Despatch from Lieutenant Governor George Dundas to Viscount Monck (22 May 1866)
By: George Dundas
Citation: Despatch from Lieutenant Governor George Dundas to Viscount Monck (22 May 1866). “RETURN To an Address of the Honorable the Legislative Assembly, of the 12th June, 1866, asking for Correspondence relative to the Union of the North American Provinces” in Sessional Papers (1866).
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GOVERNMENT HOUSE, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND,
22nd May, 1866.
My LORD,—I have the honor to transmit copies of Addresses to Her Majesty, adopted by the Legislative Council and House of Assembly of this Province, against a Confederation of the British North American Provinces.
I also transmit copy of an Address of the Legislative Council to myself, requesting me to cause the Address to Her Majesty to be laid at the foot of the Throne.
I have the honor to be, Your Lordship’s
Most obedient humble servant,
(Signed,) GEORGE DUNDAS,
His Excellency the Governor General.
To the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty.
MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN:
We, Your Majesty’s loyal and faithful subjects the Legislative Council of Prince Edward Island, having had under, our consideration a copy of a Despatch from the Right Honorable Edward Cardwell, Your Majesty’s principal Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, addressed to His Excellency George Dundas, Esquire, Lieutenant Governor of this Island, bearing date the 24th day ofJune last, accompanied by a copy of a Correspondence between the Colonial Minister and His Excellency the Right Honorable Viscount Monck, Governor General of Canada, on the affairs of British North America, including the subject of the proposed Union of the British North American Colonies, in which Despatch His Excellency Lieutenant Governor Dundas is directed, by.the said Colonial Minister, to communicate the said Correspondence to the Legislature of this Island, at its then next Session, and at the same tine to express the strong and deliberate opinion of Your Majesty’s Government, that it is an object much to be desired, that al the British North American Colonies should agree to unite in one Government; and having given the said documents that patient and respectful consideration to which all communications emanating from so exalted a source, and having reference to a subject of vital importance to ail the Maritime Colonies and Provinces, are entitled, we humbly beg leave to approach Your Majesty’s Throne for the purpose of conveying to Your August Majesty the result of our renewed deliberations upon the great question again brought under our notice by Your Majesty’s Colonial Minister.
First.—We regret our inability to discover, in the correspondence above alluded to, any sufficient reason to induce us to depart from or modify the spirit of the Joint Address to your Majesty, unanimously adopted by the Legislative Council of this Island, on the third day of April, 1865, and subsequently transmitted by His Excellency Governor Dundas to Your Majesty’s Colonial Minister, for the purpose of being laid at the foot of Throne.
Secondly.—We do not deem it inconsistent with the most devoted and loyal attachment to Your Majesty’s person and Government, to declare our firm conviction, that in deliberating upon a question so seriously affecting the liberty, happiness and prosperity of the inhabitants of this Colony, we ought to: be guided mainly by the “well-understood wishes of the people” whom we represent, even should their wishes unfortunately conflict, as in the present instance, with the declared policy of Your Majesty’s Government for the time being,—the inhabitants of this Colony being in our opinion fully competent to decide upon so vital a question as the constitution of the country in which their lot has been cast, and the means best adapted to promote and perpetuate the stability and prosperity of that country.
Thirdly.—Pregnant with advantages to the Province of Canada as the.proposed union may appear, and fraught with corresponding benefits as such union may be, under certain modifications of the “Quebec scheme,” to one or more of the Maritime Provinces, we regret our inability to suggest any modification of that “scheme,” which could with safety be adapted to the peculiar position and circumstances of this Island, and which would at the same time prove acceptable to the people of Canada.
Fourthly.—To make suitable provision for the vast Public Works now contemplated by the Government of Canada, the Tariff of the Provinces, if united as proposed, must necessarily be greatly augmented, and the burdens of the people proportionately increased. That this Colony, if included in the proposed Union, would be subject to that tàriff, is certain but that its people would participate, in an equal ratio wit the other Provinces, in the benefits anticipated as the result of this excessive taxation, is by no means probable,—believing, as we do, that although the trade, commerce and manufactures of the continental Provinces would be greatly stimulated by new and extended railways,, new and improved canals, and the opening and working of valuable mines, the trade, commerce and manufactures of this Island would not, to any appreciable extent, be beneficially affected thereby.
Fifthly.—Since the .year 1851, when Your Majesty was most graciously pleased to concede to the people of this Colony the rights and privileges of self-government, Prince Edward Island has made, and is still making, steady advances in population and:material prosperity, and its inhabitants are perfectly satisfied with the free and liberal constitution under which it is their happiness to live. The number of those who are willing to incur the risk and dangers inseparable from a union with the larger and more powerful Provinces of British North America being, in our opinion, extremely insignificant and unimportant.
