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George Brown
on Reciprocity and American Military Might

[excerpts from the Confederation Debates]
Mr. Speaker, I am in favour of a union of these provinces, because it will enable us to meet, without alarm, the abrogation of the American Reciprocity Treaty, in case the United States should insist on its abolition. (Hear, hear.) I do not believe that the American Government is so insane as to repeal that treaty. But it is always well to be prepared for contingencies - and I have no hesitation in saying that if they do repeal it, should this union of British America go on, a fresh outlet for our commerce will be opened up to us quite as advantageous as the American trade has ever been...

...But, sixthly, Mr. Speaker, I am in favour of the union of the provinces, because, in the event of war, it will enable all the colonies to defend themselves better, and give more efficient aid to the Empire, than they could do must be admitted -- and there is no use of closing our eyes to the fact - that this question of defence has been placed, within the last two years, in a totally different position from what it ever occupied before. I have not belief that the Americans have the slightest thought of attacking us. I cannot believe that the first use of their new-found liberty will be the invasion, totally unprovoked, of a peaceful province. I fancy that they have had quite enough of war for a good many years to come -- and that such a war as one with England would certainly be, is the last they are likely to provoke. But, Mr. Speaker, there is no better mode of warding off war when it is threatened, than to be prepared for it if it comes. The Americans are now a warlike people. They have large armies, a powerful navy, an unlimited supply of warlike munitions, and the carnage of war has to them been stript of its horrors. The American side of our lines already bristles with works of defence, and unless we are willing to live at the mercy of our neighbours, we, too, must put our country in a state of efficient preparation. War or no war -- the necessity of placing these provinces in a thorough state of defence can no longer be postponed....

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