Despatch from Lieutenant Governor Richard Graves Macdonnell to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (15 September 1864)
By: Richard Graves Macdonnell
Citation: Despatch from Lieutenant Governor Richard Graves Macdonnell to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (15 September 1864) in Journal and Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, Appendix No. 3—Union of the Colonies (1865).
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Government House, Halifax, N.S.,
15th September, 1864.
I have the honor to report that the intended Conference of Delegates from the Lower Provinces assembled at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on Thursday, the 1st inst. No less than eight members of the Canadian Ministry—Messrs. J. A. McDonald, Cartier, Galt, Brown, McGee, McDougall, Langevin, and Campbell, attended at the same time to make proposals on the part of Canada.
2. As the members of the Conference thought their own deliberations might be affected by the proposals of the Canadian Government, they resolved to hear the latter, before proceeding with their own special debates.
3. This occupied several days, and ended in the Canadian Ministers being invited afterwards to take part in the Conference. So far as I can learn, the proceedings of the Delegates have only gone this far—that they are all in favor of some general Inter-Colonial Union, if it can be shown that no party to such an arrangement will be a loser in the adjustment of the details.
4. The Prince Edward Island Delegates would probably not be averse to such a Federal Union as would leave them their own local institutions and Government House, but I understand there is no probability of their agreeing to any proposal which would entirely merge their present separate Legislature in a larger body.
5. On the 7th inst. I received a telegram informing me that all the Delegates and Members of the Canadian Government would arrive here on Saturday, the 10th inst., and resume their sittings in Halifax, remaining till the following Tuesday.
6. I therefore invited them all to dine at Government House on Saturday, and had the pleasure of seeing round my table the most remarkable assemblage of British American Statesmen who had ever met in one room at Halifax.
7. On Monday they were entertained at a Public Dinner, of which a very full report has since appeared, and the occasion was certainly a remarkable one. In the few observations which I made in return for my health being proposed, I felt quite justified in saving that although Her Majesty’s Government was, for obvious reasons. disinclined to originate such a movement, it was nevertheless disposed to receive favorably any proposition agreed to by the British Provinces which might afford a reasonable opportunity of increasing the happiness and progress of Her Majesty’s subjects, by increasing their unity of action in matters where they had all a community of interest.
8. On Wednesday the various Delegates took their departure, and I believe there will be a partial resumption of their sittings at St. John.
9. As I understand that the Canadian Government intends to invite the Delegates of the other Provinces to discuss at Quebec, the larger scheme of a general Union or Federation, I think it necessary to request permission to appoint Delegates on behalf of Nova Scotia to discuss those wider questions.
10. I apprehend, from the loyal spirit in which previous discussions have been hitherto conducted, there is no risk of any Imperial interest being jeopardised by the freest permission to mature some plan for greater union than now exists. Nevertheless, I consider the Duke of Newcastle’s Despatch of the 27th January, 1860, still renders the previous sanction of Her Majesty’s Government necessary to justify the appointment by me of Delegates to consider the question embracing the general Union of these Provinces.
11. The proposed meeting is intended to take place at Quebec about the 10th October, and there is, therefore, only just sufficient time to intimate your wishes to me in the matter.
I have, &c.,
(Signed) RICHARD GRAVES MACDONNELL,
The Right Honorable EDWARD CARDWELL, M. P., &c.