A note to readers

The fascinating chapter of the 1849 Annexation movement is a little known yet incredibly important moment of Canadian history filled in modern textbooks with misinformation and fluff. The Canadian Patriot Project is proud to present here for the first time, the work conducted by Gerald Therrien as he unravels the contradictions and paradoxes of this struggle between forces who supported Annexation to the USA (just as forces in London and Wall Street were accelerating the dissolution of the Union) yet who represented diametrically opposing intentions and loyalties. This valuable work will be a part of a larger lesson into universal history featured in Volume 5 of the Untold History of Canada.

Taken on the Flood of Free Trade

By Gerald Therrien

To properly view the Annexation crisis in the Province of Canada in 1849-1850, it is best to remember that the history of Canada isn’t only concerned with events and people in Canada, but is intimately connected to events and people in other areas of the world at that time – especially in Great Britain and in the United States.  Nothing in Canada happens in a vacuum – although sometimes our cranial proclivities might suggest otherwise.

In 1846 in Britain, using the Irish potato famine as an excuse, Prime Minister Robert ‘Orange’ Peel tried to pass a bill that would repeal the Corn Laws, a bill that his own Tory party wouldn’t support, but it was passed with support from the Whigs, and Peel soon resigned.  The Tory government was replaced with the Whig government of Lord Russell (with Lord Palmerston returning as the Foreign Secretary – he had previously been the foreign minister from 1830 to 1841).  With the repeal of the Corn Laws, the free-trade policies of the ‘Manchester School’ were now running the British government.[1]

The Irish Potato famine of 1846-47 was a direct result of the passing of the Corn Laws by the Manchester Free Trade School of London
Henry Carey

What was meant as free-trade could, perhaps, be best seen in the British Empire’s recent treaty with China at the end of the 1st Opium War, and the start of the Empire’s use of ‘coolie-labour’ from China and from India.  With the adoption of a policy of free-trade and the elimination of preferential tariffs, it meant that it didn’t matter where or how a commodity was produced – whether it was made by slave-labour, coolie-labour or free-labour.  The policy of free-trade was meant to lower the price of labour.  But as the American economist Henry Carey proved in his book ‘The Slave Trade’, the way to eliminate slavery was to increase the value of man!

And for Canada, the British free-trade policy also meant stopping any development of its manufactures. Under free-trade, tariffs were meant as sources of revenue only, and not as a means to promote domestic manufacturing.  Hence, reciprocity with the United States was allowed, but, any attempts at protective tariffs for Canada were prohibited – because promoting national manufacturing meant independence.

Lord Grey revealed as much in 1850 when he said: “If, as has been alleged by the complainants, and as in some instances would appear to be the case, any of the duties comprised in the tariff have been imposed, not for the purpose of revenue, but with a view of protecting the interest of the Canadian manufacturer, her Majesty’s government are clearly of opinion that such a course is injurious alike to the interests of the mother country and to those of the colony.  Canada possesses natural advantages for the production of articles which will always exchange in the markets of this country for those manufactured goods of which she stands in need.  By such exchange she will obtain these goods much more cheaply than she could manufacture them for herself, and she will secure an advantageous market for the raw produce which she is best able to raise.  On the other hand, by closing her markets against British manufactures, or rendering their introduction more costly, she enhances their price to the consumer, and by the imposition of protective duties, for the purpose of fostering an unnatural trade, she gives a wrong direction to capital, by withdrawing it from more profitable employment, and causing it to be invested in the manufacture of articles which might be imported at a cost below that of production in the colony, while at the same time she inflicts a blow on her export trade by rendering her markets less eligible to the British customer.[2]

Previously, under the Canada Corn Law, wheat and flour from Canada was admitted into Britain at a much lower duty than if it was imported from other countries.  Additionally, wheat imported from western United States and made into flour in Canada, was then re-exported to Britain (to take advantage of the preferential tariff) and large amounts of capital were invested in warehouses, flour-mills and machinery in Canada (particularly Montreal) as well as in ship-building and improvements of canals and waterways.

With the elimination of these preferential duties by the British government, the United States government, as if in sync, pursued their own policy of free-trade.  In 1846, under President Polk, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Walker, was able to get a bill passed to reduce the American tariffs, and also a drawback bill – that reduced the duties on goods from Canada that were to be re-exported from the ports of New York and Boston.

Following their repeal of the Canada Corn Law, the British government also passed a statute that required the colonies to introduce legislation ‘for repealing and consolidating the present duties of customs in the province’.  And so, in 1847, the Canadian Legislative Assembly passed an act that established the rates of duty to be applied to various articles, regardless of where the articles came from – whether from Britain or from the United States, and that removed any differential duties that would favour British produce.  It also raised the duties on British manufactures from 5% to 7½% and lowered the duties on American manufactures from 12½% to the same 7½%.

So now, under this new free-trade policy, it became cheaper to export Canada’s wheat through the United States by way of the Erie canal to New York City, than by way of the St. Lawrence river to Montreal and Quebec.  This also led to an increase in the importation of British goods into Canada through the United States, and to an increase in the importation of American goods into Canada.

The imposition of free-trade on Canada caused a collapse in trade through the St. Lawrence river ports, as commercial interests went bankrupt and property values fell.  However, the British cure for this economic crisis was more of the same disease – a free-trade deal between Canada and the United States!  In 1846, the British ministry had also ‘directed Her Majesty’s minister at Washington, to submit a proposal to the Government of the United States, for the establishment of an equality of trade between that country and Canada’!

Canada was now caught, sitting between the free-trade policies of Polk and Palmerston (and Russell) – but to what end?

The British Empire’s policy for Canada was to destroy any legitimate republican movement and consolidate its control, in order to use the British colony as part of its plan to split the American Union in two – the secession of the southern states to be joined with Texas and the Mexican Cession in a great slave empire; and the secession of the northern states to be joined with British Canada.

In the United States, in 1844-1845, several bills had been introduced in Congress, to annex the territory of Texas, and to annex the territory of Oregon, to the United States; but the bills could not get passed in the Senate.  It was during these debates in the Senate that the annexation of Canada was proposed.

On February 3rd 1845, Mr. Dickinson (New York) ‘presented a petition from sundry citizens of one of the states bordering on the British possessions in North America, praying for the annexation of the Canadas, in case of the annexation of the Mexican province called Texas’; and Mr. Porter (Michigan) ‘presented a petition signed by a number of citizens of Detroit on the subject of the annexation of Texas, and in favor of the acquisition of Canada by purchase or otherwise, and praying that in any act, resolution, or otherwise, adopted for the annexation of Texas, a provision may be inserted as a condition precedent that the same shall not take effect until Canada shall also be annexed to the United States’.  On February 4th, Mr. Dix (New York) also presented a petition ‘asking Congress to take measures to procure the cession of Canada, with a view of its annexation to the United States when Texas shall be admitted into the Union’.

But Mr. Foster (Tennessee) ‘denounced it as a movement on the part of the memorialists to bring the subject of annexation of Texas into odium and contempt by ridicule.  He spoke at considerable length against this mode of interrupting peace and harmony existing between the two friendly nations – the government of Great Britain and that of the United States.  He felt that, in objecting to the reception of these memorials, he was performing a sacred duty’.  Porter (Michigan) ‘proceeded in an argument of great length to vindicate the memorialists from the reflections of the senator from Tennessee on the ground that if Texas should be annexed, the South would have a vast preponderance of power, and they, as citizens of the North, had a right to express their opinion that the interests of the North required the annexation of Canada as a balance.’  Foster (Tennessee) replied that ‘he did not know why that gentleman should complain of the necessity for a balancing power, when there was land enough north of 36 degrees 30 minutes to make twenty-four states.  He referred to the Territory of Oregon’.

A motion was agreed, to let the memorial lay on the table.  And so, the annexation of Canada was not to become a part of the ‘Manifest Destiny’ of the United States.

President James Polk

In February 1845, a controversial, joint resolution by the out-going Congress (by a simple majority – and not by a 2/3 majority of the Senate) was passed to admit Texas into the union as a state, and was signed into law by President John Tyler on March 1st, three days before the inauguration of the incoming president, James Polk!  This admission of Texas led to the disastrous war with Mexico[3].

In June 1846, a treaty would be signed with Britain to settle the dispute over the Oregon territory, making the 49th parallel the northern boundary between the United States and British North America.

[Again, Polk and Palmerston (and Russell) seem to be working in harmony!]

Map of North America in 1849

In February 1848, a peace treaty was signed with Mexico to end the war – ceding over ½ million square miles of territory (Alta California and Nuevo Mexico) to the United States that would make the Rio Grande and the Rio Gila its southern boundary with Mexico.

But, the debate over slavery and over ‘slave’ state vs ‘free’ state was re-ignited again – whether or not there would be slavery allowed in the new territory of the Mexican Cession – in the coming debates that would lead to the 1850 compromise[4].

Sadly, it was at this time, that the great American statesman and former president, John Quincy Adams, passed away on February 23rd 1848.  But before he died, while serving during what was to be his final term as a congressman, an 80 year-old Adams would have met and passed in the corridors of Congress, a 39 year-old Abraham Lincoln, who was serving his first (and only) term as congressman, perhaps as if to pass the baton – passing on the responsibility to preserve the union, that Lincoln would later realize could only be done if slavery was abolished in the United States – when the ratified 13th Amendment made slavery unconstitutional[5].

John Quincy Adams and Abraham Lincoln

The Tory Rebellion

Elections took place in the Province of Canada in January of 1848, that resulted in the forming of a Reform government, under the leadership of Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine.

Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine.

