Collections of the Nova Scotia Legislative Library
NS 345.0256 H855 TR
On 1 January 1835, the Novascotian, published the first of two letters signed “The People”, in which it was alleged that “from the pockets of the poor and distressed at least £1000 is drawn annually, and pocketed by men whose services the country might well spare”. One of the most unsatisfactory state of affairs in Nova Scotia was the lack of an elected municipal government for Halifax. Instead, it was the preserve of the Governor and Council which appointed magistrates to govern. Corruption and incompetence were rife. Although Howe did not write the two letters signed “The People,” he was charged with libel. He chose to defend himself before a judge and jury. In a memorable oration lasting six hours, he laid bare the evils of local government by appointed magistrates. It took the jury but ten minutes to find Howe not guilty. For both Howe and Nova Scotian politics much had changed and forever. In 1841 the Assembly would pass an act of incorporation for Halifax providing for an elected municipal council.
Trial for Libel on the Magistrates of Halifax, The King vs. Joseph Howe before the Chief Justice and a Special Jury. Supreme Court – Hilary Term. Halifax, N.S. 1835
Novascotian, Editorial – “Press of Nova Scotia is Free”, declaration by Joseph Howe after successful defense against criminal libel charges
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