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III. Parliamentary Radicals and the Reduction of Imperial Expenditure in British North America, 1827–1834

  • Peter Burroughs (a1)
Extract

Although retrenchment, with its overtones of efficiency and its implied attack on corruption, is a familiar watchword of modern politics, it is difficult today to appreciate the deep ethical and constitutional significance of the issue of economy during the early nineteenth century, or the strong hold which the concept exerted over the attitudes and actions of British politicians and administrators in the decades following the Napoleonic Wars. Twenty-three years of costly war with France had increased Britain's national debt from £228 million in 1793 to £876 million in 1815, and the laborious process of eliminating this deficit at the rate of a few millions a year by means of a sinking fund was aptly described as ‘the attempt of a wooden-legged man to catch a hare’. The propertied classes in the post-war period considered themselves excessively burdened with taxation, and until the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 had been effectively put into operation, they were also called upon to meet the costs of an expensive and inefficient system of poor relief.

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1 Briggs, Asa, The Age of Improvement, 1783–1867 (London, 1959), p. 170.

2 Hansard, xvin (25 Feb. 1828), 662.

3 Manning, H. T., ‘The Colonial Policy of the Whig Ministers, 1830–37’, Part 1, Canadian Historical Review, xxxm (09 1952), 205.

4 Hansard, xvm (12 Feb. 1828), 348.

5 Hume, ibid. col. 349.

6 See Hay to Goderich, 4 Jan. 1832, and Howick to Goderich, 9 Jan. 1832, Ripon Papers, B.M. Add. MSS. 40,862, fos. 302–15.

7 Manning, H. T., The Revolt of French Canada, 1800–1835 (Toronto, 1962), pp. 124–48, 281–95. For the renewal of parliamentary interest in colonial affairs in the late 1820s, see Manning, H. T., ‘Colonial Crises before the Cabinet, 1829–1835’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, xxx (1957), 4161.

8 Manning, , “Colonial Crises before the Cabinet”, loc. cit. p. 43.

9 Buller, Charles, Responsible Government for Colonies (London, 1840), p. 90.

10 Hansard, xxv (14 June 1830), 335.

11 Hume, ibid, xxiv (10 May 1830), 512.

12 Ibid, xvm (22 Feb. 1828), 612.

13 Quoted in Morning Chronicle, 5 Sept. 1827, and attributed to the Edinburgh Review, though this appears to be an error. See also Manning, , The Revolt of French Canada, pp. 264–70.

14 Hume, Hansard, XXII (22 Feb. 1830), 831.

15 Hume, Ibid., XXV (11 June 1830), 297.

16 Edinburgh Review, LXXXIV (Aug. 1825), 291–2.

17 Hansard, VI (13 Mar. 1822), 1076.

18 For the traditional view concerning the period of ‘anti-imperialism’, see Bodelsen, C. A., Studies in Mid-Victorian Imperialism (New York, 1925), passim; Knorr, K. E., British Colonial Theories, 1570–1850 (Toronto, 1944), pp. 251–68; Schuyler, R. L., The Fall of the Old Colonial System (New York, 1945), passim. This view has been subjected to convincing criticism by Gallagher, John and Robinson, Ronald, ‘The Imperialism of Free Trade’, Economic History Review, vi (08 1953), 115; Galbraith, John S., ‘Myths of the “Little Englandrdquo; Era’, American Historical Review, LXVII (Oct. 1961), 3448.

19 Hansard, xxiv (11 May 1830), 592.

20 See Galbraith, , ‘Myths of the “Little England” Era’, loc. cit. pp. 40–3.

21 Mills, R. C., The Colonization of Australia: the Wakefield Experiment in Empire Building, 1829–1842 (London, 1915), pp. 1617, compiled from the Reports of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the Receipt and Expenditure of the Revenue in the Colonies and Foreign Possessions, 1830, P.P. 1830–31 (64 and 194), IV.

22 Hansard, XXV (14 June 1830), 324.

23 ibid. cols. 325–6.

24 Warburton, ibid. col. 329.

25 Mills, , op. cit. pp. 1617.

26 Hansard, XVII (22 Feb. 1828), 621; X (17 Feb. 1832), 508; XVI (27 Mar. 1833), 1180.

27 Ibid. XXI (28 Feb. 1834), 983. For a discussion of the British military commitment in North America, see Stacey, C. P., Canada and the British Army, 1846–1871 (London, 1936), chs. I-II.

28 The Mirror of Parliament (22 Feb. 1828), p. 311.

29 Sir Parnell, Henry, On Financial Reform (London, 1830), quoted in Schuyler, , The Fall of the Old Colonial System, p. 76.

