Rebellion or Revolution?

Document 1: 92 Resolutions

Source: The Ninety-Two Resolutions of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada  (1834) 


1. Resolved, That His Majesty’s loyal subjects, the people of this province of Lower Canada, have shown the strongest attachment to the British Empire, of which they are a portion; that they have repeatedly defended it with courage in time of war; that at the period which preceded the Independence of the late British colonies of this continent, they resisted the appeal made to them by those colonies to join their confederation.

2. Resolved, That the people of this province have at all times manifested their confidence in His Majesty’s Government, even under circumstances of the greatest difficulty, and when the government of the province has been administered by men who trampled under foot the rights and feelings dearest to British subjects; and that these sentiments of the people of this province remain unchanged.

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5. Resolved, That this House has seized every occasion to adopt, and firmly to establish by law in this province, not only the Constitutional and Parliamentary law of England, which is necessary to carry the Government into operation, but also such parts of the public law of the United Kingdom as have appeared to this House adapted to promote the welfare and safety of the people, and to be conformable to their wishes and their wants; and that this House has, in like manner, wisely endeavoured so to regulate its proceedings as to render them, as closely as the circumstances of this colony permits, analogous to the practice of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.

6. Resolved, That that in the year 1827, the great majority of the people of this province complained, in petitions signed by 87,000 persons, of serious and numerous abuses which then prevailed, many of which had then existed for a great number of years, and of which the greater part still exist without correction or mitigation.

7. Resolved, That the complaints aforesaid, and the grievance which gave rise to them, being submitted to the consideration of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, occasioned the appointment of a Committee of the House of Commons, of which the Honourable Edward Geoffrey Stanley, now His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, and several others who are now Member of His Majesty’s Government, formed part; and that after a careful investigation and due deliberation, the said Committee, on the 18th of July 1828, came to the following very just conclusions:

1stly. “That the embarrassments and discontents that had long prevailed in the Canadas had arisen from serious defects in the system of laws and the constitutions established in those colonies.”
2ndly. “That these embarrassments were in a great measure to be attributed to the manner in which the existing system had been administered.”
3rdly. “That they had a complete conviction that neither the suggestions which they had made, nor any other improvements in the law and constitutions of the Canadas, will be attended with the desired effect, unless an impartial, conciliating and constitutional system of government were observed in these loyal and important colonies.”

8. Resolved, That since the period aforesaid, the constitution of this province, with its serious defects, has continued to be administered in a manner calculated to multiply the embarrassments and discontents which have long prevailed; and that the recommendations of the Committee of the House of Commons have not been followed by effective measures of a nature to produce the desired effect.

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11. Resolved, That the effectual remedy for this evil was judiciously foreseen and pointed out by the Committee of the House of Commons, who asked John Neilson, esquire, (one of the agents who had carried to England the Petition of the 87,000 inhabitants of Lower Canada) whether he had turned in his mind any plan by which he conceived the Legislative Council might be better composed in Lower Canada; whether he thought it possible that the said body could command the confidence and respect of the people, or go in harmony with the House of Assembly, unless the principles of election were introduced into its composition in some manner or other; and also, whether he thought that the colony could have any security that the Legislative Council would be properly and independently composed, unless the principle of election were introduced into it in some manner or other; and received from the said John Neilson answers, in which (among other reflections) he said in substance, that there were two modes in which the composition of the Legislative Council might be bettered; the one by appointing men who were independent of the executive, (but that to judge from experience there would be no security that this would be done,) and that if this mode were found impracticable, the other would be to render the Legislative Council elective.

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37. Resolved, That the political world in Europe is at this moment agitated by two great parties, who in different countries appear under the several names of Serviles, Royalists, Tories, and Conservatives, on the one side, and of Liberals, Constitutionals, Republicans, Whigs, Reformers, Radicals, and similar appellations on the other; that the former party is, on this continent, without any weight or influence, except what it derives from its European supporters, and from a trifling number of persons who become their dependants for the sake of personal gain, and of others who from age or habit cling to opinions which are not partaken by any numerous class; while the second party overspreads all America; and that the Colonial Secretary is mistaken, if he believes that the exclusion of a few salaried Officers from the Legislative Council could suffice to make it harmonize with the wants, wishes, and opinions of the People, as long as the Colonial Governors retain the power of preserve in it a majority of Members rendered servile by their antipathy to every liberal idea.

