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Seminar: 'American-Canadian Relations in a British World, 1815-1871'

Publication date: Nov 14, 2013 3:03:56 PM

Start: Nov 25, 2013 6:00:00 PM
End: Nov 25, 2013 7:30:00 PM

Location: UCL-Institute of the Americas, 51 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PN

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Philip Buckner (Professor Emeritus, University of New Brunswick) - During the past few decades there has been a large volume of studies dealing with Anglo-American relations in the first half of the nineteenth century and a much smaller number of studies focusing on American-Canadian relations. Unfortunately these two historiographies rarely speak to each other. In this paper I attempt to summarize the themes that characterize the literature on Anglo-American relations and to show the implications that this literature has for our understanding of American-Canadian relations during the period from the War of 1812 to the Treaty of Washington in 1871.

It is my argument that studies of American-Canadian relations have paid too little attention to the role of the British Empire during this period, accepting as a given that British imperial power in the Western hemisphere waned rapidly after 1815, that Britain was eager to work out an accord with its emerging imperial rival on the North American continent, the United States of America, and that Britain intended to leave Canada to fend for itself after Confederation.

This paper, drawing heavily on the literature of Anglo-American relations, challenges these assumptions. It also challenges the idea, embodied in much of the recent literature on American-Canadian relations, that America had no real desire to annex the British North American colonies and that fears of American 'manifest destiny' were exaggerated and unfounded. Finally it stresses that, contrary to what is usually argued, the period after 1815 saw the British North American colonies more tightly integrated into the British World and it is this reality which defined the fundamental nature of the American-Canadian relationship.

Refreshments will be available from 17:30; the presentation will start at 18:00. Attendance is free of charge but registration is required.

Phillip Buckner is a Professor Emeritus of the University of New Brunswick and a former President of the Canadian Historical Association. He is also an Associate Fellow of the UCL Institute of the Americas. He has written extensively on the history of Atlantic Canada and was the founding editor of Acadiensis: Journal of the History of the Atlantic Region. His other main scholarly interest is Canada's relationship with the British Empire. He has written numerous articles in this field and his books include The Transition to Responsible Government: British Policy in British North America 1815-1860 (Greenwood Press, 1985) and Canada and the End of Empire (University of British Columbia Press, 2005). He has also edited or co-edited several books including Rediscovering the British World (University of Calgary Press, 2005); Canada and the British World (University of British Columbia Press, 2007); a volume in the Oxford History of the British Empire on Canada and the British Empire (Oxford University Press, 2008) and a two volume work entitled Revisiting 1759 and Remembering 1759 (University of Toronto Press, 2012).