Alexander Campbell (1822-1892): his career to 1864

Four draft chapters on the Canadian politician Alexander Campbell (1822-1892), tracing his career to 1864.

In 2013, I published an article, "Alexander Campbell (1822-1892): The Travails of a Father of Confederation", in Ontario History (cv, 1-18), available via martinalia: Campbell had been portrayed as a wooden personality, a humourlessly high-minded, ineffectual character whose principal role in Canadian history was as a sidekick and foil for John A. Macdonald. The "Travails" article explored the personal side, challenges that included a physical disability, epilepsy and a broken marriage. Following its publication, I decided to see whether a more general biography might be possible. In this endeavour, I was very fortunate to receive the generous help of Dr Michael Poplyansky, whose energy and initiative were extremely helpful. The project produced four draft chapters that take the story to 1864. These reviewed the dissolution of the law partnership between Campbell and Macdonald (an episode where the much-put-upon Campbell has suffered a bad press), traced the origins of his political career, his election to the Legislative Council in 1858 and the possibility that he might have emerged as Premier of the province six years later (an outcome that I argue was unlikely). 

The fact that the project did not proceed was entirely my responsibility. For two decades after 1867, Campbell served in the Senate, for most of that time acting as government leader in the Upper House. While there are attractive archival resources that can bring alive his continuing bumpy relationship with Macdonald, this theme alone would not have sustained a satisfactory book. Even within the traditional framework of a parliamentary-politics biography, it would have been necessary to look closely at Campbell's management of the Senate, while he also held a series of ministerial portfolios that would equally merit close examination.

From the vantage point of 2022, a "traditional" biography of Campbell – politics mixed with private life – now seems inadequate. Public discourse in Canada now focuses firmly upon the history of the country's relations with Metis and First Nations. Campbell criticised the haste with which the new Dominion acquired the Hudson's Bay territories, but it was characteristic of his predominantly negative caution that he did not propose any alternative solution for their future government. Even more controversial is the issue that dominated the last months of his active political career, shortly before he retreated to the ceremonial role of Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, the execution of Louis Riel. A fervent champion of the death penalty as the ultimate foundation of law and order, Campbell published a forthright defence of the decision to hang Riel, an issue that, in the twenty-first century, calls for a wholly different perspective in biographical assessment. In addition, there is a troubling theme relating to gender. The "Travails" article described the break-down of the Campbells' marriage, something that his contemporaries had carefully veiled, although behind coded signals whose message could no longer deciphered. Campbell's response to this domestic tragedy, the confinement of his estranged wife Frederica in asylums, is highly problematic within the modern discourse surrounding issues of gender. Here, any future biographer will have to confront a central question: was his motive compassion or control? The larger challenge of the overall integration of his attitudes to race and gender would no doubt constitute a very different core from the traditional form of political biography. All that can be said here is that these issues came to the fore after 1864. Whatever evaluation of Alexander Campbell may emerge in the twenty-first century, these draft chapters are offered as scene-setters.

E-publication also gives me the opportunity express appreciation to Dr Michael Poplyansky, whose generous support I refer to above. Dr Poplyansky is the author of Le Parti acadien et la quête d'un paradis perdu (Les éditions du Septentrion, Québec, 2018), and of a series of articles, notably the recent analytical survey, "Le tournant transnational en historiographie acadienne", Acadiensis (volume 50, 2021). Michael Poplyansky is also the co-author of a history of the Francophone contribution to the University of Regina, where he is professor of history in La Cité universitaire francophone de l'Université de Regina.






Thousands of people in nineteenth-century Canada knew that Alexander Campbell battled an exhausting mobility problem. His lameness was obvious when he rose to speak in parliament or the law courts, as he walked the streets of Kingston and Ottawa, sometimes supported by a crutch. A smaller number among his political and professional associates would also have known that he suffered from epilepsy, a neurological disorder that triggers occasional seizures, distressing to witness and sometimes, as in Campbell's case, devastating to endure.[1] To have held Cabinet office for two decades in the face of such challenges would be difficult even in more supportive modern times. To have done so in the less sympathetic nineteenth century was a major, but totally forgotten, achievement. In addition to physical disability and epilepsy, Alexander Campbell also experienced the collapse of his marriage. After sixteen years together, and the birth of five children, his wife left him to live in Europe, where her eccentric personality and outspoken behaviour caused her to be certified as a lunatic and confined to an asylum.

The Victorians expressed opinions about ethnicity and sexuality which we find bigoted and brutally insensitive.  Yet, by contrast, they were oddly reticent about alluding to disability: Campbell himself asked Macdonald not to "say so much about ill-health" when the prime minister announced his cabinet demotion in 1885.[2] Nowadays, the retirement or death of public figures triggers media evaluation of their careers and achievements, making possible frank but sympathetic assessments of any personal handicaps they faced. Alexander Campbell's retirement from the Senate in 1887 and his death in 1892 both generated newspaper coverage, but with no explicit allusion to his disabilities. One journalist commented that so talented a public figure had not "plunged boldly in to the open sea of politics" (a florid allusion to the House of Commons), because "he has not enjoyed the continuous good health that is almost a necessity for the active politician."[3] Another contemporary referred to Campbell's "constant ill health which necessitated his retirement to the upper house".[4] These were, at most, coded references, and there were few of them. Toronto's principal newspapers, the Mail and the Globe, were both noted for outspoken, even outrageous, political comment, but something of a conspiracy of silence seems to have enwrapped the entire Ontario press in its reporting of Alexander Campbell. It is noteworthy that those few reports which slightly lifted the veil are found in the New York Times and the Victoria, British Columbia Daily Colonist, both remote from central Canadian propriety. Campbell was a cabinet minister for almost twenty years, a close ally of Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, and one of the Fathers of Confederation who created the new Dominion in 1864-67. Yet the three most intriguing elements in his life story – physical disability, poor health, and a failed marriage – were almost completely excised from the record by Victorian propriety. As a result, it becomes easy to understand why there has been no biography of the apparently two-dimensional figure who emerged from this conspiracy of silence.[5]  

Alexander Campbell entered politics in his mid-thirties, in the province of Canada, the union of modern Ontario and Quebec, winning election to the Legislative Council in 1858 for the district around his home city of Kingston.  He quickly became popular in the genteel backwater of the upper house of the provincial legislature. In March 1864, when factional turbulence brought Canadian politics to the verge of meltdown, he was briefly seen as a possible compromise premier. As a member of the Great Coalition, formed in June of that year, he kept a low profile but attended the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences that launched the union of British North America. In 1867, he moved on to the Senate of the new Dominion, in Ottawa, its equally raw capital, where he led the Conservative party for twenty years. He also served as "Minister of almost everything"[6] in the cabinets of Sir John A. Macdonald before retiring to become lieutenant-governor of Ontario in 1887. Senator, cabinet workhorse, lieutenant-governor – Campbell seemed to tick all the boxes that point to a forgettable second-rank contribution to Canadian politics.

Other elements in Campbell's personality and career also seem to label him as a minor figure.  "He was a gentleman of the olden time," commented the Ottawa Citizen. "One of nature's noblemen", remarked a fellow Senator.[7] Comments such as these on the "wonderfully mild-mannered"[8] Campbell convey a sub-text: in the rough-house world of Canadian politics, to dub somebody an "aristocrat" is to label him as a loser, while the claim that he brought "unimpeachable integrity"[9] to governments led by John A. Macdonald could even imply that he was naive.  Furthermore, Campbell's persona, as "a veritable grand seigneur, of dignified bearing and courtly mien", conveyed a set of values that jarred with the meritocratic culture of nineteenth-century Canada. [10] As an administrator, he worked closely with his deputy ministers, but was tougher on subordinates, "being rather inclined to a Bismarckian way of doing things" and "not a man to be trifled with". One sympathetic profile cautiously suggested that he might have acquired "breadth of feeling" had he confronted ordinary voters by seeking election to the House of Commons.[11] It is tempting to suspect that, at some point, Campbell snubbed Joseph Pope, Macdonald's secretary from 1883 and later his biographer and guardian of the prime minister's memory, in which role he took venomous revenge. Campbell, Pope claimed, "regarded the multitude as an assemblage of more or less uninteresting persons, necessary only at election times".[12] At Campbell's funeral in 1892, an impressive cross-section of Canada's elite followed the cortege through the streets of Toronto in their carriages, in careful order of precedence, but "the number of those on foot in the procession was not as great as might have been expected".[13]

As the Toronto Globe, no admirer of Conservatives, remarked, Campbell belonged to a class of politician "who do not win a very large following, but who acquire the esteem of all who come into contact with them, and who make no enemies."[14] "I never speak unkindly even of my opponents," he assured Macdonald in 1879, but it is noteworthy that the protest came in response to an allegation from the prime minister that Campbell had criticised him to colleagues: "absurd ... either in my mouth or my thoughts," he insisted.[15] However, he could be vigorous in censuring Macdonald to fellow members of the social elite, Alexander Morris in 1873 and T.C. Patteson in 1885. Campbell's "nice guy" pose seems to have been a cover that – in his estimation – sometimes justified him in attacking both friend and foe. Declared victorious in his first Legislative Council campaign in 1858, he proclaimed" "I have always spoken of my opponents in the highest terms as gentlemen of the greatest respectability", before denouncing one of them for an "unwarrantable" slur. On the one occasion when he spectacularly blew his top in parliament, denouncing a fellow Senator in 1880 as a "slanderer", he defended himself in similar terms: "I have never attacked a single member ... it is habitual with me to avoid giving offence".[16] That outburst was a rare exception: at Campbell's death, his fellow Senators paid tribute to "his urbanity of manner, and genuine kindness of heart".[17] Campbell's gentlemanly bearing made him popular among the social and political elite, even though he projected a colder persona to those who were not part of Canada's magic circle. He managed to remain on friendly terms with two of Macdonald's bitterest foes, Ontario premier Oliver Mowat and Liberal finance critic Richard Cartwright: indeed, Cartwright was a trusted partner in investment ventures and a pall-bearer at Campbell's funeral. Few contemporary public figures could ever have been described as "a man grave and strong, moderate, dignified, firm, sagacious, candid without indiscretion, politic without craft, loyal to his party, but ever mindful his personal honour, and ever thoughtful of the public weal."[18] It is a tribute that makes Campbell sound too good to be true. It certainly does not tell the whole story.

Alexander Campbell's long association with the magnetic and glamorous figure of John A. Macdonald has also pushed him into the shadows, where he has been viewed not as a public figure in his own right, but as a compliant sidekick and political gopher. The great man's legendary biographer, Donald Creighton, saw Campbell's role as serving Macdonald "like a stout, serviceable, extremely comfortable pair of boots".[19] That patronising comment, referring to 1849, seems to apply equally two decades later, when Richard Gwyn calls him "Macdonald's long-time Mr. Fix-It".[20] Creighton even underlined Campbell's lesser stature by portraying him as "slight in build". Perhaps, at the age of seventeen, when Campbell first entered Macdonald's law office as his clerk and apprentice, he was shorter than his lanky boss, but an obituary recalled "his tall, stately figure".[21]

In reality, their relationship was both more complicated and less consistent than it has been made to appear. True, in 1843, Campbell became Macdonald's first law partner, but, six years later, in a pained vote of no-confidence in his colleague, he declined to renew the arrangement. Creighton took revenge on this abandonment of his hero by belittling Campbell's personality. "He brooded. He philosophized. His standards were obstinately high; he was rather dourly conscientious; he developed stubborn loyalties."[22] If Campbell appeared both spiky and indecisive during the 1849 partnership crisis, it was because Macdonald's haphazard business methods pushed his undoubted loyalty beyond the limits. Moreover, during the first decade of his parliamentary career, Campbell belonged to a rival wing of the Conservative party and often maintained his political distance from Macdonald. Their personal relationship survived the break-up of 1849, or at least revived within a few years, but it is likely that it had different meanings for the two participants. It was part of Campbell's self-image that he was on terms of mutual goodwill with allies and opponents alike, while for Macdonald, for all his warmth and geniality, friendship was ultimately another weapon in the building of political coalitions, something to be turned on and off as required. He probably resented the break-up of the partnership, while his detractors claimed he could not forgive the attempt to draft Campbell into the Upper Canada Conservative leadership in 1864.[23] For his part, Campbell came to assume that regarding himself as John A's oldest comrade gave him the right to act as his candid friend, and it is unlikely that his occasional homilies and reproofs were appreciated. By the 1880s, advancing years and grinding workloads took their toll on the two men, and there was sometimes friction between them. Joseph Pope, who became Macdonald's private secretary in 1883, noted that the two "were never kindred spirits", although "externally friends ... their personal relations were antipathetic".[24]

Unfortunately, Joseph Pope unquestioningly took his employer's side, and perpetuated a pejorative sketch of Campbell in his later role as unofficial guardian of Macdonald's memory. Dedicated to his "dignified love of ease", the Senate leader kept aloof from "the rough-and-tumble of party politics", watching elections "in a patronizing sort of way" although "he always turned up when the victory was won."[25] This was doubly unfair to Campbell. First, for many years he had served as the Conservative party's principal organiser for eastern Ontario.[26] Furthermore, when Macdonald was temporarily unseated for corrupt practices in the general election of 1874, Campbell connived in a charade in which he took the blame for the irregularities committed by party workers in Kingston. At the cost of sharp criticism of his integrity from the judge trying the case, Campbell saved his party leader from outright disqualification from sitting in the 1874-78 parliament, thereby saving Macdonald's battered career.[27] Second, Campbell's physical handicap worsened with age: by the time he entered his sixties, his mobility was considerably restricted.[28] Pope's pointed failure to mention Campbell's health problems, even when writing two decades after his death when Victorian propriety might have been relaxed, suggests that he was settling some personal score. Indeed, Pope later admitted that he had considered using his edition of Macdonald's correspondence – published almost three decades after both men had died – to produce "an unfavourable picture of Campbell".[29] Fortunately, he allowed his vendetta to lapse – a wise decision, since he seriously misunderstood at least two of the episodes that had aroused his ire.

It is impossible to tell Alexander Campbell's life story without according John A. Macdonald a notable part in the narrative. However, to assess Campbell's importance, we need to stand back and separate him from the shadow of Canada's first prime minister. Cartwright recalled that "Campbell was a man of much greater ability than he ever got credit for".[30] Even Pope grudgingly admitted that "assuredly Campbell had some merits, or Macdonald would not have kept him in successive Cabinets."[31] His success in managing the Senate reflected a particular set of skills: the Red Chamber was a backwater partly because Campbell ran it so efficiently. Macdonald did appoint other ministers from the Senate, partly to ensure regional balance within cabinet, but also – in his later years – because he was reluctant to promote patronage-hungry members of his Commons caucus. However, since the 72-seat upper house was barely one third the size of the House of Commons, essentially it fell to one spokesperson – Campbell – to defend the whole range of government policies. "In the Senate he could debate any subject that was introduced with perfect ease", remarked the Toronto Mail, pronouncing him "a good all-round parliamentary leader". In addition, he held six separate portfolios – all of them demanding to administer – ranging over "almost one-half of the departments of the Government at one time or another".[32] In opposition to the Mackenzie Liberal government, from 1873 to 1878, Campbell displayed similarly deft management. Ostensibly, he exuded supportive goodwill while probing ministers" handling of specific issues, a combination that would have appeared hypocritical in a more obviously ruthless politician. His low profile approach contributed to one of Mackenzie's most serious setbacks, the defeat in 1875 of his deal with discontented British Columbia. The Senate rejected its key provision, the Esquimalt to Nanaimo railway, thanks to the defection of two Liberal members. Mackenzie's biographer states that Campbell "led a violent attack" to block the bill.[33] In reality, his tactics were far more sophisticated: Senator Campbell uttered not a word, thus providing space for the Liberals to split.

Alexander Campbell also possessed one advantage that was rare among the Anglophone politicians of his day: thanks to a brief period studying at a seminary near Montreal in his early teens, he could speak French. It was perhaps an exaggeration to say that "he acquired a considerable knowledge of the French language". Campbell was functionally rather than fluently bilingual: when he wrote to his alma mater in 1887, he arranged for a civil servant to correct his grammar.[34] "On occasion, he could make a French speech in the Senate; though he rarely exercised the gift, and only perhaps to meet some playful challenge of the French members."  One intriguing sidelight on Campbell's linguistic skills is that he reportedly had a lifelong "interest in French literature".[35] By Victorian standards, French novels were racy and improper: Alexander Campbell was perhaps less staid than his historical image suggests.

Political biographies are written from a range of sources – newspaper profiles and obituaries, speeches and private correspondence. As already noted, central Canadian newspapers avoided outright allusion to Alexander Campbell's health problems: the press can tell us much about what Campbell did, but little about who he was. Campbell's speeches were thought by contemporaries to be "lucid and candid": modern readers may still find them unduly detailed, although they do contain the occasional vivid verbal flash.[36] In 1885, Campbell arranged the private printing of a 300-page edition of his selected orations, probably as part of the process of disengaging himself from frontline politics.[37] Described as "terse, nervous, dignified, and severely accurate",[38] Campbell's speeches were only rarely discursive or autobiographical, while about one third of the volume deals with subjects that do not inspire engagement. It was important to establish an efficient system for registering land title in the North West Territories (as those provinces were called in his day), but it is hard to share Campbell's lawyer-like enthusiasm for the minutiae.            

Although the published material tells little about Alexander Campbell, at first sight archival sources seem more promising. The Alexander Campbell papers in the Ontario Archives include over 3,000 documents, plus four letter books containing copies of his outgoing correspondence. Although valuable, this collection also has its limitations. First, the collection contains almost nothing before 1871, when Campbell was already nearly fifty years of age. This was about the time when he relocated from Kingston to Ottawa, and it may be either that previously he had not saved personal documentation – unlikely in a lawyer – or that an earlier private archive was lost in the move. Second, the surviving papers focus heavily on business and politics, with little on family matters and only a few stray clues on the break-up of the Campbell's marriage. The clear implication is that the collection was weeded and correspondence on painful matters destroyed, either by Campbell himself or perhaps by his elder son Charles, who became a successful Montreal lawyer. For a more personalised Campbell, sometimes relaxed and nostalgic, at others worried and despondent, we have to turn to the extensive papers of John A. Macdonald. This material broadens the picture, but at the expense of once again subordinating Alexander Campbell to his dazzling contemporary.

Small markets and limited horizons help explain the slow development of political biography in Canada before 1914. Only major figures were commemorated in formal studies of their life-and-times, usually written by close associates – John A. Macdonald by his former secretary, Joseph Pope, Oliver Mowat by his son-in-law. The memoir of Toronto Globe proprietor and Liberal tyrant George Brown was a pious exercise by his friend Alexander Mackenzie, while Mackenzie himself was commemorated by the joint authorship of his secretary and a political ally.[39] The key point was that families controlled access to private papers – a point underlined by Mackenzie King's ruthless suppression of a faintly critical study of his grandfather, William Lyon Mackenzie.[40] The few attempts to produce biographies without such access generated massive tomes padded out from secondary sources.[41] At Campbell's death "some of [his] relatives and intimate friends" decided that "a reprint of the many kind notices which have appeared since his death" would form "a useful reference in after years."[42]  Since the obituaries were already self-censored, the strategy ensured that honour was paid to Campbell's memory without revealing anything that the family preferred to remain unspoken.

Modern Canadian political biography began with the Makers of Canada series, published between 1903 and 1908.[43]  There was never much chance of Campbell qualifying for inclusion among the 26 subjects (all male), who were included ecclesiastics, explorers and governors, spanning 300 years of Canadian history and chosen –  in true Canadian spirit – to reflect all regions of the country. In terms of nation-building, Campbell's story seemed a version, admittedly in a minor key, of the achievement of John A. Macdonald. Besides, when the project began, Campbell's estranged wife was still alive, his son was a rising Montreal barrister and his daughter married to a Toronto lawyer. True, biographers rarely explored private lives before the explosive appearance of Lytton Strachey's racy and disrespectful Eminent Victorians in 1918 (a book that was slow to make its impact in Canada). Charged with writing about John A. Macdonald for the Makers of Canada series, G.R. Parkin went so far as to seek the advice of the governor-general "as to the advisability of mentioning the intemperance question". Lord Minto sensibly replied that it was "impossible to omit" the fact that the country's first prime minister was sometimes drunk, congratulating Parkin on his oblique handling of the problem ("you could not have done so more delicately").[44] However delicate the allusion, it would have been impossible to write a full-length biography of Alexander Campbell without discussing his health, while readers –  worse still, perhaps also reviewers –  might have wondered why his wife was not at his side in Toronto's Government House.

Since so little had been done to immortalise Campbell at the time of his death, it is not surprising that his memory faded still further in the decades that followed. He was the subject of an impressive University of Toronto Master of Arts thesis in 1950,[45] but the project did not lead to publication. Then, in 1952-55, came Donald Creighton's mighty two-volume biography of John A. Macdonald, which seemed for all time to cast Alexander Campbell in a subordinate role.[46] Only one subsequent historian gave serious attention to the extensive private papers. Donald Swainson was a Queen's University professor who successfully placed Campbell within the business and political networks that ran nineteenth-century Kingston.[47] Swainson attributed Campbell's secondary role to Macdonald not to personal factors but to "his lack of an independent power base".[48] If he did not pick up clues to Campbell's health problems and his tragic marriage, that was largely because the archival record had been laundered to remove (or severely reduce) their traces. But Swainson perceived enough to appreciate that, although "relatively unknown" to posterity, Alexander Campbell was "a far larger figure in the history of nineteenth-century politics" than subsequent commentators had allowed.[49]

Obviously, any reassessment of Campbell's career must be set against the background of his health and marital problems. Unfortunately, the veiling of the evidence forces his biographers to fall back upon irritatingly defensive terms such as "probably", "likely" and "perhaps". Hence it seems appropriate briefly to examine the context before launching into the narrative story of Campbell's life. In 1886, a sympathetic correspondent of the Victoria Daily Colonist stated he was "hampered by incurable lameness".[50] Twenty years after Campbell's death, Richard Cartwright echoed the point: Campbell was "heavily handicapped by his lameness".[51] However, it is impossible to say when and how the problem originated. Announcing his candidature for the Legislative Council in 1858, he seemed matter-of-fact in stating that he would only be supported "in the full knowledge ... that I cannot go into a personal canvass" and that his election "must depend on the exertions of others more than on my own."[52] Offered a place in the ministry in 1860, he declined (mainly because of policy disagreements), pleading that he was "not quite certain that my lameness would permit me to discharge the duties of office".[53] In 1869, Macdonald reported to a correspondent in England that Campbell was "looking well, although using his crutch" – a passing allusion to a handicap evidently well-known to his associates.[54] When Macdonald urged him to travel to Winnipeg and address an election rally in 1882, Campbell pleaded that it was "quite beyond my strength" to accede to the request. "You forget that I cannot stand half an hour nor walk more than three quarters, and either of these tasks done once a day is all that I am capable of the twenty four hours."[55] He was open to the charge of being selective about his commitments – Campbell travelled to British Columbia the following year, to Halifax in 1884 and he was always keen to visit Britain – but it is certainly not the case that he exploited his disability. Indeed, these six scraps of evidence, three comments by observers, three from Campbell himself, may be the only traceable references to his lameness.

By contrast, there seems to be just one allusion to Campbell's susceptibility to epilepsy, a report by the New York Times in 1886 that Campbell was "seriously ill", which added: "He had an attack of epilepsy some days ago and has not yet recovered."[56] A major reason for the general reticence of Canadian newspapers was the horror aroused by what the Victoria Daily Colonist termed in 1886 "that most terrible of all infirmities, epilepsy".[57] Even today, when far more is known about the disorder, many people coping with epilepsy feel they are stigmatised.[58] Campbell's major epileptic seizure in 1886 was described by the Victoria Colonist as "a disease of the brain".[59] When he travelled to Britain soon after seeking specialist treatment, another report cruelly stated that the journey was undertaken "for the purpose of warding off symptoms of insanity".[60] Epileptics were sometimes confined in asylums alongside the mentally ill.[61] Sympathy was muted even for the highest ranking epilepsy sufferer in the British Empire, Queen Victoria's son, Prince Leopold, whose decision to marry was branded by one Canadian journalist as "almost a crime".[62] It is likely that obituaries omitted specific allusion to Campbell's epilepsy out of respect for his family: it was simply not the sort of health issue that was mentioned in public.

The sparsity of evidence about Campbell's health problems is frustrating: for instance, we have no way of knowing whether they stemmed from problems at birth, or developed at some point in later life. Given the mystification that surrounded the disorder, it is not safe to conclude from the 1886 report that Campbell's case was one of late-onset epilepsy. In negotiations with Macdonald over their law partnership in 1849, Campbell cited his health as a complicating factor,[63] but without specifying any details. "Epilepsy has many different causes. ... Determining the specific cause for any one person's epilepsy is usually difficult. In about 60% of all cases, no specific cause is found".[64] It is tempting to link his lameness with his seizures, but even here the causal issue is of a chicken-and-egg nature. Epilepsy can be triggered by an accident, especially involving a head injury. But the reverse also applies: Prince Leopold died in 1884 of head injuries suffered during a seizure. Three highly inferential shreds of evidence may point to a possible accident in early adulthood as the cause of longer-term health problems. First, when he was thirteen, Campbell was sent to a seminary to be immersed in French. It is safe to assume that Campbell's father, who was a medical doctor, would not have exposed his son to the Spartan conditions of a Catholic religious institution if the boy's health had given cause for concern.[65] Second, in his late teens, Campbell was a dare-devil rider on horseback, leading the short-sighted Oliver Mowat in dangerous gallops over the fallen trees of Kingston's hinterland.[66] The third point is intriguing if undoubtedly thin. For eleven months in 1880, Alexander Campbell held the post of Minister of Militia. In pre-Confederation Canada, all males between the ages of 16 and 65 were liable to serve in the militia. Compulsory annual training sessions did not produce a very effective military force, but the experience could be demanding.  In old age, Macdonald recalled a route march on a hot day in which he nearly dropped from exhaustion under the weight of a heavy musket.[67] It seems unlikely that Macdonald would have entrusted the Dominion's defence portfolio to a colleague whose mobility was impaired unless Campbell had himself served in the militia – such an appointment would have been open to political criticism, as well as potentially humiliating to the recipient himself.  It would make convenient sense of Campbell's life story if we could postulate a riding accident, say at the age of 20, causing a badly broken leg that never fully healed and head injuries that triggered epileptic seizures. Alas, we simply do not know, because the records do not tell us. However, two points can be stated with confidence. First, Campbell battled mobility problems throughout his entire political career. Second, by the 1880s, when he was in his sixties, he experienced severe seizures, and there are clues that suggest he may have been susceptible to epilepsy throughout his life.

