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William Lyon MacKenzie
Chapter XI - Precursors of Civil War


THE crisis was now rapidly approaching. It was to come first in Lower Canada, with which the fortunes of the western province were to become involved. Lord Gosford, Sir Charles Grey and Sir George Gipps, the royal commissioners appointed to inquire into the grievances complained of in Lower Canada, had reported; and, about the middle of April, their reports—five in number—were made public. The surrender of the casual and territorial revenue to the assembly, whose claim to control it had led to repeated and angry disputes, was recommended on condition that the arrearages of salaries, amounting to £31,000, should be paid, and a civil list, amounting to about £20,000, should be granted during the life of the king. The legislative council, it was recommended, should be erected into a court of impeachment for offending public servants. The demands for an elective legislative council and a responsible executive were reported against. The decision of the commissioners on the subject of the legislative council was in accordance with instructions they had received. In a despatch dated July 17th, 1835, Lord Glenelg informed the commissioners that all discussion of one of the vital principles of the provincial government—a Crown-nominated legislative council was alluded to—was precluded by the strong predilections of the king, the solemn pledges repeatedly given for the maintenance of the existing system, and the prepossessions derived from constitutional analogy and usage. The decision thus communicated by way of instructions to the commissioners was merely echoed by them. It affected Upper equally with Lower Canada; for Lord Glenelg, in his instructions to Sir Francis Bond Head, had stated as his reason for not answering the part of the grievance report which referred to the constitution of the legislative council, that the instructions to the commissioners contained views on this point which had received the deliberate sanction of the king.

The imperial government went beyond the recommendation of the commissioners. Lord John Russell, on March 8th, obtained the assent of the House of Commons to resolutions which, among other things, authorized the seizing of the funds in the hands of the receiver-general of Lower Canada, and applying them to purposes for which the assembly would only grant them on condition that certain reforms should be effected. On October 3rd, 1836, the House had come to the resolution to adjourn their proceedings till His Majesty's government should have commenced "the great work of justice and reform, especially by bringing the legislative assembly into harmony with the wishes and wants of the people." Lord John Russell contended that the demand for an executive council, similar to the cabinet which existed in Great Britain, set up a claim for what was incompatible with the relations which ought to exist between the colony and the mother country. "These relations," he said, repeating the stereotyped official idea of those times, "required that His Majesty should be represented in the colony not by ministers, but by a governor sent out by the king, and responsible to the parliament of Great Britain." A colonial ministry, he contended, would impose on England all the inconveniences and none of the advantages of colonies. This simply meant that there was no hope from England of responsible government for either province.

As to the authority of the imperial legislature to remedy a defect in the cessation of supply on the part of a colonial assembly, he apprehended that there could be no doubt. The same thing had been done only the year before with respect to Jamaica; and that was precedent sufficient. When a similar question was raised with regard to the legislature of the colony of New York, Dr. Franklin had admitted that the power, now contended for, resided in the imperial House of Commons. With two such precedents, Lord John Russell deemed himself justified in resorting to a measure of confiscation which led to rebellion.

Mr. Hume had a better appreciation of the crisis. He looked upon the proceedings as involving a question of civil war. If the Canadians did not resist, they would deserve the slavish bonds which the resolutions of Lord John Russell would prepare for them ; and he hoped that, if justice were denied to Canada, those who were oppressed would achieve the same victory that had crowned the efforts of the men who had established that American republic which had given a check to those monarchical principles which would otherwise have overwhelmed the liberties of Europe.

How little the House of Commons was conscious of the results that hung upon its decision, may be gathered from the fact that, while Mr. Hume was speaking, the House was counted to see if there was a quorum. Not over one-tenth of the members who usually attended the Lords came to listen to or take part in the debate; and except Lord Brougham, who entered on the journals his protest against such proceedings, not a single member opposed the passage of the resolutions.

The resolutions were carried, and the result, which Mr. Hume had predicted, followed. They were received with a storm of indignation by the French-Canadians. The local officials and their friends were jubilant at the imaginary success which had been achieved for them. The journals of the opposition were defiant. The seizure of the revenue was denounced as robbery. "Henceforth," said an English organ of the opposition, "there must be no peace in the province—no quarter for the plunderers. Agitate ! agitate !! agitate !!! Destroy the revenue; denounce the oppressors. Everything is lawful when the fundamental liberties are in danger. 'The guards die—they never surrender.'" At public meetings the imperial resolutions were denounced as a breach of faith and a violation of right. The Toronto Alliance Society, on April 17th, expressed its sympathy with the Lower Canadians, and condemned the coercion resolutions of the imperial government.

