If you don’t have Wood’s “Creation of the American Republic” in your library, I highly recommend you pick up a copy. It has been invaluable to me for putting into context so much of what was happening throughout the British colonies at the time of the revolution – many of the forces at work being identical in Nova Scotia, though perhaps in different proportions of Whig to Tory, dissident to loyalist. This passage on the Power of appointment still holds true today, perhaps more so than ever before, with so many of the political positions in Canada existing as the appointments of a completely irresponsible executive, the Prime Minister. A Prime Minister who appoints “all the ministers and parliamentary secretaries, the deputy ministers, senators, the head of state …

The Power of Appointment Read More…

“In the United States there should be much interest in the Diocese of Nova Scotia, for that Diocese owes its existence to the Tories of the Revolution, who went in thousands from New York and Massachusetts to the “Acadian Province by the Sea,” and its first bishop was, at the outbreak of the war, the honored rector of the leading Church in the older Colonies.” “If it had not been for the fierce legislation of the Whigs in the various colonies against the adherents of the crown, the history of this part of the country, both secular and religious, would be vastly different from what it is.” “The attention of New York loyalists seems to have been early directed towards the almost uninhabited province of New Brunswick.” Eaton, …

The Church of England in Nova Scotia and the Tory clergy of the revolution Read More…

“In the year 1799 the Bishop of Nova Scotia reported to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts that the Province was being troubled by “an enthusiastic and dangerous spirit” among the sect called “Newlights”, whose religion seemed to be a “strange jumble of New England Independency and Behmenism.” Through the teaching of these “ignorant mechanics and common laborers”, the people were being excited to a “pious frenzy,” and a rage for dipping” prevailed over all the western counties. It was further believed by the Bishop and the Anglican clergy that these sectaries were engaged in a plan for “a total Revolution in Religion and Civil Government.” “…as Bishop Inglis recognized, the movement was a continuation of the great revival or religion which occurred …

The Great Awakening in Nova Scotia, 1776-1809 Read More…

“From the beginning of the strife in the American colonies, New York, which unlike Massachusetts (and like Nova Scotia) was a royal or crown colony, naturally showed marked loyalist sympathies. It has often been sweepingly asserted that all the leading families of New York were Tories, but that this was far from being the case is shown by the fact that some of the most active supporters of the revolutionary cause, like John Jay and Gouveneur Morris, bore names as proud as any in the province; and that although the DeLanceys, DePeysters, Philippses and Johnsons, and the greater part of the local aristocracy who acknowledged the leadership of these families, were enthusiastic supporters of the crown, the Schuylers and Livingstons, at least, were known as equally enthusiastic in …

The New York Loyalists in Nova Scotia Read More…

“The township of Cumberland was settled in 1762-3 or thereabouts, by settlers from Rhode Island. They came in four schooners, and a list of their names was formerly in the Archives of the Province. During the whole of the struggle between the mother country and her colonies, the Cumberland settlers, especially those from the old colonies and the north of Ireland, warmly sympathized with the revolted colonies. In 1772-3-4 and 5, a large immigration took place to both the township and county, principally from Yorkshire, and in no instance during the revolutionary struggle, and the many acts of violence committed in and about Fort Lawrence and Fort Cumberland, is it known that a single Yorkshire settler ever swerved in his loyalty. In the November of 1776 the original …

Trials For Treason In 1776-7 Read More…

“The principle of organization of government on the basis of “separate” departments is not only fundamental in the structure of American Federal government, but it has been written into every one of our state constitutions in one form or another. That purpose was stated in Article XXX of the Declaration of Rights of the Massachusetts Constitution to be the achievement of “a government of laws, and not of men.” In another article the same purpose was stated more fully in the following words: “Government is instituted for the common good;—and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men.” “The separation of departments had a well-understood meaning to Massachusetts constitution makers, and it was incorporated in the Constitution of 1780 …

Plural office-holding in Massachusetts, 1760-1780, its relation to the “separation” of departments of government Read More…

