him, freeing American soil of the British presence was the prime necessity. In the end Congress decided to put aside the proposed plan, without however abandoning any measures that might favour “the liberty and independence of Canada and its union with the United States.”
The French vice-admiral Jean-Baptiste-Charles d’Estaing joined in Vergennes’s diplomatic game, pretending to give his support to the plan. Late in October 1778 d’Estaing had a declaration printed on board the Languedoc addressed “to all former French people in North America.” Essentially it was rhetoric intended to revive the conquered people’s memory of the former mother country: “You were born French, you cannot have ceased to be so.” The manifesto began circulating and appearing on a few church doors in the spring of 1779. The allusion to the possibility that French flags might appear in the valley of the St Lawrence caught the imagination of those who, through real attachment, self-interest, or other reasons, hoped for France’s return.
It was as much the skilful dissimulation involved in spreading the proclamation as the actual infecting of people’s minds that worried Haldimand in the extreme. “I see myself surrounded by enemies,” he confided to his friend Jacques de Budé, “since France has allied herself with the rebels.” What he feared, he admitted to Clinton, was less an outright attack by an invading army than infiltration into the heart of the country by detachments that would take advantage of collaborators in all classes of the population. He explained that he had every reason to believe the distribution of the proclamation was linked to a network for corresponding with the rebels, even though he had not yet succeeded in obtaining proof. At this moment Mesplet and Jautard were arrested.
It was nevertheless time that Haldimand moderated his obsession with the subversive influence of the Franco-American alliance on the inhabitants of the St Lawrence valley and turned his attention elsewhere. News from the west heralded much more real dangers of subversion among the Indian tribes, both the Six Nations and those of the Illinois country.
The geographical immensity of Quebec presented enormous problems for its defence. A month after his arrival, however, Haldimand was in a position to outline his strategy. The building of a citadel at Quebec did not seem to him a matter of great urgency: its completion would take several years and commencing works of fortification in the present circumstances “might only serve to intimidate the people, and no ways answer immediate exigencies.” What was particularly urgent was to ensure control of the main access routes – the Richelieu and Lake Champlain on one hand, the upper St Lawrence and the Great Lakes on the other – by strengthening Fort St Johns, occupying Cataraqui (Kingston, Ont.), reinforcing Niagara and Detroit, and reoccupying Oswego and if possible Fort Presque Isle (Erie, Pa). Communications with the western posts had to be maintained at all costs, because they were indispensable not only to the colony’s economy but also for the protection of the settled region in the St Lawrence valley. It might well be because of the sheer size of Quebec that Great Britain could hope to maintain her hold on North America.
The preservation of such a huge territory would require a mobilization of human resources that was to constitute one of Haldimand’s major preoccupations until the end of the war. Before leaving England he had been told by Germain that a force of nearly 1,200 men was being dispatched. These reinforcements, together with some 5,500 soldiers already stationed in Quebec, were considered by Germain quite sufficient to defend the province. He left to Haldimand’s discretion the creation of a corps of Canadians, of not more than a thousand men recruited from the local militia on an alternating basis and for a limited period, to conduct diversionary operations along the frontiers and back up larger-scale undertakings.
Once in the colony, Haldimand thought Germain’s confidence unfounded. There were fewer than 6,000 soldiers fit for duty and of these about 900 were in fact beyond his control in the western posts. In addition these military forces were a motley collection: on the one hand a few thousand British regulars and nearly as many German auxiliaries, and on the other units of provincial troops, including Brigadier-General Maclean’s Royal Highland Emigrants and the American loyalists recruited by Sir John Johnson* who formed the one-battalion-strong King’s Royal Regiment of New York. In addition there were the ranger companies under Major Commandant John Butler*, who was stationed at Fort Niagara.
Within less than a month Haldimand began to clamour for more reinforcements. In the face of invaders familiar with the terrain, trained to withstand the climate and used to finding shelter in the woods, his “stolid German troops,” who could be employed only on garrison duty, would be of no use. As for the British soldiers, they had not been in the country long enough to hold their own against the rebels’ tactics. It thus seemed absolutely essential for Britain to send a large body of troops whose presence could readily inspire enthusiasm among the conquered population and thus make possible the recruitment of a corps of provincials entirely commanded by Canadian officers.
The fear, which indeed amounted to an obsession, of a second American invasion so preoccupied Haldimand that he saved his resources in men and supplies to protect the St Lawrence valley region. The early months of his administration were devoted to organizing his defensive system, and in particular to fortifying the Richelieu axis. He made Sorel his main operational base and accordingly fitted it up to quarter the largest part of his troops and store munitions and supplies. These facilities were to attain such a scale that two years later the seigneury of Sorel became crown property through Haldimand’s agency. After the war he turned it into a temporary reception area for thousands of loyalist refugees.
As he was completely absorbed in reinforcing the defences of the St Lawrence valley, Haldimand paid too little attention to the more real danger of attacks that were being planned by the Americans in the west. The situation even had to deteriorate gravely before he resolved to consider the consequences seriously and try belatedly to make up for his lack of vigilance. Haldimand really became conscious of the gravity of the situation and began to concern himself seriously with the problems of security and defence west of the upper St Lawrence in the spring of 1779. In April he sent an aide-de-camp, Captain Dietrich Brehm, to inspect the line of communication between Montreal and Detroit. Brehm was to examine fortifications, recommend essential repairs, and above all investigate means of improving the supply system. Supplying the troops was indeed of such fundamental concern to Haldimand that he was to make it the foundation of his defensive strategy for the west.
