New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Reports of the Debates (20 May 1865)
By: New Brunswick (House of Assembly)
Citation: New Brunswick, House of Assembly, Reports of the Debates of The House of Assembly of the Province of New Brunswick, During the Session of 1865 at 78-80.
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HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
SATURDAY, May 20, 1865.
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Hon. Mr. Allen moved the House into Committee of the Whole on a BILL RELATING TO THE MILITIA.
Sections 1 to 12 were read and passed without discussion. On the reading of Sec.13, which provides that “the commanding officer of every volunteer corps shall receive a sum not exceeding $2 per head for every effective member of such corps, to provide for the proper care of arms and accoutrements, and to meet the expanses of the corps.
Mr. Cudlip suggested that it might be well to have some clause inserted to prevent any officer from putting into his own pocket any surplus funds that might not be expended for the purposes enumerated, but pay it back.
Hon. Mr. Allen explained that there would be no need of any thing of this kind, as no officer would receive any money till he had made up an estimate to show what amount the corps would need.
The section passed as did also 14, 15 and 16.
On Sections 17 and 18 there was some scattered discussion as to the volunteer corps being exempt from the payment of taxes to the extent of six dollars, after which they were struck out; but on the suggestion of Hon. Mr. Wilmot, supported by the Hon. Mr. Smith, and others, they were reconsidered and after being amended were passed. The alterations made were, the striking out of Class B, as exempted and permitting volunteers to be clear or paying City, County and Parish rates and taxes, to the amount of six dollars.
Section 19 was passed without amendment, but 200 was entirely withdrawn, and the following substituted by the hon. mover of the Bill.
“20. The articles of engagement of all volunteer corps shall be subject to the approval of the Commander-in-Chief: and such volunteer corps shall be drilled and exercised at such times in each year, (not exceeding ten days) and at such places as the Commander-in-Chief may order; and such corps shall be subject to inspection from time to time by such person or persons as shall be appointed by the Commander-in-Chief for that purpose.”
“21. The men of Class B and Class C, of the active militia, shall be carefully enrolled, and shall, when not exempted, assemble for muster upon one day in each year, at such time and place as the commanding officer of each battalion may direct to each company therein, interfering as little as possible with seed time and harvest; but no person shall be required to travel more than twelve miles from his usual place of residence to attend such must.”
Mr. Gilbert — I am opposed to the one day muster, as I consider that it results in no benefit to the people. Experience has shown that it is a ridiculous farce to call out men and drill them for a few hours on one day in a year. The Morning Freeman for September 24th. 1864, in speaking of the last general muster says:
“Now that these musters are over for the season, would it not be well for the sensible men of the community to ask themselves ” what has been effected, or what can be effected by compelling three or four thousand men in the City and Portland, to leave their business for one day in the year to play fool and be the laughing stock of the idlers who go to see them on the Barrack Square or elsewhere? Is the strength or the efficiency of the militia force promoted in the slightest degree by such a waste of time? Would St. John be better able to resist attack after this muster and drill than it was before.” We believe the effect of these miserable displays must be to create such a dislike of militia service, as must do material mischief should it ever be necessary to set the militia to work in earnest. The Legislature never intended that those ridiculous attempts at drilling men in an hour or two on one day of the year should be made, and the law gives no authority to the commanding officers to expose the men in such a way to ridicule. We believe that even the muster is a waste of time: It is for the merchants and mechanics of the city le determine for themselves whether such proceedings shall be repeated.”
This is sufficient to show the uselessness of the one day muster All that is necessary is to enroll the names of the men, to see what is really the available strength of the country; but to give the power into the hands of the commanding officer to call out men simply to play the fool is of no use whatever.
Hon. Mr. Allen — The late Bill provided that men should be called out and drilled. This merely provides that they shall be mustered to answer to their names. Whether the people in St. John acted as stated in the Freeman or not, I do not know, but here, and in many other parts of the country, they acted with propriety. ln this Bill there is a dispensing clause which will give the power into the hands of the Commander-in-Chief to call them out only if it is needed. As to the people not being willing to be called out, they muster enough at races and exhibitions, and why should they not assemble when the purpose is a legal one?
Mr. Sutton.—The men turned out well in Northumberland. and we had His Excellency there, who expressed himself as very much pleased with their orderly appearance.
Mr. McClellan.—I cannot agree with hon. members who are anxious to keep up with this absurdity. Every man who turns out on the general drill day is a dollar lost to the labour of the country, and I am persuaded that it entails a great amount of taxation on the people without resulting in any benefit.
