The Reformers' Victory
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The Reformers' Victory
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The Reformers' Victory

At the beginning of 1848, Joseph Howe's reform party won the elections in Nova Scotia and took power, forming the first colonial government within the British Empire to be popularly elected.
In 1840, Robert Baldwin proposed that the Lower Canadian Patriotes join Upper Canadian reformers to form a reform majority in the Legislative Assembly of United Canada. (As portrayed by Ted Atherton in Canada: A People's History)
In 1840, Robert Baldwin proposed that the Lower Canadian Patriotes join Upper Canadian reformers to form a reform majority in the Legislative Assembly of United Canada. (As portrayed by Ted Atherton in Canada: A People's History)
Henceforth, the party that held the majority in the Assembly would lead the colony. Howe became Premier:

"It will be our pride to make Nova Scotia a Normal School for the rest of the Colonies," wrote Joseph Howe, "showing them how representative Institutions may be worked, so as to insure internal tranquility, and advancement, in subordination to the paramount interest and authority of the Empire."

A few weeks earlier, in December 1847, United Canada was in the middle of an election. The reformers, led by Baldwin and La Fontaine, were victorious there as well.

La Fontaine wrote:

"...the goal of the union of the two provinces was the destruction of the French Canadians.
French Canadian Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine gave a boost to the reform movement when he was elected to the  Assembly for a Toronto riding. (As portrayed by Robert Daviau in Canada: A People's History)
French Canadian Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine gave a boost to the reform movement when he was elected to the Assembly for a Toronto riding. (As portrayed by Robert Daviau in Canada: A People's History)
Since then, things have changed. The author of this measure was mistaken. He wanted to lay low a whole category of citizens. But today the facts show that everyone is on an equal footing."

It was a great victory for Robert Baldwin. While addressing voters in the riding of York, he declared:

"The Province has passed through a long and arduous struggle for the establishment of a system of government founded on the broad basis of British Constitutional principles. Your favour, and the confidence of a large portion of the people of my country, placed me in a position in which I was called upon to perform no unimportant part in the great battle of the constitution.
The battle has been fought. The victory has been achieved."

Louis-Joseph Papineau received amnesty in 1845 and returned to Canada. The former leader of the Patriotes was elected in the county of Saint-Maurice in the 1848 election, and called for repeal of the Union. But times had changed. He did not find many supporters for his views, apart from the young radicals of the newspaper L'Avenir. His former allies had moved over to support La Fontaine. Wolfred Nelson, the hero of Saint-Denis, accused his former leader of cowardly flight from the battlefield in 1837. Newspapers circulated rumors in the hopes of discrediting Papineau. He abandoned public life and withdrew to his manor at Montebello.
By now, almost all the Patriotes and Upper Canadian rebels had been granted amnesty. In 1849, William Lyon Mackenzie was the last to request and obtain amnesty

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The Reformers' Victory

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The Rebellion Losses Bill: the First Test
1839 - Lord Durham's Report
1839 - Lord Durham's Report
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The Reform Alliance
The Reform Alliance
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1841 - The First Election after the Act of Union
1841 - The First Election after the Act of Union
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A Responsible Government
A Responsible Government
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The Rebellion Losses Bill: the First Test
The Rebellion Losses Bill: the First Test
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1849 - The Burning of Parliament
1849 - The Burning of Parliament
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The End of an Era
The End of an Era
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