THE HISTORY OF CANADA
The seriousness of the troubles in British North America caused deep concern in Great Britain, where memories of the American Revolution could be recalled. At the request of Queen Victoria, who came to the throne in 1837, John George Lambton, earl of Durham, accepted appointment as governor in chief of British North America with special powers as lord high commissioner. He arrived in Quebec in the spring of 1838; though he ended his stay before the year was out, his Report on the Affairs of British North America is one of the most important documents in the history of the British Empire.
Durham recommended that Upper and Lower Canada be united under a single parliament. He said that if the colonies were given as much freedom to govern themselves as the people of Great Britain, they would become more loyal instead of less so. He even forecast the possibility of a union some day of all the British colonies in North America. His only serious error of judgment occurred when he said that the French-speaking Canadians might be expected to be absorbed by a growing English-speaking majority. Durham drove himself and others tirelessly to gather the information he required for his report during the few months he was in the country. His political opponents at home, however, continued to attack him, and, stung by their criticisms, he returned to England to submit his findings. He did not live to witness the action that was taken on his report, for within a year he became ill and died.
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