Despatch from the Duke of Newcastle to the Earl of Mulgrave (6 July 1862)

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Date: 1862-07-06
By: Duke of Newcastle
Citation: Despatch from the Duke of Newcastle to the Earl of Mulgrave (6 July 1862) in United Kingdom, Correspondence Respecting the Proposed Union of the British North American Provinces (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1865).
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(No. 182.)

Downing Street, 6th July, 1862.


I HAVE duly received Your Lordship’s despatch, No. 47, of the 21st of May, accompanied by a copy of a Resolution which was passed in the House of Assembly on the 15th of April, 1861, relative to an amalgamation of part of all the British Provinces in North America. The Resolution points out that the question might be considered either of a distinct union of the Maritime Provinces or of a general union of them with Canada and suggests that it might be desirable upon so important a subject to ascertain the policy of Her Majesty’s Government, and to promote a consultation between the leading men of the Colonies.

Your Lordship explains that for various reasons your Government were of opinion that it would be inexpedient to act on this Resolution last year, but that they now wish it to be brought under consideration.

No one can be insensible to the importance of the two measures which are alluded to, and I am far from considering that they do not form a very proper subject for calm deliberation. They are, however, of a nature which renders it especially tit that if either of them be proposed for adoption it should emanate in the first instance from the Provinces, and should be concurred in by all of them which it would affect. I should see no objection to any consultation on the subject amongst the leading members of the Governments concerned, but whatever the result of such consultation might be, the most satisfactory mode of testing the opinion of the people of British North America would probably be by means of Resolution or Address, proposed in the Legislature of each Province by its own Government.

Beyond this expression of the views of Her Majesty’s Government as to the preliminary steps which might be taken towards the decision of this great question, I am not prepared to announce any course of policy upon an invitation proceeding from one only of the British North American Provinces, and contained in a Resolution of so general and vague a character as that which you have transmitted to me. But if a Union, either partial or complete, should hereafter be proposed with the concurrence of all the Provinces to be united, I am sure that the matter would be weighed in this country both by the public, by Parliament, and by Her Majesty’s Government, with no other feelings than an anxiety to discern, and to promote any course which might be the most conducive to the prosperity, the strength and the harmony of all the British Communities in North America.

I have, etc.,

The Earl of Mulgrave,
etc., etc., etc.

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