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John Joseph Caldwell Abbott Passes Away

Today in Masonic History John Joseph Caldwell Abbott passes away in 1893.

John Joseph Caldwell Abbott was a Canadian politician and lawyer.

Abbott was born in St. Andrews, Lower Canada (now Saint-André-d'Argenteuil, Quebec). In 1847, he received a law degree from McGill College (now McGill University) Montreal, Quebec in 1847.

In 1849, Abbott signed the Montreal Annexation Manifesto. The Manifesto called for Canada to join the United States. Later in life Abbott regreted signing the document and referred to it as a "youthful error".

In 1857 Abbott first ran for elected office. When he was defeated, he challenged the election in court on the grounds there were irregularities in the voting list. In 1860, he won his court case and was awarded the seat in Canada's Legislative Assembly.

Eventually Abbott joined the Loyal Orange Lodge of British North America, a well known pro-British organization. In 1862, he was made a Queen's Counsel. In 1862 and 1863 Abbott served as Solicitor General in the administration of Sir John A. Macdonald and Louis Sicotte.

Abbott largely practiced corporate law. In 1864 he had his one major criminal case when he defended four of the fourteen individuals who raided St. Albans, Vermont from Canadian soil during the American Civil War. Abbott successfully argued the Confederate agents were belligerents rather than criminals and should not be extradited to the United States for trial. The incident almost brought Canada and the United States to an armed conflict.

Abbott was involved in many railway projects including the Canadian Pacific Railway. As the chief legal advisor to the projects main financier, Abbott was the one who receive the infamous telegram from Macdonald in which he stated, during the 1872 federal election campaign, "I must have another ten thousand; will be the last time of calling; do not fail me; answer today." The telegram was stolen from Abbott's office.

In 1874, Abbott lost his seat in the House of Commons after 7 years due to his involvement in the Canadian Pacific Railway scandal.

In 1891 when Macdonald passed away in office, Abbott became the third Prime Minister of Canada. He was also the first Canadian Prime Minister to be born in Canada. With failing health, and despite being a highly effective Prime Minister, Abbott stepped down after a year in office.

Abbott passed away October 30, 1893.

Abbott was a member of St. Paul's No. 374, E.R. in Montreal, Quebec

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.