Understanding The Rebellions Of 1837 1838 In Lower Canada

2012 words - 8 pages

As it has been noticed, not all rebellions and revolutions throughout history go as planned; not all of them succeed, at least immediately. Currently, there are prime examples of uprisings in the Middle East that may or may not reach full potential, and their impacts will carry out across a global scale because of the international interdependence of our prevailing economic systems. However, centuries ago, revolution was a new idea. Not many people would agree with the idea of protesting against those in power, let alone rising against them in arms. Like the Americans and the French, some nations were successful in their struggles against colonial or monarchical rule. The Lower Canada Rebellions of 1837-1838 were failed mutinies against British rule, much like the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Whether or not the path was set for further action is a whole other issue. To understand the Rebellions, it is important to look at their fundamental causes, as well as the reasons for their eventual failure.
At the outset, let us briefly summarize the insurgences. After the British rejection of the Patriote Party’s (led by Louis-Joseph Papineau) request for change in government – which will all be outlined in detail later on – political protest began to turn into armed conflict in 1837. From May through September, the Patriotes gathered many times to find solutions to the core problems within government in their country. Finally, on 23-24 October 1837, thousands gathered in St-Charles, where the more radical section of the revolutionaries (Wolfred Nelson, Ovide Perreault, and Edmund O’Callaghan) rallied them and ignited a more violent approach to British rule. In the following months, many battles were fought between Patriots and British loyalist brigades aided by volunteers. On 23 November 1837, Wolfred Nelson’s forces were victorious in Saint-Denis against Charles Gore’s government troops. Two days later, Patriote forces suffered a defeat against George Wetherall’s forces in Saint-Charles, bearing losses of at least 28 deaths and dozens of injuries. On 14 December 1837, the revolutionaries took another heavy loss in Sainte-Eustache, where 70 of them were killed, along with their leader, Jean-Olivier Chénier. At that point, many of the original leaders had fled to the U.S.A. – who remained neutral throughout the whole process – and were attempting to rally troops and re-enter Lower Canada. On 28 February, Patriots commanded Robert Nelson and Cyrille Coté invade Lower Canada and passed out flyers declaring the province’s independence, but were turned back the following day by loyalist resistance, and the commanders were arrested by American authorities. Nelson came back at the head of another Patriote army, but was again defeated in Odelltown. By that time, the Rebellions had been decreasing in importance and the former leaders were dispersed, mostly within the United States. In December of 1838, 14 Patriote leaders had been executed in all, and dozens of...

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