The Defence of the Undefended Border

The Defence of the Undefended Border

Richard A. Preston
Copyright Date: 1977
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  • Book Info
    The Defence of the Undefended Border
    Book Description:

    This book studies the official and unofficial thought in Canada and the United States about the problem of fighting a war in North America, especially from the British withdrawal up to the consummation of alliance in 1939.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8394-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Richard A. Preston
  5. INTRODUCTION The Military Factor in Canadian-American Relations
    (pp. 1-8)

    It is popularly believed that a state’s military policy should be framed to provide sufficient force to carry out its foreign policy; but the objectives of foreign policy are not easy to define for this purpose, and the nature and degree of the military preparations required are difficult to determine and even more difficult to develop. Middle and small powers are often especially hard put to maintain military force sufficient to implement their foreign policy goals. Furthermore, in all countries short-term problems and political issues intervene to distort or divert planning. In some cases foreign policy is in fact determined...

  6. 1 Anglo-American Confrontation (1775–1870)
    (pp. 9-44)

    For almost a century after the American Revolution, the British possessions in North America which eventually became the Dominion of Canada played a relatively minor role in the international power struggle that would decide their destiny. For much of that period their weaknesses were very apparent. Their population was usually less than one-tenth of that of the United States,¹ their only likely enemy; and their resources were much less developed. They also suffered from the chronic difficulties of pioneer settlements: they were short of specie, their taxation was unproductive, and they lacked sufficient capital for essential public works and private...

  7. 2 “Left without Home Protection” (1870–1878)
    (pp. 45-68)

    It is usually assumed that Canadian defence policies in the late nineteenth century demonstrate a failure on the part of politicians to give leadership to an unmilitary people. The Liberal government of Alexander Mackenzie has been blamed for inaugurating this trend.² This interpretation whitewashes Macdonald and maligns Mackenzie. What is more serious, it ignores the complexity of Canada’s defence problems.

    Two years after the confederation of the British North American provinces, the new Dominion found itself facing a situation that had not been anticipated. An American attack might be provoked by Canada’s ties with Britain; yet the announced withdrawal of...

  8. 3 Imperial Defence (1878–1885)
    (pp. 69-94)

    On the Queen’s birthday, May 24, 1878, Lord Dufferin, governor general of Canada, addressed a banquet of the Montreal Brigade of the militia. He expressed confidence in Canada’s security. During the preceding months fear of renewed Fenian activity in the United States, which had been described by the GOC, Selby Smyth, as “communistic,”¹ had led to the issue of arms to militia units along the border. But Dufferin claimed that he did not take “rumours of a certain amount of Celtic effervescence” very seriously; and he pointed to Canada’s “indissoluble friendship” with the United States. He told Sir Michael Hicks...

  9. 4 North American Issues (1885–1894)
    (pp. 95-124)

    In 1885 Britain faced another major imperial crisis, this time over Afghanistan. Once again war with Russia seemed imminent. Throughout the empire this new emergency stimulated further efforts to fashion an effective system of Imperial Defence. In Canada it raised again the question of Canadian participation. The debate about defence against the United States as a critical part of Canada’s role in Imperial Defence strategy continued for at least another decade, but it was soon to be complicated by North American problems.

    When the year 1885 opened, Colin Campbell, a retired Royal Navy officer, was secretary of a committee to...

  10. 5 Venezuela and After (1895–1900)
    (pp. 125-148)

    The long-smouldering dispute about the location of Venezuela’s border with British Guiana, where British subjects had effectively occupied and developed territory in areas claimed by both countries, would have had little significance had it not been for Secretary of State Richard Olney’s conviction that Britain was bullying a small American nation in contravention of the intent of the Monroe doctrine. The prime minister, Lord Salisbury, averse to surrendering interests of colonial planters in face of unwarranted American interference, coolly took his time about Olney’s note of July 20, 1895, which contained the charge that Britain was flouting the Monroe Doctrine....

  11. 6 Canada’s dilemma (1900–1907)
    (pp. 149-180)

    The surge of American good will for Britain that was said to have been stimulated by gratitude for benevolent neutrality in the war with Spain did not last very long. In the last decade of the century most signs pointed in the opposite direction, to a possible Anglo-American confrontation caused by American ambitions that echoed the growing imperialism of Europe. But some of Britain’s leaders had begun to realize that they could not maintain unlimited global responsibilities indefinitely. The Venezuela crisis of 1895–96 may have indicated an area where retraction was possible with least injury to Britain’s widespread strategic...

  12. 7 Lingering Confrontation (1908–1917)
    (pp. 181-212)

    By 1908 a watershed had been passed in Anglo-American relations and in trends in official attitudes towards the problem of the defence of Canada. The War Office’s long-sustained effort to find a way to guarantee the security of Canada against an American attack had finally succumbed to the Admiralty’s evasion of that difficult problem. It was now accepted that a British guarantee was not possible. This admission had been in part responsible for bringing about a new analysis of British foreign policy in which the United States was cast in the role of potential friend rather than potential enemy.¹


  13. 8 From War Planning to Alliance (post–1919)
    (pp. 213-234)

    The First World War’s shattering impact, and public revulsion against further involvement in Europe, brought a strengthening of isolationist and anti-imperialist sentiment in North America. These things helped to confirm the prewar belief held by many that disputes between Canada and the United States should and could be settled peacefully. Yet not until the next great major conflagration and the ensuing Cold War did Canadian-American relations consolidate into a military alliance that presumably precludes the need for defensive counterplanning. Meanwhile, in the interwar period, the continuance of war planning by the military had paradoxically demonstrated by its growing unreality the...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 235-279)
    (pp. 279-284)
  16. Index
    (pp. 285-300)