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Charles Douglass Smith: Prince Edward Island's Only Hope

3181 words - 13 pages

In 1813, Prince Edward Island was a struggling colony that was far from perfect. The new Lieutenant Governor, Charles Douglass Smith, was seemingly a tyrannical and uncontrollable force trying to drive Prince Edward Island into the ground. He was widely unpopular and recalled from his position because of a petition at the end of his ten year streak. Although in most accounts Smith was said to be terrible and out of control, in a closer look, he can easily be seen as a great Lt. Governor that took action. Lieutenant Governor Charles Douglass Smith did what he had to to stop the massive corruption on the Island, solve the Land Question, and, while doing so, always had the Island's needs in mind. Although his personality gave him a bad reputation, Smith was set out to fix the Island and keep it safe. Even when Smith was doing questionable things his actions were all coming from his drive to help the Island be a protected, prepared, and functional colony. Smith's ten year governing of P.E.I. was the first attempt at a better Island, and Smith himself was surely misunderstood. His intentions were right and his actions are now understandable.
When Prince Edward Island was granted individual colony standing by the Motherland in 1769 it took on not only all the expenses of it's government, but also much corruption.1 The first of the three Lieutenant Governor's of Prince Edward Island, Walter Patterson, was not exempt from the corruption. When the Island was divvied up into 67 different lots in 1767, each lot was given to a proprietor who had their name in the lottery to gain land on Prince Edward Island. As P.E.I. progressed, the absentee landlords refused to sell to tenants who had cleared the land and built up its worth. This predicament caused what is now know as the Land Question, and lasted for many years causing an abundance of conflicts. In a supposed attempt to solve the Land Question, Patterson eventually had proceedings against landlords who had not paid their quitrents. The properties were seized to make up for their arrears, called distraint, and was resold in a quiet manner only to government officials, including Patterson. The lots were sold for free on the grounds of the officials being owed money, from the quitrents, which were to pay their salaries.2 This is one example of Patterson's Corruption in Prince Edward Island, and he was recalled from his governing because of it.
In 1786, Edmund Fanning was appointed as Lieutenant Governor against Patterson's wishes who refused to allow Fanning to govern until the Spring of 1787.3 Fanning was no angel also, and added to the destruction on the Island. After being much disliked and driven out of North Carolina, Fanning was appointed on P.E.I. When he arrived on the Island he made himself acquainted with the Stewarts who were a prominent family when discussing the topic of Island corruption.4 Among other issues Fanning also had Land Question difficulties. He and the Stewarts wanted people to...

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