Robert Baldwin

Last updated

Though a moderate reformer, Robert Baldwin strongly disapproved of the rebellion of 183738, and as a function of his views provided allegedly a lackluster defense of Peter Matthews (rebel), who was executed for his role in the Rebellion. Baldwin served as an intermediary, with John Rolph, between the rebels and the Lt. Governor, carrying a flag of truce to the rebel camp north of Toronto on 5 December 1837, but failed to head off an armed clash. [13] He and his father William advised Lord Durham to suggest responsible government to the British government.

The Union of the Canadas

The Temple of the Children of Peace, Sharon SharonTemple.jpg
The Temple of the Children of Peace, Sharon

In response to Durham's Report, the British Government appointed Charles Poulett Thomson (later Lord Sydenham) as Governor with two main tasks. Firstly, he was to weaken the Canadien vote in Lower Canada through the union of the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada and a strengthened Executive Council. And secondly, he was to strengthen British rule by imposing a new system of centrally controlled District Councils that would take much of the elected Assembly's legislative purview, leaving it little to do but approve the Governor's budgets. Both reforms would strengthen the central state and weaken (Canadien) legislative power.

Sydenham reformed the Executive Council, making government ministers members for the first time (i.e. Cabinet Rule). He attempted to solicit Reform support by appointing Baldwin as Solicitor General in 1840. To follow his principle of responsible government, Baldwin needed to seek election so that he, a government minister, could be accountable to the elected Assembly, not the Crown. [14]

Orange Order riots during the Toronto civic elections in January 1841 convinced Baldwin he could never win a seat in the city. Instead, he sought election in the ridings of Hastings and 4th York. The Children of Peace, who had played a large role in the pre-Rebellion Reform Movement, managed Baldwin's election in 4th York and he 'walked over the course without a contest,' thus becoming the first member to be elected to the United Parliament. [15] He was also later returned to Hastings.

Baldwin & LaFontaine

Louis-Hypolite LaFontaine, Father of Responsible Government Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine.jpg
Louis-Hypolite LaFontaine, Father of Responsible Government
Statue of Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine by Walter Seymour Allward on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Statue of Baldwin and Lafontaine.jpg
Statue of Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine by Walter Seymour Allward on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Although Baldwin was elected in two seats in Canada West, reformers were in the minority. In Canada East, gerrymandering and Orange Order violence were used to prevent the election of Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine, leader of the Canadien reformers in Terrebonne, outside Montreal. To ensure LaFontaine a seat, Baldwin proposed to David Willson, leader of the Children of Peace, that they nominate LaFontaine for the seat in 4th York. [16] Baldwin also insisted that Sydenham include LaFontaine in the reformed Executive Council, or he would resign as Solicitor General. Their alliance allowed Lafontaine to have a seat in the assembly in 1841 and for Baldwin to win the by-election in 1843.

On 3 September 1841, the Children of Peace held a campaign rally for Baldwin and LaFontaine in their Temple, where they rejoiced "to say that we have it in our power to show our impartial respect to the Canadian people of the Lower Province." Despite threats of Orange Order violence, LaFontaine was elected as representative of 4th York. [17]

However, before LaFontaine could take up his seat, Governor Sydenham died. His replacement, Sir Charles Bagot, was not able to form a mixed cabinet of Reformers and Tories, and so he was forced to include the "Canadien party" under LaFontaine. LaFontaine refused to join the Executive Council unless Baldwin was also included. Bagot was finally forced to accede in September 1842, and when he became severely ill thereafter, Baldwin and Lafontaine became the first real premiers of the Province of Canada. [18] However, to take office as ministers, the two had to run for re-election. While LaFontaine was easily re-elected in 4th York, Baldwin lost his seat in Hastings as a result of Orange Order violence. It was now that the pact between the two men was completely solidified, as LaFontaine arranged for Baldwin to run in Rimouski, a constituency in a heavily francophone area of Canada East. This was the union of the Canadas they sought, where LaFontaine overcame linguistic prejudice to gain a seat in English Canada, and Baldwin obtained his seat in French Canada. [19]

Metcalfe and the Reform Association of Canada

Lord Charles Metcalfe Charles Theophilus Metcalfe, 1st Baron Metcalfe by George Chinnery.jpg
Lord Charles Metcalfe
The Second Meeting House, Sharon, where the Reform Association met June, 1844. Second Meeting House.jpg
The Second Meeting House, Sharon, where the Reform Association met June, 1844.

