The June 2014 edition of Civil War Times magazine included an article on the Canadian role in the Civil War. That inspired the following trivia question for me.
What major impact did an escaped Missouri slave named John Anderson have on the slavery issue and secession?
John Anderson, a slave in Fayette, Howard County, Missouri married a enslaved neighbor named Maria Tomlin and they had a child. When he was sold to an owner 30 miles away and forbidden to return to visit his family he ran away to Canada. His legal efforts to maintain his freedom were upheld by the Canadian Supreme Court in April 1960, aided by intercession from Great Britain, and established a precedent regarding return of runaways in Canada. In his escape he killed Seneca D. P. Diggs in a slave catcher. Extradition was requested for the murder. Had he lost his legal battles slave catchers would have been free to take runaways off the streets of Toronto just as they could in Boston or New York. This loss made secession a more clear option for the southern states.
There were about 40,000 Canadians who crossed over and served in the war primarily for the Union.
The Confederacy used Canada as a base for a spy ring and sabotage. Plans included destroying Manhattan Island by fire. Bank raids such as that at St Alban’s. Canadians were paranoid about their fear that they might be invaded as the US did in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. England had considered sending forces to Canada to invade the US if necessary.
All this motivated a introspective look at their government and motivated John A. Macdonald to formulate the parliamentary democracy that exists today with a strong central government with the provinces more or less municipalities. The Seventy-Two Resolutions from the 1864 Quebec Conference and Charlottetown Conference laid out the framework for uniting British colonies in North America into a federation. They had been adopted by the majority of the provinces of Canada and became the basis for the London Conference of 1866, which led to the formation of the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. The term dominion was chosen to indicate Canada’s status as a self-governing colony of the British Empire, the first time it was used about a country. All as a result, directly or indirectly of our Civil War.