When John A MacDonald died, the Conservative party looked for a new leader. Charles Tupper and John Thompson both successfully declined the job for different reasons but Sir John Abbott although also not enthusiastic about taking the position, was convinced to take the reins of power.
Abbot understood that he was chosen "because I am not particularly obnoxious to anybody, something like the principle on which it is reported some men are selected as candidates for the Presidency of the United States...that they are harmless and have not made any enemies."
Abbot was a in the Senate and 70 years old when he became Prime Minister. He was from Quebec and had opposed Confederation and had in fact supported joining the United States. Abbot was unique in that he was the first Canadian Prime Minister who ruled from the Senate.
Abbot was unfortunate in that as he took power another recession was setting in and the Canadian economy ground to a halt. The other challenging issue that was again raising its head was the Manitoba school question which dated back to the entry of Manitoba into Confederation and the guarantee to fund the Catholic schools in the province. The problem arose in the massive influx of Protestants into Manitoba form Ontario and Britain. MacDonald had managed to avoid the issue by referring it to the courts but the final Privy council in London had the final say when they upheld Manitoba's law which eliminated French as an official language in the province and created a single school system of non-sectarian schools.
Abbot was worn out by these issues and decided to get out. He resigned and left for Europe to restore his health. He died the following year.