As if these health problems were not enough, Alexander Campbell's marriage broke up. In 1871, after sixteen years of marriage, Frederica (Sandwith) Campbell took a vacation in Europe, and refused to return. Worse still, sometime in the mid-1870s, she was certified as insane, and spent several years in asylums in England and Massachusetts. Although the leading mental health specialist in North America had "no doubt of her insanity,"[68] Frederica seems to have been simply an unhappy eccentric, voluble and venomous in her opinions, perhaps with mood swings to depression.[69] It was certainly no secret that he lived apart from his wife, with his younger daughter acting as official hostess during his time in Government House. Events were routinely announced – like the 1891 charity performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore in honour of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children – "under the distinguished patronage of the Lieut.-Governor and Miss Marjorie Campbell."[70] Remote from Ontario propriety, a family member in Victoria BC explained that Frederica was "obliged for her health to reside in the south of Europe" after a local journalist claimed that she was "confined to an asylum in England."[71] As too often happens in marital break-ups, the Campbell children took sides, with the elder daughter, Hester, becoming estranged from her father. Although he was supported by members of his extended family, Campbell effectively raised Marjorie and her two brothers as a single parent. He was proud of his son, Charles, who at the age of 26 joined the Montreal law firm of Conservative politician J.J.C. Abbott.[72] Younger brother Archibald, who found it harder to build a career, was shunted into a civil service clerkship. In 1886, "Archy" shot himself at Campbell's Ottawa home. On balance, we should accept the official version, accidental death while cleaning a pistol, although some suspected suicide.[73] Two years later, Hester died in Switzerland, where her mother liked to spend the summer. Campbell hurried across the ocean as soon as he heard of her illness, but we do not know whether he reached her deathbed in time to make his farewells.[74]

Although the challenges faced by Alexander Campbell may chime with those encountered by very many people today, this does not mean that he is likely to function as a role model. In many respects, he seems distant from the modern world, driven by values that we repudiate today. Indeed, for many readers, sympathy at his health problems and compassion towards his family tragedies will be entirely neutralised by the fact Alexander Campbell twice confined his defiant spouse to mental institutions. However, five points can be offered in his overall defence. First, however much he may have been unconsciously imbued with the contemporary prejudices of patriarchy, he does not seem to have been a domineering husband. In 1868, as cracks began to appear in the marriage, he infuriated Macdonald by withdrawing at short notice from a high-level transatlantic mission after Frederica refused to be left alone with the burden of child-rearing. Campbell conceded that her point of view was reasonable and refused to "overrule her objections by force of marital will."[75] Second, given the prejudice surrounding mental illness, it was hardly a political asset to place his wife in an asylum. Third, it seems that the issue was forced upon Campbell, with the initiative in "certifying" Frederica, that is, depriving her of her liberty, being taken by the authorities in England. Fourth, he arranged for her to be detained in two of the most comfortable and progressive hospitals in the Atlantic world (which, fortunately, he could afford). Lastly, after her release in 1879, Campbell supported his estranged wife financially – and reasonably generously – for the rest of his life. A broken marriage was a matter of scandal in the Victorian world. The conspiracy of silence that protected Campbell's public reputation suggests that his contemporaries did not blame him for the break-up. Nor should this be seen as an example of men making convenient rules in a male-dominated world. When Sir John A. Macdonald's cabinet colleague George Foster married a divorcee in 1889, it was the prime minister's formidable wife, Agnes, who decreed that the couple should be ostracised from Ottawa society.[76] No such fatwa was ever launched against Campbell. Indeed, the fact that he was appointed to represent Queen Victoria in the dominant province of Ontario indicates that he was not regarded as responsible for the break-up.

Alexander Campbell is remote from most of us in one other crucial respect. Faced with John A. Macdonald's belief that he was "too much given over to the pursuit of money", Campbell denied in 1885 that he was "well off". However, from the perspective of hindsight, his notion of a financial position of "bare competence" looks attractively comfortable.[77] True, by the last decade of his life he was not only supporting Frederica in Europe but also bankrolling two brothers – one "hopelessly infirm", the other a disastrous businessman. His children received costly educations, his sons attending elite boarding schools, with Charles going on to graduate at Cambridge.[78]  Even Marjorie had her own governess.[79] Campbell never had been any problem funding transatlantic holidays for family members. Two of his homes, Hillcroft in Kingston and the Campbell House on Ottawa's Metcalfe Street, survive as opulent mansions that speak of a privileged lifestyle.

Until the practice was largely abandoned in 1919, Canada's politicians and businessmen happily accepted British honours and titles, and some eagerly coveted them. Campbell was perhaps indecently eager in pressing his claim to become Sir Alexander, as he was for the last thirteen years of his life. Canadians generally mixed attachment to the Empire with a hard-nosed awareness that their Dominion could not survive alongside the powerful United States without a powerful external protector. Among contemporary politicians, Campbell was seen as "the strongest admirer of British institutions, and the one who is the thoroughly English in his feelings."[80] His loyalty to Queen Victoria was emotional in its adulation: there was "no unreasoning devotion when with heart and voice we sing and pray 'God save the Queen.'"[81] Campbell represented Canada at the first Colonial Conference, held in London in 1887, the forerunner of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings of today. In a speech there, he hoped "that Canada had obtained in the eyes of the Empire that reputation which she had striven for years to obtain."[82] His colonial mentality seems remote from the way Canadians think about their country today.

Sir Alexander Campbell also appears on what is now regarded as the wrong side of one of the most traumatic episodes in Canadian history. In 1885, the Metis activist Louis Riel led an unsuccessful uprising on the prairies. Convicted of high treason, he was sentenced to death, and hanged in Regina's jail after the Macdonald Cabinet refused him mercy, even though Riel was clearly in the grip of delusions that could easily have justified a reprieve. Modern Canada has long since abolished the death penalty, and it seems particularly barbaric to send a political challenger to his death. Riel has become a posthumous symbol of wider Western alienation, as well as a symbol of Metis and (by extension) Aboriginal grievances. Quebec nationalists claim that the francophone Riel was sent to his death as Ontario's way of demonstrating its mastery over French Canada. The belief that Louis Riel was a victim has almost acquired the status of political correctness. Even Richard Gwyn, a fervent admirer of Sir John A., calls the decision "the worst mistake of his entire career."[83] But Macdonald did not bear the responsibility alone. Campbell was Minister of Justice, and it was his responsibility to arrange that the prosecution of Riel – a duty that he carried out with characteristic efficiency.  Furthermore, three weeks after the execution, the government published a close-printed ten-page memorandum by Campbell in defence of their decision. Writing with what an admirer called "force, conciseness and logic",[84] he certainly scored some points, noting, for instance, that it was inconsistent to argue simultaneously that Riel had articulated genuine grievances (a contention which Campbell dismissed) and also that he was mad.[85] It would be pointless to look for compassion in such a document, but its bleak tone is disturbing to read when we recall that its author had felt obliged to confine his own wife to asylums. Despite the contemporary prediction that Campbell's memorandum would "always be regarded as one of the ablest state papers of our day",[86] it is rarely mentioned in the still-continuing controversy over the execution of Louis Riel. Nonetheless, the Regina gallows casts its shadow over Alexander Campbell's career. The most that sympathetic biographers can plead is that we should try to see him through the lens of his own time.

In one very real sense – the visual – that is precisely what we cannot do. In the summer of 1894, two years after Campbell's death, a camera captured Canada's Prime Minister Sir John Thompson relaxing in Ontario's cottage country. He was roaring with laughter. That Muskoka photograph is a landmark in our ability to imagine the Canadian past.[87] A new type of film, mass-marketed by the Eastman Kodak company, made it possible to take instantaneous pictures of people without compelling to sit motionless during a lengthy exposure period – hence the term "snapshot". In visual terms, Campbell belongs to a pre-modern era of posed photographs which portray him (and contemporaries like Macdonald and the notoriously pop-eyed Alexander Mackenzie) as grimly humourless personalities. Donald Creighton even tried to deduce character from Campbell's photographs, discerning "a reserved, serious face whose solemnity was accentuated by a slightly pendulous underlip."[88] It is a pointless exercise: anybody who is told that the slightest movement will blur their photograph must adopt a rigid and unsmiling posture. We need to attempt more subtle deductions from the pictures that survive. The fact that Campbell was formally photographed on at least three occasions in the post-Confederation era may suggest an element of vanity, especially since for one  studio session Sir Alexander donned the robes (and the sword) of a Knight  Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George. He was immaculately tailored, as was to be expected in a man of wealth. Once, around 1869, he allowed himself to be portrayed holding his walking stick. The photographs reveal one other affectation: Alexander Campbell had mutton-chop whiskers. In contrast to most of contemporary politicians, who were resolutely clean-shaven, Campbell sported bushy facial hair down both cheeks, as far as his collar. He could hardly have been motivated by a desire to avoid daily use of a razor, since his chin and upper lip were whiskerless. If it was an eccentricity, it was a harmless one, perhaps part of a defensive strategy to divert attention from a hairline that was already receding in the 1860s. In reality, the photographs tell us very little. We do not see Campbell laughing, but that is because of shortcomings in technology, not personality. The people around him, we do not see at all. Canadian artist Robert Harris painted his daughter Marjorie,[89] but the location of the portrait (if it still exists) is unknown. Frederica, his unhappy wife, is as elusive in the visual record as in the archival. To begin to comprehend Alexander Campbell, to understand who he was and how he coped with the challenges of his life, we must tune into the voices from his time.


Alexander Campbell was born on March 9 1822, in the English county of Yorkshire. His family moved to Canada when he was two years old. Campbell's surname was Scottish, but his mother was English and his father, James Campbell, although he seems to have identified as an expatriate Scot, had been born in England. Throughout his life, Alexander Campbell saw himself as an English gentleman as well as the inheritor of a Scottish name: "the most thoroughly English" of all Canada's public men, he was called in 1887.[90] He also married an Englishwoman and, although reared in the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, he eventually became an Anglican, probably in response to his wife's strong attachment to the Church of England.

Alexander Campbell's Scottish forebears were powerful among the Highland clans, kinship groups who formed a warrior caste in Britain's armies. In 1880, the Marquess of Lorne, heir to the Duke of Argyll, chief of the Campbell clan, was appointed Canada's governor-general. On behalf of its Canadian representatives, Alexander Campbell hailed their distinguished kinsman: "In this distant land ... we still rejoice in the name we bear, and in the stirring memories which it recalls".[91] His pride in heroic deeds suggests either amnesia or provocation, for the Campbell name was indelibly associated with one of the most brutal episodes of British history, the 1692 Massacre of Glencoe. Oddly enough, Alexander Campbell's life was overshadowed by a tragic event that had occurred 130 years before he was born.

Clans in Scottish Highlands had been slow to accept the ousting in 1688 of Britain's Catholic monarch, James II (James VII in Scotland). Early in 1692, under pretext of enforcing tax collection, a regiment mainly composed of Campbells was quartered upon the Macdonalds of Glencoe, who were suspected of loyalty to the deposed James. The Macdonalds' chief had in fact sworn allegiance to the new Protestant king, William of Orange, although – thanks to a combination of muddle, trickery and bad weather – he had missed the government's deadline for compliance by just six days.  Hospitality towards strangers was an important element in Highland culture, and the people of Glencoe welcomed the soldiers, unaware that King William's regime had decided to use terror to impose its authority.  On the morning of February 13, 1692, in obedience to detailed orders, the soldiers attacked their unsuspecting hosts. Many Macdonald women were stripped naked and driven into the snow to die of exposure: the total death toll was probably double the 38 reportedly cut down.[92] "As Highland slaughters go it was not a particularly bloodthirsty one", wrote one historian.[93] What shocked contemporaries was not so much the casualty list as the cynical abuse of the Highland tradition of hospitality. One long-term legacy of the tragedy was distrust between Macdonalds and Campbell: even three centuries after the Massacre of Glencoe, bearers of the two surnames sometimes engage in bleak jokes about the episode.

Of course, there was no reason why this gruesome episode should have prevented Alexander Campbell from working with John A. Macdonald. The Campbells had acted under orders as tools of cynical politicians; John A's forebears came from the eastern Highlands, far from Glencoe. Indeed, Macdonald invited Campbell to become his law partner, and Campbell served Macdonald for two decades as his lieutenant in the Senate. Unfortunately, the relationship between these two contrasting personalities was not always harmonious, and periods of friction may have been further coloured by ancestral hostility. Nineteenth-century people often felt closer to events in the distant past than we can comprehend in the fast-changing present. Richard Cartwright recalled Macdonald "speak more than once of the massacre of Glencoe as bitterly as if it had occurred within a generation, instead of two hundred years ago". Cartwright, it must be admitted, swung from early loyalty towards Macdonald to mature and embittered hostility, but as a young politician he had witnessed John A's annoyance with Campbell. "I think he had a grudge against the very name," Cartwright concluded, remembering how Macdonald would quote, "with great unction," the Scots proverb that "the Campbells were always fair and false".[94] The half-century of friendship that Campbell believed he shared with Macdonald sometimes existed more in his own imagination than in John A.'s exasperated response. When their relationship broke down, it was doubly unfortunate that their surnames were the Scottish equivalent of Hatfield and McCoy. 

James Campbell, "of Scotch descent," was said to have been born in Lincolnshire, the English county adjoining Yorkshire, in 1777.[95] It is possible that his father was a doctor working in England: Scotland's universities specialised in medical training, sons often followed their fathers' profession. The fact that James was apprenticed as a surgeon at the age of twelve – a common practice – suggests parental decision rather than personal vocation. Unfortunately, he had a common name, and Edinburgh University's record-keeping was not very detailed, but he was likely the James Campbell who took the Diploma of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1793. A James Campbell was recorded as taking various courses in anatomy, "chirurgery," chemistry and botany between 1789 and 1792, a combination that would fit with the interests later pursued by Alexander's father. Nowadays, all doctors take a basic degree in medicine, with a few proceeding to specialise in surgery. Two centuries ago, the career structure was inverted. Surgery was basic and brutal, and James Campbell was not unusual in launching into his profession without bothering to graduate as a Bachelor of Medicine.

In 1794, opportunity certainly beckoned. The previous year, Britain had gone to war with revolutionary France, and the British Army soon embarked upon deadly campaigns to conquer French colonies in the West Indies. Half the 100,000 soldiers sent to the Caribbean died of disease, and the military actively recruited students to act as medical officers: in 1798, ninety percent of all army surgeons had qualified in the previous five years.[96] Campbell's father did not begin practising in Yorkshire until 1800, which reinforces the likelihood that he was the James Campbell recorded at Edinburgh as passing the basic examination set by the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1794.  He may be the same person who returned for a further year's study in "Anatomy & Chirurgery, Chemistry, Medical Practice" in 1796-7. The probability that James Campbell served in the Army Medical Corps may also throw light on the planned and confident decision that he took in his mid-forties to relocate his family to Canada. Britain's military campaigns of the 1790s mostly took place outside Europe, and he was probably stationed overseas. Perhaps he already knew and liked Canada before his decision to emigrate: it may be no coincidence that the two cities in which he worked, Montreal and Kingston, were both garrison towns.

In 1800, James Campbell settled alongside the broad estuary of the Humber River at Hedon in Yorkshire, where he practised as a surgeon-apothecary for the next two decades. Hedon had once been an important town, but by the early nineteenth century, it had dwindled to a mere village.[97] Its eclipse dated from the reign of Edward I, who had established a rival port eight kilometres to the west on a tributary of the Humber, the River Hull, in 1293. Often known in shorthand version as "Hull," the upstart town's royal origins were reflected in its full name, Kingston-upon-Hull:[98] Alexander Campbell would be born near one Kingston and spend much of his life associated with its Canadian namesake. Thirteen kilometres north of Hull, the historic market town of Beverley – thought to owe its name to the beavers that lived in mediaeval England – functioned as a genteel social centre. In 1821, Hull, with 39,000 people, was on its way to becoming one of Britain's provincial cities.[99] Beverley had a population of around 14,000, while Hedon contained fewer than a thousand.[100] Since his brother, Frederick Campbell, was a successful lawyer in Beverley, where he served for a time as town clerk,[101] it was a more congenial social centre for James. Indeed, in 1811, in the town's magnificent mediaeval church, Beverley Minster, he married Lavinia Scatcherd. Frederick's son, James, studied at Cambridge – at the famous Trinity College, where Alexander Campbell later sent his elder son, Charles – and became a clergyman in Suffolk. Half a century after emigration, Campbell remained in friendly contact with his cousin. Beverley became a transatlantic anchor point for the extended family, a connection reinforced when Alexander Campbell found his own bride, Frederica Sandwith, there in 1855.

It may have been Campbell's birth, the sixth child in eleven years of marriage, that focused his father's thoughts about emigration. The two daughters had been given English-sounding names. Lavinia, named for her mother, had died in infancy, Charlotte Anne later married a Kingston lawyer, Maxwell W. Strange, and the couple helped Campbell rear his own children after his own marriage broke up. The four boys bore names redolent of their Scottish heritage. We do not know how close Alexander Campbell felt to the two eldest, Robert Colin, born in 1813, and Donald Frederick, born five years later, as there seems to be no trace of either sibling in his surviving papers. Donald became a local Registrar of Deeds in Ontario, while the failure of Robert's business indirectly brought the Campbell family to Kingston. Charles James, born in 1820, was his lifelong companion and friend, and is referred to in this narrative as "Charley", to distinguish him from Campbell's own son. As a stockbroker in Toronto in the 1870s, Charley made two astonishingly reckless decisions, from both of which Alexander had to help rescue him. Evidently Charley's character was very different from that of his cautiously responsible younger brother, but the trust between them shines through their correspondence. A fifth son, Alfred Argyle, was born in Canada in 1827.[102]

For James Campbell in 1822, providing any career opportunities for his growing brood of sons would have seemed a challenge. Despite its quaint terminology, a surgeon apothecary ranked low in the hierarchy of professions. Surgery largely consisted of binding up workplace injuries and severing the occasional mangled finger. As an apothecary, James Campbell would have operated as a prototype pharmacist, drawing upon his Edinburgh studies of botany and "materia medica" to make pills and mix potions. Even the fact that his job was coming to be described by the modern-sounding phrase, "general practitioner", should not mislead us. This was surgery decades before anaesthetics and antisepsis, prescription of medicines a century before aspirin and antibiotics. Worse still, the profession was becoming overcrowded: Edinburgh, for instance, was producing four times as many doctors in the mid-1820s as it had four decades earlier.[103] By 1823, tiny Hedon, with fewer than a thousand inhabitants, had four surgeon-apothecaries.[104] It would not have been surprising if the newer men did not hint, however mendaciously, that medicine had moved on during the thirty years since their esteemed senior colleague had received his training.

In his mid-forties, James Campbell conceived an ambitious plan to re-invent his life: a career move to Canada. "Few educated persons, accustomed to the refinements and luxuries of European society, ever willingly relinquish those advantages," wrote Susanna Moodie of the decision to emigrate, "without the pressure of some urgent cause."[105] Genteel women particularly disliked the thought of exile to frontier life. However, Lavinia Campbell was perhaps an exception. Her brothers, James and Thomas Scatcherd, had emigrated in 1821 to Middlesex County in Upper Canada, and she was probably happy to follow them. Years later, Alexander Campbell recalled visiting the Scatcherds in pioneer days. The journey from Hamilton took three days, including two river crossings and one eleven-mile (17.7 kilometre) stretch of "corduroy road", logs laid crossways to provide a basic (jolting and uncomfortable) route through a swamp. There were still tree stumps in the streets of London (Ontario).[106]  It is impossible to know whether close contacts were maintained in the next generation. Campbell's cousin, Thomas Scatcherd, was elected to parliament from 1861 until his death in 1876. An advanced Reformer – the opposite political pole from Campbell's Toryism – he was one of the few Upper Canada politicians to oppose Confederation.[107]

James Campbell's emigration plans were ambitious. His brother Frederick was building up a 216-acre (87.4 hectares) estate around Beverley.[108] James aimed to establish himself similarly as a landed gentleman in Canada, building up capital by practising medicine at the highest level and charging fees accordingly. That meant upgrading his basic qualifications into a full medical degree. In the Fall of 1823, James Campbell paid his ten-shilling (two dollar) enrolment fee and resumed his academic career at Edinburgh University.[109] After three decades in practice, it is doubtful that he learned very much, although doubt has recently been thrown on the legend that the professor of surgery was still reading out the lecture notes written by his grandfather in 1719.[110] Charles Darwin, who dropped out of medicine three years later, called the teaching at Edinburgh "intolerably dull".[111] However, James Campbell was probably seeking the prestige as much as the content of the qualification and, in 1824, he graduated as a doctor of medicine. During the year, the Campbell family lived at Portobello, an Edinburgh seaside suburb. It was the longest period that Alexander Campbell ever spent in his ancestral homeland.

Upon graduation, Dr Campbell – as he now was – moved on to Canada. In 1820, five year-old John A. Macdonald had crossed the Atlantic with his parents and siblings, crammed into a tiny compartment on a crowded emigrant ship after his father's Glasgow business had collapsed.[112] Seventy years later, when a Campbell source, probably Charley, briefed medical historian William Canniff, the family remained determined to stress that they had travelled across the Atlantic voluntarily and in some style.[113] At Greenock on the Clyde, James Campbell engaged the cabin accommodation of the brig Warner, described in 1820 as "Fine New and Fast Sailing ...roomy between decks ... in every respect well adapted for the passenger trade".[114] In the event, "there were no other passengers" and the Campbells had the vessel to themselves for the six-week voyage. Arriving at Quebec, James Campbell was "hospitably received by several of the old residents," to whom he presented letters of introduction.[115] After two weeks, the family moved on to Montreal, travelling in luxury aboard one of Canada's first steamships, the Swiftsure, property of John Molson, the brewer. The recollection of his name in the family tradition prompts intriguing speculation. Like James Campbell, Molson had been born in the English county of Lincolnshire. Molson was a Presbyterian and, in 1819-20, a founder of the Montreal General Hospital. Perhaps there was some connection here that helps explain why James Campbell travelled to Canada.

The next eight years can be summarised simply. James Campbell's emigration strategy was successful. In 1832, he retired from practice and purchased "a small estate" at Lachine, about 25 kilometres upstream from Montreal. However, almost immediately, Campbell volunteered his services during the cholera outbreak which hit the city that summer. Honourably remembered for his "good deeds" during the epidemic, he rescued the immigrant family of fellow-Presbyterian, Sarah Cockburn, whose husband had died on arrival in Canada, giving them refuge in his own house at Lachine.  Sarah's thirteen year-old son, James, later became a combative Conservative politician: John A. Macdonald, a target of his wrath, said he "belonged to the old fossil party", but Cockburn retained "the kindest recollections" of James Campbell's hospitality and "maintained a close friendship" with the doctor's sons.  Although Cockburn is described by one historian as "deservedly neglected",[116] he is an example of how Alexander Campbell later benefited from networks formed years earlier.

Fifty years later, in 1882, Campbell's son Charles started work in Montreal and decided to visit Lachine. His description of the "square stone house standing on an eminence" triggered memories of the old family home, and Campbell was delighted to learn that the property was shaded by trees. "I was at the planting of those 'elms and pines'," he recalled, "it comes back to me all as vividly as if it had occurred yesterday. Your grandfather, one of the men, and myself near the holes and your grandmother with my late sister Charlotte on the door steps."[117] Although business and politics had made him a frequent visitor to Montreal, it seems Campbell had never revisited Lachine himself. Perhaps this was because the family's rural idyll had crashed to a sudden end. James Campbell had acted as guarantor to help his eldest son, Robert, go into business in the Upper Canada city of Hamilton: the family's trek to their Scatcherd relatives in 1835 was probably connected with this venture. Unfortunately, Robert's business soon failed. To meet his son's debts, James was forced to sell his Lachine property "and to resume the practice of his profession."[118]

Once again, Campbell family tradition emphasised the extent to which James exercised control over the process of returning to work. If he had sold his previous practice in Montreal, he would probably have given a legally binding undertaking not to resume practice locally and poach back his former patients. By the mid-1830s, the political atmosphere in Lower Canada would also have made removal to a more secure environment seem attractive. James Campbell explored three possible opportunities across the St Lawrence in New York State, before rejecting Ogdensburg, Oswego and Potsdam in favour of the Upper Canadian city of Kingston, where he apparently settled in 1836.[119] In his mid-teens, Alexander Campbell came close to growing up in the United States. Once again, it seems, James Campbell had gravitated to the congenial surroundings of an imperial garrison, and it was in Kingston that he died, in his mid-sixties, early in 1842.

By the basic standards of the time, Alexander Campbell received a useful and varied education. An early biographical sketch records that his parents "placed him first under the tuition of a Presbyterian clergyman".[120] It is understandable that the Campbells should wish to rear their children in the Bible-centred faith of the Scottish Church: they were members of the St Gabriel Street Kirk in Montreal, and James served as an elder of the Presbyterian church at Lachine from 1833 to 1836.[121] Young Alexander probably received either individual or small-group tuition. Perhaps this reflected an absence of English-language schooling at Lachine, although as he was ten when the family moved to the country, the question of his education must have arisen earlier. Specialist teaching might suggest childhood health problems, but it might simply reflect an assumption that the Campbells belonged to the elite: Alexander Campbell was to send his own sons, as young teenagers, to study with an Anglican clergyman in England.

