Gates, Lillian F. Lorimer, Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. July 5, Retrieved July 05, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. William Lyon Mackenzie , —, Canadian journalist and insurgent leader, b. Scotland; grandfather of William Lyon Mackenzie King. Emigrating to Upper Canada in , he published —34 , first at Queenston, then at York later Toronto , his noted Colonial Advocate.
In it he vigorously attacked the governing clique called the Family Compact , and in his printing office was partly demolished. Elected to the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, Mackenzie was five times expelled for "libel" and five times reelected by his constituency. As a leader of the Reform party of Upper Canada he went to London in to obtain redress of grievances. In he became the first mayor of Toronto.
In he founded the Constitution as a Reform party organ. Enraged by the policies of Sir Francis Bond Head and by the defeat of the Reform party, Mackenzie and a group of insurgents attempted to seize Toronto, but the rebellion was quickly put down. Mackenzie and others escaped to the United States. He set up a provisional government with fortified headquarters on Navy Island in the Niagara River, but he was later imprisoned for 18 months by the U.
After his release Mackenzie worked as a journalist and writer until the proclamation of general amnesty allowed his return to Canada. See S.
The later years of William Lyon Mackenzie
Mackenzie, William Lyon — During the recession which followed the end of the Napoleonic Wars in , Mackenzie's store in Dundee went bankrupt and he travelled to seek work in Wiltshire in , for a canal company. He travelled briefly to France and then worked for a short period for a newspaper in London.
Mackenzie began to write for the York Observer. Elizabeth brought along a young woman, Isabel Baxter —73 , whom she had chosen for Mackenzie to marry. The couple were wed July 1, in Montreal. Edward and John Lesslie opened a branch of their business in Dundas , entering into a partnership with Mackenzie who moved to Dundas to be the store's manager. The store sold drugs, hardware, and general merchandise. Mackenzie also operated a circulating library. However, his relationship with the Lesslies soured and the partnership was dissolved in He moved to Queenston and established a business there.
While there, he established a relationship with Robert Randal , one of four members representing Lincoln County in the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada. In , Mackenzie established his most famous newspaper, the Colonial Advocate. It was initially established to influence voters in the elections for the 9th Parliament of Upper Canada. Mackenzie supported some characteristically British institutions, notably the British Empire , primogeniture and the clergy reserves , but he also praised American institutions in the paper.
The Colonial Advocate had financial difficulties, and in November , Mackenzie relocated the paper to York. There, he advocated in favour of the Reform cause and became an outspoken critic of the Family Compact , an upper-class clique which dominated the government of Upper Canada. However, the newspaper continued to face financial pressures: it had only subscribers by the beginning of , and faced stiff competition from another Reform newspaper, the Canadian Freeman.
He purchased a new printing press in fall and resumed publication in , now engaging in even more scurrilous attacks on leading Tory politicians such as William Allan , G. However, Mackenzie continued to amass debts, and in May , he fled across the American border to Lewiston, New York to evade his creditors. A mob of 11 young Tories, led by Samuel Jarvis , took advantage of Mackenzie's absence to exact revenge for the attacks on the Tories printed in the Colonial Advocate.
Thinly disguising themselves as " Indigenous peoples of the Americas ", they broke into the Colonial Advocate' s office in broad daylight, smashed the printing press, and threw the type into Lake Ontario. The Tory magistrates did nothing to stop them and did not prosecute them afterwards. Mackenzie took full advantage of the incident, returning to York and suing the perpetrators in a sensational trial, which propelled Mackenzie into the ranks of martyrs of Upper Canadian liberty, alongside Robert Thorpe and Robert Fleming Gourlay.
William Lyon Mackenzie
There are three implications of the Types riot, according to historian Paul Romney. First, he argues the riot illustrates how the elite's self-justifications regularly skirted the rule of law they held out as their Loyalist mission. Second, he demonstrated that the significant damages Mackenzie received in his civil lawsuit against the vandals did not reflect the soundness of the criminal administration of justice in Upper Canada.
And lastly, he sees in the Types riot "the seed of the Rebellion" in a deeper sense than those earlier writers who viewed it simply as the start of a highly personal feud between Mackenzie and the Family Compact. Romney emphasizes that Mackenzie's personal harassment, the "outrage," served as a lightning rod of discontent because so many Upper Canadians had faced similar endemic abuses and hence identified their political fortunes with his.
