In the Articles of Confederation, the United States' founding fathers provided for Canada (in the form of the Province of Quebec) to join as a 14th state. However, Canada didn't take advantage of it and that option was removed when the Constitution was drafted in 1788. Quebec was later sub-divided into Upper and Lower Canada in 1791, rendering it moot anyway.

Presuming that the Constitution had kept the Articles' clause, which part of Canada would Washington, Adams, and the rest of the leaders of the US have been willing to admit to the USA under that clause? Was either part considered a "more legitimate" successor to the previous province? Would both have been acceptable as states (presuming they were willing)?

1 Answer 1


From the Declaration of Independence:

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:


For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

Note that both these two articles are directly, and bluntly, aimed at the long established intent of the English colonies to impose English Common Law on les Habitants of Quebec. These intentions were never lost on les Habitants, who consequently had the strongest desire to resist incorporation into the United States.

So while the concept of Manifest Destiny would not be enunciated until 1845, the purchase of the Louisiana Territory by Jefferson made clear the unspoken intent. The United States would always have been glad to incorporate any and all of the territory of Canada, including those regions governed by the Hudson's Bay Company as Rupert's Land, but the inhabitants of those territories never shared the same enthusiasm.

  • So, basically, if the offer were still open, the young US would have been happy to apply it to either part, because "hey, more land!"?
    – Bobson
    Oct 11, 2016 at 4:13
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    @Bobson: More than that - in December 1775 the Continental army under Arnold and Morgan besieged and attempted to storm the citadel at Quebec: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Quebec_(1775) Oct 11, 2016 at 4:45
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    "The inhabitants of these territories never shared the same enthusiasm": This can't really be understated. Upper Canada had very few European inhabitants before the Revolutionary War; most of the Europeans who ended up there were fleeing Loyalists. The French settlers (largely in Lower Canada) wanted to keep the code civil. And the Native Americans were largely allied with the British during the Revolutionary War as well. May 30, 2019 at 14:49
  • My undersanding of their intentions would be that it was a perch so that the french canadians would join the us so more territory for the us (pretty sure the french canadians didn't really like the people that just conquered them, so they might be interested) Since even then the US territory in itself was not solid I would say the 'what was in the deal' part of the question is moot. The US would have taken basically any part they could.
    – Fredy31
    Jul 8, 2021 at 20:32

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