Schemes for the Federation of the British Empire

Schemes for the Federation of the British Empire

Schemes for the Federation of the British Empire

Schemes for the Federation of the British Empire

Excerpt

The federation of the British Empire, commonly called "imperial federation", has been a problem both fascinating and intricate. Although the movements for imperial federation, as represented chiefly by the activities of the Imperial Federation League (1884-1893) and the Round Table group (1910-1917), fell far short of realization, they did bring about, directly or indirectly, many important constitutional developments to which may be ascribed, in part, the present unity of the Empire. Aside from the question of the merits of the proposals for federation, the movement itself will always be cherished by imperialists and colonials alike as a worthy, if unsuccessful, attempt to strengthen imperial ties. Its significance in British constitutional history will remain untarnished despite the fact that imperial federation is now generally considered a "vanished dream".

A vast amount of literature has been produced on the subject, yet no effort has been made to compare and to study systematically the various schemes for federation that were proposed. Although most of the advocates of imperial federation discreetly considered it a virtue to confine themselves to theoretical discussions, the necessity for concrete plans was emphasized long ago by a prominent statesman. In addressing the deputation of the Imperial Federation League in 1891 which had been urging the government to call the representatives of the Empire to discuss the problem of imperial federation, Lord Salisbury, then Prime Minister, emphatically said: "I think that we are almost come to the . . .

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