By Gerald Therrien

Calixa Lavallee in his Union uniform

It is estimated that during the American Civil War, up to 40,000 Canadians volunteered to join the Union Army (many of them already living in the United States, including Calixa Lavallee – who would later compose the music for O Canada), while maybe up to 4,000 fought for the southern confederacy.  While the majority of Canadians were pro-American, the British government of Canada, however, was in favour of the break-up of the United States.  While the British did provide support to the confederates – allowing the confederate secret service to freely operate out of the Canadian colonies during the civil war, the British also supported the annexation of the Canadian provinces with some of the northern American states.

However, the British policy of Lord Palmerston meant that those northern states would be annexed into the British North American colonies – “the confederated States of British North America … would virtually hold the balance of power on the continent, and lead to the restoration of that influence which, more than eighty years ago, England was supposed to have lost”[1]  but not the other way around – annexing the Canadian provinces into the American union.

Transcontinental railway

On July 2nd 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Pacific Railroad Act, to build a trans-continental railway from Omaha, Nebraska to Sacramento, California and the Pacific coast of America (accomplishing the greatest engineering feat that had ever been attempted), the British Empire saw their possessions of their small colony on Vancouver Island and the huge land holdings of the Hudson Bay Company in northern Canada threatened by America’s Manifest Destiny.

With the Union army victories at Vicksburg and at Gettysburg in July 1863, the British plan of separation and annexation was doomed. Not only that, but a new possibility of America’s annexation of British American colonies into the republic became a great fear for the British Empire, and had to be stopped at all costs. 


Arthur Gordon- photo Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

In the fall of 1863, Arthur Gordon, Governor of New Brunswick (and the son of the former British Prime Minister George Hamilton-Gordon (1852-1855)), proposed a meeting with the governors of the other maritime provinces – with George Dundas, the Governor of Prince Edward Island, and with George Phipps, Earl of Mulgrave, the Governor of Nova Scotia (and the former Treasurer of the Royal Household under the current Prime Minister Palmerston).  When Phipps left Nova Scotia in September 1763, his successor, Sir Richard MacDonnell, was sent to Nova Scotia with instructions to support a union of the maritime colonies.  Confederation was a high-level Palmerston project – run through the supporters of the government – not the (real) Canadian reformers which they are often confused with today [2].

Gordon’s proposal was for a meeting of the three governors, along with their three provincial premiers – only!  However, Charles Tupper, who became the new premier of Nova Scotia in May, stated that the government of Nova Scotia would not attend Gordon’s conference unless

Sir Charles Tupper

delegates from the opposition were also allowed to attend, and the provincial legislature approved a resolution for a five-man all-party delegation to participate.  The premiers of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island followed Tupper’s lead. It was agreed by the 3 provinces, that the conference would start on September 1st in Charlottetown.

Tupper saw this issue as potentially divisive, unpredictable and dangerous, and to go alone to the conference meant making a commitment – a commitment which might not be welcomed by his own party, or by the voters – where support for maritime union was barely an inch deep.

It would be better to share the credit than risk taking the entire blame.” [3]

Charles Monck, 1st Governor General of the Dominion of Canada

Meanwhile in Canada, on June 14th, the Tache-Macdonald government suffered a vote of no-confidence, with the prospect of a dissolution of parliament and a new general election.  However, with the assistance of Charles Monck, the Governor-general of Canada, the free-trader George Brown was brought into negotiations to join the government, and on June 30th became the President of the Executive Council, replacing the now-ousted Isaac Buchanan.  And on that same day, Monck wrote to the governors of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, asking if a delegation from the new coalition government of Canada would be permitted to attend the Charlottetown conference.

At its first meeting on September 1st, the Maritime delegates learned of the arrival of the Canadian delegates, and then decided that the discussion of Maritime union would be postponed until after the Canadians had presented their plan for federal union.  When the discussion of Maritime union was later held, the maritime delegates could not agree and decided that

confederation seemed possible, but maritime union would not help confederation and, given its difficulties, would probably delay it.  If we could get confederation now, we could easily unite the maritime provinces … afterwards.” [4]

After the Canadian delegates were re-admitted to the session, it was decided that a new conference to discuss a federal union for all of the British North America colonies would be held, and this conference was set to begin at Quebec in October, and after 3 weeks, it would result in the signing of 72 resolutions – not a plan for union, but resolutions to be sent to the British government.

