In 1818, on this day the leading advocate of responsible government in British North America George Brown was born in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland.
Birth of George Brown, father of responsible governmentAfter managing a printing operation in New York with his father, he moved to Southern Ontario in 1843. He founded the Banner in 1843, and "The Globe" in 1844 which quickly became a leading Reform newspaper.
In a time when royal governors still ruled with personal authority, Colonial thought had finally caught up with the idea of local representation; for example Lord Metcalfe argued that his Council of Ministers, and their Legislature, must win every election in order to remain in power. But Brown rejected this development, demanding instead that the Council of Ministers should only be held accountable by the Legislature which of course was the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy.
The idea fired the popular imagination of separatists across the eastern seaboard, reigniting the extinguished "Spirit of 1776". Within twenty years, the Colonial office would not only accept the principle of governors as figureheads, but began to entertain the broader issue of self-rule across North America.
Brown himself would not live to see such an exhilariating future.
On March 25, 1880, a former Globe employee, George Bennett, dismissed by a foreman, tried to shoot Brown at the Globe office. Luckily, Brown caught his hand and pushed the gun down. Unfortunately, Bennett managed to shoot Brown in the leg.
What seemed to be a minor injury turned gangrenous, and seven weeks later Brown died from the wound. Buried at Necropolis, he rests but a short distance from the largest hub in the North American Confederation, the George Brown International Airport in the capital city of York.