Despatch from Right Hon. Edward Cardwell to Lieutenant Governor Arthur Gordon (24 June 1865)

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Date: 1865-06-24
By: Edward Cardwell
Citation: Despatch from Right Hon. Edward Cardwell to Lieutenant Governor Arthur Gordon (24 June 1865) in Journal of the Legislative Council of the Province of New Brunswick (1866).
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Downing Street, 24th June, 1865.

SIR,—I have the honor to transmit to you the copy of a correspondence between Viscount Monck and myself on the affairs of British North America, which have lately formed the subject of conference between Her Majesty’s Government and a Deputation from the Canadian Government.

This correspondence having been presented to both Houses of the Imperial Parliament, by command of Her Majesty, I have to direct you to communicate it also to the Legislature of New Brunswick at its next meeting.

You will at the same time express the strong and deliberate opinion of Her Majesty’s Government; that it is an object much to be desired that all the British North American Colonies should agree to unite in one government. In the territorial extent of Canada, and in the maritime and commercial enterprise of the Lower Provinces, Her Majesty’s Government see the elements of power, which only require to be combined in, order to secure for the Province which shall possess them all, a place among the most considerable communities of the world. In the spirit of loyalty to the British Crown, of attachment to British connection, and of love British institutions, by which all the Provinces are animated alike, Her Majesty’s Government recognize the Bond by which all may be combined under one government. Such an Union seems to Her Majesty’s Government to recommend itself to the Provinces on many grounds of moral and material advantage, as giving a well-founded prospect of improved administration and increased prosperity. But there is one consideration which Her Majesty’s Government feel it more especially their duty to press upon the Legislature of New Brunswick. Looking, to the determination which this country has ever exhibited to regard the defence of the Colonies as a matter of Imperial concern, the Colonies must recognize a right, and even acknowledge an obligation, incumbent on the Home Government to urge with earnestness and just authority the measures which they consider to be most expedient on the part of the Colonies, with a view to their own defence. Nor can it be doubtful that the Provinces of British North America are incapable, when separate and divided from each other, of making those just and sufficient preparations for national defence which would be easily undertaken by a Province uniting in itself all the population and all the resources of the whole.

I am aware that this project so novel, as well as so important, has not been at once accepted in New Brunswick with that cordiality which has marked its acceptance by the Legislature of Canada; but Her Majesty’s Government trust that after a full and careful examination of the subject in all its bearings, the Maritime Provinces will perceive the great advantages which, in the opinion of Her Majesty’s Government, the proposed Union is calculated to confer upon them all.

I have, &c. (Signed) EDWARD CARDWELL.

[Enclosure 1.]

Copy of a Report of a Committee of the Honorable Executive Council, approved by His Excellency the Governor General on the 24th March, 1865.

The Committee respectfully recommend that four Members of Your Excellency’s Council do proceed to England to confer with Her Majesty’s Government—

1. Upon the proposed Confederation of the British North American Provinces, and the means whereby it can be most speedily effected.

2. Upon the arrangement necessary for the defence of Canada in the event of war arising with the United States, and the extent to which the same should be shared between Great Britain and Canada.

3. Upon steps to be taken with reference to the Reciprocity Treaty and the rights conferred by it upon the United States.

4. Upon the arrangements necessary for the settlement of the North West Territory and the Hudson Bay Company’s clams.

5. And generally upon the existing critical state of affairs, by which Canada is most seriously effected.

The Committee further recommend that the following Members of Council be named to form a Delegation, via:—Messrs. Macdonald, Cartier, Brown, and Galt.

Certified. W.H. LEE, C.E.C.

[Enclosure 2.]

Copy of a Despatch from the Right Honorable Edward Cardwell, M.P., to Governor General Viscount Monck

Downing Street, June 27, 1865.

MY LORD,—I have the honor to inform Your Lordship that several conferences have been held between the four Canadian Ministers, who were deputed, under the Minute of your Executive Council of March 24, to proceed to England to confer with Her Majesty’s Government on the part of Canada, and the Duke of Somerset, the Earl de Grey, Mr. Gladstone, and myself, on the part of Her Majesty’s Government.

On the first subject referred to in the Minute, that of the Confederation of the British North American Provinces, we repeat on the part of the Cabinet the assurances which had already been given of the determination of Her Majesty’s Government to use every proper means of influence to carry into effect without delay the proposed confederation.

