[Editor’s note: In the recently published Volume 2 of Thomas D’Arcy McGee: The Extreme Moderate, author David A. Wilson posits the theory that Patrick James Whelan – the man hanged for assassinating Father of Confederation Thomas D’Arcy McGee – may not have actually pulled the trigger. Here, we present an earlier essay on the assassination from David A. Wilson.]
It is the greatest murder mystery in Canadian political history – the assassination of Thomas D’Arcy McGee, Father of Confederation and outspoken opponent of Fenianism, on an Ottawa street in the early hours of Tuesday 7 Apr 1868. Within 24 hours, the police were sure they had their man. Acting on a tip, they went to the hotel room of a tailor named Patrick James Whelan. Searching through his belongings, they found copies of a revolutionary Irish-American newspaper, membership cards of Irish Canadian organizations that included many Fenians, and a Smith and Wesson revolver that had apparently been fired the previous day.