NBC – 1849.09.22 – Orange Riots – One of the Jury – #239 – F12220

To His Excellency Sir Edmund Walker Head, Bart. Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of New-Brunswick.

MAY IT PLEASE Your Excellency. – The Foreman of the Grand Jury at the late Circuit Court of Oyer and Terminer, for the City and County of Saint John, has permitted me, as one of the Jury to read a communication which he has had the honour of receiving from the Provincial Secretary, referring to the special presentment made by the Grand Jury regarding the riots of the 12th July. I am informed that such communication will be published in the week’s Courier, and I have deemed it desirable that the same should be accompanied with a few observations respectfully addressed to your Excellency.

Your Excellency will be pleased to bear in mind that the Jury are now unable as a body to address you in reply, and that the judicious regulations of the Jury room preclude any one of the Jury from making public his isolated opinion, or that of any of his brother Jurors, relative to matters which they have presented; your Excellency will, therefore, I trust pardon any apparent want of courtesy in addressing you anonymously.

Your Excellency will have the kindness to observe, that the communication of the Provincial Secretary, in the first place, expresses your Excellency’s satisfaction at the sentiments contained in certain paragraphs of the presentment but trusts that the Grand Jury have erred as to the extent in which the public interests are set aside and compromised as secondary considerations. As one of the Jury I humbly beg permission to reiterate – [the] opinion embodied in the presentment, and to [assure] your Excellency that the procedures of our representative bodies, and of those public functionaries who are dependent upon the popular voice forcibly illustrates correctness; and I may add that the majority of the readers of the Provincial Secretary’s communication will even recognize therein evidence of the melancholy fact, – Yes, your Excellency every act of your advisers is more or less influenced by the effect they hope or fear it may have with some particular sect or party: this, your Excellency will have good opportunity to observe during the period preceding the next General Election. And here I would remark, that although our present system of Government permits these parties the corrupt exercise of official patronage and favouritism, and the power of controlling and directing the expenditure of a large proportion of the public revenues for electioneering purposes, yet, most of them, in order to sustain themselves in their present position, have to succumb to these feelings of sectarianism and party spirit.

I will now respectfully ask your Excellency’s attention to the principal subject of the presentment of the Grand Jury, viz. the conduct of the Justices of the Peace of the City and County of Saint John, on the 12th July last. The Jury, after a long investigation of the painful events of that day, and while under oath presented as follows: –

That the authorities were made aware, prior to the 12th July, of the intended procession; – that they were requested to interfere to prevent the procession walking; – that they were cautioned that a breach of the peace was inevitable; – that the Chief Magistrate had reason to apprehend a breach of the peace, but that he prepared no arrangements to meet the emergency; – that the Magistrates or authorities took no measures to prevent or to provide for the apprehended breach of the peace; – that on the morning of the riot some of the Magistrates declined assisting His Worship the Mayor, and that others absented themselves from the city expressly to avoid doing their duty. The Grand Jury then asked the Court to take such measures as would lead to an investigation of the conduct of the Justices of the Peace. His Honor Judge Carter immediately requested the Attorney General to lay the matter before your Excellency’s advisers, and the present communication from the Provincial Secretary, it is presumed, will be the only resort.

In order to make your Excellency comprehend the false position in which your advisers have placed you in the present instance, I cannot avoid in alluding to the communication of the Provincial Secretary, expressing myself in a manner which under other circumstances, I should deem unbecoming. I shall therefore proceed at once to inform your Excellency that those paragraphs of the communication, which are intended as a justification of the authorities, are very unsatisfactory, as clearly endeavouring, by confusion and sophistry to prevent the facts.

Your Excellency will please notice, that the explicit charges in the presentment are attempted to be explained away and passed over in the following manner. The Provincial Secretary in a very confused and ambiguous paragraph, alludes to the verdicts of the Jurers at the last Circuit and to be necessary of a belief in the existence of impartial justice. The subsequent paragraphs may be classed under three heads:

The first is intended to exculpate His Worship the Mayor.

The second merely admits “that it is deeply to be lamented” that more Magistrates did not do their duty.

The third is intended to relieve the Magistrates from blame, by stating that your Excellency is informed that His Worship the Mayor called on the inhabitants to attend and be sworn in as Special Constables, but wholly without success, and, consequently, that the blame falls on the persons (the inhabitants) who refused to set as special constables, at least as much as any of the Magistrates.

Permit me, your Excellency, to relieve your mind from the erroneous information you have received, as appears in the third section of the preceding exculpation. The inhabitants of this city are entirely ignorant of His Worship the Mayor having called on them to attend and be sworn in as Special Constables, to aid him “in preventing the procession” or “to hinder the interruption of it in the public streets” or “quell the riot.” I admit, that in the evening after the riot had been quelled by the military – after the procession had broken up – after all the unfortunate events of that day had transpired, and when peace and order had been restored, and the military, with field-pieces, were in possession of the public streets – then, but not until it was too late, and when no good could result. His Worship the Mayor called on the inhabitants to be sworn in as Special Constables. Your Excellency will, at once, perceive, that, under these circumstances, the whole of the sophistry and attempts to scatter the blame upon everybody and nobody fail in producing the intended effect.

His Worship the Mayor was cautioned, prior to the 12th July, of the inevitable consequences if he permitted the procession to walk. Why did he not forbid it? – Why did he not make preparations to meet any emergency? His Worship may be, in part, justified by the advice given to him by the Law officers – that he had no power to interfere. Here your Excellency will perceive, that in order to exculpate His Worship in this matter, the difficulty would arise, that the conduct of, at least, one of your Excellency’s advisers would require investigation for having given to His Worship improper and incorrect advice as to the Law.

And will your Excellency consider, that the presentment of the conduct of the Magistrates is sufficiently answered by the simple observation “that it is to be deeply lamented that more of the Magistrates did not do their duty”? I, as one of the Jury, trust not. I trust that your Excellency will yet see the propriety of complying with the request of the Grand Jury, and cause a rigid investigation of the conduct of the authorities on the 12th July. I may be important to your Excellency’s advisers to retain the political support of His Worship the Mayor. It may be imprudent in some of them to array themselves as [imp ] of the conduct of the Justices of the Sessions for the City and County of St. John. It may be desirable that they should endeavour to hush up and screen, and pacify the parties to blame and concerned in the procession, or in the riots, fearful of the effect of any action on their part prejudicing their popularity at a coming election. But I trust your Excellency will not allow yourself to be imposed upon; the ends of justice defeated, and the peace of this community to be endangered by such unstatesmanlike, vacillating, and unmanly conduct. – I am, your Excellency, with every respect,