The Bank of St Albans, NY (right) and a photo of the confederate raiders in Montreal (left)

The confederate secret service, under the watchful and supportive eyes of British intelligence, would now organize and launch raids from British North America into the territory of the United States.  A confederate raid, organized out of Montreal, into St. Albans Vermont on October 19th 1864, robbed three banks of $208,000, and the raiders were able to escape back into Canada.

In response some Americans called for an invasion of Canada.  These reports caused a great concern among the Canadian population and were used to attack their pro-American outlook; and it would also be used to give a sense of urgency to those delegates who were in the middle of meetings at the confederation conference in Quebec City.

After the end of the Quebec confederation conference, the Morning Post in London (a Palmerston organ) printed that

there is but one enemy which the new confederation can have cause to fear, namely, the Northern section of the late American republic; and it is in the possibility of an American invasion of Canada as soon as all the hopes of subjugating the Southern Confederacy are abandoned which has dictated the union which would now seem to be determined on.”

But, Lincoln rescinded the orders from General Dix to send troops to St. Albans to find the raiders and, if necessary, to pursue them into Canada.  Lincoln feared that a war with Britain would open up a two-front war and that this would only aid the southern confederates who were now facing defeat.  General Sherman had by this point occupied Atlanta on September 2nd, and the Confederate army was precariously sitting between Sherman’s ‘anvil’ and Grant’s ‘hammer’. Lincoln decided that he would wait until after the upcoming presidential election on November 8th to deal with the British.

Sir John Abbott

Within 24 hours, the Canadian government had arrested 14 of the raiders and had recovered only $86,000 of the stolen funds – $120,000 had simply disappeared!  When the trial was finally held, Judge Charles Coursol (who was the son-in-law of the Canadian premier Tache) ruled that the court had no warrant from the Governor-general and therefore no jurisdiction over the case, and the prisoners were released – along with the $87,000!

The raiders had excellent legal counsel, including lawyer John Abbott (who would later become Prime Minister of Canada, on the death of Macdonald in 1891).  Abbott showed the court that there was a flaw in the extradition treaty between the United States and British North America, and that the raiders could not be extradited to the United States, to stand trial there.

On December 6th 1864, the newly re-elected President Lincoln in his address to Congress said, that

In view of the insecurity of life and property in the region adjacent to the Canadian border, by reason of recent assaults and depredations committed by inimical and desperate persons, who are harbored there, it has been thought proper to give notice that after the expiration of six months, the period conditionally stipulated in the existing arrangement with Great Britain, the United States must hold themselves at liberty to increase their naval armament upon the lakes, if they shall find that proceeding necessary.  The condition of the border will necessarily come into consideration in connection with the question of continuing or modifying the rights of transit from Canada through the United States, as well as the regulation of imposts, which were temporarily established by the reciprocity treaty of the 5th June, 1854 ….”

On December 13th, the same day that the St. Albans raiders were released, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution authorizing the President to give the requisite notice for terminating the treaty made with Great Britain on behalf of the British provinces in North America, and to appoint commissioners to negotiate a new treaty with the British government, based upon the true principles of reciprocity.  After the resolution was also passed by the Senate, the resolution was approved by President Lincoln.

The reciprocity treaty of 1854 was to be for 10 years, after which either side could end the treaty.  The treaty was now set by the United States to expire in one year, on March 17th 1866.  Canadian vessels would no longer be able to sail freely in American waters, and Canadian goods would no longer pass freely across the border.  Lincoln was, in effect, sealing the border.[5]

George Brown

In December 1864, George Brown was sent to London to explain the plan of confederation to the British ministry.  He travelled with British Lt-Col Jervois, who had been sent to Canada by the Colonial Office to advise the Canadian government on measures of defence needed in Canada.  Brown would seek approval of the confederation scheme, and met with Cardwell, the Colonial secretary, with Gladstone, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with Russell, the minister of Foreign Affairs, with members of the War Office, and would spend a weekend with Palmerston.