38. Resolved, That this vicious system, which has been carefully maintained, has given to the Legislative Council a great character of animosity to the country than it had at any former period, and is as contrary to the wishes of Parliament, as that which, in order to resist the wishes of the people of England for the Parliamentary Reform, should have called into the House of Lords a number of men notorious for their factious and violent opposition to that great measure.

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42. Resolved, That it was in consequence of a correct idea of the state of the country, and of society generally in America, that the Committee of the House of Commons asked, whether there was not in the two Canadas a growing inclination to see the institutions become more and more popular, and in that respect more and more like those of the United States; and that John Neilson, esquire, one of the agents sent from this country, answered, that the fondness for popular institutions had made great progress in the two Canadas; and that the same agent was asked, whether he did not think that it would be wise that the object of every change made in the institutions of the province should be to comply more and more with the wishes of the people, and to render the said institutions extremely popular: to which question this House for an in the name of the people whom it represents, answers, solemnly and deliberately, “Yes, it would be wise; it would be excellent.”

43. Resolved, That the constitution and form of government which would best suit this colony are not to be sought solely in the analogies offered by the institutions of Great Britain, where the state of society is altogether different from our own; and that it would be wise to turn to profit by the information to be gained by observing the effects produced by the different and infinitely varied constitutions which the Kings and Parliament of England have granted to the several plantations and colonies in America, and by studying the way in which virtuous and enlightened men have modified such colonial institutions when it could be done with the assent of the parties interested.

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47. Resolved, That the fidelity of the People and the protection of the Government are correlative obligations, of which the one cannot long subsist without the other; that, by reason of the defects which exist in the Laws and constitution of this province, and of the manner in which those laws and that constitution have been administered, the people of this province are not sufficiently protected in their lives, their property and their honour; and the long series of acts of injustice and oppression of which they have to complain, have increased with alarming rapidity in violence and in number, under the present administration.

48. Resolved, That in the midst of these disorders and sufferings, this House and the people whom it represents, had always cherished the hope and expressed their faith that His Majesty’s Government in England did not knowingly and wilfully participate in the political immorality of its colonial agents and officers; and that it is with astonishment and grief that they have seen in the extract from the despatches of the Colonial Secretary, communicated to this House by the Governor-in-chief during the present session, that one at least of the members of His Majesty’s Government entertains towards them feelings of prejudice and animosity, and inclines to favour plans of oppression and revenge, ill adapted to change a system of abuses, the continuance of which would altogether discourage the people, extinguish in them the legitimate hope of happiness which, as British subjects, they entertained, and would leave them only the hard alternative of submitting to an ignominious bondage, or of seeing those ties endangered which unite them to the mother country.

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84. Resolved, That besides the grievances and abuses beforementioned, there exist in this province a great number of others, (a part of which existed before the commencement of the present Administration, which has maintained them, and is the author of a portion of them) with regard to which this house reserves to itself the right of complaining and demanding reparation, and the number of which is too great to allow of their being enumerated here: that this House points out as among that number:

