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Louis-Joseph Papineau (October 7, 1786 – September 23, 1871), born in Montrealmarker, Quebecmarker, was a politician, lawyer, and the landlord of the seigneurie de la Petite-Nation. He was the leader of the reformist Patriot movement before the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837–1838. His father was Joseph Papineau, also a famous politician in Quebecmarker.

Childhood and education

As a child, Papineau was described as an excellent reader, a passionate student, and a well-cultured young man. His arrival at the Seminary of Quebec in 1802 was highly anticipated, and his reputation there preceded him. Upon graduation, he began an apprenticeship under his father with the goal of becoming a blacksmith, but this was quickly abandoned when the young Papineau turned to law, joining his cousin Denis-Benjamin Viger. He was elected member of parliament for Kent (now Chambly, Quebec) in 1808 before being admitted to the Bar of Lower Canada on 1810. Later, he served as a militia officer.

Speaker of the Legislative Assembly

Papineau was elected Speaker of the Legislative Council of Lower Canada on January 21, 1815. The same year, he replaced Pierre-Stanislas Bédard as leader of the Parti canadien. Under his leadership, the party worked for the reform of Lower Canada's political institutions and strongly opposed the abuses of the appointed Legislative Council.

In 1820, he refused a position on the Legislative Council offered by governor Dalhousie.

In 1822, he was sent to London with John Neilson to present a petition of 60,000 signatures against the Union project. While in the United Kingdommarker, he was replaced by Joseph-Rémi Vallières as Speaker.

In 1826, he was chosen leader of The Patriotes, a reformed and more radical Parti Canadien. In 1831, he sponsored a law which granted full equivalent political rights to Jews, 27 years before anywhere else in the British Empire. The events that lead to Jews receiving full citizenship rights in Lower Canada in advance of other nations or territories in the British Dominion were due to the involvement of one Ezekiel Hart, a Jew who had proved his dedication to the burgeoning Canadian identity by having raised money to support troops in the Lower Canada to help in defence against US invasion from the south.

Louis-Joseph was part of the committee that wrote the Ninety-Two Resolutions passed by the Legislative Assembly on February 21, 1834. The resolutions called for an elected Legislative Council and an Executive Council responsible before the house of the people's representatives.

Leader of the Patriotes

After the arrival of the Russell Resolutions in Lower Canada on March 6, 1837, he led the movement of protest and participated in numerous popular assemblies. He led the committee that organized the boycott of essentially all British imports to Lower Canada. On November 15, he created the Conseil des patriotes with Edmund Bailey O'Callaghan. He and O'Callaghan fled Montreal for Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieumarker on November 16, after governor Lord Gosford ordered their arrest and that of 25 other Patriot leaders. Papineau and O'Callaghan went to the home of Wolfred Nelson. He crossed the US border on November 25. Papineau was a great defending leader on the Assembly as he had declined his invitation to the Legislative council.

In exile

Arriving in the United States, he stayed at his friend judge Reuben Hyde Walworth's family house in Saratogamarker. He arranged for his wife and his children to join him there. For some time, he attempted to gain the support of American President Martin Van Buren using all the diplomatic influence that he and American supporters could provide. When the United States declared themselves neutral in the conflict between Britain and its Canadian colonies, he turned to Europe for support.

On February 8, 1839, he left New York Citymarker for Parismarker where he hoped to get France involved. In May, he published the Histoire de l'insurrection du Canada (History of the insurrection in Canada) in the magazine Progrès. Despite meeting with influential politicians such as Lamartine and Lamennais, the France of Louis-Philippe also remained neutral.

His role in the 1837 rebellion against British rule forced him into exile until he was pardoned by Queen Victoria in 1845. He only returned to Montreal after he had been granted amnesty by the colonial government as well.

Return to politics

In 1848, he was elected member of the new united Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada in the riding of Saint-Maurice. In severe disagreement with the emerging French Canadian Liberal Party, he became an independent MP. A convinced republican after a long exile in the United States and France, Papineau supported the Montreal Annexation Manifesto that called for Canada to join the United States of America. This reflected the common misunderstanding among the Patriote Party that life would be ideal if the French Canadians of Lower Canada could live like their counterparts in Louisiana. What they did not realize was that the Louisiana Acadians had been substantially assimilated into the American melting pot.

Louis-Joseph Papineau, along with John Molson Jr., the son of John Molson, and Horatio Gates, served as the first Vice-Presidents of the Montreal Mechanics' Institute. He participated in the creation of the Parti rouge. He was defeated in 1851, but elected in a by-election in 1852. He did not present himself again in the elections of 1854. He retired from public life and reappeared only once to hold a conference at the Institut canadien de Montréal in December 1867. He died at his Manor of Montebellomarker on September 23, 1871.


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