Chronicles of America 

The Jealousy of Vaudreuil

The Governor of Canada, Pierre de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil, belonged to one of the most ancient families of France, related to that of Levis. He had been born in Canada where his father was Governor for the long period of twenty-two years, from 1703 to 1725, and in his outlook and prejudices he was wholly of New France, with a passionate devotion to its people, and a deep resentment at any airs of superiority assumed by those who came from old France. A certain admiration is due to Vaudreuil for his championship of the Canadians and even of the Indians of the land of his birth against officers of his own rank and caste who came from France. There was in Canada the eternal cleavage in outlook and manners between the Old World and the New, which is found in equal strength in New England, and which was one of the chief factors in causing the American Revolution. Vaudreuil, born at Quebec in 1698, had climbed the official ladder step by step until, in 1742, he had been made Governor of Louisiana, a post he held for three years. He succeeded the Marquis Duquesne as Governor of Canada in the year before Montcalm arrived. He meant well but he was a vain man, always a leading figure in the small society about him, and obsessed by a fussy self-importance. He was not clever enough to see through flattery. The Intendant Bigot, next to the Governor the most important man in Canada, an able and corrupt rascal, knew how to manage the Governor and to impose his own will upon the weaker man. Vaudreuil and his wife between them had a swarm of needy relatives in Canada, and these and other Canadians who sought favors from the Governor helped to sharpen his antagonism to the officers from France. Vaudreuil believed himself a military genius. It was he and not Montcalm who had the supreme military command, and he regarded as an unnecessary intruder this general officer sent out from France.

Now that Montcalm was come, Vaudreuil showed a malignant alertness, born of jealousy, to snub and check him. Outward courtesies were, of course, maintained. Vaudreuil could be bland and Montcalm restrained, in spite of his southern temperament, but their dispatches show the bitterness in their relations. The court of France encouraged not merely the leaders but even officers in subordinate posts to communicate to it their views. A voluble correspondence about affairs in Canada has been preserved. Vaudreuil himself must have tried the patience of the French ministers for he wrote at prodigious length, exalting his own achievements to the point of being ludicrous. At the same time he belittled everything done by Montcalm, complained that he was ruining the French cause in America, hinted that he was in league with corrupt elements in Canada, and in the end even went so far as to request his recall in order that the more pliant Levis might be put in his place. The letters of Montcalm are more reserved. Unlike Vaudreuil, he never stooped to falsehood. He knew that he was under the orders of the Governor and he accepted the situation. When operations were on hand, Vaudreuil would give Montcalm instructions so ambiguous that if he failed he would be sure to get the discredit, while, if he succeeded, to Vaudreuil would belong the glory.

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