French Regime In Canada, Part 5 to blupete's Essay
"The Canadian Constitution, A History Lesson"
Unlike their English neighbors, the French inhabitants of New France were never represented in legislative assemblies. The North American French population was ruled by the king from France through his representatives, the governor and the intendant.3 As it was back home, in France, things were run on feudal principles and was under the rule of an absolute monarch right up to the populist revolution of the late 1700's.4 The point is, that liberty, in the early French Regime during which time France possessed her colonies in North America, for the common man, was not something that was highly valued by the rulers. Public meetings for any purpose were jealously restricted.
New France was to suffer under its medieval political system; whereas, New England, in its natural adoption of the English constitution was to prosper. Sir John George Bourinot made the comparison:
"Whilst the country remained in the possession of France, the inhabitants were never represented in legislative assemblies and never exercised any control over their purely local affairs by frequent town meetings. In this respect they occupied a position very different from that of the English colonists in America. The conspicuous features of the New England system of government were the extent of popular power and the almost entire independence of the parent state in matters of provincial interest and importance. All the freemen were accustomed to assemble regularly in township meetings, and take part in the debates and proceedings. The town, in fact, was "the political unit," and was accordingly represented in the legislature of the colony. Legislative assemblies, indeed, were the rule in all the old colonies of England on this continent - even in proprietary governments like that of Maryland. On the other hand, in the French colony, a legislative system was never enjoyed by the inhabitants."5
Or, GO TO
TABLE OF CONTENTS
[Essays, First Series]
[Essays, Second Series]
[Essays, Third Series]
[Essays, Fourth Series]