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SIR FRANCIS HINCKS (1807-1885)

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 477 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR FRANCIS HINCKS (1807-1885), Canadian statesman, was born at Cork, Ireland, the son of an Irish Presbyterian minister. In 1832 he engaged in business in Toronto, became a friend of Robert Baldwin, and in 1835 was chosen to examine the accounts of the Welland Canal, the management of which was being attacked by W. L. Mackenzie. This turned his attention to political life and in 1838 he founded the Examiner, a weekly paper in the Liberal interest. In 1841 he was elected M.P. for the county of Oxford, and in the following year was appointed inspector-general, the title then borne by the finance minister, but in 1843 resigned with Baldwin and the other ministers on the question of responsible government. In 1848 he again became inspector-general in the Baldwin-Lafontaine ministry, and on their retirement in 1851 became premier of Canada, his chief colleague being A. N. Morin (1803-1865). While premier he was prominent in the negotiations which led to the construction of the Grand Trunk railway, and in co-operation with Lord Elgin negotiated with the United States the reciprocity treaty of 1854. In the same year the bitter hostility of the " Clear Grits " under George Brown compelled his resignation, and he was prominent in the formation of the Liberal-Conservative Party. In 1855 he was chosen governor of Barbados and the Windward Islands, and subsequently governor of British Guiana. In 1869 he was created K.C.M.G. and returned to Canada, becoming till 1873 finance minister in the cabinet of Sir John Macdonald. In February of that year he resigned, but continued to take an active part in public life. In 1879 the failure of the Consolidated Bank of Canada, of which he was president, led to his being tried for issuing false statements. Though found guilty on a technicality (see Journal of the Canadian Bankers' Association, April 1906) judgment was suspended, his personal credit remained unimpaired, and he continued to take part in the discussion of public questions till his death on the 18th of August 1885. His writings include: The Political History of Canada between r84o and 1855 (1877); The Political Destiny of Canada (1878), and his Reminiscences (1884).
End of Article: SIR FRANCIS HINCKS (1807-1885)
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