Sixthly.—We are not insensible to the obligation resting upon this Colony to contribute its fair share towards defraying the expense of resisting foreign invasion or aggression, and have cheerfully sanctioned the placing of the entire resources of the Colony at the disposal of the Government for the attainment of this desirable object.
Seventhly.—We rely with the utmost confidence on the wisdom and justice of Your Majesty in the present crisis, believing, as we do, that the necessities of Canada and the importunities of its Government will not be deemed by Your Majesty of sufficient importance to warrant a change in the constitution and form of government of this Colony, opposed to the wishes and hostile to the feelings of its inhabitants—a change which it is generally believed must prove subversive of our liberties and highly detrimental to our best interests.
May it therefore please Your Majesty graciously to withhold your Royal Sanction from any measure calculated to deprive Prince Edward Island of the constitution which it now happily enjoys; and more especially from any measure intended to effect a union of Prince Edward Island with Canada and the other Provinces of British North America.
To His Excellency George Dundas, Esquire, Lieutenant Govenor and Commander-in-Chief in and over Her Majesty’s Island of Prince Edward, and the Territories thereunto belonging, Chancellor, Vicc-Admiral and Ordinary of the same, &c., &c., &c.
MAY I PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY:
The Legislative Council having unanimously passed an Address to Her Majesty the Queen, expressive of their opinion on the subject of the proposed union of the British North American Colonies, have respectfully to request that Your Excellency will be pleased to cause the same to be laid at the foot of the Throne.
The Legislative Council at the .sane time beg leave to express to Your Excellency their earnest hope that the opinion of the Legislative Council, as conveyed to Her Majesty in the said Address, may be deemed conclusive on the part of those whom they represent in this Island, in case any further action may bc taken by Her Majesty’s Government in reference to the question of Confederation, and that your Excellency may have no further cause of appeal to the Legislature of this Colony, or deem it necessary to take any further action on the part of this Colony respecting the further consideration of a question on which both branches of its Legislature have, for the second time, passed such a solemn and conclusive opinion.
To the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR MAJESTY:
We, Your Majesty’s dutifu1 and loyal subjects, the House of Assembly of Prince Edward Island, having had under consideration the Message of His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, communicating a Despatch, dated the 24th day of June last, from the Right Honorable Edward Cardwell, Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, upon the subject of a Federation of the British North American Provinces, beg leave to approach Your Majesty for the purpose of expressing our respectful but deliberate opinion that any union of the British North American Colonies which would embrace Prince Edward Island upon the terms and principles set forth in the Resolutions of the Conference of Quebec, held on the 10th October, 1864, would not only be unjust to the inhabitants of this Colony, but prove disastrous to their dearest and most cherished rights and interests as a free people, enjoying the blessing of a priceless constitution, guaranteed to them by the Imperial Government of Great Britain.
That considering the isolated, peculiar, and exceptional position of Prince Edward Island, as contrasted with the other British North American Provinces and Colonies this House deems it to be its duty, as the constitutional representative of the people of Prince Edward Island, to re-affirm the decision so clearly and unequivocally declared by this House in the Resolutions passed by it in its last Session upon the subject of a Union of the British North American Colonies, and afterwards communicated by the joint Address: of the Legislative Council and House of Assembly of this Colony to Her Majesty’s Imperial Government; and further, that even if a Union of the Continental Provinces of British North America would have the effect of strengthening and binding more closely together these Provinces, and advancing their material and commercial interests, this House cannot admit that a Federal Union of the North American Provinces and Colonies, which would include Prince Edward Island, could ever be accomplished upon terms that would prove advantageous to the interests and well being of the people of this Island, cut off and separated as it is, and must ever remain, from the neighbouring Provinces, by an immoveable barrier of ice for many months in the year ; and this House deems it to be its sacred and imperative duty to declare its conviction that any Federal Union. of the North American Colonies, that would embrace this Island, would be as hostile to the feelings and wishes as it would be opposed to the best and most vital interests of its people.
We beg further respectfully to state that while this House cannot assent to a Federal Union of this Island with the other Colonies, they recognize it to be the duty of this Colony to contribute from its local revenue towards its defence, in fair and just proportion to its means.
We do therefore most humbly pray that Your Majesty will be graciously pleased not to give Your Royal Sanction to any act or measure founded upon the basis of the Report of the Quebec Conference, or otherwise, that would have the effect of uniting Prince Edward Island in a Federal Union with, Canada, or any other of Your Majesty’s Provinces in America.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND,
House of Assembly,
May 10th, 1866.