Responsible Government in Prince Edward Island: A Triumph of Self-Government under the Crown

By W. Ross Livingston | Go to book overview
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FOREWORD

Constitutional self-government has been in every part of the English speaking world a matter of grave importance. In the process of colonial expansion and in the contact of man with an undeveloped condition of nature, the conquest of political freedom has been as prominent as the conquest of natural resources. The American Revolution was in part a move to secure within the Empire a more positive definition and recognition of constitutional freedom, nor did the movement cease with the establishment of the new Republic. In the older colonies remaining loyal to the Crown, and in those established by the United Empire Loyalists--Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Ontario,--the struggle continued; but it did not take the form of a move for an independent status. Loyalty to the Crown was as strong and as determined in those provinces as was the determination to establish a political system guaranteeing the greatest degree of freedom. This combination of loyalty and a sense of constitutional values produced in time a complete reinterpretation of the imperial bond. It is, indeed, the true explanation of the change from an Empire of a mother country and her possessions to a Commonwealth of self-governing nations.

Prince Edward Island seems to have had the greatest difficulty among all the provinces of British North America, in securing the boon of Responsible Government. She was the smallest in area as well as in population but her contest was no less important. Perhaps in her case the power of the purse as a factor in British policy was more clearly revealed than in any other colony.

The field is new and the research has involved the study of manuscripts and other sources never before investigated. For the most part these sources were available at the Public Archives in Ottawa, but some were found only at the Public Record Office in London. I am indebted to Dr. Arthur G. Doughty and Mr.

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