1775: The (American) Giant Awakens & Other Quebec Curios

Part of “A Colony in Transition, 1763-1791”

The first battle of the American Revolution was that of Lexington and Concord, fought in 1775. These battles occurred in April, right on the heels of Paul Revere and company’s “’Midnight Rides” to warn the townspeople of British militia movement around the colony. Lexington, a minor skirmish and not the huge dramatic battle that one might envision as the beginning of a revolution, was mostly a waiting game on the revolutionaries’ side: waiting, that is, for the British to show up. When they did show up, they ordered the “rebels” to lay down their arms. It is unknown which side fired the first shot of revolution, with each side claiming it was someone on the other side, towards the back of the lines, but it resulted in a splattering of musket balls, people being stabbed with bayonets, and militiamen running for their lives. In Concord, the British managed to destroy military supplies being stored in the town, but the revolutionaries, by force of their sheer number (estimated to be over 3000, compared to the 1500 British), forced the British back towards Boston.

Many names would soon become famous during this revolution, including the likes of Samuel and John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benedict Arnold (that traitor), and, of course, Alexander Hamilton. Talks of Hamilton the musical aside, Alexander Hamilton was a vocal critic of the Quebec Act, with two texts attributed to his name and about a dozen anonymous that have also been traditionally traced back to his pen. Stating the allowance of free practice of Catholicism, an “arbitrary power”, Hamilton believed that Britain’s lenient stance towards the sect of Christianity would draw Catholics into the colony and destroy the Thirteen Colonies (never mind that some of the colonies already contained communities of Catholics). Characterising the French-Canadian people as sheepish followers of the feudal system, Hamilton was already an active supporter of revolution within the Thirteen Colonies even before the first shot of revolution was fired. Rather than building a wall, however, to separate those nasty women and men of “French Canada” and their Catholicism from spreading to the virgin soils of America, the Americans-to-be would much rather invade Canada and claim the territory for themselves, which they did, in the very same year as the revolution started.

Read Alexander Hamilton’s political writings here.