People of historical significance

Louis-Joseph Papineau National Historic Site

The political life of Louis-Joseph Papineau

Louis-Joseph Papineau was a very important figure in the political history of Quebec. His political career took place at a time when the identity of Quebec and the existence of French Canadians were being put to the test.

History of Louis-Joseph Papineau's political career (1809 – 1854)

Posts he held

Papineau entered politics in 1809. He then became the member for the county of Kent (Chambly). The following year, he joined the Parti canadien. In 1814, he was elected member for the county of Montreal West. Then, from 1815 to 1823 and from 1825 to 1838, he was Speaker of the Assembly. Around 1815, he became leader of the Parti canadien. In 1827, he was elected member for the county of Surrey. Upon returning from exile, Papineau was elected member for the county of Saint-Maurice from 1848 to 1851. His last mandate was as member for Deux-Montagnes, from 1852 to 1854, the year he ended his political career.

His actions

Papineau went to London in 1823 to prevent the adoption of a bill designed to unite the two Canadas. The 92 Resolutions were tabled in London in 1834. In 1837, the response – which was negative – came in the form of Lord Russell's 10 Resolutions. Papineau then became involved in a campaign of public meetings in various regions throughout Quebec to rally popular support for the Patriote movement. He was present at the first battle between the Patriotes and the British at Saint-Denis, but fled to the United States before the end of the battle, so that the leader of the Patriote movement would not lose its leader should he be taken hostage.

His political positions

  • Papineau supported the Methodists, Presbyterians and Jews in the debate over the bill aimed at giving dissident Protestants the right to keep civil register indexes.
  • He proposed that university training be the responsibility of a civil and lay directorate.
  • He supported the “notables bill” that would allow residents of a parish to take part in the administration of the fabrique (parish council).
  • Louis-Joseph Papineau was an ardent admirer of American institutions. He declared himself a republican and wanted to institute a Lower Canadian republic. Upon returning from exile, Papineau still rejected the union of the two Canadas and disapproved the abolition of the seigneurial system. Furthermore, he supported the movement for annexation to the United States.
  • His most important demands were responsibility of the executive, election of legislative councillors and control of revenue by the legislature.

The Papineau family

  • The Papineau family tree has two main branches: the Papineau descendants and the Bourassa descendants.
  • Louis-Joseph Papineau (1786-1871) and Julie Bruneau (1795-1862) had nine children. Only five of them survived: Amédée, Lactance, Ézilda, Gustave and Azélie.
  • Two of their children had descendants: the eldest, Amédée, carried on the Papineau line, and the youngest, Azélie, who began the Bourassa line upon marrying Napoléon Bourassa (father of Henri Bourassa), renowned painter and architect in Quebec art history.
  • Family tree of the Papineau family in Gif format (55 KB) (the size of the document is over 640 pixels)

The life of Louis-Joseph Papineau

The formative years (1786-1809)

  • October 7, 1786 – Louis-Joseph Papineau was born in Montreal.
  • 1796-1804 – Papineau begins his studies at the Collège de Montréal and continues at the Séminaire de Québec in 1802.
  • 1805-1809 – Papineau clerks at the law firm of his cousin Denis-Benjamin Viger.

Introduction to political life (1808-1815)

  • 1808-1814 – Member of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada for the county of Kent (Chambly).
  • 1810 – Papineau is admitted to the bar of Lower Canada.
  • 1813 – Captain of a Select Embodied Militia during the War of 1812
  • 1814 – Louis-Joseph Papineau becomes the owner of his father's home, located on Bonsecours Street in Montreal.
  • 1814-1830 – Seat in the Legislative Assembly as member for Montreal West (city).

Rise to political prominence (1815-1827)

  • 1815-1823 – Elected Speaker of the Assembly with an annual salary of 1,000 pounds, beginning in 1817.
  • 1817 – Louis-Joseph Papineau purchases the La Petite-Nation seigneury from his father.
  • 1818 – Louis-Joseph Papineau marries Julie Bruneau, daughter of Pierre Bruneau, a merchant and member of the Assembly for Quebec City.
  • 1820-1823 – Named to the Executive Council, but declines the seat.
  • 1823 – Papineau travels to England with John Nelson to denounce the proposed union of Upper and Lower Canada.
  • 1825-1838 – Re-elected Speaker of the Assembly.

