The Honest Man/L’Homme Honnête: The Colonial Gentleman, the Development of the Press, and the Race and Gender Discourses of the Newspapers in the British “Province of Quebec,” 1764-1791

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Martin, Valerie
loyalty , fashion , slavery , indigenous warriors , Province of Quebec , honest man , newspapers
This dissertation examines the new public world of print that emerged and developed in the “Province of Quebec” from 1764 to 1791. Using discourse analysis, it argues that the press reflected, and contributed to producing the race and gender privileges of the White, respectable gentleman, also called the “honest man,” regardless of whether he was Canadien or of Anglo-descent. A British colony created by the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the Province of Quebec existed until 1791 when it was divided into the separate colonies of Upper and Lower Canada by the Constitutional Act. The colony’s development and dissolution corresponded with a growing population and changing demographics in the Saint Lawrence Valley, a brief increase in racial slavery in Montreal and Quebec City, and altered political and economic alliances between the White settler population and Native peoples of the North American interior after the defeat of the French in 1763 and following the emergence of the American Republic in 1783. Internally, changes brought about by the conclusion of the British Conquest in 1760, such as the introduction of British rule and English law in Quebec, were implemented alongside French ancien régime structures of legal and political governance that persisted mostly unhampered and fostered the preservation of an authoritarian-style government in the new “old” colony. At the same time, as of 1764, attempts by British authorities at cooperation with the Canadiens bred conflict between two groups of elites. This same conflict engendered cooperation across ethnic lines. Against this backdrop, the newly founded newspapers allowed for spaces where White gentlemen of diverging ethnic, political, and economic interests came together to engage in print sociability. This dissertation concludes that when Quebec’s only newspapers, the Quebec Gazette, the Gazette du commerce et littéraire, the Montreal Gazette, and the Quebec Herald and Universal Miscellany disseminated discourses that associated manhood with loyalty to the English king, fashionable women with male status and problematic womanhood, “Blackness” with enslavement, an infantile nature, and exotic origins, and Indigeneity with violence, they legitimized the dominance of loyal White gentlemen in society regardless of their ethnic, political, or economic interests.
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