On March 10th 1865, after much debate, the majority of the Canadian legislature approved the Quebec resolutions – by a vote of 91 to 33.  But the resolutions could only get passed in the Canadian legislature, where Brown’s Grits and Macdonald’s Tories in Canada West were both in the grand coalition government with Cartier’s Bleues from Canada East – only Dorion’s Rouges in Canada East opposed the resolutions.  In the maritime provinces, even though the leaders of the government parties and the

An artist’s rendition of Sir John A Macdonald and Georges Etienne Cartier agreeing on the terms of Confederation

opposition parties had attended and signed the resolutions at Quebec, they couldn’t get the resolutions passed in their legislatures!  On March 6th, the New Brunswick government of Tilley was defeated in an election, centred around the issue of confederation, with only 8 supporters of the union plan, with 28 opponents of confederation (and with 4 of doubtful opinion) elected to the new legislature.  Nova Scotia’s government was too afraid to even put the Quebec resolution to a vote.  Confederation with the maritime provinces at this time was a dead letter!

That same week, the Canadian government cabinet would send a new delegation (including Macdonald, Brown, Galt and Cartier) to London, to explain the new situation to the British imperial cabinet.  The delegation was presented to the Queen and were allowed to kiss her hand, and they were able to meet with the British cabinet.  Brown was to write to his wife that “they are willing to do whatever we desire”, because Confederation was the policy of the British Empire.

On April 15th, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, using the same confederate secret service nest run out of Montreal.

But by July 1865, the Union Pacific Railway had finally begun construction at Omaha, and the Central Pacific Railway had built almost 50 miles of track and had arrived at the Rockies.

In September, the British ministry convened a Confederate Council on Commercial Treaties in Quebec, under Governor-general Monck, (including Brown and Galt from Canada, and one representative each from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland), to adopt resolutions to try to seek a temporary continuation of the present reciprocity treaty with the United States.

This is important to keep in mind since the civil war was fought as much over slavery, as it was over economic policy. The monumental change in the United States began with the election of Abraham Lincoln and the return to the American System of Alexander Hamilton. The fight continued, as the protectionist policies of the Henry Carey-wing of the Republican party defeated the sabotage of the free traders in the Republican party (like William Cullen Bryant of New York). The United States, led by Lincoln and Carey, had established the Morrill tariff, begun the trans-continental railroad, and created a national currency (greenbacks) with government bonds to finance industrial and economic expansion – to win the war.

In November, Brown was sent to the Maritimes, to try to revive the prospects for confederation.  The Maritime supporters of confederation were promising to build an Inter colonial Railway from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to Canada East (to link up with the Grand Trunk rail-lines to the west and the line from Montreal to Portland, Maine); while the opponents of confederation were promising to build a railway from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to Maine – but this would require support from both the presently-indifferent American government and from the unsympathetic British government [6].

In New Brunswick, Brown met with Governor Gordon, who after his visit to Britain that summer was now a firm supporter of confederation (and against a Maritime Union), and with Wilmot, who had been a delegate to September’s Confederate Council.  Wilmot, a Liberal, had previously been in Conservative governments, but had rejected confederation and had joined the new anti-confederation liberal government.  Wilmot would shortly resign from the government and proclaim himself pro-confederation!

William Seward

At the same time, Galt had traveled to the United States and had been able to meet with Secretary of the Treasury, McCulloch, and with Secretary of State, Seward.  Seward said that a new reciprocity treaty was out of the question – the only option would be to have trade legislation enacted by both governments.  While the Canadian cabinet approved of these negotiations, Brown disagreed, because without a treaty and with legislation only, it meant that either side might repeal any legislation at a moment’s notice, and Brown resigned from cabinet.

Although Lord Palmerston, the British prime minster, would suddenly die on October 18th 1865, his policies were to be continued by Lord Russell [7].

Lord Palmerston

And the Fenians, from ‘Palmerston’s zoo’, would now be set loose to save confederation [8].

On March 20th 1865, the British government would complain to the United States Secretary of State Seward that the Fenian Brotherhood was “an extensive conspiracy carried on in the United States having for its object to promote rebellion in Ireland and to forward from the United States assistance to the rebels in money, men, and arms.” Seward replied that the Constitution of the United States guaranteed to the people the right to assemble peacefully for discussion as long as the public peace was not disturbed and local and international law violated.

