Grand Meeting of the Confederation of the Six Counties in Saint-Charles
Translated in 2007 by Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote from Grande assemblée de la Confédération des six-comtés de Saint-Charles. An English version of the "Address of the Confederation of the Six Counties" published in The Vindicator on October 31, 1837 is also available.
The meeting of the 23rd current in St-Charles will mark an epoch in the history of Canada. The most outstanding inhabitants of the six counties showed patriotism, zeal and union; they showed themselves worthy of their fatherland and they answered the hopes of the good patriots. Honour to these brave men and worthy citizens! Everyone appeared conscious of the importance of the day's agenda. At precisely midday, a cannon was fired and the citizens of the six counties, whose population is one sixth of the whole province, approached, along with the delegates of the various parishes. The location chosen for this splendid meeting was precisely near the residence of Debartzch, the famous renegade. Heading the patriotic phalanx was the great reformist, the honourable Mr. Papineau, wearing the fabric of the country. As he arrived on the field, Mr. Papineau was greeted by the discharge of a hundred rifles and a few cannon shots.
One had set up, in the middle of the field where the meeting was to be held, a superb hustings on which stood Mr. Papineau along with the other meeting's notables. Mr. Wolfred Nelson, of St-Denis, having been called to the chair, Messrs J. T. Drolet, of St-Marc, and F. C. Duvert, of St-Charles, were chosen as vice chairmen.
The meeting presented the most splendid view. A company of approximately one hundred militiamen baring arms was standing in the back, laid out in the most beautiful order, under the command of the brave captains Lacaisse and Jalbert, two of the officers demoted by Lord Gosford, but since elected by and for the people. A crowd of flags and banners floated in the sky, allowing the observer to read, among others, these inscriptions:
"Flee, Gosford, persecutor of the Canadiens!" — "Vive Papineau and the elective system!" — "Honour to those who returned their commissions, and to those who were demoted, infamy be with their successors!" — "Our friends of Upper Canada: our strength is in our union" — "Honour to the brave Canadiens of 1813: the country still hopes for their help" — "INDEPENDENCE" — " The Canadiens die but do not know how to surrender!" — "Legislative Council!" represented by a death's-head and bones in saltire. — "Papineau and the majority of the House of Assembly!" — "Elective Council, sine qua non!" — "Liberty, we will vanquish or die for her!" — "Down with Debartzch!" etc.
One could notice with satisfaction the presence of all the notable citizens of the Chambly river and a number of influential citizens from the remote parts the district. Here are the names of the members of the House of Assembly who were there:
The Hon. J. Papineau, the Hon. M. Malhiot, L. M. Viger, Esq., M.P.P., J. T. Drolet, Esq., M.P.P., J. Dorion, Esq., M.P.P., A. B. Papineau, Esq., M.P.P., C. O. Perrault, Esq., M.P.P., J. J. Girouard, Esq., M.P.P., E. E. Rodier, Esq., M.P.P., L. Lacoste, Esq., M.P.P., C. H. O. Côté, Esq., M.P.P., E. B. O'Callaghan, Esq., M.P.P., L. R. Blanchard, Esq., M.P.P.
Dr. Bouthiller could not attend, for professional reasons.
The honourable and worthy chairman spoke first; he explained at length the goal of the meeting and concluded by announcing that a delegation of the county of Acadie had come to present an address to the five counties and to ask to be allowed in the confederation. On this the delegation of the county of Acadie came forward, stood up on the hustings with their flags deployed and was presented to the crowd, which welcomed it in enthusiasm. Dr. Côté, speaking in the name of the delegation, submitted the proposition which he was responsible to deliver, and on this a motion to unite Acadie to the five counties was carried out and approved with acclamations. Cannon shots and a discharge of muskets announced afar the passing of this measure.
That done, Mr. chairman presented the honourable Mr. Papineau to the meeting by saying: "Approach, illustrious Canadien, come and rejoice by your presence, the hearts of your oppressed and outraged fellow-citizens, and allow that they bless aloud the defender of their rights and the benefactor of their country." These words pronounced with solemnity created a deep sensation. The man of the people approached with calm and dignity, and at once the enthusiastic crowd uttered the cry of "Vive Papineau!". Mr. Papineau then delivered a most eloquent speech which caused a lively applause.
