Jump to: navigation, search

1837 and my connection with it

314 bytes added, 20:41, 27 December 2007
no edit summary
The [[wikipedia:15th Parliament of Lower Canada|session of Parliament in 1836]] was, like its predecessors, one of strife between its Lower and Upper House, and ended without a vote of supplies. We then owed no public debt; there were no public creditors, except the provincial officials. There was for their payment one hundred and forty thousand pounds in the provincial chest, but without the "vote" not a shilling could be paid; and, from the judges downwards, all were suffering for want of their "arrears".
[[Image:Russell.jpg|thumb|left|John Russell, 1st Earl of Russell, Secretary of State for the Colonies]][[Image:Brougham.jpg|thumb|Henri Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux, Scottish scientist and politician]]Thus matters dragged till the 7th of March, 1837, when the great constitutional statesman, Lord [[wikipedia:John Russell, 1st Earl Russell|John Russell]], in the spirit of an absolute despot, introduced into the House of Commons a series of [[Resolutions intended to be proposed by Lord John Russell, in a committee of the whole house, relative to the affairs of Canada|resolutions]], authorizing the Governor of Lower Canada to draw from the Provincial chest this one hundred and forty thousand pounds, and pay off all arrears of salary, without waiting for a vote of our House of Assembly, which, voted so far as concerned the Province with all the powers and privileges of the House of Commons, had the sole control. Many members, who expressed the true British heart, protested against such anti-British and unwarranted resolutions, and told as we should be a disgrace to the British name and to humanity if we did not resist them to the uttermost; but they were carried by a great majority in the House; and in the Lords, Lord [[wikipedia:Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux|Brougham]] was the only dissident.
Lord John, however, became frightened with his own success. He said, in answer to inquiries, the he should not act upon the resolutions, but bring a bill. Though twitted by Lord [[wikipedia:Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby|Stanley]] - now [[wikipedia:Earl of Derby|Earl Derby]] - the bill did not appear; and in June, after accession of our [[wikipedia:Victoria of the United Kingdom|beloved Queen]], he declared that, not wishing to commence the reign with so "harsh" a measure, he would ''drop the resolutions, and add one hundred and forty thousand pounds to the army estimates, to enable the Governor to pay off the arrears from the military chest'', and wait the return from the province to a convenient season. And so it was done. The commissariat obtained the money by special bills sold in [[wikipedia:New York|New York]], and commenced paying salaries on the 12th of October.
Our organs, the ''[[Vindicator]]'' and ''[[wikipedia:La Minerve|Minerve]]'', taking their direction from the philosophic democrats of the House of Commons, on the 14th of April, sounded the key-note, - "Agitate, agitate," - and quickly came responses from all parts. Parties became arrayed in most violent antagonism. On one side were all the Canadians, with the exception of a small party in Quebec and a few stragglers, the Catholic Irish, and a few scattering English. On the other side were all the English, with the above exceptions, and some in the townships, who only in the [[wikipedia:Missisquoi (electoral district)|county of Missisquoi]] made any great demonstration.
[[Image:Wolfred-nelson.jpg|thumb|left|Wolfred Nelson, doctor, leading member of the ''Parti patriote'']]There being no Parliament in session, or likely to be called, the people could only speak by public meetings, which it was decided should be held by counties. [[wikipedia:Richelieu (electoral district)|Richelieu]] set off, under the impetuosity of [[wikipedia:Wolfred Nelson|Wolfred Nelson]], on the 7th of May. Montreal followed on the 15th of May, at St. Laurent, to consider the means necessary to protect the rights and liberties of the people, and Mr. Papineau spoke for hours. Neither at those meeting, nor in any that followed in country after county, from May to August, was any revolutionary propositions adopted, - the whole subject of addresses and resolutions being a reiteration of the complaints of maladministration in the Government and neglect of our petitions, declaration of approval of the House of Assembly, and of the Papineau Party, and demands for redress. All that went beyond this was to use no article of British manufacture, and by the use, encourage domestic manufactures; and so far as concerned other merchandize, to evade the payment of duties by encouraging the smuggling from the States, on the principle that, the payment of imposts to a Government, and the legal expenditure of the proceeds by the Government, were reciprocal obligations, and that when the law was violated, the first was dissolved.
I had for years been a steady adherent of the Papineau Party, at a pecuniary and social sacrifice, inevitable to him who is separated from those who may be considered his own people, and found in stormy times ranked with an opposing party, alien in blood and language. The reply to that article of the [[wikipedia:Articles of Capitulation of Quebec|capitulation of 1759]], which required safe guard for the Canadians was, "They are subjects of the King." In 1791, a free Parliament was granted to them, and it appeared to me that manliness in the British people forbade the withholding of any right from a handful of French descent, that the fortunes of war had left in British territory. I saw, too, in their pretensions, the same principle that had been consecrated by the triumphs of the British Commons in their victories over the "[[wikipedia:Royal Prerogative|Prerogatives]]" in time past; and felt that an instinctive dread of French supremacy, which I could not share, alone prevented the entire people from making common cause against such a Government and Colonial Office as we had. There was something excitingly chivalric in devotion to a cause where one had everything to lose and nothing to gain.

Navigation menu