The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Nov. 16th: DID WEATHER CHANGE HISTORY?



Norm D. Bloom
Here are seven occasions when weather may have changed the course of American history.


New Englanders might speak French. French explorers under the Sieur de Monts were the first to establish a colony on the North Atlantic coast, on an island in the St. Croix River in 1604. But the winter was so “cold and dreadful” that the little group decided to move to a more sheltered spot in Nova Scotia. The first English settlement, near the mouth of the Kennebec River in Maine, was also abandoned after the fierce winter of 1607-08.


The Pilgrims might not have survived their first winter in Massachusetts. That winter of 1620-21 was described as “a calm winter such as never seen here since,” with mild temperatures and only one substantial snowstorm. Even so, only 50 of the 102 settlers lived until spring.


George Washington and most of the Continental Army might have been annihilated at the Battle of Long Island. After British troops won a smashing victory on August 27, 1776, the Americans were trapped at the western end of Long Island. Washington managed to save his army by crossing the East River to Manhattan Island under cover of a thick fog on August 29-30. Though he had suffered a defeat, Washington had reserved his army as a fighting force.


British commander Lord Cornwallis might have escaped from Yorktown to prolong the Revolutionary War. On the night of October 16-17, 1781, Cornwallis proposed to evacuate his trapped army across the York River estuary on flatboats, then fight his way north to join British forces in New York. But in the middle of the crossing, a violent thunderstorm dispersed the flatboats, pushing some of them five miles downriver where they were captured by the French. The crossing had to be abandoned, and “thus expired the last hope of the British army,” according to one of its officers. Cornwallis surrendered on October 19, assuring American independence.


General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army might have suffered worse losses, or even been destroyed, in the aftermath of Gettysburg. The great battle took place July 1-3, 1863, and on the last day, Pickett’s Charge, the Confederates’ final assault on the Union lines was repulsed with enormous losses. Lee expected Union General George Meade to counterattack, but Meade hesitated. Rain began to fall on the night of the third and continued throughout July 4. Under cover of the rain and darkness that night, Lee began his retreat to Virginia. Despite President Lincoln’s frantic urgings, Meade was slow to pursue the battered rebels, and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia escaped intact to fight on for another 21 months.


President Woodrow Wilson might have lost his reelection bid in 1916. In one of the closest elections in history, Democratic incumbent Wilson defeated Republican Charles Evans Hughes and went on to take the United States into World War I in 1917. Wilson won the state of California by less than 2,000 votes on a day when heavy snow kept Democratic turnout low in mountain counties. Had the storm been worse, Hughes would have won the state and the national election. America probably would have entered the war anyway; Wilson had been regarded as the peace candidate. But as historian Paul F. Boller Jr. said, Wilson “made world pacification…the primary objective of American foreign policy,” a position that has shaped our history and the world’s—ever since.


The Challenger disaster might have been avoided. The space shuttle exploded shortly after takeoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida, killing seven astronauts, including Concord, N.H. schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. Investigation showed that a sudden temperature drop the night before the launch had caused rings sealing the joints between segments of the solid-fuel booster rockets to become brittle and fail. The disaster forced a temporary halt in the U.S. space program, which has since been dogged by technical troubles and doubts about its cost and benefits.


This Day in History for Nov. 16th: Louis Riel, “Father of Manitoba,” Executed for Treason (1885)

Louis Riel, “Father of Manitoba,” Executed for Treason (1885)

Louis David Riel  (22 October 1844 – 16 November 1885) was a Canadian politician, a founder of the province of Manitoba, and a political leader of the Métis people of the Canadian Prairies.[1] He led two rebellions against the government of Canada and its first post-Confederation prime minister, John A. Macdonald. Riel sought to preserve Métis rights and culture as their homelands in the Northwest came progressively under the Canadian sphere of influence. Over the decades, he has been made a folk hero by Francophones, Catholic nationalists, native rights activists, and the New Left student movement. Arguably, Riel has received more scholarly attention than any other figure in Canadian history.[2]

The first resistance led by Riel became known as the Red River Rebellion of 1869–1870.[3] The provisional governmentestablished by Riel ultimately negotiated the terms under which the modern province of Manitoba entered the Canadian Confederation.[4] Riel ordered the execution of Thomas Scott, and fled to the United States to escape prosecution. Despite this, he is frequently referred to as the “Father of Manitoba”.[5] While a fugitive, he was elected three times to the House of Commons of Canada, although he never assumed his seat. During these years, he was frustrated by having to remain in exile despite his growing belief that he was a divinely chosen leader and prophet, a belief which would later resurface and influence his actions. Because of this new religious conviction, Catholic leaders who had supported him before increasingly repudiated him. He married in 1881 while in exile in Montana in the United States; he fathered three children.

In 1884 Riel was called upon by the Métis leaders in Saskatchewan to articulate their grievances to the Canadian government. Instead he organized a military resistance that escalated into a military confrontation, the North-West Rebellion of 1885. Ottawa used the new rail lines to send in thousands of combat soldiers. It ended in his arrest and conviction for high treason. Rejecting many protests and popular appeals, Prime Minister MacDonald decided to hang him. Riel was seen as a heroic victim by French Canadians; his execution had a lasting negative impact on Canada, polarizing the new nation along ethno-religious lines. Although only a few hundred people were directly affected by the Rebellion in Saskatchewan, the long-term result was that the Prairie provinces would be controlled by the Anglophones, not the Francophones. An even more important long-term impact was the bitter alienation Francophones across Canada felt, and anger against the repression by their countrymen.[6]

Riel’s historical reputation has long been polarized between portrayals as a dangerous half-insane religious fanatic and rebel against the Canadian nation, or by contrast a heroic rebel who fought to protect his Francophone people from the unfair encroachments of an Anglophone national government. He is increasingly celebrated as a proponent of multiculturalism, although that downplays his primary commitment to Métis nationalism and political independence.[7]

Early life

The Red River Settlement was a community in Rupert’s Land nominally administered by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), and largely inhabited by First Nations tribes and the Métis, an ethnic group of mixed Cree, Ojibwa, Saulteaux, French-Canadian, Scottish, and English descent.[8] Louis Riel was born there in 1844, near modern Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Louis Riel, Sr. and Julie Lagimodière.

Riel was the eldest of eleven children in a locally well-respected family.[9] His father, who was of Franco-Ojibwa Métis descent, had gained prominence in this community by organizing a group that supported Guillaume Sayer, a Métis imprisoned for challenging the HBC’s historical trade monopoly.[10] Sayer’s eventual release due to agitations by Louis Sr.’s group effectively ended the monopoly, and the name Riel was therefore well known in the Red River area. His mother was the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière and Marie-Anne Gaboury, one of the earliest white families to settle in the Red River Settlement in 1812. The Riels were noted for their devout Catholicism and strong family ties.[11]

Riel was first educated by Roman Catholic priests at St. Boniface. At age 13 he came to the attention of Alexandre Taché, the Suffragan Bishop of St. Boniface, who was eagerly promoting the priesthood for talented young Métis. In 1858 Taché arranged for Riel to attend the Petit Séminaire of the Collège de Montréal, under the direction of the Sulpician order.[12] Descriptions of him at the time indicate that he was a fine scholar of languages, science, and philosophy, but exhibited a frequent and unpredictable moodiness.[13]

Following news of his father’s premature death in 1864, Riel lost interest in the priesthood and withdrew from the college in March 1865. For a time, he continued his studies as a day student in the convent of the Grey Nuns, but was soon asked to leave, following breaches of discipline. He remained in Montreal for over a year, living at the home of his aunt, Lucie Riel. Impoverished by the death of his father, Riel took employment as a law clerk in the Montreal office of Rodolphe Laflamme.[7] During this time he was involved in a failed romance with a young woman named Marie–Julie Guernon.[14] This progressed to the point of Riel having signed a contract of marriage, but his fiancée’s family opposed her involvement with a Métis, and the engagement was soon broken. Compounding this disappointment, Riel found legal work unpleasant and, by early 1866, he had resolved to leave Canada East.[15] Some of his friends said later that he worked odd jobs in Chicago, Illinois, while staying with poet Louis-Honoré Fréchette, and wrote poems himself in the manner of Lamartine, and that he was briefly employed as a clerk in Saint Paul, Minnesota, before returning to the Red River settlement on 26 July 1868.[16]

Red River Rebellion

The majority population of the Red River had historically been Métis and First Nation people. Upon his return, Riel found that religious, nationalistic, and racial tensions were exacerbated by an influx of Anglophone Protestant settlers from Ontario. The political situation was also uncertain, as ongoing negotiations for the transfer of Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company to Canada had not addressed the political terms of transfer. Finally, despite warnings to the Macdonald government from Bishop Taché[17]and the HBC governor William Mactavish that any such activity would precipitate unrest, the Canadian minister of public works, William McDougall, ordered a survey of the area. The arrival on 20 August 1869 of a survey party headed by Colonel John Stoughton Dennis[18] increased anxiety among the Métis. The Métis did not possess title to their land, which was in any case laid out according to the seigneurial system rather than in English-style square lots.[19]

Riel emerges as a leader

In late August, Riel denounced the survey in a speech, and on 11 October 1869, the survey’s work was disrupted by a group of Métis that included Riel. This group organized itself as the “Métis National Committee” on 16 October, with Riel as secretary and John Bruce as president.[20] When summoned by the HBC-controlled Council of Assiniboiato explain his actions, Riel declared that any attempt by Canada to assume authority would be contested unless Ottawa had first negotiated terms with the Métis. Nevertheless, the non-bilingual McDougall was appointed the lieutenant governor-designate, and attempted to enter the settlement on 2 November. McDougall’s party was turned back near the Canada–US border, and on the same day, Métis led by Riel seized Fort Garry.[21]

On 6 November, Riel invited Anglophones to attend a convention alongside Métis representatives to discuss a course of action, and on 1 December he proposed to this convention a list of rights to be demanded as a condition of union. Much of the settlement came to accept the Métis point of view, but a passionately pro-Canadian minority began organizing in opposition. Loosely constituted as the Canadian Party, this group was led by John Christian Schultz,[22] Charles Mair,[23] Colonel John Stoughton Dennis,[24] and a more reticent Major Charles Boulton.[25] McDougall attempted to assert his authority by authorizing Dennis to raise a contingent of armed men, but the Anglophone settlers largely ignored this call to arms. Schultz, however, attracted approximately fifty recruits and fortified his house and store. Riel ordered Schultz’s home surrounded, and the outnumbered Canadians soon surrendered and were imprisoned in Upper Fort Garry.

