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Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott
Birth: Mar. 21, 1821
Laurentides Region
Quebec, Canada
Death: Oct. 30, 1893
Montreal Region
Quebec, Canada

3rd Prime Minister of Canada. He served in this capacity from June 1891 to October 1892, taking over upon the death of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister. He became Canada's first native-born prime minister. Born John Joseph Caldwell Abbott, he received a Bachelor of Civil Law from McGill College (now McGill University), in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1847 and a Doctor of Civil Law in 1867. Most of his legal practice was in corporate law; however, his most celebrated court case was the defense of, first fourteen, then upon release and recapture, four of those fourteen Confederate agents who had raided St. Albans, Vermont from Canadian soil during the American Civil War. He successfully argued that the Confederates were belligerents rather than criminals and therefore should not be extradited and the episode brought Canadian-American tensions close to armed conflict. A successful Montreal corporate lawyer and businessman, he began lecturing in commercial and criminal law at McGill in 1853, and in 1855 he became a professor and dean of its Faculty of Law, continuing in this position until 1880. Upon his retirement, McGill named him emeritus professor, and in 1881 appointed him to its Board of Governors. He first ran for Canada's Legislative Assembly in 1857 in the Argenteuil district, northwest of Montreal, and was initially defeated. He challenged the election results on the grounds of voting list irregularities and was eventually awarded the seat in 1860. From 1862 to 1863 he served as solicitor general for Lower Canada (Quebec) representing the liberal administration of John Macdonald and Louis Sicotte. In 1862 he was made Queen's Counsel and in 1865 he switched parties and became a Conservative. In 1867 he was elected to the House of Commons as member for Argenteuil. He was removed from his seat by petition in 1874 following his involvement in the Pacific Scandal. He was involved in the promotion of several railway projects, including the Canadian Pacific Railway (of which he served as President) and worked to incorporate and arrange financing for the first Canada Pacific Railway syndicate. As legal advisor to its main financier, Sir Hugh Allan, he was the recipient of the infamous telegram from Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald during the 1872 Canadian federal election campaign which read "I must have another ten thousand; will be the last time of calling; do not fail me; answer today." This telegram was stolen from Abbott's office and published, breaking the 1873 Pacific Scandal which brought down Macdonald's Conservative government. He was subsequently elected in a by-election in August 1881. In 1887, Macdonald appointed him to the Senate where he served as Leader of the Government in the Senate from May 12, 1887 to October 30, 1893 (including his term as Prime Minister) and as Minister without Portfolio in Macdonald's cabinet. He also served two one-year terms as Montreal's 19th mayor from 1887 to 1888. He was subsequently a key organizer of a second syndicate which eventually completed the construction of Canada's first transcontinental railway in 1885, serving as its solicitor from 1880 to 1887 and as a director from 1885 to 1891. When Prime Minister Macdonald died in office in June 1891, he supported John Thompson to succeed him, but reluctantly accepted the plea of the divided Conservative party that he should lead the government, though he considered himself a caretaker prime minister for his seventeen months in office. He was one of just two Canadian Prime Ministers, the other being Mackenzie Bowell, to have held the office while serving in the Senate rather than the House of Commons. Soon after he assumed office in 1891, Canada was plunged into an economic recession. Later that same year he faced another challenge as the McGreevy-Langevin scandal came to light, revealing that Hector-Louis Langevin, former Minister of Public Works in the Conservative government, had conspired with contractor Thomas McGreevy to defraud the government. Despite these political setback, he dealt with the backlog of government business awaiting him after Macdonald's death, including reform of the civil service and revisions of the criminal code. In 1892 he attempted to negotiate a new treaty of reciprocity with the United States, but failed to reach an agreement. One year into his time as prime minister, he tried to turn the office over to Thompson, but this was rejected due to anti-Catholic sentiment in the Tory caucus. Suffering from the early stages of brain cancer, his health failed in 1892 and he resigned his office and retired to private life, whereupon Thompson finally became Prime Minister. Abbott died less than a year later at the age of 72. John Abbott College in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, near his 300-acre country estate (Boisbriant), is named after him. He was a great-grandfather of Canadian actor Christopher Plummer. (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
Mount Royal Cemetery
Montreal Region
Quebec, Canada
Plot: Section C, lot #395
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 2553
Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott
Added by: Mr Michael Carl O'Neil
Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott
Added by: Mount Royal Cemetery
Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott
Added by: Kyprianos
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