Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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LESSLIE, James, Canadian journalist, born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1802; died in Eglinton, Ont., 19 April, 1885. He came to Canada in 1820, and established himself in the book and stationery business in Kingston. He removed to York several years later, and-when that town became the city of Toronto was chosen a member of the first city council. In 1836 he took an active part in establishing the House of industry, and at the same time strongly opposed the ascendency of the Church of England in public affairs. Mr. Lesslie was appointed president of the Bank of the people, which afterward was merged in the Bank of Montreal. At the beginning of the insurrection of 1837 he and his brother William were arrested by the authorities simply because they were known as advocates of civil and religious liberty; but after an examination by the commissioners of treason they were released. The disabilities that were imposed on the friends of constitutional reform after the rebellion led to the formation of the Mississippi emigration society, and Mr. Lesslie was chosen as one of a delegation to select a site for a Canadian colony. Davenport, Iowa, then a small village, was chosen; but, owing to the conciliatory course that was pursued by Lord Durham, the new governor-general, the scheme proved abortive. In 1844 Mr. Lesslie purchased the "Examiner" newspaper in Toronto, and conducted it editorially until 1854, when he sold it to George Brown, of the "Globe." While an editor he ably opposed the claims of the state church, and contributed in no slight degree to its abolition. In 1855 he retired from business, and two years later went to Eglinton, where he remained till his death.
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