Leader of the Parti patriote (1827-1837)

  • 1827 – Papineau emerges victorious from a long-time rivalry that began in 1815 between politicians from Quebec City and Montreal for leadership of the Parti canadien, which became the Parti patriote around 1826.
  • 1827-1828 – Member for the county of Surrey (Verchères).
  • 1830-1838 – Louis-Joseph Papineau represents the riding of Montreal West (city) in the Legislative Assembly.
  • 1834 – Papineau draws up and submits his 92 Resolutions that state the grievances of the Parti patriote against the colonial government.
  • 1834-1835 – Member for the county of Montreal.
  • March and April 1837 – Discussion and adoption in London of Lord Russell's 10 Resolutions, rejecting the grievances and reforms put forward by the Parti patriote.
  • April 10, 1837 – News of the adoption of the Russell Resolutions reaches Canada.
  • May 15, 1837 – Speech by Louis-Joseph Papineau at a meeting in Saint-Laurent, where he advocates boycotting products from Great Britain and engaging in contraband.
  • July 17, 1837 – Louis-Joseph Papineau and Cyrille-Hector-Octave Côté preside over a public meeting in Napierville.
  • October 23 and 24, 1837 – Assemblée des Six-Comtés: a meeting of six counties (Richelieu, Saint-Hyacinthe, Rouville, Chambly, Verchères and L'Acadie) in Saint-Charles
  • November 6, 1837 – Members of the Doric Club and Les Fils de la Liberté clash in Montreal. A Doric mob attacks Papineau's home and sets fire to the offices of the The Vindicator and Canadian Advertiser, a pro-patriot English newspaper.
  • November 23, 1837 – Battle at Saint-Denis. The Patriotes defeat the British troops. Louis-Joseph Papineau and Dr. Edmund Bailey O'Callaghan flee to Saint-Hyacinthe.

Exile (1837-1845)

  • December 1st, 1837 – Louis-Joseph Papineau and Edmund Bailey O'Callaghan arrive in the United States.

    Proclamation in English and French by Governor Gosford, promising an award of 1,000 pounds in the provincial currency (4,000 piastres) to anyone who apprehends and hands over Louis-Joseph Papineau to the forces of law and order.
  • January 2, 1838 – Meeting in Middlebury, Vermont (United States) that ends in a split between the radical group led by Robert Nelson and the moderates led by Papineau.
  • 1838 – In late May or early June, Louis-Joseph Papineau is reunited with his wife and some of their children in Saratoga, New York (United States).
  • November 4, 1838 – The rebellion breaks out again in Lower Canada.
  • February 8, 1839 – After having failed to win over several American political figures to his cause, Louis-Joseph Papineau sets sail from New York for France aboard the Sylvie-de-Grasse.
  • May, 1839 – Publication by the Paris journal Revue du progrès of the first part of the Histoire de l'Insurrection du Canada, (history of the rebellion in Canada) by Louis-Joseph Papineau.
  • 1839-1845 – During his exile in France, Louis-Joseph Papineau consults the works of various libraries, copies or has copied documents concerning Canada from the Archives de la Marine and the Jesuit archives, with the objective of continuing his history of the Canadian colony.
  • 1845 – After being granted amnesty, Papineau returns to Canada via Boston.

Final years of his political career (1848-1854)

  • 1848-1851 – member of the Legislative Assembly of United Canada for the county of Saint-Maurice. This second period in his political career, which lasts until 1854, contributes little to his fame as a politician. Replaced as leader of the French Canadian reformers by Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine and seen as being politically unrealistic, Louis-Joseph Papineau has trouble accepting his role as a mere member of the Legislative Assembly and quickly loses interest.
  • 1849 – Papineau advocates the annexation of United Canada with the neighbouring republic, the United States.
  • 1852-1854 – Represents the county of Deux-Montagnes in the Legislative Assembly of United Canada.

Papineau retires to private life (1854-1871)

  • 1850-1871 – Papineau retires to the huge manor house he has just built at Montebello and devotes his time to his family, his books and the administration of his La Petite-Nation seigneury.
  • 1853-1855 – Louis-Joseph Papineau, troubled by the death of several members of his family, builds a funeral chapel near his manor house, where he and his family are to be buried.
  • September 23, 1871 – Death of Louis-Joseph Papineau at Montebello, at the age of 85. Five days later, his remains are laid to rest with that of other family members buried in the funeral chapel.

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