Haldimand had not given up his plan for reestablishing a post at Oswego that would offer “the most effectual means to secure the fidelity of the Indians,” whom the rebels were contriving to entice away by exploiting the Franco-American alliance for propaganda purposes. While awaiting reinforcements he had been busy since early spring dispatching provisions to re-supply the posts in the west, which had been sadly depleted following Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton*’s “unfortunate Expedition” of 1778–79. The tempting promises that Hamilton had made to the Indian warriors who accompanied him had encouraged a great many Indian families to take refuge near the posts. Supply requirements had virtually doubled, and Haldimand did not see how they could be met because of the inadequacy of stores.
Having to contend with this double and crucial problem of shortages in personnel and supplies, Haldimand opted for a strategy aimed at retaining the most important western posts. And just as he had tried to consolidate his defensive positions in the St Lawrence valley, hencefordi he would do his utmost to extend his control along the Montreal-Detroit axis by concentrating on the improvement of communications. His objective was to facilitate supplying the posts and to ensure their defence. He turned his efforts, therefore, to building canals around the rapids between Lac Saint-Louis and Lake St Francis. His biggest achievement was the construction of a canal about a thousand feet long at Coteau-du-Lac, which was completed in less than two years.
Meanwhile Washington was preparing to strike a blow at the heart of the Six Nations. His plan called for a large-scale and devastating march through the lands of the Senecas and Cayugas, who were known as the most “pro-British” of the Iroquois nations; it was entrusted to Major-General John Sullivan, who was joined by Brigadier-General James Clinton [see John Butler; Kaieñˀkwaahtoñ*; Thayendanegea].
The success of this expedition was in part due to Haldimand’s inaction. Indeed, Washington, who had striven to conceal his objectives, could congratulate himself on having been so successful in his feint that Haldimand, in a council of Iroquois convoked at Quebec by Guy Johnson*, held as groundless the deep fears voiced by the warriors in face of the danger threatening them [see Teyohaqueande*]. The expedition was at its assembly point at Tioga (near Athens, Pa) before Haldimand finally took seriously the risk that the Six Nations Confederacy might disintegrate. On 1 Sept. 1779 he pressed Sir John Johnson to assume command of a relief expedition comprising loyalist provincials from the KRRNY, a detachment of light infantry, a company of German light infantry, and a few hundred Iroquois and Canadian Indians recruited by the Indian agents Christian Daniel Claus* and John Campbell*. This force totalled 700 men, who were hastily assembled at Lachine, and the expedition had to be organized en route, as correspondence between Johnson and Haldimand indicates.
In late September, the Continental Army’s punitive expedition was complete. Under the shock of the invasion the Iroquois tribes that had been hard hit at first displayed resentment towards their British allies, who had not responded to either their expectations of protection or their requests for help. Forced to seek refuge at Niagara and to depend upon their suppliers for survival, they had, however, no choice but to remain pro-British. Early in the autumn of 1779 more than 5,000 Indians flocked into the area around the post, seeking help from Lieutenant-Colonel Mason Bolton’s garrison. Bolton had to cope with this new situation, which was going to turn Niagara into a centre for food and shelter and consequently to increase substantially the cost of supplying the west. Johnson had by then reached the relay point on Carleton Island at the entrance to Lake Ontario, and was imagining himself fully engaged in action. He was busily thinking up scenarios for counter-attacks and calculating his chances of surprising the enemy. Meanwhile Haldimand was worrying about having to feed this influx of people into the west over the coming winter. Having anticipated that Sullivan’s troops would march on Niagara and then on Detroit, it was with a certain relief that he learned of their withdrawal.
In the event Johnson was not even able to give a severe lesson to the Oneidas, who had taken the rebels’ side. Reaching Oswego in mid October, he had to be satisfied with the capture of three Iroquois spies and to go back down the St Lawrence with part of his expeditionary force. Although at the beginning of October Haldimand had approved the idea of a winter camp on Carleton Island in anticipation of military operations in the west, a month later he thought better of it, fearing that the supplies intended for shipment to Niagara the following spring would be consumed. It was his duty to take increased precautions, following the bad crops that year, which had already obliged him to issue a proclamation forbidding the export of wheat from the province in order to forestall a real shortage. Then in January 1780 he endeavoured to fix the price of wheat by ordinance. He was defeated by the single vote of Cramahé, who sided with the English party, and had to be satisfied with renewing the embargo on exporting wheat by an ordinance on 9 March 1780. On 15 Jan. 1781, despite continuing strong opposition from Cramahé, he issued a decree making it obligatory to thresh wheat. Offended, the lieutenant governor resigned and left the country for good.
