The Free Confederacy of the North
New York Herald, February 1, 1861
We publish three articles from the Toronto papers on the great question of a Northern confederation, embracing the free communities of the late United States, the two Canadas and all the British provinces of North America. The question arises from the determination of all the republican leaders to resist those measures which can alone reconcile the South to the North, their object being to prevent the seceding States from returning to the Union, and to force the rest of the slave States out of it. This is done advisedly, with a view of annexing the British colonies, which would have nothing to do with the confederacy so long as slavery was tolerated within its borders, but which, with that insuperable objection removed, will be glad to unite their destiny with their AngloSaxon brothers in a great free soil homogeneous nation, extending from the Ohio to the North Pole. "For every State that goes out one must come in," says Mr. Seward; "and so I look upon Rupert's Land and Canada, and I am able to say 'It is very well; you are building excellent States to be hereafter admitted into the American Union.'" Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward have both declared that this government cannot exist with two kinds of civilization; that it cannot continue half slave and half free; it must be all either one thing or the other. As the Southern States decline to surrender their institution, and prefer to cut adrift rather than submit to Northern domination, there is nothing left but to repair the loss by the annexation of the free States lying to the north of us.
It has been said that the Prince of Wales was well received throughout the British Provinces, and that therefore they will not join us. That is a weak and flimsy argument; for his Royal Highness was received with greater eclat on this side the line. The disturbances in Canada during the Prince's visit were very considerable; and the Duke of Newcastle is reported to have taken home to England the intelligence of a desire on the part of the British Provinces to form a confederacy under one British viceroy. But this is a mistake. What they want is to unite with the free States of the North; and they cannot do it too soon, for revolution and war are now rife in Europe, and the chances are that Great Britain will be broken down in the irrepressible conflict. Canada ought therefore immediately to provide for its future. England has not the power to prevent the annexation of the British provinces, and, besides, peaceable secession is the principle of the age. What is good doctrine in Italy ought to be good in America. Canada, from her history and geographical position, belongs to the Northern States, just as much as "the kingdom of the Two Sicilies" belongs to Sardinia and a united Italy. The unity of the Italian States, and the unity of North American free States, are the problems of the time, to be worked out by "manifest destiny."
The Toronto Leader, it will be seen, does not object to the new combination, but rather objects to our phraseology of "annexing British America," and says "the annexation will be in the other direction." We are practical. We do not dispute about words if our ideas are carried out. "A rose will smell as sweet by any other name." The Canadians may call the new Union what they like—our annexation of them, or their annexation of the Yankees—so that both are only united under one government. But there is one thing in the arrangement against which we will strenuously object, and that is the annexation of the British islands. They have too many paupers, and are too heavily burthened with debt.
Our contemporary anticipates "a new territorial arrangement" from the fragments of our dismembered confederacy, and says that so far from overtures for a union with Canada being repulsed, he promises there is "every likelihood that they will receive a fair and candid consideration." This is all that we could expect him to say just now, but it is a decided step in advance. The London Post—the home organ of the British government—says Canada will henceforth hold the balance of power on this continent. The government organ in Canada gives further elucidation to the idea by showing how it is to be done, even by union with our Northern States.
The Leader of the 30th January says:—"There is a feeling abroad in these provinces that we should derive from a union many advantages that we do not now possess. There is an indefinite yearning after a higher status—a larger share of nationality." How else can that yearning be gratified, or that status attained, but by union with the Northern States? Forever must these provinces be dragged at the tail of Great Britain till they assert their independence. The manner in which the judiciary of Canada is now treated is an illustration of their degradation. But already one province wants to come in. '.The largest vote," says the Leader, "in favor of the project would come from the peninsula of Upper Canada, where there is a feeling that the connection with New York is the natural one, and that it is more profitable than any other that could be formed." We are satisfied to take the provinces by instalments—one at a time. But we are told that Lower Canada has a horror of democratic institutions, and changes slowly, while she fears her religion would be in danger at our hands. Can any greater protection be desired than the French Catholic population of Louisiana have always enjoyed under this government? The religious liberty of all is fully guaranteed in our constitution. As to the opposition of the old French noblesse to republicanism, it would avail nothing in revolution. A little gentle outside pressure would quicken the action of the province, and soon make it all right. Now that the South is rent from us, our destined expansion is northward, and nothing can arrest our progress. We are more than twenty millions.
