Having spent much time in Nova Scotia, I am often asked—Why does that province wish to sever connection with the Dominion, and what means her cry of “Repeal and Reciprocity”? And some of my friends are not a little shocked that, at a time when the question of Imperial Federation is so much discussed, our nearest kinsfolk on the American continent should be agitating for what at the first glance looks like separation, though it is far from being so intended. Imperial Federation is indeed a grand scheme, or will be when it attains the dignity of a scheme. At present it seems little better than a vague, but decidedly alluring, dream. And it is likely so to remain unless, among other safeguards, each unit which makes up …

Nova Scotia’s cry for home rule Read More…

A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, 18 June 1779 Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to extend it by its …

Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom Read More…

A Declaration of Rights (June 12th, 1776) Made by the Representatives of the good People of Virginia, assembled in full and free Convention, which rights to pertain to them and their posterity as the basis and foundation of government. I. That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. II. That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amendable to them. III. That government is, …

Virginia Declaration of Rights Read More…

Executive Officers:President: Hon. Joseph HoweVice Presidents: W.J. Stairs, Esq., Patrick Power, Esq.Secretaries: Mr William Garvie,Robt. L. Weatherbee Esq.,Treasurer: Robt. Boak, Jr, Esq. The Maritime Provinces of British America now enjoy all the blessings of self-government, controlling their own revenues, forming, controlling and removing their own Cabinets ; appointing their own Judges, Councillors, and Public Officers; regulating her own Trade, training their own Militia, and discharging all the duties of loyal British Subjects in due subordination and steadfast allegiance to the Crown. The people of these Provinces have lived in harmony with each other —have no disputes with neighboring Slates— no controversies with the Mother Country, have ever been prone to mutual sympathy and protection, and are ready to uphold the honor 6f the national flag, and the integrity …

League of the Maritime Provinces Read More…

If you don’t have Wood’s “Creation of the American Republic” in your library, I highly recommend you pick up a copy. It has been invaluable to me for putting into context so much of what was happening throughout the British colonies at the time of the revolution – many of the forces at work being identical in Nova Scotia, though perhaps in different proportions of Whig to Tory, dissident to loyalist. This passage on the Power of appointment still holds true today, perhaps more so than ever before, with so many of the political positions in Canada existing as the appointments of a completely irresponsible executive, the Prime Minister. A Prime Minister who appoints “all the ministers and parliamentary secretaries, the deputy ministers, senators, the head of state …

The Power of Appointment Read More…

“This letter will give you some gleanings from Halifax — the most English of the provincial cities. It was founded in 1749, by the Lords of the Board of Trade, and named after the President, Gen. Montague, Earl of Halifax. It has ever since been the capital of Nova Scotia, — robbing that honor from Annapolis. Thirteen transports brought from England 2576 emigrants, the nucleus of the present population, which counts about 40,000 souls. The sloop of war Sphinx led the way, bearing Colonel the Honorable Edward Cornwallis as Captain General and Governor of Nova Scotia. He afterwards presented a sword to Gen. Washington at Yorktown, a circumstance which will never be forgotten. His name is more pleasantly linked with Cornwallis County, the garden of the province. Immediately …

Coit correspondence of 1871 Read More…

Mr. Bright: “Sir, about a month ago—on the 15th of May last—I presented a petition to the House from the representatives of the colony of Nova Scotia, and I now rise for the purpose of calling attention to that petition, and to statements made in it, and of proposing what appears to me to be a judicious course in regard to it. The Resolution which I have given Notice of consists of two parts—first, the statement of a fact which is easily proved; and, secondly, a statement of the mode in which the Government would do wisely to meet the difficult questions which have arisen. I am sorry to see that the right hon. Gentleman who has charge in this House of colonial affairs is not here; but …

