Within Arm's Reach: Political Violence, Voluntary Organizing, and the Borderland Press During the Canadian Rebellion, 1834-1842
This project focuses on voluntary organizing by the patriots and their use of the press between 1834 and 1842 in the Canadas and the United States, particularly in relation to the Canadian Rebellion of 1837–1838. The dissertation argues that historians should conceive of the Rebellion as an attempt by the patriots to establish a new order through the press and voluntary associations, both before and after the outbreak of insurrection. First constitutionalists and then patriots turned to militarized organizing as a natural outgrowth of their voluntarist values. The press was an important factor in this organizing and beginning in 1836 saw the rise of a “patriot press” in Upper and Lower Canada. These newspapers existed as a republican borderland: they were committed to republicanism and independence for the Canadas and therefore sought to transcend the border by erasing the boundary between monarchy and republic in North America. Past scholarship on the Rebellion has been segmented by “pre” and “post” 1837 and selective focus amongst Lower Canada, Upper Canada, or the United States. Studies have also concentrated heavily on the secret society, the Hunter’s Lodges, and their incursions into the Canadas. The dissertation instead explores the evolving interplay between military organizing and civil society both in the U.S. and the Canadas, demonstrating the surprising extent to which this military organizing has been rooted in and shaped by traditions of liberal voluntary associations and the press. Going beyond the narrow time-frame of the Rebellion, the dissertation provides a comprehensive and longer-term picture of how the patriot press continued and changed with its exile in the United States. The dissertation outlines the catalytic and animating role played by patriot editors in fostering a sense of community and common cause amongst patriots and their sympathizers as well as in engaging combatively with their constitutionalist counterparts in the Canadas. Also documented are the activities undertaken by patriot editors to police vigilantly the boundaries and membership of patriot organizations, particularly in respect to minorities, and to seek to delineate acceptable roles for women in patriot organizing.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/22756
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