MM. L. M. Viger, L. Lacoste, representing the county of Chambly, Dr. Côté, of the county of Acadie, T. S. Brown and Girod spoke in turns. After which the resolutions prepared by the delegates were submitted and unanimously adopted.
What follows is an account of the proceedings of the six counties up to Monday night.
Memoir of the citizens of the county of Acadie
Dr. Wolfred Nelson of St-Denis was appointed chairman, Misters Dr. Fr. Ch. Duvert, and Jos. Touss. Drolet, M.P.P. of St-Marc, vice chairmen, Misters A. Girod and J. P. Boucher Belleville one of Varennes, the other of St-Charles, secretaries.
Was introduced a delegation of the county of Acadie, headed by Dr. C. H. O Côté, M.P.P. of Napierville, asking for the admission of this county in the confederation of these five counties.
Memoir of the citizens of the county of Acadie to the electors of the counties of Richelieu, Verchères, St-Hyacinthe, Chambly and Rouville
It is in a time of extraordinary crisis that you all gather to proclaim your rights and to denounce the tyranny of a government forever odious to every good Canadien patriot. How noble the example you give us today! How your compatriots admire you! You cannot doubt it, fellow-citizens, posterity will sing your civic virtues. The fatherland freed from the burden which oppresses it today, will celebrate with promise and recognition the anniversary of this fortunate day when you all assembled to deliberate on its most sacred interests. For us fellow-citizens, after having offered the Eternal our most fervent prayers for the success of the common cause of the fatherland, we are ready to sacrifice all that we hold dear in the world to uproot the vile slavery from the land that saw us be born, that nourishes us today, that contains our families, our properties and the ashes of our fathers and that was intended by nature to receive our mortal remains when we cease to live. Given the responsibility, by the voters of the county of Acadie, to address you this memoir, we cannot let this beautiful occasion pass without granting you the justice which is so rightly due to you. Your pure and independent patriotism has always been the object of our admiration and it is with joy, fellow-citizens, that we make it our duty to declare here today that a great number of our proceedings are due to the beautiful example which one of your counties (Richelieu) has never ceased to give to the entire province in the struggle which is now engaged between the proud aristocracy and the invincible democracy. The entire people of this province repudiates the first and lines up entirely under the flags of the second. Ourselves born children of this people whose rights we cherish, living among patriots whose sole desires are the happiness and the equality of all, feeling the most profound disgust for all things tending toward aristocracy, whose oppression of the greater number favouring the small number seems to be the only motive, we cannot have any other principles but those of pure democracy. In vain the corrupted aristocracy of England wants to establish her estates on the Canadas. The people will never consent; the people's cry will always be for liberty, the bread of life, and against despotism, the nourishment of vile slaves. The people is made to dominate and not to be mastered; its voice must be listened to; its will must be consulted, its laws respected and its orders obeyed.
The shameful and degrading system that the metropolis constantly followed in our case does not leave us any hope of obtaining justice. — Its recent injustices by plundering our treasury show us that we are no longer safe in this colony. Fellow-citizens! if one did not yet openly attempt to our lives it is because our geographical position holds our enemies in balance and respect. Unhappy Ireland, rich by her nation, impoverished by the iron yoke which oppresses her today, is a striking example of what our cowardly enemies would dare to do, if they did not fear the vicinity of a republic proud of the people's rights.
Fellow-citizens! let us unite from one end of this province to the other. Let us show to the whole universe that we are men who deserve to be independent. Let us make our enemies feel that if they did not respect the justice of our complaints there still remains a means of stopping them in their iniquitous profits.
Fellow-citizens! the noble example that you gave us in uniting your five counties into a confederation gave the voters of the county of Acadie the idea to request their county's admission in your confederation and it is this honour which we dare to request today.
