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Between 17, Canada – its peoples, government, and armed forces – grappled with and rebuffed the political overtures of the Continental Congress and the military advances of the Continental Army as they endeavored to secure their northern border and persuade the Canadians to reject British administration and support annexation of Canada to the united colonies.Defending their frontiers against the British and their Native American allies ultimately became the greater concern for the revolutionaries intent on securing independence, but in 1775 they launched an offensive (though limited) expansionist strategy.The revolutionaries did try to entice and coerce other colonists to reject what they called tyranny, but they found that not all of their neighbors, much less all of the colonies of the British Empire in North America, interpreted ministry or parliamentary acts negatively or were prepared to sustain a rebellion.
The Second Continental Congress, convened in 1775, followed the First by urging the Canadians to join the confederation and promising religious liberty.
American forces carried political tracts as they marched into Canada in the fall of 1775 with the dual purpose of impeding possible strikes into their colonies and encouraging Canadians to support the rebellion.
Most French Canadians distrusted those who had long campaigned to conquer their colony (accomplished in the French and Indian War in 1763), insulted the Catholic religion, and belittled their culture.
Both British and American leaders rightly believed that the support of the French Canadians would determine the possession of Canada, for there were too few Anglo-Canadians to hold the territory and too few American soldiers to take it.
The British governors, however, believed that the empire was better served by making compromises so as to integrate the French Catholic majority.
The Quebec Act maintained British criminal law in that province, but preserved French property and civil law for Catholics to practice their religion freely.The gentry (seigneurs) and clergy tended to support the government, but many of the common people (habitants) did not.They also, however, were not willing to turn out to defend the province against the Americans.The First Continental Congress, upon its assembly in September 1774 to consider responses against the Coercive and Quebec Acts, consciously adopted anti-Catholic and pro-rights rhetoric in order to attract supporters.But then the delegates decided to try enlisting all Canadians, not just the Protestant ones, and so approved an address on 26 October “To the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec” in which they expressed their hope that former enemies would become friends.The rebelling colonies did not target for inclusion the isolated fishery that was Newfoundland, nor Rupert’s Land, the Hudson Bay Company’s far northern trading territory.Nor, looking to the south, were they interested in immediately including the East and West Floridas, which Britain had acquired from Spain at the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763.Ultimately, Britain won the battle for the allegiance, or at least neutrality, of the .It benefitted from the Quebec Act of 1774, from American political and military missteps, and from the desire of many French Canadians to steer clear of a war between what many deemed occupiers and outsiders.Incorporating the province of Quebec into the British Empire was challenging, as imperial officials tried to balance the rights and needs of both old and new colonists.The new Anglo settlers in Canada (ironically called “old subjects” because they had been British subjects before the “new subjects”) wanted to replace Quebec’s old laws and Catholic religious establishment with English law and Protestantism.