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HISTORY OF CANADA.   277

governments, and the colonial legislatures are empowered to establish their own customs regulations and rates of duty." The British North American League.—In the British provinces in America, the loss arising from the radical change in Great Britain's trade policy was much felt before the larger gain became manifest. Canada, particularly, was placed at a disadvantage. An Imperial Act of 1843—sometimes spoken of as fhe Canada Corn Act had made it profitable to import wheat into Canada from the United States. When turned into flour, it Was imported into England at a low rate of duty. Mills and warehouses had been built in Canada for the carrying on of this industry, which the free trade legislation of 1846 would destroy. The Canadian assembly, therefore, passed an address protesting against the new trade policy of Great Britain. By the year 1849 the commercial distress had become so pronounced that the discontented merchants of Montreal formed a British North American League with It view to devising a remedy. The situation, unhappily, was complicated by an angry political agitation, in which some of the members of the League were prominent, over the Rebellion Losses Bill.   This, doubtless, accounts for the extreme nature of some of the measures proposed in the League's manifesto. A return by Great Britain to the protective system ; the adoption by Canada of that system ; a confederation of all the British North American provinces ; Canadian independence and free trade with the United States—all these were suggested. If, upon consideration, none of these should appear practicable, annexation to the United States was advocated. Over three hundred signed this manifesto. Among them were leading merchants and bankers, and some also who afterwards became prominent in public life in Canada.

Trade Revival.—The movement was short-lived. A marked revival in trade set in during the following year, and, as usually happens, all agitation for political change soon died out. There was a branch of the League in New Brunswick, but "the spirits of the people rose with the price of timber," and there, too, the League soon disbanded. From 1850 to 1857 the provinces enjoyed unwonted prosperity. Railways were being constructed in all directions, giving employment to all who sought it. The Crimean War in Europe sent up the price of grain, to the great


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