First Advisor

Bernard V. Burke

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






David McLane (1767-1797), Trials (Treason) -- Québec (Province), Spies -- Québec (Province)



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, ix, 183 p.)


The thesis primarily examines the 1797 trial of David McLane in Quebec City for spying, the steps taken by the British authorities to ensure a conviction, and McLane's activities in 1796 and 1797 in Vermont and Lower Canada on behalf of the French Minister to the United States, Pierre Adet. McLane did not receive a fair trial because the colonial administration in Lower Canada so thoroughly manipulated the legal system that a guilty verdict was assured. But, ironically, McLane was a guilty man, having been hired by Adet to find sympathizers who would help instigate a rebellion in the colony; he was also employed to gather military intelligence and to help the French seize Lower Canada. The paper also looks at the attempts of the French between 1793 and 1797 to stir up unrest in the colony and their intentions to spark a rebellion and/or to invade Lower Canada. Furthermore, the work discusses the fear that the colony's English community felt due to their perception of the French threat and to their belief that the local Francophone population might rise en masse in an insurrection. Finally, the thesis examines the steps that the English took in response to those fears. The transcript of the McLane trial was found at the Willamette University College of Law Library and the pre-trial depositions of the prosecution's witnesses were located in the collection of the Oregon Historical Society. Many of the research materials were obtained from the libraries of Portland State University, Lewis and Clark College, Willamette University, Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, the University of New Brunswick, and the University of Western Ontario or were obtained through the interlibrary loan offices at Portland State University and the Salem Public Library. Materials were also obtained directly from Canadian historian F. Murray Greenwood, the editorial office of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, the National Archives of Canada, the City Archives of Providence, Rhode Island, and Dr. Claire Weidemier McKarns of Encinitas, California. Most of the early Lower Canadian statutes and other information concerning Lower Canadian and British legal history were found at the Oregon Supreme Court Library. Also, most of the biographical information concerning McLane's early years and his family was found at the Genealogical Section of the Oregon State Library and through the family history centers at the Corvallis (Oregon) and the South Salem {Oregon) Stakes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.


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