Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
James Alexander Macdonald, LL.D
DR. JAMES ALEXANDER MACDONALD,
orator and publicist, for many years editor of the Toronto Globe,
one of the most influential newspapers of Canada, was born in Middlesex
County, Ontario, January 22, 1862, the son of John A. Macdonald. His
father was descended from a member of one of the Royal Highland Regiments,
which were disbanded at the close of the American Revolution and settled
largely in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. He is also descended from the
Grants of Speyside and Glenurquhart and the Camerons of Lochiel. His
ancestor, John Macdonald, fought at Culloden and was one of the survivors
of the massacre of Gleneoe. This John Macdonald settled in the great
Gaelic-speaking community of the Cape Fear district of North Carolina some
time previous to 1776. He, with his three sons, fought, and he was taken
prisoner, at the battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, February 27, 1776, with
the Loyalists that assembled at the call of their heroine, Flora
Dr. Macdonald studied at Hamilton,
Ontario, and the University of Toronto, and was graduated from Knox
College, Toronto, in
1887; and afterward took up special
studies in the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. He was ordained to
the ministry of the Presbyterian Church and was pastor of Knox Church, St.
Thomas, Ontario, 1891-1896. In the latter year he resigned to enter the
field of religious journalism, becoming the first editor of the
Westminster, Toronto. Under his able and forceful direction the
publication grew and prospered until it absorbed four other papers. It was
while editor of the Westminster that he brought to public attention
his classmate at Knox, Rev. Charles W. Gordon, "Ralph Connor," whose
stories of Canadian life have become world-famous. Dr. Macdonald is still
President of the Westminster Company.
In 1902 Dr. Macdonald was made
managing editor of The Globe, Toronto, a chief supporter of the
Liberal party of the Dominion of Canada, a position as powerful
politically as it is in the field of journalism, and served with such
distinction that the name of the paper and of its fearless and able editor
are inseparably synonymous. In 1915 he relinquished the duties of managing
editor to give himself more wholly to editorial writing.
Dr. Macdonald is tall, big-framed,
and of forceful and militant personality. Through his writings and
speeches he has won an enviable reputation as a publicist and orator of
uncommon power, honoured on two continents. Democracy and international
good-will are his passion, and the larger patriotism of peace and humanity
resound throughout his message. He speaks philosophically and
illuminatingly, imbibing his inspiration from generations of Scottish
ancestors inoculated with this spirit through training in the Presbyterian
church. Probably no one ever heard him make a long speech without noting
that he points his finest passages and phrases with deft and original
allusions to and quotations from the Scriptures. For years he has been
considered the greatest interpreter of Canadian feelings and ideals to the
United States, and of the like feelings and ideals of the United States to
Canada; and the best interpreter of Canada to Great Britain. He has
repeatedly been called upon to refuse public office.
Dr. Macdonald has been a member of
the Board of Governors of the University of Toronto since 1906; he is
Vice-President of the Toronto Conservatory of Music, and a member of the
Board of Directors of the World Peace Federation, Boston. He is a past
President of the Scottish Society of America (North Carolina), was the
first to propose a memorial college to Flora Macdonald, 1914, and
has taken great interest in securing funds for the institution at Red
Springs, N. C. He is a member of the National, Ontario, American, and
Toronto clubs (Toronto).
Dr. Macdonald was a member of the
first Imperial Press Conference, London, England, 1910, and on that
occasion was the bearer of a personal message of greeting from President
Taft to the two Presbyterian Assemblies of Scotland. The deep feeling with
which the two great speeches he delivered were received, and the spirit
and inspiration that attended them, Dr. Macdonald considers the greatest
honors of his life. He has also addressed on several occasions the General
Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States.
In addition to the many articles
that have come from his pen in the line of his duties as an editor, he has
published From Far Formosa, a volume on the life-work of the late Rev. Dr.
G. L. Mackay; and Democracy and the Nations, 1915, a volume of essays and
papers on Canadian-American relations.
Dr. Macdonald married, in 1890,
Grace Lumsden Christian. They have two sons and one daughter. Dr.
Macdonald’s business address is The Globe, Toronto, Canada.