Britain and the Origins of Canadian Confederation, 1837-67 by Ged Martin

By Ged Martin

Martin (director, the heart of Canadian stories, U. of Edinburgh) bargains a skeptical assessment of claims that the Canadian Confederation replied all of the difficulties dealing with the provinces, studying British perceptions of Canada and ideas approximately its destiny. He seems on the origins of British help for Ca

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Sample text

Lower condemned the double shuffle as 'sharp practice'38 but was oddly unabashed by evidence that a great deal of money was spent to persuade New Brunswick voters to accept Confederation in the election of 1866. '39 For most historians, Confederation was inevitable. For some, it was evidently also an offer which could not be refused. 41 Historians have been virtually unanimous in their condemnation of the next episode in the indictment, the defeat of the Militia Bill in 1862. They have shared the outrage felt by contemporary British opinion at the apparent insouciance of Canada's politicians in the face of the continental crisis of the American Civil War.

Here again, the Trent crisis plays a vital role in the story, since the cameo of British troops sledging through the snowy interior of New Brunswick seemed to underline the defence argument for the railway. Moreover, the American Civil War also introduces an economic motive: Northern resentment at British North American sympathy for the South led to the termination of Reciprocity, and so forced the provinces to turn to each other. All in all, the moment was right for British North Americans to assert a sense of their own nationhood.

The courts ruled that Macdonald had only sworn to be a diligent postmaster for 'so long as he held the office1, but on attempting to recover his legal costs, he found that the prosecution had been undertaken in the name of an undischarged bankrupt. 41 The 'double shuffle' was a squalid episode but one which — as will be argued in Chapter Two — does not merit all the indignation which some historians have poured upon it. The Cartier-Macdonald combination emerged strengthened from this episode since they persuaded Gait to join them, adopting his policy of British North American union as their own.

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