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Roderick Kennedy Red River Petition of 1857.

Roderick Kennedy Red River Petition of 1857.

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Metis petition of 1857 from Red River regarding restriction of trade by the HBC.
Metis petition of 1857 from Red River regarding restriction of trade by the HBC.

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Published by: Lawrence J. Barkwell on Nov 07, 2013
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03/02/2014

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Roderick Kennedy Petition of 1857
The general form of the petition sent to the Legislative Assembly of Canada, dated in April, 1857, was as follows:
"etition of the !nhabitants and atives of the #ettlement sit$ated on the %ed %iver, in the Assiniboine Co$ntry, &ritish orth Ameri'a( To the )ono$rable the Legislative Assembly of the rovin'e of Canada, in arliament assembled(The etition of the $ndersigned !nhabitants and atives of
 
the #ettlement sit$ated on the %ed %iver, in Assiniboin Co$ntry, &ritish orth Ameri'a, )$mbly showeth( That many years ago a body of &ritish emigrants were ind$'ed to settle in this 'o$ntry $nder very flattering promises made to them by the late *arl of #el+ir+, and $nder 'ertain 'ontra'ts(All those promises and 'ontra'ts whi'h have led them to hope that, prote'ted by &ritish laws, they wo$ld enoy the fr$its of their labors, have been evaded(-n the 'oalition of the rival 'ompanies, many of $s( *$ropeans and Canadians, settled with o$r families aro$nd this n$'le$s of 'ivili.ation in the wilderness, in f$ll e/pe'tation that none wo$ld interr$pt o$r enoyment of those privileges whi'h we believe to be o$rs  by birthright, and whi'h are se'$red to all )er 0aestys s$be'ts in any other &ritish 'olony(2e have paid large s$ms of money to the )$dsons &ay Company for land, yet we 'annot obtain deeds for the same( The Companys agents have made several attempts to for'e $pon $s deeds whi'h wo$ld red$'e o$rselves and o$r posterity to the most abe't slavery $nder that body( As eviden'e of this, we append a 'opy of s$'h deeds as have been offered to $s for signat$re( 3nder what we believe to be a fi'titio$s 'harter, b$t whi'h the Companys agents have maintained to be the f$ndamental law of "%$perts Land," we have been prevented the re'eiving in e/'hange the peltries of o$r 'o$ntry for any of the  prod$'ts of o$r labo$r, and have been forbidden giving peltries in e/'hange for any of the imported ne'essaries of life, $nder the penalty of being imprisoned, and of having o$r  properties 'onfis'ated4 we have been forbidden to ta+e peltries in e/'hange even for food s$pplied to famishing !ndians(The )$dsons &ay Companys 'ler+s, with an armed poli'e, have entered into settlers ho$ses in $est of f$rs, and 'onfis'ated all they fo$nd( -ne poor settler, after having his goods sei.ed, had his ho$se b$rnt to the gro$nd, and afterward was 'onveyed prisoner to 6or+ a'tory(1
 
