Durham, Lord
b. 1792-04-12
d. 1840-07-28
John George Lambton, also commonly referred to as Lord Durham and “Radical Jack”, was an influential British politician and administrator, who worked to facilitate the colonization of New Zealand and the then-emerging colonies of the Canadas.1 The “Durham Report” was his progressive vision for municipal governments within a united Canada and a call to assimilate the French Canadian population.2
Durham arrived in Canada on 27 May 1838, in Quebec, and one of his first acts on behalf of the Colonial Office was to decide how to prosecute the Lower Canadian political prisoners.3 Due to extreme division between the French-Canadian population and the English state, Durham had the primary instigators admit their guilt and exiled to Bermuda.4 Initially, the people of Lower Canada commended him for his judicious solutions.5 However, Durham ultimately lost the support of his party because he did not have the authority to exile prisoners and was forced to resign.6 He learned about the impending resignation reading a New York newspaper in September 1838.7
Durham championed political reform and responsible government to solve the issues in the new colonies which included: settlement, immigration, education, municipal institutions and the other various colonial institutions imposed on Quebec.8 He also viewed the class struggle in the emerging nation as a racial issue. Durham's report was coloured by his political beliefs, but ultimately the idealistic nobleman found the French-Canadian population less socially progressive than their English counterparts-- he recommended the assimilation of French Canadians into their superior culture.9
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