confederation essay

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Confederation Paper
The rebellions of 1837-1838 in both Upper and Lower Canada were caused by the misgivings of the oligarchies. The reformers in both Colonies wanted Canada to be an independent nation that was not under the rulings of Britain. As a result of the failures of both rebellions, the British got quite violent with the ones who were disloyal to the government. Even though both rebellions failed, the British were still fearful of possible reforms in the future. Through lord Durham, the British government tried to end it all in a peaceful way, but that plan had failed. Lord Durham wrote a report on the rebellions, and came up with one soltion that would please most people. In his report he suggested a unificastion be formed by Upper and Lower Canada to please both the rebels and the British government. This suggestion was later put into action, known as The Act of Union. The British government called for a union of the two Canadas in 1839, recommended by lord Durham. This act extinguished the legislator of the two colonies, seeking the unity of both Upper and Lower Canada. In this union there would be one elected assembly, and also the debts of both colonies would be combined into one. The act of union did not change much else. A governor was still appointed by the British government, along with his executive council and elected assembly. French-Canadiens opposed the act, due to the discrimination they received. The act of union showed promise by being the first step towards responsible government even though the structure of government stayed the same. Robert Baldwin in Canada West and Lafontaine in Canada East formed an alliance and pressured each successor of Sydenham. The next governor, lord Elgin, was committed to responsible government, and in the 1848 elections the reformers won a large victory. They then formed a government and named members of the executive council. However The act of union had frozen the development of government in the colonies due to the geographical and political differences, One group couldn’t hold the majority of seats in the assembly Although responsible government was achieved, the Canadas could not depend on their trade agreements. Many Canadians threatened to annexate to the United States, because of the economic depression that was beginning to form. Montreal merchants saw the only solution to the economic problems that the colonies faced was to join the United States. In the summer of 1849, the annexation movement grew in strength and had more than 1000 prominent supporters in Lower Canada, who were mainly English speaking. The annexationists soon found they had little support for their scheme outside of their group. Most Canandiens were strongly opposed to the annexation movement because they feared that there would be no protection for their way of life with the Americans. The loyalists in Upper Canada also opposed this movement, and with so popular support, the movement was soon abounded. Despite the failure of the annexation movement, trading relationships between the Canadas and the U.S greatly improved in the form of the reciprocity treaty. In 1854, a trade agreement with the United States was successfully negotiated. The treaty gave Newfoundland’s fish, Nova Scotia’s coal, New Brunswick’s timber and Canadian flour for free entry to the United States. The Americans were able to fish freely in the waters of the Maritime colonies. Despite this new agreement, the Atlantic colonies remained politically and economically isolated from the Canadas. Their only link with the rest of BNA was the St. Lawrence River, which was blocked by ice throughout most of the winter. One possible solution to the problem of transportation between the Atlantic colonies and the rest of British North America was to build a railway. The main railway, The Grand Trunk Western was finished in 1856. The journey from Montreal to Toronto would have taken weeks of hard…