William Lyon Mackenzie

Mackenzie, William Lyon, 1795–1861, Canadian journalist and insurgent leader, b. Scotland; grandfather of William Lyon Mackenzie King. Emigrating to Upper Canada in 1820, he published (1824–34), first at Queenston, then at York (later Toronto), his noted Colonial Advocate. In it he vigorously attacked the governing clique called the Family Compact, and in 1826 his printing office was partly demolished. Elected (1828) to the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, Mackenzie was five times expelled for "libel" and five times reelected by his constituency. As a leader of the Reform party of Upper Canada he went to London in 1832 to obtain redress of grievances. In 1834 he became the first mayor of Toronto. In 1836 he founded the Constitution as a Reform party organ. Enraged by the policies of Sir Francis Bond Head and by the defeat of the Reform party, Mackenzie and a group of insurgents attempted (1837) to seize Toronto, but the rebellion was quickly put down. Mackenzie and others escaped to the United States. He set up a provisional government with fortified headquarters on Navy Island in the Niagara River, but he was later imprisoned for 18 months by the U.S. authorities for violating the neutrality laws (see Caroline Affair). After his release Mackenzie worked as a journalist and writer until the proclamation of general amnesty allowed his return (1849) to Canada. There he was a member (1851–58) of the Legislative Assembly of United Canada (Upper and Lower Canada).

See S. Leacock, Mackenzie, Baldwin, LaFontaine, Hincks (1926 ed.); E. C. Guillet, The Lives and Times of the Patriots (1938).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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