William Lyon Mackenzie King

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I. Introduction

William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950) was the tenth prime minister of Canada. William Lyon Mackenzie King led Canada's Liberal Party from 1919 to 1948. He achieved many great feats. His greatest accomplishment was the preservation of unity between Canada's French-speaking parts and English-speaking parts

II. Early Life

King was born in Berlin, Ontario, in 1874. (Berlin is now Kitchener.) He was named after his grandfather, William Lyon Mackenzie, a leader in an unsuccessful 1837 rebellion against British rule. King's father came from a family that was loyal to Britain.

In 1891, King went to the University of Toronto to study economics and government. He won a scholarship to the University of Chicago and he also furthered his studies at Harvard University.

In Toronto and in Chicago, King was shocked by the poverty of "big cities". In the summer of 1897, he acquired a job as a reporter for the Toronto Mail and Empire and made a study of circumstances in the garment business.

He found that the contractors for postmen's uniforms ran some of the worst sweatshops. King told the facts to a postmaster general who was a family friend, Sir William Mulock, and suggested that a fair-wage clause be included in future contracts. Sir William Mulock took the advice. In 1900, Sir William Mulock invited W.L Mackenzie King to direct Canada's first department of labor. King gladly accepted and at the age of 25 became deputy minister of labor.

III. Early Career

A. Civil Servant

For the next eight years, King remained a civil servant, working to develop labor conditions all over the country. He helped resolve about 40 strikes, and he planned the labor legislation.

Although technically a civil servant, King was deeply engaged in politics and was interested in little else. In 1908...