Mackenzie took advantage of the money and fame which the trial had brought him to re-establish his business on sound financial footing. Mackenzie now aligned himself with John Rolph in arguing that American-born settlers in Upper Canada should have the full rights of British subjects. Mackenzie played a role in organizing a committee to present grievances to the British government: the committee selected Robert Randal to travel to London to advocate on behalf of the American-born settlers.
Goderich agreed that injustice was being done and instructed the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada to redress the grievances. This incident taught Mackenzie the efficacy of appealing directly to Britain. John Strachan , who was then the rector of York, a member of the Executive Council of Upper Canada , and a prominent member of the Family Compact, also understood the efficacy of petitioning.
He was in London the same year to seek a charter for his proposed King's College now the University of Toronto and to argue that the Church of England should receive the proceeds of sales of clergy reserves. Allying himself with Methodist minister Egerton Ryerson , who felt that the Methodist Church should share in the proceeds of sale of the clergy reserves, Mackenzie declared himself opposed to Strachan's plans for Upper Canada. Mackenzie declared his intentions to run in the elections for the 10th Parliament of Upper Canada and entered into correspondence with Reformers such as Joseph Hume in England and John Neilson in Lower Canada.
He ran in York County , a riding dominated by colonists of American extraction. During the campaign, Mackenzie published a "Black List" in the Colonial Advocate , a series of attacks on his opponents, which led the Canadian Freeman and the Tories to dub him "William Liar Mackenzie". Nevertheless, Mackenzie's tactics were successful and he and Ketchum won the seat as part of a landslide that saw the Reformers win a majority of the seats. However, given the undemocratic nature of Upper Canada at this time, this win did not give the Reformers the right to form a cabinet, as the Executive Council of Upper Canada was still chosen by the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada , Sir Peregrine Maitland , who remained allied with the Family Compact.
The 10th Parliament opened in January Although there was speculation that Mackenzie would be elected speaker , that honour went to Mackenzie's former lawyer, Marshall Spring Bidwell. Nevertheless, Mackenzie now had a prominent position from which to advocate for further reforms in the colony.
He organized committees on agriculture, commerce, and the post office he denounced the post office because it was run to make a profit for British businessmen and he wanted it to come under local control. He was also critical of the Bank of Upper Canada , which was a monopoly and a limited liability company Mackenzie distrusted limited liability companies and favoured hard money. Later in the session, he also spoke out against the Welland Canal Company, denouncing its close links with the Executive Council and the financing methods of William Hamilton Merritt.
In March , Mackenzie traveled to the U. The 10th Parliament was dissolved in following the death of King George IV , and fresh elections were called. Unfortunately for Mackenzie and the Reformers, the mood of Upper Canada had changed somewhat from for a number of reasons: John Colborne , who replaced Peregrine Maitland as lieutenant governor in , was less allied with John Strachan and the Family Compact; Colborne had encouraged immigration to Upper Canada from the British Isles, and these new settlers felt more loyalty to the home country than Upper Canadians born in the New World; and the Reform party had seemed to accomplish little during the two years they had controlled the Assembly.
Consequently, the election saw the Reformers win only 20 of the 51 seats in the 11th Parliament , though both Mackenzie and Ketchum were returned as members for York. Disappointed at the setbacks to the Reform movement, Mackenzie became something of a troublemaker: he published vitriolic personal attacks on his political enemies in the Colonial Advocate ; he refused to join an agricultural society organized by the Tories, but attended their meetings and insisted on speaking; and he caused a ruckus in church when, as a member of the assembly, he had attended services at St.
James's Cathedral , the anchor congregation of the established Anglican church, as well as services in an independent Presbyterian church which opposed church-state connection. In summer, , however, he joined St. Andrew's Presbyterian , a congregation organized by Tories who supported the church-state connection. At St. Andrew's, he opposed the church-state connection, leading to a four-year battle within the congregation which ended with the departure of both Mackenzie and Reverend William Rintoul. Meanwhile, the 11th Parliament met in January and Mackenzie continued to denounce abuses in the province.
Influenced by the burgeoning Reform movement in England, he began calling for a review of representation in Upper Canada. He chaired a committee which recommended increased representation for Upper Canadian towns as opposed to rural areas , a single day's vote, and voting by ballot instead of voice. Unfortunately for Mackenzie, the Assembly was now in the control of his Tory enemies: Archibald McLean was speaker and Henry John Boulton was solicitor general as well as an important member of the House.