Asked by the committee of vigilance of St-Cyprien to make this request to you in the name of the voters of this county, we take it on us to point out that the geographical position of the county that we represent today requires its adhesion to yours and then fellow-citizens, deign not to forget the patriotism of the inhabitants of this county. Shamefully misled in a first election, they found a way to get nobly avenged during a second nomination of candidates who were to represent them in Parliament. They also had their share of ridiculous persecutions from a weak Governor unfitted to hold the reins of government in this province. The inopportune and idiotic proclamation met everywhere the contempt of the decent people. Our brothers the industrial workers of London could not prevent themselves from moving to pity upon reading this thin document intended to wither the reputation of the honest men who are venerated by all the country. These unjust and arbitrary dismissals had in this part of the country the effect of heating up the tepid ones, to redouble the activity of the zealous patriots and to throw the provincial government in the deepest contempt, just as the iniquitous resolutions of Lord John Russell made by the metropolitan government.
Fellow-citizens! in a time of crisis as important to the future of this country as this one, (our common fatherland) as delegates of the county of Acadie's voters we ask you for the admission of this county in your confederation and allow us fellow-citizens to ensure you that never the voters of the county whom we have the honour to represent today will be surpassed by those of any other in terms of patriotism, on the contrary they will always keep in mind the worthy motto of the brave Fils de la liberté "En avant!" (Forward!).
Before concluding fellow-citizens, allow us to point out that as it is useful for each body to have its leader, nobody in the world seems to us worthier to lead the patriotic phalange than the one who spent his whole life defending our rights and our freedoms with talent. Fellow-citizens, by these features you must recognize the man of the people L. J. Papineau, the defender of the rights of the Canadiens. — Under his conduct, under his aegis the country will rise up from the chasm in which it is now absorbed by the machiavelic machinations of a despotic government.
In wanting for, fellow-citizens, the day when the new star will appear for the happiness of Canada, we form sincere wishes so that all be prosperous for us in the holly task which we undertook.
We are, fellow-citizens, your democrat brothers.
Signed: C. H. O. Côté, C. Huot, J. B. Lukin.
County of Acadie,
October 21, 1837
On the motion of Mr. Siméon Marchesseau of St-Charles, seconded by Dr. E. N. Duchesnois of Varennes.
Resolved by the inhabitants-electors of the five counties admit their brave fellow-citizens of Acadie with great joy.
Ordered that the memoir of the county of Acadie presented to this meeting be inserted in full in the minutes.
Read the apology letters of majors J. Bertrand and Constant Cartier, Senior, in the parish of Ste-Marguerite of Blairfindie, as delegates of this parish to this meeting, claiming to be sick and ordered that they be inserted [in the minutes].
On motion of Mr. A. Girod, de Varennes, seconded by Fr. Ch. Duvert, of St-Charles.
Resolved that the counties of Laprairie and Missisquoi be invited to join the confederation of the six counties, as being destined by the geographical position to form an integral part of these counties, and as sharing the same opinions, the same principles which these six counties profess.
Resolutions on the state of the province
Proposed by Mr. the Dr. W. Nelson, of St-Denis, seconded by Mr. the Dr. Davignon of Ste-Marie.
1.- That following and taking the example of the wise men and heroes of 1779 [sic] we hold as self-evident and repeat the following truths, that all men are created equal; that they have received from the Creator certain unalienable rights; that among those rights are life, liberty, an the pursuit of happiness, that it is for the protection and the guarantee of these rights that governments are instituted among men, receiving their just authority but from the consent of the governed, that when a form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish and institute a new government, to lay its foundations on the principles, to organize their powers under the forms that will seem to be the most appropriate to procure them happiness and safety.
Proposed by Mr. René Boileau de Chambly, seconded by Mr. the captain Vincent of Longueuil.
2.- That the authority of Great Britain on the Canadas can and must continue only in accordance with the good will of their inhabitants, and cannot support itself on brute force which confers no rights, but gives an unjust power that must only prevail until the day of an effective resistance. That with an even stronger reason they have the right to demand and obtain, as a condition of their voluntary allegiance, such changes and such improvements in the form of their government, that their needs, and progress of the country since 1791 and their present situation, would render necessary for their satisfaction and their wellbeing.
Proposed by Mr. Louis Marchand of St-Mathias, seconded by Mr. F. Marie Tetro of St-Hilaire.
