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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

He was succeeded by Sir John Colbourne


Lord Durham had taken charge

in Canada with dictatorial powers. He undertook to remodel the Constitution of Canada. His first act was a proclamation of amnesty from the Queen. The beneficent effect of this was spoiled by a clause of exceptions providing for the perpetual banishment of a number of men implicated in the recent rising. On April 2, Lunt and Matthews, two conspicuous rebels, were hanged. Lord Durham's confession that his measures were illegal evoked a storm in Parliament. Lord Brougham, who had a personal quarrel with him, led the opposition there. In Canada, Mackenzie promptly proclaimed a republic. On June 5, a fight between the rebels and British troops near Toronto quelled the rebellion for a short time. Within a few months it broke out again at Beauharnais. A pitched battle was fought at Napierville early in November. After their defeat there, the rebels made another stand at Prescott on November 17, but suffered so crushing a defeat that the insurrection was believed to have been ended. In the meanwhile, Lord Brougham had succeeded in passing a bill through the House disapproving Lord Durham's measures. Durham, he said, had been authorized to make a general law, but not to hang men without the form of law. To save his own Administration Lord Melbourne on the next day announced that the Cabinet had decided to disallow Durham's expatriation ordinances. Durham was called upon to proclaim to the rebellious colonists that the ordinance issued by him had been condemned by his own government. Venting
his mortification in a last indignant proclamation, he quitted Canada without waiting for his recall. By the express orders of the government the honors usually paid to a Governor-General were withheld from him. Lord Durham returned to England a broken-hearted and dying man. He was succeeded by Sir John Colbourne. His first measure was to offer a reward of L1,000 for the apprehension of Papineau. The storm of indignation that followed was so violent that Colbourne incontinently threw up his post, and hastened back to England. The Hudson's Bay Fur Company improved the interval of the interregnum to monopolize the functions of government in the vast regions of the extreme north of America. An expedition was sent out to explore the northernmost coast. The United States also fitted out an Antarctic exploring expedition, consisting of six vessels, under the command of Lieutenant Wilkes.

[Sidenote: Renewed agitation in England]

[Sidenote: People's Charter]

In the British Parliament, the question of the adoption of the ballot was raised by Duncombe, but Lord John Russell spoke against it, stating that the majority of the people were against fresh changes, or any renewal of the agitating circumstances which preceded the Reform Bill. But twenty members voted with Duncombe, of whom six were asked to meet six members of the Workingmen's Association to discuss a programme of action. At that meeting a document in the shape of a Parliamentary petition was prepared containing "six points," which were: Universal suffrage, or the right of voting by every male of twenty-one years of age; vote by ballot; annual Parliaments; abolition of the property qualification for members of Parliament; members of Parliament to be paid for their services; equal electoral districts. At the conclusion of the meeting, Daniel O'Connell rose and handed the petition to the secretary of the Workingmen's Association, saying, "There, Lovett, is your Charter. Agitate for it and never be content with anything else."


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