Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/McGee, Thomas D'Arcy

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McGEE, Thomas D'Arcy, statesman, b. in Carlingford, Ireland, 13 April, 1825; d. in Ottawa, Canada, 7 April, 1868. He was educated at Wexford, where his father was employed in the custom-house, emigrated to this country in 1842, and settled in Boston, where he wrote for the “Pilot,” a Roman Catholic newspaper, and soon became its editor. On his return to Ireland soon afterward he became parliamentary correspondent of the Dublin “Freeman's Journal,” and, identifying himself with the Young Ireland party, joined the staff of “The Nation” newspaper. In 1847 he made himself conspicuous by summoning a meeting to the Rotunda, Dublin, his object being to expose the later policy of Daniel O'Connell. Toward the end of 1848, having become compromised by the part he had taken in the Young Ireland movement, he made good his escape to the United States; and in New York he established a newspaper called “The American Celt,” and afterward “The Nation,” advocating the claims of Ireland to independent nationality. During the “Know-Nothing” excitement of 1854-'6 his views underwent a radical change, and he became an ardent royalist. He then removed to Canada, where he was gladly welcomed, established a paper called “The New Era,” and in 1857 was elected to the Canadian parliament as one of the members for Montreal. In 1864 he was made president of the executive council, which office he continued to hold till 1867. He took an active part in the movement that resulted in the confederation of the British North American colonies, framing the draft of the plan of union that was substantially adopted. He was re-elected after the union and sent to the parliament of Ottawa. McGee had rendered himself obnoxious to the members of the Fenian secret society, and on the evening of 7 April, 1868, when returning from a night session of parliament, he was assassinated at the door of his hotel. He was a man of more than ordinary culture, which was fully recognized. At the Paris exhibition in 1855, and at the Dublin exhibition in 1864, he represented Canada in the capacity of chief commissioner. His contributions to literature were “Historical Sketches of O'Connell and his Friends” (Dublin, 1845); “Irish Writers of the Seventeenth Century” (1846); “Memoir of the Life and Conquests of MacMurrough, King of Leinster” (1847); “Irish Letters” (New York, 1852); “Life of Edward Maginn, Coadjutor Bishop of Derry” (Montreal, 1857); “Canadian Ballads” (1858); “Popular History of Ireland” (New York, 1862); and “Speeches and Addresses on the British American Union” (London, 1865). A volume of his poems, with an introduction by Mrs. D. J. Sadlier, appeared after his death (New York, 1870).