Most of McGee's short life was spent outside Canada. He emigrated from Ireland to the US at age 17 and took over the editorship of the Boston Pilot 2 years later. He returned to Ireland in 1845 and helped edit the nationalist newspaper Nation. After he participated in the rebellion of 1848, he fled to the US. McGee spent the next 10 years editing newspapers in the US. Preoccupied with the welfare of hundreds of thousands of IRISH immigrants, he became discouraged by lack of support for his many projects.
McGee moved to Montréal in the spring of 1857 at the request of the Irish community and began another newspaper, New Era, advocating a "new nationality." He called for the federation of British North America, a transcontinental railway, the settlement of the West, a protective tariff and the development of a distinctive Canadian literature.
McGee was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from Montréal in 1858. He worked at first with George BROWN and the Reform Party but broke with them after becoming discouraged with the lack of enthusiasm shown by the Reformers for his national projects. He then fell in with John A. MACDONALD and George-Étienne CARTIER. He was in the "Great Coalition" leading up to Confederation and attended the Charlottetown and Québec conferences. By 1866, however, he had alienated many Irish voters and was dropped from the Cabinet.
In addition to editing newspapers and pursuing his active political career, McGee was an excellent public speaker, published over 300 poems and wrote many works on Irish history. He was bitterly opposed to the FENIANS and their plans to obtain Irish independence by revolution and the conquest of Canada. When he was assassinated a week before his 43rd birthday, it was generally believed that a Fenian conspiracy was involved.
Author ROBIN BURNS
Links to Other Sites
Thomas D'arcy Mcgee As A Father Of Canadian Literature
Thomas D'Arcy McGee, a Father of Confederation, was also a strong proponent of a distinctly Canadian literature. Find out more in this article from “Studies in Canadian Literature.”
Thomas D'Arcy McGee
A biography of Thomas D'Arcy McGee with photographs and other archival resources. This “Canadian Confederation” website is from Library and Archives Canada.
Dictionary of Canadian Biography
A searchable collection of detailed biographies of prominent figures in Canadian history. Produced by the University of Toronto, the Université Laval and the National Archives of Canada.
The Assassination of Thomas D'Arcy McGee
Search the CBC website for special features and news stories about the assassination of Thomas D'Arcy McGee.
McGee, Thomas D'Arcy
Look for various intriguing comments about this prominent Canadian historical figure in the Thomas D'Arcy McGee fonds at McMaster University.
Face to Face: The Canadian Personalities Hall
"Face to Face" features outstanding Canadians whose ideas and contributions have transformed this country. Click on the photos in "Meet the Personalities" to see their biographies. From the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Ossian Abroad: James Macpherson and Canadian Literary Nationalism, 1830-1994
Scroll down to section III for a brief discussion of James McCarroll's contribution to political discourse in Canada during the 19th century. From the University of Western Ontario.