Despatch from Lieutenant Governor Arthur Gordon to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (6 November 1865)
By: Arthur Gordon
Citation: Despatch from Lieutenant Governor Arthur Gordon to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (6 November 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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COPY of a DESPATCH from Lieut.-Governor the Hon. ARTHUR GORDON to the Right Hon. EDWARD CARDWELL, M.P.
Fredericton, November 6, 1865.
(Received November 20, 1865.)
(Answered No. [..]. December 7,1865, page 120.)
HER Majesty’s Government will doubtless desire to be informed of the present condition of public feeling in this Province with regard to the question of the Federation of the British North American Provinces, and whether it is probable that the scheme agreed to at Quebec and approved by Her Majesty’s Government will ultimately be adopted by New Brunswick.
2. I cannot pretend, so immediately after my return, to furnish any accurate report on this important subject, but i shall hope to do so in some detail upon a very early day.
3. The elevation of Attorney-General Allen to the bench, and the appointment of the Hon. A. J. Smith as Attorney-General, have rendered two elections necessary — the one in the county of Westmoreland, the other in that of York. Mr. Palmer, a lawyer of considerable ability, who had been one of the candidates in the confederate interest at the late general election, had announced his intention of opposing the return of Mr. Smith in Westmoreland, but finding success hopeless, he withdrew from the contest on the day of nomination. Had he gone to the poll, there can be no doubt that he would have been defeated by an overwhelming majority.
4. In the county of York it was at first supposed that no opposition would be made to the return of Mr. Pickard, a strong anti-confederate. Mr. Charles Fisher, one of the former members for the county, who lost his seat at the late election, has, however, come forward, and, as it appears to me, with very great probability of success.
5. As Mr. Fisher was one of the delegates at the Quebec Conference, and as, at the election in March, he was defeated by a very large majority, his return upon the present occasion will be a most important […] to the cause of Confederation. At the same time i must not conceal the fact that his election will not necessarily indicate any marked change of sentiment on the part of the constituency with regard to the subject. Great pains have been taken to make the contest depend rather on local questions affecting the county of York than on the broad issue of confederation. Mr. Fisher has long represented this county, and a feeling of regret at his exclusion from the House of Assembly prevails among many who are opposed to confederation, but who look upon that question as practically settled, in so far as this Province is concerned, by the late general election, and desire on other grounds to see Mr. Fisher restored to public life. I enclose one of the various appeals published in this sense.
6. Although, therefore, I regard Mr. Fisher’s election, should it take place, as a most important accession of strength to the ranks of the friends of confederation, it will not, in my opinion (unless he obtains a much larger majority than i at present anticipate), so certainly indicate a decided change of opinion in the Province as might at first sight be supposed.
7. The election takes place today, and I therefore hope to be able to communicate to you the result (so far at least as this city is concerned) before the mail closes.
8. I enclose a copy of Mr. Fisher’s address.
I have, &c.
(Signed) ARTHUR H. GORDON.
The Right Hon. Edward Cardwell, M.P.,
&c. &c. &c.
P.S.–5p.m. Mr. FIsher has a majority of 22 in Fredericton. I think this is a proof that he will obtain a majority throughout the county.
Enclosure 1 in No. 16.
TO THE ELECTORS OF YORK.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE REPORTER,
If ever there was a time in the history of New Brunswick, and more especially the county of York, when we required the services of men of intelligence to represent our interests in the Legislature, astute, fur-seeing statesmen, men who are able to grapple with the momentous questions of the day, and mould them to the best interests of the Province, now is […] time. Look abroad throughout the continent of America, and you will find in every legislative body questions of magnitude affecting the interests of the people for weal or woe, engaging their attention and calling forth the powers of their collective wisdom to so arrange them as they may be productive of good, while the public mind, constantly agitated, is ever and […] peering into the future to ascertain, if it were possible, its hidden secrets. But while one great question affecting our interests as a Province was settled for the time being at the last general election, there are others which will occupy the attention of our representatives at the next session worthy of serious consideration, and as we have now an opportunity of filing a vacancy in the representation, it behaves us to be careful in the selection. The question is not now confederation or no confederation (I consider that question virtually settled at the last election) ; but who is the best man to represent the interest of the county of York? — who is the man who has […] enough to say, “Timothy Warren Anglin shall not resign over us,” and interesting a wedge at the base of the miserable Government now in power, shall drive it home, until the already shattered fabric shall topple over? Genetement, electors of York, you have two men to choose from ; one has been tried, and in the hour of need you have found him the right man in the right place, a patriot and a statesman combined. The Hon. Charles Fisher stands second to none in this Province as the champion of the peoples rights. Of the other we can only say we are sorry he is found in such bad company.
Enclosure 2 in No. 16.
TO the ELECTORS of the County of York.
HAVING received requisitions from every part of the county, urging me to offer myself as a candidate for your suffrages at the approaching election, and assuring me that I would meet with your support, I have concluded to place myself at your disposal.
With no intention to retire from public life, my present freedom from political care indisposed me from engaging in a contest, believing as i do that the signs of the times unmistakable indicate that very soon the whole constituent body of the Province will be called upon to elect representatives.
The strong feeling evinced for me, with the extraordinary course adopted by a portion of the press, leaves me no honourable alternative but to step into the arena and throw myself upon you, my fellow subjects.
You know that to my action in the Legislature the country is largely indebted for the present state of the Western Railroad. Hat the late House not been dissolved, I should have suggested a mode which would have secured the immediate commencement of the work, and if you elect me i am prepared with a plan to provide for its early completion, together with the branches to Fredericton, Woodstock, and Saint Stephen, without adding to the public burdens. I believe it to be bad policy, and also unfair to euergetes men in these localities, to ask them to invest in stock large sums which they require for their legitimate business.
The publication of Mr. Fleming’s report has proved the correctness of every statement i made to you last winter, with regard to the route of the Intercolonial Railway traversing the whole extent of the county of York.
The great question of the day is the Union of the Colonies, which is desired by the Queen, by Her Majesty’s ministers, and by the British people. Representatives and candidates now generally agree in the advantages of Union : the objections are to the Quebec scheme. I stated during the last election that it was the best compromise that could be effected at the time, and was highly advantageous to New Brunswick. If any improvement can be made in it, or any additional advantage attained for the Province, I shall be only too glad to aid in procuring it.
Gentlemen, I have devoted the best years of my life to your service, and were my connexion with you now to be served for ever, I know that i have left the impress of my mind upon the institutions of the country : that every change i have proposed was conceived in the true spirit of the British constitution, and with a view to perpetuate our connexion with the land and government of our fathers.
(Signed) CHARLES FISHER.
Fredericton, October 25, 1865.
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