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Letter from J. Brown to the Committee of Correspondence in Boston



Montreal, March 29, 1775.

GENTLEMEN: Immediately after the reception of your letters and pamphlets, I went to Albany to find the state of the Lakes, and established a correspondence with Dr˙ Joseph Young. I found the Lakes impassable at that time. About a fortnight after I set out for Canada, and arrived at St˙ John' s in fourteen days, having undergone almost inconceivable hardships, the Lake Champlain being very high, the small streams' and rivers, and great part of the Country for twenty miles each side the Lake, especially towards Canada, under water. The Lake Champlain was partly open and partly covered with dangerous ice, which breaking loose for miles in length, our crafts drove us against an island, and froze us in for two days, after which we were glad to foot it on land.

I delivered your letters to Messrs˙ Thomas Walker and Blake, and was very kindly received by the Committee of Correspondence at Montreal, from whom I received the following state of affairs in the Province of Quebeck. Governour Carleton is no great politician, a man of sour, morose temper, a strong friend to Administration and. the late Acts of the British Parliament which respect America, particularly the Quebeck Bill; has restrained the liberty of the Press, that nothing can be printed without examination and license. Application has been made to him for printing the Address from the Continental Congress, and a refusal obtained. All the Troops in this Province are ordered to hold themselves in readiness for Boston, On the shortest notice. Four or five hundred snow-shoes are prepared, for what use they know not. Mr˙ Walker has wrote you about three weeks since, and has


been very explicit. He informs you that two regular Officers (Lieutenants) have gone off in disguise, supposed to be gone to Boston, and to make what discovery they can through the Country.

I have the pleasure and satisfaction to inform you that, through the industry and exertions of our friends in Canada, our enemies are not at present able to raise ten men for Administration. The weapons that have been used by our friends to thwart the constant endeavours of the friends of Government (so called) have been chiefly in terrorem. The French people are (as a body) extremely ignorant and bigoted, the Curates or Priests having almost the entire government of their temporal as well as spiritual affairs. In La Prairie, a small village about nine miles from Montreal, I gave my landlord a letter of address, and there being four Curés in the village praying over the dead body of an old Friar, the pamphlet was soon handed them, who sent a messenger to purchase several of them. I made them a present of each of them one, and was desired to wait on them in the Nunnery with the holy sisters. They appeared to have no disposition unfriendly toward the Colonies, but chose rather to stand neuter.

Two men from the New-Hampshire Grants accompanied me over the Lakes. The one was an old Indian hunter, acquainted with the St˙ François Indians and their language; the other was a captive many years among the Caghnawaga Indians, which is the principal of all the Canadian Six Nations and Western tribes of Indians, whom I sent to inquire and search out any intrigues carrying on among them. These men have this minute returned and report that they were very kindly received by the Caghnawaga Indians, with whom they tarried several days. The Indians say they have been repeatedly applied to, and requested to join with the King' s Troops to fight Boston, but have peremptorily refused, and still, intend to refuse. They are a very simple, politick people, and say that if they are obliged, for their own safety, to take up arms on either side, that they shall take part on the side of their brethren, the English in New-England; all the chiefs of the Caghnawaga tribe being of English extraction, captivated in their infancy. They have wrote a friendly letter to Colonel Israel Putnam, of Pomfret, in Connecticut, in consequence of a letter which Colonel Putnam sent them, in which letter they give their brother Putnam assurance of their peaceable disposition. Several French gentlemen of Montreal have paid the Governour a visit, and offered him their services, as Officers, to raise a Canadian Army, and join the King' s Troops. The Governour told them he could get Officers in plenty, but the difficulty consisted in raising Soldiers.

There is no prospect of Canada sending Delegates to the Continental Congress. The difficulty consists in this: should the English join in the Non-Importation Agreement, the French would immediately monopolize the Indian trade. The French in Canada are a set of people who know no other way of procuring wealth and honour but by becoming Court sycophants; and as the introduction of the French laws will make room for the French gentry, they are very thick about the Governour. You may depend that, should any movement be made among the French to join against the Colonies, your friends here will give the shortest notice possible, and the Indians, on their part, have engaged to do the same; so that you have no occasion to expect to be surprised without notice, should the worst event take place.

I have established a channel of correspondence through the New-Hampshire Grants, which may be depended on. Mr˙ Walker' s letter comes by the hand of Mr˙ Jeffers, once of Boston, now on his way thither, which, together with this, is a full account of affairs here. I shall tarry here some time, but shall not go to Quebeck, as there are a number of their Committee here.

One thing I must mention, to be kept as a profound secret. The Fort at Ticonderoga must be seized as soon as possible, should hostilities be committed by the King' s Troops. The people on New-Hampshire Grants have engaged to do this business, and in my opinion they are the most proper persons for this job. This will effectually curb this Province, and all the Troops that may be sent here.


As the messenger to carry this letter has been waiting some time with impatience, I must conclude, by subscribing myself gentlemen, your most obedient humble servant,


To Mr˙ Samuel Adams,
Dr˙ J˙ Warren,
Com' tee of Correspondence in Boston.

I am this minute informed that Mr˙ Carleton has ordered that no Wheat go out of the River until further order; the design is obvious.