Despatch from Anthony Musgrave to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (20 February 1866)
By: Anthony Musgrave
Citation: Despatch from Anthony Musgrave to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (20 February 1866) 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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EXTRACT from a DESPATCH from Governor MUSGRAVE to the Right Hon. EDWARD CARDWELL, M.P., dated Government House, Newfoundland, February 20, 1866.
(Received March 14, 1866.)
(Answered No. 10, March 23, 1866, page 157.)
I HAVE the honour to transmit copies of the Speech with which I opened the Annual Legislative Session on the 30th of January, and of the Addresses which I have received in reply from the Council and Assembly.
You will observe that in the reply of the Council the abstract principle that Union would be advantageous has been acknowledged, and in that of the Assembly while not expressly affirmed it is not denied, though in both there are reservations as to the details of the arrangement. In order that the value of the expressions in these documents ghouls be fairly estimated, it is necessary to explain that according to the usage prevailing in this Colony the Address in reply to the Governor’s Speech is not as in the Imperial Parliament a mere echo of that speech prepared and introduced at the instance of the Government. It has been the practice to appoint a committee drawn from the different parties in the house to draft a reply, which is then submitted for adoption by the House. And upon this free discussion has frequently arisen. In the present instance there was more than usual debate upon the address.
The paragraph relating to Confederation stood originally in the draft as shown in the Enclosure No. 3. Upon this amendments were moved by Mr. Glen, a member of the opposition, which I have forwarded in the Enclosure No. 4. These amendments were rejected by a majority of 11 in a house of 23 members. As hesitation, however, has been shown by some of the usual supporters of the Government to sustain the paragraph exactly as it stood originally framed, an amendment was moved by Mr. Hayward, the Solicitor-General, as a middle course, which was carried by the same majority of 11, and is now embodied in the Address. This was not regraded with satisfaction by the opposition, and a renewed attempt was made to obtain a vote at least hostile to the scheme of the Quebec Conference. For this purpose another amendment was moved by Mr. Tablot, of which I enclose a copy (Enclosure No. 5.), but this was also rejected by the same majority, and there was no further opposition.
I trust you will approve of the observations which I made both in my opening speech and in my replies to the Addresses from the Council and Assembly. My object has been, without exciting factious opposition, to maintain a gentle pressure towards the consideration of the details of the measure. For my own part I am tolerably well satisfied with the present position of the question. I regard the principle of the proposed Confederation to have been virtually conceded ; and if the other Provinces consent to the Union, I have little doubt that it will only remain for us to settle the terms upon which Newfoundland shall unite in the measure.
Enclosure 1 in No. 9.
EXTRACT from SPEECH of his Excellency Governor MUSGRAVE, on opening the First Session of the Ninth General Assembly, January 30, 1866.
MR. PRESIDENT AND HONOURABLE GENTLEMEN OF THE COUNCIL:
MR. SPEAKER AND GENTLEMEN OF THE HONOURABLE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY:
The proposed union of the British Provinces in North America continues to engage the […] solicitude and friendly interest of Her Majesty’s Government. Despatches from the Secretary of State upon this subject will be laid before you. Believing, as I do, that the abstract advantages of union, upon general principles, must be so obvious as to be almost necessarily acknowledged, it would appear that any questions which may be raised can only affect the terms upon which it may be possible equitably to accomplish such a union as would be desirable. I am satisfied that Her Majesty’s Imperial Government, as well as the Governments of the other Provinces, will receive and consider with courteous attentions any proposals that you may think fit to offer on this subject. Thats the completion of the union between the other provinces is certain, and will only be a matter of time and arrangement, most thoughtful persons are convinced. It may become an affair of vital consequence to this community not to fall into an isolated position in the final settlement, which cannot fail to exercise the greatest influence on the future of all the British possessions in North America.
This is the first occasion afforded to me of acquainting you that the Government of the United States have formally communicated to Her Majesty’s Government their intention to terminate the Reciprocity Treaty between the two nations in twelve months after the communication of such notice, in conformity with the provisions of the treaty.
