The North American Union (NAU) was a sovereign territory of the British Empire, encompassing the northern portion of the continent of North America (excepting Alaska, which was ruled by Russia). Victoria was the capital city.
The North American Union was an integral part of the British Empire, although it maintained the trappings of an independent country. It had its own armed forces including an army and navy. Indeed, the British Royal Navy and Royal North American Navy were closely cooperating and co-equal organisations.
The North American Union also maintained its own system of diplomatic relations with other powers, which it could sever without needing the approval of London. Executive power was in the hands of the Governor General, and the opinion of the British Prime Minister was not binding on the administration of the NAU.
The reigning British monarch, on the other hand, was highly respected, and his/her good opinion was important to the population of the North American Union. However, the king-emperor (or queen-empress) was a constitutional monarch who had no wish to exercise concrete power in the NAU.
The North American Union's birth arose from a period of tension between the mother country and its colonies in North America. In the second half of the 18th century, in the period after the Seven Years' War, the Kingdom of Great Britain passed several acts designed to closely administer its expanded empire. Tensions mounted as the American colonists grew frustrated with a lack of representation in the British parliament.
In an effort to stave off revolution and war, noted American military leader George Washington led a delegation to the court of King George III. Washington and the king were able to forge an agreement insuring that North America would remain part of the Empire. This event was commemorated in a Thomas Gainsborough painting titled The Two Georges, which went on to become a famous and highly-prized icon of unity between North America and the rest of the British Empire.
Slavery was abolished in the entirety of the empire, including the NAU, in 1834. Wealthy, aristocratic whites in the southeastern provinces of the NAU objected, but emancipation went through regardless. In the years that followed, Negroes were offered wide avenues of upward mobility, especially entry into positions in the civil service. White settlement in the west was much slower, but ultimately unavoidable. Some Red Indian tribes were able to modernise themselves, keeping a large part of their lands and retaining a considerable autonomy. In fact, two of the Provinces of the NAU - the Cherokee Nation and The Six Nations - were dominated by and founded according to the cultures of certain Indian peoples, as their names imply. Conversely, about a decade after the slave emancipation, Irish immigrants arrived in the Union in massive numbers following the Potato Famine in their native isle. These immigrants became wage workers, most notably in coal mining, and were not always treated fairly.
The North American Union comprised numerous provinces, each headed by a governor and with an elected provincial parliament, subordinate to the Governor-General. Some Red Indian tribes still existing within the NAU had local autonomy but were regarded as client states and not as provinces in intra-provincial and international affairs.
See also Provinces of the NAU