British Journal of Canadian Studies

Conservatives and conditional loyalty: The Rebellion Losses Crisis of 1849 in Montreal (Les conservateurs et la loyauté conditionnelle: la crise de la Loi d’indemnisation pour le Bas-Canada de 1849 à Montréal)

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2016), 29, (1), 83–103.

Abstract

In 1849, the conservatives of Montreal engaged in a series of ostensibly disloyal actions: the burning of the Parliament, attacks on the Governor General, and the publication of the Annexation Manifesto. Yet even as they did so they refused to abandon the language of loyalty. Canadian conservatives instead chose to follow the political philosophy of John Locke, endorsing his ‘right of revolution’. In so doing, they demonstrated an ideology eerily similar to that of the American Patriots three quarters of a century earlier. They held a conditional conception of loyalty as a social contract between monarch and subject. The British Crown was seen to have broken this contract through its sanctioning of the Rebellion Losses Bill and its implicit support of ‘French Domination’. The connection between mother country and colony was now conceived as open to negotiation.

Les Tories de Montréal en 1849 furent impliqués dans une série d’actions déloyales: l’incendie du parlement, attaques sur le Gouverneur général et la publication du Manifeste en faveur de l’annexion. Cependant, même dans ces actes, ils refusèrent d’abandonner le langage de la loyauté. Au lieu de cela, les conservateurs canadiens choisirent de suivre la philosophie politique de John Locke, endossant son ‘droit à la révolution’ et, ce faisant, ils démontrèrent une idéologie sinistrement similaire à celle des Patriotes Américains, trois quarts de siècle plus tôt. Ils avaient une conception conditionnelle de la loyauté selon laquelle la loyauté était un contrat social entre le monarque et le sujet. La perception était que la Couronne Britannique avait rompu ce contrat par sa sanction de la loi d’indemnisation du Bas-Canada et son soutien implicite de la ‘Domination Française’. Le lien entre la mère patrie et la colonie fut dès lors conçu comme étant ouvert aux négociations.

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Turing, John