Volunteer Movement topic of animated debate

Jim Hornby
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WEEK 8: Feb. 19-25, 1864

The Examiner, Feb. 22

CATHOLIC YOUNG MEN'S LITERARY INSTITUTE. The adjourned debate on the Volunteer Movement was resumed at the Institute on last Wednesday evening. Owing to the inclemency of the weather and the blockaded state of the streets, the audience was not so large as on former occasions. The debate was animated, and strongly characterized by an anti-volunteer sentiment. After the different speakers had given expression to their opinions on the desirableness, or rather the undesirableness of the movement, the Hon. Mr. (Edward) Whelan closed the discussion with a powerful speech, in the course of which he disposed of all the statements that were made in favor of the Volunteer organization. In reference to this Island, he showed that in the event of an attack being made by an invading foe, any resistance that could be offered by the volunteers, no matter how brave or determined they might be, could prove of no avail, inasmuch as we have no forts or batteries to prevent any enemy from landing. He stated that in consequence of the imprudent manner in which the lands of the Island were granted by the Home Government, the Tenantry were under no obligations to defend with their lives the possessions of the Proprietors, and that they would be exceedingly foolish to take up arms to preserve unmitigated slavery. (W.W. Sullivan, Sec'y.)

Jim Hornby: The P.E.I. Volunteers militia formed as a defensive force against possible invasion after the British garrison at Charlottetown was withdrawn in 1855. In 1864, there were 34 companies of Volunteers across the Island; a "company" required a minimum of 50 members. W.W. Sullivan, an active and ambitious law student, was called to the Bar in 1867, later served as premier for over 10 years, then as chief justice. Whelan is now consistently describing the lives of the Island's tenant farmers as "slavery."

The Examiner, Feb. 22.

DIED. At Green Hill, Vernon River, on Sunday the 21st instant, of cancer, after a lingering illness of twelve months, Mr. James McDonald, North Pole, in the 59th year of his age, leaving a wife and six children to mourn their sad and irreparable loss.

The Examiner, Feb. 22.

EDUCATION. To the Residents of Charlottetown and Vicinity. The Undersigned being desirous of opening classes for instruction in the Latin, Greek, French and Italian languages, as well as Drawing and Perspective, can be consulted by heads of families and others, as to Terms, Hours, &c., at his RESIDENCE, King's Street, in the house lately occupied by Major Beete, near the residence of Frederick Brecken, Esq. JOHN F. NEWBERY.

J.H.: Easy to see the benefits of numbering houses! John, who moved here from Italy, is the father of Arthur Newbery, noted for his planning and supervising the much-needed landscaping and greening of Queen Square, 1884-87.

The Vindicator, Feb. 24


WILL pay CASH for any quantity of Hides and Sheep-skins.

Also, for all kinds of FUR, from a Black Fox down to a Squirrel.

Tignish, Jan. 13, 1864.

J.H.: Thomas Fairburn had a tannery in Tignish at this time.

The Vindicator, Feb. 24.

The proprietors cannot but find fault with the precipitancy which the Government has shown in having given out through the country all the stands of arms which they received through the Home Government. Considering the great dissatisfaction which at present reigns through the country on account of the unsettled state of the Land Question, the local landlords must, I think, feel inclined to censure the action of the government in having established and disciplined a Volunteer force in this Island. The majority of those who are at present under arms happen to be tenants; and, as I understand from reliable sources, that Tenant Leagues are established through different localities on the Island, with the view of mutually resisting the payment of back rents and the present exorbitant rates demanded by landlords and their agents, it is very probable they will employ the arms so gratuitously given out, to shake off the shackles under which they have so long and too patiently groaned.

Things have now come to such a crisis that the government will have to concede to the proposals which will, in all probability, be made by the tenants, the majority of whom are fully alive to the advantage of having rifles in their possession, and are determined to vindicate their cause by force of arms. (Recta Ratio.)

J.H.: The notion of a number of inflamed Tenant Leaguers, equipped with some of the 1,000 Volunteer-issue Enfield rifles and prepared to resist lawful authority collecting rent and seizing property, raised concern from Government House to remote tenant farms across the Island. An aggrieved tenantry prepared to muster in large numbers bearing cudgels and trumpets was one thing, but this was another level of threat. When military force was called for against Tenant League resistance in 1865, it was the 16th Regiment from Halifax that was summoned.

Organizations: MEN'S LITERARY INSTITUTE, Volunteer organization, Land Question Government House

Geographic location: Iceland, Charlottetown, Tignish Green Hill Vernon River North Pole Italy Queen Square Black Fox

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