1stly. The vicious composition and the irresponsibility of the Executive Council, and the secrecy with which not only the functions, but even the names of the members of that body haven been kept from the knowledge of this House, when inquiries have been instituted by it on the subject.
2ndly. The exorbitant fees illegally exacted in certain of the public offices, and in others connected with the judicial department, under regulations made by the Executive Council, by the judges, and by other functionaries usurping the powers of the legislature.
3rdly. The practice of illegally calling upon the judges, to give their opinions secretly on questions which may be afterwards publicly and contradictorily argued before them; and the opinions themselves so given by the said judges, as political partisans, in oppositions to the laws, but in favour of the administration for the time being.
4thly. The cumulation of public places and offices in the same persons, and the efforts made by a number of families connected with the administration, to perpetuate this state of things for their own advantage, and for the sake of domineering for ever, with interested views and in the spirit of party, over the people and their representatives.
5thly. The intermeddling of members of the Legislative Councils in the elections of the representatives of the people, for the purpose of influencing and controlling them by force; and the selection frequently made of returning officers for the purpose of securing the same partial and corrupt ends; the interference of the present Governor-in-chief himself in the said elections; his approval of the intermeddling of the said Legislative councillors in the said elections; the partiality with which he intervened in the judicial proceedings connected with the said elections, for the purpose of influencing the said proceedings in a manner favourable to the military power, and contrary to the independence of the judicial power; and the applause which, as commander of the forces, he bestowed upon the sanguinary execution of the citizens by the soldiery.
6thly. The interference of the armed military force at such elections, through which three peaceable citizens, whose exertions were necessary to the support of their families, and who were strangers to the agitation of the election, were shot dead in the streets: the applause bestowed by the Governor-in-chief and commander of the Forces on the authors of this sanguinary military execution (who had not been acquitted by a petty jury) for the firmness and discipline displayed by them on that occasion.
7thly. The various faulty and partial systems which have been followed ever since the passing of the Constitutional Act, with regard to the management of the waste lands in this province, and have rendered it impossible for the great majority of the people of the country to settle on the said lands; the fraudulent and illegal manner in which, contrary to His Majesty’s instructions, Governors, Legislative and Executive Councillors, Judges and subordinate officers have appropriated to themselves large tracts of the said lands; the monopoly of an extensive portion of the said lands in the hands of speculators residing in England with which the province is now threatened; and the alarm generally felt therein with regard to the alleged participation of His Majesty’s Government in this scheme, without its having deigned to re-assure his faithful subjects on this head, or to reply to the humble address to His Majesty adopted by this House during the last session.
8thly. The increase of the expenses of the Government without the authority of the Legislature, and the disproportion of the salaries paid to public functionaries for the services performed by them, to the rent of real property, and to the ordinary commanded by the exertions of persons possessing talent, industry and economy equal to, or greater than those of the said functionaries.
9thly. The want of all recourse in the courts of law on the part of those who have just and legal claims on the Government.
10thly. The too frequent reservation of bills for the signification of His Majesty’s pleasure, and the neglect of the Colonial office to consider such bills, a great number of which have never been sent back to the province, and some of which have even been returned so late that doubts may be entertained as to the validity of the sanction given to them; a circumstance which has introduced irregularity and uncertainty into the legislation of the province, and is felt by this House as an impediment to the re-introduction of the bills reserved during the then preceding session.
11thly. The neglect on the part of the Colonial office to give any answer to certain addresses transmitted by this House on important subjects; the practice followed by the administration of communicating in an incomplete manner, and by extracts, and frequently without giving their dates, the despatches received from time to time on subjects which have engaged the attention of this House; and the too frequent references to the opinion of His Majesty’s Ministers in England, on the part of the provincial administration, upon points which it is in their power and within their province to decide.
12thly. The unjust retention of the college at Quebec, which forms par of the estates of the late Order of Jesuits, and which from a college has been transformed into a barrack for soldiers; the renewal of the lease of a considerable portion of the same estates, by the provincial executive, in favour of a member of the Legislative Council, since those estates were returned to the Legislature, and in opposition to the prayer of this House, and to the known wishes of a great number of His Majesty’s subjects to obtain lands there, and to settle them; and the refusal of the said executive to communicate the said lease, and other information on the subject, to this House.
13thly. The obstacles unjustly opposed by the executive, friendly to abuses and to ignorance, to the establishment of colleges endowed by virtuous and disinterested men, for the purpose of meeting the growing desires of the people for the careful education of their children.
14thly. The refusal of justice with regard to the accusations brought by this House, in the name of the people, against judges, for flagrant acts of malversation, and for ignorance and violation of the law.
15thly. The refusals on the part of the governors, and more especially of the present Governor-in-chief, to communicate to this House the information asked for by it, from time to time, and which it had a right to obtain, on a great number of subjects connected with the public business of the province.
16thly. The refusal of His Majesty’s Government to reimburse to the province the amount for which the late Receiver-general was defaulter, and its neglect to enforce the recourse which the province was entitled to against the property and person of the late Receiver-general.

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