Laura Secord

Laura Secord

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Laura Secord was originally an American. She was born in Massachusetts on September 13, 1775. Her father was Thomas Ingersoll. He was a major in the American army. They were well known because Laura's father was a clever man. In her family there were inventors, mechanics, merchants, magistrates, teachers and soldiers. Laura had three sisters. When she was eight her mother had died and her father had gone off to war, so Laura had to look after them. After two years or so Laura's father married someone else. A month later she got ill and died. Three years later he remarried a woman named Sarah Whiting. After Thomas Ingersoll became a young Republican and saw excessive violence in Massachusetts, he moved his family to Upper Canada. When Laura was eighteen they moved again to Bustling Port, which is near the Niagara River below the falls.

After Laura had moved there she met a young man named James Secord. After dating for a long period of time, James asked Laura to marry him. They married in 1797 at the Church of England. They were very wealthy. Laura was a big help to James in his business since she came from such an affluent family. By 1812, the Secord's had five children, two servants, a small pleasant house and a wealthy store. When they first got married, they lived in St. Davids and after being married for a while they moved to Queenston. Laura did not work but James was a Merchant. Life was good for Laura, James and their family, and it seemed the future held nothing but happiness.

On June 18, 1812, war was officially declared. It was Great Britain with the Native Americans against the United States. Queenston and Niagara Falls were long awaiting the attack of the US forces from across the Niagara River. James had already left to fight in the battle in which Sir Isaac Brock was killed. After Laura found out that her husband was missing, she went to Queenston Heights to search among the dead and wounded. James was there with gunshot wounds to his knee and shoulder. After his wounds were dressed, enemy soldiers demanded food and stay at the Secord homestead. The Niagara Peninsula became a hostile territory. Lieutenant James FitzGibbon's special force of fifty men and one hundred and fifty Indians were stationed at Fort George, the present-day Niagara-On-The-Lake.

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Gyrenius Chapin, Captain of some of the men on stay at the Secord's house gave permission to lead a surprise attack on FitzGibbon. One officer paid no notice to Laura, their hostess and servant. Once they let their tongues slip about the surprise attack, Laura knew that with the crumble of FitzGibbon, Upper Canada would crumble too. With James wounded he was unable to take the message to FitzGibbon at the DeCew house. Her loyalty to the British Crown gave her the determination to save her fellow neighbours. As Queen Elizabeth II said,

"From the moment when I first set foot on Canadian soil the feeling of strangeness went, for I knew myself to be not only amongst friends, but amongst fellow countrymen." Even though Laura was born an American, she felt her patriotism for Canada and her friends in Canada.

Ursula K. LeGuin once said, "it is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end." Laura’s trek began on 4 a.m. on June 22, 1813. Avoiding the main roads, she chose a difficult and circuitous nineteen- mile route to the stone house where FitzGibbon was stationed. She began by walking along the road to her brother-in-law's farm for a visit as he lay ill and to also remove any suspicion. Her niece Elizabeth offered to accompany her. Laura and Elizabeth followed the Twelve- Mile Creek, which flowed past the DeCew house. They went by way of Old Swamp Road. James’s wisdom led them to Shipman's

Corners. When they reached Shipman's Corners, Elizabeth collapsed in exhaustion. Alone, Laura entered the most difficult part of her journey. The heat of the June sun was beating down on her, and the brambles tore at her clothing. As dusk began to fall, Laura realized she had well been walking since four a.m. that morning. She found the DeCew house in the semi-darkness. Indians came out of bushes directing rifles and weapons at her. But the chief couldn't refuse her command to take her to FitzGibbon when she spoke with such sincerity and authority. Once at the DeCrew house and facing FitzGibbon, Laura warned him and the Indians about the large amount of Americans that are going to sneak up on them and surprise him and his men. FitzGibbon responded as if he had expected it. He ordered that the forty- one Indian regiment meet the Americans at the edge of the escarpment. He proceeded up the road for assistance.

After moments of lying on the couch her tiredness overcame her and she fell asleep. Manly shouts and laughs brought her out of her sleep. The Battle at Beaver Dams was obviously a victory, held high over their heads. The Mohawk and Caughnawagas were met in the crossfire. Lieutenant FitzGibbon took the American artillery. The one Indian regiment confused the American troops by marching back and forth, thus creating an illusion of having a larger army. Laura's smile touched all those there that were staring. FitzGibbon saluted her saying, "Mrs. Secord, we have just experienced one of the most complete victories in the history of our army. Madam, the credit of this victory belongs to you!" Laura Secord had not only saved Canada, but also the thousands of people that lived in the Niagara region. Her journey was worth it in the end.

It was not until 1860, when Laura Secord was 85 years old, that she received any formal recognition. The Prince of Wales, upon a visit to Canada, read Laura's account of her wartime adventure, and sent her a gift of a hundred pounds for her efforts. From that time on, the bravery of Laura Secord has been part of Canada’s history.

Laura Secord contributed a lot to the Battle of Beaver Dams. If it was not for her, the Niagara region could have easily been captured by the Americans during their surprise attack. Laura was a practitioner of peace because without her efforts to warn the British, many people would have died in the Battle of Beaver Dams.
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