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Canadian History
Sir Alexander Campbell


Sir Alexander Campbell, K.C.M.G., is by name and blood a Scotchman, by birth an Englishman, and by adoption a Canadian. He is a son of the late Dr. James Campbell, and was born in 1821 at the village of Hedon, near Kingston-upon-Hull, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. His parents emigrated to Canada when he was only two years old and settled at Lachine. Young Alexander received his early tuition at the hands of a Presbyterian minister, spending some time also at the Roman Catholic Seminary of St. Hyacinthe. He completed his education under Mr. George Butler of the Kingston Royal Grammer School, Butler being the same master to whom the trainiong of young John A, Macdonald also fell. In 1838 he passed the preliminary legal examination, and entered upon a study of the law, in the office of the late Mr. Henry Cassidy, an eminent lawyer in Kingston. In this office he remained till Mr. Cassidy's death in 1839, then he became a pupil of Mr. John A. Macdonald, who at this time was doing a fairly prosperous legal business in Kingston. He was admitted as an attorney at the Hilary term of 1842. He immediately formed a co-partnership with Mr. Macdonald, and the firm was thereafter for some known as Macdonald & Campbell. The firm throve, for there was nto so much competition then as there is now. Macdonald was a shrewd though never by any means a great lawyer, but he had much tact with juries, and was endowed with good common sense. Young Campbell was cool headed, and did not kindle as William Hume Blake used to do some years before when addressing the court, but he compelled respect for his cautious manner. They soon found themselves in possession of a handsome competence, and feeling certain that their legal business was on a firm basis, they began to think of politics. From 1851 to 1852 Mr. Campbell was alderman for one of the Queen's Counsel. In 1856 he was elected a Queen's Counsel. In 1858 he was elected to the Legislative Council in the Liberal-Conservative interest for the Cataraqui Division, and he always won respect for the soberness and soundness of his views. he was not a man that flamed across the political sky, and attracted every eye suddenly. Respect for him grew slowly, but it grew, and in 1863 he was chosen as Speaker of the Council. In 1864 he was asked to form a cabinet, but declined. In the Taché-Macdonald Ministry he accepted the portfolio of Crown Lands Commissioner, and held this position through the various shifts of administration down to Confederation. He was a staunch advocate of Confederation, and ably championed the cause in the Upper House, and was kept much on the alert in replying to Mr. Currie of NIagra, who fancied that from the confederation scheme would issue all sorts of political plagues and mischief, and it is admitted now that he very effectually bore down the contentions of this fertile prophet of harm. In 1867 he was called to the Senate, in which body he sat since, maintaing the same characteristics that won him regard and attention in his earlier career. On the first of July of the same year he was appointed Postmaster-General, and retained the position for about six month, and then became Minister of the Interior. This position he did not hold long, for his party went out of office in 1873. He has since held different portfolios, and is at present Minister of Justice, a position for which he seems peculiarly well adapted, from the sober judicial cast of his mind. In 1879 he was created a knight of the order of St. Michael and St. George, at an investiture held in Montreal by the Governor-General. He married in 1833, Miss Georgina Frederica Locke, a daughter of Mr. Thomas Sandwith, of Beverley, Yorkshire, England. Altogether, Sir Alexander Campbell's life has been a useful one to the public.


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