Castles in the air: the life, times and influence of the Reverend Moses Harvey (1820-1901).

Armour, James Edward (2016) Castles in the air: the life, times and influence of the Reverend Moses Harvey (1820-1901). Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The period from 1874 to 1901 was a time of significant transition in the economic and political life of Newfoundland. Twenty years into responsible government and with Confederation on the backburner, the colony’s politicians turned their attention to economic diversification, landward development and carving out the island’s place in the British Empire. The period saw both economic prosperity and retrenchment; the construction of a trans-insular railway; the adoption of policies to foster agriculture, forestry, manufacturing and mining; and diplomatic efforts to resolve France’s outstanding claims on the northwest coast of the island. At the same time, the government made an attempt to intervene directly in its primary industry, the fisheries. It created a Fisheries Commission in 1889 that recommended conservation measures and artificial propagation as ways to restore the health of some of the island’s fish stocks. They also proposed new methods of curing, packaging and marketing Newfoundland’s cod, as well as a complete overhaul of the truck system. A major player in both the public and private debates surrounding all of these subjects was the Reverend Moses Harvey. Along with being minister of the Free Church of Scotland in St. John’s, Harvey was one of Newfoundland’s most active promoters in the late nineteenth century. He served as the media mouthpiece for both Prime Minister William Whiteway and Prime Minister Robert Thorburn; editing the Evening Mercury – the official organ of the Liberal Party and then the Reform Party – from 1882 to 1883 and 1885 until 1890. As well, Harvey wrote regular columns on Newfoundland issues for newspapers in London, New York, Boston, Montreal, Toronto, and Halifax. He also produced numerous books, articles, encyclopedia entries, and travel guides outlining the island’s attractions and its vast economic potential. In short, Harvey made a significant contribution in shaping the way residents and the outside world viewed Newfoundland during this period. This thesis examines late nineteenth-century Newfoundland through the writing of Moses Harvey. The biographical approach offers a fuller, more nuanced account of some of the major historical themes of the period including the politics of progress, opening up the interior, railway construction and attitudes toward the fisheries. It also provides an insider’s prospective on what led to some of the major political decisions, policy positions or compromises taken by the Whiteway and Thorburn governments. Finally, a more detailed review of Harvey’s work exposes the practical and political differences that he had with people like D.W. Prowse and Bishop Michael Howley. While these so-called “boomers” in Newfoundland’s historiography agreed on broad themes, they parted ways over what should be done with the fisheries and how best to channel the colony’s growing sense of nationalism.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 12058
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 238-251).
Keywords: Nineteenth Century Newfoundland, Politics, Economic development, Railway, Fisheries management, Science, Journalism, Presbyterian, Intellectual history, Mining, Biography
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: April 2016
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Harvey, M. (Moses), 1820-1901--Bibliography; Newfoundland and Labrador--History--19th century; Newfoundland and Labrador--Politics and government--19th century; Atlantic cod fisheries--Newfoundland and Labrador--History--19th century

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