After all, this was the same British Empire that was using its Canadian colonies to launch confederate incursions into the United States, and later to assassinate the American president, that was now complaining!  Seward was later to remark that if the British had openly supported the confederacy, we’d all be Fenians!

Stephens chose September 20th, 1865 as the date for an uprising in Ireland – even though it was realized that adequate preparations could not be made by then.  Money was sent from the United States branch of the Fenian Brotherhood to Ireland, and former Irish-American officers who had fought in the Civil War were also sent to Ireland (both Union officers and some Confederate officers).  However, five days before the day of rebellion, the British raided the office of Stephen’s newspaper ‘Irish People’ and arrested those members present.  Another member was seized at his home along with all the incriminating papers concerning the Irish Brotherhood – which lead to other arrests, including Stephens who was arrested but who was able to escape from prison.

Charles Francis Adams, the American minister in Britain, reported to Seward, that

the British government was aroused, that the big towns were garrisoned by British troops, and that the coast was guarded … the British government had little to fear from the revolutionists as they were poor and practically unarmed.”

In October, at the next Fenian national conference, a quarrel began (that later became a split) in the leadership of the Fenians between O’Mahoney’s followers and the “men of action”; and a new constitution was adopted – to take authority away from O’Mahoney.

The Fenian “Vision”

The new constitution of the Fenian Brotherhood was included at the end of a book called “The Fenians’ Progress”, that contained this vision …

     “… Walk into Canada.  There is already a strong element opposed to British dominion.  Unite with it, and let the provinces be the first slice from the British Empire.  Make that the base for future operations, and the rest will follow in good time. 

     One success ever leads to another.  That immense territory in your hands, you would have a country and a flag which, I need not say, would be a powerful advantage; then, with stalwart, educated labor, and a determined will, England’s boasted wooden walls might soon be forced to do homage to the sea-going “monitors” of your young empire. 

     This is no Utopian scheme.  It is a scheme that is perfectly practicable, and would be certain to receive the sympathy, if not the open support, of the American people. 

     To be sure, this would be a rather roundabout way for freeing Ireland; but in this case “the long way round is the safe way home”.  Besides, if a shorter should offer, as in the event of England being drawn into a war with some first-class power, you would be in a condition to take advantage of it, and might go the more direct and shorter way.

     Such a position once attained, a New Ireland, well and firmly established, the movements in Old Ireland would soon result in the victory which is the desire of every heart.

Time at last sets all thing even;

And if we do but watch the hour,

There never yet was human power

Which could evade, if unforgiven,

The patient search, and vigil long,

              Of him who treasures up a wrong. – Byron


     In order to prevent misconception, it is proper to state, that there is nothing contained in the fore-going views inconsistent with American theories of government, and American antecedents of action.  To give a correct impression in this regard, I need but direct attention to the events which led to the admission of Texas as a part of the American Federation.

     It will be recollected that about 1835, a large American emigration set in to that country, which was then an integral part of Mexico. These emigrants united with a number of disaffected Mexicans, and, on the 2d of March, 1836, through a convention of the people, declared Texas a free, sovereign, and independent State, — a condition which, they maintained for several years after.

    I need not recount the events which occurred during that period. It is sufficient for my present purpose to say, that in 1837 the independence of Texas was duly recognized by the United States Government; and, as is well known, that Texas, on the 29th of December, 1845, became another bright star in the glorious American constellation.

     During the period of her independence, it cannot be doubted that Texas had a perfect right to build or purchase a navy, to raise an army, and for instance, if she had the wish and the strength to do so, to invade Cuba, destroy the Spanish power there, and give the people of that island a free and independent government. And all this might be done with the understanding and the fixed purpose of bringing Cuba under the benign and protecting folds of the American flag.

     This is mentioned, because that which was proper to be done, and might be done by Texas in 1837, with regard to Cuba, would be entirely proper to be done, and may be done by the Canadas in 1867, with regard to Ireland; and with precisely the same purpose and understanding as above hinted at.

