This is the story of an easy-going Sydney politician, with a reputation for indulging in the pleasures of the table and enjoying a game of cricket, who became possessed by one enduring enthusiasm. That passion, maintained over almost two decades, was to forge a new country from a collection of British colonies.
How did Edmund Barton, only one of tbe many who contributed to the federal cause, come to be regarded as its actual and symbolic leader? In the company of men like Henry Parkes, Samuel Griffiths, George Reid and Alfred Deakin, Barton was by no measure the most flamboyant or forceful of these campaigners. So what led the supporters of Federation to acknowledge the man caricatured in the press as 'Tosspot Toby' as the necessary man, 'the one man for the job' of the first prime minister of the Commonwealth of Australia?
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