3.- That the arbitrary destitutions ordered since more than three months; which have not yet ceased and are continued to this day by the Governor in chief, against the crowd of justices of the peace, militia officers and commissaries for deciding small affairs in country parishes, because they have taken part in the proceedings of the county meetings held by the people to reclaim its invaded rights, prove with much evidence that he unworthily abuses the royal prerogative of the Crown, and aims to remove from office, those who after exercising their duty with integrity and independence, had obtained the public esteem and trust, the respect and the attachment of the people, in order to replace them with servile instruments, willing to favour his violent policy; even under the weight of the universal contempt of their fellow citizens.
Proposed by Mr. L. Lacoste, M.P.P., of Boucherville, seconded by Mr. Th. Franchère of St-Mathias.
4.- That it becomes urgent in such unfortunate circumstances to replace the officers which an administration enemy of the country will appoint to these positions by trustworthy men. That all parishes of the six counties are simultaneously invited between the coming first of December and the first of January, to elect justices of the peace and friendly type-setters (compositeurs) and militia officers. And that for their election and their jurisdiction that the rules of the county of lac des Deux-Montagnes be temporarily adopted.
Proposed by Mr. T. Drolet M.P.P., seconded by Mr. the Dr. Duchesnois of Varennes.
5.- That at the same time as under the penalties stated in the said rules and under the more powerful bonds of honour, the reformists of the six counties will give the officers by them chosen, obedience and assistance at the highest possible degree, they will form a systematic opposition against the officers who will be appointed by Lord Gosford from this day until that of his departure of the province, refusing their trust to them, not lending a cordial help to them, not obeying their orders as much as they could without a manifest violation of the laws; and polling their money together to have them sued and punished in all cases where they will be guilty of abusing power.
Proposed par Mr. the Dr. Duvert of St-Charles, seconded by Mr. the Dr. Allard, of Boleil.
6.- That the inhabitants of the six counties have rightly expected, that the people would not want to be continuously deprived of the benefits of a local legislature, and that the Legislative Council would be improved so as to ensure its co-operation with the representative branch of the legislature, and its respect for the needs and wishes of the mass of the people, that far from having seen such just hopes realized, on the contrary one lately saw in the council a number of people who, almost without exception, not only do not enjoy public trust, but made themselves unworthy of it in all possible ways and who by their conduct and public opinions rendered themselves the object of the hatred of the country.
Proposed by Mr. P. Amiot, M.P.P, seconded by Mr. the capt. Bonnin, of St-Ours.
7.- That this meeting declares that the last nominations to the Executive Council of this province are equally unworthy of public trust as are the nominations to the Legislative Council, that they are all the more scandalous, that they continue the holding of multiple public offices, one of the abuses which Lord Gosford himself had denounced as Governor in chief and royal commissary and which entrusts in the same hands legislative, executive and legal powers.
Proposed by Mr. François Papineau of St-Césaire, seconded by Mr. lt. Bon. Viger, of Boucherville.
8.- That this meeting sees in these various nominations nothing but the continuation of the old system of fraud and deceit which finally uprooted any feeling of confidence in the government of the metropolis, and in that of the colony and in that of the Legislative Council, such as now constituted, but a proof of inveterate hostility to the reiterated demands of the country; that an obstinate and tyrannical determination on behalf of the government of Her Majesty to protect and perpetuate the abuses and grievances of which complains a too patient people.
Proposed by Mr. Jos. Cormier of Contrecoeur, seconded by Mr. Clém. Gosselin of St-Hilaire.
9.- That the various grievances and abuses which this colony suffered during a long series of years were so often detailed out by the representatives of the people that the government of Her Majesty and the British Parliament admitted to their existence, that it becomes useless to recapitulate them here, considering they were lately denounced by the people in their respective primary county meetings, and that measures to remedy them were proposed on which the six counties insist again.
Proposed by Mr. Ls. Blanchard, M.P.P., of St-Hyacinthe, seconded by Mr. Jos. Sené, of St-Damas.
