Presentation on theme: "Section 2. The Dominions As Great Britain moved toward greater democracy, British Empire reached its height. With its colonies making up one-fourth of."— Presentation transcript:
The Dominions As Great Britain moved toward greater democracy, British Empire reached its height. With its colonies making up one-fourth of the world’s land and people, Great Britain became the richest and most powerful country in the world. Political changes also took place in the empire, especially in territories largely inhabited by British settlers. Colonies such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand sought self-government.
Canada By the mid-1800s, Canada consisted of a number if British colonies dependent on the British government. The colonial population was ethnically divided. One part was French, another immigrant British, and a third part descendants of the Loyalists- Americans loyal to Great Britain during the American Revolution. Most Britons and Loyalists lived in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and near the Great Lakes. The French were concentrated in the Saint Lawrence River valley.
In 1763, as a prize for their victory in the French and Indian War, the British gained control of Quebec, which included most of French Canada. From that time, the French in Quebec firmly resisted British colonial rule. The predominantly Catholic French population were irritated by the influx of British immigrants, English-speaking and Protestant, that began about 1760.
To solve the growing English and French problem, the British government passed the Constitutional Act of 1791. This law divided Quebec into two colonies: Lower Canada and Upper Canada. Lower Canada remained French-speaking, but Upper Canada became English. Each colony had an assembly whose laws were subject to veto by a governor appointed by the British government. This arrangement worked until political differences brought rebellion in each colony.
By the late 1830s the French began to feel threatened by the growing English-speaking minority. Meanwhile, the British-Loyalist community was divided by disagreements between the conservative upper-class leadership and a group of liberal reformers who wanted a share in government. In 1837 unrest triggered rebellions in both colonies.
Canadian Self-Government Uprising in both Upper Canada and Lower Canada convinced the British that they had a serious problem in North America. In 1838 the British Parliament ordered Lord Durham to Canada to investigate. In a report to Parliament, Durham urged granting virtual self-government to Canada.
Durham insisted that the real authority should be an elected assembly, not a British-appointed governor- general or the British government in London. With acceptance of the Durham report by the British Parliament, self-government developed in Canada. This pattern was later adopted by other territories of the British Empire.
In 1867 the British Parliament passed the British North America Act. This law was established Canada as a dominion, or a self-governing territory owing allegiance to the British king or queen. The British North America Act joined Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick in a confederation called the Dominion of Canada. This act became the basis of the modern nation of Canada. In that same year, Canadian voters elected their first parliament. The first Canadian prime minister was John A, Macdonald, a Scottish-born lawyer.
Expanding Canadian Territory At first the Dominion of Canada consisted of four provinces in the southeast, extending from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Then, in 1869 the dominion acquired the Northwest Territory, which extended west across vast prairies and forestlands and north to the Arctic wilderness. Most of this area was populated by Native Americans and European and American fur traders.
Following sporadic violence between traders and Native Americans, Canadian government set up and sent down westward a special law-keeping force known as the Northwest special law-keeping force known as the Northwest Mounted Police. The police largely won the respect and loyalty of the Native Americans before arrival of large numbers of Canadian settlers.
Canada further expanded its territory during the late 1800s. From the eastern part of the Northwest Territory, the province of Manitoba was formed in 1870. In 1871 British Columbia, a separate British colony on the Pacific coast, became a province. In 1873 tiny Prince Edward Island near the Atlantic Ocean joined Canada. To link the eastern provinces with the western provinces, the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885. This made possible the development of the Canadian prairies. In 1905 the prairie provinces were added to the dominion.
Australia and New Zealand On the other side of the world- in the south and southwest Pacific- the British colonies of Australia and New Zealand also sought self-government.
Australia Initially, Great Britain established Australia as a prisoners’ colony to relieve overcrowded British jails. By 1860, after a gold rush lured new immigrants, the population reached 1 million, and the practice of transporting prisoners to Australia was abolished.
In settling, Europeans came into contact with the Aborigines, the original people of Australia. Many settlers treated the Aborigines badly, occupied their land, and killed them. Large numbers of Aborigines died from European diseases. The increase in European settlement called for a better administration. By the late 1800s Australia was made up of 6 colonies- New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia. In 1901 Parliament made Australia a dominion that included the colonies plus a region known as the Northern Territory.
New Zealand The first Europeans to settle in New Zealand were from James Cook’s expedition in 1770. Hunters from Great Britain and the United States set up whaling stations during the 1790s. New Zealand also attracted timber traders.
Foreigners brought many problems to the original inhabitants, known as the Maori. Firearms, for example, increased warfare among the Maori tribes. Foreigners also brought diseases to which the Maori had no immunity, causing almost 50% of the Maori population to be diminished in 20 years.
In an effort to provide law for the Maori and the settlers, British naval officers and Maori chiefs concluded the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The treaty protected Maori rights while the Maori gave the British sovereignty over New Zealand. In 1840 the first permanent British settlements were founded at Wellington and Wanganui, based on wool exports to British markets.
As with Australia, New Zealand’s British population was small until the discovery of gold. The gold discovery also brought conflict between the newcomers and the Maori. Prospectors unsuccessful in finding gold in New Zealand remained to farm. To gain more land, they violated those Maori land rights guaranteed by the treaty with the British. During the Maori Wars in the mid-1800s, the New Zealand government sided with the newcomers and seized some Maori land for public use.
New Zealand received a constitution from Great Britain in 1852 and became largely self-governing. In the 1890s, the New Zealand government carried out extensive social reforms, such as pensions for the elderly and protection of worker’s rights. At this time Great Britain had not yet introduced many of these reforms. In 1907 New Zealand finally became a dominion within the British Empire.