Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MACKENZIE, Alexander, Canadian statesman, born in Logierait, Perthshire, Scotland. 28 January, 1822. He was educated at the public schools of Maulin, Dunkeld, and Perth, and, after following for a time the trade of a mason, became, like his father, an architect and builder. In 1842 he emigrated to Kingston, Canada, where he worked as a journeyman, and he soon afterward began business on his own account as a builder and contractor at Sarnia, in western Canada. He had been a Whig in Scotland, and naturally, soon after his arrival in Canada, allied himself with the Liberal party. In 1852 the "Lambton Shield," a reform newspaper, was established, with Mr. Mackenzie as editor. In 1861 he was elected to parliament for Lambton, and represented it till 1867. He supported John Sandfield Macdonald, favored the project of confederation, was opposed to the coalition of 1864, and declined a seat in the Canadian cabinet on the retirement of George Brown in 1865. In 1867 he was elected for Lambton to the Canadian parliament, and again in 1872, 1874, and 1878. He was chosen for East York in 1882, and re-elected for that place in February, 1887. In 1867, on the defeat of George Brown, Mr. Mackenzie succeeded to the leadership of the Reform opposition in parliament, and in 1873 he was designated as leader of the entire Liberal party in Canada. On 5 November, 1873, upon the resignation of Sir John A. Macdonald, Mr. Mackenzie was called upon by Lord Dufferin to form an administration, which he succeeded in doing a few days afterward, taking the office of minister of public works, which he held till he resigned with the members of his cabinet in October, 1878. He represented West Middlesex in the Ontario assembly from 1871 till October, 1872, when he resigned, and was a member of the executive council and treasurer of the province from 21 December, 1871, till the date of his retirement. His administration was productive of the most important legislation, and as premier he mounted and directed to a great extent all the principal measures that were enacted by the Dominion government. Among these were a stringent election law with the trial of election petitions by judges and vote by ballot; the abolition of the real-estate qualification for members of parliament; the enactment of the marine telegraph law, which virtually abolished the monopoly of the cable company: the establishment of a Dominion military college; the improvement of the militia system; the permanent organization of the civil service; the establishment of a supreme court for the Dominion; the reduction of postage to and from the United States ; the opening of direct mail communication with the West Indies; the construction of a trans-continental telegraph-line ; the adoption of a final route for the Pacific railway; the opening of negotiations for a reciprocity treaty between the United States and Canada; the establishment of a territorial government for the Northwest, ; and the satisfactory adjustment of the Manitoba amnesty and the New Brunswick school questions, which at, one time threatened the gravest complications. Mr. Mackenzie, though possessed of no gifts of oratory, is still an effective speaker, and his plain, honest, and earnest statements of opinion have proved often more convincing than the elaborate and eloquent speeches of Edward Blake, his successor in the leadership of the Liberals. In June, 1872, Mr. Mackenzie visited Scotland, and while there was presented with the freedom of Irvine, Dundee, and Perth, and also visited the Queen at Windsor Castle. In 1881, during a second visit to his native land, he was granted the freedom of the city of Inverness. Mr. Mackenzie is president of" several important financial associations. He was thrice offered the honor of knighthood by the Queen, but declined it. He is the author of "Life and Speeches of Hen. George Brown " (Toronto, 1882).
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