Negotiations are in progress for its renewal for a further term ; but I have been informed by the Secretary of State, that in the opinion of Her Majesty’s Minister at Washington the necessity of having to submit a treaty of commerce to the separate action of the various provincial Legislature would be a serious difficulty in his way, and that the union of the Provinces would afford the best hope of obtaining such a treaty.
Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs having suggested that much embarrassment, delay, and difficulty would be avoided of the faculty of giving an opinion to Her Majesty’s Government in the negotiation of commercial treaties were vested in a Confederate Council, chosen by all the North American Provinces and presided over by the Governor General of Canada, I was acquainted by the Secretary of State for the Colonies that he had addressed the necessary instructions to the Governor General, and I was directed to co-operate with him accordingly.
For this purpose I appointed the Honourable Ambrose shea, a Member of the Council of Government, as a delegate for this Colony to the Confederate Council of Trade, which met at Quebec in October last. His report of the proceedings of the Council shall be furnished, in due time, for your information. One result of their consultation has been a mission to Mexico, Brazil, and the British and Foreign West Indian Colonies, for the purpose of ascertaining in what manner the traffic of the Provinces with these countries can be extended and rendered more advantageous. Invitation was given to the Government of this Colony to send a representative, but it was not thought necessary to make a special appointment as it was believed that the purpose of this community would be fully served by the result of the inquiry on behalf of the larger Provinces. So soon as I have been acquainted with the report of this mission, it shall be communicated to you.
I have to request your consideration of the Act passed during the last session of the Imperial Parliament, “to make better provision for the naval defence of the Colonies.” The Despatch, and the other documents which I have received from the Secretary of State, relating to this important measure, shall be furnished to you. The object of this enactment is to enable the colonial possessions of Her Majesty to render their fair proportion of assistance towards their own defence, and for this purpose to raise volunteer forces to form part of the naval reserve, established under the Imperial Statute of 1859, and also, if it should be thought desirable, to provide the man vessels of war. I am confident that if only the necessary funds are furnished for such allowances as are made by the Imperial Act to naval volunteers duly enrolled, there would be no difficulty in organizing a conical brigade very creditable to this community. The Secretary of State has justly said that he need not enlarge upon the importance of the object which Parliament has had in view in passing this enactment, and he trusts that the advantages which will result from its adoption will be fully appreciated. The parent State has ceased to be content to assume the whole cost and responsibility of the defence of the Colonies and their special interests. On the completion of the Clinical Confederation, the expenditure, for the purpose under consideration, would be among the charges resting upon the Federal Administration, but, under other circumstances, it will be incumbent upon each Colony, separately, to make provision for a duty which will become unavoidable.
Enclosure 2 in No. 9.
On Tuesday the 20th instant the members of the Honourable the legislative Council presented to his Excellency the Governor, at the Government House, the subjoined address in answer to his Excellency’s speech on opening the legislation session ; viz :
To his Excellency ANTHONY MUSGRAVE, Esquire, Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland and its Dependencies, &c., &c., &c.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY,
Upon the question of the proposed Confederation of the British North American Colonies, while recognizing the policy of Union as a sound political principle, we are of option that important modifications of the present terms of the proposed convention are indispensable, and that assurances should be given which it does not now contain ; and we feel condiment of the aid of Her Majesty’s Government in the promotion of this object, and that the necessary steps will be taken with the other British Provinces for the more deliberate consideration of a measure of such radical importance before it shall be definitely submitted for determination to the Legislature of this Colony.
LAURENCE O’BRIEN, President.
Legislative Council, February 8, 1866.
To which his Excellency was pleased to make the following reply :
MR. PRESIDENT AND HONOURABLE GENTLEMEN OF THE COUNCIL :
I RECEIVE your address with satisfaction, and will consider with care your remarks on the subjects which I offered to your notice at the opening of the session.
Your observations on that specially important question, the proposed Confederation of the North America Provinces, I will readily submit for the information of Her Majesty’s Secretary of State, from whom I have no doubt they will receive careful attention ; as I know that Her Majesty’s Imperial Government will be most willing to render any aid they can afford in effecting the Union on principles equitable to all the parties concerned in arrangement.
