This article was found pasted into a scrapbook entitled, ď1838 Patriot War.Ē The scrapbook is located at the Flower Memorial Library Genealogy Department at Watertown, New York. This article, one of a series written by L. N. Fuller, was copyrighted in 1923 by the Brockway Company, Publishers of the Watertown Daily Times. The series appeared in the Watertown Daily Times in March, April, and May of 1923. John B. Johnson, Jr., Editor/Co-Publisher of the Watertown Daily Times has granted me permission to incorporate these pieces on my website. I feel very honored to have been given this permission. (Shirley Farone)
The Aftermath Of The
Rebellion In Canada
Change in Sentiment in Northern New York After the Battle of
the Windmill -- Why the Rebellion Failed -- Political Ef-
fects in the United States.
NORTHERN NEW YORK IN THE PATRIOT WAR
By L. N. FULLER
(Copyright, 1923, by the Brockway Company, Publishers of the Watertown Daily Times.)
After the battle of the Windmill and the court martial of the American prisoners there was a change in sentiment in Northern New York. People who had a lively sympathy with the Patriot cause saw that they had been deceived. Meetings were held at various towns in Jefferson county at which contributions were made for the relief of the prisoners and resolutions were passed, condemning any further agitation which might embroil the two nations in war. The grand jury at the December term of the county court published a short manifesto deprecating the continuance of secret associations, and a meeting was held at the court house on the evening of Dec. 18, 1838, to promote the peace and harmony of the frontier.
Judge Calvin McKnight was chosen president, Daniel Wardwell, Eli Farwell, Thomas Loomis, Abner Barker, jr. and O. V. Brainard, vice presidents. Dr. Reuben Goodale and Joseph Mullin, secretaries. Colonel C. Baker and E. G. Merrick related their experiences in visiting the prisoners at Kingston. They found that Canada was firmly determined to resist any further invasion and that the authorities there were fully informed as to the steps that the Hunterís Lodges contemplated by means of spies in the various organizations. At this meeting resolutions were adopted condemning any further acts of aggression.
On April 8, 1839, the British steamer Commodore Barrie, arrived at Sackets Harbor with 22 pardoned prisoners. Before returning to their homes they drew up a paper expressing their obligation to the Canadian government for the clemency shown and urging pacific measures in the future. On April 27, 37 more prisoners arrived at Sackets Harbor.
In Ogdensburg a public meeting was held early in January, 1839, which was addressed by Major General Winfield S. Scott, at which further acts of aggression were deplored. There were a number of incidents along the border for the next year, such as firing on boats, which tended to cause flurries of ill feeling, but wiser counsels prevailed and there was no clash. On Sept. 5, 1841, President Tyler issued a proclamation calling on all good citizens to refrain from attending the meetings of the Hunterís Lodges and the Patriot war became a closed incident.
Why did the movement fail? The reason was that because the vast majority of the people of Canada were satisfied with the conditions and did not want to cut loose from the mother country. There were political injustices, but they were due to the type of governors rather than in a tyrannical policy on the part of Great Britain. Wrongs were corrected, governors who understood the Canadian people were sent from the mother country and the excitement died down. But it was not without its good effects. It did call the attention of England to defects in the government of Canada and it pointed out that there were legitimate grounds for complaint on the part of the Canadian ports.
The war had its effect on politics on this side of the border as well. Martin Van Buren, Democrat, and Governor Marcy of New York, Democrat, were opposed to the attempts made from this side of the border to invade Canada and discouraged with all the means at their command any attempts of aggression. In the elections that followed heavy Whig majorities were roiled up in those counties where the Hunterís lodges were strongest. In Jefferson county, at the gubernatorial election in 1838, an ordinary Democratic majority was turned to a Whig majority of 600, and William H. Seward, the Whig candidate for governor was elected.
Van Buren met the same opposition in the national election when he was opposed by William Henry Harrison. There were, of course, other causes which led to the defeat of Van Buren, but the Hunterís Lodges were against him almost to a man. Party lines were cast aside when the friends of the Patriots cast their ballots to defeat the man whom they held accountable for the failure of the Canadian adventure.
It is interesting to note that the present premier of Canada, William Mackenzie King, is a grandson of William Lyon Mackenzie. His father, John King, married Isabel, the youngest daughter of the rebel leader of the thirties, and their son today is the chief civil officer of the Dominion of Canada, a loyal subject of Great Britain, and heading the destinies of a country which his grandfather tried to sever from the mother country.
William Lyon Mackenzie long before his death was convinced that he had made a great mistake. During his temporary exile in the United States, he conducted a newspaper in the interest of Canadian freedom. The tenor of his editorials underwent a gradual change. Toward the last he admitted that Canada possessed a remarkable degree of self government, and his residence in the United States had convinced him of that fact. In fact, he wrote, if he had possessed a better knowledge of political conditions in the United States, he would not have led any movement to gain a greater degree of self government for Canada inferring that Canada, with all the evils of her government, was better than the country to the south of the border.Index of All Patriot War Articles