Success is the only thing that is generally held to justify insurrection against a government; and though it is impossible to lay down any general rule as to the point at which submission to oppression ceases to be a virtue, it is generally admitted that the initiation of rebellion can only be excused by a reasonable prospect of success. If the question of the Lower Canadian rebellion could be decided upon the merits of the principle at stake, we should be obliged to confess that what the Canadians fought for was just as sacred as that right of self-taxation for which Washington took up arms, and in defence of which the thirteen American colonies threw off the yoke of England.

On June 15th, Lord Gosford tried the effect of a proclamation on the agitation which was convulsing society. But the proclamation was torn to pieces by the habitants amid cries of "A bas la proclamation." Louis Joseph Papineau, the chief agitator, a man of commanding eloquence who was omnipotent with the French-Canadian population, traversed the whole country from Montreal to Rimouski, holding meetings everywhere and exciting the people to the highest pitch of exasperation. While he was on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, LaFontaine and Girouard were performing a similar mission on the other bank of the great river. Dr. Wolfred Nelson, too, bore his share in the work of popular agitation, having been a conspicuous figure at the first of the "anti-coercion" meetings which was held at St. Ours, in the county of Richelieu. Some of the meetings were attended by men with firearms in their hands.

In the beginning of July, Mackenzie discussed, in his newspaper, the question,—"Will the Canadians declare their independence and shoulder their muskets?" "Two or three thousand Canadians, meeting within twenty-five miles of the fortress of Quebec, in defiance of the proclamation, with muskets on their shoulders and the Speaker of the House of Commons at their head, to pass resolutions declaratory of their abhorrence of British colonial tyranny, and their determination to resist 328 and throw it off, is a sign not easily misunderstood." He then proceeded to the question: "Can the Canadians conquer?" and gave several reasons for answering it in the affirmative.

These opinions were deliberately written and published by Mackenzie on July 5th, 1837. The French-Canadians appealed to the other British provinces of America for co-operation, and looked to the United States for support. And this cooperation the leading Reformers of Upper Canada resolved to give.

On August 2nd, a "Declaration of the Reformers of Toronto to their Fellow Reformers in Upper Canada," was published in the Constitution. This document was virtually a declaration of independence, and it was afterwards called the "Declaration of the Independence of Upper Canada;" but there is reason to doubt whether its purport was fully understood even by all who signed it. Setting out with the declaration that the time for the assertion of popular rights and the redress of the multiplied wrongs of half a century, patiently borne, had arrived, it entered into a long recital of grievances, and ended with a pledge to make common cause with Lower Canada, and a resolve to call a convention of delegates at Toronto, "to take into consideration the political condition of Upper Canada with authority to its members to appoint commissioners, to meet others to be named on behalf of Lower Canada and any other colonies, armed with suitable powers as a congress to seek an effectual remedy for the grievances of the colonists."

This declaration has a public and a secret history. The public history is, that at a meeting of Reformers held at John Doel's brewery, Toronto, on July 28th, the troubles in Lower Canada were taken into consideration. On motion of Mackenzie, seconded by Dr. Morrison, a resolution was passed tendering the thanks and expressing the admiration of the Reformers of Upper Canada to Papineau and his compatriots for their "devoted, honourable, and patriotic opposition" to the coercive measures of the imperial government. Other resolutions were passed to make common cause with the Lower Canadians, "whose successful coercion would doubtless, in time, be visited upon us, and the redress of whose grievances would be the best guarantee for the redress of our own;" and, among other things, appointing a committee to draft and report to an adjourned meeting a declaration of the objects and principles which the Reformers aimed to carry out.

