On February 25, 182, Major-General Brock writes to Sir George Prevost complaining about the difficulties he is having with the legislature.
YORK, February 25, 1812.
I cannot permit Colonel M'Donnell to return home without giving your excellency a short account of our proceedings here. I had every reason to expect the almost unanimous support of the two houses of the legislature to every measure the government thought it necessary to recommend; but after a short trial, I found myself egregiously mistaken in my calculations.
The many doubtful characters in the militia made me anxious to introduce the oath of abjuration into the bill: there were twenty members in the house, when this highly important measure was lost by the casting voice of the chairman. The great influence which the numerous settlers from the United States possess over the decisions of the lower house is truly alarming, and ought immediately, by every practical means, to be diminished. To give encouragement to real subjects to settle in this province, can alone remove the evil. The consideration of the fees should not stand in the way of such a politic arrangement; and should your excellency ultimately determine to promise some of the waste lands of the crown to such Scotch emigrants as enlist in the Glengary Fencibles, I have no hesitation in recommending, in the strongest manner, the raising of a Canadian corps upon similar offers, to be hereafter disbanded and distributed among their countrymen in the vicinity of Amherstburg. Colonel M'Donnell being in full possession of my sentiments on this subject, I beg leave to refer your excellency to him for further information. The bill for the suspension of the habeas corpus, I regret to say, was likewise lost by a very trifling majority. A strong sentiment now prevails that war is not likely to occur with the United States, which, I believe, tended to influence the votes of the members; I mean of such who, though honest, are by their ignorance easily betrayed into error. The low ebb of their finances appears to stagger the most desperate democrats in the States, and may possibly delay the commencement of direct hostilities; but should France and England continue the contest much longer, it appears to me absolutely impossible for the United States to avoid making their election; and the unfriendly disposition they have for some years past evinced towards England, leaves little doubt as to their choice. Your excellency, I am sensible, will excuse the freedom with which I deliver my sentiments.
Every day hostilities are retarded, the greater the difficulties we shall have to encounter. The Americans are at this moment busily employed in raising six companies of Rangers, for the express purpose of overawing the Indians; and are besides collecting a regular force at Vincennes, probably with a view of reinforcing Detroit. Indeed, report states the arrival of a large force at Fort Wayne, intended for the former garrison. Their intrigues among the different tribes are carried on openly and with the utmost activity, and as no expense is spared, it may reasonably be supposed that they do not fail of success. Divisions are thus uninterruptedly sowed among our Indian friends, and the minds of many altogether estranged from our interests. Such must inevitably be the consequence of our present inert and neutral proceedings in regard to them. It ill becomes me to determine how long true policy requires that the restrictions now imposed upon the Indian department ought to continue; but this I will venture to assert, that each day the officers are restrained from interfering in the concerns of the Indians, each time they advise peace and withhold the accustomed supply of ammunition, their influence will diminish, till at length they lose it altogether.
I find that ever since the departure of Priest Burke from Sandwich, the £50 per annum paid from the military chest to that gentleman have been withheld, on what account I have not been able to ascertain. The individual at present officiating is highly spoken of; and as several gentlemen of the Catholic persuasion have applied to me to intercede with your excellency to renew the allowance, I presume to submit the case to your indulgent consideration.