The Oligarchy Of The Family Compact And The Rebellions In Upper Canada

2394 words - 10 pages

Between 1815-1840 Upper Canada was under the influence of a few elite individuals known as the ‘Family Compact’. These individuals held sway through their control of large amounts of land and their dominance of the governments various branches. With their hold on the government of Upper Canada, the family compact aimed to create a government that regulated all aspects of society. However the people of Canada disliked the family compacts dominance of Upper Canada’s political system and when attempts to reform the Canadian political system through democratic means the people resorted to rebellion. The rebels lead by primarily William Lyon Mackenzie a prominent member of the reform party and newspaper owner who was inspired by the American Revolution. The British government acted swiftly bringing an end to the rebellion. Although the rebellion was quashed the family compact began to lose its influence in Canadian politics and was squeezed out by moderate parties. By looking at sources from and written on the times we can observe that the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837-1839 was caused by the oligarchic rule of the Family Compact in Upper Canada. This can be observed to be true by looking at the socio-economic differences that divided the family compact from the settlers, how the family compact held power and how that power was gained and maintained, and the religious conflict between the settlers and the family compact.
The social and economic differences that divided the Family Compact and the common people of Canada can be traced back early immigration into Canada and a the socio-economic divides that rose before, during and after the period of rapid population growth that Canada underwent from 1815-1840. Before this period of population growth, many members of the Family Compact came to Canada. A large percentage of these people were loyalists or immigrants who arrived in Canada before 1812. The governor at the time John Graves Simcoe attempted to create a local aristocracy by appointing loyalist friends to government positions and granting them land. This was the start of the family compact and also solidified the Family Compact as a group that was linked by political patronage, shared social and political beliefs. After this Canada underwent period of rapid development during the period from 1815-1840 Upper Canada underwent a rapid amount of population growth. The amount of people living in Upper Canada during this time more than quadrupled growing from a population of 100,000 to 400,000. Many immigrants that came to Canada were from various parts of the British Isles a large majority of these people were from places other England that were heavily affected by the economic recession that hit after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Because the majority of immigrants were fleeing poor economic conditions there was a considerable difference in wealth between these new immigrants and members of the Family Compact. On top of this coming from places...

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