1	               September 1993
     4	            The Metis Rebellion and the Amnesty Issue
     6	                         ..............edited by Marijan Salopek
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    10	Letter from Dr J. S. Lynch to Governor-General Sir John Young,
    11	July 1, 1870.
    13	     I have on several occasions had the honor of addressing Your
    14	Excellency on behalf of the loyal portion of the inhabitants of
    15	the Red River Settlement and having heard that there is a
    16	possibility of the Government favoring the granting of an amnesty
    17	for all offences, to the rebels of Red River, including Louis
    18	Riel, O'Donoghue, Lepine and others of their leaders, I feel it
    19	to be my duty on behalf of the loyal people of the Territory, to
    20	protest most strongly against an act that would be unjust to them
    21	and at the same time to place on record the reasons which we
    22	consider render such clemency not only unfair and cruel but also
    23	injudicious, impolitic and dangerous.  I therefore beg most
    24	humbly and respectfully to lay before Your Excellency on behalf
    25	of those whom I represent, the reasons which lead us to protest
    26	against the leaders of the rebellion being included in an
    27	amnesty, and for which we claim that they should be excluded from
    28	its effects.
    29	     1.  A general amnesty would be a serious reflection on the
    30	loyal people of Red River Settlement who, throughout this whole
    31	affair, have shewn a true spirit of loyalty and devotion to their
    32	Sovereign and to British institutions.  Months before Mr.
    33	McDougall left Canada it was announced that he had been appointed
    34	Governor.  He had resigned his seat in the Cabinet, and had
    35	addressed his constituents prior to his departure.  The people of
    36	the Settlement had read these announcements, and on the
    37	publication of his Proclamation in the Queen's name, with the
    38	Royal Arms at its head, they had every reason to consider that
    39	the Queen herself called for their services.
    40	     These services were given cheerfully, they were enrolled in
    41	the Queen's name to put down a rising that was a rebellion that
    42	was trampling under foot all law and order and preventing British
    43	subjects from entering or passing through British territory.  For
    44	this they were imprisoned for months, for this they were robbed
    45	of all they possessed, and for this -- the crime of obeying the
    46	call of his Sovereign -- one true-hearted loyal Canadian was
    47	cruelly and foully murdered.  An amnesty to the perpetrators of
    48	these outrages by our Government we hold to be a serious
    49	reflection on the conduct of the loyal inhabitants and a
    50	condemnation of their loyalty.
    51	     2.  It is an encouragement of rebellion;  Riel was guilty of
    52	treason when he refused permission to Mr. McDougall, a British
    53	subject, to enter British territory, and drove him away by force
    54	of arms;  he set law at defiance, and committed an open act of
    55	rebellion.  He also knew that Mr. McDougall had been nominated
    56	Governor, knew that he had resigned his seat in the Cabinet, knew
    57	that he had bid farewell to his constituents, yet he drove him
    58	out by force of arms; and when the Queen's proclamation was
    59	issued -- for all he knew by the Queen's authority -- he tore it
    60	up, scattered the type used in printing it, defied it, and
    61	imprisoned, robbed and murdered those whose only crime in his
    62	eyes was that they had obeyed it.
    63	     It may be said that Riel knew that Mr. McDougall had no
    64	authority to issue a proclamation in the Queen's name; a
    65	statement of this kind would lead to the inference that it was
    66	the result of secret information, and of a conspiracy among some
    67	in high positions.  This had sometimes been suspected by many,
    68	but hitherto has never been believed.  An amnesty to Riel and
    69	other leaders would be an endorsation of their acts of treason,
    70	robbery, and murder, and therefore an encouragement to rebellion.
    71	     3.  An amnesty is injudicious, impolitic and dangerous if it
    72	includes the leaders -- some of these who have been robbed and
    73	imprisoned, who have seen their comrade and fellow prisoner led
    74	out and butchered in cold-blood, seeing the law powerless to
    75	protect the innocent and punish the guilty, might in that wild
    76	spirit of justice called vengeance, take the life of Riel or some
    77	other of the leaders.  Should this unfortunately happen, the
    78	attempt by means of law to punish the avenger would be attended
    79	with serious difficulty, and would not receive the support of the
    80	loyal people of the Territory, of the Canadian emigrants who will
    81	be pouring in, or of the people of the older Provinces -- trouble
    82	would arise and further disturbances break out in the settlement. 
    83	It would be argued with much force that Riel had murdered a loyal
    84	man for no crime but his loyalty, and that he was pardoned, and
    85	that when a loyal man taking the law into his own hands executed
    86	a rebel and murderer in vengeance for a murder, he would be still
    87	more entitled to a pardon, and the result would be that the law
    88	could not be carried out when the enforcement of the law would be
    89	an outrage to the sense of justice to the community the law would
    90	be treated with contempt.  A full amnesty will produce this
    91	result, and bitter feuds and a legacy of internal discussion
    92	entailed upon the country for years to come.
    93	     4.  It will destroy all confidence in the administration of
    94	law and maintenance of order; there would be no feeling of
    95	security for life, liberty or property, in a country where
    96	treason, murder, robbery, and other crimes had been openly
    97	perpetrated, and afterwards condoned and pardoned sweepingly by
    98	the highest authorities.
    99	     5.  The proceedings of the insurgent leaders, previous to
   100	the attempt of Mr. McDougall to enter the Territory as well as
   101	afterwards, led many to expect that Riel and his associates were
   102	in collusion with certain persons holding high official
   103	positions, although suspected it would not be believed.  An
   104	amnesty granted now including every one would confirm these
   105	suspicions, preclude the possibility of dissipating them, and
   106	leave a lasting distrust in the honor and good faith of the
   107	Canadian Government.
   108	     In respectfully submitting these arguments for Your
   109	Excellency's most favorable consideration, I wish Your Excellency
   110	to understand that it is not the object of this protest to stand
   111	in the way of an amnesty to the great mass of the rebels, but to
   112	provide against the pardon of the ringleaders, those designing
   113	men who have inaugurated and kept alive the difficulties and
   114	disturbances in the Red River settlement, and who have led on
   115	their innocent dupes from one step to another in the commission
   116	of crime by false statements and by appealing to their prejudices
   117	and passions.
   119	Source:
   121	'Report of the Select Committee on the Causes of the Difficulties
   122	in the North-West Territory in 1869-70,'  1874, Vol. 8, Appendix 6, p. 195.
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