On Tuesday the 20th instant Mr. Speaker and the Members of the Honourable the House of assembly presented to his Excellency the Governor, at the Government House, the subjoined Address in reply to his Excellency’s Speech on opening the legislative session, viz.:
To his Excellency ANTHONY MUSGRAVE, Esquire, Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland and its Dependencies, &c., &c., &c.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY :
ON the important question of Confederation, in recognizing the solicitude of Her Majesty’s Government for the welfare of the Colony, we concur in the view of your Excellency that the abstract advantages of union are so obvious as to be almost necessarily acknowledged, while with regard to this Colony, and on the details of so grave a measure, it is natural that much diversity of opinion should prevail, and this is a matter which should engage our serious attention.
Passed the House of Assembly, Feb. 19, 1866.
W. V. WHITEWAY, Speaker.
To which his Excellency was pleased to make the following reply:
MR. SPEAKER AND GENTLEMEN OF THE HONOURABLE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY :
HER MAJESTY’S Secretary of State for the Colonies will be glad to receive the expression of your opinion that the proposed Confederation of the British North American Provinces is a matter which should engage your serious attention. It is the avowed policy of the Imperial Government to carry the Union into effect ; and minor objections on the part of detached Colonies must of necessity give way before the pressure of the more weighty motives of national interest. But Her Majesty’s Government will be most ready to afford their air in so adjusting the details of the measure as to render the arrangement equitable to all parties concerned. It is for this reason that I am anxious that this Colony should not, by unnecessary delay, place itself in a position unfavourable to negotiations. And I therefore, as Her Majesty’s Representative, immediately responsible to Her Majesty’s Ministers in respect of all questions of Imperial policy, recommend you, for the information of Her Majesty’s Government, to consider this question, and to decide upon the terms under which, in your opinion, the Colony may with advantage join in the proposed Union.
Enclosure 3 in No. 9.
ORIGINAL CLAUSE IN THE DRAFT ADDRESS.
On the important question of Confederation, in recognizing the solicitude of Her Majesty’s Government for the welfare of the Colony, we concur in the view of your Excellency, that the abstract advantages of union are so obvious as to be almost necessarily acknowledged, while on the details of so grave a measure it is natural that much diversity of opinion should prevail as to the terms on which, with advantage to the Colony, we could consent to join in the proposed Union.
Enclosure 4 in No. 9.
MR. GLEN’S RESOLUTIONS.
Resolved, That as the Representatives of the people of Newfoundland, and as guardians of the welfare of its inhabitants, we could not think for a moment (as proposed by the Quebec Convention), the giving up the advantages we have so long enjoyed of a separate Government, so graciously conceded by Imperial authority to the people of Newfoundland.
And whereas by the report of the Quebec Convention various extensive and costly works, both civil military, are intended to be prosecuted in the other Provinces by the General Government of the proposed Confederation, which would necessarily impose great taxation on the people of Newfoundland, without being benefited (from their isolated position) one farthing, bu all that vast expenditure.
And whereas the amount proposed to be paid to Newfoundland in full settlement of all future demands, is a very inadequate compensation for the surrender of our operate Government, and of our revenue from import duties, the surrender of all ungranted lands, our mines and minerals, the power the General Government would have taxing our exports of fish and oil, the power of levying local taxes in our Colony, and also, the power of raising money in Newfoundland, by all, or any other modes and systems of taxation.
Resolved, That the report of the Quebec Convention, however well adapted in any of its principles to the state and circumstances of the continental Provinces, is in no respect suitable to Newfoundland, and would, if accepted, prove inimical to the prosperity, happiness, and well-being of its inhabitants.
Enclosure 5 in No. 9.
MR. TALBOT’S AMENDMENT.
Mr. Talbot moved the following as an amendment upon the whole clause:—
On the important question of Confederation, in recognizing the solicitude of Her Majesty’s Government for the welfare fo the Colony, we concur in the view of your Excellency that the abstract advantages of union, are, in some cases, so obvious as to be almost necessarily acknowledged, while with reference to this Colony the great preponderance of opinion is decidedly adverse to our entering the proposed Confederation of the British North American Provinces on the basis of the Quebec resolutions.
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