Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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GALT, John, Scottish novelist, born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, 2 May, 1779; died in Greenock, Scotland, 11 April, 1839. He was educated in Greenock, and, after spending some years in mercantile pursuits, began the study of law at Lincoln's Inn, London. In 1809 he set out on a tour of nearly three years in southern Europe and the Mediterranean, and while in the Levant his attempt to introduce British goods into the continent by way of Turkey, in defiance of the Berlin and Milan decrees, led to considerable diplomatic correspondence. While abroad, he formed the acquaintance of Lord Byron and Mr. Hobhouse, and traveled much with them over land and water. On his return to England, he first appeared before the public as an author, and the published results of his observations while on the continent obtained a large degree of popularity. From this time until 1826, when he went to Canada, he published many works, which, though not uniformly successful, gained him public favor. His connection with Canada was through his appointment as an agent to urge on the imperial government the claims for compensation of Canadians who had sustained losses during the war of 1812. The resulting negotiations and investigations led to the organization of the Canada hind company, with a capital of £1.000,000. This association procured a grant of 1,100,000 acres in one block, and a scheme for emigration on an extensive scale was adopted. Mr. Galt, in honor of whom the town of Galt, Ont., is named, was appointed superintendent of the company, and in 1827 began the work of colonization by founding what is now the City of Guelph. He then took an extended voyage on Lake Huron, visiting Detroit, Buffalo, and other places in the United States, and on his return to Canada caused a road to be constructed through the dense forest lying between Lake Ontario and Lake Huron. Notwithstanding Mr. Galt's energy, the affairs of the Canada land company did not prosper, and in 1829 he was recalled, and, after contributing signally to the prosperity of Canada, was obliged to take advantage of the insolvent debtors' act. (In his return to England he resumed writing, produced many books, and contributed largely to newspapers and magazines. As a novelist he had no classic predilections, and was less distinguished for literary finish and the skilful elaboration of his plot than for rough common sense and a mild element of interest always sufficiently strong to secure his stories a reading. He wrote altogether about forty-five works, including "Lawrie Todd," a novel relating some of his Canadian experiences (1830); an " Autobiography " (2 vols., 1833) ; and "Literary Life and Miscellanies of John Galt " (3 vols., 1834).--His son, Thomas, Canadian jurist, born in London, England, 12 August, 1815, was educated in England and in Scotland, and in 1828 emigrated to Canada with his father's family. Two years afterward he returned to Great Britain, remained there three years, and then, returning to Toronto, entered the employ of the Canada land company, in which he remained six years. He then began the study of law in the office of Justice Draper, and was called to the bar of Upper Canada in 1845. He at once took a prominent place in his profession, in 1858 was created a queen's counsel, and in 1869 was made a judge of the court of common pleas.--Another son, Sir Alexander Tilloeh, Canadian statesman, born in Chelsea, London, England, 6 September, 1817, was educated in England and Canada, and early displayed literary ability, contributing to " Fraser's Magazine'" when only fourteen. He emigrated to Canada when a boy, and in 1833 became a clerk in the service of the British and American land company, whose operations were limited to the eastern townships of Lower Canada. He was appointed commissioner of the company in 1844, and held the office for twelve years, and under his management the business of the corporation became prosperous. In 1849 Mr. Galt was elected a member of parliament for the County of Sherbrooke, and though he was then a Liberal in politics, he opposed the administration of Messrs. Baldwin and Lafontaine, voted against the rebellion losses bill, and, despairing at that time of Canada's future, signed the annexation manifesto. When Toronto became the seat of government, after the destruction of the parliament buildings at Montreal, Mr. Galt resigned, and did not re-enter polities till 1853, when he was again elected for Sherbrooke, and continued in parliament till his resignation in 1872. On the resignation of the Brown-Dorion government in Au-gust, 1858, the governor-general, Sir Edmund W. Head, called upon Mr. Galt to form an administration, but he declined. The same year he proposed resolutions in parliament in favor of a federal union of the British North American colonies, and these became the basis of the policy of the Cartier-Macdonald government, which he joined the same year. Together with Sir George E. Cartier and John Rose, he went as a delegate to Great Britain to urge the confederation of the British North American provinces, and the construction of the intercolonial railway before the imperial government. He was a member of the executive council, and minister of finance, from August, 1858, till May, 1862, when the ministry was defeated on the militia bill, and held the same office again from March, 1864, till August, 1866, when he resigned in consequence of his opposition to the educational policy of the administration relative to the British population of Lower Canada. He became a third time a member of the privy council, and minister of finance of the Dominion on 1 July, 1867, but resigned on 4 November of that year, for private reasons. He was a delegate to the Charlotte-town union conference in 1864, and to that of Quebec the same year" a member of the confederate council of trade held in Quebec in 1865; a delegate to Washington respecting the renewal of the reciprocity treaty in 1866; and to the London colonial conference in 1866-'7. In 1868 he went to London with Dr. (now Sir Charles) Tupper, to confer with the imperial government on the Nova Scotia question, and again became finance minister on the resignation of Sir John Rose in 1869. He was a member of the fisheries commission of 1877, appointed under the treaty of Washington; conducted negotiations on behalf of Canada for a commercial treaty with France and Spain in 1879, and in 1881 was the delegate for Canada at the international monetary conference in Paris. He was Canadian high commissioner to Great Britain from 1880 till 1883. Sir Alexander is a fluent speaker, and is regarded as one of the ablest ministers of finance Canada has ever had. His monetary statements always have been noted for clearness. The most noticeable features of his financial administration were the consolidation of the public debt, with provisions for its redemption; the encouragement of direct foreign trade; the abolition of the canal and Lake St. Peter tolls ; and the issuing of provincial notes as currency. He was president of the St. Lawrence and Atlantic railway in 1852-'3, and carried out the amalgamation of that line with the Quebec and Richmond, Toronto and Guelph, and Montreal and Toronto, forming the railway system now known as the Grand Trunk railway, of which line he was in 1857-'8 a government director. He declined the honor of the C. B. (civil) in 1867, but in 1869 was created a K. C. M. G., and in May, 1878, was advanced to the dignity of Knight Grand Cross. He is an honorary LL. D. of Edinburgh University, and received a diploma for special services in connection with the international fisheries exhibition in London in 1883. During the early part of his political career Sir Alexander was a Liberal in polities, but from 1857 he has allied himself to the Liberal Conservatives. He is the author of "Canada from 1849 to 1859," and several pamphlets.
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