Mr. Hill.—I agree with the hon. member for Albert. I think it one of the greatest farce that ever came before the people. It does not answer the purpose for which it was intended. At St. Stephen, at the last inspection, there was a great deal of military feeling shown; at least there was a large amount of fighting on men’s private account. After 12 o’clock those who did not belong to the temperance societies went in for drinking fighting, and before night the town presented in appearance very much like Doneybrook Fair; there were black eyes, and noses hat enquired the way over one or the other shoulder, and the whole thing partook of the nature of a civil war. I think the chief tendency of a one day muster is to demoralize, and therefore I am opposed to it.
Mr. Lewis, Mr. Williston and Hon. Mr. Gilmor took similar views, showing the loss to the country in labor, the disadvantages of having to shut down mills and other places of business, and the demoralizing effect of the proceedings of the day . They also expressed the opinion that the enrollment could as effectually be made by a Captain and Adjutant going through the respective districts and learning who were fit for service.
Mr. Boyd said the day could not be dispensed with, as the commanding officer would not be able to get any accurate returns without it.
Hon. Mr. Smith said he believed the muster was no good; that it was demoralizing and a burden to the country, but as there was a dispensing clause he should support it. He did not think the power would be need except in cases where it became absolutely necessary.
AFTERNOON SESSION — 3 P.M.
Mr. Cudlip. — I agree with hon. members who think a day of general muster is not required; with think my constituents will not accord with this section of the Bill, and although I am not prepared to offer any amendments, yet I wish it set out record that I am not favorable to this one day muster, as it interferes with the business of the country. I would rather see some such an arrangement as they had in old times, when training day was combined with fairs and agricultural exhibitions.
Mr. Gilbert. — I agree with the hon. member for St. John, that this one day’s muster is of no practical use; the mills have to be stopped, all kinds of work suspended, and the day is in reality wasted. More than this, I do not believe in delegating the power to call them out to the Commander-in-Chief.
Hon. Mr. Wilmot . — I was one of the seven who opposed the suspension of the old militia law and I did so as I believed that every man from eighteen to sixty should be enrolled, and be willing, in case of need, to turn out to defend his home and hearth. In the United States they had little or no organization, and one day they woke up and found they had to muster upon on of the most tremendous wars the world ever saw. I hope we shall not pursue the same course, and in the day of trouble find ourselves in the same position as they were before the war. I do not look upon the turning out for one day as a burden to the country. It is simply giving the people a holiday, just such as we had on the 4th of June, the old King’s birthday.
Mr. Boyd. — If the idea of hon. members who oppose this section were carried out we might just as well sweep the whole Militia Bill from the Statue Book. If a day is not appointed for the mustering and enrollment of the men, no return could be made of the available force of the country, an no captain would be willing to go from house to house to obtain his roll without being handsomely paid for his trouble.
Mr. Lindsay.—It is said the day is not set apart for drill, but merely to get the men to answer to their names. It is a ridiculous […]
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[…] idea to make men leave their work and travel, as many would have to, twelve miles, just for this purpose. It is well known that the day is one of drunkenness and frolic. It seems as though the chief object was to let a few officers parade ’round and show their uniforms. The whole thing puts me in mind of the lines of some poet—
“Man, vain man, when clothed in brief authority
Cuts such fantastic tricks before High Heaven
As makes an angel weep.”
Mr. Wetmore referred to the unfair manner in which the appointments had been made, as was evident from the fact that he held an ensign’s commission in the Westmorland Militia since April 1842,— from the way in which his valuable services had been overlooked one would imagine it was dated the 1st of that month. He did not think that one day muster was a burden to the people, and as to their behaving unseemly at the last general drill in St. John, he could assure the House that notwithstanding the article in the Freeman, he had been credibly informed that the men behaved themselves with h. becoming dignity, and exhibited an earnest desire to become proficient in their exercises. He did not see why the Commander-in-Chief should not have the power to call them our; if he had not the power, who should have it?
The section then passed, as did also 22 and 23.
Section 24 : “The Commander-in-Chief shall by General Order designate the Battalions from which the companies so to be exercised shall be drawn, and shall appoint the time for the assembling and dismissal of such companies; but no company shall be compelled to serve for a longer period than twenty eight days, and no Battalion shall be obliged to furnish more than one such company in each year.”
