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226 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 F. Murray Greenwood and Barry Wright, editors. Rebellion and Invasion in the Canadas, 1837B1839: Canadian State Trials, Vol II University of Toronto Press for the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. xix, 499. $75.00 The rebellions in Lower and Upper Canada confirmed the colonial governments= worst fears of armed insurrection and revolution and presented >what is arguably the most serious state-security crisis in Canadian history.= More than 350 individuals were tried for treason and other related offences punishable by death. Most, as Barry Wright concludes in his examination of >The Kingston and London Courts Martial,= received only >summary justice, with the thinnest veneer of legality.= Indeed, despite authorities= public pronouncements that they intended to preserve the rule of law and exercise judicious mercy, for most justice was often, as Colin Read concludes, withheld or dispensed in a >niggardly way.= This second volume of the Canadian State Trial Series examines how authorities in both colonies used and often bent the rule of law to meet what they considered were the extraordinary circumstances of 1837B39. Most of the authors who contributed to the collection conclude that officials >clearly breached the norms of common law.= As Barry Wright and the late F. Murray Greenwood explain in their very fine introduction, when the courts become a political battlefield, the legal and constitutional issues become complex. Moreover, both colonial governments >were acutely mindful ... of the danger that obvious manipulation of legal process would compromise= their legitimacy and popular support. The six articles in part 1 examine some of these issues as they emerged in Upper Canada. Rainer Baehre=s clearly written explanation of the legislation and >Overall Legal Strategy= of Upper Canadian authorities is followed by detailed examinations of the treason trials in Toronto, Kingston, London, western Upper Canada, and Windsor and the dilemma the patriot exiles faced with a >cruel and capricious convict system.= As various authors highlight, two central problems confronting authorities were whether civilians could be courtmartialled and what to do with non-British subject->bandits= who, by definition could not be charged with treason, but who were also not prisoners of war (since Great Britain and the United States were not at war). The consequences of what became heated debates over these issues came together, as Greenwood eloquently discusses in the >Prince Affair,= when government ambivalence (both at the colonial and imperial level), a highly charged and vengeful border community, and the violent predilections of one magistrate-militia officer culminated in the summary shooting of American >bandits= in a clear and successful breach of the rule of law. Part 2 opens with a fascinating discussion by Jean-Marie Fecteau of the contradiction between the right to revolt often violently and government=s determination to maintain order. In Lower Canada between 1837 and 1839, humanities 227 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 >distinctions among law, power and politics became very much blurred.= In the end, >the establishment of the rule of law= became >the veil behind which arbitrary power= was exercised. Also intriguing is Greenwood=s evaluation of the General Court Martial of Montreal in light of British justice in Ireland at the end of the previous century and the discussion by Beverly Boissery and Clara Paterson about why women who actively supported >treasonous= activities were not brought before the courts. The volume concludes with extensive appendices that include very useful discussion of sources in the National Archives and the Quebec and Ontario Archives, together with selected supporting documents including the enabling acts passed to deal with those involved in the rebellions and how some leading jurists interpreted and intended to implement them. All of the articles of Rebellion and Invasion in the Canadas, 1837B1839 rest on a careful reading of the rich legal sources of the period and an appreciation of the current debates about the nature and the legacy of the rebellions . And this is a welcome and overdue addition to our ongoing understanding of a critical period in colonial development. (E. JANE ERRINGTON) Kate Lawson and Lynn Shakinovsky. The Marked Body: Domestic Violence in Mid-Nineteenth...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 226-227
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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