Durham, John George Lambton, First Earl of

Durham, John George Lambton, First Earl of
   A reforming governor-in-chief of British North America, Lord Durham (as Lambton became in 1829) was a wealthy land and coal owner. He entered politics as a fierce and often intemperate radical and proponent of parliamentary reform. He served in the reforming government of his father-in-law, Earl Grey, helping to draft the great reform bill. From 1835 to 1837, he was ambassador to Russia. Although he initially refused the governorship of Canada, he accepted the post after the arrival of news of the rebellion of 1838. Returning to England after only five months in Canada because of the cabinet’s disallowance of an order sending rebel leaders into exile, Durham and his entourage set about producing his famous report.
   Durham’s report was probably written in large part by his secretary, Charles Buller, and was inspired in many respects by the colonization theories of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, also on his staff. It was leaked to the Times in February 1839, likely by Wakefield. The report recommended the Anglicization and assimilation of the French Canadians through a union of Upper and Lower Canada. It also, more successfully, urged significant grants of self-government to the colony, although tariff and land policy was reserved to the imperial government, the latter in accordance with Wakefield’s theories. Durham was long remembered, with some element of exaggeration, as the father of responsible government in the colonies, although his report did not use that term. He died, likely of tuberculosis, in 1840.
   See also <>; <>; <>.
    Durham, Lord. Report on the Affairs of British North America. London, 1839;
    Ged, Martin. The Durham Report and British Colonial Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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