To Better the Condition of the Province

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To Better the Condition of the Province
David Shank Kerr
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TO BETTER THE CONDITION OF THE PROVINCE. LETTER XIII. [Concluded.] ST. JOHN, March 23, 1882. To His Honor the Honorable Robert D. Wilmot, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of New Brunswick. To the Honorable the Executive Council, and to the Honorable the members of both branches of the Provincial Parliament. Your Honors and Gentlemen: Now it is with regret that I must take ground against the non-doing of the Executive Government of this first Assembly, as a most serious fundamental cause of our poverty, compared with the prosperous neighboring States. One would naturally suppose, that an Executive Government, intending to work and prosper, a wholly new country for the Loyalists, “scattered and peeled” – who had gone through so many fiery trials of adversity, misery and ruin – beyond the sufferings of the pilgrim fathers who landed at Massachusetts Bay in 1620; with an iron will like those worthy pilgrims, and requiring food and raiment, with a legislature to devise for them, one would suppose, I say, that some sort of policy would have been foreshadowed by the Government, applying to the Province at large, and recommended to the Legislature, that the so-called generous grants of His Majesty, of mere wilderness land, of little use unless converted into fruitful fields, should be made available and with appliances to carry on farming pursuits with advantage – as the worthy pilgrim fathers did. Such as recommending the extensive clearing of land; raising of stock for making butter, cheese, food, and leather for wear; the extensive raising of sheep for food and market – their wool, carding, spinning and weaving for family wear, and all domestic employments connected with agriculture; blacksmiths’ shops, carpenters’ shops, mechanics for making agricultural implements and household furniture, as well as for the erection of suitable houses, barns, etc., saw mills, grist mills, fulling mills and such like manufactures which a farmer immediately wants, and factories for everything he needs for prosperity in his business and the ample supply of his household that he might soon be able to say “sweet are the uses of adversity,” and that the farmer and the mechanic might really assist each other in agriculture, domestic and mechanical manufactures, fishing and commerce generally, all of which the pilgrim fathers began, pursued and enriched themselves by, or, as that excellent statesman President Washington, in delivering his first annual message to Congress, in a suit of clothes of the manufacture of the country, the members of the Legislature adopting the same and recommending the above objects as the most vital interest of the country’s prosperity; or as Governor Simcoe, on meeting his first Legislature in Upper Canada, in 1792, who appeared before him in their comfortable and respectable home-made cloths and he recommending every interest that could prosper the country. If such as I have described, or something like it, had been recommended to that fine assembly of able legislators, those clever Massachusetts and New England gentlemen, descendants of the worthy old pilgrim fathers, how they would have caught at it and adopted the idea as like home to them. If such a policy had been recommended and followed up (even as our neighboring States have done), from that time to this, nearly 100 years, what would then have been our condition? Would not our land now be overspread with factories in every part of it like theirs? Would we not then have ample productive industries all over the country for our men, women and children to engage in? Would we not be four times richer and greater by such a policy? But the Executive Government, I am very sorry to say, did nothing of the kind above named. I have a minute of Governor Carleton’s first speech before me. His military profession might, perhaps, be an excuse for him, but what about his council advisers of the speech? After singing the praises of the British Government and his Majesty in so high a key that I cannot hear him in the mere debt of gratitude, His Excellency tells the Legislature that the people cannot better show their gratitude, etc., for the Royal bounty, etc., “than by promoting sobriety, industry and the practice of religion.” This is all, and the Assembly’s answer is a mere echo. Now, this might do very well for a pulpit, but by no means to sketch out or foreshadow a course of policy for successfully building up and prospering a new country for the suffering Loyalists. “How many things, by season -- seasoned are, to their right praise and true perfection!” The Governor proceeds in declaring that the people’s prospects are so favorable that their exertions for the above objects “can scarcely fail to render this asylum of loyalty the envy of the neighboring States.” Do not the Governor and his council themselves introduce this comparison? Do the neighbouring States really envy us, or the reverse? Do we not envy them? Why, if otherwise, do our thousands and tens of thousands of young men and young women, and people of all ages leave us and go to the neighboring States? Not for idleness, because that is not the country of idlers. They go just for the want of the very thing I complain of, as not recommended or alluded to in the