The political history of Newfoundland 1861-1869

Moulton, Edward C. (1960) The political history of Newfoundland 1861-1869. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The 1860’s were important years in the history of Newfoundland. In 1861, six years after the establishment of responsible government, Newfoundland was torn by one of the worst periods of civil strife in her history following the Governor’s dismissal of his Liberal, and predominantly Roman Catholic, Government and their replacement by a Protestant Conservative Executive Council. Before the sectarian and political turmoil had completely subsided, the question of confederating with the other British North American colonies was introduced into local politics. In 1865, partly as a result of the agreement among leaders of both parties on confederation, a coalition government, the first to include Liberals and Conservatives was formed. From that time the principle of the distribution of patronage and administrative offices in proportion to the strengths of the religious denominations was put into operation—a system which has proved over the years to be a workable solution to the problem of minimizing denominational jealousy. Confederation was the dominant issue until 1869 when the colony decided, by a general election, not to join the Dominion of Canada. Problems relating to French rights in Newfoundland remained unsettled and disputes were likely to erupt at any time as the demand for greater Newfoundland control over the French Shore increased. The first determined and successful effort to establish more effective control over the large dependency of Labrador was made in the 1860’s. Throughout most of the period the colony was experiencing an economic depression and this resulted in serious financial problems for the Government. – The first chapter of the thesis gives the political and economic background of the period and summarizes the chief events from the introduction of responsible government in 1855 to the dismissal of the Liberal administration in 1861. It stresses the political and sectarian bitterness, the instability of the economy, and the problem of French rights in Newfoundland. The next chapter traces the events which led to the dismissal of the Liberal administration by the Governor and the third describes the strife which followed that action. The fourth and sixth chapters deal with the administrations of Hugh W. Hoyles and F.B.T. Carter. They are, in the main, concerned with economic and financial matters, legislation, party politics, the French Shore, and Labrador. Two chapters are devoted to confederation. The first deals with Newfoundland participation in the Quebec conference, the reaction of the public and the Legislature of the colony, and the postponement of a decision during the sessions of 1865, 1866, and 1867. The second chapter on confederation deals with the adoption of terms of union by the Newfoundland Legislature in 1869, negotiating with the Canadian Government, and the hard fought general election of that year in which the anti-confederates were victorious. Many of the political, economic, and social problems confronting Newfoundland in 1861 remained unsolved in 1869, but the thesis shows that there was, nonetheless, progress in the colony during these years and that there was a most important increase in political stability.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 1658
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [325]-337
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 1960
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Newfoundland and Labrador--History--1855-1934; Newfoundland and Labrador--Politics and government--1855-1934

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