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Why was louis riel, a United States citizen, hanged as a Canadian traitor in 1885?
In what sense was Louis Riel, a foreign citizen who had formally renounced his allegiance to Britain, a traitor to the Queen? And why did his adopted country, the United States, do nothing to protect him? Since the Canadian Naturalization Act of 1881 for the first time permitted emigrants to renounce their British allegiance, Riel's legal status was no different from that of any foreigner, and to charge a foreigner with treason was unusual and controversial. The United States, furthermore, had a history of advocating aggressively for citizens charges with crimes abroad, even when they were clearly guilty, and especially for political militants in Britain and Canada. Yet for a number of independent reasons, including decisions of courtroom strategy and the internal politics of the United States in 1885, Riel's lawyers and his adopted government chose not to raise his citizenship as an issue. The surprising silence about his us citizenship at the end of his life has distorted our historical understanding of Riel as a figure of the nineteenth-century Canadian-American borderland.
University of Toronto Press
ISSN : 0008-3755
Canadian historical review A. 2007, vol. 88, n° 2, pp. 237-262 [26 pages]
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