The Baldwin-LaFontaine ministry barely lasted six months before Governor Bagot also died in March 1843. He was replaced with Sir Charles Metcalfe, whose instructions were to check the "radical" reform government. The relationship between Baldwin and Metcalfe soured over Baldwin's Secret Societies Bill, which sought to outlaw the Orange Order and its political violence. Metcalfe rejected the legislation and then began appointing his supporters to patronage positions without Baldwin and LaFontaine's approval. They resigned in November 1843, beginning a constitutional crisis that would last a year. This year-long crisis, in which the legislature was prorogued, “was the final signpost on Upper Canada's conceptual road to democracy. Lacking the scale of the American Revolution, it nonetheless forced a comparable articulation and rethinking of the basics of political dialogue in the province.” [20]

During the year-long crisis, Metcalfe was to champion the Sydenham system and its conceptions of a limited, liberal capitalist government accountable to the imperial state, not the local Assembly; he continued to govern, demonstrating the irrelevance of Parliament. Baldwin now established a “Reform Association” in February 1844, to unite the Reform movement in Canada West to explain their understanding of responsible government before the expected election. Twenty-two branches were established. A grand meeting of all branches of the Reform Association was held in the Second Meeting House of the Children of Peace in Sharon. It was ultimately to serve as the springboard for Baldwin's successful candidacy in 4th York. Baldwin had been at a loss about where to run after his loss in Hastings. Orange mobs continued to rule out any chance in Hastings, or in 2nd York, where he had lost to Orange leader George Duggan. LaFontaine, in yet another act of friendship, gave up his seat representing 4th York, thus allowing the desperate Baldwin to run there. David Willson, having arranged for the Reform Association rally during the illumination ceremony, now became Baldwin's campaign manager. It was reported that over three thousand people attended this June rally for Baldwin. [21]

Responsible Government achieved

Joseph Legare, The Burning of the Parliament Building in Montreal, 1849 Incendie Parlement Montreal.jpg
Joseph Légaré, The Burning of the Parliament Building in Montreal, 1849

At the general election which followed, the Governor-General was sustained by a narrow majority. The year-long political crisis had, however, made it clear that responsible government was inevitable; even the old Compact Tories, now reshaped into an incipient conservative party, demanded some form of responsible government. [22] Metcalfe continued to govern until struck down by illness in 1846. The new Governor-General, Lord Elgin, was sent out specifically to acknowledge responsible government in the Canadas. In 1848 the Reformers were again returned to power, and Baldwin and Lafontaine formed their second administration on March 11 and carried numerous important reforms, including the Amnesty Act which offered pardons to all those involved in the Rebellions of 1837–8, the creation of a secular University of Toronto, and the introduction of municipal government. Their bravest achievement was to shepherd the Rebellion Losses Bill through Parliament in 1849. It sparked Orange riots, and the burning of the Parliament buildings as much of Europe was similarly engulfed in a wave of republican revolutions and counter-revolutions.

Reform transformed

The Baldwinite reformers were not a political party. With their primary aim achieved, the center could no longer hold. Internal dissensions soon began to appear, and in 1851 Baldwin resigned. The special struggle leading to his resignation was an attempt to abolish the Court of Chancery of Upper Canada, whose constitution was due to a measure introduced by Baldwin in 1849. The attempt, though defeated, had been supported by a majority of the representatives from Upper Canada, and Baldwin's fastidious conscience took it as a vote of confidence. A deeper reason was his inability to approve of the advanced views of the Radicals, or "Clear Grits," as they came to be called. On seeking re-election in York, he declined to give any pledge on the burning question of the Clergy Reserves and was defeated. In 1853 the Liberal-Conservative party, formed in 1854 by a coalition, attempted to bring him out as a candidate for the upper house, which was at this date elective. Though he had broken with the advanced reformers, Baldwin could not approve of the tactics of their opponents and refused to stand.

He died on 9 December 1858 in Spadina aged 54. Even those who most strongly opposed his measures admitted the purity and unselfishness of his motives. After the concession of responsible government, he devoted himself to bringing about a good understanding between the English and French-speaking inhabitants of Canada, and his memory is held as dear among the French Canadians as in his native province of Ontario.

Legacy

John Ralston Saul pointed out in the inaugural LaFontaine-Baldwin symposium, that “we have killed in political strife among ourselves less than a hundred citizens – most of them on a single day at Batoche,” Saskatchewan, during the Riel Rebellion. “The first measure of any citizen-based culture” he adds, “must not be its rhetoric or myths or leaders or laws but how few of its citizens it kills.” This non-violent tradition we owe to Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine, who refused to abandon principle, and who walked away from retribution. [23]

Baldwin Steps, a series of stairs from his father's Spadina House at Austin Terrace to Davenport Road, is named after Baldwin.

