November 22

1837 William Lyon Mackenzie calls for an uprising

On this date Toronto newspaper publisher William Lyon Mackenzie called on his neighbours to rebel against their British colonial rulers with this Proclamation to the People of Upper Canada:

We have planted the Standard of Liberty in Canada, for the attainment of the following objects:

Perpetual Peace, founded on a government of equal rights to all, secured by a written constitution, sanctioned by yourselves in a convention to be called as early as circumstances will permit. 

Civil and Religious Liberty, in its fullest extent, that in all laws made, or to be made, every person to be bound alike.

The Abolition of Hereditary Honors, of the laws of Entail and Primogeniture, and of hosts of pensioners who devour our substance. 

A Legislature, composed of a Senate and Assembly chosen by the people. 

An Executive, to be composed of a Governor and other officers elected by the public voice. 

A Judiciary, to be chosen by the Governor and Senate, and composed of the most learned, honorable, and trustworthy, of our citizens. The laws to be rendered cheap and expeditious. 

A Free Trial by Jury — Sheriffs chosen by you, and not to hold office, as now, at the pleasure of our tyrants. The freedom of the press. Alas for it, now! The free presses in the Canadas are trampled down by the hand of arbitrary power. 

The Vote by Ballot — free and peaceful township elections. 

The people to elect their Court of Request Commissioners and Justices of the Peace — and also their Militia Officers, in all cases whatsoever. 

Freedom of Trade — every man to be allowed to buy at the cheapest market, and sell at the dearest.

No man to be compelled to give military service, unless it be his choice. 

Ample funds to be reserved from the vast natural resources of our country to secure the blessings of education to every citizen. 

A frugal and economical Government, in order that the people may be prosperous and free from difficulty.

An end forever to the wearisome prayers, supplications, and mockeries attendant upon our connection with the lordlings of the Colonial Office, Downing Street, London.

The opening of the St. Lawrence to the trade of the world, so that the largest ships might pass up to Lake Superior, and the distribution of the wild lands of the country to the industry, capital, skill, and enterprise of worthy men of all nations.

This was viewed by most Upper Canadians as smacking too much of republicanism, innovation, and the example of the United States. Despite Mackenzie’s attempts to lead a march on Toronto and to involve American and Quebecois supporters, the rebellion was a pathetic flop. Mackenzie fled to the US where he was jailed for violating the Neutrality Act.

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