• Renaming Schools: Why are the "Sanitizers" Bent on Re-writing History? Educhatter's Blog, June 28, 2011
...The old controversy is back in the education news. Removing the name of Halifax's founder, Edward Cornwallis,
from the masthead of a South End junior high school is perhaps the most recent and blatant example. The case
against Cornwallis hangs on the fact that he issued a 1749 proclamation putting a bounty on the scalps of Mi'kmaq
men, women, and children. On that basis, the appointed Mi'kmaq Trustee, Kirk Arsenault, succeeded in convincing
the elected Halifax School Board to remove Cornwallis' name. No one spoke against the move and a jubilant
Arsenault now claims that "anything that's named after Edward Cornwallis needs to be changed." ...Renaming the
school is not a trifling matter. Cornwallis was the British military officer credited with founding Halifax in 1749 with
some 2,576 white settlers. He commanded the British forces in the midst of a period of frontier warfare where the
British, French and Mi'kmaq repeatedly killed combatants, including women, children and babies. A downtown street,
local park, and famous statue also bear his name...
• Cornwallis J.H. School controversy 2011 June
• Rare Account Book of 18th Century Military Activities Available Online
The Gorham Account Book is a highly significant original document...
Nova Scotia government media release, 2014 May 23
• Colonel John Gorham's Account Book
• Who was John Gorham and Why is His Account Book Important?
This is possibly the most significant original document from Nova Scotia's early colonial era to surface in the last
twenty-five years. It was written in the Atlantic world of the mid-1700s – and one of its most violent theatres at that.
It was a world of enslavement, of persistent forced migration, and of assault on Indigenous territories and peoples
– not just military encroachment but, most lethal of all, environmental change through agriculture. That Indigenous
fighters, as in the case of Gorham's Rangers, fought each other in association with empires – a phenomenon
already well known in the Celtic areas of the British Isles – was yet another testament to imperial influence...
• Judge wrongs of history in context – and don't erase names Chronicle-Herald, April 2, 2015
Some people in Kings County would like to see discussion about renaming the Cornwallis River in Kings County
because of Edward Cornwallis's treatment of aboriginal people. Leo J. Deveau argues that although we must
remember the wrongs of history, we shouldn't erase them by removing historical actors' names from placenames,
landmarks and geographical features.
• Cornwallis debate: Big difference between self-defence and genocide Chronicle-Herald, April 13, 2015
Marke Slippe argues that Edward Cornwallis, the British governor of Nova Scotia from 1749 to 1752, was
committing genocide by ordering the killing of Mi'kmaq men, women and children, while the Mi'kmaq were
defending their land from intruders when they attacked the British.
• Speaking of historical names, maybe we should slam-Dunk Halifax Chronicle-Herald, May 4, 2015
Peggy Cameron comments — In writing on the Cornwallis debate (April 13, 2015), Marke Slipp asks why Nova Scotians
don't consider changing the names of public places such as the Cornwallis River to something more fitting to contemporary
circumstances. Me too... Has anyone checked out who Lord Halifax, the second Earl of Halifax, George Montagu-Dunk, was?
Halifax's namesake, the aristocratic son of the first Earl of Halifax, so promoted aggressive colonization by Britain that he is
known as "the father of the colonies." He married a very wealthy woman and took her family name. Dunk. Dunk-Halifax
enjoyed official and important appointments under King George III and became the president of the Board of Trade, which
helped him found Halifax. But the most shameful thing about Dunk-Halifax is the Dunk warrant and decision. In 1763,
the British imposed a new tax on cider. George III defended it in a speech before Parliament. John Wilkes, MP and
publisher of a radical newspaper, The North Briton, published an issue, No. 45, attacking the tax and the King's speech.
As Secretary of State, Dunk-Halifax wrote the warrant for the arrest of anyone associated with this publication.
About 40 were arrested and their materials seized...
Department of Transportation
Halifax Regional Municipality
North West Community Council
4. Business Arising Out of the Minutes
I was shocked, but not surprised, when the Department of Transportation named the connector road between Bedford and Sackville after a man who was considered by the Mi'kmaq and Acadians, and by many of his peers, to be an "uncivilized savage." Captain John Gorham, the man honoured, and his kinfolks were not strangers to enforcing colonial scalping proclamations.
In the late 1600s, his great-grandfather was involved in the New England "Indian wars," which virtually exterminated the area's native Americans.
Gorham, Nova Scotia's first official bounty hunter, was set loose on the Mi'kmaq in 1744 by governor William Shirley of the Mass Bay [Massachusetts Bay] colony. In 1744, the English and French, for the umpteenth time, declared war upon each other. The English fort at Annapolis Royal came under seige by French troops and Mi'kmaq warriors. In response, Nova Scotia's colonial governor, Paul Mascarene, wrote to the Mass Bay governor for assistance.
Shirley, who was in everything but name governor of Nova Scotia, responded by issuing a proclamation declaring war upon the Mi'kmaq. It contained these infamous instructions:
"That there be granted to be paid out of the public treasury to any company, party or person... who shall voluntarily, and at their own cost,... go out and kill a male Indian of the age of 12 or upwards... for as long as the war shall continue,... and produce his scalp in evidence of his death, the sum of 100 pounds in bills of credit of the Province of New England; and 105 pounds for any male... who shall be taken captive;... 50 pounds... for women, and for children under the age of 12... killed in fight;... and 55... (for those) taken prisoner, together with plunder."
To enforce his monstrous proclamation, Shirley sent Capt. John Gorham and 50 of his blood-thirsty rangers to Annapolis. These first bounty hunters were mostly Mohawk warriors, historic enemies of the Mi'kmaq, with a sprinkling of whites and half-breeds. In later years, whites would make up the majority.
Because of their murderous reputations, the civilian and military populations of the garrison did not welcome these barbarians with open arms. In fact — some say with good cause — many loyal British subjects were terrified of them.
George T. Bates reports in a paper he read before the Nova Scotia Historical Society in 1951: "Not long after their arrival, Mascarene tells us, they fell upon a family of Indians lurking in the woods nearby. The rangers seized this opportunity to establish a reputation for themselves by killing some and scattering the rest."
Gorham soon satisfied Mascarene that he was well qualified for the post. Father Maillard, a Catholic missionary, reports that among the first victims of these monsters were three pregnant women and two small children.
When Edward Cornwallis became governor in June of 1749, Gorham was still plying his ungodly trade in Nova Scotia. After the new governor, in October 1749, had circulated his own proclamation for Mi'kmaq scalps — which was also for the heads of men, women and children — he became its chief enforcer.
Bates reports: "It is reported that... a party of Gorham's rangers one day brought in 25 scalps, claiming the bounty of £10 per scalp. It was strongly suspected that not all of the scalps were those of Indians, but included some Acadians too. The paymaster protested the payment, but was ordered to pay the £250 anyway... The records of Chignecto include several instances of extreme cruelty and barbarism by the rangers..."
Gorham profited from his assignment to Nova Scotia. He became a ship owner and his family lived quite handsomely. It was reported that at least one of his ships was built with slave labour. From what I've read about him, I have no doubt that he was capable of using humans as work animals.
The Great Spirit intervened on behalf of the Mi'kmaq in December of 1751: John Gorham, while visiting London, contracted smallpox and died. However, his barbarous rangers continued to function in this province until 1761.
One might be excused for asking what kind of mentality does the leadership of this province harbour. Here we have a bounty hunter, a man who also committed atrocities against Acadians and who probably used slaves, being honoured by having a highway named after him.
Will this mentality some day lead to having Nova Scotia buildings, roads, etc., named after other historical monsters who undertook to exterminate people they considered inferior? It just might. After all, what is the real difference between the likes of Hitler and Stalin and the likes of Cornwallis and Gorham? They all tried to kill off what they deemed to be sub-human peoples.
One can't help but think that the Mi'kmaq are still viewed by many in the white power structure as being less than human. Why else would these power brokers continue to honour men who tried to exterminate them? Possibly the answer is ignorance. Whatever it is, I think it's high time the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission took a hard look at this practice and did something to stop it!
– Daniel N. Paul is a human rights activist, historian and author.
John Gorham (1709-1751) was born in Barnstable, Massachusetts. His father, Shubael Gorham (1686-1746) was a military officer and had been with Colonel John March in 1707 and then again, probably with Francis Nicholson, when the English took Port Royal in 1710.
In his earlier years, Gorham was more a merchant and a land speculator than the woods fighter he was to become.