In Canada, with the economic downturn after the British adoption of free-trade, and with the fear that trade from western Upper Canada would be diverted by way of the Erie Canal to New York City, instead of by way of the St. Lawrence River (after considerable expenses to build canals and improve the waterways by the province), a bill was introduced by William Merritt to try to revive the commerce of Canada – with a reciprocity agreement with the United States.  (This agreement would involve agricultural products and raw materials – not manufactures.  The duty on imported manufactures would remain at the 1847 rate of 7½%.)

Early Canadian industrialist William Hamilton Merritt

During its second session, on February 9th 1849, the Legislative Assembly of Canada resolved that ‘it was expedient to provide for the free admission of grain and breadstuffs of all kinds, vegetables, fruits, seeds, animals, hides, wool, butter, cheese, tallow, horns, salted and fresh meats, ores of all kinds of metals, ashes, timber, staves, wood and lumber of all kinds, of the growth or production of the United States of America into Canada, whenever similar articles the growth or production of Canada shall be admitted without duty into the said United States’.  The bill was finally passed, after having agreed to some amendments by the Legislative Council, on March 19th.  But, prior to this, the fight over free-trade and reciprocity was also being debated in the United States.

Earlier in 1846, the British ministry had ‘directed Her Majesty’s minister at Washington, to submit a proposal to the Government of the United States, for the establishment of an equality of trade between that country and Canada’, that he did in December 1846, and that Robert Walker, the American Secretary of the Treasury under President James Polk, found favourable.  Accordingly, on December 20th, 1847, the House of Representatives resolved ‘that the Committee on Commerce be instructed to inquire into the expediency of establishing a system of commercial reciprocity between the United States and Canada, with a view to the admission of the products of either country into the ports of the other on a footing of equality’.

On May 4th 1848, a bill was introduced ‘to admit certain articles of the growth or production of Canada into the United States free of duty, upon the condition that the like articles, of the growth or production of the United States, are admitted into Canada free of duty’.  The bill was passed by the House of Representatives on July 12th, the bill was introduced into the Senate but was laid aside, as the Senators instead took up the heated debate over the territorial governments for Oregon, California and New Mexico.

During the next session of the Senate, the reciprocity bill was re-introduced by Dix of New York and debated, but again, it was laid aside, as the Senators now debated the admission of California as a state.

Remember that back in 1845, it was Dix who had introduced a petition for the annexation of Canada![6]

During that same session of the Canadian Legislative Assembly, on February 13th 1849, La Fontaine and Baldwin introduced a question ‘to take into consideration the necessity of establishing the amount of Losses incurred by certain inhabitants in Lower Canada during the Political Troubles of 1837 and 1838, and of providing for the payment thereof.’[7]

After 6 days of debating various amendments to the question, La Fontaine introduced 7 resolutions, including resolution #5 – ‘provided that none of the persons who have been convicted of High Treason alleged to have been committed in that part of the province formerly Lower Canada, since the 1st day of November 1837, or who, having been charged with High Treason, or other offences of a Treasonable nature, and having been committed to the custody of the Sheriff in the Gaol of Montreal, submitted themselves to the will and pleasure of Her Majesty, and were thereupon transported to her Majesty’s Islands of Bermuda, shall be entitled to any indemnity for Losses sustained during or after the said Rebellion, or in consequence thereof.’

The resolutions were finally passed, and a bill was presented, passed by the Legislative Assembly on March 6th, sent to and passed by the Legislative Council on March 15th, and sent to the Governor for his assent.

[It would seem reasonable that compensation should be given to the innocent colonists in Lower Canada, just as it had been given to those in Upper Canada!  And, with amendments that would exclude anyone who had been convicted of treason or who had been sentenced to be transported!  At least it would seem so, n’est-ce pas?!?]

Lord Elgin

But the Tory journals tried to infuriate the English-speakers of Canada.  Lord Elgin, the Governor of Canada, wrote to Earl Grey, the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, that ‘the opposition leaders who are very low in the world at present, have taken advantage of the circumstance to work upon the feelings of the old Loyalists as opposed to Rebels, of British as opposed to French, of Upper Canadians as opposed to Lower, and thus to provoke from various parts of the Province the expression of not very temperate or measured discontent’.

Later in April, resolutions were introduced for changing (and lowering) the rates of the custom duties (from the 1847 rates), and after being debated and being agreed to, Francis Hincks, the Inspector-general, introduced a bill to set the new rates.  On April 25th, the bill was passed by the Legislative Assembly, sent to the Legislative Council and passed.  That same day, the Governor, Lord Elgin, arrived at the parliament buildings to give royal assent to the new tariff bill that the government had urgently requested, and since he was there, he also gave royal assent to forty-one other bills, including the ‘Rebellion Losses Bill’.  But, when he left parliament, he was met with protesters who shouted insults, and who threw eggs and rocks at him.

That evening, the (English-language) Montreal Gazette issued a special ‘Extra” – a call-to-arms – that ‘when Lord Elgin – no longer deserves the name of Excellency – made his appearance on the street to retire from the Council Chamber, he was received by the crowd with hisses, hootings, and groans.  He was pelted with rotten eggs; he and his aide-de-camps were splashed with the savory liquor; and the whole carriage covered with the nasty contents of the eggs with mud.  When the eggs were exhausted, stones were made use of to salute the departing carriage, and he was driven off at a rapid gallop amidst the hootings and curses of his countrymen.  The End had begun.  Anglo-Saxons!  You must live for the future.  Your blood and race will now be supreme, if true to yourselves.  You will be English “at the expense of not being British”.  To whom and what, is your allegiance now?  Answer each man for himself.  The puppet in the pageant must be recalled, or driven away by the contempt of the people.  In the language of William the Fourth, “Canada is lost, and given away”.  A Mass Meeting will be held on the Place d’Armes this evening at 8 o’clock.  Anglo-Saxons to the struggle, now is your time.’

A crowd of 1500 gathered at the meeting (relocated to Champs-de-Mars) and heard speeches from orators – James Ferres, editor of the Montreal Gazette, Hugh Montgomerie, Augustus Heward and Gordon Mack – when Alfred Perry shouted that the time for petitions and speeches is past and that they should follow him to the Parliament House (where the Assembly was still sitting).

Upon arriving, the mob threw stones through the windows, forced their way in, destroyed the seats and desks, vandalized the chambers, and then set the building on fire – consuming both the Assembly chambers and the Council chambers, the two libraries and the public archives – as the legislators and councillors were forced to flee the fire.  The following evening, the homes of La Fontaine and of other reform legislators were vandalized.

Soon afterward, each member of the Lower Canada Reform party would hold meetings in their ridings and would have their constituents sign addresses to Elgin – to disapprove of the rioting that had taken place in Montreal, to approve of the governor, and to express confidence in his administration – since the Tories were demanding his removal.  (If the British ministry removed Elgin, the reformer’s experiment with the colonial government as set up by the 1841 Act of Union would be over).  LaFontaine would meet with Bishop Bourget who would tell his clergy to support the addresses in each parish.

By the end of May, the Assembly would approve the relocation of the government from Montreal to Toronto in Upper Canada, and the provincial parliament would be prorogued until it would finally reconvene, one year later, in May 1850.  After the Tory rioters had burned down the Parliament buildings in Montreal, the Tories were now being punished by having the government relocated to the Tory bastion of Toronto!?![8]

It was at this time – while the legislative assembly was not sitting, while the provincial capital was moving to Toronto, and while the Governor was no longer present at Montreal, that the Tory plot would begin to unfold.

Montreal parliament burning (painting by Joseph Legare – a Patriote in 1837, a co-founder of the Societe-Saint-Jean-Baptiste at Quebec City in 1842, and perhaps, the person that should be considered the father of Canadian painting.

The Tory Confederation Plot

Two of the speakers at the April 25th mass meeting at the Champs-de-Mars (after which the Tory mob burned down the parliament buildings) were Hugh Montgomerie and Gordon Mack, both members of the newly-created ‘British American League’ – in fact, Montgomerie was the group’s treasurer and Mack was the secretary.

The first branch of the League had been organized at Brockville, in Upper Canada – the town where resided both the present and former Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge, George Benjamin and Ogle Gowan, and shortly afterward, a branch was established at Montreal that became the headquarters of the League.

On April 23rd, an ‘Address to the Inhabitants of Canada’ was issued, calling for the formation of branches in other localities and for the election of delegates to attend a national convention at Kingston, in Upper Canada.  The address rationally stated … ‘that commercial distress and general depression in every department of industry, exist throughout the Province, to an extent unparalleled in the previous existence of the Colony, is admitted by all men of unbiased judgment and adequate opportunities of observation, by commercial men of the greatest experience, and political economists of every shade of opinion; who, while they all bear concurrent testimony to the truth of this statement, as a fact of which all alike must feel the mournful weight, differ nevertheless, to some extent, from each other, as to the immediate causes from which this result has flowed, and the prospective measures most likely to afford relief …’

The address ended with an Anglo-Saxon alarm, that ‘we devoutly hope that no measure of injustice may ever be inflicted – no power may ever be abused – to the extent of provoking reflecting men to the contemplation of an alliance with a foreign power; and if there be, as some have said, a time when all colonies must, in the course of human events, throw off their dependencies on the Parent State, and if in our generation that time should be destined to arrive, we predict that, if true to ourselves, it will not come until no British hands remain able to hoist the flag of England on the rock of Quebec, and no British voices survive able to shout God Save the Queen!’

The British American League made the most progress in Upper Canada, where a local branch was formed in every city and in all the many towns and villages; and in Lower Canada the League formed branches at Montreal and Quebec, and also numerous branches in the Eastern Townships.