     But, be that as it may, whatever be the plans of the Fenian Brotherhood, whatever be the fate of their movement, it is certain that the hopes, interests, aspirations, and the very life of the Irish people are indissolubly wound up with the United States.  The Irish are now thoroughly linked with, and implanted on this generous land, and both must flourish or decay together. It is not to be wondered at, then, that Irishmen love the United States with a true and abiding love …”

Map of the three fold Fenian invasion of Canada

This ‘utopian’ scheme proposed an invasion of Canada, and that a seized piece of territory there, would be proclaimed as the Republic of Ireland – which could then be recognized by the United States; and that this territory would be used as the base of operations for war against Great Britain and for aiding the liberation of Ireland.  This was coming at a time of great anger by Americans against the British – anger at their support for the Confederacy, at the assassination of the President, and at the Alabama claims – some senators even proposed that Great Britain pay damages of $2 billion, or instead, to cede British Columbia to the United States as payment!

But, as Lincoln had correctly seen, the United States must avoid falling into the trap of a war with Britain – a war that would embroil the United States in the Empire’s ongoing conflicts in Europe and Asia, and that would interrupt any attempt at reconstruction.  This was understood, even in the American press:

The avowed object of the Fenians is the liberation of Ireland from the ‘saxon yoke’ whatever that is.  The object, of course, is only to be achieved by waging war successfully against Great Britain.  To organize war against Great Britain on the soil of the United States is, of course, a violation of our neutrality laws which must subject all who engage in it to the liability of arrest and punishment.” [9]

Fenian Brotherhood leader John O’Mahoney in his Civil War uniform

A new conference of the Fenians was held at the beginning of January 1866, and the quarrel between O’Mahoney and the ‘men of action’ continued.  O’Mahoney succeeded in rescinding the new constitution, and in ousting the senators that opposed him – who then set up their own rival organization under William Roberts.  Both groups fought over raising money – O’Mahoney claimed that he wanted to send it to Stephens in Ireland, and the ousted members claimed to want to use it for their scheme to invade Canada.

On February 18th 1866, the British suspended habeus corpus in Ireland and a massive roundup began of suspected Irish rebels, and also of Irish-Americans who had been sent to Ireland to help with the uprising.  With more members (and money) threatening to join Roberts, O’Mahoney acted to preempt Roberts’s scheme for invasion of Canada, by launching his own invasion.  Bernard Doran Killian proposed an expedition to seize Campo Bello Island – a British island at the entrance to Passamaquoddy Bay (the boundary between New Brunswick and Maine); and set up a provisional government of the Irish Republic [10].

O’Mahoney approved the plan, and Killian purchased an old Confederate vessel that had been put up for sale at the end of the civil war, loaded it with men and 500 stands of arms, and sailed for Eastport, Maine, arriving on April 17th.  Killian issued a proclamation to the people of New Brunswick, to resist the tyranny of the Governor in his attempt to fasten confederation onto the province.

In Canada, Michael Murphy and a group of Fenians from Toronto, were on their way to Eastport, when they were arrested at Cornwall and weapons, ammunition and money were confiscated, alerting the Canadian government.  On April 17th, the British sent navy warships with 700 British regulars from Halifax to proceed to Passamaquoddy Bay.

In the United States, news of the plan leaked into the press, and Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, sent a steamer, the Winooski, and Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, sent a detachment of troops, to Eastport to preserve America’s neutrality.  On the night of April 17th, a boat-load of Fenians landed on nearby Indian Island, burned a store, seized a British Customs House flag and then returned.  The next morning, the commander of the Winooski seized the Fenian vessel, and when General Meade and his detachment arrived, the 300 Fenians who were gathered at Eastport scattered.

Certain Canadian newspapers claimed that the Eastport expedition had been arranged by McGee in order to frighten New Brunswick into adopting the confederation plan; and that for his part in the affair, Killian was to be rewarded with a life appointment in the Canadian civil service.” [11]

When talks in early 1866 between British North American colonies and the United States had proved to be hopeless, and, at the request of the United States, the Reciprocity Treaty had expired in March, a new economic crisis had seized the colonies.

In April, at the same time that the Fenians were gathering in Maine, the New Brunswick Governor Gordon forced the resignation of the provincial government, adjourned and dissolved the legislature, and called for new elections.  In the aftermath of the panic caused by the Fenian raid, the pro-confederates won 33 of the 41 seats.  A resolution in favor of confederation now passed the legislature.

