MF – 1864.04.21 – Emigrant Aid Association – #106 – F12249
FROM THE EDITOR OF THE FREEMAN:
In our Tuesday’s issue, “A Subscriber,” following the example of our correspondent “Anti Humbug,” called attention to the condition, policy and acts of the Emigrant Aid Association.
We can scarcely understand either why this peculiar interest in the affairs of that Association has been so suddenly excited or has so suddenly sought expression, or what it is exactly that the writer of either letter proposes to effect. It never can do harm, however, to have the proceedings and policy of such Associations fully canvassed, even those who invite discussion are ignorant of the facts, or for any reason [wilfully] misrepresent them.
The Emigrant Aid Association has ever courted the utmost publicity, and it was by making all its objects and proceedings perfectly public that it hoped to gain the entire confidence of all who were interested in its success. When therefore “A Subscriber” asserts or insinuates that the members of the Society “are kept in the dark by its Executive as regards the working out of the objects for which they are associated,” he states what is absolutely untrue, and what none but an unscrupulous enemy could say did he know the facts.
And we can not imagine why or how any one in the Province who takes an interest in this matter can be ignorant of facts which are so generally known. We have watched the growth of these settlements with great interest, and from time to time we have reported the progress made in them. “A Subscriber” must have seen some of those statements at least, for he says that the stories told of the progress of Johnville are [marvellous]. They do seem almost [marvellous], but we believe they are perfectly true nevertheless, and if the Association had done nothing more than originate and promote that settlement, it would yet have done more than any of its members hoped to accomplish when it was founded; more than any other body, even the Government of the country itself, has done for the cause of colonization in this Province; more than enough to repay its members and the Province for all the money expended in this work.
But it has done much also in the other districts in which the Government have surveyed and set apart tracts of land for settlement under its controul, and if it has not succeeded as fully in those settlements as at Johnville, it is not to blame. Neither the Association nor its President has shown any partiality or favoritism, and if Johnville has been the favorite with the settlers, it is because the lands there were surveyed almost as soon as applied for, the Local Deputy doing his duty promptly and well; because the lands of Carleton are generally reputed the best in the Province, and, above all, because the Rev. Mr. Connolly, who undertook the management of this Colony, was at once zealous, energetic and prudent.
“A Subscriber” calls for publicity, and for a report from the Secretary. We can hardly imagine what the Secretary could report that has not already been made public. The Surveyor General, it is true, in his report, does not devote any special attention to these settlements, making express mention only of the five tracts of land surveyed for actual settlement in the year 1863. Of these five, two were for the Emigrant Aid Association, and of the whole five it was only on one of these two – that in Carleton – that much was done towards actual settlement. But I “A Subscriber” will look on page 84 of the Report, which he says he consulted, he will see “the returns of the first payment under the Labour Act after November 1862,” of several of the settlers on the Newcastle Tract of the Association (in Sunbury county) and on pages 86, 7, he will find others. Then, if he will look on pages 118, 9, he will find scores of “approvals of petitions” of the Association settlers.
But the most objectionable part of our correspondent’s letter is that in which in insinuates that the President has, by a coup d’etat, deprived the Committee of the Association of its power, and that the Association is a bogus Association, formed merely as a cover to give one man controul of such large tracts of the public domain,” &c. The spirit of mischief alone could have prompted such an insinuation as this. If association such as this, in which men act, and to which they subscribe purely from motives of charity and [philantropy], and from which none of the members expect to derive any gain or benefit, directly or indirectly, had not some “one man” to inspire, vivify, and controul them, they would almost inevitably fail, from inertness and apathy, so accomplish any good. As we have already explained, the Emigrant’s Aid Association only purposed to diffuse information to select lands for settlement, and to exhort, advise, and encourage the settlers, and so to induce a co-operation of the settlers themselves. Their numbers were never great, their funds were never large, yet they succeeded as none others ever have succeeded in this Province, and mainly by reason of the efforts of their President. – But the Association never had the controul of the large tracts of the public domain which the Government surveyed for its “settlements.” Those lands had been lying idle since “creation’s dawn,” and would be lying idle still, if this Association had not been formed. – The Government consented to give the Association a chance of carrying out its views, and ordered the survey of those tracts, but the Government retained the controul in its own hands, only agreeing that for a limited period none but the settlers who applied through the Association should obtain lots in those tracts. The same was done for several other associations, and no one has reason to complain of this, as there are millions of acres besides, from which any one who desires may choose for himself, and there are also tracts surveyed by the Government for “general applicants.” The “controul” therefore which was vested in this Association, and its President, was of a limited and well defined character.
It is no doubt the “public desire to see those lands occupied and the various localities become flourishing settlements,” but the Association, and particularly its President, have done more to realize those wishes than any other portion of the public. If our correspondent thinks they have left anything undone which they ought to have done and could have done, would he state in plain language, and descending from vague generalities, what that is? He writes of the controul of those lands, as if that in some way prevented the settlement of them. He must know, if he knows anything of the subject with which he undertakes to deal, that such an impression would be most false, as those lands are more open to people from all parts of the world than any of the wilderness lands still held absolutely by the Government, and that not only is no one refused a lot, but that all who should for their own sake and the sake of their families prefer an independence in the country to the precarious life of the cities and towns, are repeatedly invited, and almost entreated to come and choose for themselves the best portions of those lands yet unoccupied.
If our correspondents could point out any better mode of proceeding than has yet been adopted, any that would be likely to prove more successful, we would publish their letters with pleasure; but they have written only in the spirit of fault-finding, and we should almost say, of misrepresentation. To refuse them publicity, may be construed into an admission that there was something hidden, something wrong, but we must confess we can see no good their publication will effect, except it be to prove that the Association and its work can defy even such criticism.