Friday, March 18, 2016

von Heyking on Cartier and Macdonald

John von Heyking discusses the consequential friendship of George-Etienne Cartier and John A. Macdonald in his series on political friendships.

In some way I've become at least intrigued by the friendship of Cartier and George Brown, which particularly blossomed post-confederation, when they each began to realize how skillfully and successfully Macdonald was marginalizing them both. John quotes me in his Cartier-Macdonald piece, so I surely will not complain.

A little from the last pages of my Three Weeks in Quebec City.
In February and March 1868, already surpassed and sidelined by Macdonald but not entirely resigned to that situation, Cartier renewed his correspondence with George Brown, sharing views of how Confederation had been achieved. Brown opened the discussion: “Lower Canada was the difficulty in the way, and you were the only man in Lower Canada who, when the crisis arrived, had the pluck and the influence to take the bull by the horns. You ran the risk of political death by the bold course you took. Mr. Macdonald ran no risk whatsoever.”
Cartier responded with similar compliments. He endorsed Brown’s declaration that his own fifteen-year struggle for constitutional reform “won the battle,” and even suggested that Brown ought to be back in the House of Commons, “where some difficulty might spring up before long and your presence in the House might be so useful.” Cartier, though a senior member of the Macdonald cabinet, seems still to have had in mind a Cartier-Brown or Brown-Cartier alternative.
Brown declined all interest, and the suggestion remained within their private correspondence.  ...
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