A selection of published work by Ged Martin.

The Idea of British North American Union 1854-1864

Formally, the movement for Canadian Confederation began at the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences in September and October 1864. It sometimes seems that the idea of uniting the provinces arose almost spontaneously out of the interlocking circumstances, needs and challenges of 1864. In fact, British North American union had been discussed for some years. The project lacked mass support, but some form of Confederation was coming to be seen by the elite as an eventual outcome. It is difficult to be sure whether these explorations can called a 'debate', since that term implies a continuous interaction of viewpoints, but some interchange of ideas seems to have taken place. Perhaps two basic points can be made about this immediate prehistory of the Confederation movement of 1864-67. First, some of the inherent problems of an intercolonial union were largely resolved in the preceding discussions, notably the need to blur the difference between a centralised legislative union and a loose and potentially weak federation. Second, widespread previous awareness of the issue underlines the point that controversy over Confederation in 1864-66 was less a battle between those who favoured union and those who opposed it, but rather more a disagreement between those who believed that it was immediately necessary and feasible and those who regarded it as a long-term but currently impracticable scheme. "The Idea of British North American Union 1854-1864" was first published in Journal of Scottish and Irish Studies, i (2008), pp. 309-333.

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Canada's Great Coalition, 1864

Fiction and Faction in Canada's Great Coalition of 1864 was published by the Centre for Canadian Studies at Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick in 1993, and based on the 1991 Winthrop Pickard Bell Lecture in Canadian Studies. In it I challenged the conventional textbook of the circumstances and motives that brought Canadian politicians together to work for a union of the provinces in 1864. In particular I argued that the Great Coalition could not be understood without appreciating that the province faced, not "deadlock" but an internal sectional upheaval, and that its members united not on the basis of a single programme to unite the whole of British North America, but rather behind two alternative, overlapping but rival schemes of constitutional change.

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Australia, New Zealand and Federation, 1883-1901

This two-part essay began with a belief that it would be in keeping with the international mandate of the University of Edinburgh to mark the centenary of Australian federation with a public lecture from Scotland. When the University decided to charge for a lecture room, the event was held in the hospitable surroundings of the Royal OverSeas League on Princes Street, on 14 December 2000. From the distant and neutral perspective of Scotland, the lecture argued that it was impossible to account for the coming of federation in Australia without also explaining why New Zealand stood aloof. A revised version was published by the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at king's College London in 2001. The origin of the project will explain (if not excuse) two features: its allusions to Scotland, and its concentration on surveying earlier research, since some of the Centennial literature had not then reached me.

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Macdonald and His Biographers

Sir John A. Macdonald (1815-91) was first prime minister of the Dominion of Canada. This review article was published in British Journal of Canadian Studies, xvi (2001), pp. 300-19.

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Edward Gibbon Wakefield: Abductor and Mystagogue

Edward Gibbon Wakefield: Abductor and Mystagogue (1997). Historians are not supposed to have personal likes and dislikes. This may explain why there has been so little explicit recognition of the fact that the colonisation 'theorist' Edward Gibbon Wakefield was a scoundrel. His kidnapping of an heiress, whom he tricked into going through a marriage ceremony with him, was not a romantic madcap adventure but a particularly chilling crime. But the key to understanding Wakefield lies not so much in his unpleasantness, a quality in which he was hardly unique, but in the fact that he was a fantasist.

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Witness to the Partition: India and Pakistan 1947-48. The Letters of Sir Fulque Agnew of Lochnaw Bt

Sir Fulque Agnew of Lochnaw was an idealist who decided in 1947 to seek work in India as the sub-continent made its transition to independence. Shortly before her death in 2000, his widow, known in academic circles as the historical geographer Swanzie Agnew, invited me to edit the letters he wrote to her during his travels. The edition was published by Edinburgh University's Centre for South Asian Studies and the text is reproduced here by permission of the copyright holder, Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw Bt, whose support for the project throughout is gratefully acknowledged.

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John A. Macdonald: Provincial Premier

Neither his biographers nor political historians have much to say about John A. Macdonald's brief period as head of the government in the pre-Confederation province of Canada. He was not wholly responsible for the lack-lustre performance of his ministry, but the experience was certainly no pointer to his later dominance. This article appeared in British Journal of Canadian Studies, xvi (2001), xx (2007), pp. 99-122. I am grateful to Liverpool University Press, which now publishes the BJCS, for permission to reproduce the article here.

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The Cambridge Union and Ireland 1815-1914

The Cambridge Union and Ireland 1815-1914 (Edinburgh, Ann Barry, 2000) began with the intention of producing a working paper about the Irish debates of England's oldest student debating society. It grew into a wider project ─ a history of the Union itself, and an examination of the relationship between debates and that elusive concept, "opinion". But none of this made much sense without placing the Union in its context of a privileged and traditional university.

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