James Douglas.

Canadian independence, annexation and British imperial federation online

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Annexation and
British Imperial Federation




27 West Twenty-third Street 24 Bedford Street, Strand




Entered at Stationers' Hall^ London

By G. p. Putnam's Sons

Electrotyped, Printed and Bound by

Ubc TknicfterbocFjer press, mew J^orft

G. P. Putnam's Sons

F /033


The following essay is the amplification
of an essay written for Canadian readers
by a Canadian long resident in the United

Annexation implies a transaction to
which the two sections concerned must be
parties, and therefore is of importance, if
not equally momentous, to both. To
Americans the annexation, not alone of
Canada, but of any further territory and
its inhabitants, should be considered in the
light of the perilous growth of sectionalism
at home.

The problem of reconciling local inter-
ests and prejudices with the national well-
being and will, is presenting itself obsti-
nately for solution wherever representative
government is on its trial, whether under its
most restricted form or its most democratic

iv Preface,

development. By the Austrian Empire
the German, Slavonic, and Magyar ele-
ments have to be conciliated. In Ger-
many the Polish provinces, with their ra-
cial and religious divergences from the
Teutonic mass of the people, have to be
propitiated. In Great Britain the Irish
question is the supreme puzzle to each suc-
ceeding administration, and keeps the legis-
lative halls, if not the country, in a state
bordering on revolution ; while in the
United States one must be blind not to
recognize the existence of sectionalism, and
as perversely obtuse to the threatening
danger as men were before the war, not to
be alarmed at the consequences of its
growth. Why, therefore, add another
story to the political structure ? It is pos-
sible to make a constitutional edifice top-
heavy, and to crush the strongest founda-
tion by piling on it more than the builders
designed it to bear.

That the "freest possible commercial in-
tercourse and utmost political and social
harmony should exist between the adjacent
countries allied in so many ways, no one

Preface. v

can question ; but commercial engagements
can be easily modified, close political ties
are generally broken only amid rack and
ruin. The customs tariffs now under dis-
cussion in this country and in Canada in-
dicate an approach towards friendlier and
more liberal international intercourse. The
motion recently made in Congress in favor
of international co-operation in opening up
navigation between the great lakes and
tidal waters points hopefully in the same

Only the veriest optimist will assert that
the complicated problems involved in rep-
resentative government have been solved
by any one of the self-governing communi-
ties of the world. If so, success will soon-
est be attained if the grand experiment be
tried by many separate nations (provided
each be large enough to make its results
conclusive), rather than by huge aggrega-
tions of people, unwieldy by their num-
bers, and heterogeneous in their interests
and habits.

It is significant that the present Prime
Minister of England, chosen by the Lib-

vi Preface,

eral party, should be a Peer, a Radical, and
a staunch Imperial Federalist, at one time
President of the Imperial Federation
League, and that Lord Rosebery supports
Irish Home Rule, not as a piece of excep-
tional legislature, but as the first step tow-
ards the creation of a group of separate
English-speaking states in both hemi-
spheres, controlling without interference
their own domestic affairs, but bound to-
gether by common constitutional ties and
common interests, each working out its own
individual destiny, while contributing to
the strength, the influence, and the pros-
perity of the whole.

J. D.
New York, April 25, 1894.


I. — The Imminence of Political Change

IN Canada ..... i
II. — Imperial Federation Possible only
AS THE Consequence of Indepen-
dence II

III. — Annexation as an Alternative to

Independence . . . -34
IV. — Canada's Slow Progress (Compared
with that of australia and the
United States) Due to Physical

Conditions 46

V. — If the ^'National " or Protection

Policy has Failed to Attract

Population to Canada, will

Annexation do so ? . . .55

VI. — Probable Effect of Annexation on

Canadian Industries and Wages. 65
VII. — Annexation from the Standpoint

OF Comparative Politics . . S^
VIII. — Annexation from American and

Canadian Points of View . . 97
Index 11 1

Canadian Independence.



The political future of Canada should
and does occupy a foremost place in the
thoughts of its people, and is a subject
of no inconsiderable importance to her
neighbor. It may be true that at present
there is no widespread discontent with its
existing constitution and relations, but
some change in the alliance between
Canada and the mother-country must,
sooner or later, take place, as inevitably
the relations between parent and child
alter when childhood passes into boyhood
and boyhood merges into manhood.