The secret history is this. The document was a joint production in which O'Grady's and Dr. Rolph's pens were engaged. The draft was taken to a meeting at Elliott's Tavern on the corner of Yonge and Queen Streets, previous to its being taken before the adjourned meeting at the brewery for adoption. Dr. Morrison, on producing the draft of the declaration, laid it down as a sound canon that neither he nor any other member of the legislature ought to be called upon to sign it. To this rule James Lesslie took exception. He said that a document of grave import had been read to the meeting. It had been written by men who gave the most of their time to politics, and read to men who gave most of their attention to trade and commerce. The responsibility of signing such a document should not be thrown upon those who had not prepared it, and who knew least about its contents. The professional politicians ought to set the example, and then the others might follow. If the declaration contained only an enumeration of facts, and if it were a proper document to be signed, the members of the legislature, such as Drs. Morrison and Rolph, ought to set the example; and if they did so, he would follow. Dr. Morrison found it necessary to append his name to the declaration, but as Dr. Rolph was not there to pursue the same course, Lesslie refused to sign, and he induced his brother William to erase his signature. Next morning Dr. Rolph sent for Lesslie to inquire what had been done at the meeting, and the latter replied by letter, repeating his objections to being put in the front rank of a movement in which he ought to be a follower. Dr. Morrison was not without reasons for his hesitation and timidity, though it is too much to expect that men will enter on a course fraught with danger, if their advisers refuse to accompany them.

At the meeting held at the brewery on July 31st, at which the declaration was adopted, a permanent vigilance committee was appointed. It consisted of the members of the committee who had reported the draft of the declaration; and Mackenzie complied with a request that he should become agent and corresponding secretary. The plan of proceeding was similar to that acted upon in Lower Canada, where the public meetings were held under the direction of a central committee; and Mackenzie's duties as agent were to attend meetings in different parts of the country, taking, in Upper Canada, the rdle played by Papineau in the sister province.

The machinery of agitation, of which the motive power was in Toronto, was to have four several centres of action outside the city. At the meeting held in the brewery on July 28th, a plan, submitted by Mackenzie, "for uniting, organizing, and registering the Reformers of Upper Canada as a political union," was adopted. A network of societies was to be spread over the country; and care was to be taken to have them composed of persons known to one another.

When Sir Francis dissolved the assembly and resorted to the most unconstitutional means of influencing the elections of 1836, he carried despair into many a breast where hope had till then continued to abide. The coercion of Lower Canada by the imperial government and legislature caused all such persons, in the Canadas, to look to a revolution as the only means of relief. Mackenzie was among those who came to this conclusion. But he only shared with a large class of the population a sentiment which was the inevitable product of the existing state of things, and which affected masses of men, at the same moment, with a common and irresistible impulse. The Toronto declaration of July 31st was the first step on the road to insurrection. It committed all who accepted it to share the fortunes of Lower Canada. The machinery of organization and agitation, which was created at the same time, became the instrument of revolt.

The public meetings which Mackenzie had undertaken to attend now commenced. At the first held at Newmarket, the agent of the Toronto central committee spoke for an hour and a half. A resolution was passed approving of the Toronto declaration, and appointing delegates to the convention to be held in that city. Their names were Samuel Lount, afterwards executed for high treason ; Nelson Gorham, who became involved in the rebellion and was for a long time a political refugee in the United States; Silas Fletcher, who also became a political refugee; Jeremiah Graham, and John Mcintosh, M.P.P., who, though a party to the insurrection, was never arrested and scarcely suspected. The principal complaint made in the resolutions was that the constitution was "continually violated and trampled upon by the executive, and countenanced by the colonial office and the English parliament." To take these grievances and the general state of the province into consideration was to be the business of the convention. It was also resolved to abstain, as far as possible, from the consumption of duty-paying articles; and to unite with the Lower Canadians, whose cause was declared to be the cause of Upper Canada, "in every practicable measure for the maintenance of civil and religious liberty." A political association and a permanent vigilance committee were formed.

Two days after, the second of the series of public meetings took place at Lloydtown. Mackenzie, Lloyd, Lount, and Gibson, all of whom afterwards bore an active part in the rebellion, addressed the meeting. Mackenzie became head of the proposed provisional government; Gibson was comptroller, and had, besides, a military position; Lloyd was the trusted messenger who carried to Papineau intelligence from his supporters in Upper Canada. No less than seventeen resolutions were passed. A resort to physical force was declared not to be contemplated. Approval of the Toronto declaration was expressed, and delegates to the proposed convention were appointed. They were, Dr. W. W. Baldwin and Messrs. Jesse Lloyd, James Grey, Mark Learmont, John Lawson and Gerard Irwin. Separation from England was advocated on the ground that the connection imposed upon the province the evils of a State Church, an "unnatural aristocracy, party privilege, public debt, and general oppression." To avert much bloodshed on both sides, and loss and dishonour by a war between people of a common origin, the payment of a price for the freedom of the province was suggested. If the question of independence was tested by means of the ballot, it was hinted that there could be no doubt as to the result. Elective institutions, extending even to the judiciary, were declared indispensable.

