“We Must All Hang Together”

Benjamin Franklin 1767
Benjamin Franklin 1767 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


When the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, George Washington and the newly-formed Congress of the United States made two mistakes.

The first was a military one.  Instead of capturing Nova Scotia (which was largely sympathetic to the American cause) and preventing British reinforcements from getting up the St. Lawrence to Montreal and Quebec, the Americans decided to make simultaneous attacks on the two cities.  Montreal fell relatively easily, but Arnold failed to capture Quebec.

The other mistake the Americans made was one of politics, or perhaps “public relations.”  Although they invited Canada and Nova Scotia to join the union, they did not send emissaries soon enough to try personal sales appeals.  It was April 1776, before Benjamin Franklin led a carefully chosen delegation to Montreal, which had already been captured.  It arrived on April 29, and included Charles Carroll and his cousin John, two eminent Catholics who were supposed to persuade Roman Catholic leaders in Quebec that their church would have as much freedom in an American State as it had under British rule.  Canadian church leaders were not impressed.   In fact, they disciplined a Montreal priest who allowed John Carroll to celebrate mass.

There were a number of American businessmen living in Montreal who had gone there from New York when Britain took Canada from France.  They were heartily disliked by Governor Murray, the first British military governor of Quebec.  He called them “licentious fanatics trading here.”  They, and some of the Canadian businessmen in Montreal, gave the Franklin commission a warm welcome, but generally speaking, the reception from most people was cold.

The Americans brought a  good supply of “Continental dollars” to pay their bills, but even the cab drivers refused to accept them.  The expression “not worth a continental damn,” sometimes heard even today, originated from the Continental dollars.

The Franklin delegation was too late.  One week after it arrived in Montreal, British warships began arriving at Quebec.  When the Americans fled from there, Franklin led his party back to Philadelphia for the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  It was then that Franklin made his famous quip.  One of the signers said: “We must all hang together.”  Franklin quickly added: “Or we shall all hang singly.”

I can tell you want to learn more about Benjamin Franklin and how he almost convinced us all the American way! There’s the usual suspects such as Wikipedia, an extension to the story at The Gazette, you can read an interesting timeline post at Counter-Factual.net by WestVirginiaRebel.

For those of us who like to hold a book in our hands, there are a few to choose from. The Invasion of Canada in 1775, Canada and the American Revolution, 1774-1783, and The Fall of New France: How the French lost a North American empire 1754-1763.


  1. The 13 colonies that formed the Unite States, were but a third of the 33 colonies lining the Atlantic Coast to the Carabean Islands. Others were invited to join, but were in different cultural, economic and political situations that did not promote leaving their mother countries…. at that time. Of course, our 13 colonies, plus some land purchases (grabs) over the next 100 plus years, has been tying to tear itself apart ever since. Anyone want Texas to demand succession… again?! 😉


  2. Reminds me of our local situation. As you know NL is a relatively new addition to the Canadian stable and the decision to join with Canada was a VERY controversial one with some (not me) remaining bitterly unconvinced to this day. My dad–a teacher all his life–told me that in the year before confederation his annual salary was around $400 and in the year following it was around $800 so he never needed convincing…


      • There’s always a lingering doubt here in my province that Great Britain and British Canada saw it in both their best interests that the part on the Eastern Edge (NF and LAB) was not controlled by the US. The north has always been contested. If not for a gamble we would have lost the west coast to Teddy R and company around the turn of the 19th century and now here was NF and LAB with a pile of US military bases and strong, existing, economic and social ties to the US. It is widely believed that J. R. Smallwood and company were heavily financed by Canada and Britain to expressly keep the USA out…and that is still debated to this day. …and the NL’rs? well many of them are still wondering why we did not remain independent, especially now when, at least for now, we are prosperous… even though and our softwood industry is gone …as is our fishery …and all maybe because df decisions made by the Fed, putting other interests ahead of those of my province.
        What’s that you said in reply to my other comment about whether lessons were learned?
        …and, in fairness to all I should also add the counter, and what about making sure you bring out all the facts, not just the ones that support your current point of view :>) (I’ve been guilty of that more than once.)


        • Well, that’s what I like about WordPress and social media in general: comments like yours brings out a new angle to look at in each event
          … and I’m happy for readers like you who add to each post! Thanks! 🙂


  3. I’m so glad Canada didn’t hold hands with Franklin.

    T, I was reading a book about Canada at the Dentist office this a.m. and read a sad article about Reil. They hanged him. Bohoho.


    • Yeah, he’s a very interesting fellow, I’ll say that much. If it works, just type “Riel” on my page’s search box and you should get a few results. Very interesting!!
      Thanks, P. for dropping by! G’Day! 🙂


Let me know what's on your mind

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.