The Forces Dividing
The three year period beginning in the summer of 1828 was in many respects a Canadian 'era of good feeling'. Moreover the victory of the Whigs in England in 1830 and their firm adherence to the cause of parliamentary reform was generally regarded in British North America as pointing the way to a new age of liberalism to be marked by concessions to representative bodies overseas. A kind of despair and urge to compromise had taken the place of truculence among the older members of the official class, and the second generation of some of the English families in the province, like T. A. Young, the son of John Young, made peace with the leaders of the French party. Young himself entered the assembly as one of the 'popular' candidates. As the Quebec Gazette described the situation in the spring of 1831 after the close of a busy session of the legislature:
It is not one of the least agreeable features of the Session that there has been a perfect absence of national and religious distinctions, and a complete agreement between the Township members and the Representatives from other parts of the Province.1
The writer of this editorial (presumably Neilson himself) added the general comment that the assembly had stuck to its constitutional principles and the legislative council had been more liberal and indulgent to popular measures than had been that body's earlier custom. Unfortunately the council had not been sufficiently acquiescent with certain assembly measures to reassure the more radical Canadian leaders.
Whatever reservations Neilson or any other observer might have on the relations between the two houses of the legislature the way still seemed open, in the spring of 1831, for the assembly in Quebec to become the accepted leader in the cause of colonial self-government. The record of their proceedings was sent to the legislatures of other American colonies who were invited to respond by sending copies of