10.- That instead of honestly rectifying the said grievances and abuses, as it was their duty, the British government and the two houses of the Imperial Parliament have threatened and have shown their intention to destroy the basic rights of this colony. And in order to force the people to a low and contemptible submission to the oppression that is being prepared for them, one has recourse to the same system of coercion and terrorism which already withered British authority in Ireland. That the magistrates and the militia officers enjoying the confidence of their fellow-citizens, are insolently deprived of their offices, because they love their country too much to sanction an unconstitutional aggression or to let their freedoms be violated with impunity; and to add a new height to our misfortunes, this Governor in chief lately introduced great bodies of armed troops into this province, in a time of profound peace, to destroy by physical force any constitutional resistance, and to complete by desolation and death, the work of tyranny already resolved and authorized overseas.
Proposed by Mr. Laurent Bédard of St-Simon, seconded by M. I. Boudreau of Ste-Marie.
11.- That while we find Lord Gosford guilty of an atrocious aggression against our freedoms by such an introduction of an armed force among us, and counting on the sympathy of our neighbours, the zealous co-operation of our reformist brothers of Upper Canada and on the Providence for the favourable occasion to free us from the oppressive system which we suffer, we declare, that feeling sorry for the unhappy fate of the soldiers that our enemies wish to turn into the vile instruments of our slavery and their own dishonour, the people of these counties will not sow obstacles on the road of the men belonging to the regiments stationed in this district if they wish to improve their faith by reaching the neighbouring republics, having especially strong reasons to believe that many of these soldiers only awaited the occasion to get rid of their current onerous and wearisome position.
Proposed by Mr. Côme Cartier of St-Antoine, seconded by Mr. Siméon Marchesseau, of St-Charles.
12.- That this meeting approves the organization of the political association of Fils de la liberté and that it recommends to the young people of these counties to organize in the same way and to form branches of the society of the Fils de la liberté in each parish, and to maintain an active correspondence, frequent relationship with the Fils de la liberté in Montreal and to adopt their systematic organization, in order to be prepared to support ones another with promptitude and effect, if the circumstances require it for the protection and the defence of their threatened freedoms.
Proposed by Mr. the Dr. Dorion, M.P.P., seconded by Mr. Eust. Gratton of Ste-Marie.
13.- That the delegates appointed in various parishes of the five counties are requested to be assembled, again in this place tomorrow at two O'Clock in the afternoon to take into consideration the later propositions which could then be submitted to them.
Wolfred Nelson, chairman
J. T. Drolet, F. C. Duvert, vice chairmen
A. Girod, J. P. Boucher-Belleville, secretaries
October 30 1837
In conformity with the resolution passed by the general meeting of yesterday, delegates of the six counties were assembled today to take into account such other propositions which were to be submitted to them.
Dr. W. Nelson was unanimously called to the chair, J. T. Drolet and L. C. Duvert, Esq. appointed vice chairmen, Misters A. Girod and J. P. Boucher-Belleville appointed secretaries of the meeting.
Was read the resolution of yesterday's meeting praying the delegates appointed in the various counties to gather again in the same place, today, at 2 O'Clock in the afternoon, to take into consideration such later propositions which could then be submitted, after some preliminary explanations by the chairman, Dr. Côté and A. Girod. A committee was appointed to write an address to the people of Lower Canada, on behalf of their fellow-citizens of the six counties.
On the motion of Mr. P. Bertrand N. P. of St-Mathias, seconded by the lieutenant-adjudicator Jos. Tétreau dit Ducharme, J. P. St-Pie.
1. RESOLVED: That it is the opinion of this meeting, that the provincial legislature exists only in name, but that it is nullified by the fact that when the government steps on the very organic laws in virtue of which society is formed, the people must defend these laws.
On the motion of Mr. Jacques David Hébert, of the county of Acadie, seconded by Mr. J. B. Tetreau of Ste-Marie.
2. RESOLVED: That consequently the people must provide for their own needs, to create this monitoring of good order which is necessary to their happiness, and which the convention, whose members were appointed in the various primary county meetings of this province, can be entrusted to take care of.
On the motion of Mr. F. C Ayet dit Malo J. P. of St-Damase, seconded by by captain J. B. Beaudry of St-Jean-Baptiste.
3. RESOLVED: That this meeting trusting the enlightened patriotism of the members who must form the said convention requests them to consider seriously if the time is not near when they should meet.