2 Canadian Independence,

The parental-control stage of Canadian
history ended in 1S42 Since then Canada
has been out of leading-strings, managing
h{^i^ own internal afiairg, and trying to work
out a system of government, based on rep-
resentative principles, which would har-
monize discordant elements at the centre,
and permit of the absorption and develop-
ment of territory at the periphery of her
possible domain. The mother-country has
held over her the aegis of her protection,
which, happily, has never had to ward off
a dart actually thrown. She has been
ready to advise her offspring, to lend her
money, and in every way assist her during
this period of national adolescence. Now
that this period has passed, it will be as
ignominious to remain dependent and accept
support from the parent state, as it is on
the part of a full-grown man to look to his
sire, not only for counsel, but for assistance.

A man is never too old to ask and take
advice without derogation to his dignity^
but he cannot accept alms without loss of
self-esteem. He may enter a partnership
penniless and yet contribute in energy and

Imminence of Political Change, 3

industry raore in value than his partner's
wealth. Into some such partnership the
children of the great British family might
be incorporated. Some such compact for
mutual profit and protection there may
arise a statesman endowed with the wisdom
to frame and the sagacity and tact to
manage. As yet, however, and though
every thoughtful Englishman at home and
in the colonies knows that to be the most
momentous if not the most urgent question
of the day, no feasible plan of Imperial
Federation has been formulated. Mean-
while the impending crisis, which will be
created out of some unforeseen complica-
tion, approaches.

In the case of the colonies in the South-
ern Hemisphere no outward pressure or
internal convulsion threatens to create ne-
cessity for sudden decision and prompt
action. As less and less territory remains
to be occupied or seized in the Archipelago
of the South Pacific by England or her
rivals, the most pregnant cause for irritation
there is disappearing. Australia's debt is
by far the largest per capita of any com-

4 Canadian hidependence,

munity in the world. It is $230.78 per
head, while the national debt per head of
this country is only $14.24. As this
enormous sum is due in greatest part to
England, it serves as a balance-wheel to
regulate the relations of the borrower and
the lender, and tends to repress hasty
action by the one or the other.

In South Africa a collision between the
British and the Dutch or Portuguese com-
munities might hasten disruption of exist-
ing relations, but it would probably have
the opposite result, for the colonies acting in
unison would be stronger than their antago-
nists; and political considerations would
probably not restrain the parent state from
tendering assistance should such a compli-
cation arise.

But on this continent a grave difference
of policy between Canada and its neighbor
may arise at any moment, on an economical
question affecting, for instance, interna-
tional commerce by land or water. Such a
dispute might speedily lead to conse-
quences which would produce distress on
one side of the line and irritation on the

Imminence of Political Change, 5

other, and endanger good-fellowship and
neighborliness. It is certain that the
offence would have to be very clearly
chargeable to the United States and would
have to assume the gravity of an interna-
tional affront, before England would em-
broil herself in a quarrel on account of
Canada. In the event of reluctance on the
part of England to champion Canada's
cause, general discontent would ensue with
the existing anomalous relations, which very
reasonably deny Canada control of foreign
affairs, though they expose her to all the
consequences of a quarrel for which she
may not be even remotely responsible.

Nevertheless every Canadian must in
fairness admit that as long as Canada de-
pends on England for defence against
foreign foes, and neither supports an army
and navy of her own, nor contributes to
the maintenance of the Imperial forces,
she should be denied the power of com-
promising the parent state by engaging in
independent foreign negotiations.

Thus, while we can easily conceive of
international complications arising which

6 Canadian Independence.

would create a crisis, Canada is at the
same time certainly suffering from internal
morbid conditions of the body politic,
which will call, ere long, for the applica-
tion of some remedy.

