Imperial Federation

The Imperial Federation refers to a series of proposals in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to create a federal union to replace the existing British Empire.[1] No such proposal was ever adopted, but various schemes were popular in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and other colonial territories. The project was championed by Unionists such as Joseph Chamberlain as an alternative to William Gladstone's proposals for home rule in Ireland. Many proposals were put forward, but none commanded majority support. The Imperial Federation League, the main advocacy group, split into two factions in 1893, with one group promoting imperial defense and the other encouraging imperial trade. Various proposals were put forward, with most of them calling for a single state with an imperial parliament headquartered in London. The new parliament would deal with internal trade, foreign relations, defense and other issues that affected the entire federation. The new parliament would rule India directly, while the dominions (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and South Africa) would have internal self government. Ireland would also have self-government, which was expected to reduce demand for home rule in Ireland.[2]

Imperial Federation, showing the British Empire in 1886 (before expansion in Africa)