Mr. Gilbert. — I would ask if this Committee is going to endorse by their action the principle of compulsory draft, which this section contemplates? If the House pass it, I must before they do so, enter my solemn protest against it. I am sure the country will not endorse it. That the men from the different companies shall be compelled to have their avocations and go to some place, and there be drilled for twenty-eight days is a preposterous idea. And what benefit will it be? Will twenty-eight days suffice to make them proficient? for by this law the same men will not be taken each year, but sixty men each year till the whole have been drilled. Why, in a time of peace, are our men to be dragged from their homes and families and treated in this why? It seems that the idea prevails that men will volunteer. I don’t believe a man will do so in Westmorland, for they are agriculturalists, and cannot afford to lose the time. they won’t go, not because they are disloyal, but because they will not, except in a prospect of war, agree to be drafted into a military camp against their will.
Hon. Mr. Smith.—I don’t think my hon. colleague represents the whole people of Westmorland, although he seems to imagine that he, and he alone, does represent them. I think I have as much of the confidence of the people there as my hon. colleague; I have had some opportunity of knowing what their views are on various matters during the past few months, and I am prepared to say that the people of Westmorland are willing to do what is best for the good of the country. I take the ground that it is necessary to have some power to enforce the law, and on that ground I wish the section to pass. My hon. colleague seems the only man who is really opposed to it, and he seems to be determined to oppose everything; he is the most querrulous man I ever saw in my life. He says if the law pass the people of Westmorland won’t stand it. I say that they are a law abiding people and will. It will be for the House to determine which is correct. When they look at the position of affairs, to the fact that delegates have gone to England on a military mission, that our sister colony of Nova Scotia is alive to the necessity of having the militia placed on a good footing, I am sure the people of Westmorland as well as every other section of the Province, will yield a cheerful obedience to the provisions of the Bill. What object could the Government or the framer of the Bill have in view în the insertion of this section if not the good of the country?
Hon. Mr. Wilmot. — The hon. member for Westmorland (Mr. Gilbert) makes a great time about men being taken from their homes, but if a man does not want to go it is easy to find a substitute. I never yet saw the time when I could not get the services of a man for £3 10s. for twenty-eight days — that is fifty cent a day and his food, and this will be provided. No one need complain, for it will be easy to get substitutes at that rate. if a man’s business is so that he cannot leave himself.
Mr. Boyd.—I do not think that there will be any need to resort to the draft, as I believe there will be plenty of volunteers to form the camp. The only difficulty will be that there may be too many; the inducements to volunteer are so great. for I see by section 27 that ” any militiaman serving in such company, either voluntarily or by draft, shall be exempt from similar services during the period of ten years.” Such an offer as this was not made in old times, and I think no better plan could be adopted than by taking men out of class B to fill up the quota wanted for drill and exercise.
Hon. Mr. Allen.— The fact is, only some sixty or seventy men are wanted out of each Battalion of 1400 or 1500. and it is most probable that the full number will volunteer. If I imagined that this would be a meeting ot young men bent on dissipation, I would not urge its passage, but if they think it will be a spree, that they will be allowed to wander round the country and act as they please, they will be greatly mistaken. They will be under strict discipline, and I have no doubt will come out a better class of men than they go in. If I had not thought this, I would not have brought the Bill in.
Mr. Gilbert. — My hon. colleague has undertaken to catechize me for the action I see fit to take on this question. I believe in the right of private opinion. I accord to him what I require for myself, the right to think and speak freely, every man his own opinion. We have been of the same mine on this question in the past, but since the last election he has changed his views, not I believe because he has come into power, for he has shown his disinterestedness in this respect in the past, but from conscientious motives. I am opposed to making this affair compulsory, for the loss of the labor of 2000 men to the country is more than should be taken out without providing an equivalent.
Mr. Landry. — I believe if we cannot send a few men to be drilled we should not talk so much about our loyalty.
Mr. Connell. — It seems that men have to provide a grant of $30,000 for the Militia, and then to draft the men into the service. I am opposed to any man being seized and taken from his farm, or shop, or desk, and forced to be drilled for twenty-eight day, and I wish to enter my protest against allowing the Commander-in-Chief to take men thus, wasting the public money and demoralizing the habits of the young men of the country.
Mr. Cudlip —I should not have voted for the $30,000 grant if it had not been for Confederation, and I want that to go to the country for what it is worth. I do not believe in this part of the Bill any more than the hon. member for Carleton. I object to the draft, and if I had a son of eighteen who was drawn for camp, I would withstand it to the utmost of my power. No nation, at any time, has any right to adopt the system of drafting men for their armies The people and papers of the United States protested against it, and showed how unfairly it bore in certain cases. In England if they want soldiers they pay for them; they never had a draft and never will ; the people would not stand it.