The Companys first legal adviser in this 'olony has de'lared o$r navigating the la+es and rivers between this 'olony and )$dsons &ay with any arti'le of o$r prod$'e to be illegal( The same a$thority has de'lared o$r selling of *nglish goods in this 'olony to be illegal(-n o$r ann$al 'ommer'ial o$rneys into 0innesota, we have been p$rs$ed li+e felons by armed 'onstables, who sear'hed o$r property, even by brea+ing open o$r tr$n+s 4 all f$rs fo$nd were 'onfis'ated(This interferen'e with those of aboriginal des'ent had been 'arried to s$'h e/tent as to endanger the pea'e of the settlement( Th$s, we, the inhabitants of this land, have been and are 'onstrained to behold the val$able 'ommer'ial prod$'tions of o$r 'o$ntry e/ported for the e/'l$sive profit of a 'ompany of traders who are strangers to o$rselves and o$r 'o$ntry(2e are by ne'essity 'ompelled to $se many arti'les of their importation, for whi'h we  pay from one h$ndred to fo$r h$ndred per 'ent on prime 'ost, while we are prohibited e/porting those prod$'tions of o$r own 'o$ntry and ind$stry, whi'h we 'o$ld e/'hange for the ne'essaries of life( This 'o$ntry is governed and legislated for by two distin't Legislative Co$n'ils, in 'onstit$ting of whi'h, we have no 'hoi'e,the members of the highest holding their offi'es  by virt$e of ran+ in the Companys servi'e( This body passes laws affe'ting o$r interest4 as, for instan'e, in 185 it de'reed that 9 per 'ent, d$ty wo$ld be levied on all imports of all who were s$spe'ted of trading in f$rs 4 this d$ty to be paid at 6or+ a'tory( Again, in 185, the same body passed a resol$tion imposing a 19 per 'ent, on all the goods landed for the 'olony at 6or+ a'tory(The lo'al legislat$re 'onsists of the ;overnor, who is also $dge, and who holds his appointment from the Company : here are appointed by the same body, and are, with one or two e/'eptions, to a greater or less e/tent dependent on that body( This Co$n'il imposes ta/es, 'reates offenses, and p$nishes the same by fines and imprisonments, <i(e(= the ;overnor and Co$n'il ma+e the laws, and e/e'$te their own senten'e( 2e have no voi'e in their sele'tion, neither have we any 'onstit$tional means of 'ontrolling their a'tion( -$r lands are fertile, and easily '$ltivated, b$t the e/'l$sive system of )$dsons &ay Company effe't$ally prohibits the tiller of the soil, as well as the advent$rer in any other ind$strial p$rs$it, from devoting his energies to those labors whi'h while 'ond$'ing to the individ$al prosperity and wealth, 'ontrib$te to the general advantage of the settlement at large(3nder this system o$r energies are paraly.ed, and dis'ontent is in'reasing to s$'h a degree, that events fatal to &ritish interest, and parti'$larly to the interest of Canada, and even to 'ivili.ation and h$manity may soon ta+e pla'e(9
 
-$r 'o$ntry is bordering on 0innesota territory: a trade for some years has been 'arried on between $s( 2e are there met by very high d$ties on all arti'les whi'h we import into that territory, the benefits of the %e'ipro'ity Treaty not being e/tended to $s(  otwithstanding this, the trade has gone on in'reasing, and will 'ontin$e to do so4 we have already great 'a$se to envy those laws and those 'ommer'ial advantages whi'h we see enoyed by o$r neighbors, and whi'h, wherever they e/ist, are prod$'tive of  prosperity and wealth("As &ritish s$be'ts, we desire that the same liberty and freedom of 'ommer'e, as well as se'$rity of property, map be granted to $s as is enoyed in all other possessions of the &ritish Crown, whi'h liberty is be'ome essentially ne'essary to o$r prosperity and to the tran$ility of this 'olony("2e believe that the 'olony in whi'h we live is a portion of that territory whi'h be>'ame atta'hed to the Crown of *ngland d by the Treaty of 17?@, and that the dominion heretofore e/er'ised by the )$dsons &ay Company is an $s$rpation antagonisti' to 'ivili.ation and to the best interests of the Canadian people, whose laws being e/tended to $s, will g$arantee the enoyment of those rights and liberties whi'h wo$ld leave $s nothing to enoy in the !nstit$tions of the neighboring territory("2hen we 'ontemplate the mighty tide of emigration whi'h has flowed towards the north these si/ years past and has already filled the valley of the 3pper 0ississippi with settlers, and whi'h will this year flow over the height of land and fill $p the valley of the %ed river, is there no danger of being 'arried away by that flood, and that we may thereby lose o$r nationalityB 2e love the &ritish name 2e are pro$d of that glorio$s fabri', the &ritish 'onstit$tion, raised by the wisdom, 'emented and hallowed by the  blood of o$r forefathers("2e have represented o$r grievan'es to the !mperial ;overnment, b$t thro$gh the 'hi'anery of the 'ompany and its false representations we have not been heard, m$'h less have o$r grievan'es been redressed( !t wo$ld seem, therefore, that we have no other 'hoi'e than the Canadian plo$gh and printing press, or the Ameri'an rifle and $gitive #lave law("2e, therefore, as d$tif$l and loyal s$be'ts of the &ritish Crown h$mbly pray that yo$r honorable )o$se will ta+e into yo$r immediate 'onsideration the s$be't of this o$r  petition, and that s$'h meas$res may be devised and adopted as will e/tend to $s the  prote'tion of the Canadian ;overnment laws and instit$tions, and ma+e $s e$al  parti'ipators in those rights and liberty enoyed by &ritish s$be'ts in whatever part of the world they reside("2herefore yo$r petitioners will ever pray(<#igned= %-D*%!CE E**D6, And 57 others(@

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