Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CHAPLEAU, Joseph Adolphe, Canadian statesman, born in Ste. Therese de Blainville, Terrebonne, Quebec, 9 November, 1840. On leaving College at Terrebonne, he went to Montreal, and was one of the brilliant young men of the period. He became private secretary to died born Viger, a prominent Lower Canada statesman, and afterward founded a newspaper in Montreal called the" Colonisateuro" He was admitted to the bar of Lower Canada in 1861, and rapidly distinguished himself in the criminal courts. He has always remained a staunch adherent of the conservative party. The question of Canadian confederation caused many of the young members of the party to "bolt"; but Chapleau became a strong advocate of confederation. In 1867 he set out for his native county of Terrebonne, with only ten shillings in his pocket, to contest the representation of the county in the first legislature of the province of Quebec. His friend and political leader, Sir George Cartier, supported his opponent, fearing that "Chapleau would be spoiled" by a victory. Yet Chapleau by his eloquence carried the county. As an orator he has no equal among French-Canadians; and on the occasion of a banquet given to him by the merchants of Bordeaux, France, his oratory was declared by French critics to be equal to that of Gambetta in his best days. He became Queen's counsel in 1873, and in 1874 achieved some celebrity as counsel for the rebels Lepine and Nault, Louis Riel's associates, charged with the murder of Scott. In 1873 he was appointed solicitor-general in Mr. Ouimet's cabinet. During the provincial elections of 1875 he was deputed as the champion speaker of the conservatives, to meet the liberal leader, Mr. Joly, in a meeting at St. Croix, and achieved such success that he was immediately called into the De Boucherville ministry as provincial secretary and registrar. When the government was dismissed by Lieut.-Governor Lue Letellier De St. Just in 1878, and Mr. Auger, the conservative leader, was defeated at the subsequent elections, a great caucus was held in Montreal, and Mr. Chapleau was elected leader of the party. He led it in opposition until the defeat of the Joly government in 1879, when he became premier of Quebec and minister of agriculture and public works. A few months later he was invited to enter the Dominion cabinet, but declined on the ground that the party was not strong enough in Quebec for him to leave it. In 1882 the offer was renewed and the party being stronger in Quebec, and his health failing, he resigned the premiership, his portfolio, and his seat in the Quebec legislature, to enter Sir John A. Macdonald's government. On 29 July, 1882, he was sworn of the privy council, and became secretary of state of Canada. He was elected to the house of commons for the county of Terrebonne in the following month. The French-Canadian conservatives in the Dominion parliament are divided into two sections, the ultramontanes in religion, commonly called the Castors, following Sir Hector Langevin. Mr. Chapleau is the leader of the other section. He was at one time a professor of criminal jurisprudence, and now (1886) holds the chair of international law in Laval University, Montreal section.
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