Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley - Encyclopedia

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SIR SAMUEL LEONARD TILLEY (1818-1896), Canadian statesman, was born at Gagetown, New Brunswick, on the 18th of May 1818, the son of Samuel Tilley, an American Loyalist, who had settled in St John in 1783. In 1850 he was elected to the local legislature as a Liberal representative of St John. He soon became prominent from his opposition to the liquor traffic, and in 1855 persuaded the assembly to pass a prohibitory law, which proved a failure, and was repealed. From 1860 to March 1865 he was premier of the province, and was prominent in organizing the conference on the union of the maritime provinces, which met at Charlottetown in 1864, and which soon widened into a discussion of Canadian federation. In 1865 he was defeated in a general election on the federation question, but returned to power in 1866, partly through an intrigue of the colonial office. From 1868 till November 1873 he held various portfolios in the Dominion cabinet; from 1873 to 1878 he was lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick, but in 1878 was again elected as member for St John, and entered the Conservative cabinet as minister of finance. Later in 1878 he introduced and carried through parliament the "national policy" of protection, on which issue the election of 1878 had been won. The tariff so introduced became the basis of Canadian financial policy. In October 1885 ill health forced him to retire from the cabinet, and he was again appointed lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick, which position he held till 1893. He died on the 25th of June 1896. In 1879 he was created K.C.M.G. His kindly and honourable private character was admitted by all; his political merits are judged differently by advocates and opponents of the policy of protection which he introduced, but of his financial ability and grasp of detail there is no doubt.

His Life, by James Hannay (1907), forms one of the "Makers of Canada" series.

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