HART, ADOLPHUS MORDECAI, lawyer and author; b. 11 April 1814 in Trois-Rivières, son of Ezekiel Hart* and Frances Lazarus, grandson of Aaron Hart*; d. 23 March 1879 in Montreal and buried in Trois-Rivières.
Adolphus Mordecai Hart took up the study of law and spent part of his time as a law clerk in the office of the attorney general of Lower Canada, Charles Richard Ogden*. He was admitted to the bar of Lower Canada on 19 May 1836. Along with his uncle Benjamin Hart* and Benjamin’s son Aaron Philip Hart, Adolphus Hart took part in the movement of the 1830s to obtain equal rights for Jews in Lower Canada, in particular to make it possible for Jews to take the oath as a justice of the peace by omitting the phrase “on the true faith of a Christian.” A law of 1832 granting Jews rights and privileges came under question, and the House of Assembly in 1834 formed a special committee to consider this legislation; Hart submitted evidence to it, which appears in the committee’s report.
While he was still a student, Hart also lodged a complaint in 1836 before the assembly, through Bartholomew Conrad Augustus Gugy, against the conduct of Judge Edward Bowen*. His complaint had some justification but was said to have been presented in such an exaggerated manner that the assembly would not pursue the case. Louis-Michel Viger* and Amable Berthelot* were authorized to make an inquiry; on 10 March 1836 the committee on grievances found the judge guilty.
Hart’s family home was in Trois-Rivières. Louis-Joseph Papineau came there to dinner in 1836, a significant occasion for nearly all the respectable English citizens of the town refused the invitation. Hart established a practice in the aftermath of the disturbances of 1837–38, and he defended several persons associated with them. In 1837, during the trial of “a rebel,” he was fined for contempt of court. In 1839 he pleaded for Joseph-Guillaume Barthe*, law student and journalist, and Richard Cook, saddler, both of Trois-Rivières, who were arrested for publicizing an address to the exiles of Bermuda.
In the early 1840s Adolphus Hart was living in Montreal and is recorded as a member of the Jewish synagogue. In 1846 he appears as an ensign in the 3rd battalion of militia. On 12 Dec. 1844 he had married Constance Hatton Hart, daughter of his uncle Benjamin Hart; they had three daughters and two sons, one of whom, Gerald Ephraim Hart*, became known as a historian, bibliophile, and numismatist. Constance Hatton Hart was the author of Household receipts; or domestic cookery by “A Montreal Lady” which had a second edition in 1867.
Hart went to the United States in 1850. He was active in the Democratic party in New York State, assisting with literature for the gubernatorial campaign of Horatio Seymour in 1854. He also wrote a number of works from 1850 onwards. Among these was a History of the discovery of the valley of the Mississippi (1852), one of the early discussions of this subject. Written for the general reader, and presenting events up to 1748, it had two editions in 1852; the story was extended in another edition in 1853. In 1854 came Uncle Tom in Paris; or views of slavery outside the cabin. He wrote also, under his own name or pseudonymously, on such topics as paper money and the liquor question. This writing activity was continued after he returned to Canada in 1857 and resumed his legal practice in Montreal. He wrote Practical suggestions on mining rights and privileges in Canada . . . in 1867. The political state and condition of her majesty’s Protestant subjects in the province of Quebec . . . , 1871, has been ascribed to him; the edition is reported to have been purchased and destroyed by the government.
Adolphus Hart suffered a stroke while pleading a case in court and died a few days later. The entire Montreal bar and most of the bench joined the escort for the body to the station, and the bar observed a month of mourning for him. At his funeral in Trois-Rivières, Alexander Abraham de Sola* officiated.
Adolphus Mordecai Hart published three works under the pseudonym of “Hampden”: A few thoughts on the liquor question (New York, 1854); The impending crises (New York, 1855); The political state and condition of her majesty’s Protestant subjects in the province of Quebec (since confederation) (Toronto, 1871). He also wrote History of the discovery of the valley of the Mississippi (1st ed., St Louis, Mo., 1852; rev. ed., Cincinnati, Ohio, 1853); History of the issues of paper-money in the American colonies, anterior to the revolution, explanatory of the historical chart of the paper-money of that period (St Louis, Mo., 1851); Life in the far west; or, The comical, quizzical, and tragical adventures of a Hoosier (Cincinnati, Ohio, ); Practical suggestions on mining rights and privileges in Canada; with an appendix containing the gold mining regulations . . . (Montreal, 1867); Uncle Tom in Paris; or, Views of slavery outside the cabin (Baltimore, Md., 1854).
McCord Museum, Hart papers. Lower Canada, House of Assembly, Journal, 1834, app.GG. Le Journal des Trois-Rivières, 31 mars 1879. Morgan, Bibliotheca Canadensis. P.-G. Roy, Les avocats de la région de Québec. M. H. Stern, Americans of Jewish descent; a compendium of genealogy (Cincinnati, Ohio, ). Wallace, Macmillan dictionary. Fauteux, Patriotes. V. B. Rhodenizer, Canadian literature in English (Montreal, 1965). David Rome, Jews in Canadian literature; a bibliography (2nd ed., 2v., Montreal, 1964), I, 1–3. Benjamin Sulte, Pages d’histoire du Canada (Montréal, 1891), 401–32. J.-P. Tremblay, A la recherche de Napoléon Aubin (Vie des lettres canadiennes, 7, Québec, 1969), 41–43.