John Sandfield Macdonald

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John Sandfield Macdonald

John Sandfield Macdonald (December 12, 1812-June 1, 1872) was the first Premier of the Canadian province of Ontario after the province was created as a result of the confederation of Canada in 1867. He served as premier from 1867 to 1871.

A Reformer and advocate of responsible government, Macdonald served in all eight Assemblies of the United Province of Canada prior to Confederation. He also served in several pre-confederation administrations, including a period as co-premier of the United Province from 1862 to 1864.

Macdonald was initially an opponent of confederation, but came to accept it and became an ally of Sir John A. Macdonald. John A. Macdonald helped manoeuvre Sandfield Macdonald into the position of first Premier of Ontario.

His government was moderate and initially a coalition of liberals and conservatives, but suffered from defections by more radical Reformers. This group joined with the Clear Grits to form the opposition Liberal Party led by Edward Blake and Oliver Mowat. In December 1871, Macdonald's government was defeated by Edward Blake's Liberals. Macdonald resigned, and died several months later.

Sandfield Macdonald was be the last Roman Catholic Premier of Ontario in 132 years. After his tenure, sectarian tensions in the province rose, and the Conservative Party increasingly became identified with the Orange Order and sectarian Protestantism. Even though most of the party's leaders were not sectarian themselves (with a few notable exceptions), Orange Ontarians became a core constituency of the party that leaders were loathe to neglect. Catholics, meanwhile, increasingly voted for the Liberal Party. While the Liberals could never be called a Catholic party, the Catholic vote became as important a constituency to the Liberals as the Orange vote became to the Conservatives.

Macdonald's brothers, Donald Alexander Macdonald and Alexander Francis Macdonald, were also politicians, and served as federal Members of Parliament. Donald, who served as an MP the longest of the three brothers, was in the House of Commons concurrently with both Sandfield and Alexander, although Sandfield and Alexander did not serve concurrently with each other.

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Preceded by:
John A. Macdonald
Joint Premiers of the Province of Canada
Succeeded by:
John A. Macdonald
Preceded by:
Premier of Ontario
Succeeded by:
Edward Blake
Preceded by:
Leaders of the Conservative Party of Ontario
Succeeded by:
Matthew Crooks Cameron
Preceded by:
Member of Parliament for Cornwall
Succeeded by:
Darby Bergin

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