185th Anniversary of 1837-38 Rebellions in
Lower and Upper Canada
Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Lower Canada
WHEREAS the solemn contract established with the people of Lower Canada as recorded in the register of the Statutes of the Kingdom of Britain and Ireland, as Ch. 31 of the Act passed in the 3rd year of the rule of King George III, has been continuously violated by the British government and our rights encroached upon; and whereas our humble petitions, addresses, protests and remonstrances against this prejudicial and unconstitutional behaviour have been in vain;
WHEREAS the British government has disposed of our revenue without the constitutional consent of our local legislature, robbed our treasury, arrested and imprisoned a large number of our fellow citizens, spread across the country a mercenary army whose presence has caused dismay and alarm, whose tracks are red with the blood of our people, which has burned our villages to ashes, desecrated temples and sown terror and desolation throughout the country; and whereas we can no longer suffer the repeated violations of our most sacred rights and patiently endure the numerous outrages and cruelties of the government of Lower Canada,
We, in the name of the people of Lower Canada, acknowledging the decree of divine providence that says we can overthrow a government that has violated the object and intent of its creation to choose the form of government that will restore the use of justice, ensure domestic peace, see to the common defence, elevate the general well-being and guarantee us and our descendants the benefits of civil and religious freedom;
Solemnly declare that
1. From this day on, the people of Lower Canada is free from allegiance to Britain and the political continuity between Lower Canada and the British rule is broken.
2. A republican form of government best suits the needs of Lower Canada, which is on this day proclaimed a Republic.
3. Under the free government of Lower Canada, all individuals will enjoy the same rights: the natives will no longer be submitted to any civil disqualification and will enjoy the same rights as all other citizens of Lower Canada.
4. All union between the Church and the State is by the present declared dissolved and all person will have the right to freely practice the religion or belief dictated by his or her conscience.
5. The feudal or seigniorial tenure of the land is by the present abolished, as completely as if such tenure never existed in Canada.
6. Any person who bears arms or otherwise assists Canada in its fight for emancipation is and will be discharged of all real or supposed debts or obligations resulting from arrears of seigniorial rights existing prior to this day.
7. The customary dower is henceforth abolished and prohibited.
8. Imprisonment for debt will no longer take place except in certain cases of fraud which will be specified in an act to be adopted to this end by the Legislature of Lower Canada at a later time.
9. The death penalty will no longer be pronounced nor executed, except in the case of murder.
10. All mortgages on the land will be special and, to be valid, will need to be registered with offices to be created to this end by an act of the Legislature of Lower Canada.
11. The freedom and independence of the press will prevail in all public matters and affairs.
12. Trial by jury is ensured by the people of Lower Canada in its broadest and most liberal sense in all criminal trials and in civil trials beyond a certain amount to be determined by the Legislature of Lower Canada.
13. Since general and public education is necessary and is owed to the people by the government, an act establishing it will be passed as soon as circumstances allow.
14. To ensure electoral enfranchisement, all elections will be through secret ballot.
15. At the earliest occasion the people must choose delegates according the present division of the country in counties, cities and boroughs who will form a convention or legislative body to draft a constitution according to the needs of the country, in accordance with the provisions of this Declaration, subject to modification according to the will of the people.
16. Every individual of male gender aged 21 and over will have the right to vote as stipulated in the present Declaration for the election of the aforementioned delegates.
17. All the lands of the Crown and those called Reserves of the Clergy as well as those formally belonging to a certain company of landowners in England called “The Company of the Lands of British North America” are rightfully the property of the state of Lower Canada, except for the parts that may be the property of people who own them in good faith, to whom claims will be granted and guaranteed in accordance with an act to be passed which will legalize such possession and give a title to such plots in the townships where such titles do not exist, when such plots are under cultivation or improved.
18. The French and English languages will be used in all public affairs.
And for the realization of this Declaration and in support of the patriotic cause which we have now undertaken with full confidence in the protection of the All-Mighty and in the justice of our action — we solemnly pledge to each other through the present our lives and fortunes and our most sacred honour.
By order of the Provisional Government.
Robert Nelson, President.
(Translated by TML. Published in TML Daily, May 23, 2005.)