His trading activities undoubtedly influenced his attitudes to inland natives. In 1732, he married a Massachusetts girl, Elizabeth Allen. Together they had 15 children (not an unusual number in those days). Though, as we will see, Gorham was to spend a lot of time in his later years in Nova Scotia — during which time he earned a reputation as a negotiator and "Indian fighter" — his home was always Barnstable.
Gorham made his first official visit to Nova Scotia in September 1744 when he arrived with Captain Edward Tyng at Annapolis Royal. Tyng had sailed from Boston to bring relief to the besieged garrison at Annapolis Royal. Gorham had with him "50 picked Indians," Mohawks of the Finger Lakes district (present day upstate New York). "Gorham Rangers" were to make an immediate impact and the siege of Annapolis Royal was soon at an end.
With the arrival of the Gorham Rangers, matters were to be put on an entirely different basis in Nova Scotia from what they had been. The first 34 years of British occupation had consisted of a holding or defensive operation: Gorham Rangers were an offensive bunch, and they knew exactly how to apply frontier techniques to their benefit. They were to make a lasting impression and became much hated by the French and local aboriginals.
Gorham was soon back in Boston and caught up in the plans that were then brewing to launch an attack against Louisbourg — a place that to the English colonials was a piratical and popish nest that had to be cleaned out, once and for all. Being a man noted for turning plans into action, Gorham was no doubt one of the prime movers in the great colonial assault against Louisbourg that came about in 1745.
This great enterprise of New England against Louisbourg, was, for the Gorhams, a family affair. The 7th Massachusetts Regiment was commanded by Gorham's father. Gorham, Senior, had with him his two sons: John and David (born in 1712). John was put in charge of securing at Boston a sufficient number of whale boats needed for the landing at Louisbourg.
At Louisbourg, on April 30, 1745, John Gorham successfully led the troops off the larger vessels, into the whale boats, and onto the shores of Garabus Bay He was with Colonel Arthur Noble when, borne in the small landing boats, a colonial contingent of volunteers assaulted the Island Battery in Louisbourg Harbour on May 23, 1745. (They were badly cut up, but little fault could be assigned to either Noble or Gorham.)
After the French capitulated, a number of the colonials were to stay over during the winter of 1745-46 awaiting their replacements, who were to be a body of regular British soldiers due in from Gibraltar the following spring.
Both Gorham and his father were part of the wintering garrison. Gorham, Sr., died that winter, and Gorham succeeded his father as the regimental commander.
Except for those who died occupying their prize during the winter of 1745-46, most of the colonial heroes, John Gorham and his brother among them, returned to their New England homes during the summer of 1746.
Gorham was back later in the year with his 21-year-old brother Joseph, who was commissioned to be a lieutenant in the Rangers. He continued to extend and entrench the British presence in Nova Scotia by establishing "several blockhouses at various strategic points, including Cobequid (Truro) and Chignecto.
Late in 1746, he marched with Arthur Noble and 500 New England men to occupy Grand Pre. (Gorham had just left Noble, in January 1747, when the French regulars, having made a brilliant cross-country winter march, attacked and overtook the larger English force. They killed a number of Englishmen, including Noble.)
Having returned to his home at Barnstable for a short stay with his family, Gorham soon conferred with Governor William Shirley about the state of Nova Scotia. It was determined that Gorham (his wife accompanied him) should go to England and meet with the Duke of Newcastle, he being the person with the power to do something about the situation in Nova Scotia.
At the end of April 1747, Gorham set sail from Boston, arriving in England approximately two months later. Apparently the powerful elite at London were most impressed with the colonial hero and his wife Elizabeth (reported to have been a beautiful and an accomplished woman).
At one point, they were presented to King George II at the Court of St. James. Having made the summer rounds, Gorham was sent back to America as a captain in the military commissioned by the king, with a dispatch for Governor Shirley that the governor should do everything he could to encourage Gorham's splendid work in Nova Scotia.
In 1748, Gorham's Rangers continued to be with the British regulars at Annapolis Royal (they had their own accommodations outside of the fort). To supplement this land force, Gorham also sent up from Massachusetts two armed "schooners," the Anson (Captain John Beare) and the Warren (70 tons, Captain Jonathan Davis) — apparently under contract with the Massachusetts government to supply these land and sea forces.
In the autumn of 1748, Gorham himself came up from New England to clear out certain of the French troublemakers at Minas and then sailed (Oct. l9) over to the Saint John River, there to deal with certain usurpers locating themselves on territory the English calculated was part of Acadia and therefore theirs. Gorham went from place to place putting out French flames in Acadia.
With the arrival of Edward Cornwallis in 1749, Gorham had a new boss. Gorham was appointed a member of the Council that was formed at the newly founded capital of Halifax. So too, in 1749, he built Fort Sackville at the head of Bedford Basin.
Gorham and his 60 rangers, whatever they might have meant to the native populations in Nova Scotia, were of considerable value to the 2,576 English settlers who arrived at Chebucto in the spring of 1749. The sea-weary settlers must have been very happy to see Gorham's sailing vessel slip into Halifax from Annapolis Royal with fresh provisions and experienced men aboard. Gorham's Rangers were of great assistance to these green and citified settlers: timbers fell and rough abodes went up in the wilderness which was to become known as Halifax.
Also in 1749, Gorham took to one of his armed vessels and again journeyed to the Saint John River. Gorham had with him a man possessing a similar background and similar talents, Edward How. They were to swing the natives at the Saint John, the Malecites, over to the English side. In one of these trips, presents were brought by Gorham and given to his native hosts, including 1,000 bushels of corn and 500 bushels of wheat.
These efforts led to a treaty being signed on the deck of the Beaufort at Chebucto (Halifax) Harbour, on August 15, 1749. The signatories included, in addition to those of the English (Lawrence, Gorham, Mascarene, and How, among them), Joannes Pedousaghtigh (chief of the Chignecto Indians); and Francois Arodonish, Simon Sactanvino and Jean Baptiste Maddounanhook (deputies of the Saint John's Indians).
(During this time of "peace," the French goaded the Indians into attacking the English everywhere they were to be found, especially at their new settlements. The French and the English might have declared "peace," but war it was, between the English and the Micmac, and, at an intensity greater than it had been and was ever to be again. The French were most certainly behind every bit of it.)
If the French incursions into Acadian territory (the present-day New Brunswick) were to stop, then it was to happen either by English diplomats going to France or British troops coming to Acadia. Either action had to be initiated in London; so, Gorham, in 1751, left Halifax aboard the Osborne, the first ship to be built at Halifax in August 1751.
His objective was to acquaint the English authorities with the difficulties in Acadia and to induce them, if he could, to take some sort of decisive action, one way or the other.
Though, within a few short years, England was moved to take very decisive action to deal with the French in North America, it is not known to what extent Gorham's influence might have been. At the age of only 43, Gorham died within months of his arrival at London: smallpox, the scourge of the age, an indiscriminate killer the world over took another victim.
Peter Landry is a Dartmouth lawyer and Nova Scotia history enthusiast.
More of his work can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.blupete.com/.
Some business owners are happy the new road linking Bedford and Sackville won't be called Capt. John Gorham Boulevard after all.
But this has little to do with the fact that the name is that of an 18th-century Mi'kmaq bounty hunter.
"The name was costing us a lot of money. Nobody even consulted us about it," said Frank Murphy, owner of EZ Wood Products on Glendale Avenue in Lower Sackville.
"If you want my vote, they shouldn't call it anything... I guess somebody must get paid to make up new signs," said Mr. Murphy, who was told in late December his Glendale Avenue address would be changed to Capt. John Gorham Boulevard.
The province has asked the Northwest Community Council to reconsider the name after its choice was attacked for honoring someone known for the slaughter of Mi'kmaq people.
But business owners on both ends of the road don't want it given Capt. Gorham's name — or anyone else's.
They said they were taken aback when they received a letter in late December saying that their street names — Lower Sackville's Glendale Avenue and Bedford's Duke Street, which are linked by the Gorham overpass — would be changed April 6 to coincide with that of the overpass.
A change of street address for the small businesses would mean new business cards, letterheads and invoices, as well as confusion for customers, said Michael Pink, owner of Kel-Ann Organics on Duke Street.
"Incidentally, they never asked (business owners) about a name. If what's said about Gorham is true, (the name) is totally inappropriate," he said.
