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Durham Report

Durham Report, completed January 1839 and officially presented to the Colonial Office 4 February 1839 by John George Lambton, the earl of DURHAM. A known reformer, Durham had been appointed governor general to investigate colonial grievances after the REBELLIONS OF 1837. His Report on the Affairs of British North Americaproposed such reforms as the creation of municipal governments and a supreme court, and resolution of theLAND QUESTION in Prince Edward Island. His plan for a union of all the British North American colonies was dropped because of objections in the Maritime provinces.
Durham's 2 main recommendations - RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT and union of Upper and Lower Canada - emerged from an analysis of the causes of the rebellions. He criticized the defective constitutional system in Upper Canada, where power was monopolized by "a petty, corrupt, insolent Tory clique." This FAMILY COMPACTblocked economic and social development in a potentially wealthy colony, thereby causing the discontent which led to the rebellion. His solution, based on advice from colonial reformers, was a system in which the executive would be drawn from the majority party in the assembly. It would stimulate colonial expansion, strengthen the imperial connection and minimize American influences.

In Lower Canada, Durham described the problems as racially, not politically, based. He found "two nations warring in the bosom of a single state" To ensure harmony and progress, he recommended assimilating the French Canadians, whom he called "a people with no literature and no history," through a legislative union of the Canadas, in which an English-speaking majority would dominate.

Durham's report was condemned by Upper Canada's Tory elite, but Reformers in UC and NS hailed the idea of responsible government. Montréal Tories supported the union largely because they saw it as a way to overcome French Canadian opposition to their plans for economic development. French Canadians were opposed to the union and reaffirmed their determination to defend their nationality. The British government accepted the recommendation for a union of the Canadas.




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