Related Research Articles

The Province of Canada was a British colony in British North America from 1841 to 1867. Its formation reflected recommendations made by John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, in the Report on the Affairs of British North America following the Rebellions of 1837–1838.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Upper Canada</span> Former British colony in North America

The Province of Upper Canada was a part of British Canada established in 1791 by the Kingdom of Great Britain, to govern the central third of the lands in British North America, formerly part of the Province of Quebec since 1763. Upper Canada included all of modern-day Southern Ontario and all those areas of Northern Ontario in the Pays d'en Haut which had formed part of New France, essentially the watersheds of the Ottawa River or Lakes Huron and Superior, excluding any lands within the watershed of Hudson Bay. The "upper" prefix in the name reflects its geographic position along the Great Lakes, mostly above the headwaters of the Saint Lawrence River, contrasted with Lower Canada to the northeast.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine</span> Canadian politician

Sir Louis-Hippolyte MénardditLa Fontaine, 1st Baronet, KCMG was a Canadian politician who served as the first Premier of the United Province of Canada and the first head of a responsible government in Canada. He was born in Boucherville, Lower Canada in 1807. A jurist and statesman, La Fontaine was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada in 1830. He was a supporter of Papineau and member of the Parti canadien. After the severe consequences of the Rebellions of 1837 against the British authorities, he advocated political reforms within the new Union regime of 1841.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Upper Canada Rebellion</span> 1837 rebellion against the government of Upper Canada

The Upper Canada Rebellion was an insurrection against the oligarchic government of the British colony of Upper Canada in December 1837. While public grievances had existed for years, it was the rebellion in Lower Canada, which started the previous month, that emboldened rebels in Upper Canada to revolt.

Joint premiers of the Province of Canada were the prime ministers of the Province of Canada, from the 1841 unification of Upper Canada and Lower Canada until Confederation in 1867.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas David Morrison</span> 19th-century Upper Canada politician and doctor

Thomas David Morrison was a doctor and political figure in Upper Canada. He was born in Quebec City around 1796 and worked as a clerk in the medical department of the British Army during the War of 1812. He studied medicine in the United States and returned to York in 1824 to become a doctor in Upper Canada. He treated patients and served on the Toronto Board of Health during the 1832 and 1834 cholera outbreaks and co-founded the York Dispensary. In 1834 he was elected to the 12th Parliament of Upper Canada, representing the third riding of York County as part of the reform movement. That same year he was elected as an alderman to the Toronto City Council and reelected the subsequent two years. In 1836, he served a term as mayor of Toronto.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Warren Baldwin</span> Canadian doctor, businessman, lawyer, judge, architect and reform politician

William Warren Baldwin was a doctor, businessman, lawyer, judge, architect and reform politician in Upper Canada. He, and his son Robert Baldwin, are recognized for having introduced the concept of "responsible government", the principle of cabinet rule on which Canadian democracy is based.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1st Parliament of the Province of Canada</span> Parliament of the former Province of Canada

The First Parliament of the Province of Canada was summoned in 1841, following the union of Upper Canada and Lower Canada as the Province of Canada on February 10, 1841. The Parliament continued until dissolution in late 1844.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Samuel Harrison</span> Province of Canada politician

Samuel Bealey Harrison was Joint Premier of the Province of Canada for Canada East from 1841 to 1842 with William Henry Draper PM for Canada West. Draper was a member of the Family Compact and Harrison was a moderate Reformer, the predecessor of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Henry John Boulton, was a lawyer and political figure in Upper Canada and the Province of Canada, as well as Chief Justice of Newfoundland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Solomon Cartwright</span> Upper Canada lawyer, judge, businessman and politician

John Solomon Cartwright, was a Canadian businessman, lawyer, judge, farmer and political figure in Kingston, Upper Canada. He was a supporter of the Family Compact, an oligarchic group which had dominated control of the government of Upper Canada through their influence with the British governors. He was also a member of the Compact Tory political group, first in the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, and then in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada.

John McIntosh was a Scottish-Canadian businessman, ship's captain and political figure in Upper Canada. He was a leading figure of the Upper Canadian reform movement, and was described by his contemporaries as a moderate reformer. He was elected to the province's legislature in 1834, but was unable to be elected to the parliament of the Province of Canada in 1841. He continued supporting reformers, allowing William Lyon Mackenzie to stay in his home upon Mackenzie's return to Canada in 1849.

