A Blupete Biography Page

Class Warfare, Part 4 to the Life & Works of
Richard John Uniacke

With the conclusion of the American Revolution, the upper class people who were running things when things blew up, fearing more than just the loss of their property: fled. They became known to history as the Loyalists.9 Approximately 100,000 scattered themselves throughout the world. It is estimated twenty thousand settled in peninsular Nova Scotia.

The loyalists flooded the province, doubling, it is thought, the population within a year or two. They were not only a numerous class, but one which possessed some highly educated members who were used to positions of power that came because of their loyalties to the crown. After the flood, in gross terms, the province broke down into the "Old-Comers" and the "New-Comers." Uniacke, like all the "Old-Comers," resented the "New-Comers," because the Colonial Office rewarded governmental positions to Loyalists at the expense of the older residents of the province.

It is this jealousy -- that which existed between pre-loyalists and loyalists -- that got in the way of Uniacke's career, and, where he experienced some advancement, it was due to his large appearance and Irish character. Beamish Murdoch as a young lawyer worked in Richard Uniacke's legal office as a pupil for a period of years extending from 1814 to 1820; and, so, was to be have first hand experience of the man. He was to write that Uniacke "attained professional eminence, wealth and honors by great natural eloquence, talent and industry. He possessed much of the wit and humor for which Irishmen are often remarkable."10 Edward Winslow, one of the loyalists new-comers, described Uniacke, a large man, as "a great lubberly insolent Irish rebel."11

In 1793, an election was carried out and the old guard (Uniacke, Charles Morris and Charles Hill) lost their seats to loyalists -- Jonathon Sterns, Michael Wallace and Lawrence Hartshorne. And so, by then, Uniacke was driven from all public positions12. With the arrival of Wentworth as the Loyalist Governor for Nova Scotia, it did not seem that Uniacke would ever hold public office again. In the succeeding years the pair clashed on a number of issues. However, due to his connections to the old country, and over Wentworth's head, Uniacke was appointed the Attorney General in 1797.

In 1798, Uniacke ran, uncontested, in Queen's county.13 The province wide election returned an assembly which was different in make up and which did not have as many as Wentworth's friends as had been there. Wentworth by then was sixty-three, often ill and in increasing disfavour in London. His authority was slipping.

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Peter Landry
2011

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