Friday, October 28, 2011

Is it possible that Canada is timing our annexation just right?

The underlying arithmetic of the founding of our Empire - that is, dear wanderers, the United States - having haunted us since day one, a nagging anxiety to annex the great wastes to the north, never forgetting their oil, their endearing Mounties, and their French cuisine - has plagued our statesmen and designers now for centuries. A simple illustration portrays the dilemma of our inception, as one of too few entities - a scant 13, where 2 or 3 more would have made our portrait so suitable for daytime viewing. Ultimately, of course, we hasarded an adventure of militarism in that direction, only to be rebuffed and sent packing, Mr Madison the first to grab a cab home to Virginia. But what was especially telling about the War of 1812, was the jubilation of our most compulsively martial sector.

Yet why, indeed, should this have been, with the South having furnished so many of the illuminati of our founding? Who ever would have dreamed of our republic's emulation of autocracies' wars, with such impassioned peaceableness in our excuses? But in fact it was a passing nationalist phase, stoked by a string of headstrong Virginian presidencies, which generated that rising clamour, which led our great Federalist advocate Mr Webster to render judgment on our intemperate outbursts to the present day: there is in the nature of things an unchangeable relation between rash counsels and feeble execution. 

Now, however, with Governor Perry's generous offer to remove Texas from our equation, we naturally thirst for petroleum replenishment and grazing vastnesses, to say nothing of superior dining. Et voilà, the bilingual gem of every aperture to splash a flash of light upon the film plane, already permeable of border, is now so elegantly integrated in its administration as to be approached on the matter of our absorption. Heretofore, the indelicacy of asking anyone to host Texas has proved a sticking point in any dream of consolidation. With that thorn's removal, what is not possible, in reaching a becoming amalgam of our provinces?

I know, I know. We can all hear the objections - well, this simply won't do: Canada has never committed an act of aggression in its history - and there is, to be fair, much to be said against this oversight. But shall we not, our-selves, take heart in our indignant numbers, and the consolation that we shall certainly be hauling South Carolina with us, and all of Wall Street, too? Possibly never, you may come to reason, will a State have been so roused from its unmanliness, since the Norman conquest. I put it to you in the simplest terms, and beg you to divine the defect: going in, as Canadians, is there any limit to the dominion we might wreak, as Americans?

Well you may query, the bona fides of a suggestion such as ours, from a page so absorbed in gentler matters than imperial aggrandisement. But the clock of Canada's abiding patience with us, like Apollo's with Achilles, has run its course in the rubber-stamping of our wars, and with the maladministration of our purse. To fail to heed Canada's implicit standing offer, to redeem ourselves in its embrace, at the very moment when Texas is so willing to be excused from our endurance, would not only be to sustain the shrivelling impoverishment of our fig leaf, but to confess our alienation from the Greeks. Just as idiot Helen vows to confine herself to the Gulf of Mexico, will Athena turn her down?

Alan Taylor
Knopf, 2010©

Sean Wilentz
The Rise of American Democracy
  Jefferson to Lincoln
Norton, 2005©

iii-vii  Dorian Reeves


  1. Laurent, salutations from the great wastes to the North. Timing has never been one of my strong suits but I figure a delayed response is better than none at all! As always, you draw endearing images and spin a fine tale but perhaps our nations are well-suited for one another as they are - frozen in their places, gazing at each other across the 49th with a mix of envy and greed, distrust and longing, possessiveness and disinterest. A well-deserved marriage, n'est-ce pas?

    A minor aside: I think you do fair Helen an injustice...for where would she be without that delightful scamp Paris Alexandros?

  2. Oh, no courtship would be worth its weight without a demurral or two, so naturally one is most encouraged by yours. The fact may be, Derek, that we are all so giddy with the liposuction of Texas that it's only natural to give chase to our heartthrob of these past two centuries.

    Yes, the comparison of her rashness to that of Governor Perry might have been a stretch, but not in the sense of the advantage she conferred with it. On this we seem to agree?

    Thank you for your visit. We understand, you had a long way to come.