Michael Pink, owner of Kel-Ann Organics on Duke Street, wondered about choosing any name. "Why name it at all? How many overpasses do you know that have names?"
"I'd like it to stay Duke Street on this side. Those on the other side like to be called Glendale."
Coun. Bob Harvey (Lower Sackville) said the name was chosen because Capt. Gorham established the basis of a permanent settlement in the area when he built Fort Sackville in 1749. Bedford, Sackville and various communities stem from that settlement.
However, according to historian Daniel Paul, Capt. Gorham slaughtered hundreds, possibly thousands, of Mi'kmaq people.
While the controversy over the Gorham name is not the biggest concern of business owners, it has given them the opportunity get in their two cents' worth over losing the names of their streets.
"I didn't even know who John Gorham was. I don't even know why they named it John Gorham Boulevard," said Patricia Richards, manager of Davis Developments, which owns several buildings in the Sackville Business Park.
There is a sad irony in the original decision of the Northwest Community Council to name the Bedford-Sackville connector road after Captain John Gorham. It is ironic as it came shortly after our federal government's statement of reconciliation which belatedly recognized, and apologized for, historical misdeeds towards Canada's aboriginal peoples. Sad because Captain Gorham, with approval from Governor Cornwallis, perpetrated unspeakable crimes against aboriginal peoples in our province.
Daniel N. Paul rightly refers to Cornwallis and Gorham as "historical monsters" (Jan. 16 column). We know what motivated the likes of Gorham and how they rationalized their actions: greed and racism. But how did those responsible for the original naming of the road rationalize their decisions?
Pieter J. de Vries, East Lake Ainslie
Those who want to name a local highway after a British colonial officer who committed atrocities against Micmac women and children make the following arguments:
Much of this is common with those who oppose naming a road after Gorham.
No one, least of all the Micmac historian Dan Paul who first objected to the naming of Capt. John Gorham Boulevard, disputes that Gorham was an important historical figure who played a critical role in subduing Micmac and French resistance to the British conquest of what we now know as Nova Scotia.
Nor would Paul, if I understand him correctly, urge that history be sanitized or recast in terms more congenial to contemporary mores.
If anyone is guilty of misrepresenting history, it's not Paul. None of his critics have disputed Paul's claim that Gorham made deliberate and systematic use of terror to subjugate the Micmacs and their French Catholic allies, nor that Gorham's use of terror included the scalping of children and pregnant women.
Nor is it precisely true that Gorham's tactics were uncontroversial by the mores of his time. Colonial authorities eventually called a halt to the payment of bounties for Micmac scalps because too many of those turned in by Gorham's Rangers had a suspiciously blond hue. In this sense, Gorham may be thought of as an equal opportunity terrorist.
Question: how do the white, academic historians on whose veracity supporters of Capt. John Gorham Boulevard place such faith treat the details of Gorham's acknowledged savagery?
Answer: in a highly sanitary manner.
Gorham's personal papers reside at the William L. Clements Library of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where a "background note" explains that Gorham's Rangers "were a highly successful free-ranging unit that employed 'unorthodox' tactics — i.e., those not commonly employed by British regulars — including the applied use of terror... (They) rapidly gained a fearsome reputation among the French and indigenous populations. Throughout the remainder of 1746 and 1747, Gorham and his Rangers enhanced their reputation as being 'far more terrible than European soldiers', and came to be viewed as the most effective fighting unit in the Province. It was said that their reputation was such that neither French nor Indians would meet with them, and the arrival of Gorham's Rangers was usually sufficient cause for attacking parties to disperse."
The World Wide Web includes nearly 100 documents refering to Capt. John Gorham. Only two include a mention of scalps.
A biography of Gorham on the web page of Dartmouth lawyer and amateur historian Peter Landry describes Gorham's Rangers as "an offensive bunch (who) knew exactly how to apply frontier techniques to their benefit. They were to make a lasting impression and were to become much hated by the French and the local Indians."
Frontier Techniques? A lasting impression? Who's doing the sanitizing here?
The arguments that Gorham's henchmen included Mohawks, and that Micmacs also indulged in scalping are true, but scarcely newsworthy. The fact that natives used scalping as a tactic is a deeply entrenched part of white cultural mythology, drummed into us from earliest childhood.
I grew up thinking of scalping as an exclusively Indian tactic, a widespread shibboleth that subtly encouraged the impression of native people as savages. Sixteen years of formal education, much of it devoted to the study of history, offered nothing to set the record straight.
I'm indebted to Paul for letting me and other Nova Scotians in on the well-kept secret that the earliest British and French colonists organized, subsidized, and carried out this brutal activity. My assessment of who was savage and who was civilized can now rest on a firmer factual footing.
It is quite true, as supporters of Capt. John Gorham Boulevard assert, that political correctness can easily be carried to censorious excess. Former Liberal cabinet minister Francene Cosman once complained to the Speaker than an opposition member who accused her of "skirting an issue" was guilty of sexist language.
But the label of political correctness can equally be used as a shield by those who would prefer never to examine the complaints of any aggrieved group, no matter how just or firmly rooted in reality.
History is first written by the winners, particularly so when a literate society vanquishes one that relied on oral traditions. To view history as it was requires looking beyond those initial, often self-serving and culturally biased accounts.
Honoring historical truth is not the same as honoring historical terrorists, but this distinction seems lost on the supporters of Gorham Boulevard. To bestow such an honor in 1998, when Nova Scotia has begun taking the first tentative steps toward reconciling with the Micmac people, constitutes a gratuitous affront that damages present day efforts at achieving a civilized society.
With respect to our historical dealings with aboriginals, we whiteys have recently been getting a terrible press. Some of us asked for it.
When town councillors near Halifax decided to name a new road after Captain John Gorham — a Massachusetts-born specialist in the murder of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaqs two-and-a-half centuries ago — surely they set some strange sort of record for political incorrectness.
Gorham's New England Raiders, some of whom were Mohawks, were notoriously vicious even by the vicious standards of their time. Since the Mi'kmaq were allies of the French, the colonial government imported Gorham's gang to exterminate every Mi'kmaq they could find. Naming a road Captain John Gorham Boulevard, in a province in which 22,000 Mi'kmaq live, is wilfully stupid.
Mi'kmaq historian Daniel N. Paul led the loud charge against this bizarre proposal.
"Father Maillard recorded that the first victims of these bloodthirsty brutes were three pregnant women and two small children," Paul says in his book, We Were Not the Savages.
The priest also accused the British and New Englanders of using germ warfare against the Mi'kmaq, "by passing out infected clothing and blankets, and French authorities speculated that this may have been the source of the disease that cost the lives of hundreds of Mi'kmaq and French fighters."
The colonial government paid handsomely for Mi'kmaq scalps, and the slaughter by Gorham's bounty-hunters was indiscriminate. Paul writes, "Pregnant women, the old, and the infirm were all victims; there were no exceptions... Some writers during this period have hinted that many thousands of Mi'kmaqs were killed during the carnage... Mention is made of scalps being brought in by the bagful."
Gorham's men, in the words of one of their contemporaries, were "far more terrible than European soldiers," but they were not the only scalpers in Nova Scotia. "For years there was a merry trade, the French buying scalps at Louisbourg, the English buying scalps at Halifax," Thomas H. Raddall wrote in his history of Halifax, "and no one certain, as the money chinked on the table, whether these scraps of withered skin and clotted hair belonged to man, woman, or child, or whether they were English, French, or Indian."
Defenders of naming the road after Gorham argue that, after all, the Mi'kmaq scalped a good many English settlers; Gorham's Rangers were simply following orders during a war; and we shouldn't judge the behavior of 18th-century guerrilla fighters by the standards of the 1990s. All of this is beside the point. The point is that it's wrong to name streets, schools, or bridges after professional killers.
It's also wrong for Calgary city council to declare The Year of the Cowboy, while conveniently forgetting that, in the early days of Alberta ranching, the best cowboys were natives. Calgary professors David Bercuson and Barry Cooper insist native and Metis cowboys were such superb guides and horsemen that the ranching industry sought them as trail hands. Many established their own herds and became ranchers themselves. Tragically, however, "Indians were forced out of the cattle business, first as ranchers and then as cowboys, by a combination of bias and government policies that undermined early initiatives in the direction of self-sufficiency."
The professors acknowledge that The Year of the Cowboy will attract tourist bucks, and that corporate Calgary is happy about "the hype and the Hollywood images of cowboy westerns. But a lot of people who know and remember what the ranching past was like are turned off, especially the Indians."