Mackenzie left Lloydtown accompanied by only a couple of friends. About fifty young farmers mounted their horses and escorted him to the village of Boltontown. As soon as Mr. Coats had been called to the chair, the Orangemen declared their intention of putting down the meeting, and of resorting to force if necessary to accomplish their object. Finding they were not numerous enough to prevent the adoption of the Toronto declaration, they grew vociferous, rendering it impossible to continue the proceedings. They gave Mackenzie's escort five minutes to leave the place, threatening, if their mandate were not complied with, to bring out firearms, which they professed to have all ready loaded in one of the houses. This threat was neither regarded on the one side, nor carried into effect on the other.

After the public meeting had been broken up, part of the business it had on hand was transacted in Mr. Boulton's house. Delegates to the convention were appointed and a vigilance committee named. Some hours after, when several of those who had formed Mackenzie's escort to the place had gone, a collision between the two parties took place. Twenty-six Mackenzie men, mounted, were crossing the bridge over the Humber when one of the opposite party seized the hindmost by the thigh, as if with the intention of forcing him into the river. Two others were attacked at the same time. All the twenty-six dismounted instantly, and fell upon their assailants with whatever was within their reach. Blood flowed freely; and some of the assailing party, as they lay on the ground, were made to confess that they had only got their deserts.

The meetings followed one another in rapid succession. The next was held in the township of Caledon, two days after the one at Boltontown. Some of the resolutions passed at this meeting were drawn up with considerable skill, and one of them undertook to define the case in which an appeal to physical force would become a duty.

1 A resolution moved by Mr. James Baird, and seconded by Mr. Owen Garrity, read thus: "That it is the duty of the subjects of kings and governors to keep the peace, and submit to the existing laws; From Caledon to Chingacousy, the agent of the Toronto central committee was escorted by about twenty horsemen. Here a meeting was held in front of the house of John Campbell, on the morning of August 10th. Trouble had been anticipated; and Francis Campbell, brother of John Campbell, on whose grounds the meeting was held, went with the statutes under his arm ready to read the Riot Act, if necessary; and John Scott, another magistrate, had gone there surrounded by a number of Orangemen. Several of these and some of Mackenzie's supporters had firearms; others carried heavy clubs. The two parties were greatly exasperated against one another, and the Orangemen made use of threatening language. To prevent a collision, Mackenzie's party gave way. An adjournment took place to John Campbell's house. What had become the usual routine of these meetings was gone through, and one of the resolutions mentioned independence as a state of existence that would have some advantages over that which the province then enjoyed.

On August 12th, Mackenzie was at John Stewart's, in the Scotch Block, Esquesing. Here at first his party were outnumbered, but after the opposition had retired, resolutions were passed declaring that the boasted remedial measures of which the governor had, on his arrival, declared himself the bearer, were a deception. "There is," wrote Mackenzie in reference to this meeting, "discontent, vengeance, and rage in men's minds. No one can have any idea of the public feeling who has not taken the same means that I have to ascertain it."

None of the speeches made by Mackenzie at these meetings were reported, or have been preserved. But the effect of his prodigious power as a speaker, over a popular audience, must have been very great. The Tory organs, after a meeting held at Churchville, openly threatened that if he held any more meetings, he would be assassinated. It was afterwards stated that a deliberate plot had been entered into, by the hostile party who attended this meeting, to take Mackenzie's life; and that one who was a party to it had divulged the secret to a person who, at the proper time, would publicly reveal it.

From the Vaughan meeting he and David Gibson were accompanied by a cavalcade of about a hundred horsemen and some thirty carriages; and it appears to have been understood that, in future, the Orangemen, if they disturbed any more meetings, should be met by their own weapons.

Between the beginning of August and the early part of December, when the outbreak occurred, two hundred meetings are said to have been held in the country, at nearly all of which the Toronto declaration was read and sanctioned. One hundred and fifty vigilance committees, in connection with the central committee at Toronto, were formed. The nature of the movement could hardly have been misunderstood by the most unreflecting spectator; but only some of the members of the branch societies were actually trusted with the secret of the intended revolt. Some of the active leaders joined no association ; and although they apparently kept aloof from the movement, they were secretly among its most active promoters.

