The influence of religion in the politics of Newfoundland, 1850-1861.

Greene, John Carrick (1970) The influence of religion in the politics of Newfoundland, 1850-1861. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The Liberal campaign for self-government in Newfoundland made great headway in the early 1850’s only after the Roman Catholic Church undertook to campaign in its behalf. While that alliance, in a Colony almost evenly divided between Catholics and Protestants, ensured a strong base of support for the Liberals at the same time official Catholic opposition to the government tended to confine the reform movement to a sectarian cause. Past experience had demonstrated that the partnership with the conservative “Church of Rome” had proven damaging to Liberalism while the Catholic Bishop had proven unable to restrain his lust for domination thereby tending to alienate Protestants from the Liberal Party. When the latter, therefore, earnestly began the fight for Responsible Government after 1850 the Conservatives resisted the movement as a Catholic plot to gain ascendancy and attempted to organize Protestants in an effort to depict the reform campaign as a purely religious struggle. Limited success, however, was accomplished in this regard as religious dissentions split the Protestant community from within while the presence of more tolerant and compromising leadership, both within the Catholic Church and the Liberal Party, made it possible for the latter to take advantage of Protestant disunity and acquire non-Roman Catholic support. Thus the liberals were able to broaden their denominational appeal and win Responsible Government in 1855. -- However, the assumption of power by the Liberals became, in a sense, the means to their downfall as their dependence on Roman Catholics was clearly underlined by the denominational character of their political appointments. While this tended to hasten ‘Protestant Union’ at the same time the conflicts which had theretofore divided the Protestant community became resolved. In addition, rivalries among Protestant denominations became replaced by dissensions within Catholic Liberal ranks as the more liberal, independent Catholics opposed the ascendancy of the Bishop supported, conservative, Irish Catholics. When the Roman Catholic Bishop, therefore, attempted to mold a party more completely subject to his views independent Catholics revolted and rejected his interference. While the Liberal Party officially supported Bishop Mullock in an attempt to unite Catholics by a religious campaign the Conservatives took advantage of the resulting disunion to draw off Protestant support and bring the down fall of the Liberals in 1861.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 10576
Additional Information: Bibliography : leaves [159]-161.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 1970
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Religion and politics--Newfoundland and Labrador.

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