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Factors Leading to Confederation
Transcript of Factors Leading to Confederation
1. Repeal of the Corn Laws
The Corn Laws (1791-1846) were British laws which set custom duties on wheat and other cereals imported into Britain.
By the 1820’s, these laws favoured the British colonies, such as Upper and lower Canada. These colonies were charged less import duties than grain growers who were not part of the British Empire (Britain and British colonies).
In 1846, Britain repealed the Corn Laws as part of a movement toward free trade.
It was a disadvantage to Canadian grain farmers, who lost their favourable trading terms, along with an assured British market for their wheat . They began to look at the United States as an alternative trading partner.
The repeal of the Corn Laws had a major effect on politics in Canada. Since Britain was trading more freely with other countries, it no longer relied on much trade with its colonies.
As a result, it no longer felt the need to control politics in the colonies, nor did it want the added expense of doing so. Britain was willing to let British North America take care of its own affairs under a system of responsible government.
What does repeal mean?
2. Political Deadlock
When Britain created the united province of Canada East and Canada West in 1841, it hoped that the English population would gradually dominate and the French language would disappear. However, French-speaking politicians not only survived but became quite skilled in politics.
In the beginning, both Canada East and Canada West were given an equal number of seats in the government. Both sides complained that the system was unfair and disputes often became bitter. French Canadians feared for the survival of their way of life while the English Canadians believed that the French were blocking their progress.
By the late 1850’s the government of the Canada’s had come to almost a standstill. A political deadlock had been reached as the equal numbers of representatives on each side would block the other ideas. The determination of the Canadian leaders to change the government was the spark that put Confederation into motion.
3. The Railway
It was the railway that made Confederation possible when large scale construction quickly changed the colonists’ way of life. Railway tracks replaced the muddy roads and forest paths offering year round transportation. The railway could link the colonies from sea to sea making transportation of goods and people much easier, faster and profitable.
Information taken from Pearson Canadian History 8
4. Threat of American Expansion into British North America
Runaway slave John Anderson played an important role in Canada's involement in the American civil war. He escaped Missouri
If colonies united, they would be better able to defend themselves
The British supported the south in the American Civil War
1865 with the end of civil war, the relationship between Northern America and the British was uneasy thus BNA colonies feared an attack from Northern America
- belief that North America should belong to the USA
- lots of expansion by US
5. The British wanted colonies to be self-sufficient
Great Britain’s attitude:
- opinion divided over whether colonies were worth keeping
6. Expansion into the West
Good, available farmland:
- decreasing amount of farmland available in Canada West
- look to the West - present day Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta