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Colonial Conferences (Acts of Union)

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The Colonial conferences were multiple meetings of many colonies, particularly White settler colonies to facilitate greater co-operation as well as co-ordination of multiple issues of imperial defense and force deployments and other communications issues. The First Conference in 1887 conducted during Queen Victoria's Jubilee (a significant occasion), deliberated on multiple issues of Defence, Imperial co-ordination, as well as the laying of new communication lines to better connect and support the Empire. The Title "Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Ireland and the Colonies, and all Dependencies thereof, and Empress of India."   

The Second Conference brought together in 1894 by Canadian demand, led to the propositions of a telegraph cable linking Australia and New Zealand with the rest of the Empire in a more prominent fashion. All self-governing British colonies were invited to send delegates with the exception of Newfoundland Colony. Western Australia and Natal Colony did not send representatives due to domestic priorities. The colony of Fiji was also invited due to its geographical location on the proposed route of the cable but declined. Delegates were sent to the conference by Canada, New Zealand, the Australian self-governing colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria and the South African colony of Cape Colony. Unlike other colonial conference, the colonial delegates were cabinet ministers or legislators or government representatives rather than Prime Ministers. Resolutions were proposed to the conference and it was agreed that decisions would be made on the basis of "one colony, one vote" but the resolutions were not binding on the British government or the Colonial Office. In addition to discussing telecommunications issues, the conference also approved a resolution favouring preferential trade within the Empire. However, this resolution was opposed by Australia's largest colonies, New South Wales and Queensland, who were suspicious the Canadian initiative seemed designed to undermine Australia's protective tariffs. Regardless of some of the glaring issues, the topic of further centralizing and unifying the Empires colonies with the Motherland seemed a pressing issue, as multiple discussions but no concrete commitments toward this initiative were actually made.

The Third Conference occurring in 1897 led to Chamberlain proposing the creation of a permanent Imperial Council made up of delegates from the colonies to act as an Empire-wide parliament with the power to bind the colonies on imperial matters but this was rejected by the colonies due to fears of loss of autonomy. Chamberlain also propose that colonies increase their contributions to the Royal Navy but only some colonies agreed to increase their contributions and no permanent arrangement was agreed to. Chamberlain also proposed a customs union between the colonies and Britain while Canada proposed preferential trade but no decision was made by the delegates.

The 1902 Conference proposed much of the same to the colonies who once against rejected it seeing no need to truly give up any autonomy and suffer coming back under the non-self governing Imperial umbrella. This led to a major problem of Britain recognizing its slipping grip on its colonies, and the Imperial Federation Leagues failure to gain significant traction behind the scenes to organize such a movement.

The 1904 conference (actually called in 1903) was the fateful colonial conference which saw the Canadians officially call for their admitance into the United Kingdom Proper with the "Kingdom of Canada" being created, replacing Canada's dominion status, With Queen Elisabeth at its head, the United Kingdom took on a vary wary stance but with its immense decay in relations with the United States the British saw no choice but to acquiesce to the Canadian demands to be made part of the UK proper. This federalizing process was not immediately accepted but with the public not realizing how much of the groundwork already existed due to the former investments through colonial conferences the integration of Canada into the United Kingdom was relatively easy Also out of this conferences posthumously, the Dominion of South Africa was created with the eventual intent of integration much like Canada,

1894 Colonial Conference 

The Colonial Conference of 1894 was called by the government of Canada to continue discussion begun at the First Colonial Conference in 1887 on a proposal to lay a telegraph cable at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean to create a communications link between Canada and Australasia and, by extension, to the rest of the British Empire as part of what became referred to as the All Red Line network of cables throughout the Empire. The opening ceremonies were in the Senate Chamber in the Centre Block of the Canadian parliament buildings but day-to-day meetings occurred in the offices of the Minister of Trade and Commerce. The Earl of Jersey attended the conference as the representative of the British government and was instructed to listen and report back but not to make any commitments on behalf of the government.

All self-governing British colonies were invited to send delegates with the exception of Newfoundland Colony. Western Australia and Natal Colony did not send representatives due to domestic priorities. The colony of Fiji was also invited due to its geographical location on the proposed route of the cable but declined.

