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

By Helen Taft Manning | Go to book overview

XXI
The Election of 1834

I

The legislature met as usual in November, 1832, but it was at once apparent that the constructive activity which had gone on continuously for three sessions, in spite of investigations and political controversies, was at an end. When the assembly adjourned in April 1833, the moderates, who had worked indefatigably to adapt the machinery of government to new conditions, were aware that they were powerless to continue their labours. For them the future was dark since they were accustomed to think in terms of monarchical institutions whereas the men who controlled the assembly were open in their admiration for the practices of the republic to the south. In an editorial in the Quebec Gazette of 25 March Neilson wrote:

The experiment of the Constitution of 1791 has failed. It was so pronounced by the Governor of the Province from 1822 to 1828 -- by the Legislative Council, partially at least, at different times -- and now by the House of Assembly. Never was a poor Constitution so condemned by all bodies constituted and authorized to carry it into effect.

To Neilson the heart of the tragedy was that the constitution had been rejected by the assembly, who had always supported it, at the moment when it was beginning, with the aid of the British government, to be for the first time effective. He had earlier warned those who wanted to see it remodelled that they were throwing away the shield which had served them well since 1822. The English party would at last be given the opportunity they had always sought to persuade Parliament to make the changes they regarded as necessary. On the other hand the changes urged by the radicals would be unacceptable to the English ministers, whether Whig or Tory, and were inconsistent with all earlier resolutions of the assembly on constitutional points.

The editorial of 25 March was provoked by a vote of the assembly in favour of making the legislative council an elective body and of calling a

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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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