Editor continues to fight for the cause of tenant farmers

Jim Hornby
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

The Examiner, March 14

THE LAND QUESTION, No. 11. We have shewn that the only perfectly just mode of affording redress to the Colony, and of freeing the people from proprietory bondage, would be the extinguishment of the proprietory claims by a grant of the Imperial Parliament, to be apportioned among the proprietory claimants, in the same manner as for the emancipation of slaves in the British West Indies Islands, the grant made by the Imperial Parliament was apportioned amongst their masters; and then constituting the whole of the township lands, so redeemed from the proprietary grasp, the state or public domain. And, as to the likelihood of the Imperial Parliament’s consenting to make such a grant for the emancipation of the leaseholders of the Colony, we have argued that, as the Imperial Parliament did not hold themselves exonerated from the duty of redressing the wrongs of the negroes, either on account of the great lapse of time — 247 years — during which they had been sanctioned by Imperial authority; or on account of the immense sacrifice of money required to effect it, so neither would the Imperial Parliament of 1864, were the wrongs [done to] the people of this Colony to be fairly brought before, refuse to entertain them and make provisions for their redress in a manner no less generous and magnanimous than that adopted by their predecessors for the emancipation of the slaves of the British West Indies.

Jim Hornby: In his typically provocative manner, editor Edward Whelan has taken the mood of the people and lit a match to it — the term “slavery” is being used to describe the tenant farmers of P.E.I. and to arouse those not personally affected. But Whelan showed no sensitivity to the lives of the descendants of Island slaves living in the West End Bog — on several occasions using “Black Bill” Byers, a local chimney-sweep, as a figure of ridicule to compare to his enemies.


The Examiner, March 14

The party in power dread nothing so much as a public enquiry into their conduct, and will do all they can to stifle it. But it is too late now. A strong feeling of indignation at the trickery practised upon the tenantry by the Government has taken possession of the public mood; and the scheming and yelling that may be resorted to, under the cloak of religion, will not allay that feeling until the tricksters are hurled from their present position.

J.H.: Edward Whelan liked to arouse public indignation, then report on it in his newspaper — with the added incentive of replacing the government with the Opposition Liberals, among whom he was a leading member.


The Monitor, March 17

YOUNG MEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION AND LITERARY INSTITUTE. On Thursday evening last, Donald Currie, Esq., lectured on the “Southern side of the American question.” The learned lecturer first referred to Slavery, and endeavoured to show that the North from its general treatment of the colored race, is not sincere in its avowed efforts to abolish the “domestic institution.” He went so far as to maintain that the slaves are better off than their brother negroes in the Free States, and in proof of this mentioned instances of slaves, liberated through the operation of President Lincoln’s proclamation, suffering and dying even in the streets of Washington — as well as cases of others who, having obtained their freedom through the same means, afterwards cheerfully returned to their former Southern masters. The lecturer’s main position was that not Slavery but an unjust Tariff was the chief cause of the secession of the Southern States.

J.H.: Donald Currie had a government position as assistant clerk to executive council and worked for The Protestant newspaper. He was presumably in a small minority — perhaps of one — among Islanders, in dreaming of freed slaves “cheerfully” returning to that state, possibly welcomed back to the plantation with a whip.


Ross’s Weekly, March 17

CURRIE’S LECTURE. He descanted upon the good clothes, comfortable quarters, and kind treatment of the Slaves, in such a manner as would fair lead one to emigrate South and place oneself under the humanitarian, benign and Patriarchal care of the Southern planter.


Ross’s Weekly, March 17

Born in the woods in a log cabin, often nursed, or having to nurse myself behind a stump or windfall, while my poor mother had to work hard trying to plant a few potatoes among the stumps. As soon as my parents with great toil and care had got a little stock, two seizures for rent followed in succession, when the last hoof was swept away. The proceeds of these sales were kept by the proprietor’s agents, with nearly all the rent which they paid, as they afterwards learned from the proprietor. Let the voices of the tenantry be raised as one man, against the Award to the proprietors without anything in return. (A Tenant, Lot 48.)

J.H.: Among the tales of pioneer hardship, “having to nurse myself behind a stump,” while poor mother planted potatoes, stands alone. But having “the last hoof swept away” by the sheriff was no joke.


“1864: The Way We Were: gleanings from Charlottetown’s newspapers,” will be presented in The Guardian every Monday throughout 2014 (on holiday Mondays when there is no paper, it will appear on Tuesdays). It contains excerpts from various newspapers of that era, as well as Hornby’s comments on what he has found. To give feedback on this feature, which is presented in celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Charlottetown Conference, contact the author at hornby@pei.sympatico.ca.


Geographic location: British West Indies Islands, P.E.I., Free States Washington Charlottetown

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page