The Rebellion Begins
After the rejection by London of the Ninety-Two Resolutions in March 1837, much of the Legislative Assembly’s power was revoked. On 15 June 1837, public meeting were declared illegal.
The ban did nothing, however, to prevent the Patriotes from rallying. Many public assemblies thus had place throughout Quebec. The most important of the meetings took place on 23 October at Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu.
This two-day event was billed as the Great Assembly of the Six Counties of Quebec (Chambly, L’Acadie, Richelieu, Rouville, St – Hyathinthe and Vercheres). Louis-Joseph Papineau, leader of the Patriotes, called for his supporters to elect their own justices and militia officers. It meant the first steps toward establishing a provisional government were being made.
Another fellow Patriot, Dr. Wolfred Nelson, a Protestant, went much further, urging rebellion. He told the crowd of 5, 000: “I say that the time has come to melt down our dishes and tin spoons to make bullets.”
Monsignor jean-Jacques Lartigue, the Bishop of Montreal, sent a harsh letter to Dr. Nelson, addressing his in the terms that follow: Have you seriously thought about the horrors a civil war would bring?
Have you imagined the rivers of blood flowing through the roads and countryside, and innocent people overwhelmed along with the guilty in the same series of disasters? Have you considered that every popular revolution, almost without exception, is a blood-letting? But the effect of the letter was limited at best. In the beginning of November 1837, the first skirmish took place in Montreal.
Members of les Fils de la Liberté, an association of young Patriotes, engaged in a street fight with a group of your Tories, known as the Doric Club. Then, the first shots were fired in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
Papineau and other leaders, threatened with arrest, went into hiding. The rebellion began.