The recall of Johnson from the west was also linked with Haldimand’s constant dread of losing control of the situation in the lower part of the St Lawrence valley. By his own admission Johnson’s expedition included “the best and most experienced woodsmen” in the colony. Men of that sort seemed to him even more indispensable for defending “Canada” – a term Haldimand significantly reserved for the region of the St Lawrence valley – because, being unable to count on his German auxiliary troops or on the Canadians’ loyalty, he was still waiting for further reinforcements. Until 1780 Haldimand complained constantly and bitterly about the first German contingents in the colony, but when more carefully chosen auxiliaries were sent, and particularly when Major-General Friedrich Adolph Riedesel, who had been taken prisoner at Saratoga, came back, Haldimand would tone down and then cease his criticism.
The extension of the conflict into the west had placed Haldimand in a serious dilemma: should he lose the settled part of the province or the pays d’en haut? But from the beginning of his administration he had made his choice. Now, having failed to win the Six Nations’ loyalty by providing military protection – for example by re-occupying the abandoned post at Oswego – Haldimand endeavoured to retain their attachment by helping them with supplies and by distributing presents.
In the spring of 1780 at Niagara, Colonel Guy Johnson as superintendent of the Six Nations was supporting the efforts of the Iroquois war chiefs to mobilize their people and assisting them in organizing raids, which were carried out jointly with loyalist light infantry. At Quebec Haldimand was authorizing an initial and daring incursion to free the loyalists settled in the Mohawk valley around Johnstown, N.Y., from the rebels’ grasp. The operation, which was carried out by Sir John Johnson, ended in less than complete success: fewer than a hundred loyalists joined the ranks of the “liberators” who had come to spread terror in the settlements of the region.
The following autumn, probably emboldened by the intensified guerrilla war being waged by the more loyal of the Iroquois chiefs – among them Joseph Brant (as Thayendanegea was known), Kaiũtwahˀkũ (Cornplanter), and Kaieñˀkwaahtoñ – Haldimand wanted to strike harder. This time a large-scale operation was involved. Its main objective was to wipe out grain production in the Mohawk valley, one of the rebels’ wheat-growing regions. Again Haldimand relied on Sir John Johnson to conduct the undertaking, which used much of the light infantry in the province and included the loyalists of the KRRNY and the rangers, as well as several hundred Iroquois warriors who assembled at Oswego early in October 1780. Two weeks later the expedition reached the fertile Schoharie valley and systematically devastated the farming settlements. Johnson reported to Haldimand that within a 50-mile radius between Fort Plain and Fort Hunter he had burned a thousand houses and as many barns in which were stored more than half a million bushels of grain – the equivalent of about a fifth of the grain produced in the St Lawrence valley. Faced with the loss of this supply essential to his troops, Washington expressed his concern to the president of Congress.
To cover this daring stroke Haldimand had turned to the diversionary strategy favoured by Germain. He had instructed Major Christopher Carleton, the commander of the garrison at Île aux Noix, in the Richelieu, to lead a punitive expedition against the rebel forts south of Lake Champlain. Assembling forces as numerous as those at Johnson’s disposal, Major Carleton succeeded in taking Fort Ann, N.Y., and Fort George (also called Fort William Henry; now Lake George) after surprising their garrisons, and took more than a hundred men prisoner. He burned the two forts and several dwellings and other buildings in the vicinity.
These striking successes so alarmed the governor of New York, George Clinton, that to prevent a repetition in 1781 he made a moving appeal to the president of Congress for help from the other American states. While expressing satisfaction with the results, Haldimand for his part voiced some anxiety to his colleague Sir Henry Clinton: these successes, he suggested, might be “an Additional Motive for the Enemy to Attempt the Reduction of this Province for the Security of their Frontiers.” Haldimand was indicating in his own way that he did not intend to multiply his bold initiatives at the risk of imperilling the province’s safety.
During the time they had held their respective posts, the two commanders-in-chief had often in their mutual correspondence expressed a desire to coordinate military operations. But the immense size of the theatre of war and the degree to which their troops were dispersed forced them to act independently most of the time. Haldimand never undertook important operations, however, without advising his colleague in the hope that Clinton could take advantage of them and perhaps even attempt an offensive of his own. This hope became even more uncertain when the conflict was extended into the colonies to the south and Clinton became engrossed in planning for large-scale British operations at Charleston and Yorktown in the period from the spring of 1780 to the autumn of 1781. In a final attempt at collaboration Clinton proposed a plan for joint action: to ensure the success of an expedition being planned by the southern army at the head of Chesapeake Bay and as far as possible along the Potomac and Susquehanna rivers, Clinton suggested to Haldimand a major offensive from the north. For strategic and logistical reasons Haldimand refused his cooperation.
These reasons were reinforced by the fact that Haldimand already had a well-filled agenda as the autumn of 1781 began. He had, in fact, to risk everything in the most crucial phase of his negotiations with the representatives from “die republic of Vermont.” This tactical plan he had already revealed to Clinton. In a repetition of his bold diversionary venture of the preceding autumn he was going to send a “strong detachment” south of Lake Champlain, while an expeditionary corps and some Iroquois war parties would carry out raids in the Mohawk valley and on the frontiers of Pennsylvania. This time, however, the objective in occupying Crown Point, N.Y., was to lead not to a destroying operation but rather to an attempt to entice the Vermonters into allegiance to Britain. For nearly four years, from 1779 to 1783, Haldimand was to make his negotiations with Vermont a major concern. Unfortunately they achieved no concrete results. Each of the interested parties, however, got something out of them: Vermont admitted having seen them as “a necessary political manœuver” to shield its frontiers from an invasion or a foray by the British and as a “necessary step” for maintaining its independence. Indeed, during these four years Vermonters enjoyed a complete cessation of hostilities against them. For his part, as long as the truce with Vermont lasted, Haldimand did not have to fear an invasion by the rebels via Lake Champlain, “for without her Assistance, or assent, nothing can be carried on against this Province by that Route.”
