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Spain in the previous war.


While the American Revolution dominates the military history of North America in the latter part of the eighteenth century, there were important conse- quences of 1763 for French and Spanish colonial regimes as well.

Of course New France had disppeared; even Louisiana was given to Spain as compensation for its wartime losses. The French population of the St. Law- rence valley, however, did not disappear. British occupation and rule were fairly benign. But the old system of local government through the militia captains did not continue. Catholics could not exercise judicial powers under the British con- stitution, and the militia captains retained the prestige but not the real power of their office.24 Moreover, the old regime of New France had effectively kept the seigneurial class from exercising political power, but had channeled seigneurial ambitions into the officer corps of the regular army regiments stationed in Can- ada; those regiments of course disappeared with the conquest in 1760.25 As Brit- ish governors of Canada groped for political support in an occupied country, and especially tried to curb the powers of the tiny Protestant minority that had en- tered Canada in the train of the British army, they moved toward ideas eventu- ally incorporated in the Quebec Act of 1774. Often advertised as an outstanding example of British wisdom and toleration, the Quebec Act in fact gave the Catholic hierarchy and the seigneurial class stronger positions than either had ever achieved under the French regime.26 Power shifted after the British con- quest and especially under the Quebec Act from the rural mass of the population and its natural leaders to the educated, influential minority in Montreal and Que- bec.

A clear sign of what British military conquest and its consequences had done to the internal structure of French Canadian society was seen just a year after the Quebec Act, when Anglo-american rebel armies invaded the St. Law- rence valley. Seigneurs, priests, and French merchants rallied to the call of the British governor to arms, but the rural masses, where they were not apathetic, helped and even joined the rebels. Without active support from the habitants, Montgomery's column would never have taken Montreal, and Arnold's column, staggering down the Chaudiere toward Quebec, could not have survived. Despite a long history of bloody conflict between French and American settlers, men from both sides acted together in late 1775 to seize the whole valley, except for the town of Quebec itself. The ultimate failure of the Anglo-american invasion is well known; in the debacle of 1776, habitants turned against the sick, retreating rebel army, but not before the desperate Anglo-americans -- unsupported from the southward -- had themselves begun to pillage the Canadian peasantry. The main point, however, is that British rule, by leaning so heavily on an urbanized elite, had effectively alienated the rural mass of the population.27 The disarming of that population, the political emasculation of the militia captains, and the late, tentative steps taken to let French Canadians play again some limited military

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