“If we measure radicalism of revolutions by the degree of social misery or economic deprivation suffered, or by the number of people killed or manor houses burned, then this conventional emphasis on the conservatism of the American Revolution becomes true enough. But if we measure the radicalism by the amount of social change that actually took place – by transformations in the relationships that bound people to each other – then the American Revolution was not conservative at all, on the contrary; it was as radical and revolutionary as any in history. Of course, the American Revolution was very different from other revolutions. But it was no less radical and no less social for being different. In fact, it was one of the greatest revolutions the world has …

The Radicalism of the American Revolution Read More…

“Then there is Howe, who was prosecuted by the corrupt magistrates whom he exposed in his day. By the way, he successfully defended himself, and I hope to perhaps follow his glorious example. He is now proclaimed as Nova Scotia’s noblest son.” — FJ. Dixon, 1920 “When they tried Joseph Howe for sedition, they erected a monument to him in the shadow of the County jail [sic: Province House yard].” — J.B. McLachlan, 1924 “I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I tell you that what happened to Howe will happen to McLachlan.” — J.S. Woodsworth, 1924 In Halifax, in 1835, Joseph Howe, a newspaper proprietor and editor, was tried for seditious libel for publishing the second of two pseudonymous letters critical of …

Howe (1835), Dixon (1920) and McLachlan (1923): Comparative Perspectives on the Legal History of Sedition Read More…

“Writing in the posthumously published final version of his historical chronicle of early Halifax town, lawyer-archivist Thomas Beamish Akins condemned the infamous 1820 state trial, R. v. Wilkie, in these memorable words: An anonymous pamphlet was published from the press of A.H. [Anthony Henry] Holland, charging the magistrates of the town with malpractices, which caused much excitement. It was discovered to have been written by Mr. William Wilkie, of Halifax. He was indicted for libel, tried at the Easter term of the Supreme Court [17 April 1820] and sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labor in the House of Correction [Bridewell]. This was esteemed a most tyrannical and cruel proceeding on the part of the government. The pamphlet was a very paltry offence, such as at the …

Sedition in Nova Scotia: R. v. Wilkie (1820) and the Incontestable Illegality of Seditious Libel before R. v. Howe (1835) Read More…

“Nova Scotia had found [in Joseph Howe] not only its John Wilkes but also its Charles James Fox.” — W.S. MacNutt, 1965 “In a seminal article published in 1974, Kenneth McNaught described Howe as one of Canada’s “two most significant cases involving political freedom of the press” — the other being Dixon for seditious libel arising from the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. McNaught failed to mention an important early New Brunswick case (Hooper, 1830), where the proprietor-editor of the British Colonist (Saint John) was prosecuted for seditious libel after publishing, under the author’s suggestive Puritan nom-de-plume (“Hampden”), a letter castigating the legal profession and the administration of justice. Hooper, like Howe and Fred Dixon after him, defended himself — but was discharged rather than acquitted, due to …

Sedition In Nova Scotia: R. v. Howe and the “Contested Legality” of Seditious Libel Read More…

Our couriers between Quebec and Montreal depart from hence twice a week. The letters they carry scarce defray the expense of the riding work; but, seeing that the conveniency of the posts weekly is felt by the mercantile body, and in short by the whole province, and saves the expense of many expresses to Government, I shall continue it as long as it does not bring the office in debt. In all probability we shall be shut out from all communications from any one part of the world after the middle of November until the middle of May, unless letters can be conveyed from the station of the packet-boat (wherever that may be) to Halifax, in Nova Scotia, there to be put under Governor Legge’s care. He could …

“There’s many Whigs (as they are called) in Nova Scotia” Read More…

(aa.) Admiral Graves to Mr. Stephens, Boston, 18 May.—I find that the rebellion begun in Massachusetts Bay has spread itself to New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. There is too much reason to apprehend the infection is general, since even Nova Scotia has shown symptoms in burning a quantity of hay collected for the use of the troops. I submit, therefore, how extremely useful a few of the old fifty-gun ships would be to serve in the rivers of this continent, &c. Every day’s experience shows that we can hope for no supplies the rebels can prevent; their vigilance extends even to firewood, which is expressly forbidden to be sold, and guards are placed along the coast for that purpose. “George III: June 1775.” Calendar of Home Office Papers …

Hay Party Read More…