- I have an image in my head of an invading American army lined up at the Queenston border crossing, passports and muskets in hand. Probably great fodder for a Sutler Cyrus cartoon (every month in Smoke & Fire News - sorry, you plug things where ever you can), but it spurs a question:
What sort of documentation as to proof of citizenship did people use back then? Did the people in Canada consider themselves citizens of Canada or citizens of Britain? Did monarchies consider their populations to be citizens or subjects?
- Excellent questions:I think the last one you ask is the easiest to answer - in the eyes of the British Government and monarch, they were all subjects. "Citizenship" was a radical, and revolutionary idea.
One source of answers to the other questions is the process for raising militia units in the Canadas. All men were considered eligible for militia service, with certain exceptions like members of "Peace Churches" who paid a fine instead. However, we have records of many of the men involved and called up refusing to give an oath of allegiance on the grounds that they were Americans. Nine men from the Head of the Lake region, UC, were named in military correspondence and labelled deserters. They did return to the United States, and their property was confiscated.Documentation was scarce. Church records would confirm dates of birth, marriage and christenings, but they were by no means comprehensive because non-Anglicans often did not go through the "proper" channels on these occasions.Lists of "Crown Patentees" - those who were granted land by the Crown - give lists of names, but not nationality. Land changed hands frequently and not all records are accurate. Much administrative work was done at the local level, by Townships, and those records are often quite helpful.
In terms of passports, I do not believe there were official government documents issued for all travelers. However, on occasion special ones were issued. The US Army issued one for the Revd. Richard Pollard of Amherstburg to return to the British lines at Burlington Heights. But this was an ad hoc. document.
So, the answers are not exactly simple. However, I can just imagine some hopelessly anachronistic filmmaker having British troops (or US) slowly going down a line of refugees and asking "You peppers pliss" (My attempt at a Hollywood German accent). Never happened, but it might on screen one day.Others on list may have additional information.
Date: Thu, 1 Dec 2011 11:48:17 -0500
Subject: 1812 passports
[snip] Did the people in Canada consider themselves citizens of Canada or citizens of Britain? Did monarchies consider their populations to be citizens or subjects?