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- Canada and the States - 40/71 -


Parliament, has conferred lasting obligations, upon these Provinces, this volume is very sincerely and cordially dedicated."

The last speech in this volume was delivered in the Legislative Assembly of Canada, at Quebec, on the 9th February, 1865. I venture to record some portion of it in this book:--

"With your approbation, Sir, and the forbearance of the House, I will endeavour to treat this subject in this way:--First, to give some slight sketch of the history of the question; then to examine the existing motives which ought to prompt us to secure a speedy union of these Provinces; then to speak of the difficulties which this question has encountered before reaching its present fortunate stage; then to say something of the mutual advantages, in a social rather than political point of view, which these Provinces will have in their union; and, lastly, to add a few words on the Federal principle in general: when I shall have done. In other words, I propose to consider the question of Union mainly from within, and, as far as possible, to avoid going over the ground already so fully and so much better occupied by hon. friends who have already spoken upon the subject.

"So far back as the year 1800, the Hon. Mr. Uniacke, a leading politician in Nova Scotia at that date, submitted a scheme of Colonial Union to the Imperial authorities. In 1815, Chief Justice Sewell, whose name will be well remembered as a leading lawyer of this city, and a far-sighted politician, submitted a similar scheme. In 1822, Sir John Beverley Robinson, at the request of the Colonial Office, submitted a project of the same kind; and I need not refer to the report of Lord Durham, on Colonial Union, in 1839. These are all memorable, and some of them are great, names. If we have dreamed a dream of Union (as some of you gentlemen say), it is at least worth while remarking that a dream which has been dreamed by such wise and good men, may, for aught we know, or you know, have been a sort of vision--a vision foreshadowing forthcoming natural events in a clear intelligence: a vision--I say it without irreverence, for the event concerns the lives of millions living, and yet to come--resembling those seen by the Daniels and Josephs of old, foreshadowing the trials of the future, the fate of tribes and peoples, the rise and fall of dynasties. But the immediate history of the measure is sufficiently wonderful, without dwelling on the remoter predictions of so many wise men. Whoever, in 1862, or even in 1863, would have told us that we should see even what we see in these seats by which I stand--such a representation of interests acting together, would be accounted, as our Scotch friends say, 'half daft'; and whoever, in the Lower Provinces, about the same time, would have ventured to foretell the composition of their delegations which sat with us under this roof last October, would probably have been considered equally demented. But the thing came about; and if those gentlemen who have had no immediate hand in bringing it about, and, therefore, naturally feel less interest in the project than we who had, will only give us the benefit of the doubt-- will only assume that we are not all altogether wrong-headed--we hope to show them still farther, though we think we have already shown them satisfactorily, that we are by no means without reason in entering on this enterprise. I submit, however, we may very well dismiss the antecedent history of the question for the present: it grew from an unnoticed feeble plant, to be a stately and flourishing tree; and, for my part, any one that pleases may say he made the tree grow, if I can only have hereafter my fair share of the shelter and the shade. But in the present stage of the question, the first real stage of its success --the thing that gave importance to theory in men's minds, was the now celebrated despatch, signed by two members of this Government and an honourable gentleman formerly their colleague (Hon. Mr. Ross), a member of the other House. I refer to the despatch of 1858. The recommendations in that despatch lay dormant until revived by the Constitutional Committee of last Session, which led to the Coalition, which led to the Quebec Conference, which led to the draft of the Constitution now on our table, which will lead, I am fain to believe, to the union of all these Provinces. At the same time that we mention these distinguished politicians, I think we ought not to forget those zealous and laborious contributors to the public press, who, although not associated with governments, and not themselves at the time in politics, yet greatly contributed to give life and interest to this question, and, indirectly, to bring it to the happy position in which it now stands. Of those gentlemen I will mention two. I do not know whether honorable gentlemen of this House have seen some letters on Colonial Union, written in 1855--the last addressed to the late Duke of Newcastle--by Mr. P. S. Hamilton, an able public writer of Nova Scotia, and the present Gold Commissioner of that province; but I take this opportunity of bearing my testimony to his well-balanced judgment, political sagacity, and the skilful handling the subject received from him at a very early period. There is another little book, written in English, six or seven years ago, to which I must refer. It is a pamphlet, which met with an extraordinary degree of success, entitled Nova Britannia, by my honorable friend, the member for South Lanark (Mr. Morris); and as he has been one of the principal agents in bringing into existence the present Government, which is now carrying out the idea embodied in his book, I trust he will forgive me if I take the opportunity, although he is present, of reading a single sentence, to show how far he was in advance, and how true he was to the coming event which we are now considering. At page 57 of his pamphlet--which I hope will be reprinted among the political miscellanies of the Provinces when we are one country and one people--I find this paragraph:--

"'The dealing with the destinies of a future Britannic empire, the shaping its course, the laying its foundations broad and deep, and the erecting thereon a noble and enduring superstructure, are indeed duties that may well evoke the energies of our people, and nerve the arms and give power and enthusiasm to the aspirations of all true patriots. The very magnitude of the interests involved, will, I doubt not, elevate many amongst us above the demands of mere sectionalism, and enable them to evince sufficient comprehensiveness of mind to deal in the spirit of real statesmen with issues so momentous, and to originate and develop a national line of commercial and general policy, such as will prove adapted to the wants and exigencies of our position.'

