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Louis Joseph Papineau became the leader of the radical movement in Lower Canada in the 1830's. His speeches, leadership and actions helped lead to the rebellion that occurred in 1837.

Born on Oct 7, 1786 in Montreal, Louis Joseph Papineau was destined to be a great name in the annuals of French Canadian and Canadian history. He  was enrolled at a seminary and lake most French Canadian leaders of the time, he went to law school and became a lawyer. He quickly became involved in politics and was elected to the legislative assemble in lower Canada and by 1815 had been appointed the speaker of the assembly. 

His challenge was to reconcile the existing British Parliamentary traditions and the Lower Canada system to politic action that would give the general population some input into the ruling of the colony. In 1820 the Governor of Lower Canada made an attempt to draw Papineau into the executive by offering him a seat on the Executive Council which carried out the policies of the Governor. Papineau quickly realized that the Council was not disposed to take advice from the Legislative Assembly and were much more like to formulate and implement policies that the Governor and the upper class English elite of the colony wanted. He joined the council and then very quickly resigned once he realized that the offer was made to silence him and not to help him bring about change.

Papineau, as Speaker of the assembly was in a much better position to challenge the Governor and the Executive Council. He eventually was able to start blocking many of the London, the Governor and the Executive Council wanted passed. He felt that he was having an impact upon their agenda and without the revenues to pay for those programs the Governor would have to compromise and eventually start to allow more input from the Elected Assembly.

The straw that broke the camels back came in March of 1837 when Lord Gosford, the Governor of Lower Canada, was ordered by the British Government to ignore the need for Legislative approval of bills and pay for the expenses of the government directly from crown funds. Papineau called for a  meeting at St Charles, of all "patriotes", who were the reform minded French Canadians, on October 23, 1837. The topic of the meeting was to be justifiable armed rebellion to oppose what Papineau and others felt was the violation of their rights by the Governor and British Government. The Governor caught wind of this meeting and it's purpose and struck back with warrants for Papineau's arrest under the charge of High Treason. Wolfred Nelson organized a force of Patriote's and led them against the British at Saint Charles on November 25th, 1837. The Patriotes initially had success when they defeated the British but two days later the British counter attacked and defeated them on November 125th and then again  at Saint Eustache on December 14th.

Papineau was forced to flee the colony and took refuge in the United States and martial law was declared. The authorities attempted to arrest about 26 members of the Patriote who choose to resist. In 1838 the Patriote's under Robert Nelson had organized themselves in the United States and crossed the boarder into Lower Canada. They were intent on defeating the British military forces and forcing them out of the colony thus  establishing their own government. The battle of Beauharnois took place in November of 1838 and the British were also victorious here ending the prospects of overthrowing the British.

Papineau remained in exile until 1847 when a general amnesty was proclaimed and he was allowed to return to Lower Canada. Although he was re-elected to the Legislative Assembly, a new generation of reformers and Politian's had arrived on the scene and he was more of a heroic reminder of past battles then an inspiring leader of the new war.




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Reference: www.canadahistory.com/sections/eras/eras.html