A BRANCH OF THE LEAGUE FORMED IN ST. JOHN.
No Room for Annexation—A Clergyman Condemns Those Who Are Willing to Sell Their Inheritance for a Mess of American Pottage.
The rooms of the N. B. Historical Society contained some 200 citizens, last evening, who responded to an invitation issued to all friends of Imperial Federation to be present and take part in the formation of a branch league in the city and county of St. John.
His honor Sir Leonard Tilley was appointed chairman and he called upon Hon. C. N.
Skinner to make a few remarks on the object of the meeting.
MR. SKINNER, M. P.,
said that he was a member of the Canadian League and had found that the movement was towards loyalty and against disloyalty.
Many of the members of parliament were members of the league, and during last session a meeting had been held at Ottawa and the principles of this movement had been embraced by a large number of those present and the meeting had been an entire success.
He was assured that the feelings of the people of Canada were four closer union with England. Deputations from Australia had been asked to meet with members from the various leagues, and the members of the Canadian parliament had requested the governor general to represent to the British government that there was a feeling in favor of this movement. Imperial Federation is by no means new, for before the American Revolution, Franklin offered a scheme of federation to the British government, and if it had been accepted the British flag would be floating over this entire continent to-day. Canadians, he continued, had probably more individuality and enterprise than any other people in the British Empire. Our exports and imports were as great as those of the Argentine Republic, and we here had things to contend against which did not trouble them. Leagues had been formed in England and parts of Canada, and it was to form a branch of the league that they had assembled. They wished to lead public opinion along the highway toward perfect unity of the empire. The question was one of the feelings of the people and their wishes would lead to the unanimity of this empire, the proudest the world has ever seen.
LETTERS IN FAVOR—ST. STEPHEN WILL SOON FOLLOW.
Mr. E. G. Nelson was then chosen secretary and proceeded to read letters from Rev. J. C. Berrie, Rev. J. T. Parsons, Thos.
Dale, H. A. McKeown, Rev. Geo. Bruce, Rev. L. G. Macneil, Rev. O. G. Dobbs and Rev. M. deSoyres.
Rev. Mr. Berrie’s letter expressed that gentleman’s opinion that a branch league would soon be formed in St. Stephen. The communication from Rev. L. G. Macneil spoke enthusiastically of the scheme and of imperial federation and Canada’s future.
His telling references to annexation called forth warm applause. After expressing in eloquent language his hope for the success of the movement, and Canada’s position when the scheme matured, he concluded by expressing his strong condemnation of those who were willing to sell their glorious heritage for a mess of American pottage.
IN FAVOR OF THE LEAGUE.
Mr. Howe, seconded by Mr. Gilbert Murdoch, then moved the following resolution:—
“That it is expedient that we organize a branch of the Imperial Federation League in the city and county of St John.”
Rev. Dr. Wilson, seconded by Dr. McFarlane, then moved:—
“That this meeting approves of the movement inaugurated in the mother country to the effect that as changes occur in the relations of the colonies to the rest of the empire, these changes shall be in the nature of an Imperial Federation, rather than disintegration, and observes with satisfaction the formation of the Imperial Federation League of Great Britain, as well as similar leagues in other parts of the empire.”
DR WILSON’S REMARKS.
In moving the resolution Rev. Dr. Wilson said that he had been an Imperial Federationalist since his boyhood. He had written and spoken on the subject and his views had been published in the press of the various towns of the province. Though a Canadian, he rejoiced in the broader joy of Briton. If it used to be the proudest boast to say “1 am a Roman citizen,” to-day it was a prouder boast to say “I am a British subject.” The present political complexion, he said, could not long continue. The self-governing colonies, in the very nature of their relation to the mother land, must see that a change is impending. It was well to thoroughly consider this question. There were three courses open to Canada: annexation, independence and closer union with the mother country. He agreed with Rev. Mr. Macneil and thought that if any city should repel the suggestions made by disloyal persons it should be the city of the Loyalists. For Canada, as for Texas, independence was simply a half-way house to annexation. He was entirely in sympathy with the movement. In all crises through which the country had passed, God had raised up men for the occasion, and he had no doubt that as the idea was right, it might be well left to the good sense of the people under the governing hand of God. Instead of seeing the glorious old flag hauled down, he hoped to see federation made so attractive that perhaps even our American cousins would be so taken with it as to repent the sins of their grandfathers and join also.
Dr. McFarlane briefly seconded the resolution which, like all the others, was unanimously carried.
TO SECURE PERMANENT UNITE.
Mr. C. A. Everett recognized among those present many descendants of the Loyalists. Our forefathers, he thought, acted wisely in coming here from the states. It becomes necessary for all to think seriously over the matter. Mr. Wilson had mentioned three courses; the first two, he thought, might be left out. We as Britons felt that it would be death for us to be separated from England.
He begged leave to move—
"That in order to secure the permanent unity of the empire some form of federation is essential.
"That any scheme of federation should combine on an equitable basis the resources of the empire, for the maintenance of common interests, and adequately provide for an organized defense of common rights, and the extension of trade between parts of the empire, at the same time preserving to the fullest extent the existing rights of local parliaments as regards local affairs."
In seconding the resolution
MR. WM. HAWKER
said that he was not a Canadian by birth, but while of English birth he had lived here and he came here as a defender of these hearths and homes. He was to day thoroughly Canadian—there was no place like Canada. He was to-day thoroughly in accord with the objects of the meeting. Talmage, in a recent sermon, had said the Americans were going to woo Canada. The speaker, however, felt that closer union with the mother land might lead to a union of all the English-speaking peoples of the globe. The evidence of the last three months told that Americans had more than they could manage now.
A BRANCH DECIDED ON.
