June 7, 2011

Rebellions of 1837-1838

The Rebellions of 1837 were a pair of Canadian armed uprisings that occurred in 1837 and 1838 in response to frustrations in political reform.  While both were inflamed by economics there were major differences as seen in this article

A list of those put in prison for these uprisings can be found here http://patriotedurocher.blogspot.com/2011/05/les-patriotes-prisonniers-de-1837-1840.html.  It includes many familiar names including Thibault and Gendron.  Were any of these individuals related to us?  Perhaps, probably even highly likely at least distantly.

The repercussions of the rebellion in Upper Canada were varied, depending on who was caught and when. Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews were both hanged after they were caught trying to escape the country, with a total of 20 people being hanged in connection with the rebellion. There was a price put on Mackenzie’s head of 1,000 pounds, although it was never claimed. In total 885 people were arrested or sought on charges connected to the rebellion, and those found were housed in horrible conditions pending trials. They were jammed together, given little food and some took sick, only for over 600 of them to be acquitted and more than 150 of them to be pardoned. 92 people were sent to penal colonies in Australia. Groups of government supporters, whether official or not, broke into houses, harassing people and stealing property in retaliation for the rebellion. Many people, fearing these reprisals, emigrated to the United States. As many as 25,000 people left, which was a massive drain on the small number of people present in the colony. Despite the small size of the rebellion in Upper Canada the repression of it was very severe, and not at all proportionate to the disturbance it caused.

In the wake of the rebellions in Lower Canada the reprisals were very similar to those in Upper Canada. 500 people were imprisoned following the activities in 1837 and 800 more were captured after the second rebellion in 1838. 66 rebels were exiled to Bermuda and Australia, with 12 being hanged in Montreal. As well, approximately 500 people sought refuge in the United States to evade arrest. Families were obligated to provide accommodation to soldiers free of charge, even as the troops looted and burned the houses of their neighbors who had led or fought in the rebellions. The Constitution Act, 1791 was suspended which resulted in the dismissal of the Assembly, and the army commander who had replaced Governor Gosford after he left the colony ruled by way of an enlarged Legislative Council and decrees. This was how the colony was left until Lord Durham arrived from Britain as both the Governor General of British North America and the President of the Commission of Inquiry on the situation in the North American colonies. Although the rebellions in Lower Canada were far more severe than that in Upper Canada, they were reacted to in a similar fashion and at a similar level, which makes the reaction in Upper Canada seem even more disproportionate.


 Sophie's Rebellion - Beverly Boissery Age 9+
 Sohpie's Exile - Beverly Boissery  Age: 9+

A Deep Sense of Wrong: The Treason, Trials and Transportation to New South Wales of Lower Canadian Rebels After the 1838 Rebellion - Bevery Boisserry

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