Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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DURHAM, John George Lambton, Earl of, English statesman, born in Lambton castle, County Durham, 12 April 1792 ; died in Cowes, Isle of Wight, 28 July 1840. He was educated at Eton and Cambridge, served a short time in a regiment of hussars, and in 1813 was returned to parliament, where he distinguished himself by his liberal views. During the reform excitement of 1819 he advocated the popular cause, both in parliament and at public meetings. He was one of the defenders of Queen Caroline, and in 1821 brought forward a scheme of parliamentary reform that, though at that time unsuccessful, was embodied in the reform act of ten years later. In 1828 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Durham; in 1830 he was lord privy seal in Earl Grey's ministry, and in 1833, on his retirement from the cabinet, was made an earl.
In 1836-7 he became ambassador to Russia, and in 1838 was sent, with extraordinary powers, to Canada, as governor general. When he arrived there he found the disturbed state of public feeling, consequent upon the rebellion of 1837, still in existence, the constitution practically suspended, and the efficient administration of the law no longer possible. In order to remedy these evils he issued different ordinances that declared, among other things, an amnesty to all the rebels, save their leaders, who were declared banished to Bermuda. His administration of the duties of his office failed to give satisfaction, either in Canada or Great Britain, and he was in consequence recalled in December 1839.
Soon after his return to England an elaborate report by him on Canadian affairs was published. In it he proposed the scheme of the union of the British North American provinces for legislative purposes, and insisted upon the fullest constitutional freedom for the people. It is supposed that the disgrace of his recall preyed upon his mind and hastened his death.
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