The convention was held in Kingston, from July 25th to 31st.  When a first motion was made ‘that it is essential to the interests and liberties of the people of Canada that the Legislative Council should be elected, and not appointed by the Crown’, it was rejected because it “appeared to be a departure from the true principles of the British constitution and to be a dangerous step toward separation and the adoption of republican institutions[9]. Instead another motion was agreed upon, ‘that the British American League is composed of a large portion of the inhabitants of Canada who have always been firm in their allegiance to the British Crown, and who still desire that Canada shall remain a dependency of the British empire.  Devoted in their attachment to the principles of monarchical government and revering the mixed forms of government established by the British Constitution, they only desire the enjoyment of the immunities and privileges for which that constitution provides when the government is fairly and honestly administered for the benefit of all classes of the community’.

However, the main discussion was the proposal that ‘an Union of all the British North American Provinces would most materially conduce to the prosperity of those colonies and to the integrity of the British Empire’.

John Duggan, of Scarborough, who presented the resolution, said that “the Act of Union had been a sorry failure; its principal result had been to hand the administration of the province over to the French.  Upper Canada was helpless, for the English Government would not consent to a dissolution of the union; and even though the union were dissolved, she could not maintain an independent existence because of the lack of an outlet to the sea … A union of the British American provinces would not only establish the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race in Canada, but would raise the colonies a higher national plane, would open up a larger field for industry, talent and ambition, would augment the strength and resources of the motherland, instead of burdening her as at present, and would set up an equipoise to the preponderant power of the United States in America” [9].

Ogle Gowan, of Brockville, “failed to see how a federal union would get rid of French domination.  It would, on the contrary, only aggravate the evil, since the French electorate would carry their corporate organization into the federal elections, while in the proposed province of Quebec the English population would be left in a hopeless minority at the mercy of their French-Canadian neighbours.  He thought that at some future date it might be expedient to divide the country up into a number of small provinces, and then to effect a federation; but at present he did not deem it advisable for the convention to go further than to appoint a number of delegates for the purpose of consulting with representatives from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as to whether a union was possible and desirable” [9].

A new resolution was now proposed – that ‘the question of an Union of all the British North American provinces … is deserving of the most careful and thorough investigation’ and that the convention select delegates to meet with delegates from the maritime provinces ‘to deliberate and discuss the said proposal’.

John Gamble, of Vaughan, “declared that he was, at heart, in favour of the independence of Canada, provided the consent of Great Britain could be obtained … but, for the sake of harmony he would forego his personal opinions and come out in favour of the scheme for a federal union”[9].  But then, Gamble “indulged in some interesting prophecies as to the future relations of Canada and the United States.  Before many years had elapsed, there would be a terrible convulsion in the neighbouring republic, which would rend that nation in twain.  Some of the northern states would then desire to form a union with Canada.  The topography of the continent, and the natural sequence of events marked this out as our ultimate fate” [13].

Hugh Montgomerie “welcomed the proposed union as the most effective means of overcoming the predominant influence of the French.  He threw out the further interesting suggestions that there should be a re-adjustment of boundaries in the proposed federation (i.e. the Eastern Townships of Lower Canada) that the Hudson Bay Territory should be brought under the control of the federal government, and that the powers of the local legislatures in the union should be carefully restricted in order to build up as strong federal government”. [9] The new resolution was unanimously adopted, and among the delegates chosen to meet with the delegates from the maritime provinces were Duggan, Gamble, Gowan, and Montgomerie!

During the debates, while it was argued that a union was “the best preparation for the day when Great Britain should cast off the colonies” and that “annexation ought to be adopted only as a final resort in case all other measures should fail to bring relief”, there were those who “were not averse to threatening the British Government with separation unless it would reverse its anti-colonial policy” and still others ‘were ready to use the annexation cry as a weapon with which to frighten or coerce the British government into a compliance with their demands”. [9]

Earl Grey

In Lord Elgin’s reports to Earl Grey, the Secretary of States for War and the Colonies, about the League’s convention, will be seen the real fear of the British Empire – not a fear of annexationists, but a fear of protectionists[10].

The British government of Russell and Palmerston was in favour of confederation (which left open the option of a confederation with the northern states into Canada), but not of annexation of Canada into the Union.

This Union of British North America must, therefore, be seen in the imperial policy of Lord Palmerston – 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”; but not the other way around – annexing the Canadian provinces into the American union.[11]

The Tory Annexation Plot

In the province Nova Scotia, the 1848 election was won by the Reformers, who did not wish to collaborate with the Tories’ British North American League in the province of Canada[12].

However, in New Brunswick, a group of citizens of St. John had formed a New Brunswick Colonial Association (somewhat similar in character to the League) and appointed delegates to attend a conference in Montreal with delegates of the British American League, that was set to begin on October 12th, 1849.

During this meeting it was unanimously agreed ‘that these colonies cannot now remain in their present position without the prospect of immediate ruin, and that it is a duty of the Imperial Government either – first, to restore to the colonies a preference in the British markets over foreign countries – or second, to cause to be opened to them the markets of foreign countries, and more especially the United States, upon terms of reciprocity’ and ‘that a union of the British American Provinces, on mutually advantageous and finally arranged terms, with the concession from the mother country of enlarged powers of self-government … appears essential to the prosperity of the provinces.’

Unfortunately, on the day before, on October 11th, the ‘Annexation Manifesto’ appeared in the press – an ‘Address to the People of Canada’, that stated that ‘the number and magnitude of the evils which afflict our country, and the universal and increasing depression of its material interests, call upon all persons animated by a sincere desire for its welfare to combine for the purpose of inquiry and preparation, with the view to the adoption of such remedies as a mature and dispassionate investigation may suggest’.  The address considered the options:

  1. the revival of protection in the markets of the United Kingdom – but the policy of the empire forbids it;
  2. the protection of home manufactures – it might encourage the growth of the manufacturing interest in Canada, but without access to the United States market it would not work;
  3. a federal union of the British American Provinces – but the market of the sister provinces would not benefit us;
  4. the independence of the British American colonies as a Federal Republic – but new institutions would prove an over-match for the strength of the new republic;
  5. reciprocal free trade with the United States – but it would not introduce manufactures to our country nor give us the North American continent for our market;
  6. the remedy of a friendly and peaceful separation from British connection and a union upon equitable terms with the great North American Confederacy of Sovereign States.

And that ‘we would premise that towards Great Britain we entertain none other than sentiments of kindness and respect.  Without her consent, we consider separation as neither practicable nor desirable.’

[In other words, annexation, but only with permission from our British Mother – the love of the Empire supersedes the love of independence, even though the Tories’ reasons for annexation concern the love of money.]

Montreal’s English-language Tory press were discussing it – before the Address had even been printed.  One week earlier, on October 3rd, the Herald, whose editor would sign the Address, wrote that ‘we have reason to wish for an incorporation with the states of the American Union; like reason prompts us to desire that this incorporation should take place as speedily as possible … It is of the utmost importance for the inhabitants of Canada, as the world believes that they are about to pass through a revolution, that they should do it at once’.

Also on October 3rd, the Courier, wrote that ‘when men find things irretrievably bad, they must needs think of desperate remedies.  Annexation is that remedy; it will be foolish now for us to wait to see what England will do for us’.   And, the Gazette, on October 5th, advised that the address should be ‘well conceived and well matured … an organization should take place first, and then a declaration of opinion.  We have to consider what Upper Canada and the other provinces will do’.

Later, the Herald would write that ‘with the defeat of the Baldwin Ministry, it believed, all the factions in Lower Canada would be fused into one independent party’[13]; the Courier would write that ‘in order to get rid of a vicious administration, we should proclaim our independence, and invite our beloved Mother to sanction, and other nations to recognize the same’; and the Gazette would write that ‘there should be no hesitation or division of opinion among the opponents of the existing regime about thoroughly informing the English Government and people of the real state of public feeling in Canada’.  [Hints of the Tories’ real, ulterior motives – peut-etre?]

One year earlier, in 1848, the Montreal Board of Trade had sent a petition to the Queen that warned that ‘the abandonment by the mother country of her protective policy is producing important changes in the commercial relations of the colony, which, unless regulated or counteracted by wise legislation, may lead in the end to consequences which every loyal subject would deplore … a growing intercourse with the United States … that … must sooner or later be politically interwoven’.  The petitioners asked for ‘the repeal of the Navigation Laws as they relate to Canada, and the throwing open the navigation of the St. Lawrence’, and ‘the enactment of a moderate fixed duty … on foreign wheat, colonial to be admitted free’.

The Montreal free-traders criticized the Board of Trade petition and sent their own petition that ‘we trust that the loyalty of the province depends upon something loftier than a mercenary motive’ and that ‘we conceive that all we have a right to ask of the mother-country is to repeal the Navigation Laws as far as they relate to Canada’ and not to ask for duty-free wheat.  One of the signers on this petition was the Reform legislator, Benjamin Holmes.  (Holmes’s business partner was John Young, the president of the Montreal Free Trade League.)

In 1849, the British Government repealed the Navigation Laws, ending her monopoly in shipping on the St. Lawrence river, but did not allow Canadian wheat to enter British ports duty-free.

However, ‘in a private communication to their British correspondent, shortly after, the firm of Holmes, Young & Knapp … declared “the feeling of annexation to the United States seems to be the most prevalent at present among our people; could the measure be brought about peaceably and amicably, there is not a doubt but that three-quarters, if not nine-tenths, of the inhabitants would go for it …  the commercial system of the United States now offers more advantages to the province than any other within view, but to avail ourselves of it, is impossible without the question of annexation being involved”.

