Peter Mitchell (politician)
|Premier of the Colony of New Brunswick|
|Preceded by||Albert James Smith|
|Succeeded by||Andrew Rainsford Wetmore (Premier of the Province of New Brunswick)|
|Senator for New Brunswick, New Brunswick|
October 23, 1867 – July 13, 1872
|Appointed by||Royal Proclamation|
|Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Northumberland County, New Brunswick
|Succeeded by||Jabez Bunting Snowball|
|Preceded by||Jabez Bunting Snowball|
|Succeeded by||Michael Adams|
January 24, 1824|
Newcastle, New Brunswick
|Died||October 25, 1899
|Spouse(s)||Isabella Gough, née Carvell (m. 1853)|
|Children||1 daughter (d. 24 October 1899)|
|Cabinet||Minister of Marine and Fisheries (1867–1873)|
He was born of Scottish parents at Newcastle in the county of Northumberland, New Brunswick, on 24 January 1824. He was educated at the Quebec grammar school; he studied law and was called to the bar of the province of New Brunswick in 1848. He practised his profession for four years, and then entered into partnership with a Mr. Hawe in the business of lumbering and shipbuilding. 
Mitchell ran again in 1856 as an opponent of prohibition, which had been proposed by the government. He carried a pistol for protection during the campaign and rum for his supporters. He was successful in this election. In the legislature, Mitchell opposed denominational schools and supported the creation of municipal government. He became a member of the Executive Council in 1859, and introduced the colony's first bankruptcy act in order to make things easier for debtors. Mitchell did not run for re-election in 1861, but was soon appointed to the Legislative Council (the colony's Upper House) and rejoined the Executive Council.
While attending the Quebec Conference of 1864, Peter Mitchell was a strong supporter of Canadian confederation. He resigned from the Executive Council in 1865 when the pro-Confederation government of Samuel Leonard Tilley was defeated, and helped lieutenant-governor Arthur Hamilton Gordon force the resignation of the anti-Confederation government of Albert J. Smith in 1866. Gordon appointed Mitchell as the new premier. Mitchell asked Gordon to call an election, and he and his Confederation Party were returned with a majority that approved the participation of the colony in the Canadian confederation in 1867. 
Mitchell attended the London Conference, which drafted the British North America Act. He was appointed to the new Canadian Senate for its inaugural session in July 1867. Mitchell became a member of Sir John A. Macdonald's first cabinet as minister of marine and fisheries. He was an aggressive defender of Canadian interests, and contested foreign fishing in Canadian waters to the extent of using gunboats to seize American vessels. 
Mitchell resigned from the Senate in 1872 to run for a seat in the Canadian House of Commons where he felt he would have more influence. He was acclaimed in a by-election, but in 1873 the Macdonald government fell due to the Pacific Scandal. Mitchell abandoned the Liberal-Conservative Party of Macdonald and declared himself an independent Member of Parliament (MP). He had little influence as an independent, and was distrusted by both Conservatives and Liberals.
Mitchell resigned his seat in 1878 after being accused of violating the Independence of Parliament Act by leasing a building to the government while he was a senator. He re-offered in the subsequent by-election and was returned to parliament.
In 1885, Mitchell purchased the Montreal Herald and Daily Commercial Gazette, and used it to attack the policies of both Liberals and Conservatives. He also called for mercy for Louis Riel, and blamed Macdonald for causing the Riel Rebellion by not dealing with Métis complaints. He became a supporter of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and ran as a Liberal in the 1896 election but lost. Laurier made him general inspector of fisheries for Quebec and the Maritime provinces, and Mitchell held that position until his death in 1899.
In July 1899, as he was leaving the parliamentary buildings, Ottawa, he was stricken by paralysis. He seemed to recover, but on 25 October 1899, he was found dead in his rooms in the Windsor Hotel, Montreal. 
Peter Mitchell is mentioned in at least one Miramichi traditional song, 'Jeremiah of Bartibogue', in which the narrator proclaims "I am a true supporter of Peter Mitchell" and later in the same song "If I had all the votes that were cast around Chatham, I'd give them all and as many more, to see the honourable Peter Mitchell take the highest seat on the senate floor". This song appears in Louise Manny and James Reginald Wilson's 1968 book Songs of Miramichi.
In 1853, he married Mrs. Gough, a widow of St. John. New Brunswick; she died in 1889. 
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Browning, Thomas Blair (1901). "Mitchell, Peter". In Sidney Lee. Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement. London: Smith, Elder & Co.