A Blupete Biography Page

Conclusions, Part 12 to the Life & Works of
Sir John Wentworth

There is no question that Wentworth made a great impact in his time, an impact which is to be remembered today by the shape of our political institutions and the great physical monument which celebrates his life and which stands out on the landscape of Halifax, Government House. In his fights with those who challenged his executive supremacy, he actuated or animated the democratic forces bringing forth political changes, including the creation of political parties. While it was indeed his old loyalist friends that he favoured, he nonetheless brought experienced persons into important government positions. His friendships with the highest of both the aristocratic and mercantilistic circles were to enhance the effects that the war economy was to have on Nova Scotia.

It is said48 that one of Wentworth's chief accomplishments was that he was to bring Nova Scotia's finances into much better shape than they had been in the years proceeding his coming to the governorship. Now, that Wentworth may have been better than most when it came to government finances may be so, but, I should observe, that just as Wentworth was sworn in, in 1792, Napoleon was to come to the world stage, bringing with him 23 years of war. Reading from the larger sheet of history, we see that England, and so too I should imagine for America, between 1789 and 1793, was "fat and prosperous." This in comparison to the stress and tumult in Europe. It was to be England's policy in these early years of the long Napoleonic wars not to commit troops to the continent, but instead to supply their European allies, the principal and consistent one being Austria, with money. Pitt's policy during his administration (up to 1801) "was twofold: it was a naval policy and a policy of subsidy."49 Pitt did, however, send troops to the West Indies. Great fortunes had been made by English planters in the sugar islands, and Britain was determined not to lose them to France. Many of the British troops sent for service in the West Indies first landed and were then staged at Halifax. Such activities brought prosperity to Halifax, as world war has always done for the "Warden of the North." Since the peace treaty of 1783, which had concluded the hostilities with the colonies, the docks and merchants at Halifax were less busy and things at Halifax were to remain flat until the outbreak of war in 1792.50

So it was that John Wentworth's appointment as governor came at a critical point in the history Nova Scotia, indeed of the western world. Throughout these years, the effects of the democratic movement, as was represented in the second half of the 18th century by the American and French revolutions, flooded into Nova Scotia as it did to much of the western world. In spite of their intensity, Wentworth was to totally misread the signals which this movement had put out, especially of its unstoppability. All of it was lost on John Wentworth. Throughout the length and breadth of the momentous times in which he lived Wentworth maintained that such a movement, giving power to the people, was to be the ruination of civilization. In the end, Wentworth died in Halifax, broke and disenchanted, one of the last of the old regime.


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