‘The Canadian public were generally disappointed at the non-concurrence of the United States in the scheme for reciprocal free trade, and, in the judgement of the writer, would not rest content until they had secured the free admission of their native products into the American market.  There was, however, “but one way to bring it about, and that way was annexation”.[13]

Ironically, Holmes would become one of the leaders in the annexation movement, and Young would become a leader of the anti-annexation movement!?!

Louis Joseph Papineau

The Montreal Pilot, the (English) newspaper of the Reformers, attacked the annexation manifesto calling it ‘high rampant Toryism’, and that it should first prove that the majority of the inhabitants of Canada, and also of the other British American colonies, were in favour of annexation; that the British government would grant it; and that the United States would agree to it.  It also pointed to the fact that by far the largest portion of the names appended to the Address were members of the British America League – including half of the Executive Council of the Montreal branch!  Of those people who signed the Address, barely one-thirtieth of them were French Canadiens – however, among them were Papineau’s young followers at L’Institut Canadien.

The Montreal Transcript would warn of this alliance, between the Tories and the French ‘republicans’, that the Anglo-Saxons ‘probably imagine that by making a bargain with the neighbouring Union, their influence will be all in all, and that the influence of their French allies will count for nothing … so far from their influence prevailing, the influence of Mr. Papineau and his friends is much more likely to turn the scale than that of the British ultra-Conservative Party’.

Papineau and L’Institut Canadien

Louis-Joseph Papineau had been one of the last of the ‘rebels’ of 1837 to be allowed to return to Canada from exile, arriving in Montreal in September 1845 and then retiring to his seigneury where he would remain out of politics.  Until two years later, when new elections were called, to take place in January 1848, ‘the two most populated counties of the districts of Montreal and Trois-Rivieres’ wished to have him represent them.

In response, Papineau issued ‘An Address to the Electors of Saint-Maurice and Huntington’ in which he laid out his current political views of the state of Canadian affairs and his desire not to re-enter the political arena –

‘all that I demanded in the House in 1836 … I demand again in 1847 … the repeal of the Act of Union must be demanded because it is the wish of the people’.  This demand should not rely on the British aristocracy, but instead Canadiens should look to America and its ‘instincts and necessities of democratic institutions … of which the free and happy citizens never received a Governor from England, but always elected him, as well as the members of the two houses, the sheriffs, and the magistrates of every rank …’

‘Everything that will give us these, under whatever political arrangement may exist, is good.  Since the majority of the representatives wish to try again a combination, which has been for four years inefficacious, let us unite ourselves to that majority – let no dissension trouble the unity of their efforts … May they succeed: none will rejoice more sincerely than myself … If they succeed in doing the good which you, they, and I wish for, their course will be the best.  If they do not so succeed, we shall be altogether, people and representatives, constituents and nominees; there will be nothing to do but to organize the most vigorous opposition possible, within the limits of the law … Not only do I not desire to enter public life, but I desire to remain out of it.  I fear that I shall do no good there, when I differ on so important a point from those with whom I have long acted in concert, and whose devotion to their country I respect … To throw me upon public life, notwithstanding the representations that I make to you, will, perhaps, be a mistake, which will cause the appearance of difference in the ranks of the Reformers’.

However, Papineau also laid out his economic views (his fatal flaw) –

‘As to free trade, and the free navigation of the St. Lawrence, I wish for them, and will sustain them, with all my power.  A disciple of the school of Adam Smith from my earliest youth – and at times the enemy of every political or commercial monopoly or privilege, I do not desire that any industry, or any class of citizens should be surcharged, for the profit of other classes and other industries.  The imposts ought to be the minimum of that which it is necessary to receive from each citizen in proportion to his fortune and his expenditure, in order to provide for the just expenses of an economical and well managed government.’

Despite his reluctance to stand for election, Papineau was returned unopposed in the county of Saint-Maurice, and he agreed to be their representative for the Legislative Assembly.  Then, on March 14th 1848, he took the occasion of the government motion for a supply bill, to make his first speech, in opposing the supply bill, to break with the Lafontaine reformers and begin his campaign to seek a repeal of the 1840 Act of Union.

On April 5th, Papineau gave a 3-hour speech in Montreal, where over 7000 people were gathered for the founding of the Association des Establissements Canadien des Townships (Papineau was a vice-president of the Association) – a land settlement society aiming at attracting Canadien settlers to the Eastern Townships – whose constitution was drafted by the l’Institut Canadien, and whose effort was supported by the Catholic Bishop[14].

Papineau then travelled to Quebec where he had been invited to speak at a rally on May 11th, again giving a 3-hour speech to over 4000 inhabitants on the repeal of the union.  On his return to Montreal, he stopped at Trois-Rivieres to speak again.  Other meetings were held by others in other towns to pass resolutions in favor of repeal.

When a meeting was held in Quebec by Irish citizens to call for the repeal of the Act of Union of Ireland, Papineau wrote an address to the Irish citizens of Canada that was printed in L’Avenir on May 15th, to support their demand for ‘repeal of the oppressive Act of Union of Ireland’.  This article greatly upset Governor Elgin, who had earlier written to Grey about Papineau’s campaign to repeal the union, that ‘it is the Irish, not the French, from whom we have most to dread at present.’ (Elgin to Grey, May 4th 1849)[15]

L’Avenir, at first, had supported the reform policies of LaFontaine, but in April began writing editorials – L’Union et la Nationalite – in support of Papineau’s demand for repeal of the Act of Union.

In Quebec, Le Journal de Quebec (Cauchon) answered L’Avenir that division among Canadiens was political suicide and that they must support LaFontaine to remain in control of further reforms or else the Tories would return to power.  Le Canadien (Aubin) argued that usually unions harmed nationalities, as in Ireland or in Belgium, but in the American Union, the French of Louisiana elected their own government and administered their own civil code and education system.  The Canadian Union could survive as in the American exception[16].

In Montreal, La Minerve (Duvernay) the newspaper of the Reformers, simply ignored the discussion of repeal altogether.  Instead of debating the idea, they instead launched a personal attack against Papineau.

Bishop Bourget

The first step was to neutralize his influence with Bishop Bourget in the settlement project.  As Elgin would write in a despatch to Grey (June 29th) that ‘I had one of two courses to choose from … either on the one hand, to give the promoters of the scheme a cold shoulder – point out its objectionable features – & dwell upon the difficulties of execution, – in which case, (use what tact I might) – I should have dismissed the Bishop and his friends discontented, and given Mr. P. an opportunity of asserting that I had lent a quasi sanction to his calumnies. – or, on the other, to identify myself with the movement, put myself in so far as might be, at its head, impart to it as salutary a direction as possible, and thus wrest from Mr. Papineau’s hands a potent instrument of agitation …’

In June, the LaFontaine ministry announced that Crown lands in the Saguenay and Ottawa regions would be made available for settlement and that ₤20,000 received from London would go to opening up roads and providing the necessary facilities to guarantee the Association’s scheme.

Wolfred Nelson

The second step involved Wolfred Nelson, who now charged Papineau with cowardice – that at the battle of Saint-Denis in 1837, Papineau had fled at the first sound of cannon.  Nelson’s charge would then be published in La Minerve and in Le Journal de Quebec, as part of their attacks on Papineau’s character.  Papineau would answer that if he had left the battle, that he had done so on the orders of Nelson who was in command, and he would be defended by L’Avenir and Le Canadien.

The fight in the press would continue, with George-Etienne Cartier writing a series of articles defending Nelson’s version of events, and with Louis-Antoine Dessaulles supporting Papineau’s claims.  In August, L’Avenir published ‘La Tuque Bleue’ a comedy about the engagement at Saint-Charles in 1837, in which, during the battle, a character (assumed to be Cartier) began to quake with fear and run for his life.  Cartier challenged Joseph Doutre (at L’Avenir) to a duel.

In January 1849, when the Legislative Assembly met for the start of the new session, Papineau rose to object to part of the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne and to call for repeal of the Canadian Union – ‘the defective constitution imposed on them against their known and declared wishes, through their remonstrances and reiterated petitions against the re-union of the two Canadas, wisely separated to their mutual advantage in 1791’.  This amendment was defeated, 63 votes to 4.  Papineau proposed a second amendment against ‘that odious plan … of giving an equal number of members to the two provinces’ and that instead ‘it apportions, from time to time, the representatives as near as may be according to population’.  This amendment was also defeated, 63 votes to 4[17].

During the first weeks of February, the ministry introduced their bill for reciprocity with the United States and their bill for rebellion losses in Lower Canada.  It was during this fight between the Reformers and the Tories over the rebellion losses bill, that all hell broke loose among the Montreal Tories – with riots that lasted into August, and that lead to the demand of the Montreal Tories for annexation.

While the young writers at L’Avenir would sign the Tory annexation address in October, it was not a case of them jumping on the Tory (annexation) bandwagon.  Mais, au contraire!

[The Tories could now side with the L’Institut Canadien in favour of annexation, that could contribute to further a rupture among the French Reformers – pitting LaFontaine against Papineau, and (thusly) aid the Tory party.]

After Papineau’s break with LaFontaine and the Reformers, L’Avenir immediately began its next campaign, when Louis-Antoine Dessaulles wrote his first serious article in favour of annexation on February 24th![18]

In June through October, Charles Laberge wrote a series of articles, signed ‘34 Etoiles’, setting out the necessity of annexation.  And, from August to October, it ran another series ‘Le Bon sens du people, ou Dialogue entre Jean-Baptiste pere et Jean-Baptiste fils’ – with the father giving all the worst reasons for annexation, and the son givng all the best reasons for it.  (The son always won the augument.)

Papineau’s nephew and leading republican figure in Canada Louis-Antoine Desaulles

The British Response

Before the Annexation Address was published on October 11th in the Montreal papers, Governor Elgin had already left Montreal (in early September) and, by early October, the Legislative Council members had also left Montreal – to move the government to Tory Toronto.

