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North American. [volume] : (Swanton, Vt.) 1839-1841
Place of publication:
Swanton, Vt.
Geographic coverage:
  • Swanton, Franklin, Vermont  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
H.J. Thomas
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Apr. 10, 1839)-v. 2, no. 52 (Aug. 12, 1841).
  • English
  • Canada--Histoire--1837-1838 (Rébellion)
  • Canada--Newspapers.
  • Canada.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204310
  • United States--Newspapers.
  • United States.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204155
  • Vermont--Newspapers.
  • Vermont.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204305
  • "Canadian rights and Canadian independence."
  • Also issued on microfilm from Ontario Dept. of Public Records & Archives.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the LIbrary of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Paged continuously.
  • Vol. 1, in v. 1, no. 52 (April 8, 1840).
  • Vol. 2, in v. 2, no. 52 (Aug. 14, 1841).
sn 86086342
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North American. [volume] April 10, 1839 , Image 1


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North American

In 1837 and 1838, members of the Patriote Party and their supporters rebelled against the British government of Lower Canada (now Quebec). The rebellion was the result of longstanding disputes about the nature of the British colonial government, a serious economic depression, and the growth of an urban Anglophone population. Across the border, many Vermonters actively supported the Patriote cause. When the Lower Canadian government and its supporters put down the insurrection, many rebels took refuge in Vermont. Newspapers played an important role in the Canadian political debate, and rebel refugees in Vermont established a short-lived French paper, Le Patriote Canadien, and an English paper, the North American, to continue the fight for Canadian rights and independence.

In January 1839, Jackson A. Vail, a young lawyer in Montpelier, Vermont, announced that he would soon launch the North American. When the first issue appeared on April 10, the paper was located in Swanton, a town in northwestern Vermont close to the border. Two exiles from Lower Canada, Hiram J. Thomas and John B. Ryan, published the North American during the two years it existed. Thomas had been a publisher of the reform paper Missiskuoi Post and Canada Record in Stanbridge East in Lower Canada until 1837, when he fled Canadian authorities and settled in Swanton. John B. Ryan, a businessman from Quebec City, and his son of the same name, were two of the rebels banished from Lower Canada in 1838. Dr. Cyrille-Hector-Octave-Côté, another rebel leader who settled in Swanton, contributed articles to the North American and may have provided editorial assistance.

American enthusiasm and support for the Canadian rebels was already waning when the first issue of the North American appeared, but Thomas and Ryan were determined to keep their readers informed about the struggle for Canadian independence. The editors used the North American to document the events and participants of the rebellion, printing serialized accounts of the history of the uprising and biographies of the Patriotes who were killed, imprisoned, and banished. Although the paper promised to remain neutral about American politics, the editors did not hesitate to criticize government actions that supported the British imperialists. The editors frequently included articles attacking the British monarchy, the colonial government, and the Catholic clergy who helped suppress the rebellion. Articles that disparage former friends and Patriote leaders, especially Louis-Joseph Papineau, demonstrate how the independence movement fractured following the failed insurrection.

The North American was never financially stable. In July 1840, Thomas retired as editor and publisher, but he promised to remain faithful to the cause until Canada was free from "Britain's yoke" and "Gallic chains." After a year when subscriptions met only a small percentage of expenses, a frustrated Ryan filled the paper's final issue with fiery rhetoric. He was still certain that "oppressed and downtrodden Canadians should free themselves from their bloody task-masters," and in a long harangue he bitterly castigating Americans for their indifference and complicity with Britain, beseeching them to "avenge the death of the SLAUGHTERED!!!"

Provided by: University of Vermont