So much for one of our Canadian contemporaries. What says the other? The Globe assumes the same tone, and says, before the 4th of March eight or ten seceding States "will have organized a large military force, capable of defending themselves against any attack from federal troops." But supposing the new administration to attempt the conquest of the South—what then? Our contemporary replies by asking some sensible questions:—"Will such a contest pay? Will victory or defeat bring the greater trouble? Will not the present constitution be destroyed in. either case? The ancient Greek republic fell when one or two of the States conquered the rest." The reason is plain: "Though the federal power might be continued, the independence of the States, their freedom of action as separate sovereignties, would be at an end. The central government, having conquered by force of arms, must maintain its ascendancy by the same means. Here, then, is a great military power, centralized and consolidated, the very evil that the wisest American statesmen have foreseen and dreaded and warned their countrymen to resist to the last." This is common sense and sound philosophy, and our contemporary turns the argument to practical account by showing from it the necessity of "two confederacies—a Northern and a Southern—peaceably established, each pursuing its own policy and enjoying its own peculiar institutions, without the let or hindrance of the other."
This is a very suggestive hint that when the Canadians take possession by surprise of impregnable Quebec and other fortresses they must be allowed to quietly secede on paying the mother country for the property. It is significant in another point of view. The people of Canada have now an interest in the Northern States, and do not desire to see them enter upon the suicidal game of Southern conquest, but rather to "pursue a career of annexation and aggrandizement northward and westward, Canada and the Lower Provinces being supposed rife for admission into the free confederacy of the North."
These are cheering sentiments for the people of the free States, in view of their loss of the South, which now seems inevitable. Unlike the proud patricians of the Roman republic, who saved the country by liberal concessions and guarantees to the plebeians when they seceded from the city to Mons Sacer and commenced founding a new empire; and unlike the still prouder aristocracy of England, who saved the British empire from the horrors of civil war by concessions to Ireland in 1829, the republicans, suddenly elevated to power, like all upstarts, are puffed up with a sense of their own importance, and will not bend before the storm which is sure to break them in the end. One of the leaders in Congress—Mr. Stevens, of Pennsylvania—on Tuesday last declared that "rather than give concessions he would see the government shattered into ten thousand atoms;" and this sentiment was not rebuked, but acquiesced in by all the republican members of Congress, following the latest authoritative programme received from Springfield, to the effect that "Mr. Lincoln is not committed to the border State compromise, nor to any other; he stands immovably on the Chicago platform, and he will neither acquiesce in, nor advise his friends to acquiesce in, any compromise that surrenders an iota of it."
There is every prospect, therefore, of the absorption by the new free State confederacy of the North American British provinces, to wit: —
Canada East: 291,980 (square miles); 890,261 (population by last census)
Canada West: 147,332 (miles); 952,004 (population)
New Brunswick: 27,700 (miles); 193,800 (population)
Nova Scotia and Cape Breton: 18,746 (miles); 276,117 (population)
Prince Edward Island: 2,134 (miles); 62,678 (population)
Newfoundland: 35,913 (miles); 101,606 (population)
Labrador: 5,000 (miles); 100,000 (population)
Vancouver Island: 8,000 (miles); 2,000 (population)
Hudson Bay Territory: 2,480,000 (miles); 180,000 (population)
Total: 3,014,805 (miles); 2,758,466 (population)
Here is a vast empire, whose area is far greater than that of the free States, and is nearly equal to all the States and Territories of our confederacy, North and South, and with a population which ten years ago was more than two millions and three-quarters, and is now fully four millions. The immigration to the Hudson Bay territory, stimulated by the gold discovery, is immense, and the Canadian population alone is estimated at upwards of three millions. It is hardy and thrifty, and homogeneous with our own Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Celtic population—the very flower of the Caucasian race. In 1850 there were 56,214 natives of the United States in Canada; and the blood which prevails in our free States is now in a ratio of three to one in the provinces. This we say without disparagement of the French, who in arts and arms and vitality stand to-day at the head of European nations.
In language, religion and institutions British North America is almost identical with our free States. What, then, is to prevent its union with the North? Out of its vast domain eight States, equal on an average to those of the South, might be constructed at once, leaving abundant territory for the erection of eight more at no distant day. There can be no doubt that the whole population of the provinces, with those of the free States of the North, would not at this moment fall short of twenty-five millions. If united in one government, the accessions of population from Europe would be immense, and Yankee activity would soon develope the dormant resources of the new empire. It would constitute a vast naval power, ruling triumphant in two oceans and controlling the commerce of the world. Mr. Seward, flattering alike the Northwest and Canada, has fixed the capital of the new northern confederacy at or near St. Paul, Minnesota, not far from the British line. But it is evident that the seat of empire will be New York, with the federal district of New Washington ten miles round it—New York, which, in spite of all governmental or territorial changes, will maintain its position as the great free city of the New World—the centre and the entrepot of the commerce of three continents. Let Canada and the other British provinces prepare for their mighty destiny.