Elgin would leave Lower Canada, with the British American League favoring a union of the British North American colonies (that the British wanted) and with the Reformers favoring reciprocity with the United States (that the British also wanted).  He was only worried about two things – one, was his desire for a British Peerage, but two, was his ability to contain the annexation movement.

Although it was the Montreal Tory newspapers that were fanning the flames of annexation propaganda, the English Canadian signers of the Annexation Address however, were not only the enraged Tory politicians – like J.J.C. Abbott (who would become a future prime-minister of Canada) and prominent Montreal businessmen  –  like William and John Molson, John and David Torrance and John Redpath (who would become president of the Annexation Association).  The signers included members of the Montreal Free Trade Association – like John Glass, Henry Chapman, Thomas Kay, Luther Holton and Benjamin Holmes (who was a Reformer and an elected Member of the Legislative Assembly), but also included members of the Association for the Encouragement of Home Manufactures – like William Workman, David Vass, and Jacob De Witt (a Reformer and elected member of the Legislative Assembly), and included as well, the small group of French Canadiens signers from L’Avenir. This was a very mixed and diverse grouping, that was stuck onto the young ‘Papineau-istes’.[19]

A few of the leading anglophile Tories who endorsed the annexation petition (left to right: J.J.C Abbot, John Redpath, John Molson and John Torrance)

Although many residents in the Eastern Townships favored annexation, and even obtained the support of their local legislators – including Alexander Galt (who would become a future Finance Minister of Canada), it was difficult for the English and French to work together – because the Montreal Tory press and their campaign for annexation was rooted in anti-French arguments – to end French dominance of the provincial government[20].

But Elgin was truly worried about that small number of French Canadien signers of the Annexation Address – the young ‘Papineau-istes’, whose reasons for supporting annexation were based, not on their desire for financial gain by joining the Union, but on their desire for a more democratic form of government and on their insistence that only by joining the United States could the French Canadien culture be preserved – not by going along with the British colonial system in order to assure ‘la survivance’ (the LaFontaine Reformers’ reason for supporting the Act of Union).  Without the French Canadien reformers’ support, there would be no Act of Union!  Following the example of the tactics used in the land settlement scheme, the French press were needed to separate the ‘Papineau-istes’ from the church.

Abbe Charles Chiniquy

Les Melanges, La Minerve and Le Journal argued that ‘les rouges’ – as the young ‘Papineau-istes came to be called, were supporting the anti-French Tories of the British American League; were supporting Mazzini & Garibaldi, and not Pope Pie IX; and were supporting the repeal of tithing and the abolition of seigneurial tenure (the Church owed large seigneurial lands).  Abbe Charles Chiniquy, who was leader of the Temperance Society, was recruited by Les Melanges to write articles attacking L’Avenir and annexation.  As the church moved toward anti-annexation, it became difficult for ‘les rouges’ to garner support for annexation among les habitants.

Governor Elgin decided to leave Montreal, supposedly, for his ‘health’ and for a grand tour of Upper Canada – and not because of the Tory riots nor the physical abuse that he had suffered.  But Elgin’s real reason for his trip was his efforts to promote reciprocity with the United States – as the way to stop annexation[21].

After failing in his attempt to meet the President of the United States, Zachary Taylor, Elgin then began his tour of the districts in Upper Canada, where he would receive addresses of welcome from the district councils and from the neighbouring town councils – travelling to Niagara, Port Dover, Guelph, London, and finally, on October 11th – the day the Montreal Annexation Address was issued, arriving in Toronto where ‘a great meeting is to be called here immediately where men of all parties will muster to protest against it’.  [what incredible timing!]

An address was drawn up to be circulated for signatures that ‘we, the undersigned inhabitants of the City of Toronto and the Home District, in allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, do hereby solemnly protest against a movement recently made in the City of Montreal for the annexation of the province to the United States of America.  However great may be the depression, commercial or otherwise, under which the province has laboured, and however much mistaken or injurious the policy and conduct which the mother country has pursued toward us, we still unhesitatingly declare that there is nothing in what has occurred, or now exists, to warrant an attempt so revolutionary in its character, and so repugnant to our feelings, as that which seeks the dismemberment of the glorious empire of Great Britain, by transferring this colony to a foreign power …’

Both Tories and Reformers worked together in signing the address.  The Tory papers (the Patriot and the Colonist) attacked annexation – it would not solve the problem of economic decline and of French domination; and the Reform paper (the Globe) attacked annexation and called for the government to dismiss any official who signed the annexation address.[22]

A confused and demoralized William Lyon Mackenzie, then in exile in the USA, was used to promote the anti-Annexation movement at this crucial moment in history

Even the Examiner, the paper of the radical wing of the Reformers who tended to support annexation, opposed annexation – warning that ‘the continued denial of reciprocity by the Americans was likely to keep it alive’; and it printed letters from William Mackenzie (one of the rebels of 1837) from exile in the United States, who warned the Examiner ‘to steer clear of the annexationist reef’ and the perils of annexation – that ‘every effort man could make would have been made by me, not only to keep Canada separated from this country, but also to preserve the British connection, and to make that connection worth preserving’.[23]

With the annexation movement isolated to Montreal, the British government could now move to crush it[24].

Grey would firstly, threaten to cancel any British funding of any infrastructure projects in Canada – especially of the proposed railway to link the Maritime Provinces to the Province of Canada (the bribe being used to entice the Maritimes provinces into joining the scheme for confederation) – and to blame the cancellation on the annexationists!  And then to set up his military threat! – in keeping with the Empire’s plan to preserve the colonial Act of Union and then to continue with the Empire’s plan for free trade subversion of the United States[25].

Grey would then move to threaten the annexationists with military force, [so much for the veneer of British Whig liberalism, and the true face of the British Empire!] and issue his despatch that ‘… With regard to the Address to the people of Canada in favour of severing the Province from the British Dominions, for the purpose of annexing it to the United States … I have to inform you that Her Majesty approves of your having dismissed from Her Service those who have signed a document which is scarcely short of treasonable in its character.  Her Majesty confidently relies on the loyalty of the great majority of her Canadian subjects, and she is therefore determined to exert all the authority which belongs to her for the purpose of maintaining the connection of Canada, being persuaded that the permanence of that connection is highly advantageous to both.  Your lordship will therefore understand that you are commanded by Her Majesty to resist, to the utmost of your power, any attempt which may be made to bring about the separation of Canada from the British Dominions, and to mark in the strongest manner Her Majesty’s displeasure with those who may directly or indirectly encourage such a  design.’ (January 9th 1850)

Recall that the Annexation Address contained the ‘poison-pill’ – ‘without her consent, we consider separation as neither practicable nor desirable’ – and so, with Grey’s despatch, the Tories exercised their parachute clause and their support for annexation would quite rapidly disappear.

The Aftermath

George Brown

In Upper Canada, in 1851 Baldwin would resign from the government.  By 1855, George Brown of the Globe would buy up the Clear Grit newspapers (the Examiner and the North American), would hire William MacDougal, and prest-o change-o, Brown was now head of the Grits, would take over control of the Reform party and Brown would go on to work with John A. Macdonald in the scheme for confederation of Canada.

Shortly after Baldwin’s departure, LaFontaine would also resign from the government, to be replaced by George Cartier as leader of the reform party in Lower Canada (called Parti Bleu – in opposition to the Part Rouge) and he later would work with Brown and Macdonald in the confederation scheme.

In the United States, in January 1850, Senator Stephen Douglas tried to introduce anew a bill for reciprocity between Canada and the United States, but the bill could not get passed in the Senate, as the fight over slave state versus free state again erupted, due to Senator Henry Clay (in that same month) introducing a package of bills that aimed to admit California into the Union (as a free state), to set the border of Texas (by having Texas cede some of its claimed territories in the Mexican Cession) and to establish the two Territories of New Mexico and of Utah.  The package also included banning the importation of slaves into the capital District of Columbia and a fugitive slave law.  President Taylor however opposed the package and instead favored admitting both California and New Mexico into the Union as free states.  Clay’s package could not get passed in the Senate.

President Taylor

Under strange circumstances, President Taylor suddenly died on July 9th.  With an ailing Clay (suffering from tuberculosis that would kill him in June 1852) who would leave the Senate to try to recuperate, Douglas would now try to get Clay’s bills passed through the Senate, with the support of the new president (the former Vice President Millard Fillmore).  The passage of these bills became known as the Compromise of 1850[26].

After the next American elections in 1852, the new president, Franklin Pierce, would negotiate with Great Britain a reciprocity treaty for Canada and the United States.  After which, Governor Elgin left Canada, and was reappointed to be the British High Commissioner and Plenipotentiary to China, where during the Second Opium War, he ordered the destruction of the Summer Palace (including its collection of priceless artworks and historical antiquities).  [British liberalism on display again!]

Papineau would retire in 1854, leaving the fight against the British Empire to his young followers in the Parti Rouge – the only party that would oppose the British scheme for confederation.

 Epilogue: Henry Carey and the Annexation of Canada

While Papineau and his young followers at L’Institut Canadien and L’Avenir were correct in their desire for a more democratic and republican government for Canada, and for Canada’s annexation to the United States, their Achilles heel (their fatal flaw) was their lack of an understanding of the American System of Economics.

During this maelstrom of free trade, tariffs, confederation or annexation, there emerged a voice of reason.  In the December 1849 issue of the American monthly journal, ‘The Plough, the Loom, and the Anvil’, a series of letters was published called ‘The Harmony of Interests: Agricultural, Manufacturing, and Commercial’, that was written by Henry C. Carey, and the letters were soon expanded and incorporated into a book of the same name, that laid out the advantages and superiority of the American protective system over the British free-trade system.

