Plans to Make Nova Scotia Part of United States Thwarted Feb. 15, 1776

When most people think about the Revolutionary War and the newly declared independent United States of America, they automatically think about the 13 colonies becoming the 13 states. However, I wonder how many of you ever realized that there was a plan put forth to make Nova Scotia part of the United States?

Nova Scotia is a peninsular province and is one of the smallest Canadian provinces although it is about the same size as New York. The southwestern tip of Nova Scotia lies only 50 miles off the coast of Maine, separated by the Bay of Fundy. On land they are separated by the province of New Brunswick.

As the Revolutionary War was heating up, a group of people in Nova Scotia also desired to be free from British crown and sent a letter to General George Washington, inviting him to invade Nova Scotia. They were sympathetic to the colonies and supportive of their cause. Washington received the letter on February 8, 1776.

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Prior to the letter in the 1760’s, a circular letter had been sent to Nova Scotia from Massachusetts, trying to gain support against England’s Stamp Act. Considering that nearly two thirds of the people living in Nova Scotia were born in the American colonies, the situation in Nova Scotia became a concern. Animosity arose between British loyalists and Yankee sympathizers over issues of survival on the peninsula. They vied for food, lodging and other necessities of life and the longer the strife continued, the more some supported the American colonies.

On February 15, 1776, Nova Scotia Governor Francis Legge dispatched a letter to the British leadership in London, warning them of possible insurrection among some of Nova Scotians. By this time, Legge was already on rocky ground in the Nova Scotian capital of Halifax. He had managed to alienate many of the city’s elite.

On February 16, 1776, the Continental Congress agreed to allow Washington to look into the possibility of sending an expedition to Nova Scotia, but warned him to avoid the request to destroy Halifax, which held a concentration of British forces. However, after the disastrous attempt to capture Quebec in 1775, Washington never acted upon the request to invade Nova Scotia and free them from British rule.

One can only speculate on what would have happened had he done so. It could have thinned his troops and resources even further than they were which could have led to an easy defeat at the hands of the British. Or it’s possible that Nova Scotia could have been the 14th state when America won its independence and they would be flying the Stars and Stripes instead of the Maple Leaf.


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