Early in 1782 Lord Shelburne had assumed responsibility for colonial affairs when he became Home secretary, and the first dispatch he sent Haldimand would have tried the most seasoned military officer, with its avalanche of news and directives from a minister obviously too busy to spare the pride of a mere mercenary. Without preamble he announced that France was preparing to send a sizeable armed force of perhaps 6,000 soldiers from the port of Brest. In the face of a possible attack on the colony, Carleton had been asked to move to Quebec from New York with some of his troops if he considered it necessary. Furthermore, in the event that the colony became “the Seat of the War,” the very reasons that had necessitated Haldimand’s recall at the beginning of the revolutionary war would prevail. In anticipation of Carleton’s return Shelburne had obtained the king’s permission for Haldimand to take a leave without losing his pay or his commission as civil head and military commander. This dispatch nearly put an end to Haldimand’s long years of service; had it not been for his strong professional sense of duty, he would have given up the governorship. His decision to postpone returning to London earned him a knighthood in the Order of the Bath in September 1785 – an honour which he owed entirely to the personal merit shown in 30 years of faithful and loyal service to the crown, for he could not gain entry to this distinguished order of chivalry through any connection with the aristocratic world in Britain.
Though he had been cut to the quick, Haldimand nevertheless gave himself time to reflect before sending a reply to Shelburne on 17 July 1782 that reveals the proud and dignified bearing of this mercenary, who chose not to sacrifice his professional honour and commitment to his wounded pride. He began his letter by noting the security measures he had taken to meet any prospective French attack; then he again expressed his humble submission and devotion to the king’s wishes, adding that he could not entertain for a moment the idea of embarrassing the British government or through his military rank hindering any measure judged propitious for the defence of the empire. He declared however that it would be impossible for him to agree to serve under Carleton’s orders, suggesting that pride, dignity, and health all prompted him to avail himself of his leave and return to Europe. Despite everything, he said that he was ready to put off his departure until the spring of 1783 unless, of course, Carleton arrived in the province before then.
On 29 July 1782 Haldimand advised Carleton of his resolve to leave Quebec by autumn “if Circumstances should oblige you to come to this Province.” Far from taking offence at Haldimand’s frankness, Carleton informed him not only that he did not envisage going to Quebec the following autumn but that it was most unlikely he would come “at any Time”; he declared peremptorily that he had not relinquished the government of the province with the intention of returning to it one day, however things might turn out. He was even less willing to take over from Haldimand in a large-scale military campaign there since in agreeing to come to New York he had been eager to play a great role as mediator in the peace negotiations.
However mortified he was, Haldimand did not neglect the responsibilities of his office. In a letter dated 26 Oct. 1782 he advised Thomas Townshend, who had succeeded Lord Shelburne, that he was duty-bound to extend his stay because hostilities had not yet been brought to a close in the pays d’en haut despite negotiations for peace. The Americans’ determination to seize the western posts forced him to remain on the spot to defend the interests of His Majesty and the empire. But if he thus consented to put off his departure, he did not intend to reconsider his irrevocable decision to return to Europe once this “critical period” was over. In the autumn of 1782 Haldimand was thoroughly preoccupied with the relentless determination of Pennsylvania and Virginia frontiersmen and Kentucky pioneers to continue their punitive attacks on the Indian tribes – in particular the Shawnees, whose villages were in the territory that was to become Ohio. Ever since the great march of devastation by the Sullivan-Clinton expedition, Haldimand had taken very seriously the danger to which the native peoples were exposed, and in consequence the growing threat to British positions in the west.
In his defensive strategy Haldimand had constantly counted upon the support of the Indian tribes, and principally of the Six Nations, and he had repeatedly insisted on the “indispensable need” of maintaining the alliance with the Indians in order to safeguard the pays d’en haut and the western posts, and thus ensure the security of the province. Having long since learned that the best and surest means of maintaining good relations with the native peoples entailed exchanges of goods and services, Haldimand did his utmost to convince the authorities in Britain that they had to pay the price. And he in fact argued the case so well that the estimated value of the goods distributed as gifts through the Indian Department increased sixfold in a four-year administrative period, rising from about £10,000 in 1778 to £63,861 in 1782.
If Haldimand had been successful in obtaining backing for his policy of extending bounty to the Indian allies up until 1782, the change of ministries and the peace negotiations forced him to take another approach to upholding the cause of the Indians. His position was the more delicate and difficult since Shelburne would completely ignore the Indians’ case during the six months of negotiations that ended on 30 Nov. 1782 with the signing of the preliminary articles of peace between the British government and Congress. Not only did these accords fail to provide any protective measures for the Indians, they did not recognize any property rights for them or even a right to live on any part of the vast domain that had been assigned to them 20 years earlier by virtue of the Royal Proclamation of October 1763.