Carey’s defence of American protectionism against British free-trade would favourably allow for the annexation of Canada into the Union, as it would bring Canada into that protective American system; while at the same time, Carey’s opposition to reciprocity with Canada would not allow the British free-trade system to enter in the back door – through Canada.

The following is excerpted from ‘The Harmony of Interests’, written by Henry C. Carey,

– from ‘Chapter Fifth, Why Is It That Protection Is Required’,

‘Lord Sydenham, in a letter to Lord John Russell, which accompanied his Report on Emigration to Upper Canada, observed: “Give me yeomen, with a few hundred pounds each, who will buy cleared farms, not throw themselves into the bush, and I will ensure them comforts and independence at the end of a couple years – pigs, pork, flour, potatoes, horses to ride, cows to milk – but you must eat all your produce, for devil a purchaser is to be found: however, the man’s wants are supplied, and those of his family; he has no rent or taxes to pay, and he ought to be satisfied.”

Here is the cause of the desire for annexation that now exists throughout Canada.  There are no consumers at hand, and the farmer cannot exchange his corn for cloth or iron, the consequence of which is, that labour and land are almost valueless.  So it is everywhere.  Every Colony therefore desires to separate itself from England, and all would gladly unite with these United States, and for no other reason than that they might have protection.’

– from ‘Chapter Tenth, How Protection Affects the Farmer’,

‘Let us next examine the working of the system in Canada, in which there being, almost literally, no manufactures of any kind, there is no market on the land for the products of the land.

Freedom of trade is, there, perfect: that is to say, the people of Great Britain enjoy a complete monopoly of the machinery by aid of which alone the lumber and food of the people of Canada can be converted into cloth and iron.  The consequence is, that the labour-cost of manufactured articles is so great that the consumption of them is small.  The whole export of cotton cloth from Greta Britain to her North American possessions, in the seven years 1840-46, averaged twenty millions of yards, fine and coarse, and if the whole were there consumed, it would give but ten yards per head, or about two and a half pounds of cotton to each individual; whereas the consumption of the Union averages thirteen pounds per head, and is far more than that in the States nearest to Canada.  If, now, we desire to know why it is that consumption is less on the one side of the line than on the other, the reason may be found in the fact, that the Canadian gives much more labour for his cloth and his iron than the American.  Even his wheat is less in price; and if so, how must it be with those bulky commodities that will not bear transportation?  He must, in the words of Sir Francis Head, “eat all he raises”, for he has not made, nor can he make a market on the land for the products of the land.

To the Canadian it is perfectly obvious that the price of food with us is maintained by the demand for home consumption, and therefore it is that there exists so universal a desire for the abolition of all restriction in the importation of their productions into the Union.  They have perfect freedom of trade with “the great grain market of the world”, and by it they are ruined.  They desire intercourse with the great grain-producers of the world, and to obtain it they would gladly sacrifice their intercourse with England, taking production in lieu of free trade, and becoming members of the Union.

Were Canada within the Union, her consumption of cotton cloth would rise to a level with our own, for she would at once commence to make iron and cloth at home, producing thereby a demand for labour that is now being wasted.  Instead of being a customer to the planter to the extent of two and a half pounds per head, every Canadian would take a dozen pounds; and thus would fifteen millions of pounds be added to the consumption, to the infinite advantage of the planter.  The farmer of Illinois might then safely admit free trade with his Canadian neighbours, because with increased home consumption they would experience less necessity for going abroad to find that market for their products which the colonial system now denies to them at home.  The farmer who believes in the advantage of free trade with England, should give his vote for the admission of Canadian wheat, raised by men who consume cloth and iron made by men who eat the wheat of Poland and Russia.  The farmer who sees that the price of wheat id maintained by the home demand, will be cautious of the admission of foreign wheat, duty free, until, by means of annexation, the farmer of Canada shall obtain the same protection that he himself enjoys, and thereby be enabled to make a market on the land for the products of the land.’

– from ‘Chapter Twenty-Second, How Protection Affects Intellectual Condition’,

The English school of political economy treats man as a mere machine, placed on the earth for the purpose of producing food, cloth, iron, pins, or needles, and takes no account of him as a being capable of intellectual and moral improvement.  It looks for physical power in connection with ignorance and immorality, and the result is disappointment.  The workman of this country is infinitely the superior of the workman of Manchester, and the reason is, that he is not treated as a mere machine.  The object of what is called free trade is to degrade the one to the level of the other.  The object of protection is that of enabling the poor artisan of Manchester or Leeds, Birmingham or Sheffield, to transfer himself to a country in which he will not be so treated, and in which he may have books and newspapers, and his children may be educated.

The colonial system involves an expenditure for ships of war, soldiers, and sailors, greater than would be required for giving to every child in the kingdom an education of the highest order; and those ships and men are supported out of the proceeds of taxes paid by poor mechanics and agricultural labourers, whose children grow up destitute even of the knowledge that there is a God.  The object of protection is to do away with the necessity for such ships and men, and to raise the value of labour to such a point as will enable the people of England to provide schools for themselves.

In the colonies, the perpetual exhaustion of the land and its owner has forbidden, as it now forbids, the idea of intellectual improvement …

In Upper Canada, in 1848, the number of children, male and female, under fourteen years of age, was 326,050, of whom 80,461 attended school.  So far the state of things is better than in other colonies; but when we come to look further, the difference is not very great.  The intellect of man is to be quickened by communion with his fellow-man, of which there can be but little where the loom is widely distant from the plough, and men are distant from each other, all engaged in the single pursuit of agriculture.  How slow has been the growth of concentration in that province, may be seem from the following facts.  Numerous small woollen mills furnish 584,008 yards of flannel and other inferior cloths, working up the produce of perhaps 250,000 sheep.  Fulling mills exist, at which about 2,000,000 pounds of woollen cloths of household manufacture are fulled.  Further, there are –

1 rope-walk.                          11 pail factories.                  1 ship-yard                            1 vinegar factory.

1 candle factory.                 1 last factory.                       1 trip hammer.                     5 chair factories.

1 cement factory.                                4 oil mills.                              2 paper mills, making         2 brick-yards.

1 saleratus factory.             3 tobacco factories.               1900 reams each.             1 axe factory, producing

8 soap factories.                  2 steam-engine factories.   3 potteries.                               5000 per annum.

3 nail factories.                    1 comb factory.                   6 plaster mills.

And these constitute the whole of the manufacturing establishments of that great district of country, much of it so long settled.  There is, consequently, little or no employment for mind, and the consequence is, that all who desire to engage in other pursuits than those of agriculture fly to the South.  There are now within the Union, not less than 200,000 Canadians, and with every day the tendency to emigration increases.  If we look to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, it is the same.  There is there no demand for intellect, and any man possessing it flies southward.  Forty years since it was asked, “Who reads an American book?”  That question has long since been answered; but it may now be repeated in reference to all the British provinces.  Who reads a Canadian, a Nova-Scotian, or a New Brunswick book? Upper Canada has two paper-mills capable of producing about ten reams of paper per day, being, perhaps a tenth of what is required to supply the newspapers of Cincinnati.  Forty years since, the question might be asked, “Who uses an American machine?”  and yet the machine shops of Austria and Russia are now directed by our countrymen, and the latest improvements in machinery for the conversion of wool into cloth are of American invention.  The British provinces have had the advantage of perfect free trade with England, the consequence of which is, that they are almost destitute of paper-mills and printing-offices, and machine shops are unknown, while the Union has been a prey to the protective system, that “war upon labour and capital”, the consequence of which is, that paper-mills and printing-offices abound to such an extent unknown in the world, and almost equal in number and power to those of the whole world, and machine shops exist almost everywhere.  These differences are not due to any difference in the abundance or quality of land, for that of Upper Canada is yet to a great extent unoccupied, and is in quality inferior to none on the continent.  They are not due to difference in the other natural advantages, for New Brunswick has every advantage possessed by Maine and New Hampshire. And Nova Scotia has coal and iron ore more advantageously situated than any in the Union.  They are not due to difference of taxation, for Great Britain has paid almost all the expenses of government.  To what, then, can they be attributed, but to the fact that those provinces have been subject to the monopoly system, and compelled to waste their own labour while giving their products in exchange for the services of English men, women, and children, employed in doing for them what they could have better done themselves, and losing four-fifths of their products in the transit between the producer and the consumer?  Place the colony within the Union – give it protection – and in a dozen years its paper-mills and its printing-offices will become numerous, and many will then read Canadian books.

It would behove all Canadian patriots, therefore, to study and learn the lessons in this book, especially, Carey’s support for annexation, but more importantly, his reasoning for the need of a protective system for Canada.  One Canadian, Isaac Buchanan, did study Carey’s book, and did make an attempt to solve the dilemma for Canada, of annexation versus reciprocity, by proposing a North American Zollverein – to fight British free-trade.


[1] After Britain’s entry in the war against France in 1793, the British government pushed through the Seditious Meetings Act and the Treasonable and Seditious Practices Act, that targeted abolitionists and others advocating universal male suffrage and other reforms.  Britain’s Jacobin Clubs, now under the control of Lord Shelbourne’s Secret Intelligence Service, began the creation of the radical movement, founded the Westminster Review (1823) by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, and then created the Chartist movement and the Anti-Corn Law League (1836).  The ACCL was headquartered in Manchester, and the free-trade movement came to be called the Manchester School.  The Manchester School was in fact an outgrowth of the East India Company’s Haileybury School – set up in 1805 with Thomas Malthus as their professor of political economy.

[2] – from ‘The Slave Trade, Domestic and Foreign, Why It Exists, and How It May Be Extinguished’ by Henry Carey, 1853.]

