John Sandfield Macdonald

John Sandfield Macdonald

Infobox President
name = John Sandfield Macdonald

caption = The Hon. John Sandfield Macdonald
birth_date = birth date|1812|12|12|mf=y
birth_place = St Raphael West, Glengarry County, Upper Canada
death_date = death date and age |1872|06|01|1812|12|12
death_place = Cornwall, Ontario
order = 1st
office = Premier of Ontario
term_start = July 15, 1867
term_end = December 20, 1871
predecessor = None
successor = Edward Blake
party = Ontario PC Party
religion = Roman Catholic
spouse = Marie Christine Waggaman

John Sandfield Macdonald, QC (December 12, 1812 – June 1, 1872) was the first Premier of the Canadian province of Ontario after the province was created as a result of the confederation of Canada in 1867. He served as both premier and Attorney-General of Ontario from July 15, 1867 to 1871.

A Reformer and advocate of responsible government, Macdonald served in all eight Assemblies of the United Province of Canada prior to Confederation. He also served in several pre-confederation administrations, including a period as co-premier of the United Province from 1862 to 1864. It was this time when Macdonald suffered a collapsed lung from chronic tuberculosis. []

Macdonald was initially an opponent of confederation, but came to accept it and became an ally of Sir John A. Macdonald. John A. Macdonald helped manoeuvre Sandfield Macdonald into the position of first Premier of Ontario.

His government was moderate and initially a coalition of liberals and conservatives (described in contemporary accounts as a "Patent Combination" government), but suffered from defections by more radical Reformers. This group joined with the Clear Grits to form the opposition Liberal Party led by Edward Blake and Oliver Mowat. In December 1871, Macdonald's government was defeated by Edward Blake's Liberals. Macdonald resigned, and died several months later.

Sandfield Macdonald would be the last Roman Catholic Premier of Ontario for 132 years; not until Dalton McGuinty became premier in 2003 would another Roman Catholic assume the office. After Macdonald's tenure, sectarian tensions in the province rose, and the Conservative Party increasingly became identified with the Orange Order and sectarian Protestantism. Even though most of the party's leaders were not sectarian themselves (with a few notable exceptions), Orange Ontarians became a core constituency of the party that leaders were loathe to neglect. Catholics, meanwhile, increasingly voted for the Liberal Party. While the Liberals could never be called a Catholic party, the Catholic vote became as important a constituency to the Liberals as the Orange vote became to the Conservatives.

Macdonald's brothers, Donald Alexander Macdonald and Alexander Francis Macdonald, were also politicians, and served as federal Members of Parliament. Donald, who served as an MP the longest of the three brothers, was in the House of Commons concurrently with both Sandfield and Alexander, although Sandfield and Alexander did not serve concurrently with each other.

Personal life

In 1840 while he was on one of his missions from the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada the Earl of Durham to the British Minister at Washington he met Marie Christine Waggaman, daughter of George Augustus Waggaman, a former Whig senator from Louisiana. They were married in 1840 and raised three children.

He was personally referred to by his middle name Sandfield and often signed his correspondence and documents as "J. Sandfield Macdonald".

External links

* [ Biography at the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online"]
* [ Synopsis of federal political experience from the Library of Parliament]
* [ John Sandfield Macdonald at Find a Grave]
* [ Ontario Plaques - John Sandfield Macdonald]

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