"We, on this side, Mr. Speaker, propose for that better future our plan of Union; and, if you will allow me, I shall go over what appear to me the principal motives which exist at present for that Union. My hon. friend the Finance Minister mentioned the other evening several strong motives for Union--free access to the sea, an extended market, breaking down of hostile tariffs, a more diversified field for labour and capital, our enhanced credit with England, and our greater effectiveness when united for assistance in time of danger. The Hon. President of the Council, last night also enumerated several motives for Union in relation to the commercial advantages which will flow from it, and other powerful reasons which may be advanced in favour of it. But the motives to such a comprehensive change as we propose, must be mixed motives--partly commercial, partly military, and partly political; and I shall go over a few--not strained or simulated-- motives which must move many people of all these Provinces, and which are rather of a social, or, strictly speaking, political than of a financial kind. In the first place, I echo what was stated in the speech last night of my hon. friend, the President of the Council--that we cannot stand still; we cannot stave off some great change; we cannot stand alone--Province apart from Province--if we would; and that we are in a state of political transition. All, even honorable gentlemen who are opposed to this description of Union, admit that we must do something, and that that something must not be a mere temporary expedient. We are compelled, by warning voices from within and without, to make a change, and a great change. We all, with one voice who are Unionists, declare our conviction that we cannot go on as we have gone; but you, who are all anti-Unionists, say--'Oh! that is begging the question; you have not yet proved that.' Well, Mr. Speaker, what proofs do the gentlemen want? I presume there are the influences which determine any great change in the course of any individual or State. First--His patron, owner, employer, protector, ally, or friend; or, in our politics, 'Imperial connection.' Secondly--His partner, comrade, or fellow-labourer, or near neighbour; in our case, the United States. And, thirdly,--The man himself, or the Province itself. Now, all three have concurred to warn and force us into a new course of conduct. What are these warnings? We have had at least three. The first is from England, and is a friendly warning. England has warned us by several matters of fact, according to her custom, rather than verbiage, that the Colonies had entered upon a new era of existence, a new phase in their career. She has given us this warning in several different shapes--when she gave us 'Responsible Government'--when she adopted Free Trade--when she repealed the Navigation Laws--and when, three or four years ago, she commenced that series of official despatches in relation to militia and defence which she has ever since poured in on us, in a steady stream, always bearing the same solemn burthen- 'Prepare! prepare! prepare!' These warnings gave us notice that the old order of things between the Colonies and the Mother Country had ceased, and that a new order must take its place. About four years ago, the first despatches began to be addressed to this country, from the Colonial Office, upon the subject. From that day to this there has been a steady stream of despatches in this direction, either upon particular or general points connected with our defence; and I venture to say, that if bound up together, the despatches of the lamented Duke of Newcastle alone would make a respectable volume--all notifying this Government, by the advices they conveyed, that the relations--the military apart from the political and commercial relations--of this Province to the Mother Country had changed; and we were told in the most explicit language that could be employed, that we were no longer to consider ourselves, in relation to defence, in the same position we formerly occupied towards the Mother Country. Then, Sir, in the second place, there came what I may call the other warning from without--the American warning. Republican America gave us her notices in times past, through her press, and her demagogues, and her statesmen, but of late days she has given us much more intelligible notices--such as the notice to abrogate the Reciprocity Treaty, and to arm the lakes, contrary to the provisions of the Convention of 1818. She has given us another notice in imposing a vexatious passport system; another in her avowed purpose to construct a ship canal round the falls of Niagara, so as 'to pass war vessels from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie;' and yet another, the most striking one of all, has been given to us, if we will only understand it, by the enormous expansion of the American army and navy. I will take leave to read to the House a few figures which show the amazing, the unprecedented, growth (which has not, perhaps, a parallel in the annals of the past) of the military power of our neighbours, within the past three or four years. I have the details here by me, but shall only read the results, to show the House the emphatic terms of this most serious warning. In January, 1861, the regular army of the United States, including of course the whole of the States, did not exceed 15,000 men. This number was reduced, from desertion and other causes, by 5,000 men, leaving 10,000 men as the regular army of the United States. In December, 1862, that is, from January, 1861, to January, 1863, this army of 10,000 was increased to 800,000 soldiers actually in the service. No doubt there are exaggerations in some of these figures--the rosters were, doubtless, in some cases filled with fictitious names, in order to procure the bounties that were offered; but if we allow two-thirds as correct, we find that a people who had an army of 10,000 men in 1861, had in two years increased it to an army of 600,000 men. As to their munitions and stock of war material at the opening of the war--that is to say, at the date of the attack upon Fort Sumter--we find that they had of siege and heavy guns 1,952; of field artillery, 231; of infantry firearms, 473,000; of cavalry firearms, 31,000; and of ball and shell, 363,000. At the end of 1863, the latest period to which I have statistics upon the subject, the 1,052 heavy guns had become 2,116; the 231 field


Canada and the States - 40/71

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