Despatch from Lieutenant Governor Richard Graves Macdonnell to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (18 July 1864)

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Date: 1864-07-18
By: Richard Graves Macdonnell
Citation: Despatch from Lieutenant Governor Richard Graves Macdonnell to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (18 July 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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Colonial Schooner “Daring,” St. Mary’s River, N.S.,
18th July, 1864.


I have the honor to report that on the 9th inst. I received from Lord Monck a Despatch, dated the 30th June, inquiring the time and place of meeting of the Delegates to be appointed, in accordance with Resolutions passed by the Legislatures of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, for the purpose of conferring on the expediency of a Union of those Provinces.

2. I have replied that I am ready to appoint five Delegates on the part of this Government, but that no time and place of meeting has yet been determined. I have, however, written to the Governors of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, urging the expediency of coming to an early understanding on the subject, and leaving to them the selection of the time and place most convenient to themselves. I was anxious to avoid any appearance of dictating or leading on the part of this Government, which, by originating the movement. has already sufficiently evinced its desire to promote the proposed Union.

3. Lord Monck was also anxious to know whether the attendance of Delegates on the part of Canada, would be acceptable for the purpose of urging the expediency of a still wider Union, embracing all the British Provinces in Nova Scotia.

4. I have consulted my Executive Council on the question, and the Members concur with me in thinking that the Resolution of the Legislature, which authorises the appointment of Delegates to discuss the Union of the Maritime Eastern Provinces, confers no power to discuss officially, the larger question embraced in Lord Monck’s enquiry.

5. I have accordingly replied to that effect, whilst expressing the satisfaction which the Government would feel in receiving and discussing unofficially, any question raised by the Canadian Government.

6. Having signified to my Ministry my willingness to appoint Delegates to meet those of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, it seems proper that I should call your attention to a Despatch of the 27th January, 1860, marked confidential, and addressed to my predecessor by his Grace the Duke of Newcastle. In that Despatch his Grace, whilst apparently expressing no disapproval of the discussion of such a question as that which is now imminent, concludes with the following instruction: “Previous to sending Delegates to Quebec or elsewhere, such a proposal should not be authorised by yourself without previous communication with the Secretary of State, in order that the question of the Delegates, and the instructions to be given them may be known beforehand to H. M. Government.”

7. I was not aware till very recently of the existence of that instruction, but, though I feel it right to draw attention to it now, I am persuaded that so far as the present proposal goes I am not exceeding its letter or spirit. H. M. Government has already signified a general acquiescence in the propriety of such preliminary discussion, and there is no intention on the part of myself or my Ministry to give the intended Delegates any authority except to debate the general expediency of the proposed Union, and report the recommendation in which the Conference may result.

8. If, however, you should be of opinion there is any reason either to withhold my sanction to the appointment of Delegates, or require any special guarantee, there is still time to furnish me with the necessary instructions, as probably the first of September will be the earliest day named for the Conference.

9. In the meantime I venture to add, in reference to the suggestion of Lord Monck, that it seems premature to discuss the larger question of a Union of the five Provinces before it be ascertained whether the three smaller, whose interests are more immediately and more evidently connected, can be induced to combine in closer connection. I apprehend that the more limited project, if practicable at all, as I hope it is, is all that can be managed for some time to cone, whilst if the larger proposal be attainable, and be desirable, its adoption will eventually be in this way much facilitated. I think so because a Union between two communities, which would be all that would then remain to be accomplished, will assuredly be a simpler question to arrange than a Union between five as at present.

I have. &c.,

Lieutenant Governor.

The Right Honorable E. CARDWELL, &c., &c., &c.

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