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John George Lambton Durham, 1st earl of

Durham, John George Lambton, 1st earl of (dûrˈ əm) [key], 1792–1840, British statesman. A stormy liberal career in Parliament (1813–32), which earned him the nickname Radical Jack, culminated in the important role he played in drafting the Reform Bill of 1832 and forcing it through the House of Lords. After the Canadian rebellion of 1837–38 he was appointed high commissioner and governor-general of Canada, with the mission of winning back disaffected Canadian opinion by recommending political reforms. Durham submitted (1839) the Report on the Affairs of British North America, which has been called the Magna Carta of the British colonies. Its chief proposal was for the creation of an executive council responsible to the colonial assembly, which would allow Canada self government within the British empire. Other recommendations included reform of the land laws, railroad building to unify the country, and the union of Upper and Lower Canada to improve administration and finance and to extinguish the nationalism of the French Canadians.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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