Henry Emmerson

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Not to be confused with Henry Read Emmerson.
Henry Robert Emmerson
HREmmersonWIK.jpg
H. R. Emerson, Premier of New Brunswick
9th Premier of New Brunswick
In office
October 29, 1897 – August 31, 1900
Monarch Victoria
Lieutenant Governor Abner Reid McClelan
Preceded by James Mitchell
Succeeded by Lemuel J. Tweedie
Personal details
Born (1853-09-25)September 25, 1853
Maugerville, New Brunswick
Canada Canada
Died July 9, 1914(1914-07-09) (aged 60)
Dorchester, New Brunswick
Canada Canada
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Emily Charlotte Record
Children Barbra Emmerson, Henry Read Emmerson
Religion Baptist

Henry Robert Emmerson, PC (September 25, 1853 – July 9, 1914) was a New Brunswick lawyer, businessman, politician, and philanthropist.

Henry Emmerson was educated at Amherst Academy, Mount Allison Academy, St. Joseph's College, Acadia College and earned a law degree from Boston University. He went on to a lucrative law practice and was heavily involved in business. He was involved in woollen manufacturing, was a director of the Maritime Baptist Publishing Company Limited, president of the New Brunswick Petroleum Company Limited, the Acadia Coal and Coke Company, and the Sterling Coal Company, as well as a director of the Record Foundry and Machine Company.

He attempted to win a seat in the Canadian House of Commons in 1887 but was unsuccessful. The next year he was elected to the provincial legislature then after the win was contested by his opponent and a new election contest ordered in 1889, Emmerson won the seat. In 1891 he was appointed to the Legislative Council of the province and oversaw its abolition. He re-entered the House of Assembly and in October 1892 was appointed to the Executive Council, serving as Chief Commissioner of Public Works in the Liberal government of Premier Andrew George Blair.

As commissioner, Emmerson stopped the practice of building bridges out of wood and opted for more permanent, and more expensive, materials thus driving up the province's public debt. He also supported women's suffrage.

Emmerson became Premier in 1897. During his tenure, he briefly held the position of Attorney-General. His government tried to promote tourism and wheat farming and the development of natural gas and petroleum in the province. In 1899, he introduced legislation to grant women the right to vote but in a free vote, the bill was defeated.

Emmerson left provincial politics in 1900 to become a Liberal MP in the Canadian House of Commons. From 1904 to 1907 he was minister of railway and canals in the federal cabinet of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Although he was regarded as brilliant, capable, and personable, his alcoholism and reputation as a womanizer hampered his career. In 1906, an exasperated Laurier had Emmerson sign a pledge that he would "never . . . again taste wine, beer or any other mixed or intoxicating liquor" and that he would provide the prime minister with an undated and signed letter of resignation to be used should he fail in his promise. The letter of resignation was invoked in 1907 after the Fredericton, New Brunswick Daily Gleaner newspaper reported that Emmerson was thrown out of a Montreal hotel with "two women of ill repute". He denied the allegations but on April 1 submitted his resignation from Cabinet, which Laurier accepted. Emmerson filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against the Daily Gleaner for defamation and libel.

Henry Emerson remained a member of parliament for another seven years until his death in 1914. In his later years, Emmerson donated the money to build a new library at Acadia University that was named in honour of his father, the Rev. Robert Henry Emmerson.

His son, Henry Read Emmerson, was also elected to the Canadian House of Commons and was appointed to the Senate of Canada.

References[edit]

Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Henry Absalom Powell
Member of Parliament from Westmorland
1900–1914
Succeeded by
Arthur Bliss Copp