Happy Results of a Wise Policy

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER VII (7) start of chapter

The spirit in which this beneficent law was conceived will be best understood from a passage taken from its preamble, and another from its concluding clause.

The preamble says: 'Whereas it is expedient to abolish all feudal rights and duties in Lower Canada; and whereas, in consideration of the great advantages which must result to the Province from their abolition, and the substitution of a free tenure for that under which the property subject thereto hath heretofore been sold,' &c.

The concluding clause is still more emphatic. It proclaims that—'The Legislature reserves the right of making any provisions, declaratory or otherwise, which may be found necessary for the purpose of fully carrying out the intention of this Act; which in intent is declared to be, to abolish as soon as possible all feudal or seignorial rights, duties, dues, &c. .... And to aid the censitaire out of the provincial funds in the redemption of those seignorial charges which interfere most injuriously with his independence, industry, and enterprise; and every enactment and provision in this Act shall receive the most liberal construction possible, with a view to ensure the accomplishment of the intention of the Legislature as hereby stated.'

The wise action of the Canadian Parliament at once arrested and removed the deep-seated feeling of discontent which was hourly increasing in intensity. From the example of the Canadian Legislature even the Parliament of the mother country may derive a valuable suggestion as to the abolition of those 'seignorial rights, duties, dues,' &c., and the redemption, or at least adjustment, of those charges 'which interfere most injuriously with the independence, industry, and enterprise' of the censitaire of Ireland. The parent need not be ashamed to learn a lesson from the child, especially when the wisdom of that child's policy is proved beyond the possibility of doubt.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America