Until the age of thirteen, Alexander Campbell's education seems conventional, if privileged. However, in 1835, he was sent to the seminary at Saint-Hyacinthe, fifty kilometres east of Montreal, along with his fifteen year-old brother Charles.[122] Very few Anglo surnames appear in the alumni lists for that period, and it was probably during their year at Saint-Hyacinthe that Alec and Charley forged their lifelong bond. It is difficult now to grasp just how radical a decision the Campbell parents had made in entrusting their sons to a Catholic institution. Relations between Protestants and Catholics were far from ecumenical, and Presbyterians were the advanced guard of the Reformation. In later years, as John A. Macdonald's campaign manager in Kingston, Campbell more than once successfully wooed the city's Catholic bishop, but his response to the religious atmosphere of the seminary seems to have been predominantly negative. He became a staunch member of the Protestant Orange Order and, when he entered politics in 1858, argued for the closure of Catholic schools in rural areas – a more hard-line position than that adopted by most Upper Canadian Reformers, who concentrated on opposition to extending the separate school system. However, Campbell's memories may not have been entirely hostile. Addressing the Senate in 1867, he illustrated the bureaucratic problems which plagued small-town post offices by citing statistics from Saint-Hyacinthe: the return had caught his eye as it crossed his desk.[123] In 1887, he presented the seminary with his portrait as a gesture of thanks for the education he had received.[124] Relations between French- and English-speaking Canadians were fragile at the time, and it made sense to emphasise the remarkably few links between the communities. A more revealing response had come two years earlier, when Campbell resisted Macdonald's decision to replace him as Minister of Justice with John Thompson, who was being parachuted into the cabinet from Nova Scotia. Thompson was a convert to the Church of Rome, a controversial move that made him attractive to Macdonald, who sought Catholic support, but suspect to Campbell. He doubted whether Thompson would add to the government's parliamentary strength: "he has the air of a man educated for the priesthood with a nervous look and subdued manner".[125] Campbell's projection of such a mild personality upon the sturdily built and aggressively confident Thompson perhaps stemmed from some deep and distrustful memory of his seminary experience.

Of course, the boys were not sent to Saint-Hyacinthe to imbibe religious toleration, but to learn French. In 1835, James Campbell probably envisaged his boys making careers in Montreal, where a working knowledge of the language would be an advantage. In the event, the family switched to Upper Canada, where Campbell became one of the few Ontario politicians who could understand French, a qualification which, later, equipped him to manage the Senate for Sir John A. Macdonald. Since most ministers sat in the House of Commons, which was the real centre of political authority, the Government leader in the Red Chamber had to be capable of mastering a range of business in both languages. Alexander Campbell was functionally rather than fluently bilingual. The seminary existed to train priests, not to provide immersion programmes. To prepare its clerical graduates to work with the increasing immigrant community from Ireland, Saint-Hyacinthe operated an "école anglaise",[126] and Campbell probably studied in both its English and French programmes. When he wrote to the College in 1887, he arranged for a friendly librarian to correct his draft.[127] "On occasion he could make a French speech in the Senate" but "only perhaps to meet some playful challenge of the French members." His strength lay in his reading knowledge of the language, a skill which made him a devotee of French literature.[128] One example comes from the early days of his ministerial career when, as Commissioner of Crown Lands, he introduced a major overhaul of fisheries legislation in March 1865. In a pioneering conservation measure, Campbell proposed to ban fixed brushwood weirs in the estuaries of Lower Canadian rivers so that salmon could swim upstream, a reform which required legislation to curb the open-ended rights in centuries-old seigniorial grants. When one member suggested that the term "tackle" in the English version of the regulations already implied limitation of fishing rights to moveable gear, Campbell retorted that the charters specified "avec droit de toute pêche, à toutes sortes d'engins".[129] Few Anglophone politicians could have reacted so fast and flexibly in the midst of parliamentary debate.

Alexander Campbell was certainly in Kingston by August 1837 for, at the time of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee fifty years later, he recalled "the humble efforts ... to do her honour" in the city.[130] He briefly attended the Midland District Grammar School, but in 1838 passed his preliminary law examinations and, by May, the sixteen year-old was working as a clerk in the law office of Henry Cassady, an assignment that did not last long.[131] After the death of his first employer the following year, Campbell transferred  to John A. Macdonald. As a result, his time with Cassady has seemed a mere prelude to the start of the association that would form a central element in his life for half a century. In fact, Alexander Campbell's first steps on the career ladder represented an important phase in his life. Mayor of Kingston and solicitor to the city's financial institution, the Commercial Bank, Henry Cassady was at the heart of local affairs. Of course, the rookie Campbell did not act as his confidential advisor, but he was probably more closely involved in his employer's activities than would be the case of a teenager on work experience today. Much of his work would have involved longhand copying of documents, which helped provide training in legal rituals and phraseology. Kingston had only been incorporated as a municipal authority in March 1838, and many residents were suspicious of the new Council. The first mayor, Thomas Kirkpatrick, had resigned after a few months. Cassady had taken over, an addition to his workload which his family believed destroyed his health.[132] A City Hall bureaucracy had to be created from scratch and, since City Hall itself did not yet exist, some of the work probably fell upon the mayor's own staff.

In any case, even if Cassady's office had been a backwater, Campbell entered the job market during a turbulent phase of Canada's history. A major insurrection in Lower Canada in November 1837 had triggered smaller outbreaks in the upper province in December. The Kingston area was not directly affected, and Campbell himself did not turn sixteen – the minimum age for militia service – until March 1838. As pointed out in the introductory essay, in 1880 Campbell briefly served as Canada's minister of militia, and  it is unlikely that so canny a politician as Sir John A. Macdonald would have appointed a colleague struggling with a disability to Canada's defence portfolio unless Campbell had undergone basic training. There was a crackdown on suspected rebels in the Kingston area, but the July 1838 treason trial proved a triumph for Macdonald, the rising young barrister who was their defence counsel. Initially, the case against them looked overwhelming, for the prosecution filed affidavits from the accused admitting their guilt which they had been persuaded to sign upon the promise of clemency. The young John A. Macdonald successfully denounced this manoeuvre as "an outrage upon the administration of justice" and, when he penned a reminiscence of his long-time associate in 1891, Campbell recalled the case and was obviously present in the courtroom.[133] Campbell probably also encountered Macdonald and his law clerk, Oliver Mowat, through the Kingston Young Men's Society, a debating club open to those of "good moral character" which discussed such issues as the value of circumstantial evidence.[134] Indeed, he would have known both through the Presbyterian Church.

The close-knit Kingston elite gave the city the reputation of being a "tory hole"[135] and Alexander Campbell certainly imbibed and embraced its dominant political culture. But, even in loyalist Kingston, he received a glimpse into the complexity of the political situation, one that should have disabused him of any notion that the rebellion crisis was a simple conflict between the righteous and the wicked. The governor of Upper Canada, Sir Francis Head, was a naive and confrontational personality, a wild card whose lack of political sagacity had provided a caricature focus for discontent. In particular, Head was incapable of distinguishing between radicals and revolutionaries. He especially disliked Marshall Spring Bidwell, a Reformer and former Speaker, in whose name the Assembly had registered its criticisms of Head throughout 1836. When William Lyon Mackenzie launched his Yonge Street rebellion in December, Head had already been effectively dismissed by the British government for refusing to make Bidwell a judge. Ignoring the fact that Bidwell disagreed with Mackenzie, Head exploited the unauthorised use of Bidwell's name by the insurgents to browbeat him into leaving Canada.  There was a widespread feeling that the governor had exploited Bidwell's "timid" personality.[136] The prominent Methodist Egerton Ryerson, no stranger to controversy, condemned Head's conduct as "very heartless & cruel". Henry Cassady was another, perhaps unexpected supporter. The two men had studied law together, and Cassady was Bidwell's legal representative. Based on information supplied by Cassady, in May 1838 Ryerson denounced the injustice in a formidable public letter. The young law clerk played a humble but useful part: he made the fair copy of Ryerson's statement, and his role might easily have faded from memory. However, Ryerson was adept at what is now called "networking"; indeed, he could hardly have survived over three turbulent decades as Superintendent of Education for Upper Canada / Ontario without his talent for building alliances. Twenty years later, when Campbell was elected to the Legislative Council, Ryerson hailed him as an old friend and longtime ally against injustice.[137]

Whether Alexander Campbell was persuaded by the polemic that he had transcribed, we do not know. However, there is no doubt about the strength of his anger in the next crisis to hit the province. In November 1838, an American paramilitary force of about two hundred men crossed the St Lawrence and attempted to seize the town of Prescott, 95 kilometres downstream from Kingston. After several days of fierce fighting, which cost at least thirty lives, the invaders surrendered to British forces and local militia, and were brought by steamer to Kingston. "I well remember their landing there," Campbell wrote half a century later, although in fact he confused November with June. He watched as the prisoners, tied together with long ropes in two lines, were marched to Fort Henry. Twelve of the bandits were sentenced to death by court martial, and hanged in batches. Campbell recalled the hanging of four of them, outside Kingston's jail. "A very savage feeling pervaded the crowd at the time of the latter execution, at which I was present."[138] Although hangings were carried out in public until 1869, it does not follow that all nineteenth-century Canadians had necessarily witnessed the spectacle: the crowd at the execution of one of the ringleaders was estimated at 250, few enough in a city of six thousand.[139] Throughout his career, Campbell was a supporter of the death penalty.  His presence at the hanging of the Prescott pirates suggests the strength of his feeling against them: a teenager of genteel upbringing might well have excused himself from attendance. There is no evidence that he was especially bloodthirsty as Minister of Justice, for many capital sentences were reprieved after administrative review. However, he did show a strong determination to hang the two offenders who challenged the Canadian body politic, Edward Whelan, convicted of the murder of D'Arcy McGee in 1868, and Louis Riel, the western rebel of 1885.

The fact that Henry Cassady had so recently accepted office as Kingston's mayor has encouraged the historical speculation that his death was "sudden," [140] carrying with it the implication that Campbell's transfer to the office of John A. Macdonald was an act of kindness towards a young law clerk who had unexpectedly lost his mentor. In fact, Cassady died "after a protracted illness," possibly cancer, for his family poignantly called the disease "far more distressing to his friends than it appeared to himself."[141] The chronology suggests that Campbell carried an unusual measure of responsibility during the collapse of his employer's health. This is not to suggest that the seventeen year-old was actually running one of Kingston's premier law firms – although Macdonald had been in charge of a branch office in Napanee at the same age – but he was probably the key person who could locate the urgent files that he had himself copied. He certainly played a part in the winding-up of Cassady's practice and estate. It was his name that appeared on 23 November, in a notice offering five property lots for sale: "Apply to A. Campbell, At the Office of the late H. Cassady, Esq.", an announcement that continued to appear throughout December.[142] (A continuing relationship with the Cassady family is also indicated by the fact that Campbell's brother Charley later married the mayor's daughter.) However, half a century later, speaking at the Queen's Jubilee celebrations, Campbell had to confess that he had no memory of the founding of the University at that time.[143] Memories do fade, but perhaps he was too busy winding down Cassady's business to have taken notice.

The Commercial Bank was one of Cassady's most important clients, and it was John A. Macdonald who succeeded him as its solicitor.[144] Campbell's comment in 1885 – "46 years now since you first honoured me with your confidence"[145] – may simply have been an example of his sugary politeness, but it perhaps also indicates that he brought something to Macdonald's service, a much-needed familiarity with Bank business. Indeed, Macdonald was the only Kingston lawyer to employ two trainee clerks.[146] Campbell's transfer marked the start of a half-century association with the future prime minister, even if their collaboration was not always as smooth as it was made to appear in hindsight. Campbell himself noted the anniversary. "It will be 31 years next month since I went to your office," he reminded Macdonald in October 1870,[147] although his recollection may have been muddled:  the advertisement of property for sale perhaps indicates a staged move between offices, as files were identified and shifted.

Campbell's relocation to the Macdonald law firm also cemented another relationship, which would survive on friendly terms until his death. Oliver Mowat had been Macdonald's law pupil since 1836.[148] A solemn workaholic two years older than Campbell, Mowat benefited from the lively warmth of his new colleague. In 1885, Campbell recalled how "you used to follow me in our rides about Kingston in 1839-40 with such gallant spirit over fallen trees which you could but indistinctly see."[149] Mowat's famously weak eyesight perhaps contributed to the bout of self-doubt that he experienced after moving to Toronto to complete his legal training late in 1840: "it will pass as a dream, and you will wake ... to the consciousness of your own powers," Campbell assured his friend.[150] Much of the zest went out of Kingston life, he jokingly complained, when "the brightest planet in our system ... transferred its beams from ours to a more favoured region."[151] Campbell was troubled by reports of his friend's Toronto lifestyle: "you do nothing but study, work and eat, and (of course) sleep. Let me tell you this won't do Oliver." (It was unusual for young men to address one another by first names unless they were related.)   Revealingly, Campbell let slip his own insight into the difference between their personalities: "You want a little of my wildness."[152]

In 1885, Campbell wrote of his "honest pleasure" at retaining Mowat's friendship since the days of "life's morning march".[153] This made him the essential link in what Swainson called the "amazing political constellation" of his final years: Campbell as lieutenant-governor of Ontario, Mowat as provincial premier and Macdonald as prime minister.[154] Since Mowat and Macdonald cordially detested one another by the 1880s, Campbell's ability to maintain friendships with both would seem evidence of a sunny and tolerant personality. The triangular relationship was indeed to Campbell's credit, but the picture was perhaps less idyllic than it appears. There were cool phases and explosive episodes in his dealings with Macdonald, while arguably his continuing amity with Mowat depended in some measure upon the fact that they operated in different spheres. "I dare say I shall find that I have lost Macdonald's friendship," Mowat admitted when he was elected to the Assembly as a Reformer in 1858.[155] Face to face, it was no doubt difficult to accept Mowat's righteous infallibility and, in 1861, Macdonald denounced his former pupil as a "damned pup" and had to be restrained from physical assault.[156] However, when Campbell followed Mowat into parliament a few months later, he entered the upper house – with Mowat's goodwill, and indeed sharing his views on some key issues. Not only was there no theatre for conflict, but relations were underpinned by the fact that Oliver Mowat's brother George was Campbell's law partner. The two served together briefly in the Great Coalition of 1864 before Mowat moved to the bench, holding office as Vice-Chancellor of Ontario – an office that Campbell, in their Kingston days, had predicted he would achieve in 1861, a forecast that was just three years out.[157] When Mowat resigned to become premier of Ontario in 1872, he once again operated in a different sphere from his old friend, Campbell in the ostensibly non-partisan atmosphere of the Senate, Mowat in the provincial legislature in Toronto.  Prime minister and premier clashed in almost institutional conflict: in 1882 Macdonald memorably dismissed Mowat as "that little tyrant".[158] But, however bitter the personal hostility, Dominion and province had to negotiate over such issues as the Ontario-Manitoba boundary, and it was Campbell who acted as what modern diplomacy would call the "back-channel" of communication. Irrespective of personal feelings, which no doubt remained mutually positive, it suited both Mowat and Campbell to maintain a context of friendship – the more so, for Campbell, when his thoughts turned to quasi-retirement as lieutenant-governor of Ontario, marking him out as the only potential appointee acceptable to the Dominion government and capable of working with the Ontario premier. "He was one of my earliest friends and associates," Mowat explained to a journalist when Campbell died in 1892. "When we entered public life we drifted into different places, and saw little of each other, consequently ... our intimacy was not so close, although our friendship still continued."[159] No doubt it was to Campbell's credit that he avoided any breach with so shrewd and prominent political opponent, but the continuance of their friendship probably owed something to its long-distance character.

"I feel confident that if blessed with health I shall be somebody," Alexander Campbell proclaimed in March 1841. Even this uncharacteristically boastful statement – with its ambiguous implications for his health: was he blessed with good health or hoping to shake off adversity? – formed part of a supportive message to Oliver Mowat, battling with gloom in Toronto. Rather than dismiss Campbell as "a vain, conceited ass," Mowat – he insisted – should reflect on his own vastly superior abilities: if Campbell felt so confident on the basis of such modest attainments, his friend should not doubt his own prospects.[160] In fact, Campbell's prediction that he would become "somebody" represents one of the few pieces of biographical evidence to survive for the early- and mid-1840s, years which have to be summarised through reconstruction. The death of Campbell's father James in January 1842 probably added to his responsibilities and further focused his mind upon earning a living. There is a tradition that Macdonald initially sought to persuade his senior pupil to become his law partner but Oliver Mowat's removal to Toronto showed that he intended to strike out on his own.[161] Early in 1842, Macdonald took a lengthy vacation in Britain, and it was perhaps Campbell's success in running the business, as he had earlier kept Cassady's practice afloat, that marked him out for promotion. Campbell qualified as a barrister in August 1843. On September first, he signed the contract to become a partner in the law firm of Macdonald and Campbell.

As the order of names indicated, Campbell was the junior member of the team. In what can only have been an act of whimsy, Macdonald chose to launch the new venture on his own wedding day, and he had a very definite programme in mind. Other Kingston law offices were one-person operations. By establishing a partnership, Macdonald aimed to create a platform to support his planned political career, in which he would advance the interests of Kingston and his own business interests, while Campbell held the fort and dealt with clients in the city itself.[162] The initial agreement, to run for three years, was not remarkably generous to the young man who aimed to become "somebody". Campbell was to receive one third of the profits, but Macdonald reserved to himself the whole of the Commercial Bank business. In 1846, the partnership was renewed for a further three years upon more favourable terms.[163] After much agonising, Campbell ended their association in 1849.[164]

It is possible to identify four developments during their six-year partnership which placed strain upon working relationships. First, Macdonald was elected to parliament in 1844. His entry into politics had almost certainly been envisaged when the partnership was signed in September 1843, but at that time Kingston was still the capital of the province of Canada. Two months later, the Reform ministry moved the seat of government to Montreal, forcing the member for Kingston to be away from home for lengthy parliamentary sessions. This had not been foreseen and in the September 1846 renegotiation of the partnership, Campbell was promised $2,000 in instalments, in retrospective compensation for Macdonald's absences. By then, the prospect of political office loomed: Macdonald had been considered for a cabinet job in June.[165] Campbell was promised a further annual payment of $1,000 should Macdonald become a minister, and his one-third share was now to include the firm's income from the Commercial Bank. Second, Macdonald's other partner, his wife Isabella, fell victim to a painful illness which – for whatever reason – made her keen to escape from Kingston. Her three-year sojourn in the United States imposed further absences upon her husband: Macdonald was away for much of the second half of 1845.[166] "Your absences from home have been I think the main although not by any means the only cause of the annoyances that have arisen," Campbell told him when their relations broke down.[167] Thirdly, Campbell's own health problems apparently either originated or worsened during this pressured phase. He wrote to Macdonald in June 1849; "until I was attacked with my present complaint, I cannot accuse myself of any waste of time or lack of energetic exertion."[168] The junior partner, it seems, was expected to carry a heavier load at a time when his physical strength was reduced.

The fourth element in the situation was the apparent failure of Macdonald's project of a mortgage business that would make them rich. The Trust and Loan Company of Upper Canada, founded in 1843, was intended to net large profits by lending investment capital for farm improvements. Unfortunately, its operations were hampered by the province's Usury Laws, which placed a well-meaning but economically illiterate cap on the interest rate that could be charged on any loan. This discouraged Canadians from saving and deterred overseas capitalists from investing their money.[169] Unfortunately, for all his lobbying and persuasion, Macdonald found that the Usury Laws were sustained by a strong cross-party coalition, and were impervious to frontal assault. By 1849, Campbell believed the project was "knocked on the head" and "things in the whole do not seem to be very promising".[170] In fact, he despaired too soon: the following year, Macdonald succeeded in a flanking move, which left the legislation untouched but granted the Trust and Loan Company exemption from its provisions. For the remainder of his life, Macdonald's finances were underpinned by income from the farm mortgage business. Campbell later became a director of a rival finance company.[171]

Writing decades later, and ostensibly in tribute after Macdonald's death in 1891, Campbell could not disguise his low opinion of the colleague who absorbed two-thirds of their income. In the years of their partnership, Macdonald "was much more famous for his knowledge of books[,] his fondness for boon companions and his humour, & strong liking for anecdote, than for his professional knowledge & tendencies." Although Campbell acknowledged that Macdonald was a formidable courtroom performer, "[h]e never became in my judgment a good lawyer".[172] "Mr Macdonald was an able advocate who attracted clients," explained one later account of the partnership, "but Mr Campbell kept them."[173] Evidently regarding himself as the superior lawyer, Campbell came to resent the division of effort between them: "during the period of our connexion most of the labour has fallen on my shoulders" but while he carried two thirds of the business, he received only one third of the profit.

By 1848, it seems that relations between the partners were deteriorating. Matters came to a head in Campbell's lengthy and anguished statement of his grievances in June 1849. Quoted out of context, his core objection – "I have been doing too much and getting too little" – sounds confrontational, almost blackmailing in tone. Indeed, two of Macdonald's most notable biographers have presented Campbell's reasonable complaints in a negative light: a historical reputation is not enhanced by walking out on a national hero.[174] In reality, Campbell had much to complain about.

The victory of the Reformers in March 1848 meant that Macdonald, a member of the ousted government, lost his ministerial salary. In June, his wife returned from her American exile, and Macdonald rented a fine Kingston home – Bellevue, now a national historic site – for Isabella and their baby son. As he was also maintaining his mother and two unmarried sisters in a separate residence, his expenses soared and his demands on the resources of the partnership increased. Worse still, he made the mistake of implying that Campbell was not delivering enough: "you have apparently felt that the business ought to yield you more than it has done," the junior partner reproachfully wrote.  So urgent were Macdonald's needs that he had drawn "excessive" sums in cash from the firm anyway. The result was potentially catastrophic. The partnership was $7,200 in debt, thanks to Macdonald's own overdraft which Campbell estimated at over $8,000. The shortfall could only be wiped out by the sale of Macdonald's property investments, a process that would necessarily take time. The fact that Campbell was still owed part of the compensation payment promised him in 1846 was no doubt irritating, but far more alarming was the firm's inability to pay money "to whom it belongs". The wording suggests not simply that the partners were unable to pay their bills – "the first blot of that kind upon the escutcheon of our business" as Campbell ponderously described it – but that they were also in danger of defaulting over client funds. Lawyers who cannot repay money held in trust are thrown out of the profession and likely to end up in prison. It is not surprising that Campbell had concluded "that I was worrying myself to death without any practical benefit to myself."[175]

If it was indeed Macdonald who broached the possibility of splitting up to force Campbell to fall in line, he had seriously miscalculated. "The more I reflect on our conversations on the subject of the dissolution of our partnership," Campbell wrote in June, "the more I am persuaded that it is desirable on very many grounds that it should take place." Continuation "would be uncomfortable to both sides ... unity has not for some time existed between us and perhaps could hardly after what has passed be (easily at all events) recovered."[176] The phrase in parentheses reflected Campbell's continuing conflict of loyalties: he remained to some extent under the spell of his wayward partner's personality and felt a commitment to support his career in public life. Despite his own financial needs, Macdonald was prepared to offer considerable concessions to exploit that escape clause. For his part, Campbell was prepared to try to reach agreement, but only if he could strike a tough bargain. One suggestion, typically undated (for a skilled lawyer, Campbell was remarkably casual about dating his letters), provided for Macdonald "to have his time at his own disposal and to be at liberty at any time to come back into an equal share of business on his retiring from Parliament & politics and devoting himself to business." If the senior partner should "get Political office with a majority in Parliament" – although neither contingency could have seemed very likely in 1849 – the firm would be sold to Campbell, for a maximum but negotiable price of $8,000. Meanwhile, Campbell would receive $1,600 a year while Macdonald "continues a politician" – a high price to pay for the barren privilege of occupying the opposition benches. Macdonald mobilised the kind of charm offensive for which he became famous. At one point during the summer, a personal note full of "kindly feeling" triggered an impulsive response from Campbell. "I will go in again for two years. You can continue in politics. I will manage the business." The two men came close to agreement but, apparently at the last minute, late in August, Alexander Campbell backed out. He was, he admitted to Macdonald, "ashamed" of his own timidity, acknowledging – perversely, after his financial concerns – that he was probably sacrificing a great deal of money, but sleepless nights had "finally determined (with your permission)" to prefer "the comfort of a smaller business."[177] If the curious saving clause was a last-minute psychological plea to maintain their association, it fell on deaf ears. At most, Campbell had offered a two-year extension, with a clear indication that he would probably move on then. Their association had run its course.

In most divorces, it is pointless to attribute blame for the break-up. However, in this case, we need to probe a little deeper, if only to identify the legacy in personal relations. For two decades after Confederation, the Macdonald-Campbell political alliance was widely regarded as one founded on long-time friendship, even though it was still reported decades later that their law partnership had foundered because of disagreements over Campbell's workload.[178] Basically, the responsibility for the break-up lay with Macdonald, although he may have found it hard to face this stark truth. It cannot have been pleasant to be told that he was financially irresponsible and failing to pull his professional weight, least of all by a man whom he had taken under his wing as a teenager. Macdonald's premier biographer, Donald Creighton, certainly showed scant sympathy to the grumbling partner who abandoned a great Canadian hero. Campbell, Creighton patronisingly wrote, "had served [Macdonald] like a stout, serviceable, extremely comfortable pair of old boots, which had only occasionally squeaked a little",[179] with the clear implication that this was the role that destiny had properly conferred upon him. John A.'s subsequent bouts of resentment against Campbell suggest that Creighton's wording probably reflected Macdonald's attitude. At a time when he was already under great pressure, Macdonald had to move to a smaller law office, and found himself working "like a thief upon the treadmill"[180] until he could recruit a new partner. There were problems between the two men over the division of the assets and debts of their terminated partnership, with Campbell pleading for "a little forbearance on both sides".[181] The traumatic break-up probably left long-term scars.