A commercial crisis aided the public discontent. In May, the New York banks suspended specie payments; and those of Montreal followed. In Toronto, the Bank of Upper Canada was looked upon as the prop of the government; and it was probably as much for political as commercial reasons that Mackenzie advised the farmers to go to the counter of the bank and demand specie for their notes. As a political weapon against the government, an attempt to drain the banks of their specie by creating a panic could have no sort of justification, except in times of revolution. When Mackenzie produced a run upon the Bank of Upper Canada, a resort to armed insurrection was a contingency to which many were looking with alternate hope and fear: hope that it might be avoided, fear that it would come.

If the Upper Canada banks had suspended specie payments, their charters would have been liable to forfeiture. Chiefly to prevent this result, Sir Francis called an extraordinary session of the legislature on June 19th. In the course of the session, which lasted about a month, a bill of prospective indemnity for pursuing such a course was passed. In the mean-340 time, the Commercial Bctiik at Kingston had suspended; and the Farmers' Bank in Toronto stopped soon afterwards. The government loaned £100,000, by the issue of debentures, to the Bank of Upper Canada; £30,000 to the Gore Bank; and £40,000 to the Commercial Bank. But when the rebellion came, the suspension of specie payment followed.

At the close of the session, Mackenzie, in his journal, declaimed on the condition of public affairs with scathing bitterness. The style is characteristic of the man, when his soul was stirred to its inmost depth. He continued to attend political meetings in the country; and the exasperation of his enemies continued to increase. In Westminster, Middlesex, the friends of Mackenzie and the supporters of Papineau turned out in such large numbers that the opposite party shrank from the attempt to carry out their scheme of attack.

Threats, secret and open, were now made by the Tory party to assassinate Mackenzie. An anonymous letter, bearing the Hamilton postmark, was sent to Charles Durand, barrister of that place, informing him that Mackenzie would be assassinated. It was signed "Brutus," as a guarantee of its sincerity. The Tory press, more bold than anonymous letter writers, was scarcely less explicit. Through this channel, he was informed that, "if he dared to show himself in the London district with the evil design of poisoning the happiness of the contented settlers by agitation and strife, they would put it forever out of his power to repeat his crime." And shortly after, credible witnesses swore that the source of the danger lay much higher than the exasperated men who carried bludgeons to public meetings—men who bore the titles of honourable, and were thought to constitute excellent material out of which to make executive councillors, being charged with plotting for Mackenzie's destruction.

Scarcely had the news of the coercion measure of Lord John Russell reached Canada, when the threatening utterances to which reference has been made commenced. The confessions of English statesmen, that the thirteen colonies of America were right in resisting taxation without representation, were turned to a profitable account. Mr. Atwood's apothegm that "the strength of the people is nothing without union, and union nothing without confidence and discipline," became a standing motto of the revolutionary party. And Hume's declaration that if there had been no display of force there would have been no Reform Bill, was not without its effect in changing the vigilance committees into nuclei of military organizations. Shooting matches, first got up by Gibson, in which turkeys were the immediate victims, became fashionable. Drilling was practised with more or less secrecy. An occasional feu dejoie on Yonge Street in honour of Papineau, with a hundred rifles, would be made the subject of boast in the "press. Bidwell, who had refused to accept a nomination to the proposed convention, and who kept at a safe distance from all these movements, could not refuse his legal advice that trials of skill among riflemen were perfectly lawful. The people were badly armed, and a brisk business in the manufacture of pikes began to be carried on, but there was hardly a single bayonet in the outbreak north of Toronto.

By the commencement of November, one thousand five hundred names were returned to Mackenzie of persons enrolled and ready to place themselves under arms—if arms could only be procured —at one hour's notice. In the Home District, in which Toronto was situated, attendance on weekly drill was deemed a duty. The Gore District, farther west, was not much behind its metropolitan neighbour. From one end of it to the other, political unions were in the course of formation. They selected their leaders and reported themselves to the agent and secretary of the central vigilance committee. The organizations in the country were now called Branch Reform Unions; and they were numbered according to the order of their formation.

There were two kinds of organization. In addition to the vigilance committees and reform unions, about seventy delegates had been elected to take part in a convention which was to send representatives to a British American congress. The meeting of an approaching convention, which had been de* cided upon in the previous August, continued to be alluded to after the rising had been determined upon, and if the movement had proved successful, the convention would undoubtedly have been held.

