Despatch from Anthony Musgrave to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (27 December 1864)

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Date: 1864-12-27
By: Anthony Musgrave
Citation: Despatch from Anthony Musgrave to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (27 December 1864) 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. 1.

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

(No. 16.)

Government House, Newfoundland, December 27, 1861.
(Received January 17, 1865.)
(Answered No. 4. January 21, 1865, page 151.)


I HAVE had the honour to receive your Despatch, No. 21, of the 8th instant, forwarding a copy of one to the Governor General of Canada* on the subject of the proposed Confederation of the served Provinces of British North America.

2. I have thought it desirable at once to publish this communication for general information ; and when the local Legislative Session is opened on the 28th of January next it shall formally be Raif before the Council and Assembly, with the Report from the conference of Delegates recently held at Quebec.

3. When forwarding to you the replies of the Legislative bodies to the usual Address from the Officer administering the Government. I shall be better able to report the official reception of the proposal of the Quebec Conference ; but I may now state that the information I have obtained from various sources lead me to anticipate the favourable consideration of that proposal.

4. I enclose a copy of a Despatch which I have addressed by the present mail to Lord Monck, believing that I should act rightly in endeavouring to obtain from him at once any information or suggestions which may facilitate the settlement of this important subject, and a far as possible to secure harmonious and co-operative action in the proceedings necessary for this purpose.

5. As I have noticed in my communication to him, I have ascertained that the solicitude of the mercantile, which is the dominant interest here, is directed principally to the effect which the virtual annexation of the smaller Provinces to Canada may have upon the local tariff.
Objections arising even from this source would not, I believe, be unconquerable, but I hope I may receive such a reply from the Canadian Government as may greatly, if not altogether, neutralize any opposition upon this ground.

6. The most important detail in the arrangement presenting itself for settlement will probably grow out of the opinion which I know is entertained by leading men of both political parties in the Legislature, that on the Union of the Provinces a modification of the local legislative constitution would be very desirable, if not absolutely necessary, as a matter of economy ; and that a consolidation of the Council and Assembly into one body, such as some years ago formed the Legislative Chamber of this Colony, with much reduced numbers, would constitute the best kind of local Legislature for future local purposes.

7. This suggestion will probably give rise to much discussion ; but I believe it would be practicable, if it should appear to be desirable, to press the whole question to a solution during ht every next session of the Legislature. In this respect, however, the local Government will be guided by circumstances and the information which may be received from the other Provinces. It is not unlikely a feeling may grow up that, […] the present Assembly will expire in May, and a general election myst take place in the autumn, it may be better to allow the whole subject to be submitted to the constituencies ; and though no material alteration would be probable in the constitution of the new House, yet it may remove some excuse for popular clamour to permit reference to be nominally made to the electors.

I have, &c.

(Signed) A. MUSGRAVE.

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

Enclosure in No. 1.

Government House, Newfoundland, December 27, 1861.

This Despatch will be found printed at page 2.

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