Although Macdonald had no cause to criticise Campbell for ending their association, he certainly had grounds to resent the way he acted, notably in backing out of renewing the partnership at the very last minute. Throughout the summer of 1849, it was not clear whether Campbell had adopted a tough negotiating stance or was genuinely preparing for an exit. Perhaps he did not know himself, and his indecision can be defended as evidence of his continuing but battered loyalty: there is a slight hint that his resolve was crucially strengthened by a morale-boosting intervention from Oliver Mowat. He was, Campbell assured Macdonald, "anxious that your political career should not be cut short".[182] At the very least, he might have feared a local backlash against him for undermining Kingston's most popular politician. Alexander Campbell did not handle the episode well, but the root cause of his discontent remained the shortcomings of his glamorous but wayward colleague.

John A. Macdonald would have had more reason to take offence at the pious manner in which Campbell argued his case. Two extracts from the younger man's June letter illustrate the point. The first was intended to convey the message that problems had been caused by the expenses arising from Isabella Macdonald's illness and the demands it had made upon her husband's time. "I have always avoided anything like prying into your private affairs and speak of them without any intimate knowledge of them – and wish to be understood as speaking with proper delicacy and entertain the hope that I may not be misunderstood."  Campbell then complained about his workload and the embarrassment caused by Macdonald's cash withdrawals, before rounding off with a second elaborate smokescreen of politeness. "I hope you will believe that I mention these things unwillingly and in a spirit of kindness – anything else I would avoid. I entertain no feeling of rancour or annoyance".[183] Read in isolation, these passages might seem part of the stately scaffolding of courtesy appropriate to a letter of complaint between close associates, a tactful attempt to raise pertinent issues without engaging in hurtful personalities. Unfortunately, viewed in a wider context, such formulae recur often enough in the written record – which is by no means comprehensive – to illustrate an irritating Campbell character trait, a tendency to preface offensive comments with a disclaimer of any intention to intrude or insult.

Two examples may be cited from 1873, almost a quarter of a century later. In the first, the Macdonald government was riding high, meeting the Dominion's second parliament on the back of its 1872 election victory and having signed the Pacific Railway contract with Hugh Allan's Montreal syndicate. The Toronto entrepreneur, Senator David L. Macpherson, who had headed a rival company, the Interoceanic, tabled a series of hostile resolutions criticising the deal, which it fell to Campbell to oppose. In a scornful rebuttal, Campbell mocked Macpherson's charges, flatly alleging that the government's "greatest sin ... is that we did not give the contract to the Interoceanic company." Yet his contemptuous dismissal of Macpherson's complaints as "absurd and contrary to common sense" was seasoned with phrases such as "I do not desire to criticise unfavourably" and "I hope he will, without offence, allow me to say".[184] Six months later, in an upset of fortunes, the government fell after fresh allegations seemed to prove that the Allan contract had been awarded in response to political corruption. Campbell wrote to his friend Alexander Morris, lieutenant-governor of Manitoba, giving him the inside history of the November 1873 political crisis – which he blamed exclusively upon errors of judgement, exacerbated by alcoholic excess, on the prime minister's part. Once again, and even under the cloak of the deepest confidentiality, Campbell invoked the mantra which he assumed would acquit him of gossiping malevolence. "No one has a higher opinion of Macdonald's abilities, or a more just sense of his many good qualities, than I have, and I would be the last man to say a word to his prejudice".[185] This magic formula, which foreshadowed the delivery of some wounding comment which its target was thereby forbidden to resent, recurs in Campbell's utterances. Perhaps it stemmed from childhood, a strategy adopted in a family of five brothers to ensure that sibling rivalry avoided outright confrontation. Or maybe it was a device for self-protection employed by a man hampered by disability in a masculine era when verbal confrontation might easily lead to physical violence. Whatever its origin, that unctuous disclaimer of any desire to intrude or offend was very much a Campbell hallmark, and it was probably irritating to be on its receiving end. "I shall hope to consider myself what I have been, am Very sincerely your friend," he signed his June 1849 letter of reproach. Macdonald would have been a saintly character indeed not to resent Campbell's virtuous pretence of speaking in sorrow rather than rebuke.

Unfortunately, no photographs survive of Alexander Campbell as a young man. Instead, we have a brief word portrait by Donald Creighton, vivid, patronising and almost entirely misleading. Presented as a sketch of Campbell at the age of seventeen, it is by implication projected to characterise his relationship with Macdonald in adult life.[186]  No reference was given for this character sketch, but it seems safe to assume that it was based on two sources, photographs of Campbell mainly taken from his late forties, plus the correspondence about the break-up of the partnership in 1849. Creighton began by insisting that Campbell was "slight in build". Perhaps, in his teens, Campbell was indeed "shorter than his youthful employer",[187] but an obituary in 1892 recalled "his tall, stately figure".[188] Campbell appears in just one group photograph, a well-known portrait of the delegates to the Charlottetown Conference in 1864, taken on the portico of Prince Edward Island's Government House. Campbell's lameness, as we know, made it exhausting for him to stand for any length of time:[189] while the twenty-six Charlottetown participants were being artistically posed, he opted to sit on the steps, where he can be identified as the man with the walking stick. By coincidence, John A. Macdonald also adopted an informal seated pose, but on a lower step.[190] We are not entitled to resent the decision of the two nation-builders to seize a moment of relaxation, but their seated pose makes it difficult to compare them in height. Although Campbell was a delegate to the October 1864 Quebec Conference, he did not take part in the group portrait of the Fathers of Confederation.  There seems to be no evidence from the Charlottetown photograph that Campbell was notably different in height either from the other participants or from Macdonald himself – unlike, say, the diminutive D'Arcy McGee. In itself, the point is of little importance, except in the light it throws upon Creighton's use of evidence.

With clever sleight of hand, Creighton then elided Campbell's appearance with his personality, attributing to him "a reserved, serious face whose solemnity was accentuated by a slightly pendulous underlip."[191] The flaw in this methodology lies in its dismissal of the history of photography. While exposure times were reduced throughout the nineteenth century, photographic processes generally required subjects to remain still as they faced the camera, an exercise that makes the sitter look serious. In 1888 the Eastman Company marketed its Kodak fast film, and the process took time to catch on. It is not until 1894 – two years after Campbell's death – that we see a prime minister of Canada, Sir John Thompson, laughing. Within a few years, there are snatches of motion picture showing a successor, Wilfrid Laurier, delivering an animated speech.[192] If photographs of Campbell display a prominent lower lip, it was not the result of a solemn personality bursting out of his mandible but because he lived in an era before instant-exposure film could capture the liveliness of individual personality.

On the basis of tendentious interpretation of very limited visual material, Creighton attributed a "complex character" to Alexander Campbell: "sensitive and thoughtful ... emotional yet scrupulous and cautious". Even these qualities were presented to his detriment. "He brooded. He philosophized. His standards were obstinately high; he was rather dourly conscientious; he developed stubborn loyalties."[193] As a commentary on the correspondence of 1849, these comments were a travesty. Campbell did not adopt philosophical poses: he simply held that it was wrong that the partnership could not pay its debts. If suffering sleepless nights of worry is brooding, then he brooded. He was not an unimaginative drudge but a talented professional who, as he justifiably complained, was working too hard and being paid too little. Even his reluctance to abandon Macdonald, in the face of all the evidence that their association no longer worked, is denigrated as "stubborn". Equally, we should note that this pejorative character sketch ignored Campbell's published letters to Mowat, which led the latter's biographer to describe him as "likeable".[194] Perhaps most noteworthy of all, Creighton made no mention of Campbell's health, although h must have known the medical story which had been discussed by M.K. Christie in her recently completed Toronto thesis.[195] Rather than tendentious conclusions derived from Campbell's lower lip, a more appropriate image might be the thought of the young Kingston lawyer awkwardly and regretfully departing the offices of Macdonald and Campbell for the last time, supported on a walking stick.


Alexander Campbell was twenty-seven when he ended his legal partnership with John A. Macdonald and set up in practice for himself. He was thirty-six when he took his seat in the Legislative Council of the province of Canada, and forty-five when he became a minister in the first Dominion cabinet in 1867. It is a phase of Campbell's life where detailed information is tantalisingly lacking, but there is enough to sketch the big picture. First, his career prospered. "He has plenty of money," Macdonald commented of his former partner in 1854.[196] He benefited not only from his efficiency, but perhaps even more from his reputation for integrity. When a difficulty arose in 1856 within Canada's incestuous ministerial world over the official valuation of property, Campbell was chosen as an assessor who would deliver a "conscientious opinion".[197] That same year, he became a Queen's Counsel, a respected senior rank of barrister.[198] Second, in 1855, Campbell married Frederica Sandwith and, during the next decade, became father of five children, one of whom died young. Third, in 1858, he entered politics, winning a seat in the Legislative Council during the brief phase when the upper house was elected. The years after Confederation in 1867 would see Campbell's marriage disintegrate as he became more deeply involved in politics as a cabinet minister in alliance with Conservative leader John A. Macdonald. This is not to imply a direct link between closeness to Macdonald and distance from his wife. Rather, Frederica resented the increasingly long periods which her husband spent in Ottawa:  whether Campbell immersed himself in the capital as a refuge from an already failing marriage, we cannot know. It seems likely that the death of their eldest child, Beatrice – a victim of typhoid in 1865 – left Frederica feeling that Campbell had not given her sufficient support in her bereavement: ministerial demands meant that he was able to spend only a few days in Kingston at the time of his daughter's funeral. One other point can be definitely established in this period. Campbell's impairment of mobility, a speculative element in the assessment of earlier episodes, is independently attested from 1858, paradoxically the year in which he entered politics.[199]

Alexander Campbell married Georgina Frederica Locke Sandwith in an Anglican ceremony in Beverley, in the English county of Yorkshire, on January 22, 1855. As the profusion of forenames suggests, Frederica, as she was known, came from a genteel background. Born in 1828,[200] she was the daughter of Jane Sandwith and her husband Thomas, a surgeon and prominent citizen of Beverley.[201] Given that the Campbell marriage later broke down, it seems appropriate to wonder how well the couple knew each other when they exchanged their vows. One of the few solid pieces of evidence for Campbell's movements in that period is the letter he wrote to John A. Macdonald on 8 March 1855, after his return to Canada.[202] From this, it is clear that Campbell had been in Kingston at the time of the July 1854 election. Steamships had speeded up transatlantic voyages, but there was still no such thing as a quick visit to Britain. Campbell had been away for long enough to exchange letters on Canadian politics with at least three correspondents. However, as he seems to have regarded himself as based in London, Campbell perhaps did not spend long in Beverley. It seems probably that the Sandwith and Campbell families were friends of long standing, and it may be that the couple's mothers had engaged in exploratory, long-distance match-making. With Alexander at thirty-two and Frederica at twenty-six, some brokering help from relatives probably seemed appropriate to bring the two together, but it could only be their own decisions, at years of maturity, to tie the knot.

Had there been some earlier visit to Britain, a courtship and an understanding that Campbell would return to claim his bride as soon as his finances permitted? While this is possible, it is difficult to see when he could have escaped the demands of his career in Kingston. Until the fall of 1849, Campbell was – as he had so strongly complained – overworked in keeping the Macdonald law firm afloat, while during the years that followed his energies would have been absorbed by building up his own practice. Hence it is possible that the couple had not known each other for very long when they married. This would not necessarily have created matrimonial disharmony. Middle-class couples generally spent relatively little unchaperoned time together before they reached the altar. With divorce frowned upon and very hard to obtain, wives and husbands ironed out any blips in their relationships after marriage. It is likely that the Campbells did just that during their first decade together. In 1865, Campbell himself made a jocular allusion to the process of mutual adjustment as he justified the compromises required by Confederation.  "Let those honourable gentlemen who have had the good fortune of forming unions ... say whether any union can be formed either happy or lasting without forbearance on both sides."[203]  A visitor who was "off and on" in Kingston between 1865 and 1867 later recalled that "Mrs Campbell was happy and contented in so far as I could see."[204]  Kingston was about the same size of Beverley, and the presence of the imperial garrison perhaps made its social life even more enjoyable. Soon after their arrival in Kingston, Frederica's cousin, Humphrey Sandwith – who had trained in medicine with her father Thomas – became a Crimean War hero,[205] which probably gave her added cachet among the military. She was a member of the board of the city's orphanage, and in 1879 considered returning to Kingston to live.[206]

Over the next decade, three daughters and two sons were born to the Campbells. They seem to have been years of prosperity and, no doubt, optimism. Campbell was doing well enough to move his growing family to one of Kingston's finest mansions, Hillcroft, built by the city's mayor Francis Hill in 1853, a year before his death. The relocation had happened before 1862, when land advertised for sale in downtown Union Street was described as "opposite the late residence of the Hon. A. Campbell".[207] A private residence marked with a national heritage plaque, Hillcroft is the home most associated with Campbell's memory today. Not only its size but also its location proclaims his prosperity. Campbell could only have lived in a house three kilometres from downtown Kingston if he maintained a carriage and a coachman. There is a further clue to Campbell's wealth in a letter from his cousin in 1872 commenting that Frederica's voyage to Britain that year had been the easiest transatlantic passage she had experienced, which suggests at least one and possibly several return trips to her Yorkshire family.[208]

If Campbell's marriage was harmonious in its early years, the other enduring relationship in his life, with John A. Macdonald, was more nuanced. Personally, he was on amiable terms with the genial member of Kingston: Macdonald made it a point to cultivate friendships, and he was no doubt genuine in his 1854 assessment of Campbell as "a worthy fellow and all right".[209]  As members of the same political party within the same small city, they had every incentive to work together at riding level, as Campbell would demonstrate in his attempts to shore up Macdonald's position when he was under attack from the Orange Order in 1860-61. However, Campbell's election to the Legislative Council in 1858 made clear that at provincial level, the two belonged to opposing wings of the Conservative party. Two issues in particular divided them. Campbell believed that as Upper Canada had more people than Lower Canada, it should have additional seats in the Assembly; Macdonald, dependent upon his French-Canadian Bleu allies, defended the equal representation of the two sections of the province. Campbell opposed claims by Catholic schools to receive a share of school taxes; Macdonald was prepared to make concessions for Church support. The two men were able to work together after 1864 because Confederation solved the problem of representation by population, and sidelined the question of Catholic schools by making education a provincial responsibility. Their close collaboration, especially during the twenty years after Confederation, should not obscure the gulf between them during the preceding decade.

As already mentioned, the major source for relations between the two men in this period is the letter that Campbell wrote to Macdonald in March 1855. Admiring in tone, saucy in allusion and roguish in quotation, it offers rare up-close glimpses of Macdonald himself that his biographers have warmly embraced.[210] Campbell celebrated reports that "the Hon. John A. McDonald ... is the head, centre, and tail of the Ministry,"[211] and that "your Ministry is thought likely to be a permanent one". Campbell attributed Macdonald's success to his "influence of a personal character – ability – the art of managing mankind". The latter skill, he was sure, included "drinking the refractory members", plying wavering backbenchers with champagne "and a story of doubtful moral tendency", part of a Macdonald ""sawder"" that reinforced the ministry's "political strength". (This particular passage was so shocking to the image of Macdonald as a dedicated nation-builder that Pope, his first major biographer, omitted it from his transcript of the letter.) Yet Campbell combined his praise with an element of joshing, reminding Macdonald that he was "never so desponding as to prospects political as before and during the last ...election here." He quoted a depressed John A. railing after six years of opposition that the Conservative party was "damned everlastingly", and that he would steer legislation for Kingston's Commercial Bank through parliament and then quit politics. "And now you rule Canada – what a change!"

On the face of it, the two men do indeed appear as "intimate associates",[212] for it is a letter that seemingly could only pass between close friends, celebratory in message and alternately affectionate and reproachful in tone. Since Macdonald himself was the recipient, there can be no doubt of the accuracy of Campbell's reporting of his pessimistic attitude prior to the change of government at the 1854 election. However, we cannot know whether his remarks were confidential admissions to his trusted associate[213] or – perhaps more likely given Macdonald's convivial lifestyle – indiscreet comments to a group of drinking cronies at a late-night session over the whisky bottle. It is possible to interpret Campbell's approach in a different light. It was very much a political letter. This was Campbell's first contact with Macdonald since his return from England, yet he did not mention that he had acquired a wife just seven weeks earlier, nor did he enquire after Isabella Macdonald's fragile health. Ostensibly, his prose focused on Macdonald, but there was also a powerful sub-text about Campbell. The letter stressed that it was Campbell who had foreseen what the pessimistic Macdonald failed to discern, that a simple turn of events would end the dark night of opposition and make Macdonald the new kingpin of ministerial politics. "You will remember that throughout your long and apparently hopeless opposition I always deprecated your retiring from Parliament, as you often threatened to do". It had been Campbell who had believed "that a change of any sort, any new shuffling of the political cards" would put Macdonald in office, where his innate ability would establish him as Canada's strongman. If Campbell was not exactly rewriting history, his sugary tone was at least intended to draw a line under the breach of 1849. The message was: I am your old friend, I understand you better than you know yourself. In reality, some of his sentiments betray marked ignorance of his former partner's intentions, such as his homily that Macdonald was too important to politics to appoint himself to the bench: "the becoming gravity of a judge will not sit easily on you for some years to come." John A. Macdonald had no intention of retreating to a judgeship. A less thick-skinned personality might have regarded Campbell's comments as patronising, but John A. Macdonald probably decoded the missive as a plea for peace. "Try and write me if you can spare time," Campbell urged. "If not, I will take for granted that your intentions are good."[214]

At his death in 1892, Campbell was described as "one of the old school of Conservatives, his family training, traditions and tastes leading him to support the powers that be".[215] Unfortunately, in 1849, the old school Tories had been outraged when the upstart Reform ministry of LaFontaine and Baldwin decided to pay compensation for damage caused during the Lower Canada rebellions of 1837-8. In Kingston they gathered at the City Hall to pass a slate of angry resolutions denouncing the legislation as "remunerating rebels for losses caused by their own treason". Far from deferring to the "the powers that be", Campbell moved a pained protest that the governor-general, Lord Elgin, "can no longer administer the Government of Canada, with honour to the Empire or safety to the province" and declaring that his dismissal was "necessary in order to restore quiet to this country".[216] Although claiming to be merely the local member of parliament listening to the views of his constituents, John A. Macdonald sat in the audience and probably orchestrated the proceedings. If so, Campbell was playing his assigned role as his partner's gopher.

Campbell served as a Kingston city alderman from 1850 to 1852, a sensible involvement in public affairs at a time when he was building his own practice. He was also mindful of his responsibility to the Conservative party. He owned land in Prince Edward County, which entitled him to cast a vote there in the December 1851 provincial election, and he joined a party led by Macdonald to support the Conservative candidate in Picton. A snowstorm compelled them to make an overnight stop on the road, followed by a hazardous two-kilometre crossing of the part-frozen Adolphus Reach. Local advice was "for each man to take two planks, lay them end to end on the ice, which was very thin in some places, crawl out to the second plank, pull the first after him, and push it ahead of the second one, and so on." Perhaps the most striking point about this hazardous excursion was that Campbell was physically capable of such exertion. In preliminary work for his biography of Macdonald, Joseph Pope contacted Campbell for confirmation of the episode, just weeks before Campbell's own death. The lieutenant-governor, Pope noted, "took means to refresh his memory", and not only "recalled with great interest these events of long ago" but also added details of his own.[217] Campbell's participation in the adventure is thus not only confirmed, but bears out Christie's comment that "he still enjoyed a reasonable amount of vigour and mobility". If so, his condition had considerably deteriorated by 1858, when he could hardly walk a short distance.[218]

Macdonald hoped that Campbell would run for the Assembly in the 1854 general election. "We are trying to get a nomination for my old partner Alex Campbell," he informed a correspondent. The riding was apparently Lennox and Addington, in the Kingston hinterland, where Macdonald had "great fears" that the Reform candidate David Roblin would capture the seat. The two men had almost certainly discussed the matter, and Campbell was committed to make the plunge into politics. "He has plenty of money too & wont spare it in the contest which is a great matter."[219] In his March 1855 fence-mending letter, Campbell listed among Macdonald's disappointments during the previous year's campaign "the defeat of many of your schemes as to candidates" and "the defection of some who promised to stand"[220] – suggesting the alternative possibilities either that his own  nomination was resisted by Lennox and Addington Tories, or that Campbell himself backed out at the last minute, in what Macdonald might well have regarded as repeat of his indecision over the partnership in 1849. But Campbell would have been justified in having doubts about running. An Assembly member was expected to be visible in his riding, a prospect hardly appealing to an absentee with impaired mobility. Furthermore, if Campbell was considering a journey to Britain, with the added possibility of matrimony, then 1854 would be an inconvenient moment to enter public life. However, there seems no doubt that he continued to be regarded as a potential member of the Assembly, claiming in 1858 that "if I had wished to become a candidate for parliamentary honours I could frequently have had the opportunity".[221]

The 1854-57 parliament changed the landscape of Canadian politics. After the election, a coalition ministry emerged, of Upper Canada Conservatives and moderate Reformers, backed by the block vote of the Lower Canada Bleus. Its secure majority enabled it to carry major reforms, notably the secularisation of the clergy reserves, a land bank previously maintained to support principally Anglican and Presbyterian clergy. "Your Clergy Reserves measure was a bad pill to swallow," Campbell told Macdonald, but he accepted that "you could only direct, not stem the torrent" of opposition to State support for the Churches. In the event, Macdonald crafted a compromise which gave the Churches extensive cash compensation, so much so that even the demanding Bishop Strachan of Toronto was "satisfied" with the division "of the loaves and fishes." Campbell agreed that Macdonald's masterly handling of the clergy reserves had proved that it was better to have the issue "directed by friendly hands than run riot."[222] However, that approval did not necessarily extend to every deal that Macdonald was obliged to strike as the price for staying in office, notably concessions to demands from Upper Canada's Catholic minority for a share of tax revenues to support their separate school system. As Oliver Mowat commented to Campbell early in 1858, the John A. Macdonald of his early political career "would not have been willing to take office, or keep office, on the terms on which he does now."[223] Macdonald's French Canadian supporters insisted on State support for their co-religionists in the upper province. Most irksome of all was Lower Canadian insistence on maintaining the artificial inequality of representation between the two sections of the province, each having 65 seats in the Assembly. As Upper Canada's population pulled ahead, demands for "rep. by pop." sounded more strident, French resistance became more determined, and John A. Macdonald found himself trapped, in office but unable to resolve the contending pressures that were dividing the province.

Campbell's friend Oliver Mowat ran for the Assembly at the general election of 1857. His manifesto stressed two issues. "I am in favour of parliamentary representation being based on population, irrespective of a dividing line between Upper and Lower Canada," he declared. Moreover, he insisted on "the immediate passing of measures for carrying out that principle." Second, he argued that "no religious denomination in Canada should have the power to tax its people for the support of separate schools". Educating all children together in a "non-sectarian" system would both promote "mutual respect and good will" and provide a "better education ... than can generally be expected in separate schools."[224] Campbell's views on both questions were identical. Mowat had chosen to enter politics as a Reformer. This was a logical step, given his opinions, but it represented a major sentimental breach for someone reared a Kingston Tory to join the party of William Lyon Mackenzie. Mowat had initially thought that "it would be sufficient to take an independent position, to join neither side, to contend for my own views," but he quickly perceived that isolation would mean political impotence. In the adversarial politics of the Canadian Assembly, "every man must take a side."[225] "The choice of a party must be made as parties stand when the choice is made," he told Campbell, "and not as they stood at some former period."[226] In fact, when Campbell publicly commented on his political affiliation in 1860, he inverted Mowat's argument. He respected the memory of "[T]he great reform party, as led by that true statesman and worthy Canadian, Mr Baldwin" – although he had very definitely not supported Baldwin at the time – because it was "a national party, with national objects, and capable of allying itself without difficulty or embarrassment with a corresponding section of public men in Lower Canada." Unfortunately, Robert Baldwin had retired in 1851, frustrated at the demands of his own supporters. Since he had been "driven out of public life the party has been so tossed and driven about from one standing point to another, so many platforms have been suddenly built up, and as suddenly replaced by others ... that the usefulness of the party has been altogether impaired."[227] Campbell's criticism was a coded condemnation of the dictatorial power of the Toronto Globe and its mercurial and intolerant proprietor, George Brown.

Mowat's letters were not just intended to offer an academic analysis of his political philosophy. Campbell, too, was poised to enter politics, and Mowat sought to influence his friend's stance. "Do not be carried away by names, I beg of you, my dear fellow," he urged, arguing against a merely sentimental identification with the term "Liberal Conservative". "Do not keep aloof, from historical recollections or associations, from those with whom you are really at one". Campbell had "more bonds of union" with Reformers "than there can be with the Conservative leaders, who rally have no principle nor patriotism."[228]  In reality, there was little prospect of Campbell breaking with his inherited party label but, thanks to the coalition government's reform programme, an opportunity presented itself in which he could be both  Conservative and independent – and enter politics adopting a political stance detached from John A. Macdonald. Indeed, Macdonald no longer sought to recruit Campbell for his Assembly team. David Roblin, who had carried Lennox and Addington for the Reformers  in 1854, had become a staunch supporter of the coalition. As a result, Macdonald was as keen to see him re-elected in 1857 as he had been anxious to block him three years earlier.[229] Far from encouraging Campbell to seek a lower house seat, Macdonald seems to have been concerned to discourage his former partner from dividing pro-government forces in Lennox and Addington. "My letters from Kingston tell me that Campbell still states he cannot come out," he assured Roblin on the eve of the mid-winter election.[230]

In 1856, legislation had been carried to make the Legislative Council into an elected second chamber. The reform was optimistically designed to steer an uncharted path between two contradictory criticisms of the nominated upper house, one that it was obstructive and the other that it was out of touch. In the event, while the reform did inject some new life into the Council, the new system struck no deep roots, and there were few strong objections when the nomination principle was reinstated for the Dominion Senate in 1867. Indeed, the new system was never fully implemented, being designed to be phased in alongside the existing life members, sixteen of whom survived until Confederation. Legislative Councillors, who were subject to a property qualification, were to be elected for overlapping eight-year terms, from larger electoral divisions than the Assembly ridings.[231] The theory was that this would give public life the benefit of a broader type of member, characterised by experience and wisdom, their legitimacy endorsed by the electoral process but within a framework that allowed them to defy specific constituency pressures. It was a system tailor-made for Alexander Campbell, the more so as the Cataraqui division, which was due to poll in 1858, comprised Kingston, his home city, and Addington and Frontenac counties, overlapping the Assembly riding where he had been slated to run in 1854.