Speaking of Metis, a campaign for some kind of retroactive pardon for the most famous of them all, Louis Riel, seems to be gathering force. The founder of Manitoba and central figure in the Northwest Rebellion, Riel was hanged for high treason in Regina 112 years ago. I thought for a long time that he was a filthy traitor who deserved what he got, but then I grew up in Ontario, where Orange bigots had demanded the execution of this rebellious, mesmerizing, French-speaking, Catholic madman.
Quebec had seen Riel as a hero, and its anger over his execution, so applauded by Ontario Protestants, deepened the rift between anglophone and francophone Canada; inspired a surge of French-Canadian nationalism; drove Quebec voters out of the Conservative party and into the arms of Wilfred Laurier's Liberals; and weakened the spirit, cohesiveness, and political clout of the Metis.
They still see him as a hero. No less a whitey than John Ralston Saul, author of Reflections of a Siamese Twin: Canada at the End of the Twentieth Century — the best book about Canada I've ever read — calls Riel one of "the great names of the West." Reading Saul, you can't help but decide that the biggest mistake Prime Minister John A. Macdonald ever made was to let Riel die on the gallows.
Pardoning Riel now won't do him much good, but it might make 210,000 Canadian Metis feel better about both themselves and Canada. Maybe it's time to build a new highway across the Prairies, and call it Louis Riel Boulevard.
— Award-winning journalist and author Harry Bruce lives in Guysborough County.
Halifax Regional Municipality
North West Community Council
12.3 Signage for the Former Capt. John Gorham Boulevard
Origins of Gorham's Rangers
John Gorham (1732-1751)
Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
John Gorham (1732-1751)
John Gorham (1732-1751)
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
Joseph Goreham (1725-1790)
Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
NOTE: These “Rangers” were a small group of men selected
by John Gorham for their ability to engage in what is now known
as guerrilla warfare. Gorham's company of Rangers proved to be
very useful in the North American sector of the ancient conflict –
it had been active in Europe for at least seven centuries, beginning
in 1066 – between England and France. Gorham's Rangers was
one of the most famous and effective units raised in colonial North
America and served as the prototype for many subsequent ranger
forces, including the better known Rogers' Rangers.
The unit began as a Massachusetts provincial auxiliary company,
recruited in the summer of 1744 at the start of King George's War.
Massachusetts Governor William Shirley – who then was responsible
for the defense of British interests in Nova Scotia – ordered the unit
raised as reinforcements for the then-besieged British garrison at
Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal. In 1747, its strength was increased
to 100 men. Two years later, a second company of equal strength
and a third of 50 men were raised among colonists in Nova Scotia.
In the late 1740s and the early 1750s the unit proved remarkably
effective at suppressing Acadian and Mi'kmaq resistance to British
rule in Nova Scotia and helped to both expand and secure the British
sphere of influence in the region. Initially a sixty man all-Indian
company led by British colonial officers, the original Native American
members of the unit were gradually replaced by Anglo-Americans
and recent Scots and Irish immigrants and were a minority in the unit
by the mid-1750s. The company were reconnaissance experts as
well as renowned for their expertise at both water-borne operations
and frontier guerrilla warfare. They were known for surprise
amphibious raids on Acadian and Mi'kmaq coastal or riverine
settlements, using large whaleboats, which carried between ten to
fifteen rangers each. This small unit was the main British military
force defending Nova Scotia from 1744 to 1749.
The company became part of the British army and was expanded
during the Seven Years War and went on to play an important role
in fighting in Nova Scotia as well as participating in many of the
important campaigns of the war. On the eve of the Seven Years War,
a French report estimated that the corps consisted of 120 men.
Gorham's Rangers were considered by the British to be very
effective, and this company formed the core of a battalion of North
American Rangers raised during the Seven Years War (1756-1763).
There is an administrative detail that is important. Although the
Nova Scotia Rangers were raised in 1744 by order of the legislative
assembly of Massachusetts, England gave its approval and provided
financing. Three years after this decision, Captain Gorham received
a royal commission and the company was paid out of the British
treasury. As a result, this corps, constituted largely of Amerindians
and Métis, was henceforth part of the regular British army. This meant
that the Nova Scotia Rangers were the first regular corps raised in the
British colonies in Canada.
• Gorham's Rangers Kronoskaf
• Military history of Nova Scotia Wikipedia
• John Gorham by Peter Landry
• Gorham's Rangers DBpedia
• Gorham's Rangers Wikipedia
• and others
[This note does not appear in the original Board of Trade records.]
John Gorham Papers
William L. Clements Library
Material in this collection is concentrated in the years 1748-1750, when Gorham was in the vicinity of Halifax, Nova Scotia. With the exception of two deeds (dated 1772, from his son, Solomon) and one letter (1749 June) that concern the sale of property, and of the genealogical material, all items in the collection pertain to John Gorham's military career in Nova Scotia. Seven letters relate to his military activities around Fort Sackville in the Fall of 1749, describing his efforts and attempting to gain support among members of the government. Four letters include attempts to get back pay owed the Rangers.
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Edward Cornwallis (1713-1776)
Dictionary of Canadian Biography
Reginald V. Harris
The Quebec History Encyclopedia
Edward Cornwallis Clippings:
The Halifax regional school board voted unanimously Wednesday to forever sever the tie between a south-end junior high school and a city founder who put a bounty on the Mi'kmaq.
Acting on a motion by its Mi'kmaq member, Kirk Arsenault, the board agreed that Cornwallis Junior High must have a new name.
The school is named after Gov. Edward Cornwallis, who spearheaded the colonization of the area for the British in the mid-1700s.
"Edward Cornwallis is deeply offensive to members of our Mi'kmaq communities and to Nova Scotians generally who believe school names should recognize persons whose contributions to society are unblemished by acts repugnant to the values we wish our schools to embody and represent," Arsenault said, reading from his motion.
He called the board's decision "an exercise in healing and of education."
No one appeared before the board to oppose Arsenault's motion, and he said most of the feedback he received from the public before the meeting was positive, with only a few people opposing the name change.
"Some people have tried to turn it into some sort of a political storm and tried to flip it back on the Mi'kmaq people," he said.
Mi'kmaq elder and author Daniel Paul addressed the board after the motion was passed.
"I'm proud of you. You are proactive and God bless," he said.
Paul has long been spreading the word of Cornwallis's scalp proclamation against the Mi'kmaq and protesting the Halifax founder's place in history as a figure deserving tribute.
"Twenty-five years I've been at this," he said.
Paul, who started school in 1948 and quit in 1953, said the only mention of the Mi'kmaq in his school textbooks was that they made axe handles and baskets.
But nowadays, in at least one Dartmouth junior high school, Mi'kmaq studies is a more popular course than Canadian history and African-Canadian history combined, teacher Ben Sichel of Prince Arthur Junior High told the board.
The Cornwallis controversy comes up in class every year, Sichel said.
"You can't change history. This is true. But you can choose who you honour," he said before the vote was taken.
"(You) have an opportunity to make a historic contribution to peace and justice in this province."
It will be up to the school community to choose a new name for the junior high.
"It's a great school," said board member David Cameron, who said his granddaughter goes there.
"It will still be a great school with a name of which everyone can be proud."
The school sits in Cameron's district.
Paul said outside the meeting that he'd like Cornwallis's name to be removed from more than just the school. For example, he'd like Cornwallis Park, across the street from the Via Rail station, to be renamed Freedom Park and a statue erected "to all the immigrants who came to this country and helped to build the country into the powerhouse that it is."
The renaming of anything because of historical offences always brings charges from some of rewriting history, or political correctness.
While it's understandable that a portion of Nova Scotians object to the name of 18th century military leader Edward Cornwallis being attached to various features, what's more essential is for people to know history. If Cornwallis is held up as a hero by some and a villain by others, they should know why.
The Halifax Regional School board voted Tuesday to rename Cornwallis Junior High.
The man might be considered the city's founder, but his tactics in early colonial days included a bounty paid for the scalps of natives – including women and children.
At the time, that might have been viewed as a means of carving out turf, but in modern eyes it's often described as ethnic cleansing. Another problem is that earlier historical texts did not recognize it.
As this dropping of the Cornwallis name comes up in the news, it's ironic to hear the same day of racist, neo-Nazi graffiti showing up in a Shelburne school.