Caleb Hopkins was a farmer and Reform politician in Upper Canada and later in the Province of Canada.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Isaac Buchanan</span> Province of Canada businessman and politician

Isaac Buchanan was a businessman, political figure and writer in Upper Canada, then Canada West, Province of Canada. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, he emigrated to British North America in 1830, settling first in Montreal, then York, and then Hamilton. At the height of his business career, he had an extensive house and estate in Hamilton, which he named "Auchmar", in recognition of his Clan Buchanan roots in Scotland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Henry Dunn</span> Public official in Upper Canada

John Henry Dunn was a public official and businessman in Upper Canada, who later entered politics in the Province of Canada. Born on Saint Helena of English parents, he came to Upper Canada as a young man to take up the position of Receiver General for Upper Canada, a position he held from 1820 to 1841.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Hervey Price</span> Attorney and political figure in Canada West

James Hervey Price was a Canadian attorney and political figure in Canada West. He was born and grew up in Cumberland, United Kingdom, and studied law at Doctors' Commons. He moved to Upper Canada in 1828 and became an attorney in 1833. He was appointed the city of Toronto's first city clerk in 1834 and the following year built a house north of Toronto that he named Castlefield. In 1836 he was elected as a city councillor for St. David's Ward in Toronto but was defeated the following year. Although he considered himself a Reformer, he did not participate in the Upper Canada Rebellion. In 1841 he was elected to the first Parliament of the Province of Canada, representing the 1st riding of York as a Reformer. He served as the commissioner of Crown lands from 1848 to 1851 when he was defeated in his reelection campaign for his seat in the Parliament. He withdrew from politics and worked as an attorney until his retirement in 1857. In 1860 he returned to Britain to Bath, and died in Shirley, Hampshire, in 1882.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Willson (Quaker)</span>

David Willson (1778–1866) was a religious and political leader who founded the Quaker sect known as, 'The Children of Peace' or 'Davidites,' based at Sharon in York County, Upper Canada in 1812. As the primary minister to this group, he led them in constructing a series of remarkable buildings, the best known of which is the Sharon Temple, now a National Historic Site of Canada. A prolific writer, sympathizer and leader of the movement for political reform in Upper Canada, Willson, together with his followers, ensured the election of William Lyon Mackenzie, and both "fathers of Responsible Government", Robert Baldwin and Louis LaFontaine, in their riding.

David Morrison Armstrong was a merchant, insurance agent and political figure in Canada East in the Province of Canada. He represented the electoral district of Berthier in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from 1841 to 1851. From 1855 to 1867 he sat in the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada, and in the Legislative Council of Quebec from 1867 until his death. He initially opposed the union of the Lower Canada and Upper Canada into the Province of Canada, and supported the reform movement for responsible government. After responsible government was achieved, he gradually became a Conservative.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Children of Peace</span>

The Children of Peace (1812–1889) was an Upper Canadian Quaker sect under the leadership of David Willson, known also as 'Davidites', who separated during the War of 1812 from the Yonge Street Monthly Meeting in what is now Newmarket, Ontario, and moved to the Willsons' farm. Their last service was held in the Sharon Temple in 1889.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Reform movement (Upper Canada)</span> Political party in Canada

The Reform movement in Upper Canada was a political movement in British North America in the mid-19th century.

References

Citations
  1. Saul 1997, pp. 65–66.
  2. Patterson 1989, pp. 174–191.
  3. Morgan 1903, p. 21.
  4. Smith 1995, pp. 48–49.
  5. Patterson 1989, pp. 186–187.
  6. Romney 1999, pp. 50–51.
  7. Romney 1999, pp. 61–65.
  8. Whebell 1989, p. 194.
  9. White 2001, p. 134.
  10. Saul 2010, pp. 42–45.
  11. Saul 2010, pp. 55–56.
  12. Saul 2010, pp. 57–59.
  13. Stagg 1985, p. xlvi.
  14. Schrauwers 2009, pp. 216–220.
  15. Schrauwers 2009, pp. 226–227.
  16. Saul 2010, pp. 122–123.
  17. Schrauwers 2009, pp. 229–233.
  18. Saul 2010, pp. 130–133.
  19. Saul 2010, pp. 134–135.
  20. McNairn 2000, p. 237.
  21. Schrauwers 2009, pp. 239–240.
  22. Careless 1967, p. 95.
  23. Saul 2006, p. 10.
References

Further reading

Robert Baldwin
RobertBaldwin23.jpg
Joint Premier of Province of Canada, for Canada West
In office
1842–1843
Political offices
Preceded by Joint Premiers of the Province of Canada - Canada West
1848–1851
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by
none
Leader of the Reform Party of Upper Canada
1839?-1857
Succeeded by
George Brown
as de facto leader of the Liberal Party of Canada