A selection is both better and worse than the original, better because it may pick out salient points otherwise unobserved, worse because it is a distortion. It is idle to pretend that the 1032 pages of the Confederation Debates can be cut to one-twelfth without serious loss of range and coherence. This selection is rather an introduction to the Debates than a substitute for them. (The full debates are at present available in reprint from the Queen's Printer, Ottawa.)
The selection has been made on the basis of intrinsic merit; I have preferred force, relevance, shrewdness, and wit. Thus no apology is needed for giving George Brown and Christopher Dunkin the largest amount of space, with John A. Macdonald and A. A. Dorion next. Although I should like to have included more from minor figures in the debate, I have tried to include all major points of view. Selections are grouped under the Legislative Council and the Assembly respectively; otherwise they follow the same order as the original Debates. The Debates are almost devoid of paragraphing, and where it seemed clearly to be required I have inserted paragraphs. Occasionally I have indulged a wish to give something of the spirit of the Assembly, I hope at not too great a cost.
The Debates have been collated with contemporary newspaper reports, the best of which were in the Quebec Morning Chronicle. While the official Debates were nearly always more comprehensive, in a few instances the Quebec Morning Chronicle was, and when it was, I have used it. Of course the newspapers reported the session as a whole, not just the Confederation debate. These reports I have used in the following attempt to suggest the setting and character of the