Republic of Canada
|Republic of Canada|
|-||1837-1838||William Lyon Mackenzie|
|Historical era||Upper Canada Rebellion|
|-||Republic declared||17 December 1837|
|-||Republic collapses||4 December 1838|
The Republic of Canada was a government proclaimed by William Lyon Mackenzie on December 5, 1837. The self-proclaimed government was established on Navy Island in the Niagara River in the latter days of the Upper Canada Rebellion after Mackenzie and 200 of his followers retreated from Toronto. He established an independent currency, and supplied his camp using the American supply steamer Caroline. He recruited followers by promising 300 acres of land to any man that supported his cause.
On December 29, Royal Navy Commander Andrew Drew and seven boatloads of Canadian militiamen crossed the Niagara River to Fort Schlosser. They captured the Caroline used by William Lyon Mackenzie and his rebels on Navy Island. Drew's forces set the ship alight and sent it adrift towards Niagara Falls, resulting in the death of one American. It was falsely reported that dozens of Americans were killed as they were trapped on board, and U.S. soldiers retaliated by burning a British steamer while it was in U.S. waters, triggering what became known as the Caroline affair.
On January 13, 1838, Mackenzie abandoned Navy Island under heavy fire from British troops. He and his force retreated to Buffalo, New York, where they were captured by the U.S. army and sentenced in the U.S. to 18 months imprisonment for violating neutrality laws between the United States and the British Empire, ending the prospect of a successful Canadian declaration of independence and what the British viewed as an inconsequential and unsupported colonial rebellion.
Some of the supporters retreated to the Thousand Islands, and "caused Canadian authorities much anxiety" in mid-1838. In the United States, Hunters' Lodges were established along the frontier border, some also operating in Upper Canada. The organization of these societies was headquartered in Cleveland, and its principle mission was to "emancipate the British Colonies from British Thraldom". On 16 September 1838, a convention attended by 160 delegates of the organization was held in Cleveland, during which it elected Abram D. Smith the first president of the Republic of Canada. The organization also defined plans for a Republican Bank of Canada, which would use gold, silver, and its own currency as money, and pledged "the whole wealth, revenue, and resources" of Upper Canada as collateral for loans.
- Russell, Francis (1968). The American heritage history of the making of the Nation. American Heritage Publishing Company.
- Shortridge, Wilson Porter (18 April 2008). "The Canadian–American frontier during the Rebellion of 1837–1838". The Canadian Historical Review (University of Toronto Press) 7 (1): 13–26. doi:10.3138/CHR-07-01-02.
- Walz, Jay; Walz, Audrey (1970). Portrait of Canada. American Heritage Press.
- Yates, Raymond Francis (1958). Under Three Flags: Western New York from the Ice Age to the Atomic Age. Stewart.
- Proceedings. Insurance Institute of Toronto. 1921.
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