Ontario, and probably a good part of the rest of present day Canada, would now be part of the United States were it not for the native warriors who overwhelmingly came to the defence of the British Crown in the first year of the War of 1812-1814. When Congress declared war on Britain on June 18, 1812, former president Thomas Jefferson, speaking from his estate at Monticello in Virginia, said “the acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighbourhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching.” Henry Clay, speaker of the House of Representatives, claimed the conquest of Canada could be handled by the militia of Kentucky without any other help.
The two leaders had grounds for their optimism. Britain was tied up fighting Napoleon in Europe and had only one regular line regiment of 900 men and officers dispersed in small garrisons around Upper Canada. The majority of the settlers in the province were recent arrivals from the United States and could not be counted on to rally to the British side. The United States had a population of more than 7 million compared with no more than 500,000 for all of the future Canada, with only 77,000 in Upper Canada. The United States had tens of thousands of militia at its disposition, as well as a small complement of regular forces. The British, however, had the support of the native peoples.