William Stevens Fielding

(1848—1929) journalist and politician in Canada

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(1848–1929), Nova Scotia premier 1884–96. Born in Halifax, Fielding became one of the leading political figures of his generation. He began his career in 1864 as an anti-Confederate journalist with the Halifax Morning Chronicle, and became managing editor in 1874, articulating Liberal policy and attacking the provincial Conservative government. In 1882 he successfully contested a seat in the Nova Scotia legislature, and two years later assumed the premiership. He is best remembered for leading a campaign for repeal of the British North America Act during the 1886 election campaign. Despite winning a solid majority on the repeal ticket, the campaign for independence quickly faltered. Fielding then championed reciprocal trade with the United States. In 1896 Fielding entered federal politics as finance minister in the Laurier government, where he worked to encourage freer access to both British and American markets. In 1910 he successfully negotiated a reciprocity treaty with the United States, but the defeat of the government in 1911 scuttled the arrangement. Despite eventual defeat in both his repeal and reciprocity campaigns, Fielding was considered a logical successor to Wilfrid Laurier. Once more his hopes were dashed. In 1919 Fielding lost the Liberal leadership to W. L. Mackenzie King in a close vote.

From The Oxford Companion to Canadian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: History of the Americas.

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