In Lower Canada the crisis had arrived. The legislative session, convened in August, had produced no reconciliation between the governor and the assembly. The House told Lord Gosford that they had not been able to derive from " His Excellency's speech, or from any other source, any motive for departing, even momentarily," from their determination to withhold supplies until the grievances of the country were redressed. The governor replied to the address, charging the House with virtually abrogating the constitution by a continued abandonment of their functions; and as soon as the members had left his presence, he issued a proclamation proroguing the legislature. The popular agitation continued ; monster meetings were called in different parts of the country.

On November 11th, Morin, Legard, Lachance, Chasseur, and Trudeau, editors, managers, and publishers of Le Liberal, were arrested for sedition at Quebec. This alarmed the popular leaders, who, for a time, made themselves less prominent. On the sixteenth of the same month, some further arrests were made; but this time they proceeded upon the graver charge of high treason.

M. Dufort, a messenger bearing letters from Papineau, arrived in Toronto.1 The purport of the message was an appeal to the Upper Canadian Reformers to support their Lower Canadian brethren when a resort to arms should be made. Mackenzie was convinced that the time to act had come. In the garrison at Toronto, there were only three pieces of cannon and one soldier, Sir Francis having sent the troops to Lower Canada for the purpose, as he afterwards boasted, of entrapping Mackenzie and others into rebellion by appearing to be wholly without the means of resistance. Of the fifteen hundred men whose names had been returned on the insurrection rolls, only a very small proportion had firearms of any description. There were lying in the City Hall four thousand muskets, which had been sent up from Kingston, and which were still unpacked. Mackenzie's plan was to seize these arms, together with the archives, the governor, and the executive council; and by this means to effect a revolution sans coup ferir. Chimerical as such a project would be, under ordinary circumstances, it must be remembered that the folly of Sir Francis had left the government at the mercy of any half hundred men who might have undertaken to carry such a project into effect.

Having made up his mind as to what ought to be done, Mackenzie, one afternoon early in November, called upon fourteen or fifteen persons with whom he had been acting in the organization of political societies throughout the country, and asked them to meet him that evening at the house of Mr. Doel, on the north-west corner of Bay and Adelaide Streets.1 They all attended. Dr. Morrison took the chair; and Mackenzie proceeded to give his views of what course it would be proper to pursue in the crisis which had arisen. Fortunately his own account of this meeting has been preserved:—

"I remarked, in substance, that we had, in a declaration adopted in July, and signed approvingly by many thousands, affirmed that our wrongs and those of the old thirteen colonies were substantially the same; that I knew of no complaint made by the heir of the house of Russell, in 1685, against the government of England overturned three years thereafter, that could not be sustained against that of Canada; that not only was redress from Britain hopeless, but that there was imminent danger that leading Reformers would be seized and sent to the dungeon; that the House of Assembly had been packed through fraud—the clergy hired and paid by the State—the endowment of a hierarchy begun in defiance of the royal pledge—the public credit abused and the provincial funds squandered—offices created and distributed to pay partisans—emigration arrested—discontent rendered universal—and government converted into a detestable tyranny; while in Lower Canada chaos reigned, backed by the garrisoned troops; and British resolutions to leave no check in the hands of the people, upon any abuse whatever, had passed the House of Commons. Law was a mere pretext to plunder people systematically with impunity—and education, the great remedy for the future, discouraged in Upper and unknown in Lower Canada—while defaulters, cheats, embezzlers of trust funds and of public revenue were honoured and encouraged, and peculators sheltered from the indignation of the people they had robbed. I stated that when I saw how Ireland, the condition of which was fully understood in London, had been ruled, I had no hope for Canada except in resistance, and affirmed that the time had come for a struggle, either for the rights of Englishmen in connection with England, or for independence. Canada, as governed, was an engine for the oppression of our countrymen at home.

"I spoke with great earnestness, and was only interrupted by some brief casual remarks.

"In adverting to the condition of society, I remarked that Head was abhorred for the conduct of those he had upheld and cringed to ; that in the city all classes desired a change—credit was prostrate, trade languishing—and asked if the proper change could be obtained in any possible way short of revolution.

"Still there was no answer.

"I stated that there were two ways of effecting a revolution: one of them by organizing the farmers, who were quite prepared for resistance, and bringing them into Toronto to unite with the Toronto people; and the other, by immediate action.

"Dr. Morrison made some deprecatory or dissenting remark, but I continued.

