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Gordon Donaldson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gordon Donaldson, CBE, FRHistS, FBA, FRSE (13 April 1913 – 16 March 1993) was a Scottish historian.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Sir Charles Tupper (Prime Ministers of Canada Series #6)

Transcription

Pharmacist, Doctor, provincial secretary, Premier of Nova Scotia, Father of Confederation, President of the Canadian Medical Association…. Prime Minister. The life and legacy of Sir Charles Tupper. Charles Tupper was a bull of a man; he was known as the War horse of Cumberland. He was steadfast and steady; a man with a purpose. As George Bowering wrote, “If he came to a door he threw it open and strode into whatever was on the other side.” Tupper was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia. He grew up on his family farm, where he received a thorough education from his religious parents. Tupper went to medical school in Edinburgh – considered the best English medical school at the time – and returned to Amherst where he opened a pharmacy. Tupper worked as a country doctor, travelling great distances on horseback to tend to the sick. Practicing medicine in Halifax might have been more profitable, but Tupper wanted to stay in Cumberland county, near the mining industry. Tupper eventually moved to Halifax, where his prestige began to rise. In a few years he had become one of the best trained doctors in the province. He later became the first president of the Canadian Medical Association. Tupper wasn’t oblivious to the fact that his role as a prominent doctor would help his cause as a politician, and after he’d transferred his practice to Ottawa, Tupper famously kept his medical bag under his desk in the House of Commons. His focus, however, shifted away from medicine and toward politics. In 1855, Tupper was elected as a Conservative in Cumberland County. The Liberals and Conservatives went back and forth with control of Nova Scotia, and whenever Tupper’s party was on the losing side, he would refuse to go down quietly. He earned the position of Provincial secretary, and then Premier in 1864. He deftly handled a brewing crisis over separate schools, and Tupper nipped a potential Manitoba Schools Question in the bud. Tupper’s ultimate goal was Canadian Confederation. He was personally frustrated – he felt he had enough talent to play in a bigger arena than Nova Scotia. “It requires a great country and great circumstances to develop great men.” On a trip to London, Tupper had seen that British politicians had no time for small colonial concerns. Tupper attended the conferences discussing Confederation, where he met and became an ardent supporter of John A Macdonald. There was strong opposition to Confederation within Nova Scotia, but Tupper worked to counter any arguments. One of Tupper’s ideas was equal regional representation in the Canadian Senate – 24 senators each from Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes – so that Ontario and Quebec’s much larger populations wouldn’t cause Maritime needs to be forgotten. Canada was born on July 1st 1867. Tupper travelled to Halifax to resign as Premier. He wanted in on the national action. Because of his role bringing Nova Scotia to the union, Tupper was expecting an appointment to Macdonald’s cabinet, but Macdonald had made promises to others, and Tupper was patient. For now. Charles Tupper was the only pro-confederation MP elected in Nova Scotia’s first federal election. He set to work aligning people with his vision again. Tupper had a great skill for bringing political opponents to his side through sheer force of will, and an ability to shift their focus to common goals. He continued to argue that the provinces of Canada were better together – secessionist-leaning Nova Scotia included. Tupper said, “The evidence is incontrovertible to show that never was the prosperity of this whole country so rapidly increased as under this Union, and that Halifax shared that prosperity in common with the other portions of the Dominion.” Macdonald finally gave Tupper a more prominent national role in 1870. He first became president of the Privy Council, then Minister of Inland Revenue, and Minister of Customs. Tupper ran a highly successful campaign in Nova Scotia in the 1872 election, but one year later the Pacific Scandal– “The Pacific Slander” – broke out. Tupper had no part in the scandal, but the Conservative party was decimated. Macdonald resigned as Prime Minister, broken-down and defeated. But despite all this, Tupper did stand to benefit. There was a power vacuum, and Tupper became the loudest Conservative voice during Alexander