Provisional government

Hearing of the unrest, Ottawa sent three emissaries to the Red River, including HBC representative Donald Alexander Smith.[26] While they were en route, the Métis National Committee declared a provisional government on 8 December, with Riel becoming its president on 27 December.[27] Meetings between Riel and the Ottawa delegation took place on 5 and 6 January 1870, but when these proved fruitless, Smith chose to present his case in a public forum. Smith assured large audiences of the Government’s goodwill in meetings on 19 and 20 January, leading Riel to propose the formation of a new convention split evenly between French and English settlers to consider Smith’s instructions. On 7 February, a new list of rights was presented to the Ottawa delegation, and Smith and Riel agreed to send representatives to Ottawa to engage in direct negotiations on that basis.[28] The provisional government established by Louis Riel published its own newspaper titled New Nation and established the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia to pass laws.[29] The Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia was the first elected government at the Red River Settlement and functioned from March 9 to June 24, 1870. The assembly had 28 elected representatives, including a president, Louis Riel, an executive council (government cabinet), adjutant general (chief of military staff), chief justice and clerk. [30]

Canadian Rebellion and the execution of Scott

Despite the apparent progress on the political front, the Canadian party continued to plot against the provisional government. However, they suffered a setback on 17 February, when forty-eight men, including Boulton and Thomas Scott, were arrested near Fort Garry.

Boulton was tried by a tribunal headed by Ambroise-Dydime Lépine and sentenced to death for his interference with the provisional government.[31] He was pardoned, but Scott interpreted this as weakness by the Métis, whom he regarded with open contempt. After Scott repeatedly quarreled with his guards, they insisted that he be tried for insubordination. At his court martial he was found guilty and was sentenced to death. Riel was repeatedly entreated to commute the sentence, but Riel responded, “I have done three good things since I have commenced: I have spared Boulton’s life at your instance, I pardoned Gaddy, and now I shall shoot Scott.”[32]

Scott was executed by firing squad on 4 March. Riel’s motivations have been the cause of much speculation, but his own justification was that he felt it necessary to demonstrate to the Canadians that the Métis must be taken seriously. Protestant Canada did take notice, swore revenge, and set up a “Canada First” movement to mobilize their anger.[33][34]

Creation of Manitoba and the Wolseley expedition

The delegates representing the provisional government departed for Ottawa in March. Although they initially met with legal difficulties arising from the execution of Scott, they soon entered into direct talks with Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier.[35]An agreement enshrining the demands in the list of rights was quickly reached, and this formed the basis for the Manitoba Act[36] of 12 May 1870, which formally admitted Manitoba into the Canadian confederation. However, the negotiators could not secure a general amnesty for the provisional government.

As a means of exercising Canadian authority in the settlement and dissuading American expansionists, a Canadian military expedition under Colonel Garnet Wolseley was dispatched to the Red River.[37] Although the government described it as an “errand of peace”, Riel learned that Canadian militia elements in the expedition meant to lynch him, and he fled as the expedition approached the Red River. The arrival of the expedition on 20 August marked the effective end of the Red River Rebellion.

Intervening years

Amnesty question

It was not until 2 September 1870 that the new lieutenant-governor Adams George Archibald arrived and set about the establishment of civil government.[38] Without an amnesty, and with the Canadian militia beating and intimidating his sympathisers, Riel fled to the safety of the St. Joseph’s mission across the Canada–US border in the Dakota Territory. However the results of the first provincial election in December 1870 were promising for Riel, as many of his supporters came to power. Nevertheless, stress and financial troubles precipitated a serious illness—perhaps a harbinger of his future mental afflictions—that prevented his return to Manitoba until May 1871.

The settlement now faced a possible threat, from cross-border Fenian raids coordinated by his former associate William Bernard O’Donoghue.[39] Archibald proclaimed a general call to arms on 4 October. Companies of armed horsemen were raised, including one led by Riel. When Archibald reviewed the troops in St. Boniface, he made the significant gesture of publicly shaking Riel’s hand, signaling that a rapprochement had been affected. This was not to be—when this news reached Ontario, Mair and members of the Canada Firstmovement whipped up anti-Riel (and anti-Archibald) sentiment. With Federal elections coming in 1872, Macdonald could ill afford further rift in Quebec–Ontario relations and so he did not offer an amnesty. Instead he quietly arranged for Taché to offer Riel a bribe of $1,000 to remain in voluntary exile. This was supplemented by an additional £600 from Smith for the care of Riel’s family.[40]

Nevertheless, by late June Riel was back in Manitoba and was soon persuaded to run as a member of parliament for the electoral district of Provencher. However, following the early September defeat of George-Étienne Cartier in his home riding in Quebec, Riel stood aside so that Cartier—on record as being in favour of amnesty for Riel—might secure a seat in Provencher. Cartier won by acclamation, but Riel’s hopes for a swift resolution to the amnesty question were dashed following Cartier’s death on 20 May 1873. In the ensuing by-election in October 1873, Riel ran unopposed as an Independent, although he had again fled, a warrant having been issued for his arrest in September. Lépine was not so lucky; he was captured and faced trial.

Riel made his way to Montreal and, fearing arrest or assassination, vacillated as to whether he should attempt to take up his seat in the House of Commons—Edward Blake, the Premier of Ontario, had announced a bounty of $5,000 for his arrest.[41] Famously, Riel was the only Member of Parliament who was not present for the great Pacific Scandal debate of 1873 that led to the resignation of the Macdonald government in November. Liberal leader Alexander Mackenzie became the interim prime minister, and a general election was held in January 1874. Although the Liberals under Mackenzie formed the new government, Riel easily retained his seat. Formally, Riel had to sign a register book at least once upon being elected, and he did so under disguise in late January. He was nevertheless stricken from the rolls following a motion supported by Schultz, who had become the member for the electoral district of Lisgar.[42] Undeterred, Riel prevailed again in the resulting by-election, and although again expelled, his symbolic point had been made and public opinion in Quebec was strongly tipped in his favour.

Exile and mental illness

During this period, Riel had been staying with priests of the Oblate order in Plattsburgh, New York, who introduced him to Father Fabien Martin dit Barnabé in the nearby village of Keeseville. It was here that he received news of Lépine’s fate: following his trial for the murder of Scott, which had begun on 13 October 1874, Lépine was found guilty and sentenced to death. This sparked outrage in the sympathetic Quebec press, and calls for amnesty for both Lépine and Riel were renewed. This presented a severe political difficulty for Mackenzie, who was hopelessly caught between the demands of Quebec and Ontario. However, a solution was forthcoming when, acting on his own initiative, the Governor General Lord Dufferin commuted Lépine’s sentence in January 1875. This opened the door for Mackenzie to secure from parliament an amnesty for Riel, on the condition that he remain in exile for five years.[7]

During his time of exile, he was primarily concerned with religious rather than political matters. Spurred on by a sympathetic Roman Catholic priest in Quebec, he was increasingly influenced by his belief that he was a divinely chosen leader of the Métis. Modern biographers have speculated that he may have suffered from the psychologicalcondition megalomania.[43] His mental state deteriorated, and following a violent outburst he was taken to Montreal, where he was under the care of his uncle, John Lee, for a few months. But after Riel disrupted a religious service, Lee arranged to have him committed in an asylum in Longue Pointe on 6 March 1876 under the assumed name “Louis R. David”.[7] Fearing discovery, his doctors soon transferred him to the Beauport Asylum near Quebec City under the name “Louis Larochelle”.[44] While he suffered from sporadic irrational outbursts, he continued his religious writing, composing theological tracts with an admixture of Christian and Judaic ideas. He consequently began calling himself Louis “David” Riel, prophet of the new world, and he would pray (standing) for hours, having servants help him to hold his arms in the shape of a cross. Nevertheless, he slowly recovered, and was released from the asylum on 23 January 1878[45] with an admonition to lead a quiet life. He returned for a time to Keeseville, where he became involved in a passionate romance with Evelina Martin dite Barnabé,[28] sister of his friend, the oblate father Fabien Barnabé. But with insufficient means to propose marriage, Riel returned to the west, hoping that she might follow. However, she decided that she would be unsuited to prairie life, and their correspondence soon ended.

Montana and family life

In the fall of 1878, Riel returned to St. Paul, and briefly visited his friends and family. This was a time of rapid change for the Métis of the Red River—the buffalo on which they depended were becoming increasingly scarce, the influx of settlers was ever-increasing, and much land was sold to unscrupulous land speculators. Like other Red River Métis who had left Manitoba, Riel headed further west to start a new life. Travelling to the Montana Territory, he became a trader and interpreter in the area surrounding Fort Benton. Observing rampant alcoholism and its detrimental impact on the Native American and Métis people, he engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to curtail the whisky trade. In 1881, he married Marguerite Monet dit Bellehumeur (1861–1886),[46] a young Métis, “in the fashion of the country” on 28 April, an arrangement that was solemnized on 9 March 1882 at Carroll, Montana by Father Damiani. [47]They were to have three children: Jean-Louis (1882–1908); Marie-Angélique (1883–1897); and a boy who was born and died on 21 October 1885, less than one month before Riel was hanged.[28]

Riel soon became involved in the politics of Montana, and in 1882, actively campaigned on behalf of the Republican Party. He brought a suit against a Democrat for rigging a vote, but was then himself accused of fraudulently inducing British subjects to take part in the election. In response, Riel applied for United States citizenship and was naturalized on 16 March 1883.[48] With two young children, he had by 1884 settled down and was teaching school at the St. Peter’s Jesuit mission in the Sun River district of Montana.

