Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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COURSOL, Michel Joseph Charles, Canadian jurist, born in Amherstburg, Ontario, 3 October, 1819. He was educated at Montreal College, studied law, and was called to the bar in 1841. In the latter part of 1864, while acting as judge of the court of sessions, Montreal, he attained notoriety by discharging Lieutenant Bennett H. Young and other Confederate raiders, who on 19 October, 1864, entered the town of St. Albans, Vermont, fifteen miles from the Canada frontier, and, after robbing three banks of over $200,000 and wounding several persons (one fatally), effected their escape into Canada. Though the majority of the Canadian bar approved Judge Coursol's act, and he was not without justifiers among the most eminent British lawyers, the propriety and legality of his conduct was called in question, and Young and several of his associates were re-arrested by the Canadian authorities. The controversy, which at one time promised to disturb the peaceful relations of Great Britain and the United States, was settled with nothing more serious than a temporary display of irritated feeling. The president of the United States revoked the celebrated proclamation of General Dix, and the Canadian authorities, by the re-arrest of Young and others, having shown their disapproval of Judge Coursol's action, mutual concessions ensued, resulting in restoring the former peaceful relationship of the two countries. During the "Trent" difficulty in November, 1861, Mr. Coursol raised a regiment known as the "chasseurs Canadiens," and in 1866, when there was fear of a Fenian invasion, he headed his battalion and marched to the frontier to repel the invaders. In September, 1878, he resigned his judgeship to contest Montreal, east, in the house of commons, and was elected. He has been president of St. Jean Baptiste society, a powerful politico-religious French-Canadian organization, and has had various official appointments. In 1872 he was created a knight of the order of Charles II., of Spain.
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