Mackenzie’s term as Liberal Prime Minister. Before the 1878 election, Tupper campaigned throughout Ontario and the Maritimes. The Conservatives won, Macdonald became Prime Minister again, and Tupper was the heir apparent. Macdonald rewarded Tupper by appointing him Minister of Public Works, and then Minister of Railways and Canals. Tupper would achieve his goal to make a railway across the continent entirely on British soil in 1885 – “a great national highway.” Having done this, Tupper’s focus shifted to developing Canada’s abundant resources, especially mining in Nova Scotia. After a disagreement with Macdonald, Tupper had requested to temporarily serve as Canadian High Commissioner in London. In 1888, Despite Macdonald’s protests, Tupper decided to make it permanent. After all, his son, Charles Hibbert Tupper, was currently a cabinet Minister. In fact, Tupper wasn’t shy about securing prominent jobs for his family – his children, siblings, nieces, nephews and in-laws all became what were referred to as: “Public Tuppers." Tupper truly brought Canada to the world stage. He persistently fought for Canadian interests. High Commissioner wasn’t necessarily supposed to be a very political role, but with Tupper, it very much was. He still held a great deal of influence over the Cabinet in Ottawa. In 1891, he openly campaigned for the Conservative Party and Macdonald’s re-election, which almost got him condemned by the House of Commons. When Sir John A Macdonald died, Tupper was an obvious choice as next Prime Minister. But Tupper was comfortable with his life in London; he supported John Thompson. By the time three Prime Ministers named John in a row had died, eyes once again turned to Tupper. But this time, the Governor General and his wife, Lord and Lady Aberdeen, said absolutely not. Lady Aberdeen found Tupper highly distasteful, and she suspected he was having an affair. And so, Mackenzie Bowell served as PM for just over a year, but Tupper’s son, Charles Hibbert Tupper, helped bring him down. The Conservatives were desperate. As Bowell angrily pulled seven knives out of his back, Tupper returned to save the day. On May 1st, 1896, Sir Charles Tupper was appointed Prime Minister of Canada. Sixty-nine days later, Laurier’s Liberals won the Federal election, Sir Charles Tupper was no longer Prime Minister of Canada, and that was that. Sir Charles Tupper’s 69 day term remains the shortest of all Prime Ministers. He did nothing but campaign and prepare for the election. At 74, he’s also the oldest person to become PM. But it wouldn’t be right to view him as a failure. After all that time waiting, Tupper was not at all happy with how things turned out. But it would have been a wonder if the Conservatives had won that election. They’d gone through five Prime Ministers in as many years, and the party was fractured within. And Tupper was facing Wilfrid Laurier, another man who was destined to become Prime Minister. All that said, the Conservatives actually did manage to win the popular vote 48%-41%– but in the end, that’s not what matters. For a while, Charles Tupper refused to step down. He went about his day as if he were still PM until Governor General Lord Aberdeen forced him out. As we said, Tupper did not handle defeat very well. Tupper remained Leader of the Opposition for a few more years, but when he failed to be re-elected as MP in the 1900 election, he stepped down. He chose Robert Borden, a fellow Nova Scotian, to replace him. Sir Charles Tupper moved back to England, where he spent most of his days in Bexleyheath with his daughter, Emma. At the age of 84, he decided to learn Italian – because why not? Tupper also continued promoting himself – in the 1910s, he gave frequent interviews, doing what he could to ensure his legacy. On October 30th, 1915, Sir Charles Tupper passed away in Bexleyheath. Gordon Donaldson refers to the four short-serving Prime Ministers who served the remainder of Macdonald’s term as the Pallbearers, and this seems accurate. Abbott wasn’t up for the job. Thompson was, but he didn’t live long enough to realize his full potential. Bowell was a bearded buffoon. And by the time the baton was passed to Tupper, it was too late. Laurier’s time had come. Charles Tupper was full of himself, and always up for a fight. He was steadfastly Canadian, but also a proud British subject, and he believed you could be both. Tupper was a vocal advocate for the Maritimes, and for Confederation. He was the last of the original Fathers of Confederation to die. But a new age had come. Could the Conservative party have done anything differently to continue being in power past 1896? What do you think Charles Tupper’s legacy is?