That's another thing we often say about history – whether it's about heroes or those perceived in posterity as villains – that we learn from it. The perpetrators in this case are living in ignorance.
How many modern-day people are aware of what happened to native populations as Europeans colonized the Americas? Sad to say, but the Mi'kmaq people in Nova Scotia weren't the only natives to suffer. Renaming towns or removing statues doesn't change that, and even if it did, there could be a whole lot of renaming going on.
But knowing what has gone on over the centuries between conquerors and conquered is critical. Some of those names might very well be offensive. But it's fair to ask whether removing those names removes us a step from awareness of a sometimes nasty past.
Source: Editorial: History has share of heroes and villains
The Halifax Regional School Board has voted to rename Cornwallis Junior High, a public school named after the city founder who ordered the mass killing of Mi'kmaq people.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the board agreed that the name was "inappropriate and unacceptable."
Kirk Arsenault, the Mi'kmaq representative on the board, considers it a step forward for the whole community.
"What I want this to be is an exercise in healing and education. I don't want any bad feelings in this, but I do celebrate the victory for the Mi'kmaq community, absolutely," he said.
Edward Cornwallis was a British military officer who founded Halifax. In 1749, during a war with the Mi'kmaq, he offered a bounty for the scalps of Mi'kmaq men, women and children.
Dan Paul, a Mi'kmaq elder, has been trying to remove Cornwallis' name for 25 years. He applauds the board's decision.
"You don't know how I feel. I feel like dancing in the street, but I'm too old for that. I'd probably drop dead!" said Paul.
Paul said the next step is to remove the statue of Cornwallis in Cornwallis Park.
"I would like to see that park renamed Freedom Park and a statue to all the immigrants that came to this country and helped to build it into the powerhouse that it is," he said.
It will be up to the community to choose a new name for the school. No details have been released yet.
This item drew 142 comments online.
Sixty-two years after the cornerstone was laid at Cornwallis Junior High School, the school is being told it has to find a new name.
The Halifax Regional School Board voted unanimously Wednesday night in favour of a motion from Mi'kmaq member Kirk Arsenault to have the school renamed, citing Governor Edward Cornwallis' checkered history with the native people.
Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax, vowed to clear the peninsula of the Mi'kmaq people, ordering their killing and putting a bounty on their scalps.
"That should not be celebrated, especially not in the naming of the school," said David Cameron, board member for the Cornwallis Junior High district – who seconded Arsenault's motion.
Arsenault said the move to remove the Cornwallis name from a local institution wasn't born out of vindictiveness.
"This is brought forward in the feeling of healing and education," Arsenault told the board, noting he's received mostly positive responses to the proposal.
No one appeared before the board to oppose the motion, but Mi'kmaq elder Daniel Paul addressed the board after the motion passed.
"Thank you very much, I'm proud of you," he told them. "You're proactive, and God bless."
Paul has spent years bringing overlooked elements of the Cornwallis story to light and says he's delighted with the board's decision.
"You don't know how I feel," he told reporters after the meeting. "I feel like dancing in the street, but I'm too old for that, I'd probably drop dead."
Paul says he will continue to call for the Cornwallis name to be removed from a city street and park, and for the removal of a statue of the historical figure from Cornwallis Park.
"(Cornwallis) is part of history, you can't change it," he said. "Let's keep him in the history books, we don't have to put him on a pedestal."
The community will be invited to submit a new name for the junior high school.
Source: School board votes unanimously to rename Cornwallis Junior High
Members of the Halifax Regional School Board have voted unanimously to rename Cornwallis Junior High, which had been named after the city's founder, Edward Cornwallis. As governor of Nova Scotia, he ordered all Mi'kmaq people to be scalped and killed in 1752.
School board member Kirk Arsenault, who called for the renaming, is also a member of the Native Council of Nova Scotia. "It's an achievement and it's a recognition from society that the Mi'kmaq people are here and they're here to stay and let's right some of the wrongs that were done against them," he said.
Source: Cornwallis name stripped from school
HALIFAX – Halifax Regional School Board is being asked to change the name of Cornwallis Junior High.
Kirk Arsenault, the Mi'kmaq representative on the board, will put forward the motion Wednesday.
The Halifax school is named for Edward Cornwallis, an 18th century Nova Scotia governor who put a bounty on the scalps of native people.
Arsenault said Tuesday that the Cornwallis name still rankles his people.
He said the Native Council of Nova Scotia expressed interest a few months ago in pursuing the change and he is acting on it.
Stripping the name Cornwallis from public sites has long been a crusade of the native community, spearheaded by historian Daniel Paul.
Source: Mi'kmaq rep. on Halifax school board makes bid to change name of Cornwallis J.H.S.
It's possible more people than pigeons visited the Edward Cornwallis statue in Halifax on Thursday.
"I was down here shopping and I thought about the statue. I wanted to see it and think about if it's controversial," said Sharon Pinaud at the park across from the Via Rail train station.
She was intrigued by the controversy surrounding Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax and the man who put a bounty on the scalps of the Mi'kmaq people.
The Halifax Regional School Board voted on Wednesday to strip his name from a Halifax junior high school.
There's also a park and a street in Halifax with his name on it.
The statue "glorifies him and he wasn't like that. He was a human being and that happened," Pinaud said, adding a plaque should be added to outline his darker side.
But she disagrees with taking his name off the school.
"Because it happened," she said. "It's history and it should make us more tolerant to others."
Doug Hadley, spokesman for the board, said it will be some time before a new name will be attached to Cornwallis Junior High School on Preston Street.
A new principal is coming to the school in the fall and that person will strike up a committee to come up with names. The school board will pick from the suggestions.
He founded a town and then put a bounty on the Mi'kmaq. Now, more than 250 years later, aboriginal students will no longer have to attend a school bearing his name.
In 1752 Edward Cornwallis, one of the founders of Halifax, Novia Scotia, issued an order that all Mi'kmaq people be scalped and killed in response to Native attacks on European settlements in a "veritable genocide," according to Postmedia News. And on June 22 the Halifax Regional School Board voted unanimously to choose a new name, to be chosen by the community at a later date.
The change was proposed by Mi'kmaq school board member Kirk Arsenault, who said, "Edward Cornwallis is deeply offensive to members of our Mi'kmaq communities and to Nova Scotians generally who believe school names should recognize persons whose contributions to society are unblemished by acts repugnant to the values we wish our schools to embody and represent," according to Postmedia News. He called the board's vote "an exercise in healing and of education."
However, not everyone saw it as a plus. Jack Granatstein, a historian with the Canadian Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute, told the Canadian Press that the move devalues history.
"It's inevitably rewriting history," he said. "It's saying, 'Our values today are the only ones that should apply, therefore we can't use the name of someone who had different values 300 years ago.' "
But Mi'kmaq elder and author Daniel Paul, who started pushing for name changes throughout town 25 years ago, called the move proactive, The Chronicle Herald reported, since those 'different values' were that Cornwallis offered to pay 10 pounds for every Mi'kmaq scalp. His website detailing the English governor's atrocities is here.
Arsenault told The Chronicle Herald that he received mostly positive feedback from the public before the meeting. Although a few people opposed the name change, no one appeared at the board meeting to oppose the motion, which was unamimously approved. He doesn't want it to end there.
"I hope it inspires people in positions of power to make change," Arsenault told the Globe and Mail. "I think there's a lot of battles ahead to remove statues and changes names. Maybe that's someone else's battle. But maybe I can inspire them."
Source: Aboriginals jubilant as Halifax school deletes 'Cornwallis' from name
A Canadian historian is questioning a decision by Halifax educators to change the name of a school in a bid to distance itself from a historic figure that aboriginals say was guilty of ethnic cleansing.
Jack Granatstein said Thursday that Halifax Regional School Board is trying to rewrite history by severing the connection to Edward Cornwallis, a British governor who founded the city in 1749.
"You can't go around trying to undo history or make history perfect," Granatstein, a historian with the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, said from Toronto.
"It's inevitably rewriting history. It's saying, 'Our values today are the only ones that should apply, therefore we can't use the name of someone who had different values 300 years ago.' "
The Halifax board voted unanimously Wednesday to strip Cornwallis Junior High School of its name after coming under pressure from natives and a Mi'kmaq school board member to expunge it.
Native elder and author Daniel Paul launched the fight about 25 years ago to have monuments and public tributes to Cornwallis changed or taken down.
