Despatch from Anthony Musgrave to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (13 April 1865)

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Date: 1865-04-13
By: Anthony Musgrave
Citation: Despatch from Anthony Musgrave to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (13 April 1865) in UK, Parliament, Correspondence respecting the Proposed Union of the British North American Provinces (London: George Edward Eyre and William Spottiswoode, 1867).
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No. 4.

Copy of a DESPATCH from Governor MUSGRAVE to the Right Hon. EDWARD CARDWELL., M.P.

(No. 35.)

Government House, Newfoundland, April 13, 1865.
(Received May 9, 1865.)
(Answered No. 22, May 12, 1865, page 155.)


I HAVE the honour to forward to you copies of the speech with which, on the 7th instant, I closed the Legislative Session.

2. I annex a list of the Bills* passed by the Council and Assembly, which will be transmitted in due course when printed, and a copy of the resolution passed unanimously by the Assembly on the subject of the proposed Confederation of the North American Provinces to which I referred in my speech.

3. I have no doubt that the course adopted with regard to this matter, in which the Executive Council and myself entirely concurred, will prove to be the most judicious under the several circumstances which require to be considered. Any attempt to force acceptance of the proposition during this session would have certainly resulted in defeat. After any adverse decision by the present House an appeal to the constituencies would have ben made under disvadvantgoues conditions. And nothing would be gained by the precipitancy here so long as the question remains undecided in the other provinces, without whose concurrence the scheme cannot be carried into effect ; while I have found for confidence that when Nova Scotia and New Brunswick shall virtually have adopted the proposal there will be no unreasonable delay on the part of Newfoundland.

I have, &c.

(Signed) A. MUSGRAVE.

The Right Hon. Edward Cardwell, M.P.,
&c. &c. &c.

Enclosure in No. 4.

EXTRACT from SPEECH of his Excellency Governor MUSGRAVE on closing the Fifth Session of the Eighth General Assembly, April 7, 1865.



I HAVE been acquainted with the resolution passed by the Honourable House of Assembly on the subject of the proposed Confederation of the British North American Colonies, to the effect that for the reasons set forth the House deems it desirable to submit the question to the consideration of the people before the decision of the Legislative is taken upon it ; and that for this purpose final determination upon this important subject should be deferred until the next morning of the Legislative bodies.

Under other circumstances I might perhaps have viewed with regret any delay in dealing with a subject on which Her Majesty’s Imperial Government have exhibited so warm and generous an interest. But, as it is almost certain that some of the other Colonies concerned in the proposed arrangement, and its immediate success when put into operation will much depend upon the true spirit and intention of the suggested Confederation being comprehended and appreciated by the people whom it is designed to serve. I am not now disposed to dissent from the crew which you have taken of the matter, to the course you have adopted. Her Majesty’s Government would not desire to force any important modification of the local constitution upon the acceptance of the people of the Colony against temperate and deliberate declaration of unwillingness to receive it ; and it is desirable that the community should fully understand the advantages of that two which their assent is sought. But the nation has a right to expect the Colonies to accept, and does look to them to assume, their legitimate portion of those charges and responsibilities which are the inevitable concomitants of self-government and free political institutions ; and Her Majesty’s ministers justly regard with favour a project of union which will naturally and materially strengthen each for sustaining the burden which must be borne by all.

RESOLUTION to be proposed in a Committee of the whole House on the subject of a Confederation of the British North American Colonies.
Resolved. That having had under their most serious and deliberate consideration proposal for the formation of a Federal union of the British North American Provinces, upon the terms contained in the report of the Convention of Delegates held at Quebec on the 10th of October last, the Despatch of the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated December 3, 1861, the observations of his Excellency the Governor in relation to this subject win his opening speech of the present session, and the report of the Newfoundland delegates, this Committee are of opinion that, before a cote of the Legislature is taken upon it, it should be submitted to the consideration of the people at large, particularly as the action of the others Provinces does not appear to require that it should be hastily disposed of, and as (the present being the last session of this Assembly) no unreasonable delay can be occasional by this course ; and they therefore recommend that a final determination upon this important subject be deferred to the next meeting of the Legislature.

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