The Revolt of French Canada, 1800-1835: A Chapter of the History of the British Commonwealth

By Helen Taft Manning | Go to book overview

XV
The Politics of the Colonial Office

I

Since the publication in 1842 of Charles Buller's pamphlet Responsible Government, containing the famous chapter on 'Mr. Mother- country', a picture of the Colonial Office has been generally accepted which is in many respects misleading and which must be modified before it is possible to discuss the forces in English administration influencing Canadian history in the first half of the nineteenth century. James Stephen, who was Buller's special target, has found plenty of able defenders, but the generalized description of the Colonial Office as a powerful bureaucracy, dominated by its permanent officials and pursuing a more or less unchanging course despite the many changes in cabinets and cabinet ministers still holds the field in most secondary works.1 Here we are not concerned with what happened after 1835, when the rule of 'Mr. Over-Secretary Stephen' began (if indeed it began at all) but with the many contending forces at work earlier.

In the twenties decisions affecting the colonies were made either by the Colonial Secretary himself or by one of his under-secretaries; this meant that all important dispatches were read, and the replies in most cases drafted by an under-secretary. In the eighteenth century the under- secretaries had represented the personal choice of the ministers and followed them from office to office, but after 1810 one under-secretary was always in the House of Commons and was usually chosen for political reasons. Parliamentary under-secretaries changed fully as often as did Colonial Secretaries; Wilmot Horton was an exception in lingering on after the resignation of his original chief. While Wilmot Horton remained, however, he quite overshadowed R. W. Hay, and it was really not until Sir George Murray succeeded William Huskisson in the summer of 1828 that the new permanent under-secretary had much to say on the important issues which were troubling his chief. Until 1828, therefore, it may be assumed that no member of the permanent staff except James Stephen, the legal counsel for the department, had much influence

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The Revolt of French Canada, 1800-1835: A Chapter of the History of the British Commonwealth
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Maps x
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Part I - The Setting 1
  • I - The Province of Lower Canada 3
  • II - Lord Grenville's Act 23
  • Part II - The Struggle in the Colony: Governor Versus Assembly 39
  • III - Governor, Electorate, Assembly 41
  • IV - The Popular Party 58
  • V - Sir James Craig, 1807-11 77
  • VI - The Francophile Governor Sir George Prevost, 1811-15 95
  • VII - Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, I816-I8 109
  • VIII - Lord Dalhousie, 1820-28 124
  • Part III - The Struggle in the Colony: The Fundamental Issues 149
  • IX - The Question of Union 151
  • XII - The Question of Representation 187
  • XII - The Attack on the Councils 207
  • Part IV - The Reaction in England 223
  • XIII - Reaction in War 225
  • XIV - Reaction in Peace 243
  • XV - The Politics of the Colonial Office 260
  • XVI - The Mind of Parliament 277
  • Part V - The Ascendancy of French Canada 297
  • XVII - The Triumph of the Assembly 299
  • XVIII - The Work of the Assembly 311
  • XIX - The Forces Dividing 321
  • XX - The Catastrophe 335
  • XXI - The Election of 1834 355
  • Conclusion 374
  • Appendix 378
  • Bibliographical Notes 384
  • Notes 390
  • Index 419
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