Concerned that relations with the native peoples might deteriorate, Haldimand did his best through skilful diplomacy to prevent any rupture. He could count on the help of the devoted post-commandants, and he was able to draw upon the long experience of the men responsible for Indian matters. Thus, when Sir John Johnson arrived back in the province as the new superintendent general of Indian affairs Haldimand entrusted him with the important diplomatic mission of reassuring the native peoples that the king’s protection would continue in peace-time as in war. The recommendations given Johnson before he left for the west in September 1782 show the vigilant attention that the governor intended to give this crucial problem. Haldimand remained conscious of the stakes at the negotiating table, where people were about to dispose of the whole of the old northwest and thus to decide the fate of the Indians. Apprehending the serious consequences of this peace-making and hoping to forestall them, he undertook to make the new minister aware of the seriousness of the situation.
The dispatch that Haldimand sent Townshend at the end of October 1782 established the framework of a long argument that the governor would develop and return to until it bore fruit to the extent of influencing the home authorities not to hand over the western posts, despite the provision for evacuation laid out in the seventh article of the preliminary treaty. Late in April 1783 Haldimand received the official proclamation of the end of hostilities and the text of the preliminary articles of the treaties signed separately with the United States on one hand and with France and Spain on the other. These accords had been the subject of lengthy debate in the British parliament, and the harsh criticism of the opposition had brought about Shelburne’s resignation and the formation of a coalition headed by Lord North and Charles James Fox, who divided the two posts of secretary of state between them. Although the generous territorial concessions to the Americans were widely criticized, there was only one member of the House of Lords who denounced “the cruelty and perfidy” of the peace agreements with regard to the Indian allies, who were being dispossessed of their ancestral lands in a “shameful and impardonable” manner. This cavalier indifference was reflected in the final letter that Townshend, as Home secretary, sent to Haldimand, instructing him to see to the security of the superintendents and agents of the Indian Department, as well as to the protection of the traders and their property. Only the situation of the white colonists, it seemed, merited the attention and solicitude of the empire’s rulers.
London’s obvious lack of interest hardly made the task easier for Haldimand, who in the absence of instructions was left to his own devices. Displaying remarkable tenacity, he persisted in his praiseworthy endeavour to make people in Britain aware of the situation. Far from giving up, he redoubled his diplomatic efforts among those who would lose the most under the peace agreements and tried to find a solution that would be acceptable to at least the main allies, the Iroquois. This solution came to him in the willingness expressed by the influential Mohawk chief Joseph Brant to abandon the ancestral lands of his nation in the Mohawk valley, which following the treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768 had been invaded by New York frontiersmen. The long guerrilla war that the Mohawks had carried on against these invaders during the American revolution made a return to their former villages virtually impossible. Conscious of this fact, Brant had unburdened himself to Sir John Johnson, giving him to understand that his people could agree to settle west of Lake Ontario. When Johnson passed along this information, Haldimand took advantage of the Mohawk chief’s visit to Quebec late in May 1783 to explore the possibilities.
Brant, who had come from Niagara as the delegate of the Six Nations and their allies, appeared before Haldimand to enquire “in behalf of all the King’s Indian Allies” if there were grounds for crediting the alarming news that they had been completely overlooked in the peace agreements. Haldimand, on his own admission “much embarrassed” by the question, endeavoured to reassure the chief of the king’s continued protection by suggesting that the area around Cataraqui and westwards along the north shore of Lake Ontario be examined by Surveyor General Samuel Johannes Holland. Then, since he very much wanted to have his proposal endorsed by London, Haldimand hastened to refer it to Lord North, the new Home secretary, in the first letter he sent him, on 2 June 1783. Clearly more at ease corresponding with a minister well versed in the problems under discussion, Haldimand told him directly of Brant’s initiative and his own response, justifying it in the following terms: “Actions, not words, can make impression upon the Indians.” This more assured tone also came from an element of personal satisfaction, since Lord North had informed him of the king’s gratitude and request that he remain at his post until “the necessary Arrangements are made consequent to a Peace Establishment.”
Events themselves left Haldimand no choice: his presence on the scene had become even more indispensable. There was indeed “much to be done . . . to arrange everything,” particularly with peace agreements which, far from appeasing the Indians, risked provoking them to an uprising. The comments of the principal Iroquois chiefs, which the post commandant at Niagara, Brigadier-General Allan Maclean, had picked up, justified the governor’s vigilance. Maclean reported to Haldimand in May 1783 that the Indians regarded the conduct of the British towards them as “cruel and perfidious.” Considering themselves “a free People Subject to no Power upon Earth,” they stated that they had been “faithful Allies of the King of England, but not his Subjects,” and that he could not dispose of “their Rights or properties without a manifest breach of all justice and Equity, and they would not Submit to it”; what is more, “they would defend their own just Rights or perish in the attempt to the last Man . . . which they thought preferable to Misery & distress if deprived of their hunting grounds.” They would, however, wait for Haldimand to inform them of London’s real intentions before acting, because, they said, “you at all times treated them Well, and had been a true friend to them, and had always kept your Word with them and therefore they had great Confidence in Your Excellency.” Fearing an unconditional surrender of the western posts that would put them “at the Mercy of their Enemies,” the Iroquois chiefs insisted upon obtaining guarantees of protection.
