I would like to have been in the British ranks on the Plains of Abraham on the morning of September 13, 1759, at the moment when Wolfe’s British army defeated Montcalm’s French forces. Rarely have single battles proved decisive to history, but those that have so proved were usually enormously decisive. Wolfe’s victory was one such engagement.
Although more war would follow, that battle essentially ended the French empire in North America, an empire that had contended with the English colonies over the course of one hundred and fifty years for die culture, the economy, the native inhabitants, the soil, and the soul of North America. Wolfe s victory ensured that North America would be mostly Englishspeaking, but it also, because of British imperial policy, ensured that a French culture would survive in a British Canada.
British Canada was one of the many causes of the American Revolution that resulted in an independent United States. American opposition to, and then friendship with, British Canada figured in many major events in American history, from the westward movement to the Civil War, to the titanic struggles against Germany in the twentieth century.
The language we speak, the culture we embrace, the American history we study, and the policies our government follows today, we owe in part to that fateful engagement west of Quebec city.