In Nova Scotia, Tupper now introduced a resolution that authorized the government to continue negotiations for a federal union of the British North American colonies that was passed by the legislature.[12]

The Fathers of Confederation in London in 1866 preparing the BNA Act

With Nova Scotia and New Brunswick now back on board, it was decided to immediately send delegates to London to have a confederation bill passed before the present session of the British parliament ended.  Discussions began in December and a draft of the British North America Act was finished by the first week of February and was given Royal Assent by Queen Victoria on March 29th 1867.

The Fenian fiasco had caused the dead letter of confederation to rise from the ashes.

But what did Canadians get out of this confederation?  Whereas the American constitution was established in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”, the British North America Act gave Canadians a constitution similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom” (whatever ‘similar in principle’ means about an unwritten British constitution!?!); and “would conduce to the welfare of the provinces and promote the interests of the British Empire” !

The fallacious Canadian constitution of 1867 continued;

The executive government and authority of and over Canada is hereby declared to continue and be vested in the Queen’ and ‘all powers, authorities, and functions … shall … be vested in and exerciseable by the Governor General, with the advice or with the advice and consent of or in conjunction with the Queen’s privy council for Canada’.  The command-in-chief of the land and naval militia, and of all naval and military forces, of and in Canada, is hereby declared to continue and be vested in the Queen.”

There shall be one parliament for Canada, consisting of the Queen, an upper house styled the Senate, and the House of Commons … to make Laws for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada’ and ‘where a bill passed by the houses of the parliament is presented to the Governor General for the Queen’s assent, he shall declare, according to his discretion, but subject to the provisions of this act and to Her Majesty’s Instructions, either that he assents thereto in the Queen’s name, or that he withholds the Queen’s assent, or that he reserves the bill for the signification of the Queen’s pleasure’.  And the oath of allegiance: ‘I do swear, that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria”.

This act established the rights of the Queen, not of her subjects!  It simply changed 4 separate colonies into 1 large colony – not a nation, but a colony!


Some Words About the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854


When Britain had repealed the corn laws in 1846 in favor of a free-trade policy, because of the adverse effects on the Canadian economy, an annexation movement was organized in 1850, in support of Canada joining the United States.  To defeat this movement, the Governor-general of Canada, Lord Elgin, negotiated a free-trade deal, the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854, with William Macy, the Secretary of State under the treasonous President Franklin Pierce.

The treaty provided for free trade of natural resource and agricultural products between United States and the British colonies.  Previously, the British tariff on American goods into Canada had been a low 2 ½ %, while the US tariff on Canadian goods had been 21 %.  In exchange for the American generosity, the United States were given free fishing rights in Canadian waters, and the Canadians were given free fishing rights in American waters north of 36 degrees.

It was because of the inadequacy of this treaty regarding manufactures, that Isaac Buchanan organized for the passing of the Cayley-Galt tariffs of 1858 and 1859 – increasing the Canadian tariff to 25% on all manufactures that competed with Canada’s domestic industrial products.

Henry Carey had organized in the United States to defeat the attempt of a reciprocity treaty, but “the election of Mr. Pierce, and consequent return of the proslavery party to power, brought about a change, however; it having then become to the South most clearly obvious that for preventing annexation of the British Possessions there was but a single remedy – that of granting to the Provinces all the advantages of being in the Union, while requiring of their people the performance of none of the duties, the bearing of none of the burdens, of American citizens.”   [quote from ‘The Civil War and the American System’ by W. Allen Salisbury (page 177 – ‘Open Letters to Henry Wilson”]

Carey would later provide advise for the drafting of the Morrill Tarriff, passed in 1861, that increased the duties on imported manufactures.

With the end of the free-trade policies in the United States, and the end of free-trade treaty with the United States, Britain was again worried about the threat of an annexation movement in Canada.  Remember – Palmerston favored the northern states being absorbed into British North American, but in no way, would allow the absorption of the British colonies into the United States!]


