Edmund Barton, was born in Sydney on 18 January 1849 and qualified as a lawyer from the University of Sydney after lecturing in Classics. A passionate politician, Barton was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales in 1879, becoming Speaker of the House between 1883 and 1887. After losing the 1887 election, he became a member of the Legislative Council in the same year.
Barton became leader of the Australasian Federation League. Barton re-entered the Legislative Assembly in 1891, only to lose again in 1894. This gave him the opportunity to devote himself more fully to political issues, speaking at the Bathurst Peoples Convention in 1894. He ran for election to the 1897 Federation Convention, elected as the first New South Wales representative
At the Constitutional Convention held in Adelaide on 23 April 1897, after steering the draft constitution through detailed discussions Barton said:
'We all lose something; we all gain something, not only in the method
and manner of Federation, but our gain is limitless, if we are to
consider, as we must, what the outcome of Federation will be to all
Barton was joined by Deakin and Kingston as the three member delegation sent to Westminster to negotiate the Constitution Bill. Barton's legal knowledge was valuable in the appeals to the Privy Council during the bill's passage.
Barton was appointed Prime Minister by Governor General Lord Hopetoun on 1 January 1901. He resigned from the position as Prime Minister in September 1903, because of health concerns. He then became a High Court Judge, a post he held till his death on 7 January 1920.