I found Laxer's book to be a very good inquiry (especially for a novice historian like myself) into Canadian - USA relations during the Civil War and Canadian Confederation, both of which were occurring at the same time. Laxer makes the case that MacDonald's determined wish for a strong central government was highly influenced by the American Civil War which showed the defects and weaknesses of the American system (i.e. the powerful state powers over the weaker federal ones). Confederation, then, in Laxer, view "was very much a product of the political and economic forces of its time".
Lincoln's starting point as the war began was the preservation of the Union but changed after his re-election to become a Union without slavery. Jefferson Davies, President of the Confederate states wanted to create a new nation state. Even in 1776 these two separate "highly developed and increasingly antagonist" visions of nation were clearly evident but only one was destined to survive.
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