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date: 26 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

After 1760, constitutional debates occurred in French Canada on issues ranging from the contestation of royal authority to the consolidation of constitutional rights or colonial autonomy. In this regard, our main source of information is the bilingual Quebec Gazette, which reported on legal developments in France, England, and the American colonies. Contrary to what is generally assumed, these discussions predated the American Revolution. The Chapter also examines the assimilation of British constitutional principles by the educated members of the Francophone elite. Many of them were eager to obtain an Assembly in which Catholics could sit. They believed that the Capitulation of 1760 protected property and seigneurial rights, as well as inheritance and matrimonial laws. In the end, the request for an Assembly was shelved in order to obtain religious equality. Meanwhile, British officials declared that Canadians had no appetite for an Assembly, creating a lasting and misleading impression.

Keywords: French Canada, Royal Proclamation of 1763, royal authority, constitutional rights, constitutional autonomy, House of Assembly, debates on democracy, French civil law, Quebec Act 1774

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