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Influence Of The American Civil War On Canadian Confederation

1512 words - 6 pages

War causes fear in everyone from civilians to Soldiers. The American Civil war in 1861 divided the United States of America into two sides, the Unionists in the northern states and the Confederates in the Southern States. At the same time in British North America the colonies were discussing the idea of a confederation of the colonies. There were a multitude of factors that lead to the formation of the country of Canada in 1867. One of these and also one of the most influential was the turmoil created by the American civil war.Before the outbreak of the American civil war many exciting things were happening in British North America. In 1860 Prince Edward visited the Colonies on the first royal tour of British North America (soon to be Canada) [Stephenson, Inside of Cover]. This had the habitants of the Colonies very excited. It was the first time a major celebrity had come to British North America. The new Parliament buildings were starting to be built in Ottawa and the colonists could sense a new change. Some thought that it would be for the better while others disapproved of the confederation idea. As soon as the American Civil war became a threat, the lifestyle for many inhabitants of British North America changed greatly.At the start of the American Civil war many British North Americans did not pay much attention. British North America declared its neutrality to avoid being on the receiving end of any abuse. However British North America still received grumbles from Northerners accusing them of harbouring Confederate "Terrorists". And The South knew that there were slaves running to Canada so they could be free. The south demanded that they be allowed to recapture their "property." British North America declined demands. To ensure British North America kept its neutrality Sir John A MacDonald introduced a New Border Police to prevent British North America from being used as a base for Confederate or Unionist operations [Stephenson, pp 18 19].The new border police was the end result of a series of small incidences that took advantage of British North America's neutrality. One of these was the Trent affair. In 1861 a Unionist ship hijacked the "Trent" which was sailing from England to Cuba [www1]. Two confederates that were on the Trent were captured and kept in a Boston Prison. The American President, Abraham Lincoln did not want to release the two confederates because they were on a British North American boat. This made Lincoln think that British North America was aligned with the south. But when Lincoln received a request from Prince Albert that the prisoners be released, Lincoln released the prisoners without any apology for abducting the Confederates in the beginning [www1]. The Trent affair caused British North Americans to be very worried that they would be thought of as being sided with the Confederates which may lead to the Unionists attacking British North America.Another source of fright in British North America was the aftermath...

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