Thomas D'Arcy McGee played an important role in the accomplishment of Confederation in Canada. Known both for his political prowess and his skill at poetry, McGee was an extremely talented speaker and has been called "the most gifted orator ever to sit in Canada's Parliament".
Born in Ireland to a coastguardsman, he fled at the age of 17 to North America due to the famine ravaging his homeland. After immigrating into the U.S., McGee found work in the newspaper industry and two years later became the editor of the Boston Herald. In 1845, he returned to Ireland as editor of the Nation, a nationalist newspaper in Dublin. However, after only two years back in Ireland he once again had to leave after limited involvement in the failed revolt of the Young Ireland Party in 1848. Travelling disguised as a priest he returned to the United States.
Upon his return McGee spent time editing at several newspapers around the country. Five years later he moved to Montreal and began his own paper named New Era. In the paper he called for the federation of the British North American Colonies, a transcontinental railroad service, increased settling of the West, and the development of distinctive Canadian literature.
McGee was elected into the Legislative Assembly in the Province of Canada in 1858. He acted as president of the council in 1862-1863 and minister of agriculture from 1864 until Confederation. He was also part of the Great Coalition along with John A. Macdonald and George-Etienne Cartier.
McGee was assassinated in 1868 by Fenian radical, P.J. Whelan for his public denouncements of the violent tactics of the Fenians, the first such assassination in Canada.