Hon. Mr. Smith.— We must have some means to compel men to join the organization. In Canada, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, they have the compulsory draft, and what reason is there why we should not? If we want to maintain a Military Camp, how can we get along without some power to force them to come forward? I agree with my hon. friend from St. John (Mr Cudlip). that if it had not been for Confederation we need not have taken the steps we are now compelled to. There are secret influences at work to injure this country in the eyes of Great Britain, and to force upon us what we have rejected. They are at work in secret in Canada and Nova Scotia, and we must do something to counteract them. I put it to the hon. member for Carleton whether, if this grant had not been made, and if this Bill does not pass, Confederation would not he hastened? And to prevent thîs we must enter upon a complete Militia scheme, and to carry it out we must have some power to coerce those who are to belong to it.
Mr. McMillan — I am willing to go to the extent of $30,000 for Militia purposes, not because I think it would be effective, for I do not think it can be so out of Confederation, where the whole force would be under one head, but I strongly object to the section that gives the power into the hands of the Commander-in-Chief to call them out. I do not think it should be done without the consent of his advisors.
Mr. Needham. — If I thought there was no good in the Bill I would not vote for it; and if I had thought the grant would be no good, I would not have voted for that; but this is the most extraordinary way to legislate that I ever heard of, voting for things that we don’t believe in. Talk about coercion. I should like to see the law that is not coercion. I don’t think any injury will arise from this camp instruction, and I don’t think there will be any need to draft; but if they won’t volunteer, they must be coerced. Hon. members talk about this being a time of peace; but there is a saying old but true, “In times of peace prepare for war,” And then I believe this camp will be of real service to young men. It will take them from the haunts of wickedness, that […]
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[…] in too many cases they frequent. and keep them twenty-eight days under a strict discipline and subordination, that will result in real good. If the question of the draft is the only difficulty in the way, hon. members need have no fear, for let the camp be stationed here at Fredericton, and give us the $30,000, and we’ll keep it well supplied for years to come.
Mr. Lindsay. —I am convinced that the draft is the most obnoxious thing that was ever introduced into a nation, and it is never adopted in any form in England, except under the most pressing difficulties.
Hon. Mr. Smith. — Under the old law all the men of the Province between the ages of 18 and 45 were called out for three days drill, whilst now we only ask for a certain number to form a camp of instruction, at a great saving of the time and producing labor of the country.
Hon. Mr. Allen. — The drafting of men for the Militia is not now introduced for the first time; it was established in the Bill which passed in 1862. The 16th Section of that Bill contains the same principle as this.
Mr. Sutton. —If I thought the draft would ever be enforced, and it would be compulsory for’ men to leave their homes to go to camp, I would vote against it, but as I believe there will be plenty of volunteers I am willing to support this Section.
Hon. Mr. Botsford. —Although the principle of drafting was established in 1862 yet it was never enforced, as people came forward voluntarily. My hon. colleague, (Mr. Gilbert) although opposed to the draft here, joins the hon. members for Carleton, who were willing enough to take our men and send then off to Canada to fight her battles there under Confederation. He says, things have changed; he too has changed, when he joins those who were desirous to force Confederation upon us. The hon. member for Carleton, (Mr. Connell) when asked, What shall we do? says, Do as Canada does. Canada, who has brought down the estimate England held of these Colonies by refusing to establish a system for defence. I think, however, when it is known in England what we are doing here, she will not consider us so disloyal nor so fond of annexation as they would make us out to be.
Mr. McMillan. — The Hon. President of the council says there are secret influences at work against us in Canada and in Nova Scotia. I would ask, Is it right for a gentleman holding the high position he does in this Province, to say that his fellow colonists are animated by such unworthy feelings, without producing some proof. The Hon. Surveyor General seems to be willing to shut us up entirely to ourselves. Build a wall round New Brunswick, like that around China; don’t break the eggshell that separates us from the great world; isolate us, cut us off rather from our fellow men. and if an enemy enters Canada at Niagara, don’t go the resistance of our fellow colonists, but leave them to do as best they can. I believe that without Confederation we cannot have the defences of Militia in a proper conditions. They will be of no actual service till we have them all united under the general direction of one head.
Mr. Gilbert replied to some personal remarks made by Hon. Mr. Botsford, and then Progress was reported.
The SPEAKER having resumed his seat the House adjourned to meet on Monday morning at 9 o’clock.