The Idea of Continental Union: Agitation for the Annexation of Canada to the United States, 1849-1893

By Donald Frederic Warner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
The Union Movements in the West
1866-1871

In the east, confederation was operating to revive the specter of annexation which it was designed to destroy. Now the same apparition appeared in the west, beyond the outposts of the new Dominion. Here, too, it stimulated a national union movement and so hastened the expansion of Canada from sea to sea.1

Most annexationists in the United States felt that all of British America would one day be part of the Republic, but it was that part lying between the Rockies and Lake Superior whose American destiny seemed most manifest. Here nature had rolled the plains, furrowed the valleys, and piled the mountains on a north-south axis. Here the soil, the climate, and the socioeconomic potentials on both sides of the forty-ninth parallel were so identical that the thin political line seemed a mockery. American expansionists believed that nature and her forces would avenge this frustration of her great purpose, blot out the boundary, and make one nation of those living on both sides of it. They were willing to serve as catalytic agents for this natural process, and the period after confederation seemed propitious.

The roots of the story lie deeply embedded in the past. In 1670, by careless charter, Charles II of England bestowed upon the Hudson's Bay Company the vast empire which drained into Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait. The company was interested only in peltry and did not develop its domain. In the 1860's the only real settlement was Fort Garry, at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red rivers. At first this colony was a closed

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