On 11 January 1858, just as the general election for the Assembly concluded, Campbell issued an address announcing his candidacy for the Legislative Council seat of Cataraqui. The fact that he was able to come forward at that moment is testimony to Campbell's business acumen. The Atlantic world was in the grip of one of a devastating financial storm. John Hillyard Cameron, socially and intellectually Campbell's Toronto Tory counterpart, was almost wiped out by bank crashes. John A. Macdonald, a casual and reckless businessman, survived mainly thanks to a massive overdraft that left him dangerously dependent upon Kingston's Commercial Bank.[232] In a crisis in which investment values collapsed all round, it is unlikely that Campbell escaped unscathed. The context suggests that Macdonald's assurance to Roblin in November 1857, "C has no money just now," referred to Campbell.[233] Nonetheless, Campbell's announcement of his candidacy two months later represented a clear proclamation that he could meet the $8,000 property qualification, and the likely expenses of campaigning across a wide electoral division.

Campbell justified his public declaration in advance of an unspecified "Convention ... to nominate a candidate" by referring to the fact that "an active personal canvass has been already commenced by another candidate", Reformer Overton S. Gildersleeve.[234] In an evident allusion to his restricted mobility, Campbell made clear that "I cannot go into a personal canvass, and that my election must depend on the exertions of others," but he hoped to be "honoured with the nomination" despite "labouring under such a disadvantage". "I do not deem it necessary, at this time, to enter into the discussion of the political questions of the day," he stated, arguing that his "course as a private elector amongst you for many years" was "well known, and free from inconsistency."[235] This appeared to be a coded double message: Campbell was running as a traditional Conservative, and would feel free to criticise his opponents if they sought to trim their sails on controversial issues. When the election came on in October 1858, he characteristically said of Gildersleeve and rival Conservative Thomas Kirkpatrick, "the candidates are all good friends, and why should we be anything else?" – before proceeding to attack their integrity and conduct.[236]

The elective principle might be designed to elevate the proceedings of the Legislative Council, but it was quickly clear that factional manoeuvring shaped events at grassroots level. Kingston had a long history of Tory in-fighting: as recently as 1847, Kirkpatrick had challenged the incumbent John A. Macdonald for the Assembly seat.[237] Early in February, Campbell was nominated at what he now characterised as "the Conservative Convention", held at Odessa in Lennox and Addington County.[238] Kirkpatrick, whose support base was in Frontenac, objected to the convention's location and declined to accept its decision: Campbell later charged that Kirkpatrick "should not have appeared there or taken any part in the proceedings" if he refused to abide by the outcome.[239] In a provocative charade, Campbell claimed he had offered to allow his opponent "to name delegates from all the townships himself, and the only condition I attached ... was that the delegates should be leading men in each township."[240] Clearly, the aura that Campbell projected in later decades, of Olympian detachment from "active political campaigning, with its ups and downs", did not reflect his first engagement with the electoral process.[241]

It was in keeping with his "manly and independent"[242] posture that only after he had received the Odessa nomination did Campbell outline his political opinions, "frankly, explicitly, and in a statesmanlike manner", as an admirer later put it.[243] Echoing Mowat's sentiments on party affiliation, he acknowledged that "a candidate without politics would ... be useless" in parliament. He began by declaring his determination to "uphold and cement" Canada's connection with "the Mother Country". (This was deeply personal: thirty years later, it would be said of Campbell that "he has ever retained the warmest sentiments of loyalty and attachment to the British Empire."[244] Of course, it could have been objected that no politician was actively planning to break Canada's links with Britain.) His second policy point seems surprising in its priority. Campbell challenged the monopoly control of the Hudson's Bay Company that retained the western prairies "as a hunting ground". The territory should be "thrown open to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects for settlement".[245] Its inclusion probably reflects a general sense of land hunger in the Kingston area: Kirkpatrick also emphasised it.[246] A decade later, when Britain wished to transfer the Hudson's Bay Company's sovereignty to Canada, Campbell proved distinctly lukewarm, an attitude perhaps foreshadowed by his careful 1858 formula that the territory should be placed "under such arrangements as to government as might upon thoughtful enquiry be found expedient."[247]

The core of Campbell's manifesto was found in items three and four. "I am in favour of Parliamentary Representation being based on Population, irrespective of any dividing line between Upper and Lower Canada," he wrote. This was almost word for word the formula used by "Grits", the most advanced section of the Upper Canada Reformers, and endorsed just weeks earlier by Oliver Mowat.[248] Campbell, too, pledged himself to support the "immediate passing of measures" to resolve the issue.[249] Support for representation by population was growing on the Tory wing of the Conservative party, if only because it provided a respectable democratic cover for their instinctive desire to place Catholic French-speaking Canadians in a subordinate position. Indeed, it was becoming a touchstone issue, one that provided a vehicle for the expression for Tory unease at John A. Macdonald's defensive strategy of sectional compromise to retain Bleu support.

Campbell's fourth point, an attack on Catholic determination to secede from the Upper Canada's non-denominational school system, represented an even more specific disavowal of Macdonald's policies. "Separate Schools in rural municipalities deteriorate the character and usefulness of both classes of schools, prejudicially divide the scholars, lead to the employment of inferior masters, and materially injure the Common School system." This was an uncompromising statement, but there was a political problem. Unusually in Upper Canada, Kingston contained a sizeable Catholic community, comprising about thirty percent of its population. Campbell adapted his principles accordingly. "In Towns and Cities, where population is dense, and rival schools in one locality are not an injury to each other, separate schools for Roman Catholics may ... be maintained without prejudice to the cause of education," he conceded, but the "privilege" should "be confined to such places where they would seem almost necessary to the maintenance of good will and charitable feelings between the members of the great religious denominations."

The message was clear: Catholic schools were acceptable in a few urban areas like Kingston but, elsewhere, Campbell would "advocate their abolition."[250] This went further than the general opposition voiced by most Reformers, who concentrated on opposing further concessions to the Catholics.  Clearly, the year spent in the seminary at St-Hyacinthe had not left Alexander Campbell enamoured of the ethos of Catholic education. In fairness to Campbell, he vigorously maintained his position on the hustings, the public candidates' debate when the election came on in October 1858, stressing that "in the country, where the population is sparse and thin ... you are unable to pay a good master."[251] (Campbell's gender-specific language can be justified by the fact that the feminisation of the teaching profession was a phenomenon of later decades.) Controversial legislation spearheaded by Catholic spokesman R.W. Scott, and carried by French Canadian votes in 1863, responded to Campbell's objections by reducing the number of families required in any district to qualify for a share of tax revenue, conceding in return the principle of provincial inspection of Church schools to ensure educational standards.[252] In the Cataraqui election, the Catholic schools issue forced all three candidates to tread carefully. Campbell understandably derided Gildersleeve's declared preference for some magic system "which would be acceptable to all classes of the laity and unobjectionable to the clergy."[253]

 The remaining issues covered by Campbell's February manifesto were straightforward. He favoured the passage of a general enabling law for the chartering of "educational and charitable institutions" by all religious groups, a sensible device to remove sectarian squabbles from parliament and a measure designed to appeal to his Orange Order supporters. In a nod to Kingston's shipping interests, he favoured action to end the anomaly by which American-built vessels could trade between ports on British territory, but Canadian-built ships were denied the same privilege along the south shore of Lake Ontario. Ottawa had just been designated as Canada's future seat of government, and Campbell pledged that he would "strenuously seek to obtain for Kingston and its neighbourhood a direct Railway communication" with the new capital.[254] In the event, the area managed well enough with an indirect rail link via Brockville, eighty kilometres downstream. Campbell was later an investor in the Kingston & Pembroke line, but construction did not begin until 1872, and the railway only broke into the Ottawa valley in 1886.[255] One other pledge foreshadowed an issue that would emerge as central to Canadian politics from the mid-seventies. "I am in favour of a revision of the Customs Tariff, and of placing the same duty on United States manufactures which they place on Canadian." The same sentiments, revision and retaliation, would cloak the Conservative endorsement of protective tariffs twenty years later. Finally, Campbell promised that he would "earnestly advocate an honest, efficient and economical administration of all Public Departments.[256] All politicians favoured efficient economy, but the government deficit steadily increased all the same.

Between February and September 1858, the Cataraqui campaign appears to have gone underground, although preparations for the poll undoubtedly continued across the district: on being elected in mid-October, Campbell thanked "my respective committees" and "my friends in all parts of the Division."[257] But the six months between February and October constituted a minor watershed in Canadian politics. Late in November 1857, the retirement from active politics of Étienne Taché had left John A. Macdonald as the senior member of the cabinet, "Prime Minister of Canada" in the grandiloquent admiration of his Kingston supporters. The following month, during the midwinter general election, the riding had endorsed him by a stunning 1189 votes to nine.[258] Disappointment had followed. In the Assembly, Macdonald's position was secure because it could rely upon a large Bleu phalanx from Lower Canada, but within his own section, where the ministry had lost seats, Macdonald's right to govern was doggedly contested by the resurgent Reformers. The premier himself was exhausted, both by overwork and the hammer-blow of his wife's death during the election campaign.

Eventually, in late July 1858, Macdonald found an excuse to tender his cabinet's resignation, apparently secure in the belief that Reform leader George Brown could not assemble an alternative team. In the event, Brown and A.-A. Dorion had put together a ministry and, by accepting office, forfeited their membership of parliament until endorsed once again by their constituents. This further weakened their numbers in the assembly, where they were ousted within two days. Then followed the bizarre episode of the Double Shuffle. In 1857, the provision of the law requiring incoming ministers to contest by-elections had been amended to exempt those changing portfolios within one month. This sensible reform was designed to facilitate leisurely cabinet reshuffles, and it had evidently never been intended to allow a newly appointed cabinet to evade the re-election requirement. However, Macdonald's returning colleagues, now led by Cartier, availed themselves of the loophole to appoint themselves to entirely new portfolios (Macdonald, for instance, was sworn in as  postmaster-general, an office he clearly had no intention of discharging), and then switched back to their previous jobs.[259] Since they had resigned their previous offices only a few days earlier, they were able to use the "one month" provision to evade the usual ritual of contesting by-elections. The dodge was widely condemned.           

Although 1858 was a sordid year in Canadian politics, it saw the addition of two new elements to the public agenda. First, the arrival of news from Britain arrived in January that Ottawa had been chosen, ostensibly by Queen Victoria, as Canada's future capital had dented Macdonald's popularity in Kingston. During an election meeting in September, Gildersleeve's supporters shouted that the "Artful Dodger" had sold the city to the "Bytown Shiners".[260] Initially, Campbell did not take the matter seriously: his February manifesto apparently doubted whether the Queen's decision would be "acted upon".[261] However, a second new political issue opened potential new options for the relationship between Upper and Lower Canada. In mid-August, the reconstituted ministry – with Cartier as the new premier – announced that it would explore the possibility of a union with the Maritime provinces. Given the level of cynicism displayed in the Double Shuffle, the initiative was not taken very seriously, and was referred to during the Cataraqui campaign only obliquely, as a possible means of securing representation by population. However, Campbell was slow to seize upon the idea. He published a collection of his speeches in 1886, and if he had publicly embraced Confederation at the outset of his career, he would surely have emphasised his foresight when reprising his career. It did not feature in his Cataraqui speeches. Indeed, he even tried to brand his opponent O.S. Gildersleeve as a supporter of Confederation, who would thereby delay the redistribution of power within the existing province.

The Cataraqui campaign burst into life in mid-September 1858: Campbell was reported to have been "holding ward meetings all over the city, during the last week".[262] "You should take the Globe whether you agree with it or not", Mowat had urged[263] – patronising advice, since even if Campbell was a new candidate, he was hardly a stranger to public life. The Globe was a mighty engine for news-gathering, but it also ruthlessly exploited its power to shape events to fit the agenda of its masterful proprietor, George Brown. After the humiliation of his two-day premiership, Brown needed to portray the Cataraqui election as a ministerial setback, a defeat for his enemy John A. Macdonald on his home ground. Since Campbell seemed on track for victory – the 500-vote majority predicted for him early in the campaign was remarkably close to the actual result[264] – it made sense to interpret his high-minded independence as a triumph for opposition principles. Nor was the portrayal an entire distortion of Campbell's stance. "Mr Campbell has gone farthest in denouncing the Government and has been promised many opposition votes."[265]

Campbell was now also campaigning on four additional issues. He favoured temperance legislation to ban the sale of liquor from 7 o'clock on Saturday night until 8 on Monday morning, a measure which would ensure peaceful observation of the "Lord's Day". This was what would now be called a dog-whistle gesture to mobilise the Protestant vote. Campbell also pledged to make Kingston's penitentiary "self-sustaining", but without allowing convict labour to compete with "the honest mechanic". Just how this remarkable commitment could be honoured Campbell did not explain, presumably relying upon "his undoubted character for sincerity" to mask its implausibility. More controversially, he attacked the government for "cloaking the corruption" that had undoubtedly characterised the raucous 1857-8 general election, and he also denounced the Double Shuffle. Since three of the issues that he had emphasised in February – representation by population, opposition to Catholic schools and the annexation of the Hudson's Bay Territories – were also policies backed by the Globe, it is not surprising that one Kingston voter was quoted as saying of a Campbell speech, "If that's not the Brown-Dorion platform, it's very like it."[266]

The Globe's decision to highlight Campbell's candidature involved the abandonment of Gildersleeve who, as an indignant supporter pointed out, "is and always has been a Reformer". Perhaps as reinsurance of its links to its natural constituency in Kingston, the Globe gave space to an intriguing conspiracy theory from a local letter-writer. Its Kingston correspondent, alleged "X.Y.", was "in Campbell's pay". Kirkpatrick was the "original nominee" of the John A. Macdonald faction, but on realising that he would be defeated by Gildersleeve, they switched to Campbell, who was energetically supported by the pro-Macdonald Kingston Daily News and by several of his friends. By a "previous understanding", Campbell was "artfully permitted" to adopt positions that "draw away from Mr. Gildersleeve his anti-ministerial support." "Campbell was Macdonald's partner, and still is his most intimate friend," and it was certain that "he would be Macdonald's tool, and his mouthpiece in the Upper House."[267] While his course of action during his early years in the Legislative Council would not bear out this paranoid interpretation, there was probably some truth in the claim that prominent Macdonald supporters were backing Campbell over Kirkpatrick. However, splitting the Conservative vote between two candidates in the face of a strong Reform challenge was hardly a Machiavellian strategy.

If anything, the allegation that his campaign was a charade perhaps pushed Campbell into greater outspokenness. At the hustings, the public nomination session, on 4 October, he attacked both opponents with gusto. Claiming that he had spoken "highly" of Kirkpatrick – the standard formula preceding Campbell's personal attacks – he delved deep into the factional stresses of Kingston Toryism. Kirkpatrick, he alleged, had supported Anthony Manahan and R.B. Sullivan, nominees of Lord Sydenham, the masterful governor-general who had inaugurated the Canadian Union back in 1841. In those days, "he was always in some public office" – an unfair innuendo of self-advancement, for Kirkpatrick had been closely involved with unpaid civic politics, serving as mayor before Campbell's first employer, Henry Cassady, and it had been part of his job to lobby for the city's interests. A more recent ground of complaint was Kirkpatrick's intervention at the 1847 general election, which Campbell insinuated was an attempt to divide the Conservative vote in the interest of the Reformers – the only point he argued that could be interpreted as pro-John A. Macdonald, the incumbent whose position had been threatened by that party split. But Campbell also sought to outflank Gildersleeve on issues important to Reformers, presenting himself as the only candidate who opposed Catholic schools and demanded representation by population. Gildersleeve, he alleged, was "in favour of representation by population when the British Provinces are joined in one confederation," a charge that the Reform nominee rejected. Campbell apparently offered no opinion on the desirability of Confederation, but it would seem that he did not expect its early achievement.[268]

Campbell regarded his assault on both his rivals as evidence of his independence. In a ringing declaration, he proclaimed: "if I go into public life, I will go in independent of the government and of the opposition," and would give his opinion "fairly and honestly", issue by issue. "If his opinion is shared by the government, good; if it is shared by the opposition, good; but a candidate should not pledge himself to act either with the government or the opposition, except their opinions coincided with his own."[269] This was a total inversion of Mowat's argument that the independent member lacked influence with either party, but no doubt it was more appropriate to the upper house than to the lower. Nonetheless, the Globe continued to claim him for the opposition. "How can he be anything else, when he denounces the Ministry as the perpetrators of trickery and as having ruined the credit of the country?"[270]

On October 14, Campbell was elected as Legislative Councillor for Cataraqui. A near-final tally gave him 1445 votes to 937 for Gildersleeve and 537 for Kirkpatrick,[271] very slightly larger than the 500-vote majority predicted a month earlier. While we can reject X.Y's  claim that Campbell's endorsement of Reform causes was a charade to siphon off opposition votes, mathematically it may be noted that if Gildersleeve had captured 260 votes from Campbell, he would have narrowly won. In a division with roughly double the population of the Kingston riding, and campaigning without the support of the powerful Globe, Gildersleeve had managed to secure one hundred times the forlorn nine votes cast against John A. Macdonald ten months earlier. No wonder Campbell treated his victory speech as the first shot in the campaign for re-election that he promised to fight in 1866.[272]       


Campbell took his seat in the Legislative Council early in 1859, and at once demonstrated that he was not John A. Macdonald's "mouthpiece" in the upper house.[273] In its throne speech, Cartier's ministry belatedly accepted the selection of Ottawa as Canada's permanent seat of government, a decision that would end the cumbersome system of temporary dual capitals. However, since Toronto's five-year term was coming to an end, ministers insisted that they were duty-bound to endure one more upheaval, and shift files, bureaucrats, politicians and parliament downriver to Quebec City. Campbell attacked the "useless expenditure", which he estimated at a million dollars, undertaken merely "to gratify persons who happened to live in that part of the country."[274] His fellow Legislative Councillors agreed, and consistently amended the government's budget to delete provisions to pay for the removal. Eventually, near the end of the session, the upper house gave way to avoid a paralysing constitutional clash which would probably have ended in their defeat, and perhaps even abolition.[275] In practical terms, the Council could only delay the matter, in the hope of rallying Upper Canadian opinion to block the transfer. But the problem here was the artificially equal representation of the two sections of the province, each electing 65 members to the Assembly, despite the fact that Upper Canada's population was pulling well ahead.  However vocal popular demand might be to keep the capital in Toronto, Lower Canada's proportionately louder voice would dictate its own terms. Only representation by population could end this situation, but there was no prospect of its "immediate" achievement, Campbell's declared aim during the Cataraqui campaign. In time, the ever-intolerant Globe would list him among the Conservatives who had "betrayed" the cause.[276]

A similar issue arose over the fallout from the abolition of seigneurial tenure in Lower Canada. In 1854, French Canada's seventeenth-century landowning system had been converted to freehold.   Landowners (seigneurs) continued to collect rents from tenant farmers (censitaires), but the various feudal obligations were now valued in money terms, with provision to pay them off in lump sums. While this was overall a beneficial reform to the system of land-ownership, it imposed short-term costs upon the censitaires, who were promised government "aid". That word, according to Campbell, implied that the tenants "were expected to do something themselves." However, politicians had harvested votes by pledging public funds to wipe out the debts altogether. "Gentlemen from Lower Canada had been forced to promise the Censitaires everything because they knew the money was not to come out of their own pockets, but out of the Consolidated Revenue to which Upper Canada contributed more than two-thirds." Although, technically, Upper Canada provided just $1.3 million out of the total provincial revenue of $3 million, another $400,000 was paid on imports through Montreal "bought and consumed by the people of Upper Canada."  Consequently, "members from Lower Canada had been more liberal with their promises than they would have been if Lower Canada were to contribute the money." Two aspects of Campbell's speech are of particular interest. One is that he specifically criticised Étienne Taché, the elder statesman under whom he would serve as a member of the Great Coalition of 1864. The other is that his argument amounted to a generalised denigration of French Canadians. "No one could deny that the people of Upper Canada, who had to face the primeval forests, were harder worked than the people of Lower Canada, living on the banks of the Richelieu in comparative ease," he declared. "The Government imposed great burdens upon the hardworking and needy man, for the purpose of rendering assistance to a man who did not want it, because he knew of no hardship." (Campbell used "want" in an old-fashioned sense, to mean "need", not "desire". It should also be said that several complex formulae were bandied about in parliamentary debates, with French Canadians arguing that Upper Canada received equivalent subsidies through other measures.)[277]

Of course, a Machiavellian argument might cast Campbell as a loose cannon to strengthen the hand of his friend John A. Macdonald, by making him appear a moderate. All Canadian cabinets were coalitions not just of factions but of regional interests. Was Campbell providing evidence that Macdonald, the leading minister from the upper province, could use to demonstrate to his French Canadian allies that he was unable to deliver his own section in support of their most controversial demands? The problem with this particular conspiracy theory would lie in the fact that Campbell also introduced a bill to prevent any repetition of the Double Shuffle, a direct repudiation of his former partner's political ethics. Although the dodge that spared Macdonald and his colleagues from contesting ministerial by-elections might indeed have been technically legal, Campbell said, it "had caused the greatest dissatisfaction among the people."[278] His proposal was seconded by G.W. Allan, just elected to the Council to represent the Toronto area – the beginning of an alliance that would make the two men business partners in later decades. Such instantaneous activism perhaps startled more traditional Legislative Councillors: one of the most senior life members criticised their failure to proceed through a series of resolutions, a more appropriate strategy for a talking shop. But Campbell also pressed his "Intoxicating Liquors" bill, designed to prevent alcohol sales between Saturday night and Monday morning.[279] It seemed that he intended to be an activist and a highly independent member of the upper house.

However, as so often with Campbell, the underlying reality was more complex, as is revealed in a correspondence with Macdonald in January 1860.[280] As leader of the Upper Canada section of the Cartier ministry, Macdonald had offered Campbell a job. This in itself was not surprising: during the eight years between the formation of the coalition in 1854 and its final collapse in 1862, there was a rapid turnover in ministerial appointments, and it was regular practice to ignore previous policy disagreements in filling slots.[281] Indeed, by the early 1860s, it became impossible to find potential Conservative recruits who had not embraced representation by population, even though the ministry itself refused to endorse the aim. In any case, the position that Macdonald offered Campbell was almost certainly that of Solicitor-General for Upper Canada, which did not confer a seat in cabinet. The two Attorneys-General, Cartier and Macdonald, controlled overall policy matters, while the Solicitors-General handled government business in the courts. The post of Solicitor-General for Upper Canada had been vacant for almost two years, that for Lower Canada was unfilled since January 1859.[282] In terms of qualifications, Campbell was an obvious choice. He was a successful lawyer and his language skills would have enabled him to provide at least unofficial supervision of Lower Canada business until a Francophone colleague could be recruited. Macdonald apparently made the offer face to face on 4 January 1860, while spending the Christmas holidays in Kingston. It is apparent from Campbell's memorandum two days later that they were engaged in a business venture: Macdonald might well have encountered his former partner socially, but a more pressing motive to meet was the fact that he was due to collect some money from the transaction.[283] Campbell did not specify the post on offer in his written replies, but his description of the post as "the one I should desire of all others if I held any" seems to confirm that it was the Solicitor-Generalship, and his fears that his "lameness" would prevent him from discharging its duties indicate that it was not a desk-bound appointment.[284]

On personnel grounds, Alexander Campbell would undoubtedly have filled a gap in John A. Macdonald's team. Unfortunately, Campbell felt that it "would be inconsistent in me to join the Government". As Macdonald's "obliged and grateful friend", he offered a courteous but frank explanation. Several times during the 1859 session, he had voted with the opposition. "A condemnation of the temporary removal to Quebec pending the erection of the public buildings at Ottawa was one of those instances, and there were one or two others," he recalled, tactfully drawing a veil over his censuring of the Double Shuffle.[285] Overshadowing their discussion was one factor of which both would have been aware. The 1857 Independence of Parliament Act, the notorious legislation that had unwittingly made possible the Double Shuffle, had also required elected members of the Legislative Council to submit themselves to their constituents for revalidation if they accepted any office of profit under the Crown, a provision that specifically included the office of Solicitor General.[286] Returning to the voters of Cataraqui barely a year after his election as an independent would certainly have revived allegations that Campbell was Macdonald's stooge. A replay of the contest with Gildersleeve and Kirkpatrick might well see votes siphoned off from both outraged Reformers and discontented Tories, making his re-election doubtful. Hence Campbell's conclusion not only that "it would be consistent in me to join the Government" but also that "any use which, under the circumstances, I might possibly be to you would be much impaired."[287] After a further night's sleep, Campbell repeated his "conviction of the inexpediency" of accepting office "so far as I am concerned".[288]

However, Campbell's refusal to take office alongside Macdonald was not the full story. The two men had evidently shared a wide-ranging discussion, which encouraged Campbell to define his own position and comment more broadly on the political scene. He stressed that, although his "sense of duty" had led him to vote against the government, he was "not by any means" a member of the opposition.[289] Rather, his motivation was a wish to uphold the Conservative element in Macdonald's coalition. "I see in the union between the moderate Reformers and the Conservatives the only chance we have," he wrote, the "we" marking him clearly as a party stalwart, even if one who was occasionally out of step. Despite refusing to take office, "I would be very glad to render assistance at some future time, if it was thought I could lend any [assistance], in trying to keep together the Conservative element in the party which you lead." In particular, he felt that "something should be done to beget more friendly feelings towards the Government amongst the old Conservative party, and to satisfy them that the union with the Hincksite Reformers is essential to their having any control in governing the country".

