Canada's Independence from Great Britain

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Canada’s independence from Great Britain

July 1, 1867, marked the birth of a new country, the Dominion of Canada. It formed from the union of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the united province of Canada. The country that came into being on that date, however, was an abnormality -- part country, part colony, but still very much a part of the British Empire. The conduct of diplomacy was to be left in the experienced hands of British statesmen. The first prime minister, John A. Macdonald, spoke in 1865 about the country he was helping to found. Macdonald foresaw an evolutionary process that would see Canada's relationship with Britain become, "a healthy and cordial alliance. Instead of looking upon us as a merely dependent colony, England will have in us a friendly nation, a subordinate but still a powerful people to stand by her in North America in peace or in war." Confederation resulted from a complex series of domestic issues, external factors provided a push that helped bring the process to culmination. Fear of the United States was a dominant factor. The Civil War that tore the United States apart between 1861 and 1865 left the Americans with a powerful, battle-hardened army that could be turned against Canada if American complaints against Britain and Canada were not settled. the Americans were determined to make Britain pay for the damage inflicted by Confederate ships built in British ports. Northern anger was also aroused by the presence in Canada of Union deserters and draft dodgers. After two attempts to settle their differences failed, the British and American governments agreed in 1870 to appoint a Joint High Commission with five members from each side to meet in Washington. The Commission's negotiations eventually resulted in the Treaty of Washington of 1871. Britain's prime aim in the negotiations was to restore good relations with the Americans. the restoration of good relations with the Americans was as much in Canada's interest as in...
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