An Excrescence of Despotism

2007-11-04

While reading an old book entitled The Mingling of the Canadian and American Peoples by Marcus Lee Hansen (Yale University Press, 1940), I came across an interesting anecdote. It seems that during the American Civil War, the U.S. federal government required travellers passing between Canada and America to have passports, which heretofore had been unknown in North America. The Presidential order authorizing the policy was described in the Canadian newspapers as "a piece of stupidity", "a disgrace", and "an excrescence of despotism, which no country pretending to be free would tolerate for a day" (p. 157). Sadly, we have learned to tolerate much, much worse than that.


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