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]], 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 [[Stanley]] - now [[Earl Derby]] - the bill did not appear; and in June, after accession of our [[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 [[New York]], and commenced paying salaries on the 12th of October.
But the mischief was done. The news of the passage of the resolutions set the country in a blaze in April, and the news of this wretched ending only reached us in August, when the fire was too wide-spread to be smothered. Had Lord John Russell proposed in March to borrow from the military chest, instead of to rob our own, there would have been no "troubles of 1837". Whatever may have been the offences of that year, his offence was the greatest, and he the greatest of all offenders.
Our organs, the ''[[Vindicator]]'' and ''[[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 [[county of Missisquoi]] made any great demonstration.
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. [[Richelieu]] set off, under the impetuosity of [[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 [[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 "[[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.
Coming into town in the morning of the 20th June, I met the late [[James Duncan Gibb]], who informed me that Lord Gosford had issued a [[proclamation]] forbidding the holding of public meetings - or "Anti-Coercion Meetings" as they were called. "This," said I, "is more than British subjects can submit to. Not only will the country meetings already called be held, but we will hold one in Montreal;" and this I repeated to his party, before reaching any one of my own.
An active moving power in our machinery of agitation was the "[[Permanent and Central Committee]]", which held open sittings at the [[Nelson Hotel]], in Montreal, attended by the ardent Canadians of towns and country. Here every movement in all parts of the province was echoed and applauded, and now ideas were sent forth for action elsewhere. Here, too, militia officers and magistrates who had incurred Executive displeasure were glorified; country notables, often made "Chairman", went home elated with the honor, especially when seen in print.
Though the Gosfordites were strong in Quebec, Papineau was stronger in the neighboring counties, and one of the largest Anti-Coercion meetings was held at [[St. Thomas]]. Doctor [[Taché]] - afterwards the Premier, Sir
[[Etienne ]], - was indicted for assaulting a man who at this meeting shouted, ''Hourra pour le Roi des Anglais'', - "Hurrah for the English King"!
Our Parliament assembled in the middle of August. Gosford had in a manner, during the past two years, promised many unaccomplished things. He had no answer for old complaints, and the Assembly, declaring that the redress of grievances must precede all legislative action, separated without waiting for the hasty prorogation intended by the Governor. Thus ended the last Parliament of Lower Canada.
Nothing could exceed the enthusiasm of the district of Montreal, of the intelligence with which the questions of the day were understood. The houses along the roads we took to public meetings were decorated. Crowns stood for hours listening to speeches and resolutions. In going to the [[Napierville]] meeting, the train of vehicles behind us must have been over two miles long. On one occasion, when Mr. Papineau came from [[St. Hyacinthe]] by the way of [[St. Charles]] to [[Verchères]], and up the river to Montréal, the people turned out ''en masse'', and conducted him from parish to parish.
Though so politically active, 1837 was commercially a hard year. Owing to a general failure of crops in 1836, wheat as imported from Europe to New York, to supply western want. Many cargoes from the continent were landed at Quebec, and some were purchased for Upper Canada. Nor was wheat the only article; even pork and butter were imported at a profit. All the American Banks suspended specie payment in May. Ours followed immediately, except the Bank of Upper Canada, which the Governor would not permit to do till some moths afterwards.
Matters were not gloomy with leading politicians, who paused and hesitated; but the masses in their movement, headed by men newly warmed to public action, saw no barriers. Annoyed at the timid counsels that nearly stopped our Montreal meeting in June, I had projected a "Young Men's Party"; but met with no encouragement till the end of August, when I found that a member of Young Canadians had formed an association, called the "[[Sons of Liberty]]," to which I at once attached myself. It was in two divisions; the one civil, of which Mr. [[Ouimet]], a young lawyer, was President, and our late mayor, Mr. [[Beaudry]], Vice-President; the other military. The city was divided into "sections", the young men of each, being under a chief, ''Chef de Section''. I was choosen general; and we speedily became the most offending of the offenders, holding frequent meetings, and marching in strong numbers.
I had, in 1836, commenced a series of letters published in the New York ''[[Express]]'', over the signature of "L. M. N.", which, at first, presumed to proceed from high authority, were every where republished, and commented on like manifestoes of a party. They had reached the twelfth number, threatening armed resistance, and were now known by our party to be solely published by me on my sole responsibility. I was a constant writer for the ''Vindicator'', and author of many "imprudent" articles. I had, perhaps, attended and spoke at more public meetings than any other man, and none had more to do with their organization. I was everywhere, day and night; one of the youngest of the actors, everywhere active, everywhere enthusiastic, everywhere confident. May hand was on the plough, and I looked not back. The Government of the country was at a dead lock. I saw no remedy but to push on the movement we were engaged in to its ultimate results, let that be what it might.