The North-West Rebellion

Grievances in the Saskatchewan territory

Following the Red River Rebellion, Métis travelled west and settled in the Saskatchewan Valley, especially along the south branch of the river in the country surrounding the Saint-Laurent mission (near modern St. Laurent de Grandin, Saskatchewan). But by the 1880s, it had become clear that westward migration was no panacea for the troubles of the Métis and the plains Indians. The rapid collapse of the buffalo herd was causing near starvation among the Plains Cree and Blackfoot First Nations. This was exacerbated by a reduction in government assistance in 1883, and by a general failure of Ottawa to live up to its treaty obligations. The Métis were likewise obliged to give up the hunt and take up agriculture—but this transition was accompanied by complex issues surrounding land claims similar to those that had previously arisen in Manitoba. Moreover, settlers from Europe and the eastern provinces were also moving into the Saskatchewan territories, and they too had complaints related to the administration of the territories. Virtually all parties therefore had grievances, and by 1884 English settlers, Anglo-Métis and Métis communities were holding meetings and petitioning a largely unresponsive government for redress. In the electoral district of Lorne, a meeting of the south branch Métis was held in the village of Batoche on 24 March, and thirty representatives voted to ask Riel to return and represent their cause. On 6 May a joint “Settler’s Union” meeting was attended by both the Métis and English-speaking representatives from Prince Albert, including William Henry Jackson,[49] an Ontario settler sympathetic to the Métis and known to them as Honoré Jackson, and James Isbister of the Anglo-Métis.[50] It was here resolved to send a delegation to ask Riel’s assistance in presenting their grievances to the Canadian government.

Return of Riel

The head of the delegation to Riel was Gabriel Dumont,[51] a respected buffalo hunter and leader of the Saint-Laurent Métis who had known Riel in Manitoba. James Isbister[52] was the lone Anglo-Métis delegate. Riel was easily swayed to support their cause—which was perhaps not surprising in view of Riel’s continuing conviction that he was the divinely selected leader of the Métis and the prophet of a new form of Christianity. Riel also intended to use the new position of influence to pursue his own land claims in Manitoba. The party departed 4 June, and arrived back at Batoche on 5 July. Upon his arrival Métis and English settlers alike formed an initially favourable impression of Riel following a series of speeches in which he advocated moderation and a reasoned approach. During June 1884, the Plains Cree leaders Big Bear[53] and Poundmaker[54] were independently formulating their complaints, and subsequently held meetings with Riel. However, the Native grievances were quite different from those of the settlers, and nothing was then resolved. Inspired by Riel,[55] Honoré Jackson and representatives of other communities set about drafting a petition,[56] and Jackson on 28 July released a manifesto detailing grievances and the settler’s objectives. A joint English-Métis central committee with Jackson acting as secretary worked to reconcile proposals from different communities. In the interim, Riel’s support began to waver. As Riel’s religious pronouncements became increasingly heretical the clergy distanced themselves, and father Alexis André cautioned Riel against mixing religion and politics. Also, in response to bribes by territorial lieutenant-governor and Indian commissioner Edgar Dewdney,[57] local English-language newspapers adopted an editorial stance critical of Riel.[28] Nevertheless, the work continued, and on 16 December Riel forwarded the committee’s petition to the government, along with the suggestion that delegates be sent to Ottawa to engage in direct negotiation. Receipt of the petition was acknowledged by Joseph-Adolphe Chapleau, Macdonald’s Secretary of State, although Macdonald himself would later deny having ever seen it.[28] By then many original followers had left; only 250 remained at Batoche when it fell in May 1885.[58]

Break with the church

Historian Donald Creighton has argued that Riel had become a changed man:

In the 15 years since he had left Red River, his megalomania had grown greater than ever. His ungovernable rages, delusions of grandeur, messianic claims, and dictatorial impulses had all become more extreme; but these violent excesses were not the only symptoms of his curious mental and moral decline. He had lost his shrewd appreciation of realities. His sense of direction was confused in his purposes were equivocal. He showed, at intervals, a cynical selfishness and the ruthless cupidity…. although in public he professed that his sole aim was the redress of the Métis grievances, and private he was quite ready to promise that if the government made him a satisfactory personal payment of a few thousand dollars he would induce his credulous followers to accept almost any settlement the federal authorities desired, and would quietly leave Canada forever.[59]

While Riel awaited news from Ottawa he considered returning to Montana, but had by February resolved to stay. Without a productive course of action, Riel began to engage in obsessive prayer, and was experiencing a significant relapse of his mental agitations. This led to a deterioration in his relationship with the Catholic hierarchy, as he publicly espoused an increasingly heretical doctrine. On 11 February 1885, a response to the petition was received. The government proposed to take a census of the North-West Territories, and to form a commission to investigate grievances. This angered a faction of the Métis who saw it as a mere delaying tactic; they favoured taking up arms at once. Riel became the leader of this faction, but he lost the support of almost all Anglophones and Anglo-Métis, the Catholic Church, and the great majority of Indians. He also lost the support of the Métis faction supporting local leader Charles Nolin.[60] But Riel, undoubtedly influenced by his messianic delusions,[61] became increasingly supportive of this course of action. In the church at Saint-Laurent on 15 March, Riel disrupted a sermon to argue for this position, following which he was barred from receiving the sacraments. He took more and more about his “divine revelations”. But disenchanted with the status quo, and swayed by Riel’s charisma and eloquent rhetoric, hundreds of Métis remained loyal to Riel, despite his proclamations that Bishop Ignace Bourget[62] should be accepted as pope, and that “Rome has fallen”.

At his trial, Riel denied allegations that his religious beliefs were as irrational as was being (and continue to be) alleged. He explained as follows:

“I wish to leave Rome aside, inasmuch as it is the cause of division between Catholics and Protestants. I did not wish to force my views…If I could have any influence in the new world it would be to help in that way, even if it takes 200 years to become practical…so my children’s children can shake hands with the Protestants of the new world in a friendly manner. I do not wish those evils which exist in Europe to be continued, as much as I can influence it, among the (Metis). I do not wish that to be repeated in America.[63]

Open rebellion

On 18 March it became known that the North-West Mounted Police garrison at Battleford was being reinforced. Although only 100 men had been sent in response to warnings from father Alexis André and NWMP superintendent L.N.F. Crozier, a rumour soon began to circulate that 500 heavily armed troops were advancing on the territory. Métis patience was exhausted, and Riel’s followers seized arms, took hostages, and cut the telegraph lines between Batoche and Battleford. The Provisional Government of Saskatchewan was declared at Batoche on 19 March, with Riel[64] as the political and spiritual leader and with Dumont assuming responsibility for military affairs. Riel formed a council called the Exovedate[65] (a neologism meaning “those who have left the flock”), and sent representatives to court Poundmaker and Big Bear. On 21 March, Riel’s emissaries demanded that Crozier surrender Fort Carlton, but this was refused. The situation was becoming critical, and on 23 March Dewdney sent a telegraph to Macdonald indicating that military intervention might be necessary. Scouting near Duck Lake on 26 March, a force led by Gabriel Dumont unexpectedly chanced upon a party from Fort Carlton. In the ensuing Battle of Duck Lake, the police were routed, and the Natives also rose up once the news became known. The die was cast for a violent outcome, and the North-West Rebellion was begun in earnest.

Riel had counted on the Canadian government being unable to effectively respond to another uprising in the distant North-West Territories, thereby forcing them to accept political negotiation. This was essentially the same strategy that had worked to such great effect during the 1870 rebellion. In that instance, the first troops did not arrive until three months after Riel seized control. However, Riel had completely overlooked the significance of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Despite some uncompleted gaps, the first Canadian regular and militia units, under the command of Major-General Frederick Dobson Middleton, arrived in Duck Lake less than two weeks after Riel had made his demands.

Knowing that he could not defeat the Canadians in direct confrontation, Dumont had hoped to force the Canadians to negotiate by engaging in a long-drawn out campaign of guerrilla warfare; Dumont realised a modest success along these lines at the Battle of Fish Creek on 24 April 1885.[66] Riel, however, insisted on concentrating forces at Batoche to defend his “city of God”. The outcome of the ensuing Battle of Batoche which took place from 9 to 12 May[67] was never in doubt, and on 15 May a disheveled Riel surrendered to Canadian forces. Although Big Bear’s forces managed to hold out until the Battle of Loon Lake on 3 June,[68] the rebellion was a dismal failure for Métis and Natives alike, as they surrendered or fled.

Trial for treason

Several individuals closely tied to the government requested that the trial be held in Winnipeg in July 1885. Some historians contend that the trial was moved to Regina because of concerns with the possibility of an ethnically mixed and sympathetic jury.[69] Tom Flanagan states that an amendment of the North-West Territories Act (which dropped the provision that trials with crimes punishable by death should be tried in Manitoba) meant that the trial could be convened within the North-West Territories and did not have to be held in Winnipeg.

Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald ordered the trial to be convened in Regina, where Riel was tried before a jury of six English and Scottish Protestants, all from the area surrounding the city. The trial began on 28 July 1885, and lasted five days.[3] Riel delivered two long speeches during his trial, defending his own actions and affirming the rights of the Métis people. He rejected his lawyer’s attempt to argue that he was not guilty by reason of insanity, asserting,

Life, without the dignity of an intelligent being, is not worth having.[70]

The jury found him guilty but recommended mercy; nonetheless, Judge Hugh Richardson sentenced him to death, with the date of his execution initially set for 18 September 1885.[43] “We tried Riel for treason,” one juror later said, “And he was hanged for the murder of Scott.” [71]


Boulton writes in his memoirs that, as the date of his execution approached, Riel regretted his opposition to the defence of insanity and vainly attempted to provide evidence that he was not sane. Requests for a retrial and an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain were denied. Sir John A. Macdonald, who was instrumental in upholding Riel’s sentence, is famously quoted as saying:

He shall die though every dog in Quebec bark in his favour.[72]

Before his execution, Riel was reconciled with the Catholic Church, and assigned Father André as his spiritual advisor. He was also given writing materials so that he could employ his time in prison to write a book. Louis Riel was hanged for treason on 16 November 1885 at the North-West Mounted Police barracks in Regina.[73][74]

Boulton writes of Riel’s final moments,

… Père André, after explaining to Riel that the end was at hand, asked him if he was at peace with men. Riel answered “Yes.”The next question was, “Do you forgive all your enemies?” “Yes.” Riel then asked him if he might speak. Father André advised him not to do so. He then received the kiss of peace from both the priests, and Father André exclaimed in French, “Alors, allez au ciel!” meaning “so, to heaven!”
 … [Riel’s] last words were to say good-bye to Dr. Jukes and thank him for his kindness, and just before the white cap was pulled over his face he said, “Remerciez Madame Forget.” meaning “thank Ms. Forget”.
The cap was pulled down, and while he was praying the trap was pulled. Death was not instantaneous. Louis Riel’s pulse ceased four minutes after the trap-door fell and during that time the rope around his neck slowly strangled and choked him to death. The body was to have been interred inside the gallows’ enclosure, and the grave was commenced, but an order came from the Lieutenant-Governor to hand the body over to Sheriff Chapleau which was accordingly done that night.[75]

Following the execution, Riel’s body was returned to his mother’s home in St. Vital, where it lay in state. On 12 December 1886, his remains were laid in the churchyard of the Saint-Boniface Cathedral following the celebration of a requiem mass.

