John A. Macdonald: The Young Politician

John A. Macdonald: The Young Politician

John A. Macdonald: The Young Politician

John A. Macdonald: The Young Politician

Excerpt

It is now nearly sixty years since Sir Joseph Pope published, in two volumes, his Memoirs of the Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald, G.C.B., First Prime Minister of The Dominion of Canada. Sir Joseph was Macdonald's literary executor; to him was entrusted the vast mass of the Macdonald correspondence; and his biography, solidly based upon these private papers, has long remained the standard work on the subject. Other biographies of Macdonald have been published, of course, since the Memoirs first appeared in 1894; but they were shorter and slighter works, and without independent authority. This was inevitable as long as the correspondence remained in the custody of Macdonald's literary executor; but in 1917 Sir Joseph Pope transferred the entire collection to the Public Archives of Canada. Since that time-- thirty-five years ago now--the Macdonald Papers have certainly not been left unused. Historians have searched them-or, at least, parts of them--in pursuit of evidence on a variety of special topics. But, somewhat curiously, the principal subject of the collection, Macdonald himself, has never been made the main theme of an extended study. In view of the richness of the Papers, this neglect is surprising; and it is all the more surprising when one realizes how many other collections of original materials, relating in whole or in part to Canadian affairs during the long period of Macdonald's career, have been opened to students, in both Canada and Great Britain, during the past twenty-five years. It would seem, therefore, that the time has perhaps arrived for a re-examination of Macdonald's career in the light of all the evidence now available. That, at least is the excuse for the present study. The volume which is here presented covers the first of the two great periods into which Macdonald's career naturally falls. A second and concluding volume will deal with the years from 1867 to Macdonald's death in 1891.

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