Paul argues that the legacy of the army officer and colonial administrator is stained by a bounty he placed on native people in 1749 as a way to punish them for not paying homage to the King. Cornwallis, who spearheaded colonization of the area for the British in the mid-1700s, decreed that each scalp would fetch 10 pounds.
Paul said the initiative amounted to nothing more than an attempt to exterminate Mi'kmaq in the area.
"You can't remove him from history, but it should be taught that he issued this proclamation for the scalps of people in an effort to ethnically cleanse the province," he said in Halifax.
"Do you need to celebrate him as a hero? The answer is no."
Paul, 72, said he's not trying to erase Cornwallis from the history books. Instead, he wants monuments, tributes and other markers he sees as celebrations to be removed...
Edward Cornwallis founded Halifax and his name adorns Nova Scotia's streets, parks and schools.
But times are changing and some natives are pushing back at the honouring of a man they view as a butcher. And raising the pressure on elected officials province-wide to take seriously this issue, the school board in Halifax unanimously agreed this week to drop the name from a junior high.
"I hope it inspires people in positions of power to make change," Kirk Arsenault, the Mi'kmaq member of the school board who tabled the motion, said in a phone interview. "I think there's a lot of battles ahead to remove statues and changes names. Maybe that's someone else's battle. But maybe I can inspire them."
The renaming of Cornwallis Junior High, which will get a new moniker after community consultation, comes amid signs of racial progress in Nova Scotia. The city of Halifax recently apologized for its treatment of blacks in Africville and the province granted a free pardon to Viola Desmond, a woman sometimes called Canada's Rosa Parks.
Native leaders called this week's decision on the school the overdue correction of a historical wrong. The issue is particularly poignant for the Mi'kmaq, the subject of a Cornwallis proclamation offering a bounty for their scalps.
Daniel Paul, a Mi'kmaq author and historian, said it was irrelevant that Mi'kmaq were, at the same time, being paid by the French for British scalps. He pointed out that those natives were mercenaries acting beyond the authority of their leaders, whereas the British scalp bounty was official policy.
As for the argument that the province's history can't be re-written, he said politicians have to remember that symbolism matters.
"Would it be nice to have that school re-named Hitler Junior High?" he asked. "It makes a big difference. If there is ever going to be a racially equal society you have to clean up all the mess from the past."
This item drew 201 comments online.
Re Halifax Junior High Strips Cornwallis Of His Rank (June 24): The Halifax Regional School Board's unanimous decision this week to rename Cornwallis Junior High because of the actions of its namesake and the "founder" of Halifax – General Edward Cornwallis, who issued a proclamation offering a bounty for Mi'kmaq scalps – is now under attack.
While no one at the meeting spoke against the proposal from the aboriginal member of the board, critics are complaining now about the sanctity and immutability of history. The history of 1749 should not be revisited or changed, they say, but the history of a few days ago must not stand.
Jim Guild, Halifax
Halifax Coun. Darren Fisher says renaming Cornwallis Junior High School could "open a whole can of worms."
Halifax regional school board voted Wednesday evening to strip the south-end Halifax school of its name.
The building's namesake was British governor Edward Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax, who placed a bounty on the heads of the Mi'kmaq in the 1700s.
Since the board's decision was announced, there has been significant debate about the decision, with some people claiming the board is trying to rewrite history while others praise the board for its proactive stance.
Fisher's opinion came to light after his email correspondence Thursday with constituent and former political competitor John McMillan was forwarded to The Chronicle Herald by McMillan. McMillan ran against Fisher in the 2009 byelection for the Halifax Regional Municipality council seat for East Dartmouth-The Lakes.
Fisher said he was surprised when McMillan let him know he had forwarded the note to the Herald.
"I've never had anyone tell me that before," Fisher said in a telephone interview Friday.
Still, he stands by his words.
"It may never end, if we start renaming historical things."
However, the councillor said he's not opposed to clarifying the record.
"Certainly, there were atrocities that took place in the past."
For instance, Fisher said he recently heard a good suggestion that a plaque be added to the statue of Cornwallis that stands in Cornwallis Park in the city's south end.
The move by the school board appears to have caught Fisher unaware.
In his email, he wrote that he was surprised to see a story about the decision in The Chronicle Herald and to hear it talked about on the radio.
"I don't think we should judge historical figures on the acceptable or unacceptable practices of today. If that were the case, everything would need to be renamed," he wrote.
Fisher was replying to a lengthy email written to him by McMillan that described the historical struggle for land in the region as "horrible and brutal."
Canada has chosen to honour Cornwallis for his contribution to the country, McMillan wrote.
"Edward Cornwallis, brave soldier, hero, founder of Halifax, is on this list of notables. How dare the Halifax regional school board respond to the whining of one unelected representative on that board and vote to besmirch the reputation and historical accomplishment of what can only be described as a great man," McMillan wrote.
Kirk Arsenault, the board's Mi'kmaq representative, made the motion at the urging of native elder Daniel Paul.
Paul has waged a campaign for the past 25 years to publicize Cornwallis's actions in 1749, when he placed a bounty on the Mi'kmaq of 10 pounds for each scalp.
Paul, the author of We Were Not the Savages, has argued that Cornwallis is an important part of history but does not deserve to be put on a pedestal.
Canadian historian Jack Granatstein, interviewed by The Canadian Press on Thursday, agreed with Fisher's stance.
"People, who by our standards today, are seen as viciously anti-Indian, in the 1700s were seen as great patriotic soldiers who made it safe for whites to live in Nova Scotia," he said.
"You can't apply today's standards to people of the past. That just gets silly."
Let he who is without sin leave his name cast in stone. If Christ had issued this challenge to the world's high and mighty, then monuments great and small, as well as cities old and new, would be stripped of personality one by one.
This is the problem with weighing the worthiness of historical actors in hindsight, as the Halifax regional school board did this week by unanimously agreeing to remove Halifax founder Edward Cornwallis's name from a south-end school.
The case against Cornwallis – that he put a bounty on the scalps of Mi'kmaq men, women and children in 1749 and that "ethnic cleansing" was on his mind back then – is indisputable.
Were he here today, he'd probably plead no contest to the charges and wonder what the fuss was about. But his modern-day defenders, for lack of a better term, plead no context. By the standards of 18th-century warfare, they claim, Cornwallis gave as good (or as bad) as he got.
This debate on the subtleties of ancient atrocities can go on forever. The question is, should it go anywhere?
Certainly, we should give Mi'kmaq historians like Daniel N. Paul their due. In retrospect, Cornwallis is hardly as respectable as he used to be. It would be entirely reasonable to draw the line at removing his name from contention for the naming of future buildings and locales.
But should we be drawing the line across Cornwallis's name where it already appears? The school is neither the beginning nor the end of the campaign against him. Mr. Paul would also like Cornwallis's name expunged from other places.
But this seems like a recipe for a series of never-ending skirmishes over our history. After all, the buck doesn't stop with Cornwallis. How many others should follow him into disgrace? Contemporaries like Jeffrey Amherst thought distributing smallpox-infested blankets to the natives was a grand idea and Charles Lawrence rounded up the Acadians and expelled them.
Clearly, these are not the sorts of leaders we'd honour today or the sorts of crimes we'd overlook. But what good is it to dig up their sins only to bury their names? Fixing the past is futile. Learn from it and fixate on the future.
The Atlantic's latest issue boasts a history-revisiting article about Cesar Chavez, a hero of my youth. I read it last week as our school board expunged the name of Halifax's European founder, Edward Cornwallis, from a local Junior High.
During the sixties, Chavez – an iconic, Ghandi-following, Mexican-American union leader – organized 50,000 grape pickers and lettuce harvesters to challenge California's all-powerful farm owners.
"Si, se puede" – Yes it's possible – became his rallying cry. Inspired by Chavez, white liberals – me too – boycotted grapes for five long years until the farm workers finally won a contract. I can still recall the sweetly satisfying taste of my first post-boycott grape.
Chavez, who died in 1993, is rightly revered. His birthday is a holiday in California and seven other states. Colleges, schools, parks, streets, even a bowling alley are named in his honour.
The Atlantic piece focuses on an "exhaustively researched, by turns sympathetic and deeply shocking" new book re-examining Chavez's life and legacy. It claims his saintly image masked "the take-no-prisoners, balls-out tactics of a Chicago organizer." Chavez, for example, turned over to immigration authorities undocumented workers who didn't support his union so they would be deported. Later, he fell under the spell of a "sinister cult leader," became "unhinged" and even mocked his own farm-worker followers. "Every time we look at them, they want more money," he complained in one recorded conversation. "Like pigs, you know."
