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The American response to Canada since 1776

Gordon T. Stewart

Publication Year: 1992

Canadians long have engaged in in-depth, wide-ranging discussions about their nation's relations with the United States. On the other hand, American citizens usually have been satisfied to accept a series of unexamined myths about their country's unchanging, benign partnership with the "neighbor to the north". Although such perceptions of uninterrupted, friendly relations with Canada may dominate American popular opinion, not to mention discussions in many American scholarly and political circles, they should not, according to Stewart, form the bases for long-term U.S. international economic, political, and cultural relations with Canada. Stewart describes and analyzes the evolution of U.S. policymaking and U.S. policy thinking toward Canada, from the tense and confrontational post-Revolutionary years to the signing of the Free Trade Agreement in 1988, to discover if there are any permanent characteristics of American policies and attitudes with respect to Canada. American policymakers were concerned for much of the period before World War II with Canada's role in the British empire, often regarded as threatening, or at least troubling, to developing U.S. hegemony in North America and even, in the late nineteenth century, to U.S. trade across the Pacific. A permanent goal of U.S. policymakers was to disengage Canada from that empire. They also thought that Canada's natural geographic and economic orientation was southward to the U.S., and policymakers were critical of Canadian efforts to construct an east- west economy. The Free Trade Agreement of 1988 which prepared the way for north-south lines of economic force, in this context, had been an objective of U.S. foreign policy since the founding of the republic in 1776. At the same time, however, these deep-seated U.S. goals were often undermined by domestic lobbies and political factors within the U.S., most evidently during the era of high tariffs from the 1860s to the 1930s when U.S. tariff policies actually encouraged a separate, imperially-backed economic and cultural direction in Canada. When the dramatic shift toward integration in trade, investment, defense and even popular culture began to take hold in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s in the wake of the Depression and World War II, American policymakers viewed themselves as working in harmony with underlying, "natural" converging economic, political and cultural trends recognized and accepted by their Canadian counterparts.

Published by: Michigan State University Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

I wish to express my appreciation here for support from the Canadian Studies Grant Program in the United States for a Senior Fellowship which helped defray the cost of research in Washington, Ottawa and London. Additional funding for my research was supplied by the All-University Research Initiation fund of Michigan State University. ...

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A Note on Terminology

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pp. 1-2

The term "Canada" is used throughout this book even though the Dominion of Canada was established only in 1867. From 1608 to 1760, Canada was a French colony. Following the conquest by Britain in the Seven Years' War and the migration of English speaking settlers (most of them loyalists fleeing the American revolution) into the region west of the Ottawa River in ...

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I. Introduction

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pp. 3-22

Canada is an odd case in the scholarly field of United States foreign relations because much more has been written by the Canadian side than the American. A basic characteristic of the U.S. foreign relations field in recent years has been the shift from American-centered research and interpretations to multiple perspective approaches. Research in the foreign country or countries, ...

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II. “Tendencies to Bad Neighborhood” 1783-1854

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pp. 23-60

The United States and Canada began as bad neighbors. During the first seventy or so years after independence, the American response to Canada was characterized by suspicion and hostility. The War of 1812 (during which William Hull, Governor of Michigan Territory and Brigadier General in the Army of the Northwest, led an invasion and declared Upper Canada to be conquered by the United States) was the most dramatic manifestation of the tension and distrust between the two countries. ...

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III. “A Second Empire” 1854-1892

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pp. 61-100

In the 1840s, Americans had anticipated the disintegration of the British Empire in North America. The end of the old colonial trading system, the advent of responsible government, and the reduction of the garrisons appeared as steps toward independence for the British North American colonies. Yet the next fifty years thoroughly undermined these American hopes. ...

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IV. “Broad Questions of National Policy” 1892-1911

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pp. 101-126

In 1892, the Republican administration led by Harrison and Blaine refused to consider the possibility of reciprocity with Canada; in 1911, a Republican administration led by President Howard Taft and Secretary of State Philander C. Knox worked energetically to promote a reciprocal trade agreement with Canada. In 1892, Harrison and Blaine concluded that Canada ...

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V. “An Object of American Foreign Policy since the Founding of the Republic” 1911-1988

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pp. 127-174

The Taft administration believed it had offered "an excellent bargain" to Canada in 1911. Even the Canadian Governor-General recognized the generosity of the American position. "The arrangement," Grey wrote to Bryce, "which secures a free entry into a market of 90 million people for the natural produce of Canada while it secures the home market for Canadian manufacturers is a good one."1 ...

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VI. Assessment

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pp. 175-206

The questions to be answered in this concluding chapter remain those posed at the outset. Are there any permanent features or recurring patterns in the American response to Canada? Is it possible to identify an American policy toward Canada and, in particular, does it make sense to think in terms of an American imperialism directed against Canada? ...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 207-212


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pp. 213-220

E-ISBN-13: 9780870139574
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870133121

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 1992