Empire & Commonwealth: Studies in Governance and Self-Government in Canada

By Chester Martin | Go to book overview

III
'NEW SUBJECTS' IN QUEBEC

I

To outward appearances the contest with France for domination in America closed in a blaze of glory. The prospect of an 'American empire' at the close of the Seven Years' War was one which no other generation of the British race has ever contemplated. In extent of territory it stretched from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. It contained some two millions and a half of the most resourceful and enterprising settlers in modern history--a population which had doubled in twenty years, with every prospect of increasing for another generation in the same ratio. So vast were the hinterlands and so illimitable the resources that William Knox after the Revolution predicted a series of people-wanderings like those of the Scythians and Tartars for 4,000 years before the 'Transallegany mountain people' should be able to found a settled state.1 This was the heritage which British statesmen were privileged for a little more than ten years to hold and if possible to safeguard.

The conquest of New France has been regarded as an epoch in the first Empire. It liberated the southern colonies from the menace of French power to the north which had always overshadowed their expansion and government. Henceforth a British army and even the British navy would have a different meaning for colonists in America. With the close of the Seven Years' War also came a transformation in British mercantile policy. During the decade and a half before the war British exports to the West Indies had increased only 10 per cent. to the annual value of £877,571 while those to the 'continental' colonies had increased by 186 per cent. to the annual value of £1,832,948. It was clear that markets could be as important as raw materials, and that British settlers in America by buying British woollens could be of more value than all the tropical products of the Indies. The ascendancy which British manufacturers and their natural allies the landed interests thus gained over the purely commercial interests of the nation culminated, according to Beer, in the decision to retain Quebec at

____________________
1
Extra Official State Papers, ii. 50.

-94-

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Empire & Commonwealth: Studies in Governance and Self-Government in Canada
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents xi
  • INTRODUCTORY xiii
  • I - THE OLD COLONIAL SYSTEM 1
  • II- Nova Scotia and the Old Empire 56
  • III - 'NEW SUBJECTS' IN QUEBEC 94
  • IV - NOVA SCOTIA AND THE SECOND EMPIRE 148
  • V - RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT IN CANADA 240
  • VI - THE COMMONWEALTH AND ITS COROLLARIES 327
  • Index 357
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