Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 35.djvu/51

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Brown, Cartier, and others of his colleagues, into the conference at Charlottetown. The Canadian ministers were allowed to join in the discussion, and vigorously availed themselves of the courtesy. ‘Go on with your federation,’ said Macdonald in effect, ‘but include Canada in the plan.’ One of the islanders said afterwards: ‘The Canadians descended upon us, and before they were three days among us, we forgot our own scheme, and thought only about theirs.’ No one any longer spoke of a maritime union, but only of a general federation, guaranteeing local and joint control. There was a flame of enthusiasm throughout British America, and the Charlottetown conference was only adjourned to meet again in October (1864) at Quebec. At Halifax, where Macdonald was entertained at dinner, he declared, in reply to the toast of ‘Colonial Union,’ that the question of colonial union ‘absorbed every idea as far as he was concerned.’ ‘For twenty long years,’ he continued, ‘I have been dragging myself through the dreary waste of colonial politics. I thought there was no end, nothing worthy of ambition, but now I see something which is well worthy of all I have suffered in the cause of my little country. … Then we shall have taken a great step in advance of the American republic. If we can obtain that object—a vigorous general government—we shall not be New Brunswickers, nor Nova Scotians, nor Canadians, but British Americans, under the sway of the British sovereign.’ He desired to preserve for each province its own identity, ‘and to protect every local ambition;’ but his ambition was to be ‘a subject of a great British-American nation, under the government of her majesty, and in connection with the empire of Great Britain and Ireland.’

In October 1864 the adjourned conference met at Quebec in great enthusiasm, and, with the premier, Sir Etienne Tache, in the chair, adopted important resolutions. In March 1865 Macdonald carried in the House of Assembly a resolution that the queen should be requested ‘to cause a measure to be proposed to the imperial parliament for the purpose of uniting the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland in one government.’ Sir Etienne Tache died in the summer of this year. The jealous attitude of George Brown prevented Macdonald's succession to the premiership; but so that nothing might interfere with the great plan of federation, Macdonald agreed to serve under Sir Narcisse Belleau. During 1866 many jealousies arose on the part of the maritime provinces, but the invasions of New Brunswick and Canada by Fenians from the United States made the need of federation more obvious. At the end of 1866 Macdonald went to England with a Canadian delegation to consult with the home ministers and to meet the delegates of the other provinces. The delegates sat in Westminster Palace during December; Macdonald took the chair, and Lord Monck, who was also in England, rendered what assistance he could. Newfoundland preferred to have nothing to do with the federation, and the scheme made necessary the absorption of the north-west, and the building within ten years of a railway across the continent, which would render Canada independent of American ports during the season in which the St. Lawrence is closed to navigation. The requisite act was passed through the imperial parliament, and in May 1867 a royal proclamation was issued, giving effect to the ‘British North America Act,’ and appointing 1 July following as the date on which it should come into effect. The two old provinces of Canada, called Ontario and Quebec, were, with the two additional provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, to form one dominion, under the name of Canada. Elaborate provision was made for the supreme government of the Dominion, with governor-general and council, a parliament consisting of a House of Commons running not more than five years, and a senate for life, with lieutenant-governors and special legislatures for each province. In 1870 the newly erected province of Manitoba was admitted to the Dominion, in 1872 British Columbia, and in 1873 Prince Edward Island. In 1870 the north-west territories were organised into a provisional government, with representation at Ottawa from 1886. Canada, thus expanded, had an area of 3,500,000 square miles, and a population of four millions. For these results Macdonald was mainly responsible.

On 1 July 1867 Lord Monck was sworn in as governor-general of the New Dominion, and the honour of a knight-commandership of the Bath was conferred upon Macdonald. Cartier resented, and refused the companionship of the Bath; but Macdonald was soon after instrumental in obtaining for his old friend a baronetcy of the United Kingdom. Macdonald became prime minister of the first ministry of the Dominion, and held the office for six years. In 1870 he was appointed, with Earl de Grey (first Marquis of Ripon), Sir Stafford Northcote, and two other Englishmen, to proceed to Washington, and to settle the Alabama claims and other differences between the British government and the United States. The result of