[1] Excerpt from the Morning Post, ‘the recognized organ of the Palmerstonian government’ in The Civil War and the American System, by Alan Salisbury. Page 30-31

[2] In Lower Canada, the British Empire’s ‘Palmerston Zoo’ had worked to undermine the reformers, by infiltrating the French-Canadien Patriotes with radicals who split the reformers into the Rouge and the Bleu parties; and also by replacing the pro-O’Connell Irish-Canadians with radicals from the ‘Young Ireland’ radicals.  In Upper Canada, the Empire used George Brown and his radicals to undermine the reform movement around the Baldwin family

[3] ‘1867 – How the Fathers Made a Deal’ by Christopher Moore, p. 42

[4] Quote from ‘1867 – How the Fathers Made a Deal’ by Christopher Moore, p. 56

[5] For a greater exposition on the Reciprocity Treaty, see the appendix

[6] At that time, Nova Scotia had a 60-mile railway from Halifax to Truro, and New Brunswick had a 100-mile railway from St. John to Shediac – while the United States was engaged in building a trans-continental railway of over 1500 miles across the American desert and the Rocky Mountains!

[7] For 31 years, from 1835 to 1866, (except for 4 short intervals totalling about 8 years), Palmerston and/or Russell were either Prime Minister and/or Foreign Secretary – including the periods of the 1837 rebellions, the 1849 annexation movement, the 1854 reciprocity treaty, the American civil war, the Fenian raids and confederation.  From 1846 to 1866, all the governor-generals of Canada were appointed by a Russell or Palmerston Government

[8] After the death of Daniel O’Connell in 1847, a group of revolutionaries, called ‘Young Ireland’ was launched as a part of ‘Palmerston’s Zoo’.  After a failed attempted uprising in the fall of 1848, the leaders were scattered (most emigrated to the United States), but two of the leaders, James Stephens and John O’Mahoney, instead travelled to France, where they joined the French secret societies, and where they made their plans for revolution in Ireland.

Stephens would later return to Ireland with plans to organize a force of 10,000 fighting men called the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, while O’Mahoney emigrated to the United States, to raise the necessary financial aid for Stephens, by organizing the Fenian Brotherhood among the Irish immigrants – between 1840 to 1865, over 2 million Irish immigrants would arrive in the United States.  While the Irish branch was a secret organization (riddled with British spies and informers!) the American branch was an open fraternal organization that had its first national convention in Chicago in November 1963 – after which it would begin to be riddled with British, American and Canadian informants.

[9] Chicago Tribune. Nov 23, 1865.

[10] Killian had negotiated with President Johnson for the release from prison of John Mitchell, who was charged with cruelty to northern prisoners while he was a member of the Richmond Virginia committee for the relief of the wounded.  Mitchell had been one of the most rabid members of ‘Young Ireland’ in 1848, had been exiled to Australia for 20 years, escaped after a few months, and settled in Richmond, becoming a writer for the Richmond Examiner and an ardent supporter of the Confederacy.

[11] D’Arcy McGee had been one of the Young Irelanders who emigrated to the United States in 1848, and he started a weekly newspaper, ‘The American Celt’ that was more in favor of parliamentary reform than of revolution.  During a 3-month visit to Ireland in 1855, McGee gave speeches, that asserted that Canada was a more favorable choice than the United States for Irish emigrants.  He was invited to move to Canada, and in 1857, he moved to Montreal to start ‘The New Era’, advocating confederation of the British North American colonies to avoid the American system of government, in favor of the British system.  Killian had worked as a writer and assistant editor for McGee’s ‘American Celt’ in New York City. (A question arises: How had Killian changed so radically from his days with McGee as an anti-revolutionary and supporter of parliamentary reform, to become an advocate for armed invasion against the British?!)

[12] There were to be two more unsuccessful Fenian raids in the first week of June.  In Canada East, 1,000 Fenians crossed from Buffalo to Fort Erie, and fought battles against the Canadian militia, but when the American steamer, the USS Michigan, arrived and cut off any supplies and reinforcements, the raid ended and on their return crossing to the United States the raiders were arrested.  In Canada West, 700 Fenians crossed the border from St. Albans, Vermont (the same route as the confederate raiders in 1864!), and seized 4 small villages.  The US marshals seized the Fenian’s supplies and ammunition in St. Albans, and the raiders fled back into the United States before the arrival of the Canadian militia.  These small invasions into Canada didn’t couldn’t accomplish anything, except arouse fear and anti-American resentment, to be used for the rush to confederation.