There were two problems with this worthy strategy. The first was that the "old Conservative party" failed to recognise that they required the moderate Reformers more than the Hincksites needed them. The second was that Campbell himself was unable "to suggest anything definite", in keeping with a character trait that was sometimes more effective at defining problems than at solving them. But his concerns did relate specifically to Lennox and Addington, part of his Cataraqui electorate, where the coalition partnership was generally somewhat adverse".[290] It seems that A.F. Hooper, who had run as a Conservative in 1854, was never reconciled to the decision of his victorious opponent, David Roblin, to back the coalition. By October 1860, Hooper was shaping up to challenge Roblin at the polls, and Macdonald appealed to Campbell to act as arbitrator.[291] At the 1861 election, Hooper not only broke ranks but won the riding.[292]  Legislative Councillors were supposed to stand aloof from factional pressures, but Campbell was well aware that tensions within his electoral base made it desirable for him to avoid overt commitment to the ministry. The issue was not his political orientation but the most effective means of articulating it. "I sincerely desire your continuance in power", he assured Macdonald, "and may perhaps, in lending you an independent support (as I hope to do), be of some little use."[293]

In September 1860, a sudden crisis threatened to destroy John A. Macdonald's ascendancy in Kingston. Campbell actively contributed to damage limitation, motivated both by friendship and the need to repair the split in the basis of Conservative support in the district. Canada's first royal tour brought Queen Victoria's son, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), to Kingston.[294] Unfortunately, the eighteen year-old prince did not land there. The Duke of Newcastle, the British cabinet minister accompanying the official party, refused to countenance the presence of Orangemen waiting on the dockside in their sectarian regalia: the Orange Order, although legal in Canada, was banned in Ireland. After a twenty-four hour standoff during which Kingston's Orangemen refused to yield, the duke ordered the official steamer to sail on. Given the duke's inflexibility, Macdonald's best response would have been to persuade Kingston's Orangemen to swallow their resentment as a compliment to Queen Victoria's son, a course successfully adopted in Toronto by John Hillyard Cameron, a prominent figure on the Tory wing of the party and himself a senior Orange official. The local Orange Order had provided an organisational base for Macdonald's early political campaigns.[295] The fact that he did not attempt to negotiate with his erstwhile supporters is an indication that his coalition strategy at provincial level had already aroused their suspicions that alliance with the Bleus meant unlimited concessions to Canada's Catholics. (Campbell, who did urge the Kingston Orangemen to abandon their regalia, was unsuccessful.[296]) Instead, Macdonald committed himself to a futile frontal assault on the Duke of Newcastle, even to the point of threatening to boycott the royal tour altogether, an unforgivable affront to a member of the royal family which boxed him into a humiliating corner.

Campbell was a member of a delegation led by Macdonald that lobbied the duke at Brockville, as the prince's steamer approached Kingston, pleading with him to allow the prince to visit their city.[297] (Newcastle had been tipped off in advance that an Orange demonstration was planned, and made his displeasure known.) In the aftermath of the debacle, Campbell compiled a memorandum of the meeting which, although it does not survive, evidently emphasised how strongly Macdonald had urged their case. Campbell used his document to brief the editor of the Daily News, Kingston's leading newspaper, persuading him – as he reported to Macdonald – that "of all classes, the Protestants and Orangemen had least reason to find fault with the line of conduct which you pursued." However, he had delayed giving his account wider publicity. While it would undoubtedly strengthen Macdonald's position among Protestants across Upper Canada generally, "I was unable to judge of the effect on the Catholics, and on general grounds would prefer to leave the point to your decision."[298] The problem was that an irreconcilable section among the Orangemen did find fault with Macdonald, however unreasonable their stance might be. When Campbell defended the member for Kingston at a public meeting in November 1860, he faced "a storm of hisses and groans", the prelude to a resolution censuring the government.[299] With the fracturing of his core Protestant support, Macdonald would need a section of the Catholic vote to retain his seat in Kingston. If Catholics voted for a politician who had done his best to argue the Orange case, it would only be because they saw him as the lesser of two evils.  Macdonald's position in his home city was permanently weakened.

In his dealings with Macdonald, Campbell presented himself as a loyal supporter: "I have no desire except to take that course which you think will be useful to you and your Government."  He was certainly fighting Macdonald's corner, but he was also acting in his own political interests. Prior to the royal tour, it had been assumed that ministers would call an Assembly election in the aftermath. Elections were not due until early 1863, but it had become customary for parliaments to last around three years – and the government might hope to capitalise on a successful royal visit. That prospect had been destroyed by the confrontation at Kingston. While Macdonald might ride out Protestant discontent by tapping into Catholic support, for Campbell, strong in his condemnation of separate schools, a split in the Orange Order was a seismic threat to his electoral support. "Will you permit me to express my hope that you are not going to dissolve Parliament?", he urged. There was "no room whatever to anticipate a result favourable to the existing Government" from an early election. Support from "the R[oman] Catholics and the rump of what has been the Ministerialists" would be outweighed by the defection of the Protestant vote to "Brown and Co[mpany]". Time was required to woo the Orangemen back to their Tory allegiance.[300]

Macdonald spent November and December 1860 rebuilding his support in a speaking tour across the province: indeed, he probably has the doubtful honour of having introduced the rubber chicken circuit to Canadian politics. Not only did the guest of honour expound his policies and defend his conduct, but other Conservatives were mobilised to echo his praises in demonstrations of party unity.[301] When the circus came to Kingston, on 27 November, it would hardly have been possible for Campbell to have absented himself, yet his speech fell notably short of a ringing declaration of confidence in the city's member of parliament. Replying to a toast to members of the legislature, he treated the audience to a disquisition on the role and value of the upper house, seeming to tack on an appreciation of the guest of honour "before I sit down". In fact, his remarks on Macdonald amounted to more than half his speech, and he began by invoking his Oldest Friend status. "There are few, if any, here who have known him at once so long and so intimately as I have; none can more sincerely admire his great talents, or singular aptitude for dealing with and influencing his fellow men." Kingston was a close-knit society. Many of the diners would have been familiar with the story of the painful break-up of the Macdonald-Campbell law partnership barely a decade earlier, and discounted these sentiments.

However, Campbell sought to make clear that there were greater forces at play than mere personal friendship. Macdonald's primary claim upon "the gratitude of this Province" lay in "the many eminent services" he had performed as a legislator. It was at this point that the panegyric went off the boil. After congratulating Macdonald on settling the "acrimonious" issue of the clergy reserves, Campbell was less whole-hearted in his allusion to the abolition of seigneurial tenure. Referring to his own objections to the proposals to compensate the censitaires, he could only say that it was "doubtful ... whether better terms could have been obtained, no matter in whose hands the settlement was placed."  After a few words of praise for Macdonald's largely unspecified achievements as a legislator, Campbell delivered a passage that reads more like a thinly veiled attack: "if during all these years much has been done, many transactions have been suffered, wrong in themselves, corrupting in their influences, and which many of us did at the time, and do still, heartily condemn, let us remember that it is impossible but that offences and errors shall occur, and many miscarriages arise during a tenure of office extending over so many years."

The most that he seemed able to say was that "amongst many sins and much extravagance, the coalition party and Government have done much that is good". While he saluted the guest of honour "as a Kingstonian and an old friend", Campbell pledged that he would continue to demand "a reduction of our extravagant and absurd expenditure" and predicted that the 1861 census would strengthen Upper Canadian demands for representation by population.[302] 

This does not read like the speech of the person designated by Donald Swainson as John A. Macdonald's "ideal political lieutenant". Swainson argued that "Campbell's most serious political weakness was his lack of an independent power base: he operated from Kingston, the centre of Macdonald's strength."  This made Campbell "useful, safe, and able", somebody whose inability to threaten Macdonald made him "the ideal political lieutenant." While that does indeed seem a reasonable verdict on the two decades after 1867 when, as a Senator, Campbell had no need to cultivate any local voter support at all, it is not true of the early 1860s, when Swainson himself acknowledged that that "he did have a base of electoral power, albeit a weak one, as an elected legislative councillor, but even then his constituency was shared with Macdonald."[303] The unspoken assumption behind Swainson's qualification is that Macdonald was the dominant political force in the Kingston district. In reality, the years 1858 to 1864 saw him under considerable pressure locally, and it was in this period that Campbell came close to breaking away altogether.[304]

It was characteristic of Campbell's September 1860 advice to delay the calling of a general election that he was more cogent in defining a problem than in suggesting solutions: ministers, he advised, could only place their hopes in "the chances which the future always has in store".[305] For once, the strategy worked. George Brown fell ill, silencing the driving force and hectoring voice of Upper Canada Reform. When the elections came on in June 1861 – to get them over before the Twelfth of July, the Orange festival that usually triggered sectarian clashes – the Conservatives recovered some of the Upper Canadian ground they had lost in 1857-58.[306] Unfortunately, these gains were matched by setbacks for the Bleus in Lower Canada, creating an Assembly that was closely divided overall between government and opposition forces. Nor was the Conservative recovery an unmixed blessing for the party's Upper Canada leader. As Campbell had predicted at the Kingston banquet, the 1861 census had confirmed that Upper Canada's population, at 1.4 million, was now well in excess of Lower Canada's 1.1 million. At Kingston, Macdonald opposed representation by population, urging the existing union of the Canadas as the only constitutional option worth considering,[307] but most Tories pledged themselves to seek a rebalancing of the existing province. Even more inconvenient, from Macdonald's point of view, was that some of them took their commitments seriously. Thus the victory of Conservative F.J. Hooper over loyal Hincksite David Roblin in Lennox and Addington was far from a plus. Given their shared, or at least overlapping, political support base, it is noteworthy that Macdonald had to turn to Campbell to persuade Hooper to be "reasonable". "He may vote Rep. by Pop. as much as he pleases," Macdonald wrote testily. "All I want him to do is to give a general support to the Government, and not join in factious votes of want of confidence".[308]

Macdonald found himself under pressure from "the violent Tories, who are fools enough to think that a purely Conservative Gov[ernmen]t can be formed."[309] Although Campbell was not among the "fools", he continued to favour a shift in the government's internal balance towards the Conservatives and, since Macdonald continued to have hopes of recruiting him to office, his opinions now carried some weight. Campbell had probably played a low-key role during the 1861 Kingston election. His old friend, Oliver Mowat, had been imported from Toronto to run against Macdonald, while Oliver's brother George performed the same service in the law firm of Campbell and Mowat that he himself had once delivered to John A. Macdonald.[310] Yet in December, Alexander Campbell once again discussed with Macdonald the possibility of taking office.

It is tempting to dismiss the chances of Campbell's joining the government as unlikely. Macdonald needed ministerial firepower in the Assembly, while Campbell would be facing the expensive hazards of a Council by-election to join a team whose future seemed uncertain. Nor would the proposed appointment, as President of the Council, harness his undoubted efficiency to any specific departmental portfolio. Yet Campbell did seem interested and – with his usual smokescreen of diffidence – he used the approach to state his terms. He had formed the impression that Macdonald was seeking support from two prominent members of the Tory wing of the party, Thomas Clark Street and John Hillyard Cameron. Both were natural aristocrats.[311] Street was also immensely rich, although Cameron had lost his fortune in the 1857 crash. Both were firm believers in representation by population – in Street's case, a reluctant but inflexible recognition of its inevitability. Campbell was thus taken aback to receive a note in which Macdonald assumed "in an easy way" that he could be recruited without any further ministerial changes. Macdonald's breezy comment that he did not want Cameron – a long-time party rival – and did not need Street touched a raw nerve.  In a characteristic prelude to confrontation, Campbell wrote: "I dislike seeming to give unnecessary prominence to my intentions, which after all may be of little consequence to anyone but myself". "I cannot suppose you overlooked my original condition, repeated several times" and, accordingly, he objected to Macdonald's dismissive tone. "I am willing to place myself at the service of the Government if the changes such as you originally suggested are to be made," he stated, implying that his former partner had been less than straightforward. "If they are not to be made, then with many thanks to you for the honor you have done me I retire altogether from the field."[312] Three points stand out from this episode. First, Campbell was indeed prepared to take office, despite the obstacles and the uncertainties involved. Second, he was anything but Macdonald's unquestioning lieutenant. Third, the wounds dating from the break-up of their partnership twelve years earlier were perhaps not fully healed. Campbell evidently resented being treated once again as the "extremely comfortable pair of old boots"[313] whose conditions could be brushed aside. When negotiations resumed three months later, John A. Macdonald was very definitely the supplicant.

Ministerial workloads created a rapid turnover among Macdonald's cabinet colleagues, while policy issues – especially the demand for representation by population – made it hard to recruit replacements from Upper Canada. With parliament due to meet in March 1862, three ministers were keen to quit,[314] and attention turned once again to the recruitment of Campbell. In two days of negotiations in Kingston at the end of February, Macdonald signalled the importance of winning over his former partner by bringing along three cabinet colleagues, two of whom were keen to jump. Bizarrely, the talks were conducted openly in the British American Hotel, one of the city's leading establishments. Macdonald no longer maintained a house in Kingston and perhaps Frederica Campbell did not want politicians in her home, but it seems surprising that the participants did not find a more private location. In a mocking report, the Toronto Globe showered praise upon Campbell. While the ironic tribute was designed to contrast with ministerial opportunism, it probably reflects the respect in which he was held at the time. The Kingston Daily News, admittedly a friendly source, insisted that Campbell had "gained vastly in popularity" since his election to the upper house, with a general belief across all shades of opinion the Cataraqui division that "his presence in the Council Chamber has been for the public good".[315]

"Mr Campbell of Kingston was always named as one of the coming men; part of the new blood which was to bring life to the paralytic old body of the coalition," proclaimed the Globe, with aggressive irony.  Campbell was not only "clever and laborious", he was also "respectable, a quality much desiderated by the Ministry." Much of this was tongue-in-cheek: the Globe rarely spoke in respectful terms. "The country was to be saved by Mr Campbell."[316] It was rumoured that he was offered the cabinet post of Commissioner of Crown Lands. Although it is impossible to reconstruct Campbell's business interests in any detail at this period, he probably invested in land (most Canadian business dealt in little else). In October 1862, he was the moving force behind a plan to settle German immigrants on 60,000 acres in the back of Frontenac County, having appealed to the government to back the scheme "on public as well as local grounds."[317] But, however closely related the portfolio to his concerns, Campbell was still not to be won. As the Kingston Daily News reported, despite his personal admiration for John A. Macdonald, he remained critical of "several acts of the Cartier-Macdonald Ministry". It would require "a very broad reconstruction" of cabinet personnel to persuade him to join.[318] The Globe was even more confident, if in reality probably less well informed.  "He declined to have ought [sic] to do with a Government which would not grant an amended representation to Upper Canada."[319] This was probably an over-simplification: it would not have required two days of talks to discuss an option which Cartier and the Lower Canadian section of the cabinet had no intention of conceding. There may be a more prosaic explanation. Campbell had warned Macdonald in January that he could only consider becoming Solicitor-General, since this was the only office which he could discharge from Kingston. With a growing family – and apparently a recent move to Hillcroft – he could not afford to maintain a second home in Quebec.[320]

Macdonald's high profile approach evidently reflected confidence in securing his quarry, and his supporters reacted to failure by spinning reports "that Mr Campbell is afraid of his seat and hesitates to fight another election."[321] Perhaps the by-election was a consideration: James Patton, a member of the upper house who accepted one of the vacant positions, failed to secure endorsement from the voters of the Owen Sound district of Saugeen.[322]  The two Tories who accepted office after Campbell's refusal, Carling and Robinson, both supported representation by population, which now became an open question, one on which the cabinet had no policy at all.[323] Within weeks of the opening of the session, it became clear that the Cartier-Macdonald ministry was clinging to office "by a very frail tenure".[324] On May twentieth, its ambitious attempt to reform the militia was defeated, a bout of drunkenness by John A. Macdonald accelerating its downfall.[325] Had Campbell accepted office, he would have sacrificed his independence and some of his reputation for integrity, while adding nothing to the ministry's strength in the lower house.

Instead, Alexander Campbell turned his eyes upon a more prestigious honorific office. In 1860, the Legislative Council had been granted the privilege of electing its own Speaker.[326] However, the privilege had not yet been invoked, since the existing speaker, Narcisse Belleau, had continued to occupy the chair, somewhat curiously doubling as a cabinet minister – one of the Lower Canada representatives who blocked representation by population. In March 1862, Belleau moved sideways to become Minister of Agriculture, a full-time post that encouraged him to give up the Speakership.[327] Campbell thought it would be a "gratifying post" and even secured Macdonald's "handsome" backing for his bid.[328] Unluckily for Campbell, the veteran Tory Sir Allan MacNab also coveted the post, and was elected by 26 votes to 23.[329] It was an unhappy victory, not only in his wafer-thin majority, but also because MacNab's health broke down, making it difficult for him to discharge the duty of presiding over debates.[330]

MacNab's death in August left Campbell as the obvious unity candidate when parliament met again in February 1863, James Patton, the other potential nominee, having been evicted from the upper house by the electors of Saugeen. Initially, however, a party contest seemed likely, between G.W. Allan for the Conservatives and A.J. Fergusson-Blair for the Reformers. When Allan withdrew in favour of his friend Campbell "as a sort of compromise candidate it was felt that he could hardly have been beaten" and – to the surprise of most observers – the member for Cataraqui was elected unanimously.[331] "He is personally very popular," wrote the Globe correspondent, "a man of pleasing manners and very superior abilities." His "moderate, conciliatory character" and his condemnation of the "misdeeds" of the former Cartier-Macdonald ministry made him acceptable to Reformers – who were also happy to shift "the best debater and tactician" in the Conservative ranks to an ornamental position.[332] In the event, Campbell held the Speakership only until May when parliament was dissolved. His short tenure may perhaps be explained by the financial pressures – he was now the father of a family – an element that he twice mentioned in letters to Macdonald.[333] He seems to have entertained as Speaker on a lavish scale, using Quebec City's Stadacona Club as his base, just as he was to be noted for quality hospitality in his Ottawa years.[334] However, presumably he had been aware of the expenses associated with the position, and may simply have sought it to as a springboard to political office.

Alexander Campbell's increasing prominence in the capital, Quebec, did not imply any loosening of his ties with Kingston, which he continued to regard as his home. Early in 1861, he acquired a perhaps surprising new appointment. In 1855, Queen's College, Kingston's Presbyterian university, had established a Medical Faculty by drawing upon the services of local practitioners and centralising the ad hoc professional training which they already offered, in effect converting apprentices into students. Although the medics displayed an awesome propensity to quarrel, the venture was a success in terms of recruitment, and by 1858 had acquired its own building. The College decided to replicate the experiment with the city's lawyers, and in February 1861 created a Law Faculty. Campbell's appointment as Dean, of course on a part-time basis, was recognition of his professional standing – he had been a Queen's Counsel since 1856 – but seems also to have been made in the belief that he could secure provincial funding for a Queen's Law School. This was not an era for mission statements and no evidence survives of Campbell's vision for the project, but it seems a fair assumption that his acceptance of the Deanship implied a desire to ensure that future lawyers would receive better training than he had acquired, in house, from Cassady and Macdonald. Unfortunately, the project faltered. The initial enthusiasm of law students for an organised programme of lectures collapsed on realising that a Queen's degree would not exempt them from the Law Society's costly requirement of qualification through Osgoode Hall in Toronto. With falling fee income no longer covering costs, Dean Campbell began the 1863-4 session by asking Queen's to guarantee a $200 minimum annual income to each lecturer. Although hardly exorbitant, the request was too much for the college's limited funds, and classes ceased in January 1864.[335]  The setback was awkward, since it coincided with pressure to centralise all Upper Canadian higher education in Toronto. Speaking at the Queen's fiftieth anniversary celebrations, Campbell commented that the college "did right to remain in Kingston", an oddly irrelevant comment in the context of 1889, but evidence of his concerns a quarter of a century before.[336]

We have another glimpse of Campbell's concern for his Kingston support base in a public meeting that he attended in January 1863. In his 1858 election manifesto he had pledged support to the city's shipowners against unfair American competition. As a member of the upper house, he insisted on reserving his position on meeting his constituents, responding to demands for a speech by saying that he was present as a "spectator", anxious to learn about the issues. Indeed, there was laughter when one bluff mariner demanded: "what did Mr Campbell or any other legal gentleman know about whether a vessel was on the starboard or the larboard tack?" [337] But there are signs that Campbell was able to gauge the political wind.

Following the downfall of Cartier's ministry in May 1862, John Sandfield Macdonald headed a Reform administration. "Sandfield" was a skilled if cynical political operator, who managed to keep his insecure ministry afloat while tackling the challenges facing the province.[338] It was thus a high-risk strategy when his near-namesake, John A. Macdonald, carried a vote of no confidence and forced Canada to the polls in the summer of 1863, two years into the parliament and a mere twelve months since the debacle of the Militia Bill. Macdonald was re-elected in Kingston, handily if hardly triumphantly, but there were signs that his power base was cracking.[339] It was known that he was in financial trouble, and one opponent scornfully dismissed his ability to take care of the city's interests.  "Mr Macdonald was not able to look after his own business."[340] Swainson's interpretation, that Campbell played second fiddle because he could not challenge Macdonald on their shared home ground, looks decidedly unpersuasive at this point: at the 1864 Cataraqui by-election, Campbell ran 55 votes ahead of Macdonald's 1863 vote in the Kingston section of the division.[341]

More to the point, Campbell's support was decidedly lukewarm. As was his wont, Macdonald appealed widely for funds to support his candidates, asking Campbell to back the Conservative nominee in Frontenac County. The request was refused. "I am very sorry not to be able to comply with any request preferred by you," Campbell began, in his characteristically conciliatory tone, but "I really cannot afford to spend money in Frontenac – in one or two instances where I felt that I was peculiarly called upon to contribute to such kind of expenditure I have done so but there is no claim upon me in this case." The two men were prominent members of the same political party. Frontenac formed part of Campbell's Cataraqui electoral district. Over the decades of their association, there are several examples of pained and reproachful letters from Campbell to Macdonald. This one, with its formal signature "Faithfully yours", stands out as the coldest missive of all. No doubt Campbell was careful with his expenditure, but it seems that he was also signalling lack of political support for John A. Macdonald.[342]

For the Kingston Macdonald, the 1863 election was a disaster. He had committed the ultimate sin in an opposition leader, forcing a premature general election, and losing, heavily. The Globe mockingly called his Upper Canada Conservative caucus a "Corporal's Guard.[343] But although Reformers had swept Upper Canada, they were not all devoted supporters of Sandfield Macdonald. Indeed, during and after the elections, Sandfield reshuffled his factional pack, dropping the Irish Catholics D'Arcy McGee and Michael Foley and making the Rouge A-A. Dorion his Lower Canadian lieutenant. However, in embracing the Rouges, whom John A. Macdonald unkindly condemned as "sworn enemies of the British connection",[344] Sandfield galvanised Conservatives of all shades, while McGee's determination to seek revenge for his humiliation offered a potential new vein of support. Indeed, despite having previously portrayed the Kingston Macdonald as sectarian and corrupt, McGee now hailed him as "a Conservative statesman of large and liberal views".[345]

Alexander Campbell was also back on board. In mid-December 1863, the Conservatives hailed Macdonald at a Toronto banquet, scornfully described by the Globe as honouring "the great John Alexander, and various minor stars of different degrees of magnitude," one of whom was Campbell. "I dread to see the passionate vehemence of party strife spread itself to the Legislative Council," he had told an audience in Kingston in 1860,[346] but now he claimed that the Conservatives had a majority in the upper house. He rejoiced that the party was displaying its strength in the capital of Upper Canada, not – like so many Reform beanfeasts – in some "obscure village ... where public opinion could be readily created by any small knot of individuals". He alleged that Sandfield had behaved "deceitfully towards the people", calling an election in support of a ministry which he had subsequently reshaped. John A. Macdonald, on the other hand, had "ably conducted" the opposition, eschewing factional tactics "in a fit and proper manner".[347] Macdonald's forbearance was of course purely tactical in its inspiration: until McGee had persuaded his Irish followers to follow him into the Conservative ranks, Sandfield's wafer-thin majority remained difficult to assail.

Once again, the lottery of ministerial by-elections destabilised the political scene. Sandfield's selection of A.N. Richards as Solicitor-General sent his nominee back to the voters of South Leeds where, early in February 1864, he was narrowly defeated  after a vigorous and alcohol-fuelled campaign by McGee and John A. Macdonald. A Reform member of the upper house claimed soon afterwards that Campbell had also canvassed the riding against Richards.[348] Although Campbell's impaired mobility makes his participation noteworthy, it was not entirely unexpected. Leeds immediately adjoined Frontenac County to the east, and so bordered on Campbell's Legislative Council district. Reformers jeered at the bizarre alliance between McGee, "a pretended Roman Catholic" and Macdonald, "a pretended Orangeman".[349] The slur on McGee's religious affiliation was unfair, but the description of Macdonald was uncomfortably accurate. Campbell had tried to keep open his lines of communication with the Kingston Orangemen in 1860-61, and he may well have played the same role with the Leeds brethren three years later. More startling, however, was the Globe's allegation that "Campbell of Kingston" subscribed a massive $2,000 (over $35,000 in 2022 values) to the anti-Richards campaign.[350] The Conservative certainly spent money lavishly in South Leeds – the Globe estimated their war chest at $28,000 (half a million today) – and cash on the scale could only be raised from wealthy backers. If Campbell did indeed bankroll the by-election campaign so lavishly, he had evidently reversed his attitude to Conservative party funding in the seven months since he had so brusquely repudiated any responsibility to support Macdonald's candidate on his own Frontenac turf.

