Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Stephen M. Miller

Second Committee Member

Scott W. See

Third Committee Member

Janet K. TeBrake


The Canadian Rebellion of 1837 - 1838, as experienced in Upper Canada, was notable for the heavy involvement of American citizens, particularly in the later stages, when the rebel Patriots were dominated by Americans. These American men had unique and evolving perspectives of the significance of the international border and international politics. Once the rebels were apprehended, British authorities chose to send most of the Americans to their penal colony, Van Dieman's Land, now the Australian state of Tasmania. There too the American citizens were faced with geopolitical issues, as their very presence constituted a threat to British rule, at least in the eyes of the British colonial authorities. This thesis will examine the experience of American Patriots in the context of multiple international relationships. Current scholarship on the American Patriots does not examine them in the wider transnational context of the mid-nineteenth century. First, the Canadian Rebellion itself will be examined to determine what motivated the American Patriots, how they perceived the border and issues of international geopolitics, and their experience of battle and subsequent trial for piratical invasion. The second chapter will discuss how the long sea voyage impacted the Patriots. The third chapter will analyze the American Patriots in Van Dieman's Land, how their experiences were uniquely shaped by the nature of their crimes, and their subsequent fates. These chapters will be informed by the narrative memoirs of the American Patriots themselves, further aided by contemporary documents such as newspapers and proclamations. Finally, the men and events will be situated within the geopolitics of their time. The American Patriots were more than a case study in Australian penal colonies or an interesting anecdote in Canadian history. Their experiences highlight the growing interdependence of the nineteenth-century world; they show American connections in the North American borderlands, the British Empire, and colonial Australia.