On the second point we entered into a full consideration of the important subject of the defence of Canada, not with any apprehension on either side that friendly relations now happily subsisting between this country and the United States are likely to be disturbed, but impressed with the conviction that the safety of the Empire from possible attack ought to depend upon its own strength and the due application of its resources. We reminded the Canadian Ministers that on the part of the Imperial Government we had obtained a vote of money for improving the fortifications of Quebec. We assured them that as soon as that vote had been obtained the necessary instructions had been sent out for the immediate execution of the works, which would be prosecuted with dispatch; and we reminded them of the suggestion Her Majesty’s Government had made to them to proceed with the fortifications of Montreal. The Canadian Ministers, in reply, expressed unreservedly the desire of Canada to devote her whole resources, both in men and money, for the maintenance of her connection with the mother country; and their full belief in the readiness of the Canadian Parliament to make known that determination in the most authentic manner. They said they had increased the expenditure for their Militia from $300,000 to $1,000,000, and would agree to train that force to the satisfaction of the Secretary of War, provided the cost did not exceed the last mentioned sum annually while the question of Confederation is pending. They said they were unwilling to separate the question of the works at Montreal from the question of the works west of that place, and from the question of a naval armament on Lake Ontario. That the execution of the whole of these works would render it necessary for them to have recourse to a loan which could only be raised with the guarantee of the Imperial Parliament. They were ready to propose to their Legislature on their return a measure for this purpose, provided that the guarantee of the Imperial Parliament were given now, and that they were authorized to communicate to the Parliament of Canada the assurance, that the occasion arising, England will have prepared an adequate naval force for Lake Ontario. They thought that if the guarantee were not obtained now, it as probable that the Canadian Government and Parliament would think it desirable that the question of defensive works should await the decision of the Government and Legislature of the United Provinces.

On the part of Her Majesty’s Government we assented to the reasonableness of the proposal that if the Province undertook the primary liability for the works of defence mentioned in the letter of Lieutenant Colonel Jervois, and shewed sufficient security, Her Majesty’s Government should apply to Parliament for a guarantee for the amount required; and we said that Her Majesty’s Government would furnish the armaments for the works, But we said the desire and decision of the Provincial Legislature ought to be pronounced before any application was made to the imperial Parliament. On the question of a naval force for Lake Ontario, we said that, apart from any question of expediency, the convention subsisting bet-ween this country and the United States rendered it impossible for either nation to place more than the specified number of armed vessels on the lakes in the time of peace. In case of war it would, as a matter of course, be the duty of any Government in this country to apply its means of naval defence according to the judgment it might form upon the exigencies of each particular time, and the Canadian Ministers might be assured that Her Majesty’s Government would not permit itself to be found in such a position as to be unable to discharge its duty in this respect. This was the only assurance the Canadian Ministers could expect or we could give.

Upon a review of the whole matter, the Canadian Ministers reverted to the proposal which has been. mentioned above-that priority in point of time should be given to the confederation of the Provinces. To this we, on the part of Her Majesty’s Government, assented. In conformity, however, with a wish strongly expressed by the Canadian Ministers, we further said that if, upon future consideration, the Canadian Government should desire to anticipate the confederation, and to propose that Canada should execute the works, they would doubtless communicate to Her Majesty’s Government that decision; and we trusted. that after what bad passed in these conferences, they would feel assured that any such communication would be received by us in the most friendly spirit.

On the third point, the Reciprocity Treaty, the Canadian Ministers represented the great importance to Canada of the renewal of that Treaty and requested that Sir F. Bruce might be put in communication with the Government of Lord Monck upon the subject. We replied that Sir F. Bruce had already received instructions to negotiate for a renewal of the Treaty. and to act in concert with the Government of Canada.

On the fourth point, the subject of the North Western Territory, the Canadian Ministers desired that the Territory should be made over to Canada. and undertook to negotiate with the Hudson’s Bay Company for the termination of their rights, on condition that the indemnity, if any, should be paid by a loan to be raised by Canada under the Imperial guarantee. With the sanction of the Cabinet, we assented to this proposal, undertaking, that if the negotiation should be successful, we on the part of the Crown being satisfied that the amount of indemnity was reasonable and the security sufficient, would apply to the Imperial Parliament to sanction the arrangement and to guarantee the amount.

On the last point, it seemed sufficient that Her Majesty’s Government should accept the assurance given by the Canadian Ministers on the part of Canada, that that Province is ready to devote all her resources, both in men and money, to the maintenance of her connection with the mother country, and should assure them in return that the Imperial Government fully acknowledge the reciprocal obligation of defending every portion of the Empire with all the resources at its command. The Canadian Ministers, in conclusion, said that they hoped it would be understood that the present communications did not in any way affect or alter the correspondence which had already passed between the Imperial Government and the Governments of the British North American Provinces on the subject of the Inter-Colonial Railway. To this we entirely agreed.

I have, &c. (Signed) EDWARD CARDWELL.

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