Campbell certainly seemed to be positioning himself for a more prominent and partisan role in public life. On 23 February, for all his professed dislike of "party strife" in the upper house,[351] he delivered himself of an hour and a half of "raillery" against the programme unveiled by the Sandfield Macdonald ministry for the 1864 session.[352] Campbell mocked its grandiloquent emptiness:  "it would be worthy of note in any country under the sun if all the magnificent anticipations of this most elaborately rich address were realized" – the more so given the "non-performance" of similar promises in Sandfield's former throne speeches. Campbell delivered a wide-ranging and sometimes detailed denunciation of ministerial failures, but – notably – made only passing mention of representation by population, an issue on which every Canadian politician seemed to become lukewarm as the prospect of office loomed. Campbell condemned ministers for "their sham notion of a Double Majority dogma", Sandfield's claim that the government could only act when backed by sectional majorities from both Upper and Lower Canada. Campbell dismissed it as "impractical", a mild enough characterisation for a device which ensured that nothing could be attempted when there was so much to do. Nor was there the slightest hint in Campbell's analysis that Confederation might be just around the corner. Sandfield's government hinted that "something grand was to be accomplished" in relation to the Hudson's Bay territories, "though, to be sure, it did not indicate with any remarkable precision the nature of the contemplated ameliorations." In fact, "there was no engagement to do anything at all – nothing to bind us more closely with our fellow colonists in that remote locality". Eastward, too, ministerial mishandling of surveys for an intercolonial railway had created only suspicion and hostility among Maritimers: "their action had led the people of New Brunswick to look to the United States for the extension of their railways".[353] Four months later, a wide alliance of British North American politicians would declare in favour of a union of the provinces. Of Campbell's February speech, it could be said that it implicitly pointed to the overarching solution of Confederation without recognising its actual relevance. However, that could be said of almost all Canadian political discourse until the formation of the Great Coalition.

The insecurity of Sandfield's hold on office did not imply widespread enthusiasm for a return to the leadership of Cartier and John A. Macdonald.  Late in February 1864, the Quebec City newspaper, Le Canadien, called for their replacement by Étienne Taché and Alexander Campbell.[354] "For months the Conservatives had been grooming Macdonald's old partner for this very role," claimed Creighton.[355] Rather, Le Canadien was probably more impressed by Campbell's February 23 speech: the mid-December Toronto banquet had been orchestrated to endorse Macdonald's leadership. But the real focus for speculation was the question of Macdonald's own intentions: would he take office at all? Indeed, he refused throughout the first week of the late-March ministerial upheaval.[356] His Kingston law partner, Archie John MacDonell, was dangerously ill, and his expected death – it came on March 27, and was probably caused by tuberculosis – would expose the full disarray of their business affairs (a revelation that would probably have come as no surprise to Campbell).[357] "I declined positively to accept office," Macdonald recalled nine years later. "My partner in business was at the point of death. It was utter ruin to me to return to the Government and I declined."[358] Macdonald's own health was uncertain, with bouts of illness apparently caused by gallstones, a condition for which there was then no surgical cure, and exacerbated by occasional alcohol abuse.[359]  As the Globe reported during the March 1864 ministerial upheaval, Macdonald declined to take office because of "his weak health and the necessity of giving attention to his business affairs."[360] On the face of it, a return to office might have seemed attractive to Macdonald, if only for the salary involved. However, the hurdle of a ministerial by-election was an intimidating factor. His triumphant toppling of A.N. Richards in South Leeds would have made him the target for Reform vengeance at Kingston. Macdonald's 785-483 victory in Kingston at the 1863 general election probably guaranteed him success in numerical terms, but his opponents would have thrown money into the contest, forcing him to pay a high price to mobilise his support. The Reform candidate, thirty-nine year-old Overton S. Gildersleeve, was a respected local personality and – something that sluggish Kingston badly needed – a successful businessman. Sadly, Gildersleeve died suddenly on March 9, leaving the Kingston Reformers in disarray: Macdonald's last-minute decision to continue in front-line politics after all was probably no coincidence.[361] Recalling caucus intrigues half a century later, Richard Cartwright insisted that Macdonald had been pushed.[362] Cartwright had indeed been a young Tory acolyte in 1864, but his subsequent venomous split from Macdonald coloured the vivid cameos of his reminiscences. Donald Creighton, Macdonald's biographer, is of little help, choosing rather to portray his hero as sitting on the sidelines waiting for the moment to launch Confederation.[363]

The possibility that Alexander Campbell might have supplanted his former law partner as leader of the Upper Canada Conservatives is obviously of some importance in his biography. The episode certainly bears out Cartwright's verdict that Campbell "was a man of much greater ability than he ever got credit for".[364] However, there was something of an air of desperation about the proposal to draft Taché and Campbell. Both were members of the Legislative Council. Taché had retired from active politics in 1857; Campbell was, as Cartwright recalled, "an untried man" who had never sat in the lower house nor held political office.[365] His lameness made him an unlikely prospect to barnstorm the province, rebuilding the party from the grassroots.  At best, such an arrangement would provide a temporary cover while new leadership emerged in the Assembly – and, in any case, a Taché-Campbell partnership would have to work with a frontbench team in the lower house, where the party's poor performance at the polls in 1863 left it bereft of talent. If, for a brief moment, Alexander Campbell came close to becoming the Conservative leader in Upper Canada, it was as much because of the vacuum of alternative talent as in recognition of his own undoubted but largely untested ability.

On 17 March 1864, Sandfield Macdonald launched into a new attempt at ministerial reconstruction. His chief target was Étienne Taché, who was reluctant to return to front-line politics, and resistant to any alliance with the Rouges. Even so, the initiative was enough to trigger a threat to quit from Dorion. On 21 March, Sandfield submitted his cabinet's resignation. Two points can be made to clarify the political game of musical chairs that followed. The first is that it was by no means certain that Sandfield Macdonald's career was finished. By registering that he did not in fact return to office, hindsight obscures the fact that his resignation was at least partly a tactical move. Although he faced defeat, Sandfield's ministry had not been formally rejected by the Assembly. If his disparate opponents proved incapable of uniting – and they did come close to failure – he might bounce back, perhaps insisting upon a fresh election in which he would demand a personal mandate as the only alternative to continued stalemate. The second point is the corollary of the first. In contrast to the succeeding ministerial crisis of June 1864, which was resolved around a major project of constitutional change, virtually no policy issues of any kind intruded into the two weeks of manoeuvre that culminated in the formation of a ministry that actually replaced Sandfield on March 30. When Michael Foley replied to Macdonald's offer of a place in cabinet by asking what initiatives the new combination planned to launch, he was jovially urged – with a hearty slap on the knee – to "join the Government and then help make the policy."[366] The key issue was not Confederation, nor representation by population, nor the Intercolonial railway – it was the blocking of Sandfield Macdonald. Alexander Campbell, courteous and charming, was a natural focus in a situation where personalities were more important than principles.

The internal chronology of the week-long ministerial crisis of March 1864 is not entirely clear, nor does it need to be. Taché's account of the negotiations, given to the Legislative Council on March 30, omitted all but a few dates, while even the habitually well-informed Globe was generally some hours behind events. Although the episode placed Campbell closer to the heart of Canadian politics than he would ever come again, it is unlikely that he was seen as "a possible compromise premier", and the governor-general's account of the change of ministry makes clear that Campbell was never formally commissioned to make the attempt.[367] Lord Monck turned first to A.J. Fergusson Blair, one of Sandfield's cabinet ministers, and then to Taché, who was dismissed by some as merely "the nominal premier", a mask to cover the return to power of Cartier.[368] Initially, an attempt was made to enlist Macdonald's support, but Taché reported that his target "thought it his duty to decline a seat in the Cabinet, and immediately caused Mr Campbell, of Kingston, to be sent for".[369] Cartwright, half a century later, recalled the order of events slightly differently. In his recollection, Taché asked the Upper Canada Tories to nominate somebody with whom he could deal, "and after some debate" their choice fell upon Campbell. Since Macdonald did not attend the meeting, Cartwright was given the awkward task of conveying the news to him. To the younger man's relief, Macdonald "took the matter in much better part than I had expected", frankly accepting that new leadership was required to have any chance of regaining lost supporters. "He only stipulated that he should not be asked to serve under Mr Campbell, which I assured him, with some emphasis, was far from our intention."[370] There is a ring of truth about Cartwright's account which suggests that some such discussion and deputation did indeed occur, but it probably happened at an earlier stage, shortly before the onset of ministerial negotiations. Macdonald's stipulation that he should not serve under Campbell represented not sour grapes, as Cartwright chose to recall it, but rather his recognition that it was financially impossible for him to return to office. It was this development, rather than any approach from Taché, that had probably triggered the caucus debate on the leadership. One shred of evidence tending to confirm this is that Campbell was in fact absent from Quebec during the opening days of the ministerial talks, having "gone home to Kingston".[371] By March 25, it was "now generally believed" that he would lead the Upper Canadian section of the cabinet. Unusually, his return to Quebec triggered a headline: "MR CAMPBELL RETURNS!", but the sober reality was that his presence did not greatly advance the task of cabinet-making.[372]

Creighton's comment that "Campbell struggled long and desperately to gain the necessary support" was designed to point up the difference between the heroic John A. Macdonald and the lesser personalities who surrounded him.[373] Cartwright recalled that Campbell had received promises of support from a number of Upper Canada members who had previously backed Sandfield Macdonald, and the Tory net was reported to have been widely spread. "Hardly an Upper Canada reformer can be named who has not been approached in one way or another during the past five days by some one acting for the Cartier party."[374] However, in the last resort, Campbell was acting as a junior partner, attempting to construct half the cabinet as no more than "the Upper Canada chief" under Taché.[375] He was said to favour conceding five of the twelve cabinet places overall to Reformers,[376] but when he approached Fergusson Blair, unofficial spokesman of the late ministry, Campbell was in for a shock. Blair made clear that his terms "involved conditions affecting the whole Province." Campbell replied that he was "only authorized to speak as to the Upper Canadian section of the Cabinet", but would be "glad" to "report" Blair's proposals to Taché.[377] At one stroke, Alexander Campbell was demoted from negotiator to messenger. In effect, as the Globe pointed out, Blair was insisting on dealing direct with the leader of the Bleus.[378] Although, like Taché and Campbell, Blair belonged to that elusive social category of the "gentleman", he played hardball in setting out his terms. On the face of it, Blair contemplated a Reform-Tory-Bleu coalition, selecting four ministers from Upper Canada and two from the lower province himself, and Taché choosing two from the upper section and four from the lower. However, Blair, who sat in the upper house, was to be premier, and a Reformer also would lead in the Assembly. To add insult to supremacism, the Reformers would ban Cartier, the Conservative financial expert A.T. Galt and the monumentally dislikeable J-É. Cauchon from the proposed ministry.[379] When Campbell requested a similar veto for Taché – who was known to be implacably opposed to Dorion – Blair refused. Campbell objected to the "unfairness" of this, and Taché was outraged by Blair's "exorbitant pretensions". By the evening of March 29, it was rumoured that Campbell had "given up the task of constructing the Upper Canada section of the Administration", although he would probably still be in the new cabinet, "but not as leader". Taché now attempted direct negotiations with another Upper Canadian Reformer, William McDougall, but he adhered to the four-plus-two formula, which Taché dismissed as "altogether inadmissible". Meanwhile, Blair curtly referred Taché to Sandfield Macdonald, who had just been had re-endorsed as party leader the Reform caucus.[380]

The ministerial crisis could now end in one of three ways. First, Sandfield might form the broadly based cabinet that he had sought at the commencement of the upheaval – in effect, coalition by unconditional surrender. Second, his tendered resignation would fall to the ground in the absence of any alternative administration. In that case, he would probably press the governor-general to grant him a general election, at which he would campaign as the indispensable leader who could alone hold the province together. The third alternative was that the Conservatives would succeed in forming a cabinet – any cabinet, however divided and insecure – in the Micawberish hope that some reinforcing issue would present itself. And that was what they did, and that was what happened, a weak minority administration clinging on for just long enough to transform itself three months later into the broadly based Great Coalition that would carry Confederation.

However, the attempt to form a Taché ministry almost foundered on one inconvenient but imponderable fact: Sandfield Macdonald had never actually been defeated in the Assembly. To have even a slim chance of survival, the incoming Conservative cabinet could not afford to allow its smartest parliamentary performer to retreat to his fractured law practice in Kingston. "John A. not the Upper Canada leader!", exclaimed one of Macdonald's admirers, "—bosh, the Government won't stand."[381] Cartier and Campbell reached the same unavoidable conclusion. It was probably late on March 29 that they roused John A. Macdonald from his bed, as he recalled years later, "at midnight, while I was wrapped in slumber".  They delivered an ultimatum: if he would not join them in government, they would abandon the attempt and Sandfield would re-emerge, victorious.[382] Macdonald agreed to abandon his plans to retire, a decision that both saved his political career and would shape that of Alexander Campbell. 

When Campbell had stepped off the Kingston train five days earlier, the world of Canadian politics seemed at his feet. He was "spoken of as the associate leader" under Taché, "the Upper Canada chief", with a choice of offices, perhaps Provincial Secretary, maybe Commissioner of Crown Lands.[383] But the moment had passed: "Macdonald, and not Campbell, is leader of the Upper Canada section."[384] It would prove a turning point. For six years, Campbell had combined professions of admiration and friendship for Macdonald with strong criticism of key policies and actions, denouncing the Double Shuffle of 1858, opposing him over the seat of government and pressing for a stronger Tory voice in government. In the event, the midnight deal that brought John A. Macdonald into the ministry would mark the beginning of a relationship of political dependency in which Campbell acted as his lieutenant through the two decades until his retirement from front-line politics. The irony is that Campbell probably played a large part in Macdonald's decision to risk the ministerial by-election that would follow his acceptance of office. It was Campbell who had just returned from Kingston, and could report that local Reformers were in disarray following Gildersleeve's untimely death. Crucially, too, since Macdonald could not afford a contested by-election, it is likely that Campbell guaranteed the necessary campaign funds. The fact that Macdonald was returned by acclamation suggests that the Conservative camp made it known that they had the cash to beat off any challenge: in 1864, John A. Macdonald himself did not command that sort of money. Ironically, Campbell himself was less fortunate and had to fight for his Cataraqui seat.

As already noted, Richard Cartwright's reminiscences have to be passed through the filter of a hatred matured over fifty years. His suggestion that John A. Macdonald held a grudge against Campbell for coming close to supplanting him seems unlikely. Indeed, even Cartwright's formulation was tentative: "I doubt if he ever forgave Sir Alexander Campbell ... for having allowed himself to be nominated in his place."[385] Macdonald's initial resolve to refuse office, a matter of public report, may not have been entirely unconstrained, but it certainly represented his own decision. There is no indication that Campbell intrigued to oust him from the leadership. Rather, a consensus seems to have emerged in the depleted ranks of the Upper Canada Conservatives that he was the obvious person to fill the gap. In any case, one of Macdonald's principles was that "a public man should have no resentments."[386] He frequently struck alliances and sometimes even forged friendships with politicians who had abused him roundly. Hence, it would be bizarre if he had cherished a grievance against a colleague whose political stock-in-trade sometimes seemed to be his claim to be John A's oldest (and most candid) friend. There would indeed later be friction between the two men but, as Joseph Pope recalled, "Sir John and Sir Alexander were not kindred spirits", adding that "any want of cordiality between them was on personal grounds".[387] Clash of temperaments explained their occasional fallings-out: if Macdonald nurtured any continuing grievance against Campbell, it likely stemmed not from 1864 but from the collapse of their partnership in 1849. Taking their seats at the cabinet table for the first time together on March 30 1864, they became members of a ministry that lacked both the inspiration of political vision and the reassurance of parliamentary stability. Three months later, the transformation of Taché's administration into the Great Coalition gave it both purpose and strength. For John A. Macdonald, the ministerial intrigues of March 1864 had placed him in a position to shape the destiny of British North America. For Alexander Campbell, those same accidental manoeuvres had given him a ringside seat in a nation-building movement in which he never seemed to become fully engaged.


[1]  Alexander Campbell is referred to as AC in Endnotes.  His lameness is discussed below. Information regarding epilepsy is taken from the website of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance.

[2] Library and Archives Canada, Macdonald Papers, [cited as LAC Macdonald], vol. 196, AC to Macdonald, 23 September 1885.

[3] The Week, 15 December 1887, in In Mem., 9; see also Montreal Daily Star, 5 February 1887, In Mem., 12-13.

[4] Victoria Daily Colonist, 18 September 1886, letter from Henry J. Campbell.

[5] A brief collection of tributes was issued after his death as In Memoriam: Sir Alexander Campbell K.C.M.G. (Toronto; no publisher given, 1892). The best survey of AC's career is by Donald Swainson in Dictionary of Canadian Biography [cited as DCB], xii, 150-54, supplemented by Donald Swainson, "Alexander Campbell: General Manager of the Conservative Party (Eastern Ontario Section)", Historic Kingston, 17, 1969, 78-92. Both concentrate on his political role. A brief sketch in D.B. Read, The Lieutenant-Governors of Upper Canada and Ontario 1792-1899 (Toronto: William Briggs, 1900), 229-33 avoids his private life. For this, see Ged Martin, "Alexander Campbell (1822-1892): the Travails of a Father of Confederation," Ontario History, 105 (2013), 1-18:
The Campbell Papers in the Ontario Archives are cited as AOC Most references are taken from F23-1. Correspondence is arranged chronologically, and a calendar is available on line (, consulted 16 September 2011).

[6] Mail (Toronto), 25 May 1892, in In Mem.,  25. AC held six portfolios. As Minister of Justice 1881-85, he defended the execution of Louis Riel.

[7] Ottawa Citizen, undated, In Mem., 29: In Mem.,  45, Senator James Miller, 31 May 1892.

[8] Daily Colonist (Victoria, BC), 25 May 1892.

[9] G.R. Parkin, Sir John A. Macdonald  (Toronto: Morang, 1908), 140.

[10] Joseph Pope, The Day of Sir John Macdonald (Toronto: Glasgow, Brook & Co, 1920),  151.

[11] The Week, 15 Dec. 1887, In Mem., 3-10.

[12] Pope, Day, 150.

[13] Kingston News, 27 May 1892, In Mem., 18.

[14] Globe, 25 May 1892, 26.

[15] Library and Archives Canada, Macdonald Papers, [cited as LAC Macdonald],  vol. 195, AC to Macdonald, 18 Dec. 1879.

[16] Speeches, 6 (4 Oct. 1858); 188-93 (5 May 1880).

[17] In Mem., Senator William Miller, 31 May 1892, 44-45. Miller had served as Speaker of the Senate 1883-87 while Campbell was government leader in the Red Chamber. R.W. Scott, who faced him as opposition leader after 1879, said much the same.

[18] The Week, 15 Dec. 1887, In Mem., 3.

[19] Donald Creighton, John A. Macdonald: the Young Politician (Toronto: Macmillan Company of Canada, 1952), 72, 148.

[20] Richard Gwyn, Nation Maker. Sir John A. Macdonald : His Life, Our Times (Toronto: Random House,  2011),  261.

[21] Creighton, John A. Macdonald: Young Politician,  72; The Empire, 25 May 1892, in In Mem., 24. Sandra Gwyn's description of AC as "short, slight" probably derives from Creighton. S. Gwyn, The Private Capital: Ambition and Love in the Age of Macdonald and Laurier (Toronto: Harper & Collins, 1984), 124.

[22] Donald Creighton, John A. Macdonald: the Young Politician (Toronto: Macmillan Company of Canada, 1952), 72, 148.

[23] Richard Cartwright, Reminiscences (Toronto: William Briggs, 1912), 49.

[24] Pope, Day, 149-51.

[25] Pope, Day,  150-51.

[26] Donald Swainson, "Alexander Campbell: General Manager of the Conservative Party (Eastern Ontario Section)", Historic Kingston, 17, 1969, 78-92.

[27] Ged Martin, Favourite Son? John A. Macdonald and the Voters of Kingston 1841-1891 (Kingston: Kingston Historical Society, 2010), 142-44.

[28] Ged Martin, "Alexander Campbell ... Travails", 5.

[29] M. Pope, ed., Public Servant: The Memoirs of Sir Joseph Pope (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1960),  49-50.

[30] Cartwright, Reminiscences, 37.

[31] Pope, Day, 151.

[32] Tribute by Senator Lawrence Power, 31 May 1892, In Mem., 47.

[33] D.C. Thomson, Alexander Mackenzie: Clear Grit (Toronto, Macmillan, 1960),  233.

[34] AOCP, W.D. Le Sueur to AC, 6 Sept. 1887.

[35] The Week, 15 Dec. 1887, In Mem., 4.

[36] The Week, 15 Dec. 1887, In Mem., 9.

[37] Speeches on Divers Occasions by Sir Alexander Campbell (Ottawa, A.S. Woodburn, 1885) [cited as Speeches].

[38] Montreal Daily Star, 5 Feb, 1887, In Mem. 12.

[39]  J. Pope, Memoirs of ... Sir John Alexander Macdonald (2 vols, Ottawa: J. Durie & Son, 1894); C.R.W. Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat...: A Biographical Sketch (2 vols, Toronto, Warwick Brothers & Rutter, 1905); A. Mackenzie, The Life and Speeches of Hon. George Brown (Toronto, Globe Printing Company, 1882); W. Buckingham and G.W. Ross, The Hon. Alexander Mackenzie: His Life and Times (Toronto: Rose Publishing, 1892).

[40] The unsavoury story is told in A.B. McKillop's introduction to W.D. Le Sueur, William Lyon Mackenzie: A Reinterpretation, finally published by Macmillan of Toronto in the Carleton Library series in 1979.

[41] This category includes lives of  Macdonald by J.E. Collins (1883), G. Mercer Adam (1891), J. Macpherson (1891), E.B. Biggar (1891), of S.L. Tilley by J. Hannay (1897) and Joseph Howe by J.A. Chisholm (1909).

[42] In Mem., 1.

[43]  N. Story, ed., The Oxford Companion to Canadian History and Literature (Toronto: Oxford University press, 1967),  505. An index volume followed in 1911, and the series was partly reissued in 1926.

[44]  Stevens and J.T. Saywell, eds, Lord Minto's Canadian Papers (Toronto, Champlain society, 1983), Minto to Parkin, 23 Jan.1903,  ii, 115. Parkin's biography did not appear until 1908. The reference to the alcohol problem, on  132, is so discreet as to be almost  invisible.

[45] M.K. Christie, "Sir Alexander Campbell".

[46] Creighton, John A. Macdonald: The Young Politician (1952) and John A. Macdonald: The Old Chieftain (Toronto: Macmillan, 1955).

[47] Swainson, "Alexander Campbell: General Manager of the Conservative Party (Eastern Ontario Section)", Historic Kingston (1969), and DCB, xii, 150-54. See also D. Swainson, "Kingstonians in the Second Parliament", in G. Tulchinksy, ed., To Preserve and Defend: Essays on Kingston in the Nineteenth Century (Montreal, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1976), 261-77.  Campbell's business links are also discussed by J.K. Johnson, "John A. Macdonald and the Kingston Business Community, in Tulchinsky, ed., To Preserve and Defend, 141-55.

[48] DCB, xii, 154.

[49] Swainson, "Kingstonians in the Second Parliament", 263, 265.  

[50] Victoria Daily Colonist, 18 September 1886, letter from Henry J. Campbell, a schoolmaster who had taught Archibald Campbell at Trinity College School, Port Hope. He was probably a nephew.

[51] Cartwright, Reminiscences, 69.

[52] Speeches, 1 (11 Jan.1858).

[53] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, "Thursday morning", printed in Pope, Memoirs of Macdonald, i, 180-81. Pope misdated the episode to early 1858 – before AC's election  to the Legislative Council. AC's description of the post offered as "the one I should most desire of all others" suggests that it was that of Solicitor-General West, which would have required court work.

[54] Macdonald to J. Rose, 31 Dec. 1869, Pope, Memoirs, ii, 61.

[55] LAC Macdonald, vol. 196, AC to Macdonald, 18 June 1882. The phrase "the twenty four hours" has gone out of use.

[56] New York Times, 20 April 1886, Ottawa correspondent, 19 March.

[57] Victoria Daily Colonist, 10 August 1886. 

[58] This point is stressed in the 2011 survey by the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance, The Impact of Epilepsy on Canadians.

[59] Victoria Daily Colonist, 5 May 1886 (Ottawa report, 28 April). A month after the attack, Campbell was still too weak to dress himself unaided. LAC Macdonald, vol. 198, AC to Macdonald, private ,14 May 1886.

[60] Victoria Daily Colonist, 16 September 1886.

[61] Of the ten entries in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (to date of death 1930) that mention epilepsy, three relate to medical practitioners who had charge of "insane asylums": (, keyword search, 14 May 2011)

[62] Victoria Daily Colonist, 10 August 1886.

[63] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 1 June 1849.

[64], consulted 18 Feb. 2013.

[65] It is assumed that Campbell was a boarder. C.-P. Choquette, Histoire du Séminaire de Saint-Hyacinthe (2 vols, Montreal: Imprimerie de l'Institution des Sourds-Muets, 1911) gives few clues about living conditions, but it is clear that money was in short supply.

[66] Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 25.

[67] Pope, Memoirs, i, 9.

[68]  AOCP, George F. Jelly to AC, 17 March, 15 April 1879.

[69] Frederica Campbell is referred to her as "Frederica" (her preferred first name) to avoid duplication of surname, and not to imply any gendered inferiority of status.

[70] Globe, 24 October 1891.

[71] Victoria Daily Colonist, 18 September 1886, letter from Henry J. Campbell.

[72] LAC Macdonald, vol. 96, AC to Macdonald, [25 January 1884].

[73] Globe, 4 Sept. 1886.

[74] Ged Martin, "Alexander Campbell ... Travails", 17.

[75] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, [7 September], 19 September 1868.            

[76] DCB, xiv, 272-73 (Adeline Davis).

