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July 31 1812: Prevost and Martial Law




On July 31, 1812, Sir George Prevost writes to Major General Isaac Brock, in Upper Canada. Prevost thinks that Brock can declare martial law without the need of the legislature. He writes: "I believe you are authorized by the Commission under which you administer the Government of Upper Canada to declare Martial Law in the event of Invasion or Insurrection it is therefore for you to consider whether you can obtain any thing equivalent to that power from your Legislature, I have not succeeded in obtaining a Modification of it in Lower Canada and must therefore upon the occurrence of either of  those calamities declare the Law Martial unqualified, and of course shut the Doors of the Courts of Civil La he also advises Brock about the repeal of the Orders in Council." Prevost's letter is reproduced below. 

SIR GEORGE PRBVOST TO MAJOR-GENERAL BROCK.
Quebec 31 July 1812

Sir, I have received your Letter of the 20th instant accompanied by the copy of two Letters from Lieu Col. St George, who is in command at Amherstburg, and some interesting documents found on Board a Schooner which had been taken by the Boats of the Schooner Hunter;

In consequence of your having desired Colonel Procter to proceed to Amherstburg and of your presence being Necessary at the Seat of Government to meet the Legislature of Upper Canada, I have taken upon myself to place Major Gen Sheaffe on the Staff to enable me to send him to assist you in the arduous task you have to perform, in the able execution of which I have great confidence; He has been accordingly directed to proceed without delay to Upper Canada, there to place himself under your Command.

I believe you are authorized by the Commission under which you administer the Government of Upper Canada to declare Martial Law in the event of Invasion or Insurrection it is therefore for you to consider whether you can obtain any thing equivalent to that power from your Legislature, I have not succeeded in obtaining a Modification of it in Lower Canada and must therefore upon the occurrence of either of  those calamities declare the Law Martial unqualified, and of course shut the Doors of the Courts of Civil Law.

The Report transmitted by Captain Dixon of the Royal Engineers to Lieut Colonel Bruyeres of the state of defence in which he had placed Fort Amherstburg, together with the description of Troops allotted for its defence, give me a foreboding that the result of Gen' Hulls attempt upon that Fort will terminate honorably to our Arm's.

If Lt Col St George is possessed of the talents, and resources required to form a Soldier he is fortunate in the opportunity of displaying them.

Should Gen Hull be compelled to relinquish his operations against Amherstburg, it will be proper his future movements should be most carefully observed, as his late march exhibits a more than ordinary Character of enterprize.

Your supposition of my slender means is but too correct, Notwithstanding you may rely upon every exertion being made to preserve uninterrupted the communication between Kingston and Montreal, and that I will also give all possible support to your endeavors to overcome every difficulty.

The possession of Malden which I consider means Amherstburg appears a favorite object with the Government of the United States, — I sincerely hope you will disappoint them.

Should the intelligence which arrived yesterday by the way of Newfoundland prove correct, a remarkable coincidence will exist in the revocation of our orders in Council as regards America, and the declaration of War by Congress against England, both having taken place on the same day in London and at Washington, the 17th June.

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