On this day in history in 1718, Francois-Louis-Frederic Haldimand, was born. He was born in Switzerland and yet was to have a distinguished military and political career in North America and would help bring the United Empire Loyalists and the Iroquois nations to safety in Canada following the American Revolution.
Haldimand joined the Prussian army in 1740 and later served in the elite Swiss Guard in the Dutch Army. At the time it was quite typical for natives of one country to serve in the army of another. The Swiss had a great reputation as soldiers and men like Haldimand were in great demand from. In the run up to the Seven Years War, he was recruited by the British to serve in North America. Here it was envisaged that he would serve as a military adviser to German colonists in Philadelphia. Although Haldimand never served in his intended capacity, he served with honor, was wounded and rewarded with a position in Montreal following its capture, by General Wolf. At the end of the conflict, he became a governor of an area in Quebec. Haldimand left to manage military affairs in Florida from 1767 after it had been handed over by the Spanish to the British.
The American Revolution saw a dramatic change in his career. The Americans saw it as an attempt to throw off tyrannical rule, while the British saw it as a civil war. The British High Command believed that foreigners should not serve in positions of authority at this sensitive time. Some even viewed foreigners in positions of authority with suspicion. As a result, Haldimand left North America and bought an estate in his native Switzerland.
During the war, many American colonists stayed loyal to the crown and the Iroquois nations were preyed upon by other British-allied Indians such as the Mohawks.
When the governor of Quebec resigned, Haldimand was recalled from retirement and asked to take over the position. In 1778 Haldimand become London’s representative in Quebec. In this capacity, Haldimand was tasked with resettling American Indians and Loyalists on the upper Saint Lawrence Seaway in Canada.
The American loyalist and Iroquois Indians had to leave the American colonies because of their support for the British. Many Americans believed that they were traitors and untrustworthy and ought to be punished. They had to leave their homes and take up residence in British-controlled areas of Canada. Haldimand was a competent administrator and he helped the two groups, who were effectively refugees, to settle in their new lands. He earned the gratitude of the American loyalists and the Iroquois for his support. It proved to be a shrewd move as the American refugees and exiles helped to develop the upper Saint Lawrence Seaway region in Canada.