Life

He was born in a tenement at 140 McDonald Road[1] off Leith Walk in northern Edinburgh on 13 April 1913 the son of Rachel Swan and Magnus Donaldson.[2]

He was of Shetland descent. Donaldson attended Broughton Elementary School (adjacent to his home) and then the Royal High School of Edinburgh (1921–31), before being awarded a scholarship to study at the University of Edinburgh. He also supplemented his income by undertaking some tutoring. After graduating in 1935 with a first-class Honours Degree in History (MA), he gained his PhD in 1938 at the Institute of Historical Research in London, where he also won the David Berry Prize from the Royal Historical Society. Donaldson also has a DLitt degree.

After working as an archivist at the General Register Office for Scotland 1938-1947, he was appointed to a lectureship in Scottish History at the University of Edinburgh, largely through the offices of William Croft Dickinson. This marked the beginning of Donaldson's 32-year academic career at the University.

He served as a Reader from 1955, before succeeding Dickinson as Professor of Scottish History and Palaeography in 1963, which he held until his retirement in 1979. During his academic career, Professor Donaldson wrote or co-wrote over thirty books, and numerous articles and addresses. He also served at various times as President of the Scottish Ecclesiological Society, the Scottish Church History Society, the Scottish History Society, the Scottish Record Society, the Scottish Records Association, and the Stair Society.

In 1978 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His proposers were Norman Gash, Geoffrey Barrow, Sir Fraser Noble, and John Cameron, Lord Cameron.

He was also an Honorary Vice-President of the Royal Historical Society, and in 1992 he received the St Olav's Medal from the King of Norway. When Professor Donaldson retired, he was appointed Historiographer Royal in Scotland.

He could talk about any character in Scottish history as if he knew them personally. It was his love of the sea and ships, born from his childhood in Shetland, that took him to Dysart in Fife in his retirement, where he lived in a 17th-century Pan Ha' apartment. "I cannot pass my old age without the sight of the sea and ships," he said.

He died in Windygates in Fife on 16 March 1993. He never married and left no family.[2]

Bibliography

  • (with James Kirk) Scotland's history : approaches and reflections, 1995
  • A Northern Commonwealth: Scotland and Norway, 1990
  • The faith of the Scots, 1990
  • (with David John Breeze) A queen's progress : an introduction to the buildings associated with Mary Queen of Scots in the care of the Secretary of State for Scotland, 1987
  • Scottish church history, 1985
  • All the Queen's men : power and politics in Mary Stewart's Scotland, 1983
  • Four centuries : Edinburgh University life, 1583-1983, 1983
  • (with Ann Morton) British National Archives and the local historian : a guide to official record publications, 1980
  • (with Robert Morpeth) A dictionary of Scottish history, 1977
  • Scotland : the shaping of a nation, 1974
  • Mary, Queen of Scots, 1974
  • (with Robert Morpeth) Who's who in Scottish history, 1973
  • Scottish historical documents, 1970
  • The first trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1969
  • The memoirs of Sir James Melville of Halhill...., 1969
  • Scottish Kings, 1967
  • The Scots overseas, 1966
  • General Editor, The Edinburgh History of Scotland, 1965
    • Vol I, Scotland: The making of the Kingdom, A.A.M. Duncan
    • Vol II, Scotland: The Later Middle Ages, R. Nicholson
    • Vol III, Scotland: James V to James VII, G. Donaldson
    • Vol IV, Scotland: 1689 to the Present, W Ferguson
  • Scotland: James V to James VII, 1965
  • Scotland: church and nation through sixteen centuries, 1960
  • The Scottish Reformation, 1960
  • Shetland Life under Earl Patrick, 1958
  • Common errors in Scottish history, 1956
  • The making of the Scottish prayer book of 1637, 1954
  • The Court Book of Shetland 1602-1604, 1954
  • Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 1561-1572, 1949
  • (with John Lauder, C Macrae) St. Andrews formulare, 1514-1546, 1944

References

  1. ^ Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory, 1912
  2. ^ a b Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.
This page was last edited on 26 May 2019, at 22:10
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