"I said that the troops had left; that those who had persuaded Head to place four thousand stand-of-arms in the midst of an unarmed people, in the City Hall, seemed evidently not opposed to their being used; that Fort Henry was open and empty, and a steamer had only to sail down to the wharf and take possession; that I had sent two trusty persons, separately, to the garrison, that day, and it was also ' to let'; that the lieutenant-governor had just come in from his ride and was now at home, guarded by one sentinel; and that my judgment was that we should instantly send for Dutcher's foundry-men and Armstrong's axe-makers, all of whom could be depended on, and, with them, go promptly to the Government House, seize Sir Francis, carry him to the City Hall, a fortress in itself, seize the arms and ammunition there, and the artillery, etc., in the old garrison; rouse our innumerable friends in town and country, proclaim a provisional government, send off the steamer of that evening to secure Fort Henry, and either induce Sir Francis to give the country an executive council responsible to a new and fairly chosen assembly to be forthwith elected, after packing off the usurpers in the ' Bread and Butter Parliament,' such new assembly to be convened immediately; or, if he refused to comply, go at once for Independence, and take the proper steps to obtain and secure it.

"I also communicated, in the course of my remarks, important facts relative to Lower Canada, and the disposition of her leading men.

"Dr. Morrison manifested great astonishment and impatience towards the close of my discourse, and at length hastily rose and exclaimed that this was treason, if I was really serious, and that if I thought I could entrap him into any such mad scheme, I would find that he was not my man. I tried to argue with him, but finding that he was resolute and determined, soon desisted.

"That the proposition I made could have been easily and thoroughly carried into effect, I have never for a moment doubted; and I would have gone about it promptly, in preference to the course afterwards agreed upon, but for the indecision or hesitancy of those who longed for a change but disliked risking anything on such issues. I made no request to any one about secrecy, believing that the gentlemen I had addressed were honestly desirous to aid in removing an intolerable burthen, but that much difference might exist as to the best means of doing so ; and that the government would be kept inactive, even if it knew all—its pretended friends, headed by a fool, pulling one way, and its enemies another."

About November 18th another plan of operations was decided upon. There were about a dozen persons present when the decision was come to. The organized bands, distributed over the country, were to collect together and march upon Toronto by Yonge Street, the main northern entrance to the city, on Thursday, December 7th. The managemerit of the enterprise was to be confided to Dr. Rolph, as sole executive; and the details were to be worked out by Mackenzie. The correspondence with Papineau and the other popular leaders in Lower Canada was to be conducted by the executive; and he was to communicate intelligence of their intended movements to his associates. It was understood that the day named for the rising should not be altered by any less authority than that by which it had been fixed. The insurgent forces were to be brought as secretly as possible to Montgomery's Hotel, on Yonge Street, about four miles north of the city of Toronto, between six and ten o'clock at night, when they were to march upon the city. A force of between four and five thousand was expected. The four thousand stand-of-arms in the City Hall were to be seized; the governor and his chief advisers were to be captured and placed in safe custody; the garrison was to be taken possession of. A convention, the members of which had begun to be elected in the previous August, was to be called ; and a constitution, which had already assumed shape and form, was to be submitted for adoption. In the meantime, Dr. Rolph was to be administrator of the provisional government. Such was the helpless condition of the government, and so few were its willing supporters supposed to be, that all this was expected to be effected without the effusion of blood. With the possible exception of the date of the intended outbreak, none of the movements designed to end in armed insurrection and revolution were to have their motives misrepresented by their contemporaries ; and it is sometimes not till the prejudice of their time has passed away that justice is done to them. Sir F. Head frequently stated, in written documents, that the object of the insurgents was to rob the banks and set fire to the city, forgetting that they were mainly composed of the wealthiest farmers in the county of York, the very class whom he (when it suited him) called "yeomen" and ''gentlemen." "There can be no doubt," he wrote on one occasion, "that could Dr. Rolph and Mackenzie have succeeded in robbing the banks, they would immediately have absconded to the United States." "Nothing," wrote Mr. Hincks, afterwards governor of British Guiana, in the Toronto Examiner, in 1838, "in Sir F. Head's writings has given more disgust than this assertion." Of Dr. Rolph, Mr. Hincks proceeded to say that "he was the most talented and highly educated man in the province, and that there never was a man less likely to be influenced by pecuniary considerations." ''With regard to Mackenzie," Mr. Hincks added, " it has been so much the fashion to accuse him of every crime which has disgraced humanity, that people really forget who and what he is. We can speak impartially of Mr. Mackenzie more particularly, because those who know us well know that we have never approved of his political conduct. Let us not be misunderstood. We agreed with him on certain broad principles, more particularly responsible government, and when those principles were involved, we supported him, and shall never regret it. As a private individual we are bound in justice to state that Mr. Mac-zenzie was a man of strict integrity in his dealings, and we have frequently heard the same admitted by his violent political opponents. He was not a rich man, because he never sought after wealth. Had he done so his industry and perseverance must have insured it. We do not take up our pen to defend the political character of either Dr. Rolph or Mr. Mackenzie ; but when these false and malignant slanders are uttered, we shall always expose them. Are there ten people in Upper Canada who believe that the object of either Dr. Rolph or Mr. Mackenzie was to rob the banks and abscond to the United States?"