speech, for the consequent want of those varied industries which the executive government then omitted to recommend and promote, and which no Executive Government since, to this day, has chosen to do, but it ought not continue much longer. Allow me, however, to explain for those excellent men of the first Government of this Province. Besides its wilderness condition and no roads to explore it; the many years war, kept the Governor almost exclusively employed as a soldier, and not as a statesman. The same with nearly every one of the Council, and should by no means detract from the highly valuable services which they actually did perform, and of which I have spoken. And furthermore I feel assured that the Governor’s speech, from its structure, was made under special instructions from the Colonial Minister, as the governors before that time were in the habit of getting, and which he was obliged to obey, to make the Loyalists, by the supposed munificence of the king, to feel as grateful and dependent as possible on British supplies, and not upon their own manufactures, but discourage them according to the mercantile policy of England. Having put the case of the 13 United States in the first war, 1775, as strongly for their side as the truth would allow, I cannot, in justice to the Loyalists of the Empire and their children, omit the mention of the second war, 1812, and how much the Loyalists and their sons are entitled to our grateful memory and lasting praise for saving, with their best blood, the North American possessions of the Crown, now the Dominion of Canada, from the unpardonable determination of usurpers and dastardly national robbers and murderers to wrest them from the British Empire in the war of 1812. In attentively reading all the documents, it is as clear as the sun shine. By President Madison’s inflammatory and untruthful address to the Congress in 1812, and the answer by the British Minister thereto, (see 2 James’ History of the War of 1812, pages 2 to 40) – by the protests against the war in the respective Legislative Assemblies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland and the New York Convention, (2 Ryerson, 318, 331, 451, and the Treaty of Peace of 1815,) which makes no allusions, whatever to the pretended causes of declaring the war, (see 2 James’ History of the War, appendix 575) that President Madison and his southern and western majority had no cause whatever for declaring the war against England in 1812; but in servile collusion with Bonaparte, the greatest of earthly enslavers, at the hazard of bartering away the best rights of the people of the United States, and dissolving the Union. Their real objects were to spitefully aid the tyrant in his enslaving decrees of Berlin and Milan, in order to overthrow and crush England – at that time in the very deeps of war with the oppressor in support of the much valued liberties of all nations; also, in dastardly treachery, to seize the occasion, while England was so enthralled, to rob her of her supposed defenceless North American possessions, and to pillage, destroy and murder her liege subjects – aye, even her Empire Loyalists and their descendants, of 1775, and the above, with the following, conclusively proves the case, namely, on the floors of the Congress, the summer of the war 1812, (not a word in the following about the blockade, or the taking of British sailors out of neutral vessels, but) Doctor Eustis, secretary of the treasury, with Mr. Clay, proceeds at once to state their main object, and said, “We can take the Canadas,” says the doctor, “without soldiers; we have only the to send officers into the Provinces, and the people, disaffected towards their own Government, will rally round our standard.” The Hon. Henry Clay in the following explicit words, seconded his friend thus: “It is absurd to suppose we shall not succeed in our enterprise against the enemy’s Provinces. We have the Canadas as much under our command (as she, Great Britain, has the ocean) and the way to conquer her on the ocean is to drive her from the land. I am not for stopping at Quebec, or anywhere else, but I would take the whole continent from them and ask them no favors.” “Her fleets cannot then rendezvous at Halifax as now; and having no place of resort in the north, cannot infest our coasts as they have lately done. It is as easy to conquer them on the land as their whole navy would conquer ours on the ocean. We must take the Continent from them. I wish never to see peace till we do. God has given us the power and the means; we are to blame if we do not use them. If we get the Continent she must allow us the freedom of the sea,” (1 James, History of the War, 1812, p.77.) But they reckoned without their host! for the sons of the Loyalists with their aged sires were there. Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton and all around the coasts and the interior of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick along the coasts and through the country of the St. Lawrence, Lower Canada and Upper Canada, the Loyalists thoroughly inoculated the people around them, with the wrongs which they had suffered from the Americans, and became a wall of fire round about His Majesty’s Provinces and North American possessions, which this bragging and dastardly majority could never extinguish or subdue, because the Empire Loyalists (30,000) and their sons were there, and so it proved. Nova Scotia immediately armed all the militia forces, and sent several regiments to Canada, all the troops that could be spared. Sir John Sherbrooke, a very able governor, made extensive preparations for defending the coasts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. (See 3 Murdock’s History of Nova Scotia, 326, 336 and 362.) The sum of £2,500 was sent for the relief of the burned-out sufferers of Newark. New Brunswick, besides preparing for her own defence, sent, in the winter of 1813, a noble regiment, called the 104th, through the woods on snowshoes, and another corps, I think, was raised and sent, in the winter of 1814, by Col. Robinson, but I am not sure of it. With the President’s declaration of war came three great armies, sent to operate on the Canadas (not the twentieth part of the United States), but when they were met by a wall of iron round about, and when their general officers, Generals Hall and Smith, (or General “Van Bladder” as they called him), contrary to the view of Dr. Eustis, in Congress, as to our people rallying round their standard, they were met with a roar of laughter and contempt. “Come and take us,” said Col. Bishop. “Lay on Macduff,” etc., said General Brock; and after being walloped and taken prisoners as a big army by a small one, in more than any instances of battle I ever knew of, (see James’ history of the war of 1812,) and after the Americans setting fire to the English town of Newark, near Niagara, in a bitterly cold night, about 10 o’clock, in December, and turning four hundred women with their children out to perish, which they would have done if not relieved by the surrounding country; burning York, now Toronto, Legislative buildings, records and library, court house and churches, etc., and killing in numerous battles numbers of those gallant sons who defended their country; and after operating nearly three years, with 45,000 troops, cannon, artillery, etc., they had not, at the end of the war, an inch of Canada in their possession. Then when His Majesty had settled the matter with Bonaparte, the British went up the Potomac, with some of their boats and forces, to pay a visit to the valorous Commander-in-Chief, President Madison, at his capitol in Washington, the metropolitan city of the United States, where he had about 16,000 troops, with immense artillery, etc., and the capitol near by. What became of the Commander-in-Chief, President Madison, nowhere to be found? Why an American writer (General Wilkinson’s Memoir, 1 vol., p.283) says of him: “At the very first shot the trembling coward, with a faltering voice, exclaimed, ‘Come, General Armstrong, come Colonel Munroe, let us go and leave it to the Commanding General” (2 James’ History of the War, 1812, p. 291). John Bull, not finding President Madison, went forward and burned the Capitol at Washington, as also the President’s mansion, in polite return for his burning Newark and the public buildings at York, now Toronto; and after sundry other calls which Mr. Bull was amply prepared to make, the result was that, soon afterwards, destruction was stayed, and President Madison and his party sued for peace. A treaty of peace was agreed upon. “This trembling coward,” as Wilkinson calls him, the President, and this bragging Henry Clay (contrary to his boasting speech, and not a word about the cause of going to war), sign the treaty. I have now no space for further remarks on President Madison and his party (which I will yet do, as well as on a base writer in the war of 1812 -- Lossing), but turn to my brethren. To you, my noble brothers, now mouldering in honored graves in Canada, and whose life blood, so freely given on the battlefield in virtuous defence of your country – but no obelisk, stone or sign to remember your honor by, or mark the graves where you sleep – you, who with patriotism, courage and loyalty, in no country surpassed, promptly equipped yourselves for battle, and stood to your arms, against fearful odds, and almost certain death, and with gallant bravery broke the head of the enemy’s force, and defeated his purpose for making headway to possess the country, and saved it with your marvellous valor, till other forces came to chastise the usurpers. I love you much and should like my coming grave to be besides yours. Will not those noble Canadas (now enjoying peace and plenty) erect some obelisk or monument or some sign of remembrance for the honored sons and parents of the empire Loyalists, or join with the other Provinces, by some proper means, to do them honor? I truly hope for our honor and the Dominion sake that this may be done; if not and they neglected be “Where dust and damned oblivion is the tomb of honored bones indeed!” Then, sleep on you noble Loyalists, so honored in your deaths and peaceful in your graves, by the discharge of virtuous duties in which death had no sting nor the grave victory, for the Lord of Hosts was with you, and through your blood won the triumphant victory over the usurpers, the dastards, the robbers and the murderers of your own land and who, I trust, has granted you a happy and never ending peace. My next letter shall be on the causes of our poverty. Your most obedient and most humble servant, DAVID SHANK KERR. NOTE. – In a former letter the types made Mr. Kerr state that instead of being so largely generous to the Upham and Grand Southern railways it would have been better to have given $50 or $100 for the encouragement of manufacturers. The accounts should have been $50,000 or $100,000.