Towards the ‘Federated States of North America’: The Advocacy for Political Union between Canada and the United States, 1885-1896

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Title: Towards the ‘Federated States of North America’: The Advocacy for Political Union between Canada and the United States, 1885-1896
Authors: Boyes, Aaron
Date: 2016
Abstract: This dissertation examines the movement for political union that existed in Canada and the United States between 1885 and 1896. During this period the Dominion was plagued by economic malaise, “racial” tension, and regionalism, all of which hindered national growth and the creation of a distinct Canadian nationality. The Republic, meanwhile, experienced substantial economic growth thanks to increasing industrialization, and many Americans sought to expand the territory of their nation. It was in this atmosphere of Canadian political and economic uncertainty and American expansionism that the idea of forming one grand continental republic re-emerged. To provide a more complete understanding of the movement for political union this study examines its emergence, development, and ultimate failure. Although at no time did it become a mass or popular movement, political unionism became an important element in the public discourse in both Canada and the United States. Furthermore, this dissertation shows that political unionism was not only an English-speaking phenomenon, as several of the core group of advocates identified herein were French Canadian, and there was a serious debate about French Canada’s future in North America. Many previous studies that have explored this era in Canadian-American relations have overlooked the significance of the movement for political union, largely by focusing on the tense economic relationship and the debate over free trade. However, as this dissertation argues, economic considerations for political union were secondary amongst its proponents. They did not support political union for personal gain. Rather, supporters of the movement shared a conviction in the need to unite the continent due to a sense of shared racialism and the belief in the superiority of republicanism. This dissertation also offers a new perspective on the core group of advocates of political union. They were not “traitors” who had turned their back on Canada and wished to “sell out” the Dominion to the United States. These figures did not want “annexation”; they desired a true political union.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/34569
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-5723
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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