Was presented to the meeting the project of an address to the inhabitants of this province, prepared by a committee. The address was then read.
On the motion of Mr. the Dr. Côté M.P.P. of Napierville, seconded by Dr. E. N. Duchesnois, of Varennes.
4. RESOLVED: That the said address be acknowledged and agreed upon by the meeting.
On the motion of Mr. the Dr. Labruère of St-Hyacinthe, seconded by Mr. le Dr. Duvert of St-Charles.
5. RESOLVED: That the said as address be entitled "The Address of the Confederation of the Six counties of St-Hyacinthe, Acadie, Rouville, Richelieu, Verchères and Chambly" to their fellow-citizens of Lower Canada and that it be signed by the officers of this public meeting.
Wolfred Nelson, chairmen
J. T. Drolet, L. C. Duvert, vice chairmen
A. Girod, J. P. Boucher-Belleville, secretaries
November 2, 1837
Address of the Confederation of the Six Counties
When a people find themselves invariably exposed to a succession of systematic oppressions, in spite of their wishes expressed in all the ways that are recognized by constitutional customs, through public meetings and their representatives in Parliament after a serious deliberation; when their rulers, instead of rectifying the various evils that they themselves produced through their bad government, have solemnly recorded and proclaimed their guilty determination to sap and overthrow to the very foundations of civil liberty, it imperiously becomes the duty of the people to seriously apply themselves to the consideration of their unhappy position, - the dangers which surround them, - and, by way of a well-combined organization, to make the arrangements necessary to keep intact their citizens rights and their dignity as free men.
The wise and immortal authors of the AMERICAN DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, recorded in this document the principles on which the rights of man are solely founded and demanded and successfully established the institutions and the form of government which alone can permanently insure the prosperity and the social happiness of the inhabitants of this continent, whose education and mores, resulting from the circumstances of their colonization, require a system of government entirely dependent upon the people and which is directly responsible to them. In common with the various nations of North and South America that adopted the principles contained in this Declaration, we regard the doctrines they encapsulate as sacred and evident: That God did not create any artificial distinctions between man and man; that the government is just a simple human institution formed by those who must be subject to its action good or bad; and consecrated for the advantage of all those who will consent to come or remain under its protection and under its control, and that consequently its form can be changed as soon as it ceases to accomplish the ends for which this government was established; that the public authorities and the men in power are but the executors of the wishes legitimately expressed by the community; honoured when they possess the public trust, and respected for as long as they enjoy public esteem, and who must be removed from power as soon as they cease to provide satisfaction to the people, the sole legitimate source of all powers.
In conformity with these principles and in the name of the treaties signed and the capitulations ordained with our ancestors and guaranteed by the Imperial Parliament, the people of this province have never ceased for many years, through respectful petitions, to complain of the intolerable abuses poisoning their days and paralysing their industry. Far from reparations being conceded to our humbles prayers, aggression followed aggression, until finally the day came when we no longer seemed attached to the British Empire for our happiness and our prosperity, our liberties and the honour of the people and that of the Crown, but only for the sake of fattening a horde of useless officials, who, not unhappy to enjoy salaries enormously disproportionate to the responsibilities of their assignments and the resources of the country, have also combined into a faction solely motivated by the private interest to oppose all reforms, and to defend all the iniquities of a government hostile to the rights and liberties of this colony.
Though we are universally in agreement on the justice of our requests, the wisdom and the prudence there is to remedy our evils, still today we bare the unbearable burden of an irresponsible Executive under the command of an ignorant and hypocritical chief. Our judges depend as a condition attached to their commission, on the sole will and pleasure of the Crown, judges who are almost all violent partisans of a corrupt administration, and more absolutely are the mercenary instruments of the Executive, in accepting, in violation of every principle of judiciary independence, wages for their servility to a foreign authority, without the consent of the people, which is the sole barer, through the intermediary of their representatives, of the exclusive right to vote the salaries of public servants; the men in office in this province devour, by their so extravagant salaries that they deprive us of the funds needed for the general improvement of the country which results in our public works being stopped and the navigation of our rivers continuing to be obstructed; a Legislative Council appointed by men a thousand leagues away from the country, and systematically composed in a manner suited to paralyse and destroy the efforts of our freely chosen representatives, in all measures designed to promote the public good after remaining unchanged under the current administration, depriving in this the country of the advantages of an interior legislation, has finally been modified in a manner that is insulting to all classes of society, disgracious for public morality, and which annihilates the respect and confidence of all parties for this branch of the legislature, following the introduction of men in the majority notorious only by their incapacity, and remarkable in the same way by their political insignificance, thus making obvious, to the point of demonstration even, to everyone, whatever their preconceived ideas, the convenience and the urgent need to introduce the principle of election into this body, as the only suitable method to place the provincial legislature in a position to advantageously carry out the conduct of public affairs.