The trial and execution of Riel caused a bitter and prolonged reaction which convulsed Canadian politics for decades. The execution was both supported and opposed by the provinces. For example, Ontario (conservative) strongly supported Riel’s execution, but Quebec was vehemently opposed to it. Francophones were upset Riel was hung because they thought his execution was a symbol of English dominance. The Orange Irish Protestant element in Ontario had demanded the execution as the punishment for Riel’s treason and his execution of Thomas Scott in 1870. With their revenge satisfied, the Orange turned their attention to other matters (especially the Jesuit Estates proposal). In Quebec there was no forgetting, and the politician Honoré Mercier rose to power by mobilizing the opposition in 1886.[76]


Riel remains controversial. J. M. Bumsted in 2000 said that for Manitoba historian James Jackson, the murder of Scott – “perhaps the result of Riel’s incipient madness – was the great blemish on Riel’s achievement, depriving him of his proper role as the father of Manitoba.”[77]


The Saskatchewan Métis’ requested land grants were all provided by the government by the end of 1887, and the government resurveyed the Métis river lots in accordance with their wishes. The Métis did not understand the long term value of their new land, however, and it was soon bought by speculators who later turned huge profits from it. Riel’s worst fears were realised—following the failed rebellion, the French language and Roman Catholic religion faced increasing marginalisation in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as exemplified by the controversy surrounding the Manitoba Schools Question. The Métis themselves were increasingly forced to live on undesirable land or in the shadow of Indian reserves (as they did not themselves have treaty status). Saskatchewan did not attain provincehood until 1905.

Riel’s execution and Macdonald’s refusal to commute his sentence caused lasting discord in Quebec, and led to a fundamental alteration in the Canadian political order.[78] In Quebec, Honoré Mercier[79] exploited the discontent to reconstitute the Parti National. This party, which promoted Quebec nationalism, won a majority in the 1886 Quebec election by winning a number of seats formerly controlled by the Quebec Conservative Party. The federal election of 1887 likewise saw significant gains by the federal Liberals, again at the expense of the Conservatives. This led to the victory of the Liberal party under Sir Wilfrid Laurier in the federal election of 1896, which in turn set the stage for the domination of Canadian federal politics by the Liberal party in the 20th century.

Revoking Riel’s conviction

That Riel’s name still has resonance in Canadian politics was evidenced on 16 November 1994, when Suzanne Tremblay, a Bloc Québécois member of parliament, introduced private members’ bill C-228, “An Act to revoke the conviction of Louis David Riel”.[80] The unsuccessful bill was widely perceived in English Canada as an attempt to arouse support for Quebec nationalism before the 1995 referendum on Quebec sovereignty.[81] Bill C-213 or Louis Riel Day Act and Bill C-417 Louis Riel Act are the more notable acts which have gone through parliament.[82] Bill C-297 to revoke the conviction of Louis Riel was introduced to the House of Commons 21 October and 22 November 1996, however the motion lacked unanimous consent from the House and was dropped.[83] Bill C-213[84] or the Louis Riel Day Act of 1997 attempted to revoke the conviction of Louis Riel for high treason and establish a National Day in his honour on 16 November.[85] Bill C-417[86] or the Louis Riel Act which also had a first reading in parliament to revoke the conviction of Louis Riel, and establish 15 July as Louis Riel Day was tabled.[87]

On 18 February 2008, the province of Manitoba officially recognized the first Louis Riel Day as a general provincial holiday. It will now fall on the third Monday of February each year in the Province of Manitoba.[89]


Historians have debated the Riel case so often and so passionately that he is the most written-about person in all of Canadian history.[90] Interpretations have varied dramatically over time. The first amateur English language histories hailed the triumph of civilization, represented by English-speaking Protestants, over savagery represented by the half-breed Métis who were Catholic and spoke French. Riel was portrayed as an insane traitor and an obstacle to the expansion of Canada to the West.[91][92] By the mid-20th century academic historians had dropped the theme of savagery versus civilization, deemphasized the Métis, and focused on Riel, presenting his execution as a major cause of the bitter division in Canada along ethnocultural and geographical lines of religion and language. W. L. Morton says of the execution:

[It] gave rise to a bitter and prolonged reaction which convulsed the course of national politics for the next decade. In Ontario it had been demanded and applauded by the Orange element as the punishment of treason and a vindication of loyalty. In Quebec Riel was defended, despite his apostasy and megalomania, as the symbol, indeed as a hero of his race.[93]

Morton argued that Riel’s demands were unrealistic:

[They] did touch on some real grievances, such as the need for increased representation of the people in the Council of the Territories, but they did not present a program of practical substance which the government might have granted without betrayal of its responsibilities….the Canadian government can hardly be blamed for refusing to continue its private negotiations with him, or for sending in the troops to suppress rebellion.[94]

The Catholic bishops had originally supported the Métis, but reversed themselves when they realized that Riel was leading a heretical movement. They made sure that he was not honored as a martyr.[95] However the bishops lost their influence during the Quiet Revolution, and activists in Québec found in Riel the perfect hero, with the image now of a freedom fighter who stood up for his people against an oppressive government in the face of widespread racist bigotry. His insanity was ignored and he was made a folk hero by the Francophones, the Catholic nationalists, the native rights movement, and the New Left student movement. Activists who espoused violence embraced his image; in the 1960s, the Quebec terrorist group, the Front de libération du Québec adopted the name “Louis Riel” for one of its terrorist cells.[96]

Across Canada there emerged a new interpretation of reality in his rebellion, holding that the Métis had major unresolved grievances; that the government was indeed unresponsive; that Riel resorted to violence only as a last resort; and he was given a questionable trial, then executed by a vengeful government.[97] John Foster said in 1985 that:

the interpretive drift of the last half-century…has witnessed increasingly shrill though frequently uncritical condemnations of Canadian government culpability and equally uncritical identification with the “victimization” of the “innocent” Métis.[98]

However, a leading specialist Thomas Flanagan reversed his views after editing Riel’s writings:

As I sifted the evidence this became less and less convincing to me until I concluded that the opposite was closer to the truth: that the Métis grievances were at least partly of their own making; that the government was on the verge of resolving them when the Rebellion broke out; that Riel’s resort to arms could not be explained by the failure of constitutional agitation and that he received a surprisingly fair trial.[99]

As for the insanity, historians have noted that many religious leaders the past have exhibited behavior that looks exactly like insanity. Flanigan emphasizes that Riel exemplified the tradition of religious mystics involved in politics, especially those with a sense that the world was about to be totally transformed by their religious vision. In his case it meant his delivering the Métis from colonial domination. More broadly, Flanagan argues that Riel was devoutly religious and rejected equalitarianism (which he equated with secularism), concluding he was “a millenarian theocrat, sympathetic to the ‘ancien régime’ and opposed to the French Revolution, democracy, individualism, and secular society.”[100][101]

Métis scholars have noted that Riel is a more important figure to non-Métis than to Métis; he is the only Métis figure most non-Métis are aware of. Political scientists such as Thomas Flanagan have pointed out certain parallels between Riel’s following during the North-West Rebellion and millenarian cults.


A resolution was passed by Parliament on 10 March 1992 citing that Louis Riel was the founder of Manitoba.[102] Two statues of Riel are located in Winnipeg.[103] One of the Winnipeg statues, the work of architect Étienne Gaboury and sculptor Marcien Lemay, depicts Riel as a naked and tortured figure. It was unveiled in 1970 and stood in the grounds of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba for 23 years. After much outcry (especially from the Métis community) that the statue was an undignified misrepresentation, the statue was removed and placed at the Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface. It was replaced in 1994 with a statue designed by Miguel Joyal depicting Riel as a dignified statesman. The unveiling ceremony was on 16 May 1996, in Winnipeg.[102]

A statue of Riel on the grounds of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina was installed and later removed for similar reasons.[104]

In numerous communities across Canada, Riel is commemorated in the names of streets, schools, neighbourhoods, and other buildings. Examples in Winnipeg include the landmark Esplanade Rielpedestrian bridge linking Old Saint-Boniface with Winnipeg, the Louis Riel School Division, Louis Riel Avenue in Old Saint-Boniface, and Riel Avenue in St. Vital’s Minnetonka neighbourhood (which is sometimes called Riel). The student centre and campus pub at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon are named after Riel (Place Riel and Louis’, respectively).[105] Highway 11, stretching from Regina to just south of Prince Albert, has been named Louis Riel Trail by the province; the roadway passes near locations of the 1885 rebellion.[106] One of the student residences at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia is named Louis Riel House. There is a Louis Riel School in Calgary, Alberta.[107] and Ottawa, Ontario.[108] On 26 September 2007, Manitoba legislature passed a bill establishing a statutory holiday on the third Monday in February as Louis Riel Day, the same day some other provinces celebrate Family Day, beginning in 2008.[109] The first Louis Riel Day was celebrated on 18 February 2008. This new statutory holiday coincides with the celebration on 15–24 February of the Festival du Voyageur.

