'The member from Michigan': The unofficial diplomacy and political isolation of John Charlton, 1892-1903

Authors
Citation
E. Kohn, 'The member from Michigan': The unofficial diplomacy and political isolation of John Charlton, 1892-1903, CAN HIST R, 82(2), 2001, pp. 283-306
Citations number
30
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
History
Journal title
CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
ISSN journal
0008-3755 → ACNP
Volume
82
Issue
2
Year of publication
2001
Pages
283 - 306
Database
ISI
SICI code
0008-3755(200106)82:2<283:'MFMTU>2.0.ZU;2-T
Abstract
In 1891, Liberal Party leader Wilfrid Laurier asked John Charlton, a wealth y lumberman and member of parliament for North Norfolk, Ontario, to travel to Washington to discuss with American politicians the prospect of establis hing trading reciprocity. Charlton, a long-time advocate of Canadian-Americ an free trade, had formed contacts with many leading American men during hi s private trips to press for the dismantling of barriers against the import ation of lumber. Charlton's Washington trips were criticized by the Tories, who labelled the American-born MP the 'Member from Michigan' and the 'Yank ee traitor'. Moreover, , historians have criticized Charlton for his often bumbling and self-serving informal diplomacy. Yet Laurier sought to exploit Charlton's self-interest for his own political goals. He sent Charlton on largely useless missions as a sop to Liberal free-traders, just as protecti onists became ascendant both in Washington and within the Liberal Party. Mo reover, Laurier promised Charlton official recognition for his work, either in the form of a commissionership to Washington or a cabinet post. After t he Liberal election of 1896, however, Charlton became frustrated with the l ack of progress on reciprocity, as well as with Laurier's broken promises o f preferment. Increasingly isolated within the party, Charlton virtually br oke from the Liberals in the 1900 election. An examination of Charlton's wo rk as unofficial envoy for Laurier offers valuable insights into Liberal Pa rty politics and Canadian-American relations at the turn of the century.