Haldimand urged Sir John Johnson to visit Niagara again and try to calm the Indians’ apprehensions by giving them at least some reason to hope that the king’s protection would be continued. It took a great deal of insistence on the governor’s part to persuade the superintendent to carry out a diplomatic mission that he found repugnant after ratification of the “infamous” peace agreement. Johnson gave in to Haldimand’s entreaties, and he managed to attain the twofold goal which the governor had sought: soothing the Indians’ anxieties and hearing what they had to say in order to explain their expectations to the home authorities. In the reports on the meetings held at Niagara in the superintendent’s presence Haldimand found ample material for pleading the native peoples’ cause.
Early in August 1783 Washington’s envoy, Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, who had come to the province to lay the groundwork for the transfer of the western posts, gave Haldimand another opportunity to take the matter up again with Lord North. Courteously but firmly the governor had refused to listen to von Steuben, giving him to understand that there could be no discussion of terms for evacuating the posts before the peace treaty had been definitively concluded. In his account of the interview Haldimand explained to Lord North that it was incumbent upon him to avoid any gesture that might provoke the Indians, who were “in general extremely exasperated at the Americans.” “The longer the Evacuation is delayed, the more time is given to our traders to remove their Merchandize, or to convert it into Furs, and the Greater Opportunity is given to the Officers under my Command to reconcile the Indians to a Measure, for which they Entertain the greatest abhorence.”
In the middle of November, more than five months after proposing to Brant that the Mohawk nation be resettled in the colony, Haldimand received royal assent to proceed as he saw fit. Furthermore, Lord North stated specifically that this authorization also applied to any other allied Indian nation and to any tract of land the governor might choose within the bounds of the province. Finally Haldimand’s efforts to heighten awareness were bearing fruit, and for the first time since peace talks had begun someone in authority in Britain deigned to concern himself with the fate of the Indians. Encouraged by this partial victory, Haldimand made a final attempt to prevent the western posts from being handed over and asked Lord North to abide by the terms of the treaty of Fort Stanwix.
By the time Haldimand’s letter reached London in March 1784, Townshend, who had become Lord Sydney, had again been made Home secretary. In his first dispatch to Haldimand, dated 8 April, he reviewed the various questions raised by the governor that had remained unanswered since the previous autumn. On the matter of the western posts Haldimand had the satisfaction of seeing that the home government was finally giving in to his arguments. Sydney pointed out that by virtue of the seventh article of the definitive peace treaty no date had been set for commencing the evacuation of the posts, and as the Americans had not yet complied with a single one of the articles in the treaty, the British could, under the circumstances, delay at least until such time as they could ensure the security of the property of the traders in the pays d’en haut.
Although he was authorized to grant the allied Indian nations any territory that he considered suitable for them, Haldimand had to wait for those most directly affected to make their choice before proceeding with the resettlement. Brant, who had at first been in favour of the Bay of Quinte region, finally in the winter of 1783–84 chose a stretch of land along the Grand River extending from its source to Lake Erie, a location not so far from Niagara and the ancestral lands of the other Iroquois nations. In March 1784 he sent the governor a formal request for the grant of the territory and sought the government’s assistance, requesting an advance of funds from the indemnity claimed by the Mohawks for their losses in the war, which were evaluated at nearly £16,000 New York currency. Haldimand was delighted to reach an agreement and undertook to acquire the territory in question; he also promised he would recommend to the king that they be compensated for their losses. Then, despite the fact it was not up to him to grant an indemnity, he declared that he was prepared to advance the Mohawks £1,500 to provide relief in their difficulties, and as well to supply the whole of the Six Nations with clothing. He would arrange to give them food for a reasonable length of time, taking into account the available resources and the needs of the loyalists.
To acquire the territory an arrangement had to be made with the Mississaugas, and Haldimand put Lieutenant-Colonel John Butler in charge of settling this matter. It took nearly two months to conclude an agreement, which was ratified at Niagara on 22 May 1784. For £1,180 7s. 4d. the Mississaugas agreed to give up about half of their hunting-grounds between lakes Ontario, Erie, and Huron, for the benefit of the British crown and for the use of the loyalist settlers and their “Six-Nations brothers.” But Haldimand thought it best to wait until the autumn of 1784 to proclaim that this territory was placed under the king’s protection; he wanted to be sure that the region chosen would be suitable for regrouping the largest possible number of native people. Since he was, in fact, convinced that their survival depended upon this union, he took advantage of his final months at the head of the government of the province to make further recommendations in favour of bringing together the Six Nations. On his return to London, in a long report that he presented to Lord Sydney on public matters in the province of Quebec, Haldimand did not neglect to deal first of all with the “Means suggested as the most probable to retain the Six Nations and Western Indians in the King’s Interest.” Referring to the settlement on the Grand River, which was so close to his heart, Haldimand called upon the British government to welcome it warmly and give it every encouragement, “not only in consideration of their past Services, but in proportion as it shall be thought necessary to preserve the Friendship & Alliance of the Indians.” In all likelihood, it was, as he stressed, the best trump card that the mother country held for safeguarding the pays d’en haut and the fur trade.
