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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

Alexander Mackenzie, Canada’s Second Prime Minister, Was a Baptist

William Cathcart

Taken from The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881

The Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, ex-Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada, was born on January 28, 1822, in Logierait, Perthshire, Scotland.  In his boyhood, he attended the public schools of Moulin, Dunkeld, and Perth; but at the age of fourteen the death of his father made it necessary for him to engage in industrial pursuits. States he learned the business of an architect and builder, which he followed fourth time in the neighborhood of Irvine, on the coast of Ayrshire. During his stay there he became the subject of saving grace and united with the Baptist Church in Irvine, then under the pastoral care of the late Dr. Leechman.

In 1842 he emigrated to Canada, and settled in Sarnia, on the St. Clair River, where he commenced business as a contractor, meeting with well-merited success. This was a period of great political excitement in the Canadian colony on the subject of Responsible Government. The masses of the people, in opposition to the ruling faction, demanded that public affairs should no longer be managed under the irresponsible control of Downing Street nominees, but that cabinet ministers should have seats in the Canadian Legislature, and be responsible to the Parliament of Canada for every executive act.

The contest was long and bitter; but at the general election in 1848, the Reformers were completely victorious popular government became firmly established. It was not possible for a man of Mr. Mackenzie’s strong political convictions and sympathies to stand idly by when such a struggle was in progress.

Very shortly after his arrival in the country, he espoused the cause of the people, and was soon recognized as one of the most earnest and fearless advocates. In process of time, he became the acknowledged editor of the Lambton Shield, a Liberal paper, which he conducted for several years in Sarnia with distinguished ability.

He was first elected to Parliament in June, 1861, as member for the County of Lambton, of which Sarnia is the county town and at every succeeding election he has been returned for the same constituency.

From the beginning of his Parliamentary career, he has been a prominent part in the councils of the nation. He contributed very largely to the success of the scheme of British American confederation, which was accomplished in 1865. In the fall of that year, he was offered a seat in the Federal Cabinet, which he declined because he could not approve the commercial policy of the government.

In 1871, he was elected to the local Legislature of Ontario, as representative of West Middlesex, and soon after became a member of the provincial administration. But finding it inexpedient for a member of the Federal Parliament to busy himself with local legislation, he resigned both seat and office in 1872, and has since given his undivided attention to the politics of the Dominion.

Soon after this, he became the recognized leader of the Liberal party, and in 1873, he was made Prime Minister of Canada. For five years he discharged the duties of this exalted position with rare wisdom and fidelity, laying the country of his adoption under a debt of gratitude, which history will not fail to record.

In 1875–76 he visited Great Britain, where he was warmly welcomed by Queen Victoria and the leading statesmen of the Empire. In Scotland, his visit was a series of ovations, men of all ranks and parties uniting to do him honor. He received the "freedom" of several Scotch burghs and many other marks of popular appreciation. But the order of knighthood, tendered him by her Majesty in recognition of his distinguished public services, he felt himself obliged to decline.

Mr. Mackenzie is a man of superior mental culture and of great intellectual power. In private life, he manifests the most kindly disposition, without the slightest ostentation or assumption. He is (1881) a member of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church, Toronto, Ontario, trustee of the Toronto Baptist College, and a warm friend to the work of the denomination in general.