Our municipalities are entirely destroyed; the rural areas of this province, forming a disgracious contrast with the other parts of this continent, are absolutely deprived of any power to regulate, in a municipal capacity, their local affairs, by the means of freely elected parish and township officers; the upcoming generation is deprived of the benefit of education, primary schools providing educations to 40 000 children were closed by the Legislative Council, body hostile to the progress of useful knowledge, and incited to act in this way by an executive opposed to the dissemination of general knowledge among the people; - the Jesuit college, founded and endowed with by the foreseeing government which colonized this province, for the encouragement and the diffusion of knowhow and science, has been, with a barbarity unworthy of the governors of a civilized state, disgraciously for the enlightened century in which we live and that is with comparison even among the Goths and the Vandals, converted into barracks, and is still retained for such usage today by an army rabble, while the funds and properties dedicated to the maintenance of this building and other such institutions have been and continue to be wasted and badly administered, for the advantages of the favourites, the creatures and the instruments of the government; our fellow citizens are deprived of the benefits of impartially chosen juries, and arbitrarily persecuted by officers of the Crown who, in order to meet the goals of the vindicative government of which they are the creatures, have exhumed proceedings of another age, and whose precedents we only find in the darkest pages of British history. Thus, our tribunals being soiled by the combined conspirations of a bad Executive, of servile judges, partisan law officers and political sheriffs, the innocent and the patriot are exposed to being sacrificed, while the enemies of the country and the violators of all the laws are protected and patronized depending on whether the administration wishes to crush and destroy or to save and protect. Our trade and our domestic industry are paralysed; our public lands alienated, for a nominal price, to a corporation of speculators, foreign to the country, or given out to insolent favourites as a reward for their servility; our money is extorted without our consent, in the form of taxes unconstitutionally imposed by a foreign Parliament and then converted into the instrument of our degradation, distributed as they are among a noisy gang of officials, against our will, without our participation, and in violation of all the principles of constitutional law.
In the middle of their indefatigable and honest efforts to obtain the redress of the preceding grievances, our compatriots have been insolently called upon to justify their public conduct, of which they are responsible to no one and even less to the individual which luck or ministerial patronage placed for a time at the head of our provincial government. One has harassed and vexed them by forcing resignations to purely honorific positions, reserved for the advantage and at the requisition of their immediate neighbours, and that for having reclaimed the rights of their fatherland, as is suited to free men of America; and as a clue that one intends to push the aggression even further, armed troops are to be stationed, in a time of profound peace in all the extent of the country, with the goal of compressing by physical force the expression of public opinion, and to complete by the means of violence and blood shed our own ruin as is already decided across the seas.
Such an aggression is more than sufficient to justify, among an outraged people, the recourse to any and all the means to preserve the last one of the insulted privileges, the right to have our complaints be heard. But thanks to the blindness of our aggressors, the wickedness of this measure will find by the care of the providence its antidote in its very folly. The regiments that one proposes to distribute among us are composed of men who come out and were educated in the middle of their country's democracy. Most of them embraced their current profession not by choice, but because they could not find any other employment to make a living in their native country. Instead of stimulating among them the noble emulation of a good conduct and the hope of advancement to higher echelons, they are poorly paid, and are exposed to all sorts of small tyrannies, and when murmur escapes their lips as true slaves, they are immediately given the ignoble punishment of the whip. If one contrasts this hard destiny with the liberty, the consent, the ease of obtaining employment and high salaries in the United States, with the certainty that the inhabitants of these counties which neighbour and border the lines will not make obstacle to the soldiers' attempts to emigrate to the neighbouring republic, one will see that it is morally impossible to retain in Her Majesty's province, once they will be dispersed in detachments, men whom we would like to be the vile instruments to our slavery and to their own dishonour.