In the spring of 2008, the Government of Saskatchewan Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Christine Tell proclaimed in Duck Lake that “the 125th commemoration, in 2010, of the 1885 Northwest Resistance is an excellent opportunity to tell the story of the prairie Métis and First Nations peoples’ struggle with Government forces and how it has shaped Canada today.”[110] One of three Territorial Government Buildings remains on Dewdney Avenue in the Saskatchewan capital city of Regina, Saskatchewan which was the site of the Trial of Louis Riel, where the drama the “Trial of Louis Riel” is still performed. Following the May trial, Louis Riel was hanged 16 November 1885. The RCMP Heritage Centre, in Regina, opened in May 2007.[111][112][113] The Métis brought his body to his mother’s home, now the Riel House National Historic Site, and then interred at the St. Boniface Basilica in Manitoba, his birthplace, for burial.[114][115]

Arts, literature and popular culture

In 1925, the French writer Maurice Constantin-Weyer who lived 10 years in Manitoba published in French a fictionalized biography of Louis Riel titled La Bourrasque. An English translation/adaptation was published in 1930 : A Martyr’s Folly (Toronto, The Macmillan Company), and a new version in 1954, The Half-Breed (New York, The Macaulay Compagny).[116]

Portrayals of Riel’s role in the Red River Rebellion include the 1979 CBC television film Riel and Canadian cartoonist Chester Brown’s acclaimed 2003 graphic novel Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography.[117]

In the 1940 film North West Mounted Police Riel is portrayed by Francis McDonald.

An opera about Riel entitled Louis Riel was commissioned for Canada’s centennial celebrations in 1967. It was an opera in three acts, written by Harry Somers, with an English and French libretto by Mavor Moore and Jacques Languirand. The Canadian Opera Company produced and performed the first run of the opera in September and October 1967.[118]

From the late 1960s until the early 1990s, the city of Saskatoon hosted “Louis Riel Day”, a summer celebration that included a relay race that combined running, backpack carrying, canoeing, hill climbing, and horseback riding along the South Saskatchewan River in the city’s downtown core. Traditionally, the event also included a cabbage roll eating contest and tug-of-war competition, as well as live musical performances. Although not affiliated with the Saskatoon Exhibition, for years Louis Riel Day was scheduled for the day before the start of the fair, and as such came to be considered the Exhibition’s unofficial kick-off (the scheduling of the two events was separated in later years). The event was discontinued when major sponsors pulled out.

Billy Childish wrote a song entitled “Louis Riel”, which was performed by Thee Headcoats. Texas musician Doug Sahm wrote a song entitled “Louis Riel,” which appeared on the album S.D.Q. ’98.[119] In the song, Sahm likens the lore surrounding Riel to David Crockett’s legend in his home state, spinning an abridged tale of Riel’s life as a revolutionary: “…but you gotta respect him for what he thought was right… And all around Regina they talk about him still – why did they have to kill Louis Riel?”[120]

The Seattle-based Indie rock band Grand Archives also wrote a song entitled “Louis Riel” that appears on their 2008 self-titled album.

A track entitled Snowin’ Today: A Lament for Louis Riel appears on the 2009 album Live: Two Nights In March by Saskatchewan singer/guitarist Little Miss Higgins; a studio version features on her 2010 release Across The Plains.

On 22 October 2003, the Canadian news channel CBC Newsworld and its French-language equivalent, Réseau de l’information, staged a simulated retrial of Riel.[121] Viewers were invited to enter a verdict on the trial over the internet, and more than 10,000 votes were received—87% of which were “not guilty”.[122] The results of this straw poll led to renewed calls for Riel’s posthumous pardon. Also on the basis of a public poll, the CBC’s Greatest Canadian project ranked Riel as the 11th “Greatest Canadian”.[123]

An episode of the TV-series How the West Was Won from 1979 was named L’Affaire Riel, featuring Louis Riel while in exile in the United States.[124]

In 2001, Canadian sketch comedy troupe Royal Canadian Air Farce featured Riel in its send-up of the CBC documentary series Canada: A People’s History. Significant parallels were drawn between Riel’s actions and those of modern-day Québécois separatists, and the comedian who portrayed Riel was made up to look like then-Premier Lucien Bouchard.



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  79. Jump up^ Lindsay, Lionel (1911). “Louis-Honore Mercier”The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
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  82. Jump up^ “Bill Re-Introduced”LEGISINFO – The Library of Parliament’s research tool for finding information on legislation. The House of Commons of Canada. Archived from the original on 29 December 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
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  84. Jump up^ “BILL C-213”Parliament Canada. The House of Commons of Canada. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
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  86. Jump up^ “BILL C-417 first reading”Parliament Canada. The House of Commons of Canada. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
  87. Jump up^ Préfontaine, Darren R. (2006). “Riel, Louis “David” (1844–85)”Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
  88. Jump up^ “Bills Re-Introduced”LEGISINFO – The Library of Parliament’s research tool for finding information on legislation. The House of Commons of Canada. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
  89. Jump up^ “Employment Standards (Louis Riel Day)”Manitoba Labor Board – Employee Standards – Louis Riel Day Factsheet. The Government of Manitoba. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  90. Jump up^ Doug Owram, ed., Canadian History: A Reader’s Guide: vol. 2, Confederation to the Present (1994) p 18
  91. Jump up^ R. Douglas Francis; Richard Jones; Donald B. Smith (2009). Journeys: A History of Canada. Cengage Learning. pp. 306–7.
  92. Jump up^ D. N. Sprague, Canada and the Métis, 1869-1885 (1988) p 1
  93. Jump up^ William Lewis Morton (1963). The Kingdom of Canada: A General History from Earliest Times. McClelland and Stewart. p. 371.
  94. Jump up^ Morton (1963). The Kingdom of Canada. p. 369.
  95. Jump up^ Roberto Perin, Rome in Canada: The Vatican and Canadian Affairs in the Late Victorian Age (1990) p 259
  96. Jump up^ John T. Saywell, ed., Canadian Annual Review of Politics and Public Affairs: 1971(1973) p 94
  97. Jump up^ Thomas Flanagan, Riel and the Rebellion: 1885 Reconsidered (2000) p. x
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  100. Jump up^ Thomas Flanagan, “Louis Riel: Icon of the Left,” Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada (1986), Vol 1, pp 219-228.
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  123. Jump up^ “ – The Greatest Canadian – Top 100 – 11 to 100”Meet Some Great Canadians. CBC. 2007. Archived from the original on 9 November 2007. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
  124. Jump up^ “How the West Was Won, Affaire Riel, L”Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 18 July 2008.

Daily Inspiration for November 16: Finding Our Own Paths

Finding Our Own Paths



Beginning our spiritual path is highly personal and we all enter a path that speaks to us, even if it is different than our neighbor.

Entering into our own spirituality is a private journey. Each of us will be drawn to a different gateway to begin on our personal path to awakening to a greater experience of ourselves. Even though we may be taught certain philosophies or beliefs as children, we still need to find our own way of understanding and applying them in our lives. For those who are raised without a spiritual framework, they may not even know their process as a form of spirituality. But at some stage in their lives, whether in youth or adulthood, they are likely to recognize the resonance of their beliefs, the ring of truth in their philosophy, and their dedication to their chosen purpose.

Our inner guidance will lead us, so that we will be drawn to the right doorway for us–a doorway that only we can recognize by the way it makes us feel inside. It could be a picture of an angel or the gift of a crystal. We may meet someone special who shares their experiences with us in a way that we find intriguing. While visiting the home of an admired friend, we may notice a book or statue of a diety, and ask why they chose those tools. Or a word or phrase may catch our attention in a song, or a lecture. For some they may find their way by walking through the experience of illness before they begin the search for what will help them to truly heal, while others may seek physical improvement and stumble across yoga or meditation–only to find that it leads them to an unexpected place beyond the body.

As we awaken to ourselves and to life, we will become more attuned to what is right for us. The universe speaks to all of us through infinite channels, but we each have our own frequency. Others may share what worked for them, but only we can decide what truly makes us feel inspired, awakened, connected, fully conscious, aware and alive. Whatever our path, it is perfect and is meant especially for us.


Daily OM

American Revolution: Major Events 1778

8 January: Washington in general orders observed that vice of gambling was again becoming prevalent and directed “exemplary punishment” of any officer or enlisted man caught gambling, or playing with cards and dice in any way. This order was only one of many issued during war to curb gambling.

25 January: Washington ordered West Point be fortified.

27 January: Marines and seamen from U.S. Navy sloop Providence raided New Providence (Nassau), Bahamas, and seized forts, marking first time Stars and Stripes appeared over foreign stronghold.

6 February: Representatives of France and the United States signed treaties of alliance and of amity and commerce.

14 February: Stars and Stripes was first seen and saluted in European waters at Quiberon, France.

23 February: Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge, where he instituted training program that transformed Washington’s army into much more effective fighting force.

26 February: Congress requested states to institute drafts from their militia for nine months Continental service in order to fill their respective regiments. First national draft in American history.

9 March: As measure to dissuade Americans from ratifying Franco-American treaty of alliance, Parliament approved British Prime Minister Lord North’s proposals for conciliation, including suspension, as necessary, of all acts passed since 17 53 to which Americans objected.

18 March: British and patriot foraging parties clashed at Quinton’s Bridge, New Jersey, three miles south of Salem. Patriots, deceived by clever trap, lost about 40, British only one mortally wounded.

20 March: King Louis XVI of France formally received American commissioners Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee.

21 March: Loyalist force made murderous attack on patriot militia group at Hancock’s Bridge, New Jersey, killing some loyalists as well as patriots in process.

21 March: Final orders issued to General Sir Henry Clinton, who was to relieve Howe as British commander in North America, to send a force of 5,000 to the West Indies and 3,000 men to Florida, and to withdraw the rest of his troops in Philadelphia to New York.
23-24 April: John Paul Jones, commanding USS Ranger) raided Whitehaven, England, nearby St. Mary’s Isle off Scotland, then engaged and defeated HMS Drake) off Belfast, Ireland.

30 April: Great chain stretched across Hudson River between West Point and Constitution Island to hinder British attempts to ascend the river.

1 May: British force of 700 attacked patriot outpost with hardly a tenth of this strength at Crooked Billet Tavern, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Patriots lost about 40, British nine.

4 May: Congress ratified treaties of alliance and of amity and commerce between United States and France.

5 May: Congress approved Washington’s plan for a well organized inspectorship and appointed General Steuben Inspector General.

18 May: British Army bade farewell to its commander, Sir William Howe, in an extravagant festival-The Mischianza [The Mischianza (pronounced [miˈskjantsa]; Italian for “medley” or “mixture”), or Meschianza, was an elaborate fête given in honor of British General Sir William Howe in Philadelphia on May 18, 1778.]-in Philadelphia.

20 May: Learning that British were preparing to evacuate Philadelphia, Washington, from Valley Forge, sent out reconnaissance force of 2,200 under Lafayette that took a position at Barren Hill, Pennsylvania, half way toward city. British force of 5,000 tried to trap Continentals, but after minor skirmishing Lafayette cleverly escaped back across Schuylkill with only minor loss.