[3] In December 1847, a young, freshman Congressman (the lone Whig elected from an otherwise Democratic Illinois – in what would be his only term, because he had promised that, if elected, he would not run for re-election) Abraham Lincoln presented his ‘Spot Resolutions’, opposing President Polk’s false claim for declaring war against Mexico.

[4] After Kentucky and Tennessee were admitted as states, there were 8 so-called ‘free’ states and 8 so-called ‘slave’ states.

In 1803, Ohio was admitted to the union as a free state – because the Northwest Ordinance had banned slavery.

In 1812, Louisiana was admitted to the union as a ‘slave’ state – because the Louisiana Purchase had not banned slavery.

In 1816, Indiana was admitted as a ‘free’ state, and in 1817, Mississippi was admitted as a ‘slave’ state – keeping the balance.

In 1818, Illinois was admitted as a ‘free’ state, and in 1819, Alabama was admitted as a ‘slave’ state – keeping the balance.

In 1820, Missouri was admitted as a ‘slave’ state, and Maine was admitted as a ‘free’ state – keeping the balance.

In 1836, Arkansas was admitted as a ‘slave’ state, and in 1837, Michigan was admitted as a ‘free’ state – keeping the balance.

Between 1845-48, Florida and Texas were admitted as ‘slave’ states, and Iowa and Wisconsin were admitted as ‘free’ states.

[5] In order to better understand the constitutional issues regarding slavery, the following excerpts are from the book, ‘John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy’, Chapter 20: ‘The Slave Trade and Slavery’, written by Samuel Flagg Bemis – one from that rare breed of honest historians.]

‘Adams believed that Congress, which had the constitutional right to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territories or other property of the United States, possessed therewith the power to regulate slavery in the territories.  But he did not think that Congress had any right to abolish slavery within a state where it already existed.  And he did not think it compatible with the Constitution to require a restriction upon slavery as a condition for admission of a new state into the Union out of territory where slavery already existed.  Specifically, he did not believe that Congress had a right to impose such a restriction on Missouri …’

“Slavery”, he told himself. “is the great and foul stain upon the North American Union, and it is a contemplation worthy of the most exalted soul whether its total abolition is or is not practicable: if practicable, by what means it may be effected, and if a choice of means be within the scope of the object, what means would accomplish it at the smallest cost of human sufferance.  A dissolution, at least temporary, of the Union, as now constituted, would be certainly necessary, and the dissolution must be upon a point involving the question of slavery, and no other.  The Union then might be reorganized upon the fundamental principle of emancipation.  This object is vast in its compass, awful in its prospects, sublime and beautiful in its issue.  A life devoted to it would be nobly spent or sacrificed.” [Memoirs, Feb. 24, 1820]

“I have favored this Missouri Compromise, believing it to be all that could be effected under the present Constitution, and from extreme unwillingness to put the Union at hazard.  But perhaps it would have been a wiser as well as a bolder course to have persisted in the restriction upon Missouri, till it should have terminated in a convention of the States to revise and amend the Constitution.  This would have produced a new Union of 13 or 14 states unpolluted with slavery, with a great and glorious object to effect, namely, that of rallying to their standard the other States by the universal emancipation of their slaves.  If the Union must be dissolved, slavery is precisely the question upon which it ought to break.” [Memoirs, Mar. 2, 1820]

“I have abstained, sometimes perhaps too pertinaciously abstained, from all participation in measures leading to that conflict for life and death between Freedom and Slavery, through which I have not yet been able to see how this Union could ultimately be preserved from passing.” [Mar. 31, 1837, letter to Charles Hammond]

[6] The reciprocity bill was re-introduced on January 8th 1849, by Dix, of New York, who urged that ‘speedy action also is looked for, as the Canadian Parliament is about to meet, and this measure, if adopted by us, will become the basis of a similar enactment there; and it is thought that it will prove highly beneficial to the interests of the two countries’.

Pearce, of Maryland, in opposing the bill, showed that in their treaty with Prussia, for example, it says that ‘no higher or other duty shall be imposed … than are or shall be payable on the like article being the produce or manufacture of any other foreign country’ … and that ‘as soon as we admit Canadian breadstuffs free of duty, Russia and Prussia, which produce wheat at lower prices than we do, may and probably will demand that their breadstuffs shall come into the United States free of duty – and so we shall have free trade in breadstuffs with all those powers with whom we have reciprocity treaties … this bill, therefore, may be considered as the first movement towards the entire withdrawal of all, even incidental, protection to the grain-growers of the United States …’.

Niles, of Connecticut, a supporter of the bill, asked ‘will the products of their soil, and the articles manufactured by them, be brought hither and carried to market through the United States? Or will our products and our manufactures be taken there and seek a market through Canada? … In this respect I apprehend that our advantages for carrying on a trade in grain, flour provisions, and perhaps all the articles enumerated, are double those of the provinces, and thus will give us the greater portion of this direct trade in foreign imports …’.

Hunter, of Virginia, although a free-trader, opposed the bill because ‘this bill is partial and unequal in its operation … is it fair to take away all the protection afforded to the agricultural interest, while you retain that afforded to the manufacturing interest? … it is a bill of quasi annexation, because the advantages which are urged as arising from it seem to relate to some such measure in the future … to give the sole benefit of the Canadian trade to New York and New England’.

But, Douglas, of Illinois, also a supporter of free-trade, tried to persuade Mr. Hunter and other southern senators that it would ‘be a benefit to the shipping interest, to our works of internal improvement, and to all parties connected with this trade; and I do not see that it injures any one.  I do not believe that they can bring in agricultural products from Canada so as to undersell us.  I believe, on the contrary that we can undersell them’.

Responding, Westcott, of Florida, proposed an amendment to allow for free trade with Cuba and Porto Rico, and Downs, of Louisiana, argued that ‘if this principle (i.e. reciprocity with Canada) is to be adopted, I think that reciprocity should be extended to Cuba’.

On July 23rd 1849, Dix spoke again in support of the bill, trying to address the opposition to it, and included his belief that ‘the adoption of this great measure – the free navigation of the St. Lawrence – depends on the passage of this bill’.

This reciprocity bill – introduced and debated in the United States Senate in January 1849, and introduced and debated in the Canadian Legislative Assembly in February 1849, occurred shortly before the United States Congress met on February 14th to count the results of the votes of the Electoral College for the presidential election that had been held on November 7th 1848 – the first time that the presidential election had been held at the same time in every state.

A great setback to the British and American free-traders occurred when the Whig party’s candidate, Zachary Taylor, was elected as the next President of the United States – to be inaugurated on March 5th.

[7] In 1845, under a previous (Tory) government, an act had been passed to give compensation to those inhabitants in Upper Canada for damage suffered in the rebellion of 1837-1838, and to set aside up to ₤40,000 – to be raised from receipts from the tavern licenses in Upper Canada.  A commission had been set up to look into the question of indemnification for Lower Canada, but no satisfactory amounts of compensation could be arrived at, and so the matter had rested.

[8] ‘But I regret to say that I discover as yet nothing in it to warrant the belief that the seat of Government can properly remain at Montreal … the city council consists of an utterly inefficient Mayor (Fabre) who is attached to Papineau in politics, and of councillors, for the most part equally inefficient, who may be generally classed as Papineau-istes, repeal Irish, and British Ultras – Nothing is to be hoped for from such a body, until the seat of Government is removed … In addition to the reasons which I have given, there is one argument in favor of leaving Montreal which struck me forcibly even before the recent disturbances occurred.  You find in this city I believe the most Anti-British specimens of each class of which our community consists – the Montreal French are the most Yankeefied French in the Province – the British, though furiously anti-Gallican, are, with some exceptions, the least loyal – and the commercial men the most zealous annexationists which Canada furnishes – It must I think do great mischief to the members who come from other parts of the Province to pass some months of each year in this hot bed of prejudice and disaffection’. (Elgin to Grey, September 3rd)

[9] from ‘The British North America League 1849’ by Cephas Allin

[10] ‘The convention of the League has assembled at Kingston.  All is working as I expected – the Tories have succeeded in rendering annexation disgusting to the Radicals by advocating it, but they have not courage to take it up themselves.’ (Elgin to Grey, July 30th)

‘As the main recommendations of the Leaguers, “Confederation between the Provinces”, is a very desirable object; but I do not think it is brought forward here in much sincerity – It is a sort of compromise between the Conservatives who are disconnected with the local government, though true to Britain, and the Annexationists … “Protection to native Industry” is the most important of the three propositions – It is the cheval de bataille of the annexationists – No man out of Bedlam supposes that you could levy heavy duties on manufactured goods along the Canadian frontier, or that Great Britain would tolerate what would be virtually discriminating duties against herself by a colony … this cry then of protection to native industry is a perfect humbug on the part of the soi disant friends of British connexion, but it is not difficult to raise it among persons who are smarting from the effect of recent changes in British commercial legislation – and with the annexationists it is no humbug at all, but a sincere and genuine movement.’ (Elgin to Grey, August 6th)

[11] ‘Lord John in a letter I had from him yesterday expresses a good deal of anxiety as to the prospects of Canada & reverts to the old idea of forming a federal union of all the British Provinces in order to give their inhabitants something more to think of than their mere local squabbles, & he says that if to effect this a separation of the two Canada’s were necessary he should see no objection to it, his wish in forming such a union would be to bring about such a state of things that if she should lose our North American provinces they might be likely to become an independent state instead of being merged in the Union.’ (Grey to Elgin, August 8th)