From the beginning to the end of his term as commander-in-chief of the Northern Department Haldimand remained faithful to his mission of seeing to the defence and security of the province. Having made alliance with the native peoples the cornerstone of his defensive strategy for the immense territory of the pays d’en haut, he was drawn further into upholding the Indians’ cause than the British government had anticipated. Although the efforts that he had to put forth for this purpose may appear out of proportion with the results obtained, they were none the less praiseworthy. Unfortunately Haldimand’s commitments to the Iroquois nations were either unknown to most of Haldimand’s contemporaries and their descendants or ignored by them.
The other group of refugees for whom Haldimand had to provide were, of course, the loyalists. Since 1776 they had been arriving from the adjacent American frontier regions, many taking service in the provincial regiments under the governor’s command. By the end of hostilities there were small bodies of such troops, together with some civilians, in the Niagara region, at Detroit, and near Cataraqui, in addition to the main concentration at Montreal. More civilians were being subsisted at Montreal and Sorel, and in the summer of 1783 another group arrived from New York City. While never as numerous as their brethren in the Maritime provinces, by the peace the loyalists in the colony numbered some 6,000.
As long as a British victory had seemed possible Haldimand had given little thought to the placing of these refugees, though by 1783 it was imperative that something be done. The governor favoured a military settlement in the Detroit region, but this plan was abandoned following news of the cession of the area to the Americans. Haldimand had also considered the area around the Baie des Chaleurs, although he never actively supported the idea. The British government itself had advised that the loyalists be allowed to settle in what are now the Eastern Townships, but the governor persuaded it to change its mind: not only would the refugees be too close for comfort to their late foes, but he wished to reserve the area for the expanding Canadian population.
There remained the upper part of the province, and here Haldimand had initially been opposed to allowing white settlement because he did not wish to antagonize the Indians. But during the early part of 1783 he began to come to the conclusion that the lands along the St Lawrence west of Montreal could be used, and to consider the possibility of making Cataraqui a focus for settlement. The preliminary surveys were favourable, the land could be readily acquired from the local Mississaugas, and the Mohawks who were to settle around the Bay of Quinte were pleased at the prospect of the loyalists’ coming. Moreover, the leading loyalists wished to establish themselves there, and as Haldimand always believed that the refugees were “entitled to every Consideration and assistance” because of their loyalty he at length acquiesced. Accordingly, during the summer of 1783 he ordered more extensive surveys, and a start was made on essential buildings at Cataraqui. The enthusiastic reports from loyalists investigating the lands led Haldimand to solidify his opinions, and by the autumn he could justify selection of the region to the British government. Preparations went on through the rest of 1783 and into 1784, and by the late spring of the latter year the majority of those loyalists who wished to settle the new regions were ready to move. Eight townships were established along the upper St Lawrence from the westernmost seigneury to the vicinity of present-day Brockville, Ont., and five more around Cataraqui. By the fall of 1784 some 4,000 persons were established there. Of the remaining loyalists, some 300 chose to form communities on lands offered on the Baie des Chaleurs, and several hundred more decided on Sorel. Lastly, a small loyalist settlement across from Fort Niagara had already been formed by troops disbanded there.
But if the refugees had a place to settle, they lacked many of the necessary items that would enable them to create homes in the wilderness. All required seeds, tools, clothing, and other supplies, which were often insufficient or simply unavailable. Moreover, the loyalists’ demands often took no account of scarcities. Fortunately, the government stores could still dispense provisions, which Haldimand had decided to continue for a year after the official disbanding of the provincial regiments, although these rations too were sometimes in short supply. The governor had to employ agents to purchase seed and provisions surreptitiously in the United States, but this source was erratic. Haldimand was also hampered because he had no clear idea of the limits of his responsibilities, since the British government had given only general instructions about the distribution of supplies. However, it is to his credit that he was determined to give the loyalists all the materials that could be spared, and that he was ready to exceed his powers from the genuine concern he felt for their plight. When in the summer of 1784 he received orders from London to reduce the rations to two-thirds allowance, and then to one-third the following year, the united protests of the loyalists that the step would cause great difficulty persuaded him to continue full rations on his own cognizance.
Despite the governor’s good intentions, he was continually plagued by disputes and complaints. Disgruntled loyalists circulated petitions asking for freehold tenure instead of the seigneurial system which had been put in place, and others tried to circumvent Haldimand’s plan for distributing the township lots impartially. The confusion and delays attendant on the moving meant that many refugees reached their lands too late to plant crops, and there were more or less continual disputes about the grants themselves. These and other problems were still persisting when Haldimand left, but at least some of the loyalists were well on their way to establishing themselves. Any examination of the founding of what was to become Ontario must therefore conclude that without the generous and unwavering support of Haldimand the original settlers would have faced much greater hardships.
