John A. Macdonald

Sir John A. Macdonald

John A Macdonald (ca. 1875).jpg
1st Prime Minister of Canada
In office
1 July 1867 – 5 November 1873
Governor GeneralThe Viscount Monck
The Lord Lisgar
The Earl of Dufferin
Preceded byOffice established
(see Canadian Confederation)
Succeeded byAlexander Mackenzie
In office
17 October 1878 – 6 June 1891
Governor GeneralThe Earl of Dufferin
Marquess of Lorne
The Marquess of Lansdowne
The Lord Stanley of Preston
Preceded byAlexander Mackenzie
Succeeded byJohn Abbott
Joint-Premier of the Province of Canada
Premier of Canada West
In office
24 May 1856 – 2 August 1858
Preceded byAllan MacNab
Succeeded byGeorge Brown
In office
6 August 1858 – 24 May 1862
Preceded byGeorge Brown
Succeeded byJohn Sandfield Macdonald
In office
30 May 1864 – 30 June 1867
Preceded byJohn Sandfield Macdonald
Succeeded byJohn Sandfield Macdonald
(as Premier of Ontario)
Personal details
John Alexander Mcdonald

10 or 11 January 1815[a][b]
Glasgow, Scotland
Died6 June 1891(1891-06-06) (aged 76)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Cause of deathStroke
Resting placeCataraqui Cemetery
Political partyConservative
Other political
Upper Canada Tory (1843–1867)
Great Coalition (1864–1867)
Liberal-Conservative (1867–1873)
Isabella Clark
(m. 1843; died 1857)

Agnes Bernard (m. 1867)
Children3 (including Hugh John Macdonald)
Military service
Nickname(s)"Old Tomorrow"
"The Old Chieftain"
AllegianceBritish Empire
Upper Canada
Branch/serviceLoyalist militia
Years of service1837
Battles/warsRebellions of 1837–1838

 • Father of Confederation •

Sir John Alexander Macdonald (11 January 1815 – 6 June 1891) was the first prime minister of Canada (1867–1873, 1878–1891). The dominant figure of Canadian Confederation, he had a political career which spanned almost half a century.

Macdonald was born in Scotland; when he was a boy his family immigrated to Kingston in the Province of Upper Canada (today in eastern Ontario). As a lawyer he was involved in several high-profile cases and quickly became prominent in Kingston, which elected him in 1844 to the legislature of the Province of Canada. By 1857, he had become premier under the colony's unstable political system.

In 1864, when no party proved capable of governing for long, Macdonald agreed to a proposal from his political rival, George Brown, that the parties unite in a Great Coalition to seek federation and political reform. Macdonald was the leading figure in the subsequent discussions and conferences, which resulted in the British North America Act, 1867 and the birth of Canada as a nation on 1 July 1867. Macdonald was the first Prime Minister of the new nation, and served 19 years; only William Lyon Mackenzie King served longer.

In 1873, he resigned from office over the Pacific Scandal, in which his party took bribes from businessmen seeking the contract to build the Canadian Pacific Railway. However, he was re-elected in 1878, continuing until he died in office in 1891. Macdonald's greatest achievements were building and guiding a successful national government for the new Dominion, using patronage to forge a strong Conservative Party, promoting the protective tariff of the National Policy, and completing the railway. He fought to block provincial efforts to take power back from the national government in Ottawa. His most controversial move was to approve the execution of Métis leader Louis Riel for treason in 1885; it alienated many francophones from his Conservative Party. He died in 1891, still in office; he is respected today for his key role in the formation of Canada. Historical rankings have consistently placed Macdonald as one of the highest rated Prime Ministers in Canadian history.[1]

Early years, 1815–1830

John Alexander Macdonald was born John Alexander Mcdonald[a] in Ramshorn parish in Glasgow, Scotland, on the 10th (official record) or 11th (father's journal) of January 1815.[b][2] His father was named Hugh, an unsuccessful merchant, who had married John's mother, Helen Shaw, on 21 October 1811.[3] John Alexander Macdonald was the third of five children. After Hugh's business ventures left him in debt, the family immigrated to Kingston, in Upper Canada (today the southern and eastern portions of Ontario), in 1820, where there were already a number of relatives and connections.[4]

The family initially lived with another, but then resided over a store which Hugh Macdonald ran. Soon after their arrival, John's younger brother James died from a blow to the head by a servant who was supposed to look after the boys. After Hugh's store failed, the family moved to Hay Bay (south of Napanee, Ontario), west of Kingston, where Hugh unsuccessfully ran another shop. His father, in 1829, was appointed a magistrate for the Midland District.[5] John Macdonald's mother was a lifelong influence on her son, helping him in his difficult first marriage and remaining a force in his life until her 1862 death.[6]

John initially attended local schools. When he was aged 10, his family scraped together the money to send him to Midland District Grammar School in Kingston.[6] Macdonald's formal schooling ended at 15, a common school-leaving age at a time when only children from the most prosperous families were able to attend university.[7] Nevertheless, Macdonald later regretted leaving school when he did, remarking to his secretary Joseph Pope that if he had attended university, he might have embarked on a literary career.[8]

Other Languages
беларуская: Джон Мак-Дональд
한국어: 존 맥도널드
Bahasa Melayu: John A. Macdonald
Nederlands: John Macdonald
norsk nynorsk: John A. Macdonald
português: John A. Macdonald
Simple English: John A. Macdonald
Tiếng Việt: John A. Macdonald