24 May: From Newport, British dispatched raiding party of 500 that first burned and plundered Warren, Rhode Island, then destroyed 22 dwellings and a church in neighboring Bristol.

25 May: General Howe departed from Philadelphia for England, and General Sir Henry Clinton succeeded him as British Commander-in-Chief.

27 May: Congress approved new establishment for Continental Army, including reorganization of infantry, artillery, and cavalry units, establishment of provost corps and three engineer companies, and other changes.

6 June: Carlisle Peace Commission, bearing Lord North’s proposals for conciliation with Americans, arrived in Philadelphia.

13-17 June: Congress, meeting at York, Pennsylvania, received Lord North’s conciliatory proposals and four days later informed Carlisle Peace Commission that United States would negotiate with Great Britain only on bases of independence and of treaty of peace and commerce consistent with treaty already entered into with France.

18 June: British army of 10,000 under Clinton evacuated Philadelphia for overland march to New York, and on same day Washington’s army left Valley Forge in pursuit.

28 June: Washington’s forward troops under General Charles Lee attacked Clinton’s column withdrawing to New York at Monmouth, New Jersey (Monmouth Campaign), and last major engagement of war in North developed. Outcome was tactical draw, but British losses, including deserters, which may have totaled 1,200, exceeded American of 350 or so.

2 July: American Congress again met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, following British evacuation.

3-4 July: Mixed loyalist-Indian force entering Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania (north and south of modern Wilkes-Barre), first defeated patriot defending force and then plundered upper valley and massacred prisoners before withdrawing to New York.

4 July: Lt. Col. George Rogers Clark, on commission from Virginia with about 200 frontiersmen, surprised British post at Kaskaskia, Illinois, on east bank of Mississippi River south of St. Louis, and captured it without firing a shot.

8 July: Admiral Jean Comte d’Estaing arrived off Delaware Capes with fleet of 16 ships and 4,000 soldiers, first direct French military reinforcement of American patriots. Accompanying fleet was newly appointed French minister to the United States, Conrad Gerard, first diplomatic representative to new nation.

11-22 July: D’Estaing’s fleet moved to Sandy Hook on 11 July and stayed for II days before the French commander abandoned hope of getting his ships over the sandbar to attack Lord Richard Howe’s inferior British fleet. On the 22nd, D’Estaing sailed for Newport.

18 July: Indians led by Joseph Brant plundered and burned settlement at Andrustown, New York.

20 July: English post at Vincennes, Indiana, like Kaskaskia inhabited mostly by French, agreed to shift its allegiance to American side without resistance, and in early August small party from Clark’s expedition took over fort and command of local militia.

27 July: Naval battle off Ushant (modern Ile d’Ouessant), Brittany, opened hostilities between France and Great Britain.

29 July: D’Estaing arrived at Point Judith, Rhode Island, and began concerting measures with American General John Sullivan for attack on Newport.

5 August: French Admiral Suffren forced Sakonnet (East) Passage at Newport, leading to destruction of number of British ships and clearing way for French ships to move up Middle Passage and land troops.

8-9 August: American troops under Sullivan moved into position and some French troops landed in Rhode Island for attack on Newport.

10-11 August: D’Estaing re-embarked French troops and sailed out to meet Admiral Richard Howe’s British fleet off Newport. Fleets were dispersed by a violent storm before becoming seriously engaged. D’Estaing then returned off Newport but refused to enter passage and disembark troops to cooperate with Sullivan. Instead on 21 August he sailed off to Boston for repairs to his fleet, leaving Sullivan’s force besieging Newport stranded.

29 August: After departure of French, Sullivan’s force abandoned siege of Newport and while withdrawing to north end of Rhode Island was attacked by British at Quaker Hill. In heavy fighting Americans lost more than 200 of 1,500 engaged, British more than 250 of somewhat larger attacking force. Regiment of Rhode Island Negro soldiers distinguished itself in this battle.

4 September: The United States and The Netherlands signed treaty of amity and commerce.

5-6 September: British raiding force landing near New Bedford, Massachusetts, destroyed 70 vessels and large number of buildings there, then destroyed mills and houses at Fairhaven on opposite shore of Acushnet River.

8 September: British force that had raided New Bedford area next attacked island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, destroying vessels and seizing large number of sheep and oxen for British Army consumption and use.

13 September: Force of 300 loyalists and 150 Indians raided German Flats (modern Herkimer), New York, burning most of its buildings and carrying away livestock; but forewarned patriots had taken refuge in fort and casualties were slight.

14 September: Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin minister plenipotentiary to court of France.

24 September: Two large British foraging expeditions left New York City and marched up Hudson, Cornwallis on west side with 5,000 men and Knyphausen on east side with 3,000 men. Washington sent out small bodies to harass them and check movement.

25 September: Congress appointed General Benjamin Lincoln commander of the Southern Department and requested Virginia and North Carolina to come to the aid of South Carolina and Georgia with men and supplies without loss of time.

28 September: British force surprised about 100 sleeping Continental dragoons at Old Tappan, New Jersey, bayoneting 30 and capturing 50.

6-7 October: Force of 400 landing from British ships did heavy damage to patriot privateering base near Great Bay (Egg Harbor), New Jersey.

6-8 October: Continental detachment raided Unadilla, New York, where Joseph Brant had established base after settlers evacuated in face of Indian pressure.

15 October: British troops that had attacked Great Bay area surprised advanced post of infantrymen from General Casimir Pulaski’s patriot legion, sent to drive enemy away, and before main patriot body could intervene British killed about 40 Americans before withdrawing to their ships.

4 November: Sir Henry Clinton finally carried out orders to detach troops to West Indies; on this date 5,800-man force under General James Grant departed New York to take part in expedition against St. Lucia.

11 November: Loyalists and Indians attacked Cherry Valley, New York, killing several soldiers and more than 30 non-combatants and carrying off 71 prisoners.

27 November: British expeditionary force of 3,500 sailed from New York harbor for attack on Georgia, leaving Clinton with total force of about 17,000 in New York.

17 December: British force from Detroit, increased by Indian allies picked up along the way, recaptured Vincennes, Indiana.

28 December: French island of St. Lucia surrendered to British after heavy fighting, marking opening of major Anglo-French operations in the West Indies.

29 December: Savannah, Georgia, was captured by British expeditionary force that had landed on Savannah River below town and then outmaneuvered and overwhelmed American defending force under General Robert Howe. British lost only 13. Americans lost 83 killed or drowned and 453 taken prisoner.


SOURCE: War of the American Revolution; BY: Robert W. Coakley & Steton Conn
CNTRIBUTOR: Frances Thompson

Mercury Retrograde Dos and Don’ts

Keep moving forward while Mercury moves backward

There is one golden rule when it comes to Mercury Retrograde phases. Interestingly enough, it’s grammatical. If you can commit this simple tenet to memory then you’ll find that retrograde cycles of Mercury are not only easier to navigate, but also rich with potential for growth and personal development.

Ready class? Here’s the rule. Remember back in grade school when you learned about the prefix “re?” Well, a prefix is placed before the root of a word and this one means “again.” All you need to remember is that during any Mercury Retrograde cycle, if you’re doing something that begins with “re” such as reassess, revise, revisit, reconnect, redo, recall, resay, refresh, you’re right on track. If you’re not then stop immediately or else suffer the Mercury Retrograde migraine!

Here’s a top list of dos and don’ts that will help you navigate the confusion around any Mercury Retrograde phase, and don’t forget to save and share the graphic below for a reminder all Mercury Retrograde!

DON’T initiate. DO finish what you’ve started.
No matter how fantastic your new plan may be, hold off on the launch while Mercury is trekking backwards. There’s a high probability that you’re missing crucial information or that whatever you pitch to others isn’t going to sound as phenomenal to them as it does to you. Instead, use Mercury’s Retrograde as a time to take stock of whatever you’ve already got going on and do your best to polish up and finish existing projects.

This certainly holds true for writing projects (and Mercury Retrograde is a perfect time to edit and revise work). However, it also applies to all areas of your life, from work, money and relationships. Usually, it’s best to not start a new job, get married or begin a new financial chapter in your life now. Polish up your resume, plan your wedding or research investments instead.

DON’T purchase big ticket items. DO comparison shop.
You should not purchase any big ticket item such as a car, computer, appliance or even a piece of jewelry during Mercury’s retrograde for several reasons. First, if it has moving or electronic parts, there’s a good chance that you’ll find a glitch. Repairs are fine (and a perfect prefix) on existing equipment … however no one should have to repair a brand new item! In addition, during Mercury retrograde you might not receive the best bargain if you rush to purchase. If you can wait for your item, it’ll be wiser to shop after Mercury is direct. In the meantime, comparison shop and spend more time thinking about what you really want. You might find that you’ve changed your mind completely by the time Mercury turns direct!

DON’T sign contracts, make verbal agreements or life altering decisions. DO renegotiate, mediate and reconsider existing ones.
This might be the most widely known tip about Mercury Retrograde, but it bears clarification. If at all possible, avoid new agreements! Because once you sign the dotted line or give that handshake, you will likely find that a series of events or misunderstandings cause the initial pact to change or fall apart. Instead, this is a good time to consider a renegotiation. Is your lease up for renewal on your apartment? Now is the time to either shop around or do research on a better agreement to propose to your landlord once Mercury turns direct.

Are you considering asking for a raise? Use this cycle to recognize what you are worth but also to reevaluate whether or not you’re offering your best to the company you work for. If you’re not, now is the time to implement revisions. Are you ready to break up with your lover? Even if your mind is made up, you’ll want to wait. A life altering decision implemented under Mercury retrograde has a waffling effect. You might go through a “make up and break up” phase that is exhausting. If you want a clean break and you’re sure, wait until Mercury is direct. There will be no confusion or second guessing!

DON’T hide under a rock and stop living. DO expect delays and snafus.
Preparation and patience are key during Mercury Retrograde cycles. If, for example, you have a trip planned and you notice it’s during a Mercury Retrograde, don’t cancel your plans and stop living! Instead, consider the added potential for mishaps and prepare accordingly. Recheck your baggage to ensure you’ve packed everything vital. Make sure you have all the proper documentation for your trip. Anticipate delays due to the added issue of miscommunication. Roll with it!

