Despatch from Lieutenant-Governor Richard Graves Macdonnell to Right. Hon. Edward Cardwell (15 February 1865)

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Date: 1865-02-15
By: Richard Graves Macdonnell
Citation: Despatch from Lieutenant-Governor Richard Graves Macdonnell to Right. Hon. Edward Cardwell (15 February 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 Lient.-Governor Sir R. G. MACDONNELL, C.B., to the Right Hon.Edward Carwell, M.P.


Government House, Halifax, Nova Scotia, February 15, 1865.
(Received February 28,1865.)
(Answered No.12, March 10, 1865, page 79.)


I HAVE the honour to transmit herewith a copy of the speech with which on the 9th instant i opened the second session of the twenty-second General Assembly of this Province.

It was very gratifying to me to be able to congratulate the members of the Legislature on the unprecedented prosperity with which this Province has been favoured during the past year, thereby affording them suitable leisure to discuss the important question of Confederation of these Provinces which it will be the duty of my Government shortly to bring before them.

On Monday, the 13th inst.,the President and Members of the Legislative Council waited on me at Government House with the enclosed address in reply to my speech. Shortly afterwards, on the same day, the Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly presented to me the address which I also transmit.

I have, &c.


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

Enclosure 1 in No. 6.

EXTRACTS from Lieut.-Governor’s Speech.


4. At the opening of last session, the Officer then administering the Government alluded to the identity of the interests of the British North American Maritime Provinces, and laid before you a proposal for devising means of effecting their Union under one Government. The consideration which you then gave to the question led to a resolution requesting the Officer administering the Government to appoint delegates, not exceeding five in number, to confer on that subject with delegates from New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

5. It Became my duty, on receiving permission from Her Majesty’s Government, to give effect to that resolution. Therefore, with a view to a full and fair discussion, I endeavoured to bestow a national character on the delegation by requesting the aid of prominent representatives of the two great leading parties in the Province. I have directed the report presented to me by those gentlemen to be laid before you you will thence learn their reasons for deferring the final consideration of the subject, which you had submitted to them, till another proposal, which had been made in the interim, have been first disposed of, namely that of general union of British North America.

6. When invited by the Governor-General to send delegates to Quebec to discuss that wider question, I considered it my duty to obtain previously the consent of Her Majesty’s Government. I then appointed, on behalf of this Province, the same gentlemen who had represented her interests in the first Conference. The second Conference commence its sittings at Quebec on the 10th October, and did not conclude them till the 20th of that month.

7. The result of their labours, proposing a Union of British North America on certain conditions embodied in 72 resolutions, has already been made pubic, and will now be officially communicated to you with all the correspondence connected therewith.

8. The highest authority on such a subject, the Colonial Minister of the Crown, has recorded his opinion of the labours of the delegates, and has given them credit for the warmest sentiments of loyalty, as also for conducting their deliberations with a patient sagacity, which enabled them to arrive at common conclusions of the most involved and difficult questions.

9. I feel assured that irrespective of any political difference of opinion, such communions from such a quarter on British North American statesman must be deeply gratifying to that great body of Her Majesty’s subjects, who are proud to identify themselves with the welfare and reputation of these Provinces.

10. A copy of the Despatch of the Secretary of State containing those opinions, and conveying the general approval by Her Majesty’s Government of the Quebec resolutions as “the best framework of a measure to be passed by the Imperial Parliament.” for the purposes therein more fully adverted to, was received by me on the 22 December, and by my orders was published the same day for general information. You have, therefore, been for many weeks in possession of the views of Her Majesty’s Government, and the country has for a still longer period enjoyed the opportunity of discussing the expediency of the projected union.

11. It is not my province, and I have no mission to do more than afford you the amplest and freest scope for consideration of a proposal which seriously involves your own prospects, and in reference of which you should competent to interpret the wishes and determine the true interests of the country. I feel assured, however, that whatever be the result of your deliberation, you will deprecate attempts to treat in narrow spirit, or otherwise than with dispassionate care and prudence, a question so broad that in reality it covers the ground of all parties, and precludes it from becoming the measure of merely one Government or one party.

12. I need only observe further, without in the least indenting thereby to influence your ultimate determination, that it is obviously convenient, if not essential, for the Legislatures of all the Provinces concerned to observe uniformity in the mode of ascertaining their respective decisions on a question common to all. I have, therefore, desired to be laid before you some correspondence between the Governor-General and myself on that point.

Enclosure 2 in No.6.

To his Excellency SIR RICHARD GRAVES MACDONNELL, Knight Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Lieut Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over Her Majesty’s
Province of Nova Scotia and its Dependencies, &c. &c. &c.


The Address of the Legislative Council.


We fully appreciate the great and unusual importance of the question of a Union of the British North American Province, to which you have been pleased to direct our attention, and we assure 16254. Your Excellency that a question involving to so great an extent the interests of Her Majesty’s subjects in this Province will not fail to receive at our hands the attention commensurate with its magnitude.

Extract form Address of the House of Assembly in answer to the opening Speech of the Governor.

To His Excellency Sir RICHARD GRAVES MACDONNELL, Knight Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath. Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over Her Majesty’s Province of Nova Scotia and its Dependencies, &c. &c. &c.


1. The report from the delegates appointed to confer upon the Union of the Maritime Provinces, and the resolutions of the Conference held at Quebec proposing a Union of the different Provinces of British North America, together with the correspondence on that subject, will obtain at our hands the deliberate and attentive consideration demanded by a question of such magnitude and importance, and fraught with consequences so momentous to us and our posterity.

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