Nowhere in the British Empire are the
external and internal incentives to change
as imminent and threatening as here, and
nowhere are the alternative policies which
offer themselves more perplexing. No
plan yet proposed meets with even wide
approval, for none is free from grave

The/<2r niente policy would be the best
if all Canada's internal forces should
slumber ; and all external foes, should she
have any, would remain dormant. But, if
she indulges in the hallucination that
while the world revolves she can stand
still, she will certainly find herself in the
same sorry plight as the ^' foolish virgins,"
with no oil, no light, and no home. As a
people Canadians should act with the same
prudence and foresight that they bring to
bear on their private affairs, make plans for
their future guidance, whether Providence

Imminence of Political Change. 7

permits them to carry them out or not,
and face the future manfully, determined
that they will steer a straight course
towards a definite goal, and try and shape
their destiny in imitation of some worthy

Fortunately or unfortunately, circum-
stances do not point to any conspicuous
goal as that towards which Canada should

If we compare Canada's position with
that occupied by the old colonies, and the
prevalent sentiment of the Dominion with
that which the colonists entertained towards
the mother-country, we can conceive how
much easier it was for them, once a break
of existing relations occurred, to decide
upon a course of action than it is for
Canada. The Puritan immigrants were
Englishmen, it is true, but they left their
homes because their opinions and practices
were at variance with those of the govern-
ment and of the majority of their fellow-
countrymen; and ever and anon, during
the century and a half which intervened
between the date of their landing on Ply-

8 Canadian Independence.

mouth Rock and the outbreak of hostilities,
there were mutterings of the hurricane
which was brewing.

At one time colonists resented the inter-
ference of Parliament because they be-
longed to a Crown colony. At another
time they protested against the dictation
of the Crown, because it trenched upon
their liberties as Englishmen. One cannot
read the story of the gathering of the
storm without feeling that thunder and
lightning were stored in that sultry atmos-
phere, and a tempest was liable at any
moment to burst. Not only Samuel
Adams, but many another colonist, had
made up his mind before the crisis arose
that a collision must occur and separation
result. The opinions of some at least of
the influential colonists were but the fruit
of their wishes, and their wishes were the
flames which kindled the revolution.

The case is different with Canada. The
sentiment of the great bulk of the people
is distinctly and strongly English. The
large majority which the Conservative
party commands is due primarily to a sus-

Imminence of Political Change. g

picion that, under the guise of commercial
union with the United States, advocated
by the Liberal party, are hidden designs
for political union ; and from this, which
means a severance of those strong, sympa-
thetic ties which bind English Canadians
to the old country, the hearts of the
majority of Canadians revolt. So long as
England and Home are synonymous terms
in Canadian speech, the sentimental bond
attaching the child to the parent will be
too strong to yield to merely economical
considerations. Canadians have not and
never have had a serious grievance against
the parent country, for the disaffection of
1837 was far from being shared by the
people at large, and it left hardly a trace
of bitterness towards the mother-land. The
legislative independence, which rewarded
not only the rebels, but their foes, long
ago obliterated any rancor excited by the

If, as one result of the almost absolute
independence which ensued, the racial
alienation between the Canadian French
and the Canadian English is growing into

lo Canadia7i Independence,

racial antipathy, this antagonism is trace-
able to internal causes, and does not
originate in animosity towards England.
Thus, though there may be urgent reasons
for changing Canada's constitution and
modifying the terms of her alliance to the
Empire, these reasons do not spring from
discontent with the policy and action of
the parent state, and consequently they do
not, as in the case of the revolting colonists
of last century, indicate the direction in
which the change should be made.



In reality there are but two alternatives
open, either Annexation or Independence,
more or less complete. A third course,
that of Imperial Federation, if it be ef-
fected, is more likely to follow as a conse-
quence of a scheme of independence than
to precede it ; for any feasible plan of Im-
perial Federation necessarily involves vir-
tual independence of the federated States.
Were the colonies still colonies, subject,
even nominally, to interference by the cen-
tral state, arguments coming from her
would savor of commands, and suggestions
of coercion. No people are so sensitive to
slights as little people, and weak persons
are most prone to stand on their dignity,
as they have generally little else to stand

12 Canadian Independence.

The discussion of a scheme of British
Imperial Federation, with a view to its
actual realization, would lead to practical
results, only if carried on between per-
fectly independent autonomous powers.
The powers may diJBEer widely in strength
and resources, and thus differing, modify
their claims in conformity with their real
importance, but it almost follows without
ai'gument that it would be impossible to
reconcile the divergent interests of the
many branches of the British family, did
not each enter the family council with the
fullest rights of independent action.

Strong as may be its attachment to the
parent state, every community would resent
the faintest suspicion of pressure, and it is
almost certain that were absolute inde-
pendence of all the contracting parties not
a precedent, pressure would almost inevita-
bly follow reluctance on the part of any
member of the proposed league to follow
the policy which the majority might agree
to. Consent wrung by pressure never
becomes cordial acquiescence. Canada's
Maritime Provinces, rightly or wrongly,

/ Imperial Federation. 1 3

believed themselves cajoled, if not coerced,
into the confederation, and they have never
entirely rid themselves of a certain sense
of injury.