Unknown to the government. In the beginning of September, intelligence of the purpose to which the organizations in the county were being turned, was conveyed to the governor. Before the middle of November, a short time prior to the fixing of the day of rising, two ministers called upon Attorney-General Hagerman one night at nine o'clock, and related what was going on in the townships of Gwillimbury, Albion, Vaughan, and other places. One of them was fresh from these scenes of excitement, where he had been travelling in a pastoral capacity. Hagerman was inclined to laugh in the faces of his informants. He did not believe, he said, there were fifty men in the province who would agree to undertake a descent upon Toronto; he would like to see the attempt made. One of the ministers replied by declaring his belief that there were, in the Home District alone, more than five hundred persons who had already determined upon such an attack. The same representations had already been made to the governor, in person; but, as he paid no attention to them, this appeal was made from the governor to the minister. But it was in vain. The one was found to be as deaf and as obstinate as the other. On October 31st, Sir Francis had refused the offer of a volunteer company to guard the Government House, preferring to wait, as he expressed it, till the lives or property of Her Majesty's subjects should require defence.

Nor was this all. Sir Francis made it a matter of boasting that, "in spite of the remonstrances which, from almost every district in the province," he received, he allowed Mackenzie "to make deliberate preparation for revolt;" that he allowed him " to write what he chose, to say what he chose, to do what he chose;" that he offered no opposition to armed assemblages for the purpose of drill. Nor did he rest satisfied with doing nothing to check preparations, the nature of which he understood so well; he encouraged the outbreak. For this purpose he sent all the troops from the province ; and boasted that he had laid a trap to entice Mackenzie and others into revolt. Nothing could have been more culpable than this conduct of the governor. To encourage men to the commission of an act, and then to punish its performance with death, as in the case of Samuel Lount and Peter Mathews, approaches, very nearly, deliberate connivance at a crime.

Sir Francis, however, was not responsible for the executions. He had left the province before they took place; and many who were never admirers of his policy believe that he had too much magnanimity of character to have pursued a vindictive course in needlessly causing an effusion of blood. He released several prisoners, with arms in their hands, as soon as they were captured, though some of them, contrary to good faith, were arrested again.

In his viceregal speech on the opening of the third session of the thirteenth parliament of Upper Canada on December 28th, 1837, Sir Francis said, as he states in his Narrative "I considered that, if an attack by the rebels was inevitable, the more I encouraged them to consider me defenceless the better," and in the same work he boastingly reports: "I purposely dismissed from the province the whole of our troops." But when this extraordinary conduct on the part of the lieutenant-governor had been severely censured both in parliament and by the press, he denied that he had sent away the troops. 4'Many people," he says in the Emigrant, "have blamed, and I believe still blame, me for having, as they say, sent the troops out of the province. I, however, did no such thing." He then proceeds to throw on Sir John Colborne the blame of an act for which, before he had discovered that it was improper, he had eagerly claimed all the credit. " It was the duty of the government," said Sir Robert Peel, in a speech in the House of Commons, January 16th, 1838, "to have prepared such a military force in the colony as to have discouraged the exciters of the insurrection from pursuing the course they did." How great then must be the condemnation of the lieutenant-governor.

A draft of a constitution was prepared by Mackenzie, to be submitted to the proposed convention for adoption, after a provisional government should have been established in Upper Canada. It was actually published by Mackenzie in his paper the Constitution, on November 15th, 1837, a few days before the 7th of December was fixed upon for a descent upon Toronto. When he left Toronto for the country, thirteen days before the intended outbreak, he took a small press and a printer with him, for the purpose of striking off copies of this document. The constitution of the United States was the model on which this was formed; the variations being chiefly the result of different circumstances.


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