William Lyon Mackenzie
William Lyon Mackenzie was born in
1795, near Dundee, Scotland. He was a Canadian journalist, reformer, and
leader of the Rebellion of 1837. He settled in Canada in 1820, and in 1824
he started a newspaper, the Colonial Advocate, through which he launched
a series of bitter attacks on the British provincial government. Four years
later he was elected to the legislative assembly of Upper Canada as a representative
from York (now Toronto). He was expelled from the legislature for publishing
libelous attacks on the government in his paper but was reelected four
times by loyal constituents; he was refused his seat each time. In 1832
he went to Great Britain to present a petition of greivances from Canadian
Reformers to the home of the government. He returned to Canada in 1834
and was elected the first mayor of Toronto. Later that year he was again
elected to the provincial Parliament, where the Reform party, which advocated
complete self-government for Upper Canada, now held the majority. Mackenzie
was defeated for reelection in 1836 when the Tory party was victorious
over the Reformers.
Made bitter by the defeat of his
party, Mackenzie became an advocate of open rebellion. In 1836 he started
a second newspaper, the Constitution, in which he advocated a republican
government for Upper Canada. A year later he led a group of armed rebels
on Toronto, intending to establish an independent provincial government.
Defeated, he fled to the United States and set up military headquarters
at Navy Island in the Niagara River. He was arrested by the U.S. government
and sentenced to 18 months in prison for violation of the neutrality laws.
He returned to Canada in 1849 when the government granted a general amnesty
to all who had taken part in the rebellion. From 1851 to 1858 he served
in the Canadian assembly. He died in 1861 at the age of 66.