William Lyon Mackenzie King Essay

2708 words - 11 pages

I. IntroductionWilliam Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950) was the tenth prime minister of Canada. William Lyon Mackenzie King led Canada's Liberal Party from 1919 to 1948. He achieved many great feats. His greatest accomplishment was the preservation of unity between Canada's French-speaking parts and English-speaking partsII. Early LifeKing was born in Berlin, Ontario, in 1874. (Berlin is now Kitchener.) He was named after his grandfather, William Lyon Mackenzie, a leader in an unsuccessful 1837 rebellion against British rule. King's father came from a family that was loyal to Britain.In 1891, King went to the University of Toronto to study economics and government. He won a scholarship to the University of Chicago and he also furthered his studies at Harvard University.In Toronto and in Chicago, King was shocked by the poverty of "big cities". In the summer of 1897, he acquired a job as a reporter for the Toronto Mail and Empire and made a study of circumstances in the garment business. He found that the contractors for postmen's uniforms ran some of the worst sweatshops. King told the facts to a postmaster general who was a family friend, Sir William Mulock, and suggested that a fair-wage clause be included in future contracts. Sir William Mulock took the advice. In 1900, Sir William Mulock invited W.L Mackenzie King to direct Canada's first department of labor. King gladly accepted and at the age of 25 became deputy minister of labor.III. Early CareerA. Civil ServantFor the next eight years, King remained a civil servant, working to develop labor conditions all over the country. He helped resolve about 40 strikes, and he planned the labor legislation.Although technically a civil servant, King was deeply engaged in politics and was interested in little else. In 1908 King was the Liberal candidate from Waterloo North, Ontario for a seat in the House of Commons. Although the area was mainly Conservative, he was easily elected because of his vigorous and well-organized campaign. In 1909 Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier asked King to be minister of labor. In 1911 the Conservatives in the general election defeated the Liberal government, and King lost his post and his seat in the House of Commons.B. Rise To LeadershipKing worked in minor political posts in the Liberal Party. In 1914 he took a job in the United States as director of industrial research with the Rockefeller Foundation, which was impressed by his record in labor negotiations.In Canada the outbreak of World War I in 1914 caused conflict in the Liberal Party over the issue of conscription, or compulsory enrollment in the armed forces, also called the draft. The Conservative prime minister, Sir Robert Borden, offered Laurier a post in the coalition cabinet. As the leader of Quebec, Laurier refused to join a government that favored the draft. However, most of his Liberal colleagues did join, and by 1917 the Liberal Party had almost no strength outside Quebec. King remained loyal to Laurier...

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