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John A. Macdonald

born: Glasgow, Scotland, 11 January 1815
died: Ottawa, Canada, 6 June 1891
representing: Province of Canada
position: Pro-Confederation

John A. Macdonald

John A. Macdonald was many things, a businessman, a lawyer, a politician and the first Prime Minister of Canada. He first moved to Canada in 1820 with his parents where they settled in Kingston, Upper Canada. By the age of 17, the young Macdonald was the sole manager of a branch legal office in Napanee.

Early in life as a Private in the militia he participated in the attack on rebels at Montgomery's Tavern and, ironically, later as a lawyer defended several rebels in court.

Macdonald had a well publicized drinking problem which often brought him grief, coming under scrutiny for drinking during meetings and sometimes having trouble recollecting the proceedings of the day.

His political career began by serving as an alderman in Kingston in 1843. Macdonald began to associate himself with conservative politics in 1844 and he was elected to the legislative assembly in the same year (age 29) for Kingston. During these times government was changing as responsible government was looming and a modern departmental structure was being introduced.

The first part of Macdonald's political life was spent in opposition, yet in 1856 he became the joint premier of the Province of Canada. During the decade of 1854-1864 Macdonald faced growing opposition in his own faction of the Province to the political union of Upper and Lower Canada. Macdonald favoured a strong, highly centralized unitary form of government and felt this held the key to solving political conflicts between provinces. He took office as the first Prime Minister of Canada on the first of July, 1867. During his first term as Prime Minister he began building the Canadian Nation while still holding strong ties to Britain and the Queen.

Through his work, Macdonald linked Canada with the Canadian Pacific Railway and, consequently, developed the west. He gave birth to dreams of a strong nation and he gave life to the dreams of others. He was not by nature an innovator, but he was a fighter.

Macdonald's resolve to build Canada as a great nation was summed up when he proclaimed:

"One people, Great in Territory, Great in Resources, Great in Enterprise, Great in Credit, Great in capital."

RealVideo of John A. Macdonald Confederation Players

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