How independence is to be worked out,
circumstances will probably indicate. It
must not be effected by violent means.
The genius of the English race favors the
introduction of political and social changes,
so great as to be revolutionary in their
effects, by slow, constitutional means. But
the changes must be seen and recognized
to be necessary and salutary, and means
must be put in motion to bring them about.
Let independence become a distinct issue,
not in party politics, but in the national
aspirations and aims of all the great groups
of the British family, and Independence
will come about without clash of arms or
severance of sympathetic ties.

Participation by right and not merely by
courtesy, over its foreign, as well as its do-
mestic affairs, must be exercised by every
self-governing community. Dependence on
themselves, and on their own diplomatic
skill, as well as, when necessary, on their

14 Canadian Independence,

own strength, can alone build up a vigorous,
self-reliant, national character in any peo-
ple ; while, on the other hand, reliance on a
foreign power, even though it be a parent
state, enfeebles and degrades.

Great Britain has recognized in fact the
rights of her colonies to participate in all
deliberations with foreign powers, when
their interests are affected ; but, as in the
recent Behring Sea deliberations, the for-
eign power is naturally irritated, and the
negotiations are embarrassed, by the fact
that Canada could not make her side known
by direct utterances of her own diplomatic
agents, and that Great Britain had more
than once to shift her position in deference
to the wishes, secretly expressed, of her
dependency. How far this was really the
case or not, the United States public can-
not, of course, know, but the suspicion of
its being true did not raise Canada in the
estimation of her neighbor, nor smooth, the
path of British diplomacy.

The Constitution of an Imperial Fed-
eration will have to be drawn on lines not
heretofore laid down for any ship of state.

Imperial Federation, 1 5

It is inconceivable, for instance, that such
widely separated members of the British
family as the Canadian, the Australian, the
South African, and the West Indian groups,
would yield so much of their sovereign
rights to any Federal Government, as the
States of the Union yield to the Govern-
ment of the United States, which is not
only theoretically, but actually and locally,
an embodiment of themselves, nor would
they delegate to their representatives to
the Federal Parliament, sitting and delib-
erating at a distance from home and under
the influence of the central powers, with its
magical over-weening spell, derived from
the prestige of age and parentage, the same
control as the people of the Republic en-
trust to their representatives in Congress.

The impossibility of applying any system
similar to the American Constitution, is
indicated by the sense of incompatibility
which influences the public mind of the
people of the United States when the
question of annexation of any distant terri-
tory is presented.

To do so seems like making a breach of

1 6 Ca7iadian Independence,

continuity and homogeneity, for the feder-
ated states are all geographically adjacent
and all more or less peopled by men of single
impulses and interests. So the tie which
can bind, without irritating, such scattered
communities as we have enumerated, must
derive its strength from unanimity of
national sentiment, from reverence for a
common historical past, and a determina-
tion to maintain and live up to the political
principles which underlie the self-govern-
ment of all Anglo-Saxon communities, how-
ever diverse may be the form and fashion
of the institutions through which they see
fit to apply these principles. A common
selfish interest may be the impelling motive,
but it will really in the long run be a
more feeble cohesive influence than the

If we glance back to that most instruc-
tive century and a half, between the land-
ing of the Pilgrim Fathers, and the
Declaration of Independence, we see how
much more sensitive the colonies were to
parliamentary than to kingly interference.
They were willing to recognize a certain

Imperial Federation. ^ 17

titular sovereignty as residing in the king,
but resented any approach to parliamentary
meddling. Had their charters conferred
somewhat more ample power, and been
religiously respected, and had the crisis not
been precipitated by the gross stupidity
and ignorance of English statesmen, and the
perverse obstinacy of an English king, that
deeply implanted reverence which all Eng-
lishmen feel for the king as the head of
the state, and the representative of the
people of all classes and all parties, sup-
posed to be unswayed by political ambi-
tion, and holding the balance between
opposing factions, might have been potent
enough to restrain the allegiance of the
colonies towards the parent state, till
broader views of colonial independence had
grown up, and a less officious king sat upon
the throne.

Reasoning from the past, if the so-called

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