So... should California cancel its holiday, rename its schools and parks?
Cesar Chavez – like Edward Cornwallis – isn't "unblemished."
That appears to have become the Halifax school board's new litmus test for having a school named after you.
But no hero – no human hero – can pass that test. Not Chavez. Not Cornwallis. But also not Martin Luther King, John A. MacDonald, Nelly McClung, even "Canada's Greatest Hero," Tommy Douglas...
Edward Cornwallis helped establish Halifax, a noteworthy accomplishment to those of us who now call it home. But during the English-French-Mi'kmaq struggle to control the territory, Cornwallis offered a bounty for any captured or killed Mi'kmaq, "or his scalp as is the custom of America."
The notion rightly shocks our contemporary sensibilities, but Cornwallis wasn't alone. Nor were the English. It was a nasty time.
We should be able to honour Cornwallis for his accomplishments while acknowledging not everything he did was honour-worthy.
Which is true of most of us.
Reference: Heroes and Blemishes: Edward Cornwallis and Cesar Chavez
(Audio) The chair of the Halifax Regional Schoolboard explains why Cornwallis will be re-named, and what it might mean for other school names. 5:35
“...We're not rewriting history, we're telling history the way it was...”
Back in 1994, an intrepid Chronicle Herald editor thought he'd lampoon the results of an unimaginative school-naming exercise in Cole Harbour by sticking the most boring headline possible on the story. And so it was that the following day's newspaper deadpanned: "Auburn Drive school to be called Auburn Drive School."
Whether or not the headline was recognized as satire per se, it soon became the object of satire and – believe it or not – it got its five seconds of international fame by being lampooned on Jay Leno's late-night talk show.
Blandness never goes out of style in the school-naming, or renaming, business. What else can we make of the proposal to dub a central Halifax school "Halifax Central Junior High School"?
Not to confuse matters, but this is the same school which soon will be formerly known as Cornwallis Junior High. The school board voted in June to strip the institution of its identity because the founder of Halifax is now deemed politically incorrect as a role model. (Edward Cornwallis issued a scalping proclamation against the Mi'kmaq during a frontier war two and a half centuries ago.) [Hyperlinks added]
Early in the new year, the board will vote on a new moniker. Stand by for yet another insufferably inspid headline – because "Halifax Central" is what the school advisory council came up with this week after some avid soul-searching. "There were many interesting names suggested and picking a name from all the thoughtful contributors was a tough process," the committee said in a statement, without going into details, and without a hint of irony.
Are we to surmise that "Halifax Central," by dint of being the winner of a fierce competition, qualifies as a "thoughtful" contribution – in fact, as the most thoughtful of the lot? If so, the other offerings must have been disqualified for being coma-inducing in their originality.
Or perhaps the problem was that the second-best submissions sought to honour specific people. As we know, not everybody likes the same people. People are controversial. Heaven knows, 250 years from now, those people we seek to honour today might look like complete savages in hindsight.
People are interesting because they're not perfect. Which is why the perfect name is sadly the perfectly banal one in this day and age.
Source: School-naming 101: A lesson in blandness Editorial, 9 Dec 2011
Reference: We have succeeded in offending nobody Editorial cartoon, 10 Dec 2011
John Wilkes, MP, North Briton
Lord Halifax, the second Earl of Halifax, George Montagu-Dunk
Excerpted from: John Noorthouck, 'Book 1, Ch. 24: 1763-1769', in
A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark
(London, 1773), pages 419-450 [accessed 10 May 2015]
...The 45th number of the North Briton was a severe and reproachful commentary on the king's speech April 19th (1763) at the close of the session of parliament; wherein he informed the houses of the peace being concluded: and the harsh terms in which this attack was made, were ill justified by representing the speech delivered by the sovereign only as the speech of the minister. Whatever objections may be made against the measures of government, no serious well wisher to his country, that is able to reason to consequences, will ever justify treating the first magistrate with contempt. Thus far then the North Briton, whoever he was, acted unbecoming a good subject, and unworthy the character of a gentleman: if the reputed author afterward acquired popularity, he owed it to the extreme and badly conducted resentment of the offended parties, and to the security the English laws happily afford every man against unjustifiable acts of power.
No prescription can alter the nature of what is in itself illegal. It had long been usual in cases of libels for all secretaries of state to issue general warrants for apprehending the authors, printers and publishers; and these warrants describing no particular persons, the messengers were supported in a discretional oppressive power of taking up whoever they suspected of coming within the limits of the warrant. But the present times were more critical: as an opinion was current that the administration of affairs was conducted upon arbitrary principles, a severe scrutiny was made into all the actions of the ministry, with a view of pursuing them to extremity, if they were found to deviate in any respect from the strict line of rigid law. The advantage was gained, for a warrant of this nature was issued by lord Halifax against the author, &c. of the North Briton No. 45; and as it was not difficult to find a man who did not aim at concealment, the messengers on the last day of April, took into custody John Wilkes, Esq; member for Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.
Whether Mr. Wilkes was the author of this paper or not, the manner of apprehending him was clearly an infringement of the rights of the subject; and it proved eventually no less fortunate for the people in general than for Mr. Wilkes in particular, that he had spirit enough to withstand the secretary's warrant, and was in circumstances that would by no means induce him to overlook the opportunity of distinguishing himself by so popular a measure. Every man will endeavour to free himself from oppression; but prudent men comfortably settled in life generally study to enjoy their property quietly without hazard; and are content with escaping, or even with compounding matters to get free from, a litigation with powerful antagonists: it is not this class of men therefore that may be expected in ordinary cases to assert their rights to the utmost, out of a regard to their country. Men, on the other hand, who have little to risk, either of property or reputation, are sure to be gainers by acting popular parts: when such men therefore become the objects of ministerial indignation, they deserve that their private motives should be overlooked; and they are intitled to support so far as justice will warrant countenancing them; meerly as occasions for vindicating the common liberties of mankind against the encroaching hands of power.
Mr. Wilkes ranked among this latter class; he was a gentleman of great abilities; his circumstances had been rendered precarious by a life of habitual dissipation; and it was strongly reported that his situation had induced him to pay his court to lord Bute during his administration, to obtain the government of Canada; though without effect. Had he proved successful in this application, an embargo would have been laid upon the activity of his patriotism; but a line of conduct now opened to him equally profitable, without subjecting him to any such restraints.
Upon Mr. Wilkes's apprehension, he obtained a habeas corpus from the court of Common Pleas; notwithstanding which his papers were arbitrarily seized, and he was committed close prisoner to the Tower. On May 3d (1763) he was brought to the bar of the court of Common Pleas, where he addressed himself to the judges on the illegality and hardships of his commitment, in a bold and animated speech: his case was learnedly argued, but the court requiring time to consider it, he was remanded back until the 6th, when after another spirited address to the court, the lord chief justice Pratt proceeded to give his opinion upon the three following points.
1. The legality of Mr. Wilkes's commitment.
2. The necessity for a specification of those particular passages in the forty-fifth number of the North-Briton, which had been deemed a libel. And,
3. Mr. Wilkes's privilege as a member of parliament.
With regard to the first point his lordship observed, that he should consider the warrant of a secretary of state as in no respect superior to the warrant of a common justice of peace; and that no magistrate had in reality a right ex officio, to apprehend any person, without stating the particular crime of which he was accused. Yet he remarked at the same time, that there were many precedents, where a nice combination of circumstances gave so strong a suspicion of facts, that a magistrate was nevertheless supported in a commitment, without receiving any particular information for the foundation of the charge. He was therefore of opinion that Mr. Wilkes's commitment was not illegal.
As to the second point in dispute, he was of opinion that no specification was necessary; for had the whole paper been inserted in the warrant, the nature of the offence did not rest in the bosom of a judge without the assistance of a jury.
Upon the third point, he remarked, that there were but three cases that could possibly affect the privilege of a member of parliament; and these were treason, felony, and the peace; by which is to be understood a breach of the peace. He observed that the commitment of the seven bishops to the Tower, was on the plea that they had endeavoured to disturb the peace; which at that arbitrary time was judged sufficient to forfeit their privilege, when there was but one honest judge out of four in the court of King's-bench, and he declined giving any opinion. Mr. Wilkes, he said, stood accused of writing a libel, which, though a high misdemeanor in the law, did not amount to either treason, felony, or breach of the peace; that at most it had but a tendency to disturb the peace, and therefore could not be sufficient to destroy the privilege of a member of parliament: as a member of parliament therefore Mr. Wilkes was immediately discharged.