[77] LAC, Macdonald, vol. 197, AC to Macdonald, 26 March 1885. Macdonald was no authority on financial responsibility.

[78] (search for "Charles Sandwith Campbell"), consulted 21 Feb. 2013.

[79] LAC, Macdonald, vol. 196, AC to Macdonald, private, 11 March 1884.

[80] The Week, 15 Dec. 1887, In Mem.,4.

[81] Speech in Toronto, 1887, In Mem.,42.

[82] The Times, 5 May 1887.

[83] Gwyn, Nation Maker, 474.

[84] The Week, 15 Dec. 1887, In Mem., 9.

[85] AC, In the Case of Louis Riel ... (Ottawa: Maclean, Roger & Co., 1885)

[86] Ottawa Citizen, 1887, quoted Globe, 25 May 1892.

[87] P.B. Waite, The Man from Halifax: Sir John Thompson Prime Minister (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985),  xxvi, 414.

[88] Creighton, Young Politician, 72.

[89] Globe, 14 March 1891. Harris also painted AC, Globe, 4 Sept. 1888.

[90] The Week, 15 December 1887, in In Mem., 4.

[91] Speeches, 8-9.

[92] M. Lynch, A New History of Scotland (London: Century, 1991), 305-7.

[93] R. Mitchison, A History of Scotland (London: Methuen & Co., 1970), 287.

[94] R.J. Cartwright, Reminiscences (Toronto: William Briggs, 1912),  49.

[95] There is a biographical sketch of James Campbell in W. Canniff, The Medical Profession of Upper Canada, 1783-1850...  (Toronto: William Briggs, 1894), 276-7. Genealogical information is taken from, (consulted November 5, 2013). Thanks to Peter B. Freshwater for information about James Campbell's studies in Edinburgh.

[96] P. Stanley, For Fear of Pain: British Surgery, 1790-1850 (Amsterdam /New York: Rodopi, 2003), 106-29.

[97] Entry for Hedon in Lewis's Topographical Directory of England ,1848), consulted November 5, 2013.

[98], consulted November 6, 2013.

[99], consulted November 6, 2013.

[100]; Baines"s Directory of the East Riding (1823),, consulted November 6, 2013.

[101], consulted November 6, 2013.

[102] Information kindly supplied by J. Liane Kennedy of the Sturgeon Point History Project.

[103] Stanley, In Fear of Pain, 23-4, 161.

[104] Baines's Directory of the East Riding (1823), , consulted November 5, 2013.

[105] Susanna Moodie, Roughing It In The Bush  (2nd ed., London: Richard Bentley, 1852), Introduction.

[106] In Mem., 40-1, AC speech in 1887. The visit took place in 1835.

[107], consulted December 2, 2013.

[108], consulted December 2, 2013.

[109] Information from Peter B. Freshwater, Edinburgh.

[110], consulted December 2, 2013.

[111] N. Barlow, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882. With the original omissions restored (London: Collins, 1958), 47.

[112] Ged Martin, John A. Macdonald: Canada's First Prime Minister (Toronto: Dundurn, 2013), 20.

[113] Canniff, The Medical Profession of Upper Canada, 1783-1850, 276.

[114] Belfast News Letter, March 14, 1820:, consulted November 5, 2013.

[115] Canniff, The Medical Profession of Upper Canada, 1783-1850, 276-7.

[116], consulted December 6, 2013; Donald Swainson, "'Forgotten men' revisited – some notes on the career of Hon. James Cockburn, a deservedly neglected father of confederation," OH, 72 (1980): 230–42; Canniff, The Medical Profession of Upper Canada, 1783-1850, 277.

[117] AOCP, AC to Charles Campbell, Ottawa, 25 April 1882.

[118] Canniff, The Medical Profession of Upper Canada, 1783-1850, 277.

[119] In Mem., 4.

[120] The Week, 15 Dec. 1837, In Mem., 4.

[121] Campbell's younger brother Alfred was baptised at St Gabriel Street in 1827. For Lachine, see, consulted Dec. 9, 2013. James Campbell was present at a service in Lachine on 20 March 1836. Letters were advertised for collection by James Campbell at the Kingston Post Office in Kingston Chronicle, 15 June 1836, but this may not have been the same person.

[122] C-P. Choquette, Histoire du Seminaire de Saint-Hyacinthe (2 vols, Montreal: Imprimerie de l'Institution des sourds-muets, 1911-12), i, 406; ii, 266.

[123] Speeches, 113.

[124] AOCP, AC to Superior of St-Hyacinthe College (copy), 3 September 1887.

[125] LAC Macdonald, vol. 197, AC to Macdonald, 14 September 1885.

[126] Choquette, Histoire du Seminaire de Saint-Hyacinthe, ii, 41, 58, 94.

[127] AOCP, W.D. Le Sueur to AC, 6 September 1887.

[128] The Week, 15 Dec. 1837, In Mem., 4.

[129] Speeches, 63-64 (9 March 1865).

[130] In Mem., 40. In 1890, AC was said to have dated his move to Kingston in 1838, and it is possible that he confused Queen Victoria's accession, in 1837, with her Coronation, in 1838. However, since he was apparently  working for Henry Cassady by May 1838, and had reportedly previously attended the Kingston Grammar School, 1837 seems more likely. Toronto Mail, 26 May 1892.

[131] The Week, 15 Dec. 1837, In Mem., 4; D.B. Read, The Lieutenant-Governors of Upper Canada and Ontario 1792-1899 (Toronto: William Briggs, 1900), 229.

[132] J.A. Roy, Kingston: The King's Town (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1952), 183-4; Kingston Chronicle, 11 September 1839.

[133] YP, 53-4; B.D. Boyce, The Rebels of Hastings (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992); AOCP, undated reminiscence of John A. Macdonald. This 5-page document was probably written for the information of Macdonald's biographer, Joseph Pope, between Sir John A's death in June 1891 and Campbell's serious illness in December. 

[134] J.L. McNairn, The Capacity to Judge: Public Opinion and deliberative Democracy in Upper Canada, 1791-1854 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), 85-91; Kingston Chronicle, 2 June 1838; YP, 52.

[135] The phrase had been used as early as 1835: B.S. Osborne and D. Swainson, Kingston: Building on the Past (Westport, Ont.: Butternut Press, 1988), 116.

[136], consulted December 14, 2013.

[137] C.B. Sissons, Egerton Ryerson: His Life and Letters (2 vols, Toronto: Clark, Irwin, 1937), i, 425, 465-6; ii, 423n.

[138] AOCP, undated reminiscence of John A. Macdonald.

[139] Roy, Kingston: The King"s Town, 181.

[140] R.Gwyn, John A: The Man Who Made Us. The Life and Times of John A. Macdonald, i: 1815-1867 (Toronto: Random House Canada, 2007), 54.

[141] Kingston Chronicle, 11 September 1839.

[142] e.g. Kingston Chronicle, 18, 21 December 1839.

[143] AC's speech was reprinted in Toronto Mail, 26 May 1892.

[144] YP, 72.

[145] LAC Macdonald, vol. 197, AC to Macdonald, private, 22 March 1885.

[146] YP, 73.

[147] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 29 October 1870.

[148] A.M. Evans, Sir Oliver Mowat (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992), 3-14.

[149] AC to Mowat, 15 April 1885, in C.R. Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat: A Biographical Sketch (2 vols, Toronto: Warwick Brothers and Rutter, 1905), i, 25-6.

[150] AC to Mowat, 26 March 1841, Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 23-4.

[151] AC to Mowat, 23 November 1840, Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 23.

[152] AC to Mowat, 19 April 1841, Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 24.

[153] AC to Mowat, 15 April 1885, Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 25-6.

[154], consulted December 18, 2013.

[155] Mowat to AC, 16 January 1858,  Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 75. 

[156] YP, 310.

[157] Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 24.

[158] Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 359.

[159] Toronto Mail, 31 May 1892.

[160] AC to Mowat, 26 March 1841, Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 23-4.

[161] Evans, Sir Oliver Mowat, 10.

[162] J.K. Johnson, "John A. Macdonald and the Kingston Business Community" in G. Tulchinsky, ed., To Preserve and Defend: Essays on Kingston in the Nineteenth Century (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1976),  141-55.

[163] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, Memorandum... September 1, 1843; Statement ... 1846.

[164] YP, 147-9.

[165] Martin, John A. Macdonald, 48.

[166] Martin, John A. Macdonald, 45-6, 49-51.

[167] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 1 June 1849. Christie and Creighton dated this letter to June 1, but the date might also be read as June 8.

[168] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 1 June 1849.

[169] Martin, Favourite Son?, 175.

[170] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 1 June 1849.

[171], consulted December 19, 2013.

[172] AOCP, undated reminiscence.

[173] Read, Lieutenant-Governors, 230.

[174] AC's letter to Macdonald of 1 June 1849 is in LAC Macdonald, vol. 194. Three further letters unfortunately embody AC's frequent practice of not dating his correspondence. The sequence of events is clear but not their precise location in time. Macdonald's most influential biographer, Donald Creighton, presented the evidence in a manner prejudicial to AC, even stating that his agonised letter of 8 June was written "bluntly". YP, 147-9. Similarly, Richard Gwyn (John A: the Man Who Made Us, 109-10) says Campbell wrote "crossly" and refers to Macdonald's "difficulties with Alexander Campbell".

[175] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 1 June 1849.

[176] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 1 June 1849.

[177] Undated notes by AC in LAC Macdonald, vol. 194.

[178] The Week, 15 December 1887, in In Mem., 5.

[179] YP, 148.

[180] YP, 153,

[181] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, undated.

[182] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, undated.

[183] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 1 June 1849.

[184] Speeches, 134-48 (18 April 1873).

[185] AC to A. Morris, "Private & Confidential", 29 November 1873, in D. Swainson, "Alexander Campbell: General Manager of The Conservative Party (Eastern Ontario Section)", HK, 17, 1968, 90-2.

[186] YP, 72.

[187] YP, 72.

[188] The Empire, 25 May 1892, in In Mem., 24.

[189] LAC Macdonald, vol. 196, AC to Macdonald, 18 June 1882.

[190] As a national icon, the Charlottetown Conference photograph is widely reproduced. See D. Creighton, The Road to Confederation: The Emergence of Canada 1864-1867 (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1964), following 148.

[191] YP, 72.

[192] M.W. Marien, Photography: A Cultural History (2nd ed., London: Lawrence King, 2006), 167-8; P.B. Waite, The Man from Halifax: Sir John Thompson Prime Minister (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985), xxvi, 414.

[193] YP, 72.

[194] Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 23-6; Evans, Sir Oliver Mowat, 8.

[195] e.g. Christie, 18.

[196] Macdonald to J.M. Strachan, private, 9 February 1854, in J.K. Johnson, ed., The Letters of Sir John A. Macdonald. i: 1836-1857 (Ottawa, Public Archives of Canada, 1968), 203

[197] Macdonald to H. Smith, private, 15 December 1856, in Johnson, ed., The Letters of Sir John A. Macdonald, i, pp. 404-5.

[198] DCB.

[199] Christie, 19.

[200] AOCP, copy of Frederica's baptismal certificate.

[201] Hull Packet, 6 October 1850 for civic presentation to Dr Sandwith.

[202] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 8 March 1855, part printed in Pope, Memoirs, i, 140-1, omissions quoted YP, 217.

[203] Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North American Provinces (Quebec: Hunter, Rose & Co., 1865), p. 298.

[204] AOCP, James Romanes to AC, 12 March 1879.

[205] Dane Kennedy, "Sandwith, Humphry (1822–1881)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[206] G. Tulchinksy, ed., To Preserve and Defend: Essays on Kingston in the Nineteenth Century (Montreal & London: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1976), p. 149; AOCP, Frederica to Charles Campbell, September 1879.

[207] Kingston Daily News, 22, 27 October 1862.

[208] AOCP, James Campbell to AC, 29 April 1872.

[209] Macdonald to J.M. Strachan, private, 9 February 1854, in Johnson, ed., The Letters of Sir John A. Macdonald, i, 203.

[210] The letter, dated 8 March 1855 from Kingston, is in LAC Macdonald vol. 194. It is largely printed in Pope, Memoirs, i, 140-1, with an omitted section in YP, 217.

[211] AC wrote "McDonald", a variant occasionally used pre-Confederation. Pope "corrected" this to "Macdonald".

[212] DCB.

[213] As Creighton apparently assumed, YP, 206.

[214] LAC Macdonald vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 8 March 1855, largely printed in Pope, Memoirs, i, 140-1, with  omitted ("champagne") section in YP, 217.

[215] Guelph Evening Mercury, In Mem., 25 May 1892.

[216] J.P. Macpherson, Life of the Sir John A. Macdonald (2 vols, Saint John, N.B.: Earle Publishing House, 1891),   i, 148.

[217] Pope, Memoirs, i, 89-90. Pope was addicted to orotundity of phrase, but his allusion to Campbell refreshing his memory might suggest the existence of a lost diary.

[218] Christie, 18-19.

[219] Macdonald to J.M. Strachan, private, 9 February 1854, in Johnson, ed., The Letters of Sir John A. Macdonald, i, 203.

[220] LAC Macdonald vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 8 March 1855, largely printed in Pope, Memoirs, i, 140-1.

[221] Speeches, 6 (4 October 1858).

[222] LAC Macdonald vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 8 March 1855, largely printed in Pope, Memoirs, i, 140-1.

[223] Mowat to AC, 1 February 1858, Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 78-82.

[224] Address to the electors of South Ontario, Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 68-9.

[225] Mowat to AC, 16 January 1858, Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 73-7.

[226] Mowat to AC, 24 January 1858, Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 77-8.

[227] Speeches, 23-4 (27 November 1860)

[228] Mowat to AC, 24 January 1858, Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, i, 77-8.

[229] Macdonald to H. Smith, private & confidential, 21 January 1857, in Johnson, ed., The Letters of Sir John A. Macdonald, i, 414-15; DCB, Roblin, David.

[230] Macdonald to D. Roblin, private, 23 November 1857, in Johnson, ed., The Letters of Sir John A. Macdonald, i, 462.

[231]  R.A. Mackay, The Unreformed Senate of Canada (rev. ed., Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1963), 30-1.

[232] DCB, Cameron, John Hillyard; Favourite Son?, 170-4.

[233] Macdonald to D. Roblin, private, 23 November 1857, in Johnson, ed., The Letters of Sir John A. Macdonald, i, 462.

[234] DCB, Kirkpatrick, Thomas.

[235] Speeches, 3 (11 January 1858).

[236] Speeches, 6 (4 October 1858).

[237] S.F.Wise, "Tory Factionalism: Kingston Elections and Upper Canadian Politics 1820-1836," OH, lvii (1965), 205-65; Martin, Favourite Son?, 31-3.

[238] Speeches, 4 (AC's address, 10 February 1858).

[239] Speeches, 6 (4 October 1858).

[240] Speeches, 10 (14 October 1858).

[241] The Week, 15 December 1887,  In Mem., 10.

[242] Speeches, 7 (4 October 1858).

[243] Speeches, 4-5 (address, 10 February 1858); Globe, 15 September 1858.

[244] The Week, 15 December 1887, In Mem., 10.

[245] Speeches, 4.

[246] Globe, 7 September 1858.

[247] Speeches, 4.

[248] Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat,  i, 68.

[249] Speeches, 4.

[250] Speeches, 4.

[251] Speeches, 6 (4 October 1858).

[252] DCB, Scott, Richard William.

[253] Speeches, 7 (4 October 1858)

[254] Speeches, 4-5.

[255] B.S. Osborne and D. Swainson, Kingston: Building on the Past (Westport, Ont.: Butternut Press, 1988), 177-84.

[256] Speeches, 5.

[257] Speeches, 10 (14 October 1858)

[258] Martin, Favourite Son?, 40-2.

[259]Ged Martin,  "John A. Macdonald: Provincial Premier," British Journal of  CanadianSstudies, xx (2007), 99-122

[260] Globe, 7 September 1858. Bytown was renamed Ottawa in 1855. "Shiners" was a pejorative term for Ottawa Valley forest workers. Possibly derived from the French "chêneurs", oak-tree fellers, it generally referred to Irish labourers.

[261] Speeches, 5.

[262] Globe, 15 September 1858.

[263] Mowat to AC, 26 January 1858, in Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat,  i, 78.

[264] Globe, 15 September 1858.

[265] Globe, 18 September 1858.

[266] Globe, 15, 16 September 1858.

[267] Globe, 22 September 1858.

[268] Speeches, 6-9 (4 October 1858).

[269] Speeches, 7 (4 October 1858).

[270] Globe, 14 October 1858.

[271] Globe, 13 October 1858.

[272] Speeches, 10-11 (14 October 1858).

[273] As alleged in Globe, 22 September 1858.

[274] Speeches, 16 (3 February 1859).

[275] J.C. Dent, The Last Forty Years: Canada Since the Union of 1841 (2 vols, Toronto: George Virtue, 1881),  ii, 394-5.

[276] Globe, 19 December 1863.

[277] Speeches, 18-20 (26 April 1859).

[278] Globe, 24 February 1859. AC did not include his speech in the collection published in 1886.

[279] Speeches, 17; Globe, 24 February 1859.

[280] AC's letter and memorandum to Macdonald were initially assumed by Pope to belong to 1858, but their contents point to early 1860, and in LAC Macdonald they are assigned to 5 and 6 January 1860.  Pope, Memoirs, i, 180-2; LAC Macdonald, vol. 192.

[281] The term "continuous ministry", borrowed from New Zealand history, has been applied by Martin, "John A. Macdonald: Provincial Premier", 100-1. Macdonald was the only minister to serve throughout.

[282] Dent, The Last Forty Years, ii, 385, 390, 398.

[283] Pope, Memoirs, i, 181 (6 January 1860).

[284] Pope, Memoirs, i, 181 (5 January 1860).

[285] Pope, Memoirs, i, 181-2 (5 January 1860).

[286] An Act further to secure the Independence of Parliament (20 Vic., c. 22), in Statutes of the Province of Canada [1857] (Toronto: S. Derbishire and G. Desbarats, 1857), 64-8.

[287] Pope, Memoirs, i, 181 (5 January 1860).

[288] Pope, Memoirs, i, 181 (6 January 1860).

[289] Pope, Memoirs, i, 181-2 (5 January 1860).

[290] Pope, Memoirs, i, 181-2 (6 January 1860).

[291] J.K. Johnson and C.B. Stelmack, eds, The Letters of Sir John A. Macdonald, ii: 1858-1861 (Ottawa, Public Archives of Canada, 1969), 273-6.

[292] DCB, Roblin, David.

[293] Pope, Memoirs, i, 181 (5 January 1860).

[294] J.D. Livermore, "The Orange Order and the Election of 1861 in Kingston", in G. Tulchinsky, ed., To Preserve & Defend: Essays on Kingston in the Nineteenth Century (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1976),  245-59; Ian Radforth, Royal Spectacle: The 1860 Visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada and the United States (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 164-205; YP, 301-3; Martin, Favourite Son?, 55-62.

[295] Martin, Favourite Son?, 27, 31-2.

[296] Christie, 31.

[297] YP, 302.

[298] AC to Macdonald (extract), 30 September 1860, in Pope, Memoirs, i, 342-3.

[299] Kingston Daily News, 3 November 1860, quoted Livermore, "The Orange Order and the Election of 1861 in Kingston", 250.

[300] AC to Macdonald (extract), 30 September 1860, in Pope, Memoirs, i, 342-3.

[301] YP, 304-7.

[302] Speeches, 21-4 (27 November 1860).

[303] DCB, Campbell, Alexander.

[304] Martin, Favourite Son?, 61-73.

[305] AC to Macdonald (extract), 30 September 1860, in Pope, Memoirs, i, 342-3.

[306] YP, 310-16.

[307] YP, 312-13.

[308] Macdonald to AC, 9 October 1860, in Johnson and Stelmack, eds, The Letters of Sir John A. Macdonald, ii: 1858-1861, 394.

[309] Johnson and Stelmack, eds, The Letters of Sir John A. Macdonald, ii: 1858-1861, 355 (Macdonald, 2 August 1861).

[310] See, e.g., advert in Kingston Daily News, 27 October 1862.

[311] DCB, Street, Thomas Clark and Cameron, John Hillyard.

[312] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 13 December 1861.

[313] YP, 153.

[314] Dent, The Last Forty Years: Canada Since the Union of 1841, ii, 420.

[315] Kingston Daily News, 3 March 1862, quoted Globe, 4 March 1862.

[316] Globe, 4 March 1862.

[317] Kingston Daily News, 7 October 1862.

[318] Kingston Daily News, 3 March 1862, quoted Globe, 4 March 1862.

[319] Globe, 4 March 1862.

[320] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, January 1862.

[321] Kingston Daily News, 3 March 1862, quoted Globe, 4 March 1862.

[322] Dent, The Last Forty Years: Canada Since the Union of 1841, ii, 421.

[323] P.E.P. Demski, "Carling, Sir John", DCB, xiv.

[324] Dent, The Last Forty Years: Canada Since the Union of 1841, ii, 422.

[325] Martin, John A. Macdonald,  79.

[326] Dent, The Last Forty Years: Canada Since the Union of 1841, ii, 420.

[327] Globe, 10 March 1862.

[328] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 9 February 1862 and undated.

[329] Globe, 21 March 1862. The Council decided to vote for and against each of the three candidates.  MacNab was considered first, and his 26-23 majority meant that the merits of the other two, Campbell and James Patton, were not assessed. Since the candidates themselves abstained, MacNab effectively won by 27 to 25.

[330] D.R. Beer, Sir Allan Napier MacNab (Hamilton, Ont.: Dictionary of Hamilton Biography, 1984), 393-4.

[331] Globe, 12, 13, 17 February 1863.

[332] Globe, 17 February 1863.

[333] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, January 1862; 23 June 1863.

[334] Sissons, Egerton Ryerson, ii, 479, for a Campbell dinner to "a large party of Members" of both Houses in March 1863, and C.B. Sissons, ed., My Dearest Sophie: Letters from Egerton Ryerson to his Daughter (Toronto: The Ryerson Press,1955), 52.

[335] H. Neatby, Queen's University: i, 1841-1917 (Kingston and Montreal, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1978), 72-6, 106-7.

[336] Toronto Daily Mail,  19 December 1889.

[337] Speeches, 4-5; Kingston Daily News, 9 January 1863.

[338] B.W. Hodgins, John Sandfield Macdonald (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971), 56-69.

[339] Martin, Favourite Son?, 68-70.

[340] Kingston Daily News, 13 June 1863.

[341] Martin, Favourite Son?, 72. The figures were Macdonald: 785; Campbell: 840.

[342] LAC Macdonald, vol. 194, AC to Macdonald, 23 June 1863.

[343] Globe, 6 February 1864. Arthur Gordon, the governor of New Brunswick, told the governor-general, Lord Monck, that he should have commissioned Campbell and John A. Macdonald to form a government, and then granted them an election, which they would have won by a large majority. Gordon was never inhibited from offering his opinions by his inability to understand colonial society and politics. He had presumably met Campbell during a visit to Quebec earlier in the year, and would have been impressed by his gentlemanly demeanour. LAC, Monck Papers, A-756, Gordon to Monck, private, 7 October 1863.

[344] Kingston Daily News, 13 June 1863.

[345] David A. Wilson, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, vol. 2: The Extreme Moderate 1857-1867 (Montreal and Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2011), 177.

[346] Speeches, 21 (27 November 1860).

[347] Globe, 18 December 1863, speech at Toronto banquet 17 December.

[348] Globe, 12 March 1864, reporting speech by David Reesor, 11 March.

[349] Wilson, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, vol. 2: The Extreme Moderate, 183,

[350] Globe, 5 February 1864, quoting Brockville Recorder.

[351] Speeches, 21 (27 November 1860).

[352] Globe, 24 February 1864.

[353] Speeches, 25-32 (23 February 1864).

[354] As reported by the Globe, 1 March 1864.

[355] YP, 352.

[356] Globe, 24 March 1864.

[357] Martin, Favourite Son?, 173-4.

[358] Toronto Mail, 17 November 1873.


[360] Globe, 25 March 1864.

[361] Martin, Favourite Son?, 70-2.

[362] R. Cartwright, Reminiscences (Toronto, W. Briggs,1912), 34.

[363] YP, 348-52.

[364] Cartwright, Reminiscences, 37.

[365] Cartwright, Reminiscences, 37.

[366] James Young, Public Men and Public Life in Canada (2 vols, Toronto, W. Briggs, 1912), i, 201.

[367] Martin, "Alexander Campbell...", OH, CV, 2013, 4: UK National Archives, CO 42/640, 31 March 1864, fos 378-83.

[368] Quebec Mercury, 29, 31 March 1864.

[369] Taché's explanations, 30 March, Quebec Gazette, 1 April 1864; Cartwright, Reminiscences, 361.

[370] Cartwright, Reminiscences, 34.

[371] Globe, 24 March 1864.

[372] Globe, 26 March 1864.

[373] YP, 352.

[374] Cartwright, Reminiscences, 36; Quebec Mercury, 29 March 1864.

[375] Globe, 29 March 1864.

[376] Quebec Mercury, 29 March 1864.

[377] Taché's explanations, 30 March, Quebec Gazette, 1 April 1864.

[378] Globe, 28 March 1864.

[379] Cauchon was an easy target: see the portrait of him by A. Désilets in Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Detractors took pleasure in noting that his surname was a slightly laundered spelling of "Cochon" (pig).

[380] Taché's explanations, 30 March, Quebec Gazette, 1 April 1864; Globe, 29 March 1864.

[381] YP, 352.

[382] Toronto Mail, 17 November 1873.

[383] Quebec Mercury, 25 March, Globe, 29, 30, 25 March 1864.

[384] Globe, 31 March 1864.

[385] Cartwright, Reminiscences, 48.

[386] J. Pope, Sir John A. Macdonald Vindicated (Toronto: The Publishers' Association of Canada, Limited, 1912), 19.

[387] Pope, Sir John A. Macdonald Vindicated, 15.