Nova Scotia—British North American Confederation Read More…

“Far be it from me to wish, on this occasion, to draw national distinctions. I desire rather to show you how the certainty that your descendants will be one race, having a common attachment to Nova Scotia, and knowing no higher obligation than to love and honor her, ought to draw you closer to each other in friendly union, and make you solicitous to give that direction to their minds which shall best secure their happiness, and promote the welfare of their common country.” “…from Virginia, with her 66,000 square miles, covered with flourishing towns and more than a million population – from New York, with her magnificent rivers, princely cities, and two millions of people – from Massachusetts, with her extensive border crowded with activity and intelligence …

An address delivered before the Halifax Mechanics’ Institute on the 5th November, 1834 by Joseph Howe Read More…

In opposing the British North America Act… (Joseph Howe) always urged that it was not acceptable to the people of Nova Scotia. As an election was soon to be held, to make good his statement Mr. Howe felt that he must organize his forces, and demonstrate beyond dispute that the Province of Nova Scotia was overwhelmingly opposed to the union. He returned early in May, and on May 22nd delivered at Dartmouth the following speech, in which he betrays no loss of his old-time warmth and vigour: MEN OF DARTMOUTH -Never, since the [Indigenous people] came down the Shubenacadie Lakes in 1750, burnt the houses of the early settlers, and scalped or carried them captives to the woods, have the people upon this harbour been called upon to …

Speech at Dartmouth, May 22 1867 Read More…

On moving the eleventh resolution, on the 3rd of March (1837), Mr. Howe made a speech that is worth preserving, for various reasons. Those who defended the old system of government assumed, first, that the institutions of the United States had failed to secure liberty and happiness, and that by yielding responsible government, republican institutions would be at once introduced. Mr. Howe combated both these arguments. While he did justice to our neighbours, and ascribed to the practical working of their purely elective institutions the great prosperity and freedom which they enjoyed, he showed that responsible government was not republicanism, but a purely British mode of conducting public affairs, which British Americans might claim without any impeachment of their loyalty: “In rising to move the last resolution, while …

Speech on Elective Councils (Senate) Read More…

“The most intelligent of the Nazis, the legal theorist Carl Schmitt, explained in clear language the essence of fascist governance. The way to destroy all rules, he explained, was to focus on the idea of the exception. A Nazi leader outmaneuvers his opponents by manufacturing a general conviction that the present moment is exceptional, and then transforming that state of exception into a permanent emergency. Citizens then trade real freedom for fake safety. Dissidents of the twentieth century, whether they were resisting fascism or communism, were called extremists. Modern authoritarian regimes, such as Russia, use laws on extremism to punish those who criticize their policies. In this way the notion of extremism comes to mean virtually everything except what is, in fact, extreme: tyranny.” Snyder, Timothy. On Tyranny, …

Exception Read More…

“Democracy is precious and exceptional. Democracy is undone from within rather than from without. The occasion to undo democracy is often an election. The mechanism to undo democracy is usually a fake emergency, a claim that internal enemies have done something outrageous. A tyrant cares about his person, not the Republic. Coups are defeated quickly or not at all. While they take place we are meant to look away… When they are complete we are powerless. In an authoritarian situation, the election is only round one. You don’t win by winning round one. It is up to civil society, organized citizens, to defend the vote and to peacefully defend democracy.”

“A coup is *against* the law — not just illegal, but against the belief that established legal documents and legal precedent hold value over their own attempted power grab. When a coup is successful, they rewrite the law so that they are no longer breaking it.”

“Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the State was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that, in its government, the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty both as an end, and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness, and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that, without free speech and assembly, discussion would be futile; that, with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a …

“…the secret of happiness…” Read More…

“We have gathered here to affirm a faith, a faith in a common purpose, a common conviction, a common devotion. Some of us have chosen America as the land of our adoption; the rest have come from those who did the same. For this reason we have some right to consider ourselves a picked group, a group of those who had the courage to break from the past and brave the dangers and the loneliness of a strange land. What was the object that nerved us, or those who went before us, to this choice? We sought liberty; freedoms from oppression, freedom from want, freedom to be ourselves. This we then sought; this we now believe that we are by way of winning. What do we mean when …

“The Spirit of Liberty” Read More…

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