30 Hansard, XXII (1 Mar. 1830), 1131.

31 The Mirror of Parliament (22 Feb. 1828), p. 311.

32 Hume, , Hansard, xx (20 Feb. 1829), 462.

33 Hume, ibid. XVI (27 Mar. 1833), 1178.

34 Ibid. XXI (28 Feb. 1834), 979.

35 Ibid. XXIV (25 May 1830), 1097.

36 Ibid. XXVII (18 May 1835), 1194.

37 The Mirror of Parliament (30 Apr. 1830), p. 1474.

38 Hansard, , v (25 July 1831), 299; xxv (14 June 1830), 329.

39 Ibid. XXIV (3 May 1830), 334.

40 Ibid. V (26 July 1831), 383.

41 The Mirror of Parliament (26 July 1831), p. 861.

42 Sir Murray, George, Hansard, xxv (14 June 1830), 342.

43 Ibid. v (25 July 1831), 296.

44 Hume, ibid. VIII (14 Oct. 1831), 777.

45 Ibid. XXII (22 Feb. 1830), 831–2.

46 The Mirror of Parliament (14 Oct. 1831), p. 3059.

47 Roebuck, , Hansard, XXII (15 Apr. 1834), 770.

48 Labouchere, ibid. v (25 July 1831), 305–6.

49 Ibid. VIII (14 Oct. 1831), 768.

50 Ibid. XXIII (29 Mar. 1830), 991.

51 The Mirror of Parliament (22 Feb. 1830), p. 331.

52 Hay to Goderich, 4 Jan. 1832, Ripon Papers, B.M. Add. MSS. 40,862, fos. 302–9; circular from Bathurst to the lieutenant-governors of Upper Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, 8 Oct. 1825, Report from the Select Committee on the Civil Government of Canada, P.P. 1828 (569), VII, 686–7.

53 The Mirror of Parliament (22 Feb. 1828), p. 311.

54 Hansard, xx (20 Feb. 1829), 450. On the savings effected by the Tory ministries of the late 1820s see Halévy, Elie, A History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century, II, The Liberal Awakening, 1815–1830 (2nd ed.London, 1949), 297–9.

55 Hansard, XIII (22 Mar. 1830), 715. The Reports of the Commission were published in P.P. 1830–31 (64 and 194), IV, 1–179.

56 Debate on Colonial Expenditure, Hansard, XXIV (10 May 1830), 506–16.

57 Debate on Supply—Colonial Expenditure, ibid. v (25 July 1831), 280–1.

58 Herries, J. C. to Wilmot Horton, 24 Mar. 1827, quoted in Hansard, XXIV (10 May 1830), 508–10; Hay to Goderich, 4 Jan. 1832, and Howick to Goderich, 9 Jan. 1832, Ripon Papers, B.M. Add. MSS. 40,862, fos. 302–15.

59 Hay to Goderich, 4 Jan. 1832, loc. cit.

60 Howick to Goderich, 9 Jan. 1832, loc. cit.

61 Goderich to Maitland, 1 Dec. 1830, 3 Apr. 1831, and 1 Mar. 1832, Public Record Office, CO. 218/30.

62 For receipts and expenses of casual revenues, Maitland to Goderich, 1 Feb. 1831, CO. 217/152; attempts to increase revenues from coal mines, Stanley to Acting Governor, 2 Aug. 1833, CO. 218/31; the settlement of quit rents, Campbell to Spring Rice, 29 Dec. 1834, CO. 217/156; arrears of salaries, Jeffery to Stanley, 6 Mar. 1834, CO. 217/156; the renewed parliamentary grant, Grey to Campbell, 1 Aug. 1835, CO. 217/158. On the whole question of parliamentary grants and Nova Scotia, see Harvey, D. C., ‘The Civil List and Responsible Government in Nova Scotia’, Canadian Historical Review, XXVIII (Dec. 1947), 365–82.

63 Hansard, VIII (14 Oct. 1831), 770.

64 Ibid. XVI (27 Mar. 1833), 1178, and xxv (4 Aug. 1834), 921–2; Manning, , ‘Colonial Crises before the Cabinet’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, xxx (1957), 58–9.

65 Hansard, v (25 July 1831), 282.

66 Ibid. XIII (2 July 1832), 1248.

67 For these statistics, see Martin, R. M., Statistics of the Colonies of the British Empire (London, 1839), statistical chart and appendix 1, p. 290; P.P. 1835 (144, 374, 408), XXXVIII; ibid. 1837 (149), XL, 2; ibid. 1840 (179), xxx, 2; Spectator, 5 Jan. 1833. According to the Reports of the Select Committee on Colonial Military Expenditure, Britain's net expenditure on the colonies in 1834–35 amounted to £2,431,900, of which military charges accounted for £1,924,337. P.P. 1834 (570), VI, and 1835 (473), VI.

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