In short, Mercury Retrograde cycles are not meant to be the source of endless aggravation. However, if you go against the flow of this cycle you’re likely to experience more stress. Taking pause every now and then allows us to gain a new perspective and realize what we might have missed in the past. Now we get a chance to fix it and become even stronger because of it … thank you Mercury Retrograde!


 is Part of the Daily Insight Group ©2018

This Again?! What Mercury Retrograde Means for Your Sign

Read your FREE Mercury Retrograde horoscope

On November 16, 2018 planet Mercury goes retrograde for the last time this year, pushing us to look at the fine print and reflect on what we’ve done. With Mercury beginning its retrograde in truth-seeking Sagittarius , a place that’s not exactly comfortable for Mercury because of the Sagittarian nature to skip over important details, we’ll need to be extra careful in paying attention to the facts. Mercury Retrograde in Sagittarius will also be teaching us the value of thinking before we speak, while showing us the ways we need to honor and tell the truth. By December 1, Mercury dips back into secretive and intuitive Scorpio where it will stay retrograde until December 6. Through Mercury’s dive back down into the underworld, our lessons will involve going back and uncovering information that we may have been previously unaware of — or have tried to avoid — and bringing it to light.

Read below to see what this Mercury Retrograde means for your zodiac sign…

Aries Horoscope (March 21 – April 19)

You probably haven’t been feeling as adventurous as of late, but this retrograde is here to help rekindle your spark. If you’ve put some travel plans on the backburner, or if you’ve been thinking about revisiting a place that you love, go. Just make sure you leave room for a few travel hiccups. Thinking about going back to school? This is also a good time for that. And if you’ve been working on a book project, retrogrades are great for revisions. In terms of an intimate relationship, you could get the chance to go back and say the things you didn’t before.


Taurus Horoscope (April 20 – May 20)

You may need to do a double take where your finances are concerned as this retrograde could cause some confusion around your bills and expenses. If you’ve been paying more than your fair share of a bill or more than you can afford, this retrograde period could help you to renegotiate the terms of your payment. On a separate note, this Mercury Retrograde could bring some things up for discussion between you and an intimate partner, especially if those things have been things you’ve been trying to avoid. Talking about these uncomfortable matters will help you to clear the air and move forward.


Gemini Horoscope (May 21 – June 20)

Relationships are the focus now, which means you’ll have to make sure you’re crystal clear when it comes to communicating with others. This may mean going the extra mile to ensure you and everyone else are on the same page when making plans, communicating via text or email, or doing something as simple as holding a conversation. If there’s an agreement or contract on the table, try to give yourself as much time as possible to read the fine print and think things through before saying “yes.” In terms of your schedule, the less on your plate, the better.


Cancer Horoscope (June 21 – July 22)

One day at a time. That’s the message for you now as plans and events could quickly go awry if you try to take on too much or move too quickly without paying attention to the details. You can keep things under control at the office by consistently communicating with your coworkers and backing up documents, emails, files, etc. Your health is in the spotlight too as this is also a good time for scheduling a check-up. In love, an ex could return. However, this could also be a good time to review what you can improve in your love life.


Leo Horoscope (July 23 – Aug. 22)

Love and romance are on your mind for the next few weeks and an old lover or two could make a curtain call under this retrograde. Just know it will be up to you in terms of how things go. Your ex is more than likely your ex for a good reason. Try not to let nostalgia muddy your thinking. On the flip side, if things ended (or never got off the ground) due to more bittersweet circumstances, the second time might be the charm. On a different note, be wary of miscommunication when it comes to dealing with family.


Virgo Horoscope (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22)

A home or family situation may come up for review. Perhaps repairs will be needed around the house, or you may have the opportunity to renew a lease. If things have been a bit weird between you and a family member or a roommate, you could get the opportunity to set the record straight. When it comes to the folks you love, reconnecting with long lost family members could be just the thing you need. On another note, tech and communication could get a bit glitchy. The best way to deal with the frustration is to slow down and remember to breathe.


Libra Horoscope (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22)

With Mercury backing up in your zone of communication, you can expect all the Mercury Retrograde rules to apply to you over the next few weeks. Some of the rules are: Back up your important files. Proofread emails, documents, messages, etc. Watch what you post on social media. Give yourself some extra travel time but make room for delays and last-minute cancellations. And before you sign on or agree to anything, make sure you know all the details. When it comes to money, remember how much you’re worth. Some renegotiation may be necessary around a financial contract.


Scorpio Horoscope (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21)

It’s time for you to take a closer look at your cash. Does everything look legit? Do you need to follow up with the people who may owe you money? You’re going to have to be on top of the dollars going in and out of your bank account, so you can avoid a major headache down the line. And when it comes to making a big-ticket purchase, researching the product you’re buying before you buy can help avoid having to return or repair it later. Meanwhile, now’s your chance to speak up and clear the air.


Sagittarius Horoscope (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21)

You’re a tell-it-like-it-is kind of person, but under this retrograde you might want to take a few moments to think things through before you speak. Otherwise, your message may not be received the way you intend. At the same time, when it comes to your thoughts and words, it’s time to review the way you use them. Could you stand to be more gentle or compassionate with what you say to yourself or others? On a similar note, there will be times when certain things may be better left unsaid. Don’t let discretion become an issue. Listening pays off.


Capricorn Horoscope (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19)

You’re thinking might be a bit foggy for the next couple of weeks as Mercury spins backwards in your zone of rest and retreat. That means you may want to hold off on making any major decisions or overanalyzing a situation. The answers will come when you’re not so close to the subject. Instead, clear your mind and find your Zen. Creative or solo projects could be the perfect outlet for you now. On a separate note, reconnecting with old friends can feed your soul. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them if you need a little comfort and company.


Aquarius Horoscope (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18)

You may have to go the extra mile under this retrograde to make sure you’re on the same page with everyone else when it comes to event planning or anything that involves working with folks on a team. In terms of your circle of friends, a miscommunication could push you to address an issue that’s been festering for some time. Welcome the dialogue. Meanwhile, keep in mind that your dreams are worth pursuing, even if you have to make some adjustments. When it comes to work-related deadlines, presentations, or events, don’t leave anything up to chance. Be prepared.


Pisces Horoscope (Feb. 19 – March 20)

Your career comes into the spotlight during this Mercury Retrograde. With all the attention on you now, know it will be super important for you to dot your i’s and cross your t’s when it comes to information you need to share with the public or your higher-ups. On a different note, this retrograde could have you rethinking your career trajectory, pushing you to come up with a viable plan of action in getting yourself to the top. This plan could include returning to school or getting additional training in your field of choice. Lastly, don’t be afraid to challenge old beliefs. is Part of the Daily Insight Group ©2018

The Daily Horoscopes for Friday, November 16th



The Daily Horoscopes for Friday, November 16th

Claire Petulengro, Astrologer

From The Astrology Room


ARIES (March 21st-April 20th)
I know you have had to face several problems recently, all of which had you over a barrel. That is all in the past now and I see (as you will too soon) that you are a better and stronger person for it. Conversations tonight confirm who you need to let lead for a while.

TAURUS (April 21st-May 21st)
I know it’s impossible to know if you are doing the right thing right now, but what you would see if you stopped to take a breath for a moment, is how well you are doing since you have had to digest what is life changing news. Keep up the good work.

GEMINI (May 22nd-June 21st)
You have worked hard and your worthy efforts are just about to pay off to your advantage. All you need to do is convince those around you, that you are worth their time and effort. Places you are asked to visit prove that someone’s willing to let you back in their life.

CANCER (June 22nd-July 23rd)
A home project you were just about to give up on, is given a helping hand by someone you weren’t even sure was on your side. Times have changed and so have you and what you need to ask yourself is, if you are willing to let past and present join with open arms.

LEO (July 24th-August 23rd)
Try to be nice to all you meet today, for it is the very faces you think will not help you to achieve your dreams who do in fact hold the magic key to your fate. Cancelled travel plans turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Try to go with the flow of events today instead of fighting them.

VIRGO (August 24th-September 23rd)
This is a really sensitive time of your life where, although you are trying to do what you deem is the right thing, you are still aware that there are some people around you who are going to get hurt anyway.

LIBRA (September 24th-October 23rd)
Try not to spend money you know you should be keeping for the upcoming changes you seek. You and I know you are more than capable of standing back and looking at the bigger picture. A new attraction moves the goalposts in many ways.

SCORPIO (October 24th-November 22nd)
You begin to look at life with a much more constructive and organized mind. No longer do you worry about the little things, but it is the long term you are planning and announcements you make today will confirm this to those around you.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23rd-December 21st)
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. You of all signs should know by now that it’s silly to try and achieve what you know in your heart is not possible. Just take baby steps which take you within your visions.

CAPRICORN (December 22nd-January 20th)
Money is not as easy to sort out as it seems and many of you Capricorns may find yourselves having to borrow money to pay out immediately. New ways to deal with difficult family members come with impulsive decisions you make in the days ahead.

AQUARIUS (January 21st-February 19th)
Originality implies being bold enough to go beyond accepted norms. Try to be who you want to be and don’t play to the role others wish to cast you in. Life is about to get more than a little exciting if you follow your heart and not your head my friend.

PISCES (February 20th-March 20th)
The stars cast you in a really attractive role which gives you both the chance and the opportunity to mix with those you have only ever previously admired from afar. Believe in yourself and the rest will happen. Leos play a key in your success story this year.


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Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Rescue of Erech by Izdubar (Part 4);Assyrian

Heabani, weary, eyes his native land,
And on his harp now lays his trembling hand;
The song has ended in a joyous lay,
And yet, alas! his hands but sadly play:
Unused to hope, the strings refuse their aid
To tune in sympathy, and heartless played.
Again the minstrel bows his head in woe,
And the hot tear-drops from his eyelids flow,
And chanting now a mournful melody,
O’er Erech’s fall, thus sang an elegy:

[1] “How long, O Ishtar, will thy face be turned,
While Erech desolate doth cry to thee?
Thy towers magnificent, oh, hast thou spurned?
Her blood like water in Ul-bar,[2] oh, see!
The seat of thine own oracle behold!
The fire hath ravaged all thy cities grand,
And like the showers of Heaven them all doth fold.
O Ishtar! broken-hearted do I stand!
Oh, crush our enemies as yonder reed!
For hopeless, lifeless, kneels thy bard to thee,
And, oh! I would exalt thee in my need,
From thy resentment, anger, oh, us free!”