In November 1784 Haldimand sailed from Quebec for London on leave. While he was in Britain, the government consulted him on provincial matters. In 1786, however, he was replaced as governor by Carleton, now Lord Dorchester. Despite the termination of his governorship, Haldimand was kept informed of events in Quebec by Adam Mabane, Robert Mathews, Henry Hope*, and other friends, and his sense of indignation was kept fuelled by their reports of the activities of Dorchester’s chief justice, William Smith*, whom Haldimand disliked, and by their accounts of the agitation for a house of assembly and more English laws. Such unpleasant tales would have been less disturbing had Haldimand been employed elsewhere, but there was little chance of that. His foreign birth made him ineligible to hold “any Office or Place of Trust, either Civil or Military” in Britain, and he was too senior to assign to a minor overseas station. There were also less important irritations: other generals had made their service during the revolution personally profitable, Dorchester refused to re-purchase some of the items generously bought from him in 1778, and a country house he had built at Montmorency Falls was proving to be a white elephant.
Still, there were compensations. Besides his income from the 60th Foot, Haldimand received the pay of a lieutenant-general, drew rents from various lands, and held some stocks. When these assets were combined with his natural parsimony and the financial expertise of his nephew Anthony Francis Haldimand, a London banker, he was able to live in some comfort at his home in the fashionable Mayfair district of London and to maintain and improve his property at Yverdon. High social status assured him access to the court and to upper-class drawing-rooms, and the many dinners, card parties, levees, and excursions in the park were all carefully recorded in his diary. At the same time he made extended visits to his home town, and it was on one such visit that he died. He had never married – his correspondence reveals nothing about any romantic involvement – and in his will he left his nephew Anthony Francis all his property. Its exact size is unknown, but it must have been considerable, for no less than £13,000 was ordered to be set aside in legacies to various persons and institutions. The bulk went to sundry relations, but £625 passed to Mabane, and £100 each to Mathews and Jenkin Williams.
Outside of his official duties, a good deal of Haldimand’s time was occupied with his relations and his lands. His position made him vulnerable to requests from his family to provide for young relatives, in particular the brothers of Anthony Francis. Beginning in 1756 with Peter Frederick*, three nephews came to North America, where Haldimand dutifully obtained them commissions in the army. Unfortunately, all three proved less than perfect, falling heavily into debt, displaying a lack of talent in the tasks he set them, and embarrassing the friends who volunteered to look after them in his absence. In 1786 Haldimand’s grand-nephew Frederick Devos was sent out as an ensign, and promptly showed the same unendearing characteristics. By early 1791, after repeated complaints, Haldimand was grumbling that he would send Devos “back to his dear mother’s to guard her sheep” if he did not improve. But he always took pains to recommend all four for advancement, and in his will he left Devos £2,500. At the same time he continued to mutter that the family never seemed to appreciate his efforts.
Haldimand’s cumulative experiences with land were not much happier. During the early period of his North American service he collected a considerable amount of property, but like many officers failed to make much of it. His two principal holdings were the seigneury of Grand-Pabos in the Gaspé and one-fifth of the township of Hopewell on the Petitcodiac River (N.B.). He purchased Grand-Pabos from François Lefebvre* de Bellefeuille in 1765, intending it for his nephew Peter Frederick. The latter’s death the same year destroyed this plan, and for the remainder of his life Haldimand never seems to have been quite sure about what to do with the seigneury. Although he invested a certain amount of money and from time to time took an interest in it, he also constantly toyed with the idea of selling it. The net result was that Grand-Pabos remained largely unsettled and undeveloped but still in his hands. It was not until 1796 that Anthony Francis Haldimand disposed of it to Felix O’Hara, who had cared for it during the American revolution.
In contrast to his lackadaisical attitude towards Grand-Pabos, Haldimand maintained a lively interest in his share of Hopewell Township, which was granted to himself, Bouquet, and some New York merchants in 1765. The partners invested a fair amount, attracted some settlers, and seemed to be making reasonable progress until about 1772, when a series of complicated, lengthy, and expensive legal battles with their agent Thomas Calhoun, his executors, and various others resulted in part of the township being sold. The disruption of the American revolution depressed the settlement, and in 1783 the Nova Scotia government started proceedings for escheat for non-fulfillment of the conditions of settlement. Despite intensive efforts, Haldimand and the remaining proprietors were unsuccessful in staving off the escheat, which put him personally out of pocket for a considerable sum. None of the other lands he possessed ever attracted his attention as much as Hopewell or Grand-Pabos. Some property on the Saint John River (N.B.) was disposed of almost as soon as it was granted, and a farm in Maryland which came to him as a legacy from Bouquet was sold in 1772. Haldimand also received grants in Pennsylvania and the Floridas, and the former were in his possession as late as 1788 and at that time were still producing rents.
Stuart R. J. Sutherland, Pierre Tousignant, and Madeleine Dionne-Tousignant
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Stuart R. J. Sutherland, Pierre Tousignant, and Madeleine Dionne-Tousignant, “HALDIMAND, Sir FREDERICK,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 3, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/haldimand_frederick_5E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Stuart R. J. Sutherland, Pierre Tousignant, and Madeleine Dionne-Tousignant|
|Title of Article:||HALDIMAND, Sir FREDERICK|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1983|
|Year of revision:||1983|
|Access Date:||June 3, 2023|