A History of Canada: Dominion of the North

By Donald Creighton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
FREE TRADE AND RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT

I

IN THE YEARS following the American Revolution, the second British Empire had been organized on roughly the same basis as the first. Certain changes had been introduced. A few alleged improvements had been made. But in all essentials the organization was the same. Once again the mother country and the colonies were linked together in a political and economic system which imposed mutual obligations and granted mutual privileges. The Old Colonial System was to be given a second chance; but it had failed in its first trial, and it soon began to look ominously as if it would fail in its second. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the mature nationality of Great Britain and the simple communities of British North America were both undergoing drastic changes which were likely to influence their relations with each other and with the outside world. But if the old imperial association was to be altered, how serious would the change be and how was it to be brought about? Was the partnership to be ended or were its terms merely to be revised? And in either case, was all this to be done by force or by mutual consent?

In North America, the British provinces had already entered that dangerous period of adolescence which had been the prelude to armed revolt in the Thirteen Colonies. The

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