Little Bits of History

Rebellion Losses Bill

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 25, 2012

Lord James Bruce Elgin

April 25, 1849: The Rebellion Losses Bill is signed into law by Lord James Bruce Elgin. The British colony, the Province of Canada (sometimes called the United Province of Canada) was formed in 1841 after recommendations by John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham. Lambton was James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin’s grandfather. By 1849, James Bruce was the Governor General of Canada, or viceregal representative and ruler of Canada under Queen Victoria.

The purpose of the bill was to recompense those citizens of Lower Canada who lost property during the Rebellions of 1837. This was a series of confrontations held in Quebec with the United Kingdom facing forces called Patriotes along with US Patriot sympathizers. French Canadians wished for more say in their governance and when that failed, they cried for autonomy and freedom from British rule. Inspired by the American Revolution, they took up arms against the British Empire. They failed. Lower and Upper Canada were united in 1841.

On February 28, 1845 the Legislative Assembly unanimously asked for Governor Metcalfe to begin measures to pay those who lost properties during the twelve month struggle. In a previous session, £40,000 had been set aside, but there were no funds available. Claims rose to £241,965 and change. The bill would pay French Canadians, much to the dismay of English Canadians. It was thought the bill would not pass, but it did. Then it was felt Lord Elgin would refuse to sign it, but he signed. The Liberal government in London approved of the measures.

The citizens of Montreal began to protest almost immediately. The Britons felt threatened by the French influence in control of the government of the colony. Montreal, the capital city, was half French and half British. The upset citizens erupted into a furious mob and began to riot. They grabbed the Golden Mace, a symbol of British Royalty and carried it into the street. The crowd pelted Lord Elgin’s carriage with stones and rotten eggs. They burned the Parliament Building and destroyed not only the structure, but rare paintings and the archival records from the beginning of the colony. They fire caused damages listed at £100,000. It took days to get the rioting under control.

Any people attempting to govern themselves by laws of their own making, and by officers of their own appointment, are in direct rebellion against the kingdom of God. – Orson Pratt

Break up the printing presses and you break up rebellion. – Dudley Nichols

Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. – Albert Camus

It doesn’t take a majority to make a rebellion; it takes only a few determined leaders and a sound cause. – H. L. Mencken

Also on this day:

“Off With Their Heads” – The Queen of Hearts – In 1792 the first person is executed by the more humane method of guillotine.
Semiconductor – In 1961, Robert Noyce patented the semiconductor and opened the computer age.
Ouch! –  In 1684, a patent was granted for a thimble.

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