The Tories, however, also felt threatened: Lieutenant Governor Colborne was reforming the Legislative Council traditionally dominated by the Family Compact and paying less heed to John Strachan and the Executive Council. In the meantime, the British election of had brought Reformer Earl Grey to power in the United Kingdom, and Grey's government was suggesting giving power over certain revenues to the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada in exchange for a permanent civil list. Mackenzie supported giving control of revenues to the Legislative Assembly, but he opposed granting a permanent civil list, which he dubbed the "Everlasting Salary Bill".
Mackenzie spent traveling throughout Upper Canada collecting signatures for petitions to redress Upper Canadian grievances. He also met with Lower Canadian Reformers. New Irish immigrants and those of American descent were particularly supportive of Mackenzie. In the legislative session that opened in November , Mackenzie demanded investigations of the Bank of Upper Canada, the Welland Canal, King's College, the revenues, and the chaplain's salary. Taking his language a step further, in the Colonial Advocate he denounced the Legislative Assembly as a sycophantic office.
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This was too much for the Assembly, and in December , they voted to expel Mackenzie by a vote of 24 to Mackenzie's expulsion helped him to recreate his reputation as a martyr for Upper Canadian liberty. On the day the Assembly voted to expel him, a mob of several hundred stormed the Assembly, demanding that Colborne dissolve the Assembly and call fresh elections.
Colborne refused, but on January 2, , Mackenzie won the by-election called to replace him by a vote of to 1. The elections took place at the Red Lion Hotel and when his victory was announced, a parade of sleighs down paraded down Yonge Street , accompanied with bagpipes , celebrated the occasion.
William Lyon Mackenzie
Nevertheless, on January 7, , Henry John Boulton and Allan MacNab again succeeded in getting through a motion to expel Mackenzie from the Assembly on the basis of new attacks Mackenzie had published in the Colonial Advocate. A second by-election was called, and Mackenzie won by a landslide for a second time.
When he was again expelled from the Assembly, Mackenzie appealed to London for redress; in response, the Tories organized the British Constitutional Society. The year was a time of great political turmoil in Upper Canada. When the Roman Catholic bishop Alexander Macdonell organized a rally in York to demonstrate Catholic support for the Tories, Mackenzie and his supporters disrupted the meeting. On March 23, Catholic Irish apprentices in York, furious at Mackenzie's attack on Bishop Macdonnell, pelted Mackenzie and Ketchum with garbage; riots broke out in York later that day and Mackenzie might have been killed by the crowd, but for the intervention of Tory magistrate James FitzGibbon.
Following the riots, Mackenzie went into hiding. In April , Mackenzie travelled to England to petition the British government for redress. Mackenzie felt that Goderich gave him a fair hearing Goderich suggested that Mackenzie should send him a report on Upper Canada. Mackenzie remained in London for some time, and was present in the galleries for the debate on the Reform Act He also wrote a book during this period, Sketches of Canada and the United States , designed to acquaint the British public with his grievances. In Mackenzie's absence, the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada voted to expel him a third time; on this occasion, he was re-elected by acclamation.
On November 8, , Lord Goderich sent a dispatch to Lieutenant Governor Colborne, which arrived in January , instructing him to make certain financial and political improvements in Upper Canada, and instructing him to rein in the Assembly's vendetta against Mackenzie. The House of Assembly and the Legislative Council were furious at this interference in Upper Canadian politics, and in February again deprived Mackenzie of his vote in the House and refused to call fresh elections.
Lieutenant Governor Colborne protested and Boulton and Hagerman travelled to London to make their case. Lord Stanley reappointed Hagerman as solicitor general and named Boulton chief justice of Newfoundland. This incident contributed to Mackenzie's decaying faith in Great Britain.
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On December 17, , he was again expelled from the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, and later in the month was again re-elected: twice, he was refused admission to the House, and in the end it was only Lieutenant Governor Colborne's intervention which resulted in Mackenzie finally being able to take his seat.
Mackenzie broke with his old ally Egerton Ryerson in late In , Ryerson had negotiated an agreement between the British and Canadian Methodists, and the Methodists agreed to take state aid. Mackenzie disagreed with Ryerson's positions and broke with him at this point. The township of York, which until had been known as "Toronto", incorporated as a city meaning it received local self-government on March 6, , taking the name of "the City of Toronto" to distinguish it from New York City and the dozen other settlements named 'York' in Upper Canada. The Tories and the Reformers fielded candidates for Toronto's first municipal election, held on March 27, , with the Reformers winning a majority on the Toronto City Council.
