Aside from the geographical features that threads the United States and Canada together; they also become colonies and shared the same mother country: Great Britain. As the colonies and the mother country pushed and pulled each other, it was inevitable that the idea of self-governance (set in motion by the ideas of the Enlightenment) would surface. However, the road to independence took different routes for the United States and Canada. The British colonization of the United States dates back to early 1600s with the first colony, dubbed as Jamestown [after King James], established in Virginia (Garraty 47).
From then one, England expanded its empire in North America. Although religious and political conflicts rose in colonial America, it was not until the end of the French and Indian War that the cauldron of discontent began boiling. Reeling in from the wreckage brought on by the war, Great Britain implemented policies which American colonists deemed unjust. Boycotts and skirmishes followed and the Boston Massacre involving some British redcoats and American laborers proved to be the turning point in the British-American relationship (Jordan and Litwack 99).
As the colonial affairs continued to turn sour, more American colonists started to see the need to end their dependence on their mother country. The passing of several tax measures aimed to restrict the colonies only angered the colonists, uniting them further. The Boston Tea Party, for one, was a crucial act that stirred that yearning. The First and Second Continental Congress were held in an attempt to reach a peaceful settlement with Great Britain; however the outcome was more pivotal: the Declaration of Independence (Jordan and Litwack 102-113).
The American Revolution had begun, and the battle of the colonist’ independence ended with the Treaty of Paris, which formally acknowledge America’s independence (122-123). America gained its freedom but Britain’s bid to push its empire continued in the War of 1812, America’s second war for independence (181). Much has changed since then. When World Wars I and II occurred, both the United States and Great Britain found themselves fighting in the same side. They also allies during the Cold War and the Gulf War (Davidson et al 1186). The independence of United States from Great Britain signaled the end of an English empire.
However, their connection, as evinced by their current trade and economic affairs, show that they have indeed moved past the colonial and mother country stage. It may have been marred by combats at the start but in the end, they have become partners and have since worked on several global initiatives such as the United Nations, NATO, and G-8. On the other hand, Canada’s road to independence was starkly different from the United States. The end of the French and Indian War saw the ruling of Canada (then known as New France) by the British.
Fearing that the Canadians would stage a revolution like the Americans, they passed the Act of 1791 which created assemblies in Upper and Lower Canada (Hiebert and Reed 2009). That probably made all the difference between British colonization of Canada and the U. S. Learning from their American experience, the British parliament had provided a sense of balance in terms of governance. It was attested by the fact that even the French-speaking Lower Canada had acknowledged the British monarchy (2009). However, as with most colonization, there were groups who opposed the rule.
Furthermore, tensions were brewing between the French Canadians and the British Canadians. A rebellion took place in 1837 (2009). But it was still not enough to fuel the need to become independent from Britain. Canadians felt the need to hold on to the Britain to protect them from the Americans By 1867, with the passing of the British North America Act, the dominion and parliament of Canada was created (Heard 1990). This gave the government control over internal affairs with the external sovereignty still in the hands of the British monarchy.
In a way, this was the first step to Canada’s road to independence- Britain renouncing a little its grip on Canada. During World War I, Canada showed its support to its mother country, which may have bided them well. Canada had a major role in the war and the British Empire acknowledged it (Hiebert and Reed 2009). In 1931, through the Statute of Westminster, Canada essentially became politically independent from Britain (Heard 1990). Canada had become a sovereign state. It gave Canada an equal status with Great Britain slowly.
Canada also gained credence as an independent nation when the country was allowed to join the League of Nation as an independent party (1990). The steps further put forward Canada’s move towards its independence. Eventually, through a series of acts, Britain relinquished its grip on Canada, allowing its colony to self-rule. Finally, in 1982, Canada was given complete control of its constitution (1990). Today, Canada and Britain continues a bilateral relation. Aside from sharing trade and investments, the two countries possess a cooperative and personal relationship. After all, they share the same Head of State.
Based on the facts, one would realize that the United States and Canada’s fight towards their independence took completely different routes. The United States took a more daring approach, resorting to aggressive means. On the other hand, Canada also experienced some forms of rebellion but essentially, did not do much to resist British rule. Instead, they took the slow approach, proving to the British Empire that they could govern themselves and thus become worthy of becoming independent. They did it so well so that the British Empire eventually realized that Canada would govern on its own.
However, this is not to suggest that Canada was subservient. Perhaps, at that time, they truly believed that they needed Great Britain. America takes pride in its government- democratic. This means that the only source of the government power is the people. Furthermore, the government is divided into three branches- the legislative, which makes the laws (Congress), and executive branch which carries out the laws (President) and the judicial that interprets the laws (courts). The organization separates the power and at the same time creates a system of checks and balances.
Furthermore, the United States employs a federal system which divides the power the national government and the states. For its part, Canada enjoys a constitutional monarchy that is also parliamentary. This means that the executive head is the prime minister while the official head of state is Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the parliamentary system is patterned after the British parliament where the prime minister is elected from a local district similar to the members of the House of Commons (Hiebert and Reed 2009).
As aforementioned, the executive head is the prime minister whose responsibilities include policy setting. Canada also has a provincial government whose function is comparable to the national government (2009). The differences in government structure are an indication of how the British colonization affected the two countries. The United States totally veered away from the colonial aspect, creating a democratic nation and in the process shedding any vestige of the British system whereas Canada retained it, modelling its government after its mother country.
Works Cited Davidson et al. History of Nations A Narrative History of the American Republic 3rd ed. USA: McGraw-Hill, 1998. Garraty, John. The Story of America Beginnings to 1914. Florida: Harcourt Brace Jovanich, 1991. Heard, Andrews. Canadian Independence. 1990. 21 July 2009 <http://sss. sfu. ca> Hiebert, Daniel & Maureen Reed. “ Canada. ” Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. 2009 21 July 2009 <http://www. encarta. msn. com> Jordan, Winthrop and Leon Litwack. The United States Combined Edition 7th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1991.