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macdonald-sir john a

January 11, Sir John A. Macdonald’s birthday, is an opportunity for Canadians to celebrate Macdonald’s vision of unity and a North American destiny independent of the United States.

History
Thomas D'Arcy McGee
Thomas D'Arcy McGee

Thomas D'Arcy McGee (photo by William Notman, courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-016749).

[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.

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