A group of Canadian rebels, led by William Lyon Mackenzie, seeking a more democratic Canada, had been forced to flee to the United States after leading the failed Upper Canada Rebellion in Upper Canada (now Ontario).
They took refuge on Navy Island on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, which separates the two countries (between Ontario and New York) and declared themselves the Republic of Canada under MacKenzie's "general" Rensselaer Van Rensselaer (nephew of General Stephen Van Rensselaer). American sympathizers supplied them with money, provisions, and arms via the steamboat SS Caroline.
On December 29, Canadian loyalist Colonel Sir Allan MacNab and Captain Andrew Drew of the Royal Navy commanding a party of militia, crossed the international boundary and seized the Caroline, towed her into the current, set her afire, and cast her adrift over Niagara Falls, after killing one American named Amos Durfee in the process. His body was later exhibited in front of a recruiting tavern in Buffalo, New York.
It was falsely reported that dozens of Americans were killed as they were trapped on board; in fact the ship had been abandoned before being set adrift. Public opinion across the United States was outraged against the British. President Martin Van Buren protested strongly to London, but was ignored.
On May 29, 1838, American forces retaliated by burning a British steamer SS Sir Robert Peel while it was in US waters. The tensions were ultimately settled by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. President Martin Van Buren sent General Winfield Scott to prevent further American incursions into Canada.
Later that year, Irish-Canadian rebel Benjamin Lett murdered a loyalist captain who had been involved in the incident. As part of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, the affair was settled by an expression of regret on the part of Britain that there had not been an immediate explanation and apology for the occurrence.
This incident has been used to establish the principle of "anticipatory self-defense" in international politics, which holds that it may be justified only in cases in which the "necessity of that self-defence is instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation". The Carolina Affair (Case) is also now invoked frequently in the course of the dispute around preemptive strike (or preemption doctrine).
Shadow soldiers: the Frasers: a family legacy: Captain Simon Fraser of the Stormont County militia was wounded and crippled near the St. Lawrence River during the Upper Canadian Rebellion of 1837. This once agile and adept explorer had scaled the Rocky Mountains and forded the wild rivers of Canada's West Coast to establish its first permanent white settlements.(THE FIGHT FOR CANADA)
Sep 01, 2008; [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Hell's Gate in central British Columbia is an appropriately named topographical marvel. Its 115-foot wide...