The Prophetic Anti-Gallic Letters: Adam Thom and the Hidden Roots of the Dominion of Canada

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Authors/collaborators
Title
The Prophetic Anti-Gallic Letters: Adam Thom and the Hidden Roots of the Dominion of Canada
Abstract
The "Anti-Gallic Letters" by the Scottish-born Adam Thom (1802-1890), who immigrated to Montreal in 1832, were published in book form in 1836. They are based on Thom's editorials in the Montreal Herald newspaper, written under the nom-de-plume "Camillus", between September 1835 and January 1836. The author points out that the Letters were never reprinted despite the importance of the people for whom Adam Thom was the public voice. These people comprised the Executive Committee of the powerful Constitutional Association of Montreal, including the president George Moffatt (1787-1865) and Peter McGill (1789-1860). More than an anti-French, anti-Republican tract, the author argues that the Anti-Gallic Letters, though largely ignored by historians, are crucial to understanding how British North America mutated into the Dominion of Canada in 1867. He maintains that the Anti-Gallic Letters have been erroneously characterized as representative of a minor discord between the Melbourne cabinet in London and a select group of Montreal merchants, bankers, and gentlemen in the city's Tory oligarchy. In fact, the author maintains, they reveal the total disagreement among people of British culture and background on how to exercise power in the colonies of Canada and to protect the interests of the British Empire. The author points out that the Melbourne cabinet, inspired by the 1832 Reform Bill, believed in the gradual and harmonious transfer of British parliamentary values and institutions to the majority Francophone group in Lower Canada. This majority was what Governor Gosford described as "the great body of people" in his 1835 Throne speech read in French. Yet the Montreal Tory Oligarchy, the author points out, stirred by fear and bravado, anticipated the worst, even though they defended the same British imperial world mission. For them, Montreal was to be the hub of the British North America that was developing, a competitor of New York. They brandished the spectre of the British Empire being dismembered, either by a French Republic arising in the St. Lawrence Valley or the annexation of Upper and Lower Canada by the powerful American Republic. The author concludes that this threat justified in turn the Montreal Herald's own encouragement that English-speaking Montrealers take up arms to make Downing Street change its course.
Place
Montreal
Publisher
Baraka Books
Date
2016
Language
en
Citation
Deschamps, François. The Prophetic Anti-Gallic Letters: Adam Thom and the Hidden Roots of the Dominion of Canada. Translated by Robin Philpot. Montreal: Baraka Books, 2016.
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