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The New Political Situation

The following article is from:
The Patriot (Prince Edward Island) July 3, 1873

After a political existence of about a century's duration as a separate dependency of the British Empire, the future destiny of the people of this Island is now linked with that of the Confederate Provinces of British America. The first day of July, 1873, marks an important epoch in our history, for on that day we cast aside the old Colonial garment, and yielded a prompt and ready obedience to the order in Council founded on the joint addresses from the Canadian and Local Parliaments to Her Majesty, praying that Prince Edward Island be admitted into the Dominion of Canada on the terms and conditions therein set forth. These terms have been so thoroughly discussed, both in the Legislature and press of the Colony since the return of the last and previous delegations to Ottawa, that we do not consider it necessary just now to trouble our readers with any comments respecting them, further than to say that we believe they are admitted on all sides to be liberal to the people of this Colony; and since both the Confederates, and the anti-Confederates have had an opportunity of trying their hands at diplomatic negations before the Privy Council of the Dominion, and neither have been turned empty away, we presume that the people of the Colony are now satisfied that no further concessions in our favor on the part of the Dominion Government be expected. At this particular stage in our development as a people, it may be instructive to take a brief retrospect of the past, and note the various important events that have marked our public progress from infancy to old age. In doing so we find that in common with Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and a portion of the state of Maine, our Island was baptized and known for a long period under the name of Acadia.

By the treaty of St. Germain, in 1632, England ceded Acadia to France. That nation divided it into three parts, and placed a Governor over each. For more than a century after that period, the fortunes of Acadia were various, passing from the French to the English, and vice versa, as either country gained ascendancy in the wars. At length, in 1758, being in the hands of the English, a representative assembly was granted by George III, to Nova Scotia, and this assembly seems to have exercised jurisdiction over the whole of the old Acadia. In 1761, a treaty of peace was concluded by the Province with the Indians. A 'great talk' was held, at which both the Legislative bodies and certian [sic] officers were present, the hatchet was buried, and instead of Louis of France, George III was owned as the great father of his tribe. In 1770, Prince Edward Island obtained a separate Government, and fourteen years later, in 1781, New Brunswick and Cape Breton obtained separate Governments also. At this time Nova Scotia proper contained a population of about 30,000 souls. Our first Legislative Assembly, of eighteen members, under Governor Patterson, met in 1773, and our public records date about as far back as 1775. The Island was then known as the Island of Saint John. The Legislative and Executive Councils were one body appointed by the Imperial Government. The population in 1797 was 4500 souls. At the beginning of the present century, the name of the Island was changed from that of Saint John to Prince Edward Island, in honor of the Duke of Kent. At the time the population had increased to 5,000 souls, including Charlottetown, which numbered about 250. In 1803, 800 emigrants arrived from Scotland and laid the foundation of several of our most prosperous and flourishing settlements. In 1839, the Executive and Legislative Councils were separated, and in 1851 Responsible Government was granted to the Island. The events which transpired between that period and the present time, and which culminated in last Tuesday's demonstration, it is not necessary to chronicle minutely; they are fresh in the memory of many of our readers. The various battles in which our politicians have distinguished themselves on the Land, the Union, and the Railway Questions, will, a few years hence, be regarded with as little interest by the people of this Island as the ancient wars of the Roses now are by the people of England. We have entered on a new phase in our political career. The attention of our people will be directed to matters of national as well as local concern, and the men amongst us who obtain seats in the Ottawa Legislature, while giving due prominence and attention to the claims of party, cannot, after the struggle of the coming election, which will to all appearance be fought on the old issues, he expected to engage as keenly as heretofore in local disputes.

In the Dominion two great burdens will be lifted from our shoulders. The leasehold system of land tenure, which operated as a drag on our prosperity since the first British emigrant landed on our shores, and which the Royal Land Commissioners in their Report aptly designated as the "poisoned garment" that stunted our growth, and doomed us to a feeble and sickly existence -- will, we trust be for ever abolished. The Railway debt, incurred either by recklessness or design on the part of the promoters of that enterprise, will no longer give us any uneasiness, being provided for out of the General Revenue of the Dominion. In addition to these we may class the advantages of free trade with a country whose resources are of almost boundless extent and variety, and are being developed and turned to account by an energetic and enterprising race of men who are our kindred by blood, and by every tie that binds together a nation.