Delegates were sent to the conference by Canada, New Zealand, the Australian self-governing colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria and the South African colony of Cape Colony. Unlike other colonial conference, the colonial delegates were cabinet ministers or legislators or government representatives rather than Prime Ministers. Resolutions were proposed to the conference and it was agreed that decisions would be made on the basis of "one colony, one vote" but the resolutions were not binding on the British government or the Colonial Office.

In addition to discussing telecommunications issues, the conference also approved a resolution favouring preferential trade within the Empire, however, this resolution was opposed by Australia's largest colonies, New South Wales and Queensland, who were suspicious the Canadian initiative seemed designed to undermine Australia's protective tariffs. The proposal would be made again to the 1897 Colonial Conference

This was the first colonial conference which saw major involvement of proponents of the "Imperial Federation" ideal within the British Empire.

1897 Colonial Conference

The Colonial Conference of 1897 was a conference between the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the 11 self-governing colonies of the British Empire. The conference was convened in London by Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain in 1897 on the occasion of Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Chamberlain's intention was to draw the self-governing colonies into closer co-operation with the United Kingdom.

Delegates were sent to the conference by Canada, Newfoundland Colony, New Zealand the Australian self-governing colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, and the South African colonies of Cape Colony and the Colony of Natal.

Chamberlain proposed the creation of a permanent Imperial Council made up of delegates from the colonies to act as an Empire-wide parliament with the power to bind the colonies on imperial matters but this was rejected by the colonies due to fears of loss of autonomy. Chamberlain also propose that colonies increase their contributions to the Royal Navy but only some colonies agreed to increase their contributions and no permanent arrangement was agreed to.

Chamberlain also proposed a customs union between the colonies and Britain while Canada proposed preferential trade but no decision was made by the delegates. Some potential shared naval force was proposed as well to help the British government with the burden of colonial defense which was only adopted by some of the larger dominions and colonies.

1902 Conference

The 1902 Conference proposed much of the same to the colonies who once against rejected it seeing no need to truly give up any autonomy and suffer coming back under the non-self governing Imperial umbrella. This led to a major problem of Britain recognizing its slipping grip on its colonies, and the Imperial Federation Leagues failure to gain significant traction behind the scenes to organize such a movement.


1904 Conference The Movement Succeeds

The 1904 Conference was convenes by multiple parties and was actually brought together in 1903 but delayed as more and more British dominions, territories, and colonies joined into the conference due to the subject matter. The Conference is the most significant in British history as it showcased the rapid rise and power attained by the Imperial Federation proponents in Canada.

With the failing of the British endeavor in Venezuela alongside the Germans, the British had recognized multiple fallacies within their policies concerning their world operations. First of all their relation with the United States were not as they seemed, and following the Venezuelan debt crisis, the British had seen significant US market power shift away from them. While not enough to be severely detrimental to the empires economics, where they had begun to invest it is what worried them. A lot of this capital had turned into a more lucrative agreement with the German Empire which had been Britain's rival for much of the past few decades.

The Colonial conference saw something rather unprecedented. Canadian delegates, fearful for their survival against the United States proposed that they would fully help shoulder the "Imperial Burden" and submitted their request to be elevated to a kingdom and fully unify with the United Kingdom. While the other colonial delegates looked on with incredulity the Canadians and the British from the mother country signed a new Acts of Union which was open ended to allow for more joiners. It seemed rather underwhelming but following this conference, the only one of which had major binding legislation come from a colonial proposition come into effect, the United Kingdom had grown significantly and had succeeded in establishing a much more stable empire due to the now much more seemingly powerful United Kingdom looming over them.

While there were some protests among Canadian circles following this, the overarching threat of the United States to the south was something the Canadians were unable to look past, and finally conceded to the legislation without further delay as they began their integration within the United Kingdom proper. It was an unprecedented development which also led to the creation of the Dominion of South Africa with explicit rulings that extensive white settlement was allowed as per an agreement with the Boer inhabitants of the Colony.

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