The long and heavy chain of abuses and oppressions which weighs on us, and to which each year a new and no less annoying link is added, proves that our history is but a recapitulation of the evils that the other colonies endured before us. Our grievances are but a second edition of theirs. Our complaints in favour of relief are the same. Like theirs, our were treated with scorn and contempt, and attracted on the petitioners but an increase of insults and persecutions. Thus the experience of the past shows the madness to await and hope for justice from European authorities.
However dark and little flattering that the current prospect can be for our beloved fatherland, we find in the public virtues of our compatriots an encouragement to hope that the day of our regeneration is not so distant. Domestic manufactures ramify among us with a speed quite suitable to delight us in the middle of our struggle.
The impulse given since a few months by the example of citizens generous and full of patriotism, in wearing clothes made by fabric manufactured in the country, was generally followed and soon be universally adopted. The determination not to consume any goods burdened with taxes, and to encourage a free trade with our neighbours, two objects of vital importance, becomes day after day more general, more decided and more effective. The people must everywhere be full of conviction that the great sacrifices to be made must be so in proportion to the glorious object which we aim to achieve, and which the personal inconvenients that will be the consequence in favour of the good cause must be endured not only with goodwill but also with firmness.
Fellow-citizens! colleagues of a common affliction! you all, of whatever origin, language or religion you may be, to whom equal laws and the human rights are dear; whose hearts palpitated of indignation at the sight of the innumerable insults that your common fatherland had to go through, and who so often experienced a just alarm, while rolling in your minds the dark future which bad administration and corruption promise to this province and your prosperity; in the name of this fatherland and the rising generation, having no more hopes but those resting on you, we solicit you to take, by means of a systematic organization in your respective parishes and your townships, this attitude which alone can bring you respect for yourselves, and the success of your requests. That committees of vigilance enter all at the same time in active operation in all your respective vicinities. Withdrawing your confidence to the current administration and all those who would be low enough to accept employment from it, assemble you incontinent in your parishes and elect pacificatory magistrates, following the example of your reformists brothers of the county of the Deux Montagnes, in order to protect the people against a useless and unforeseen expenditure, and against the revenge of enemies. Our youth, the hope of the fatherland, should everywhere organize like their brothers, the Fils de la liberté, of Montreal, in order to be ready to act with promptitude and effectiveness according to whether the circumstances should require it; and the brave militiamen, who twice by their value and at the price of their blood, defended this country for ungrateful dominations, should also associate in this moment under officers of their choice, for safety, good order and the protection of life and property in their respective localities. It is by these means that we will fortunately be able to preserve colonial liberties.
To this hope and counting for our emancipation from the bad government under which we groan, on the divine providence, of which we humbly beseech the blessings of our disinterested efforts, relying on the love of freedom that the free air and the impregnable fortresses of America can inspire in all the hearts of the people in general, and on sympathy of our democratic neighbours, which in the establishment of an arbitrary government on their borders, are rather careful and clear-sighted enough to envisage the elevation of a system which could be used as a precedent and an instrument for the introduction of the same arbitrary government into other parts of the American continent, and who will not consent that the principles for which they fought with such an amount of success in the eighteenth century, be in our persons stepped on in the nineteenth century.
We, the delegates of the confederated counties of Richelieu, Saint-Hyacinthe, Rouville, Acadie, Chambly, and Verchères, hereby publicly record the solemn and determined resolution of the people which we represent, to put for purpose, as soon as possible, the preceding recommendations, and never to stop our patriotic efforts until the various grievances of which we complain today are rectified; and by these, we invite all our fellow-citizens in all the province to join their efforts to ours in order to get for our common fatherland a system of good government, inexpensive and responsible.
Signed for and in the name of the Confederation of the Six Counties, this October 24, 1837.
Wd. Nelson, Chairman
J. T. Drolet, F. C. Duvert, Vice Chairmen
J. P. Boucher-Belleville, A. Girod, Secretaries
November 2, 1837
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