Elgin replied to Grey’s letter that ‘… a federal Union would leave the federal Legislature almost nothing to do – a congress without foreign relations, armies, navies, and ambassadors would be a very insipid concern.  However, the subject has been taken up, with how much sincerity or earnestness I will not undertake to say, by the league.  All we can do is to stand by and take advantage of any turn of the tide which favors our views.  The most important matter by far if we desire to allay political discontent in these Provinces is the establishment of reciprocal freedom of trade with the States.  Were this object achieved, I am confident that all other difficulties would dwindle into very manageable proportions.’ (Elgin to Grey, September 3rd)

[12] The new provincial secretary, Joseph Howe, had written to George Moffatt, the League’s president, a hilarious answer to the league’s address, that ‘we gather from the scholastic production to which your name is attached that a convention called by yourself is to supersede the Parliament of Canada.  This movement for dispensing with the services of the legislature, it seems to us Nova Scotians, very naturally generated the idea that the building in which it sat was an encumbrance; and that its books and papers, fraught with occult sciences and varied superstitions, were dangerous to the progress of society.  Lord Elgin, who stood in the way of Mr. Protector Moffatt, was pelted as a matter of course; and as the old parliament house was too small for the convention, it was very reasonable that the mob should exclaim: “Burn it down, burn it down: why cumbereth it to the ground?”  The promulgation of your manifesto and the occurrence of subsequent events take us somewhat by surprise in this benighted province; but nothing appears more natural than the sequence.  As you have appealed to North Americans in your address, and as the mob in Montreal have favored us with their interpretation of its contents, I am induced to inquire whether it be the true one, and whether pelting the Queen’s representative, dispersing our parliaments and burning our books, are to be indispensable preliminaries in joining the British American League?’

[13] from ‘Annexation, Preferential Trade and Reciprocity’, by Cephas Allin & George Jones

[14] L’Institut Canadien was founded in 1844 by a group of young intellectuals that sponsored lectures and debates, started a library, and began their own newspaper, L’Avenir, in July 1847.  Its members included Papineau’s son, Gustave Papineau, and his nephews, Denis-Emery Papineau and Louis-Antoine Dessaulles.  (Papineau’s youth movement, one could say!)

[15] The Act of Union – both for Ireland and for Canada, was the British Empire’s means of maintaining control of the colonies.  While pretending to be of liberal intentions in granting so-called ‘responsible government’, in reality this policy gave nothing – a bill passed by the Legislative Assembly in Canada, then had to be passed by the ‘Governor-appointed’ Legislative Council, approved by the ‘British-approved’ Governor, and then approved by the Queen’s Privy Council, before it could become law.  The British government controlled foreign policy, military policy, and economic policy.

Please note, the current Governor of Canada, Lord Elgin, was the son-in-law of Lord Durham, the author of the Act of Union – with his report on Canada after the 1837 rebellions.

[I suppose, that at least the legislators could decide the means for revenue-generation, and then sit down to divvy up the loot.-ed]

[16] After Papineau’s speech at the rally at Quebec, Aubin changed over to support Papineau and to argue against LaFontaine and Le Journal.  In ‘Le Fantasque’, Aubin suggested abolishing the death penalty, and instead, to condemn murderers to eating any 3 issues of Le Journal!

[17] L’Avenir would edit and publish his 4 days of speeches on his amendments against the Union (of over 12 hours in total) on January 31st.

[18] Although the attempt to annex Canada into the United States died in the U.S. Senate in 1845, discussions of annexation still continued.  When Les Melanges Religieux (Langevin) wrote a proposal for a confederation of Britain’s North American colonies, L’Avenir answered (in December 1847) that it preferred annexation to confederation.

Also, on May 29th 1849, L’Avenir published a pamphlet ‘Manifeste du Club National Democratique’.

[19] Although many members of the Free Trade Association signed the Annexation address, John Young, the president of the Association, did not, but became a leader of the anti-annexation movement and organized an anti-annexation address.  However, while Young did campaign against annexation in 1849, he would later see the error of his ways (?!?), and by the late 1860’s, it is claimed, he would oppose confederation, would lobby in New York in favor of annexation, and would support a ‘Zollverein’ between Canada and the United States!

[20]The French Press there (i.e. Montreal) is partly annexationists and partly ministerial – but of course no one either in Upper Canada, in the United States, or in England ever reads a word in the French Journals … this portion of the Press has therefore no influence on public opinion whatsoever out of Lower Canada …’

‘the Herald, Gazette, and Courier … all are bitterly opposed to the French and to constitutional government which gives the French a share in the government of the country …’ (Elgin to Grey, November 1st, 1849)

[21]  ‘I left Monklands on Wednesday and came here direct in the hope, among other things, of meeting the President of the U.S. – He left however the day before my arrival which I much regret.’ (Elgin to Grey, September 9th)

‘There will be no response (i.e. to the annexation address) in Western Canada if I can succeed in keeping the seat of Government here (i.e. Toronto)’. (Elgin to Grey, October 11th)

‘My own conviction is that our return to Montreal at present would give a great impulse to the annexation movement in Upper Canada, and that the members could not pass a session there in the present temper of men’s minds without being themselves to a great extent corrupted. (Elgin to Grey, October 19th)

‘The crisis is certainly a very serious one – it may lead not improbably to a break up of parties – if it splits the French it will be a consummation devoutly to be wished.  Toronto is the most Tory place in Canada – It contains 25,000 people and I am assured that in the town and neighbourhood there are not less than 25 Orange Lodges.’ (Elgin to Grey, October 19th)

‘I believe that if we had returned (i.e. to Montreal), this complex iniquity would have worked the desired result – and that the annexation mania would have spread rapidly through Upper Canada … Every thing depends on this section of the Province and the removal of the seat of government was absolutely necessary to keep it right – even the bugbear of French domination is made less frightful by our coming to the most British and Tory town in North America – But I say it again with all solemnity, Canada cannot be saved unless you force the selfish scheming Yankees to concede reciprocity.’ (Elgin to Grey, October 25th)

[22] The Globe would claim that the absence of manufacturing in Canada was due to the more profitable employment of capital in agricultural and other pursuits (!?!) and that a similar deficiency of railroads in Canada, as compared with the United States, was due to the superior means of water transportation which Providence had bestowed upon the province (!?!)

[23] The Examiner, while opposed to annexation, wished to use the issue to further their criticism of the Baldwin reformers.  The young editor of the Examiner, Charles Lindsey, had begun meeting at that time with other young radicals, like William McDougall, Charles Clarke and David Christie, and that would become the ‘Clear Grit’ wing of the reform party.

Although it was modelled on the British (Chartist) reform movement and the Manchester school, it was sold to ‘les rouges’ as their natural allies in Upper Canada – they were striving to gain the same thing as the annexationists, though by somewhat different means – ‘the annexationists, therefore, should support the Clear Grit Party and their principles with all their might’. [An alliance with British liberalism that would be the kiss of death.]

[24] ‘I do not attach much importance to the petition for annexation which is getting up at Montreal – with the feeling which now seems to exist both in the Upper & Lower provinces generally, little danger is likely to result from this move of a few factious & discontented people in that Town, more especially if the United States meet us fairly on the question of trade, which I am inclined to believe that they will; their having so promptly met our concessions on the subject of the Navigation Laws gives one more hope for the reciprocity bill’ (Grey to Elgin, October 30th)

‘Very much, as respects the result of this annexation movement depends upon what you do at home.  I believe that a great many who have taken a part in it ardently hope that you will pronounce yourself strongly against it – (by you I mean the British Government and Parliament) – in which case they will withdraw protesting that they never intended to take any step in the matter without the full approval of Britain … I am prepared to contend that with responsible government fairly worked out and with free trade there is no reason why the colonial relation should not be indefinitely maintained.’ (Elgin to Grey, November 15th)

[25]  ‘The account you now give of the state of affairs is I think on the whole satisfactory & I trust the annexation cry will subside, the movement however has already had this bad effect that it rendered it out of the question our proposing to give any pecuniary aid to the Railway (i.e. from Quebec to Halifax) or any other public work in Canada – Before this movement I was not quite without hopes that something might have been done to promote this undertaking; I think you might contrive to have it pointed out in the newspapers that the annexationists must obviously have destroyed any chance there was of assistance of this kind from us, as of course Parliament could not be asked to give public money for works in Canada when there is a party proclaiming that their object is annexation’. (Grey to Elgin, November 16th)

‘I think you should write to me an Official Despatch on the annexation movement on which I may found a pretty strong Despatch condemning those who have joined in it & saying that the Queen does not doubt the attachment of the great majority of Her Canadian Subjects & sets a high value upon it – In writing to me I think you ought to take a pretty confident tone & above all to avoid any language which can be taken to imply that failing to get “reciprocity” with the United States would afford the slightest reason for the Canadians to wish for annexation.’ (Grey to Elgin, November 23rd)

‘I am as much convinced as you are that nothing but the thorough and cordial adoption by us of the principles of constitutional government could have prevented the overthrow of our power in Canada; & however little credit we may get for it I am persuaded that if the retention of the colony is an object to this country, to you and myself this is principally true; – if we had acted on the views of our predecessors with regard to the Rebellion losses bill, & as to the duty of giving the support of the Crown to the “loyal party” (a name they will probably drop now) Canada would have been gone by this time … Looking then to a speedy return of prosperity all we have to do in the mean time is to take all the pains we can to keep up the courage of the friends of British Connection & to check the agitation of the question of annexation – I trust that the despatch I have sent you by this mail & which I presume you will publish in the Gazette will be of some use to you in this respect’. (Grey to Elgin, January 10th 1850)  

[26] Abraham Lincoln would unsuccessfully run against Douglas in the senate election in 1858 (please read the Lincoln-Douglas debates) but then successfully against Douglas to become President in 1860.