Lieut. Colonel Armstrong, seconded by Warden Peters, then moved:—
“That a branch of the league be now formed, and that the object of such league shall be to promote the discussion of means whereby the permanent unity of the empire may be maintained, and its practical efficiency increased to further the development and interchange of the resources and productions of its various parts, and to resist any measure tending to disintegration.”
said that he felt it desirable that an expression of opinion was called for on this question. He was glad to see that not a chair was vacant and that the scheme recommended itself to so large a number. He asked Warden Peters to second it.
Mr. Peters said he was glad he was so called upon. He considered that it was preeminently proper that the movement should begin here in the city of loyalists. When murmurings were heard in the community it was desirable to show that there was an overwhelming majority against the disintegration of the empire. He was satisfied that while many present would join, that 99 out of every 100 citizens of St. John would be members of the society. He regarded it as a good omen that his honor was presiding at the beginning of such a scheme.
ANY BRITISH SUBJECT CAN JOIN;
Ald.Woodburn, then moved:—
"That the membership shall be open to any British subject who accepts the principles of the league and pays a yearly subscription of at least one dollar, out of which the necessary fees for affiliation with the Imperial Federation League in Canada, shall be paid, and the league shall meet at least annually in the county of Saint John."
said that on his arrival in Canada the dismemberment of the dominion seemed a strange thing. He had cast his first vote for his honor and if the latter were ever in the field, he would get it again.
Mr. K. A. Everett seconded the resolution in a brief speech.
SHOULD BE NON-POLITICAL.
Hon. C. N. Skinner moved the next resolution which was to the effect that the scheme should be of a non-political nature, but should include all political parties. Men might meet in these leagues and still retain their opinion. They were not moving along any political line. There might be difficulty with regard to the details of the movement.
As Dr. Wilson had said, remarked the speaker, Providence and the race would solve any difficulties which might arise. It was said that under federation we would have to bear the taxes of a war in which England was involved. This was untrue, but if it were true he believed that on the slightest intimation that England needed assistance, there would not be ships enough to carry the men who would volunteer, from Canada. He saw in this scheme the easy solution of the Irish question and thought it would do away with any fear of the French in Canada. As this question is studied it would be found that loyalty would go on and on. The British constitution has never been written, but the cast iron constitution of the United States could not compare with it. Its elasticity was its salvation. Imperial Federation was the greatest idea which history would have to record and by the realization of the idea the mighty empire would go on as long as history lasted.
MR T. B. HANINGTON,
in seconding the resolution, hoped that the city would soon become so pronounced in opinion that it would not allow any person to advocate annexation in our midst. The feelings of the city should be respected and he hoped that this movement would prevent the disgrace which clung to the city, because of its containing persona who thought that Canada could not exist except as part of the United States.
Hon. C. N. Skinner moved that the annual meeting be held on the second Monday in January, and also that a committee of 13 be appointed to draw up a constitution for the league and report to this annual meeting.
Mr. C. A. Everett moved in addition that the committee be an executive committee and receive names of persons desirous of joining the league, and that they have full power to transact business until the annual meeting.
REV. MR LAWSON
was then called upon and addressed the meeting. He had not the avoirdupois of any other man in the room, but be had as much loyalty as anyone He made a lengthy, witty and patriotic speech.
REV. MR STEWART.
The chairman then called upon Rev. W. J, Stewart, of Portland. Mr. Stewart had lately visited England and he thought there was a growing opinion in favor of Imperial Federation, and believed that the Divine will was directly in favor of the movement.
SIR LEONARD TILLEY
was greeted with prolonged applause. He expressed his gratification at the formation of the league. He knew the political views of many of those present—(laughter)—but he was glad to know also that the league should know no political party. He spoke of his experience in England while on diplomatic business concerning the Intercolonial Railway, and said that at that time a prominent statesman had said that Canadian independence was only, a question of time, and when they asked for they would get it without opposition. He had frequently visited England since, and was glad to notice an entire change in the opinions of that country. But few men thought that the colonies could safely be allowed to drift away. While in Boston, a prominent merchant and traveler had said to him that in his tour of the globe he had found everywhere Britain ships, British sailors, and the roll of the British drum. Britons might well be proud. He had come to the meeting because he believed in its object, because he believed they should all protest against the suggestions made by persons who claimed the protection of the British flag, (Applause.) “My career is drawing to a close,” said His Honor, "but a few years are before me, but all I can say, all I can do in furtherance of this organization will be done. "The scheme, he continued, would entail no surrender of constitutional privileges now enjoyed. He thought extended trade relations with all the British possessions would be well While in England several leading public men had brought to his notice this question, and to them he had stated that mutual interest could unite the possessions. An arrangement by which the productions of one possession might pass to another to better advantage than to outside countries, would be of advantage. The day was not distant, he thought, when the British possessions would produce wheat enough to feed the empire. Then tax outside countries ten per cent, on imports, and this would increase the revenue. Very few of our people were willing to give up their allegiance to the British crown, even for a consideration. Instead of being ripe for annexation they were strong for consolidation. Prolonged cheers followed his honor’s speech.
The following gentlemen were appointed an executive committee:—
Gilbert Murdoch, Lt. Col. Armstrong, C. N. Skinner, Ald. Stackhouse, J. Howe, J. T. Hartt, W. M. McLean, Rev. Dr. Wilson, C. A. Everett, Ald. Woodhurn, E. G. Nelson and Chas. Nevins.
His honor theft vacated the chair and a resolution was passed thanking him for presiding, and for his brilliant speech. Sir Leonard replied briefly, and after the singing of the national anthem, the meeting adjourned to meet on the second Monday in January. Nearly all those present became members of the league.