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James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin

From Academic Kids

James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin and 12th Earl of Kincardine (July 20, 1811November 20, 1863) was a British colonial administrator and diplomat, best known as Governor General of the Province of Canada and Viceroy of India. He was the son of Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, and like his father was known as Lord Elgin. His second wife was Lady Mary Louisa Lambton, daughter of Lord Durham, the author of the groundbreaking Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), and niece of the Colonial Secretary, Henry George Grey, 3rd Earl Grey.

He became Governor of Jamaica in 1842, and in 1847 was appointed Governor General of Canada. Under Lord Elgin the first real attempts began at establishing responsible government in Canada. In 1848 the moderate reformers of both Canada East and Canada West, Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin, won their elections, and Lord Elgin asked them to form a government together. Lord Elgin became the first Governor General to remove himself from the affairs of the legislature, leading to the essentially symbolic role that the Governor-General now has. In 1849 the Baldwin-Lafontaine government passed the Rebellion Losses Bill, compensating French Canadians for losses suffered during the Rebellions of 1837. Lord Elgin signed the bill despite heated Tory opposition and his own personal misgivings, sparking riots in Quebec, during which Elgin himself was assaulted by an English-speaking mob and the Parliament buildings were burned down. The French-speaking minority in the Canadian legislature also unsuccessfully tried to have him removed from his post.

In 1854 Lord Elgin negotiated the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States in an attempt to stimulate the Canadian economy. Later that year he signed the law that abolished the seigneurial system in Quebec, and then resigned as Governor-General.

In 1857 he became High Commissioner to China, and he visited China and Japan in 1858-9. He signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce with Japan in 1859. He became Viceroy of India in 1861. He died in India in 1863.

See also


References

  • Wrong, George M. The Earl of Elgin. Toronto : G.N. Morang, 1906. Also digitized by Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions 2003.
  • Morison, John Lyle. The eighth Earl of Elgin : a chapter in nineteenth-century imperial history. London : Hodder and Stoughton, 1928.
  • Elgin's mission to China and Japan (2 volumes), Laurence Oliphant, 1859 (reprinted by Oxford University Press, 1970) {No ISBN}
  • Checkland, S.G. The Elgins 1766-1917 : a tale of aristocrats, proconsuls and their wives. Aberdeen : Aberdeen University Press, 1988. ISBN 0080363954.

External links


Preceded by:
The Earl Cathcart
Governor General of the Province of Canada
1847–1854
Succeeded by:
Edmund Walker Head
Preceded by:
The Lord Colchester
Postmaster General
1859–1860
Succeeded by:
The Lord Stanley of Alderley
Preceded by:
The Earl Canning
Viceroy of India
1862–1863
Succeeded by:
Sir John Lawrence

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