Mackenzie was elected as an alderman. The City Council then met to decide who should become mayor. Mackenzie, after being nominated by Franklin Jackes , defeated John Rolph in the vote and thereby became the first Mayor of Toronto. Yet in October Mackenzie purchased a new printing press and type from the United States. An editorial change was taking place that spring. At this juncture Mackenzie was saved by an act of Tory stupidity. The settlement enabled Mackenzie to pay off his most pressing creditors and re-establish himself on a sound footing.
Yet his trial demonstrated that the Upper Canadian courts could be fair. Disgruntled Tories now began a campaign of minor harassment against the little Scot. Mackenzie was becoming increasingly involved in the question of the political rights of American settlers [ see John Rolph ]. As secretary of a committee to gather petitions for redress Mackenzie played a central part in the selection of Robert Randall to bear them to England in To Mackenzie this incident proved the efficacy of petitioning London directly. The population, to a large extent of American extraction, promised to be Reform oriented.
Three other leading Reform candidates declared themselves: J. When Mackenzie received less support than the others at meetings, he turned to stating his case in the newspapers. Mackenzie, nevertheless, could now press for reforms. He immediately began organizing committees on agriculture, commerce, and the post office. As chairman of the last he clearly demonstrated that that British-controlled post office was run at a profit, and recommended transfer to local control.
He also castigated the Bank of Upper Canada as a monopoly and as a limited liability company, an indication of his traditional agrarian conservatism, dislike of limited liability companies, and belief in hard money. He also opposed any further expenditures until the public debt was paid off, even though the debt had been largely created by public works essential to the colony. He involved himself as well in an altercation over whether or not the chaplain of the house should be an Anglican, a fine example of his inability to distinguish between the significant and the frivolous.
Mackenzie, like Jackson, whom he met, was an entrepreneurial radical who strongly supported the independent proprietor and farmer but was hardly an agent for the common man. He returned to York filled with admiration of the United States and its institutions, an attitude soon supplemented by a growing dislike of Great Britain. But the atmosphere of the province was very different from what it had been in Conversely the Reform-dominated assembly had had little success, partially through inexperience and disorganization, but also because legislation was blocked by the Legislative Council.
Over-all the Reform group won fewer than 20 of the 51 seats. After the Reform defeat Mackenzie became frustrated with the democratic process in Upper Canada. Aside from his political conflicts he engendered further Tory hatred by violent personal attacks on all he disagreed with and by his attempts to politicize and reform any organization to which he belonged. For instance, when in the summer of the Tories organized an agricultural society, Mackenzie refused to subscribe yet insisted on speaking at its meetings.
His riding of York, despite its radical voting record, became four single-member ridings in On other points he was less constructive, and the new Tory assembly had little patience with his activities.
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The British government elected in was also suggesting the transfer of certain revenues to the control of the colonial legislature in return for an established civil list. Mackenzie decided to appeal for redress to Britain, after the manner of the Randall mission. Throughout a great deal of he traversed the province, propagandizing and gaining signatures for petitions listing grievances; he also consulted with Lower Canadian Reformers. He gained many supporters, particularly among the new Irish immigrants and those of American descent.
The Tories reacted by preparing counter petitions. The Colonial Advocate simultaneously became more strident. He refused, but the Tories were quickly to find that if expelling Mackenzie was one thing, keeping him out was another. It was his greatest moment. The Tories could have had no better demonstration of his political strength, but some of his opponents, particularly H. Boulton and Allan Napier MacNab , lacked political acumen. The province was by now in a turmoil, with Mackenzie organizing petitions to London, and the Tories founding the contrary British Constitutional Society.
Inevitably there were incidents. Later the same day riots broke out again and Mackenzie was only rescued from injury by the intervention of magistrate James FitzGibbon. In this and subsequent interviews, Mackenzie felt he received a fair hearing. Goderich suggested Mackenzie report on Upper Canada, and was soon swamped with dispatches. Mackenzie found time to enjoy the sights of London, heard the debate in parliament on the Reform Bill, and presented his grievances to the British people in his Sketches of Canada and the United States.
But the Tories had expelled him, in absentia , a third time early that month, only to see him re-elected by acclamation. The Legislative Council refused to accept the dispatch; after a violent debate in the assembly the dispatch was only narrowly approved for printing. When news of this action reached Goderich he dismissed Boulton and Hagerman, the attorney general and solicitor general. Meanwhile, a triumphant Mackenzie and his wife left London for a tour of England, Scotland, and part of France. Within three months, it seemed, all Mackenzie had accomplished was undone, and for him the setback was decisive.