Westminster hall was thronged with people eager to know the event of this interesting affair; and after Mr. Wilkes had returned his thanks to the court and to serjeant Glynn who pleaded his cause, they gave unanimous and continued shouts to express their satisfaction. As soon as he had obtained his liberty, he applied by letter to the secretaries of state for the restitution of his papers; and the terms he made use of, sufficiently shewed his determination to assert the advantage he had gained: the same privilege that protected his person, must also secure his property from violation; for nothing could be more cruelly oppressive than by an act of power to invade his private drawers and papers, and possess themselves of those secrets which attend every man's affairs, and ought to be considered as sacred. "I find, said Mr. Wilkes, that my house has "been robbed, and am informed that the stolen goods are in the possession of one or both of your lordships. I therefore insist that you do forthwith return them." In answer, they confessed the detention of his papers, but promised to return such as did not lead to a proof of his guilt; a very weak evasion of a charge the coarseness of which might puzzle them, as it could not be denied in as direct terms. The next day Mr. Wilkes applied to a justice of peace for a warrant to search the houses of the two secretaries; but this the magistrate would not venture to grant. An information was filed against him at the king's suit in the court of King's-bench as author of the North Briton, and on the meeting of the parliament, the proceedings against Mr. Wilkes were laid before the house of commons, he being a member of that house: the house voted it a false, scandalous and malicious libel; and as such ordered it to be burnt by the common hangman. Mr. Wilkes on the same day complained to the house, of the breach of privilege by the imprisonment of his person, the plundering his house by seizing his papers; and by the serving him with a subpœna upon an information in the court of King's-bench.
When Mr. Wilkes obtained his release from the Tower, his popularity induced him to set up a printing-press in his own house; he advertised the proceedings of the administration, with all the original papers; and the North Briton was republished. By corrupting his workmen the ministry obtained a copy of a prophane and obscene burlesque of Pope's Essay on Man, intitled an Essay on Woman; of which he had worked off (printed) about a dozen for the use of some select friends. Patriotism however, like charity, was esteemed sufficient to cover a multitude of sins: so that neither the use made of this discovery to depreciate Mr. Wilkes's character, nor the industrious circulation of all the follies and errors of his private life, some of which were dishonourable enough; were able to prejudice him in the opinion of the public: when the indirect practices, by which the particulars were procured; and the views of a disappointed ministry, to divert their attention from points of general importance, were considered; with which it was argued his private character was nowise concerned. In short Mr. Wilkes became idolized as much as ever Dr. Sacheverel was; No. 45 was continually chalked upon every wall in town; and every witling in the public papers tortured his invention to find combinations and allusions to illustrate the mysterious properties of this favourite number.
On the 3d of December (1763), when the North Briton No. 45 was ordered to be burned at the Royal Exchange, a great mob assembled to obstruct the execution. They began with pelting the hangman, constables, and other inferior officers; and afterward extended their insults even to the sheriffs. A billet snatched from the fire prepared to burn the paper, was hurled at the chariot of Mr. Sheriff Harley, broke the front glass and wounded him: so that finding the tumult dangerous, he hastened to the mansion-house to consult the lordmayor; the executioner equally apprehensive of his own safety followed, and the constables most of whose staves were broken, recollected their personal security, and declined all farther resistance. The paper had indeed been partly consumed by being held over a lighted link, but a remnant of it was rescued and carried off in triumph: the mob in the evening resolving to ridicule the affair by a mock representation of their own, prepared a bonfire at Templebar, where a large jack boot, in allusion to the name of the late head of the treasury, was committed to the flames with all possible marks of contempt and exultation. The thanks of the house of commons were voted to the sheriffs for their resolute behaviour in the execution of their order; but when a motion of the same nature was proposed in the court of common-council, it passed in the negative.
Several prosecutions were commenced against the under secretary of state, and the messengers, by Mr. Wilkes and others who were apprehended on his account; in which verdicts were given in favour of the plaintiffs. The lord chief justice Pratt, in his charge to the jury in Mr. Wilkes's cause, expressed his opinion as to the illegality of the general warrant; but modestly submitted his own judgment to that of the other judges, and of the house of peers: adding "if these higher jurisdictions should declare my opinion erroneous, I submit as will become me, and kiss the rod; but I must say, I shall always consider it as a rod of iron for the chastisement of the people of Great Britain."
In the course of these transactions a duel took place between Mr. Wilkes and Samuel Martin, Esq; late secretary of the treasury, occasioned by the wanton scurrilous treatment of that gentleman's character in the North Briton: in this rencounter Mr. Wilkes received a wound in the body from a pistol bullet which disabled him from obeying an order of the house of commons for his attendance to answer the charge exhibited against him, and for them to examine his own complaints of breach of privilege. His time for appearance was enlarged upon this event, but the house at length, to be satisfied as to the real progress of his recovery, ordered a physician and surgeon of their own appointment to visit him and report his condition. These gentlemen Mr. Wilkes did not chuse to admit; but while the parliament was adjourned for the Christmas holidays, gave a convincing proof of timely activity by retiring to France from those inconveniencies that might follow the loss of his parliamentary privilege; which was now reasonably to be apprehended.
The houses met January 19th, 1764, when the commons voted that Mr. Wilkes, by withdrawing himself to a foreign country, without assigning a sufficient cause, had been guilty of a contempt of the authority of that house; and that they would proceed to examine evidence upon the charge against him. His expulsion was then carried, and a writ issued for the election of another member for Aylesbury in his room...
On the 16th his majesty's eldest sister the princess Augusta was married to his serene highness Charles William Ferdinand, hereditary prince of Brunswic Lunenburg; in the great council chamber at St. James's, by the archbishop of Canterbury: her portion being £80,000...
Mr. Wilkes was tried, though absent, on February 21st (1764), before lord chief justice Mansfield, in the court of King's-bench Westminster, for republishing the North Briton, No. 45, with notes, printed at his own house; and for printing an infamous book called An Essay on Woman; of both which offences he was found guilty, and the proceedings against him, on account of his nonappearance, soon extended to an outlawry.
The court of common-council was on the same day employed on the other side of the affair, by voting the thanks of the court to the city representatives for their zealous and spirited endeavours to assert the rights and liberties of the subject, by their laudable attempt, in the late debates in parliament, to obtain a seasonable and parliamentary declaration, "That a general warrant for apprehending and seizing the authors, printers and publishers of a seditious libel, together with their papers, is not warranted by law:" and to exhort them, in the warmest manner, steadily to persevere in their duty to the crown, and use their utmost endeavours to secure the houses, papers, and persons of the subject from arbitrary and illegal violations. This was followed by another resolution, expressing that, "as the independency and uprightness of judges is essential to the impartial administration of justice, and one of the best securities to the rights and liberties of the subject, this court, in manifestation of the just sense of the firmness and integrity of the right honourable Sir Charles Pratt, lord chief justice of his majesty's court of common-pleas, doth direct, that the freedom of this city be presented to his lordship, and that he be desired to sit for his picture to be placed in Guildhall; in gratitude for his honest and deliberate decision upon the validity of a warrant which had been frequently produced to, but, so far as appears to this court, never debated in the court of King's-bench; by which he hath eminently distinguished his duty to the king, his justice to the subject, and his knowledge of the law."
The example of the city of London in instructing and thanking their members for their conduct in relation to general warrants, and in their public acknowledgments to lord chief justice Pratt, was followed by many corporations and communities in England; extending also to Dublin and some other places in Ireland.
Thus was the public attention determined to assert an important point of national liberty, even though it was in favour of a man whose conduct could not be deliberately justified. Fortunately however for Mr. Wilkes, the generality of mankind did not make nice distinctions in so popular an affair; nor indeed was it easy to separate his personal concern from the public cause: hence it was found that there was no way to get the better of the ministry, but by supporting Mr. Wilkes: whose abilities and intrepidity gave him consequence in the dispute, though his private embarrassments proved for some time a great obstruction to the intentions formed in his favour.
That some moderation might appear on the part of government, a treatise published at this time intitled Droit le Roy, which was a rhapsody of all the prerogatives at any time attributed to the kings of England, was ordered by parliament to be burned by the common hangman at Westminster-hall gate, and at the Royal Exchange...
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