Saturday, October 24, 2009

Portrait of a Rebellion

Our explorations of American versions of the rebellion begins with reports from the New York Times. On November 11, in a short story drawn from a "private letter," written to the Chicago Tribune, the Times gives its first account of events in the Red River country. The report is surprising in that it antedates all reports from St. Paul, Minnesota, the chief source for all subsequent reports. I suspect it may have come from "agents" operating in the Pembina region. I want to share the story in its entirety, including headlines, to demonstrate the shift in tone that will characterize the Times accounts.

NOTE FROM TRISH: An extract from those accounts is below; link at bottom to entire chronicle, which is incredibly fascinating!







Five Hundred Insurgents in Arms


Gov. McDougall Beleaguered at the Hudson's

Bay Company's Fort near Pembina





He Encamps on American Soil to Await the Turn

of Events


He sends to the Canadian Government for Troops

and Arms to Subdue the Rebels


Special Correspondence of the St. Paul Press

Pembina, D. T., Nov. 4, 1869.

Tuesday evening, the 2d instant a company of Red River cavalry surrounded the Hudson's Bay Company Fort near this place, where Governor McDougall and official staff were quartered, and notified his Excellency and party to leave the Territory by 9 o'clock the following morning.

The Governor demanded a parley, but was informed that the troops had come to execute a order and not to hold a council.

Promptly at 9:00 yesterday morning the troops entered the stockade, arrested and securely bound Wm. Hallet, (guide of Col. Denis, Surveyor General) whereupon the Governor and party made for their horses and wagons, and evacuated the fort without further warning. The entire party re-crossed the international boundary, and are at this time encamped on United states soil near this place, out of range of the enemies guns. The troops conducted themselves throughout in the most soldier like and orderly manner, not indulging in any excess, or any unnecessary demonstration, nor an expression disrespectful to the unfortunate executive or party.

In addition to this "news" story which seeks to assure us that the half-breed "troops" behaved like troops, "in the most soldier like and orderly manner" and not like a bunch of wild Indians engaging in "unnecessary demonstration... (and)... expression(s) disrespectful to the unfortunate," there are three other stories. The longest runs nearly three full columns on the front page. The headline and selected portions of the story follow.

From Half-breeds, Settlers and Rebels: Newspaper Images of the Red River Métis in 1869