His belief in appeals to England was destroyed and his orientation towards the United States was accelerated. His mercurial disposition swung to despair, although the trip to England had not been without success in effecting governmental changes and in showing the Tories to be self-seeking. Later in December he was re-elected unopposed and twice unsuccessfully attempted to take his seat.
At this time Mackenzie split with Egerton Ryerson and the Methodists. When Ryerson had begun the Christian Guardian in Mackenzie had welcomed it, although Ryerson and the Methodists were to prove anything but radical on issues unrelated to the breakdown of Anglican religious privileges. Ryerson was also in England in , negotiating a union of Canadian and British Methodists, and thereby preparing to accept state aid. Mackenzie was elected alderman, and the Reformers obtained a majority on the council.
As mayor, Mackenzie was both head of council and chief magistrate for the city. Deeply in debt, the city had an inadequate assessment law and needed many public works. The council was quarrelsome and difficult to manage. Yet, such as his opportunities were, Mackenzie failed to grasp them. Instead, he spent time on his favourite causes or in preparing for the next provincial election.
A typical politician of the era, he got rid of Tory officials, gave patronage to his supporters, and was readier to hear contested elections against Tories than Reformers. His demands that his dignity be recognized when presiding over either council or court were manifestations of his fierce personal pride.
With little precedent and unsatisfactory associates, he had a difficult task, complicated by a cholera epidemic, but his mayoralty, the highest office he was to hold, demonstrates that he was not the man to institute the reforms he demanded. That much could be done in Toronto, with the same financial problems and many of the same council members, was to be shown by succeeding mayors, both Reform and Tory.
By mid-summer the council was ineffectual. The Reformers were roundly trounced in the elections for the council, and Mackenzie received the smallest vote given any of the candidates for alderman in his own ward. It then appointed him chairman of a special committee which three months later produced the Seventh report on grievances , an idiosyncratic, ill-organized, but overwhelming compendium of major and minor grievances together with every possible remedy. Appointed one of the government directors of the Welland Canal Company by the assembly, Mackenzie made a penetrating examination of its financial affairs which resulted in a committee of the house condemning it for excessively bad management, although their report shied away from accusing the directors of the outright dishonesty which some of the evidence suggested.
Head, originally seen as a reforming governor, soon disagreed with the moderate Reformers, including Robert Baldwin and Rolph, whom he had appointed to the Executive Council; he quarrelled with the Reform majority in the assembly, dissolved the legislature, and personally campaigned against the Reformers in the ensuing election. He could not believe that the people had deserted their champion. Corruption was the answer! It was supposed to appear, symbolically, on 4 July.
But despite continued evidence of corrupt or unjust practices, such as the rejection on a technicality of his petition to the house for an investigation of his defeat, Mackenzie wrote only of constitutional change. In the spring of , however, the tone began to change. Increasingly the Constitution had references to possible armed resistance to oppression, although it also stressed the need to carry out reform constitutionally.
By the summer of Mackenzie was organizing committees of vigilance and political unions and during August and September carried the message of Toronto Reformers to a series of meetings in the Home District. Resolutions were passed expressing extreme concern over the present state of the colony and calling for a convention of delegates from the various townships and from Lower Canada to discuss remedies. Probably Mackenzie himself had much to do with the wording of many resolutions, a few of which vaguely suggested a resort to force, but there is evidence that he was ambivalent on the subject or even completely opposed to an armed rising.
The purpose of the political unions, Mackenzie wrote, was only to convince the government of the solidarity of the people in desiring reform. As well, it seems that no preparations were made for a rising. Between late July and the end of October only one military training session was held north of Toronto, and as late as September none of the men who would later lead the rebellion appears to have known of plans for one.
Gradually, experiencing the abuse and physical attacks of Orange gangs on one hand and the support of large crowds on the other, Mackenzie came to the decision that the only way to sweep away the rule of Head and the Compact and their Orange supporters was to lead these enthusiastic crowds into Toronto to overthrow the government. But this action he knew would not be easy. The people might indicate their enthusiasm for reform by attending meetings and even, some of them, by attending shooting practice, but they were basically conservative; they would need a push to persuade them to action.
At first Mackenzie attempted to present them with a fait accompli. Head was particularly vulnerable to such action for earlier that month, in response to a request from Colborne, he had sent to Lower Canada every regular soldier in the province. To circumvent the essential conservatism of even the reform-minded segment of the population and obtain respectability for his movement, Mackenzie resorted to an elaborate deception.
Related After the Rebellion: The later years of William Lyon Mackenzie
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