With eyes bedimmed with tears, he careful scans
The plain, “Perhaps the dust of caravans
It is! But no!! I see long lines of spears!
A warrior from the lifting cloud appears,
And chariots arrayed upon the plain!
And is the glorious omen not in vain?
What! no?” He rubs his eyes in wild surprise,
And drinks the vision while he loudly cries:
“Oh, joy! our standards flashing from afar!
He comes! he comes! our hero Izdubar!”
He grasps his harp inspired, again to wake
In song–the cry of battle now doth break.

“Nin-a-rad,[3] servant of our great Nin,[4]
Shall lead our hosts to victory!
God of the chase and war, o’er him, oh, shine!
Tar-u-ma-ni iz-zu sar-ri![5]

“Let Elam fall! the cause of Accad’s woes,
Revenge of Erech, be the cry!
This land our father’s blessed, our king they chose,
Tar-u-ma-ni iz-zu sar-ri!
Our holy fathers sleep upon this plain,
We conquer, or we here will die;
For victory, then raise the cry, ye men!
Tar-u-ma-ni iz-zu sar-ri!”

The minstrel ceases, lifts his hands on high,
And still we hear his joyful waning cry:
Now echoed by yon hosts along the sky,
“He comes! Tar-u-ma-ni iz-zu sar-ri!
Great Accad’s hosts arrayed with spears and shields
Are coming! see them flashing o’er the fields!
And he! bright flashing as the god’s attire,
Doth lead in burnished gold, our king of fire.
His armor shines through yonder wood and fen,
That tremble ‘neath the tread of armed men.
See! from his jewelled breastplate, helmet, fly
The rays like Samas from the cloudless sky!
How martially he rides his sable steed,
That proudly treads and lifts his noble head,
While eagerly he gallops down the line,
And bears his princely load with porte divine;
And now, along the plains there sounds afar
The piercing bugle-note of Izdubar;
For Erech’s walls and turrets are in view,
And high the standards rise of varied hue.
The army halts; the twanging bows are strung;
And from their chariots the chieftains sprung.
The wheeling lines move at each chief’s command,
With chariots in front;

On either hand
Extend the lines of spears and cavalry,
A winged storm-cloud waiting for its prey:
And see! while Accad’s army ready waits,
The enemy are swarming from the gates.
The charge, from either host, the trumpets sound,
And bristling chariots from each army bound:
A cloud of arrows flies from Accad’s bows
That hides the sun, and falls among their foes.
Now roars the thunder of great Accad’s cars,
Their brazen chariots as blazing stars
Through Nuk-khu’s[6] depths with streams of blazing fire,
Thus fall upon the foe with vengeful ire.
The smoking earth shakes underneath their wheels,
And from each cloud their thunder loudly peals.
Thus Accad on their foes have fiercely hurled
Their solid ranks with Nin-rad’s flag unfurled,
The charging lines meet with a fearful sound,
As tempests’ waves from rocks in rage rebound;
The foe thus meet the men of Izdubar,
While o’er the field fly the fierce gods of war.
Dark Nin-a-zu[7] her torch holds in her hand.
With her fierce screams directs the gory brand;
And Mam-mit[8] urges her with furious hand,
And coiling dragons [9] poison all the land
With their black folds and pestilential breath,
In fierce delight thus ride the gods of death.

The shouts of Accad mingle with the cries
Of wounded men and fiery steeds, which rise
From all the fields with shrieks of carnage, war,
Till victory crowns the host of Izdubar.
The chariots are covered with the slain,
And crushed beneath lie dead and dying men,
And horses in their harness wounded fall,
With dreadful screams, and wildly view the wall
Of dying warriors piling o’er their heads,
And wonder why each man some fury leads;
And others break across the gory plain
In mad career till they the mountain gain;
And snorting on the hills in wild dismay,
One moment glance below, then fly away;
Away from sounds that prove their masters, fiends,
Away to freedom snuffing purer winds,
Within some cool retreat by mountain streams,
Where peacefully for them, the sun-light gleams.
At last the foe is scattered o’er the plain,
And Accad fiercely slays the flying men;
When Izdubar beholds the victory won
By Accad’s grand battalions of the sun,
His bugle-call the awful carnage stays,
Then loud the cry of victory they raise.
[Footnote 1: The above elegy is an Assyrian fragment remarkably similar to one of the psalms of the Jewish bible, and I believe it belongs to the Irdubar epic (W.A. I. IV. 19, No. 3; also see “Records of the Past,” vol. xi. p. 160).]—-[Footnote 2: “Ul-bar,” Bel’s temple.]—-[Footnote 3: “Nin-a-rad,” literally “servant of Nin,” or “Nin-mar-ad,” “Lord of the city of Marad.”]—-[Footnote 4: “Nin,” the god of the chase and war, or lord.]—-[Footnote 5: “Tar-u-ma-ni izzu sar-ri,” “son of the faith, the fire-king.”]—-[Footnote 6: “Nuk-khu,” darkness (god of darkness).]—-[Footnote 7: “Nin-a-zu,” god of fate and death.]—-[Footnote 8: “Mam-mit,” or “Mam-mi-tu,” goddess of fate.]—-[Footnote 9: “Dragons,” gods of chaos and death.]


SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature, Alc-1, Tab-1, Col-3); Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

European Headlines: 11-16-2018

Germany (DW): Cambodian war crimes court says Khmer Rouge committed genocide in historic ruling;A UN-backed war crimes court in Cambodia says the Khmer Rouge was guilty of genocide during its rule from 1975-1979. The court found two former top officials guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.

(DW) Theresa May defends draft Brexit deal amid conservative outcry; The British prime minister has faced shrill opposition to a draft deal from her own Cabinet and Conservative Party since she presented it on Wednesday. Some of her MPs want to oust her from office.

(DW) UK leadership challenge: How does it work?; A slew of ministerial resignations over the draft UK-EU Brexit deal has put even more pressure on embattled UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Is a leadership challenge on the cards?

(DW) Majority of Germans want Chancellor Angela Merkel to complete term; Merkel has said she would not be seeking a new term as CDU leader, prompting many to doubt her future as chancellor. The voters are not enthused about Merkel’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer remaining in office.

(DW) Mexico rules military fight against cartels is unlawful; Mexico’s top court has struck down a law that formalized the decade-old domestic deployment of the military. The miliary are widely seen as the only trustful agency capable of fighting against powerful drug cartels.

(DW) US denies it will deport Erdogan foe Fethullah Gulen to reduce heat on Saudis; The State Department has denied a report claiming the Trump administration was mulling how to deport Gulen. The move was reportedly designed to ease pressure on ally Saudi Arabia after a journalist was murdered.

(DW) Khashoggi killing: Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty for five suspects; Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for five of the suspects charged in the murder case of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi. However, he denied Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement.

(DW) Brawl breaks out in Sri Lanka parliament amid prime minister dispute; Sri Lankan lawmakers threw punches and objects in parliament after a political crisis left the country without a government. Germany’s ambassador to the country called the brawl “a bad day for democracy in Sri Lanka.”

(DW) Protesters call for Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ resignation; The billionaire former businessman is accused of pocketing millions of euros in EU funds along with two of his children. One of his sons said he was held involuntarily in Crimea in an effort to impede the criminal probe.

(DW) Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan freed on bail in France rape case; After several unsuccessful attempts, Tariq Ramadan was granted bail by a French court. Ramadan is accused of raping two French women, to whom he sent hundreds of texts that detailed violent sexual fantasies.

(DW) Gerhard Schröder labeled ‘enemy of the state’ in Ukraine; Controversial Ukrainian website Myrotvorets has added former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to its list of enemies of the state. It’s caused quite a stir — but that seems to be the desired effect.

(DW) Politics motivated Navalny arrests, European court rules; In a blow to the Kremlin, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that several arrests of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny were politically motivated. Moscow was ordered to pay over €50,000 in damages.

(DW) World Bank, Denmark act against Tanzania over discrimination of girls and gays; Discrimination of gays, young mothers and journalists is on the rise in Tanzania. Suspending the flow of money from abroad is one reaction but will this persuade President Magufuli to change his course?

(DW) Denied access to migrants, UN experts call off Hungary trip; A UN team was denied permission by the Hungarian government to visit transit zones housing migrants and asylum-seekers. The experts had been in the country on Budapest’s invitation.

(DW) German court bans diesel vehicles on key autobahn; For the first time, one of Germany’s famed motorways has been affected by a diesel ban. German cities have instituted or are bracing for bans on older diesel cars after violating European clean air laws for years.

FRANCE (France24) Seven UN peacekeepers killed in eastern DR Congo fighting; Seven United Nations peacekeepers were killed in an operation against a rebel militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive east, the UN said on Thursday.

(France24) Chinese community taps WeChat to fight Paris muggings; In early October, a video shared on Facebook showing the assault of a Chinese couple in Paris caused an outcry in a community that is increasingly prey to violent muggings. To confront the problem, support groups have emerged on WeChat, a Chinese instant messaging app

(France24) Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan wins conditional release in France rape case; Tariq Ramadan, a leading Islamic scholar held in France since February on charges he raped two women, on Thursday won conditional release after testifying in an appeals court.

(France24) Netanyahu coalition at a crossroads after Israeli defence minister quits; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plotted his next moves Thursday after his defence minister resigned over a controversial Gaza ceasefire, throwing his coalition into crisis and raising the possibility of early elections.

(France24) May vows to ‘see this through’ amid revolt against Brexit deal; British Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to fight for her draft divorce deal with the European Union on Thursday after the resignation of her Brexit secretary and other ministers put her strategy and her job in jeopardy

(France24) Migrant caravan reaches US-Mexico border to cold welcome; The Central American migrant caravan trekking toward the United States converged on the US-Mexican border Thursday after more than a month on the road, undeterred by President Donald Trump’s deployment of thousands of American troops near the border.

(France24) North Korea ‘tests ultramodern tactical weapon’; North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has overseen the testing of a “newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon”, Pyongyang’s state media reported Friday, in a move that will raise the temperature over denuclearisation talks.