Alternate History

Newfoundland (Pitt's Reality)

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Territory of Newfoundland (Disputed-1824)

Newfoundland was originally contested between numerous European powers. Although originally fishing was unorganized and carried out by independant captains, in the 1620s the considerable investments of the British Sir George Calvert, 1st Baron of Baltimore, led to the construction of fishing wharves and storage sheds, which would eventually blossom into British fishing communities. This settlement was not matched by the French of Spanish Basques, who also frequently fished in these waters. Frequent French raids cut the profits of British colonization; attention would be redirected to the colony of Maryland by the British Admiralty. Sir David Kirke, a small scale entrepreneur, became the first British governor of the island in 1639.A triangular trade with New England, the West Indies, and Europe gave Newfoundland an important economic role. By the 1670s there were 1700 permanent residents and another 4500 in the summer months.

Newfoundland cod formed one leg of a triangular trade that sent cod to Spain and the Mediterranean, and wine, fruit, olive oil, and cork to England. Dutch ships were especially active 1620-1660 in what was called the "sack trade." A ship of 250 tons could earn 14% profit on the Newfoundland to Spain leg, and about the same on goods it then took from Spain to England. The Atlantic was stormy and risky; the risk was spread mostly by selling shares.

Before 1700 the "admiral" system provided the government. The first captain arriving in a particular bay was in charge of allocating suitable shoreline sites for curing fish. The system faded away after 1700. Fishing-boat captains competed to arrive first from Europe in an attempt to become the admiral; soon merchants left crewmen behind at the prime shoreline locations to lay claim to the sites. This led to "bye-boat" fishing: local, small-boat crews fished certain areas in the summer, claimed a strip of land as their own, and sold their catches to the migratory fishers. Bye-boat fishing thus became dominant, giving the island a semi-permanent population, and proved more profitable than migratory fishing. The fishing admirals system ended in 1729, when the Royal Navy sent in its officers to govern during the fishing season.

In the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), France acknowledged British ownership of the island. However, in the Seven Years War (1756–63), control of Newfoundland became a major source of conflict between Britain, France and
Cooks Karte von Neufundland
Spain who all pressed for a share in the valuable fishery there. Britain's victories around the globe led William Pitt to insist that nobody other than Britain should have access to Newfoundland. The Battle of Signal Hill was fought in Newfoundland in 1762, when a French force landed and tried to occupy the island, only to be repulsed by the British. In 1796 a Franco-Spanish expedition succeeded in raiding the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador. {C}[1][2]James Cook in 1763-4 made a survey of Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula and in 1775 created this map.[15]By the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), French fishermen were given the right to land and cure fish on the "French Shore" on the western coast. The Treaty of Hubertsburg relinquished their and the Basques's rights to fish in these waters after the conclusion of the Seven Years War in 1763.

Colony of Newfoundland (1817-1869)

Cod fishing remained dominant but sealing also became important after 1820, as specially designed ships sailed each spring to intercept the great herds of seals on their annual southern migrations. The northern outports grew in importance ("outport" is used for all fishing ports except St. John's). By the 1850s new formed local banks became a source of credit, replacing the haphazard system of credit from local merchants. Prosperity brought immigration, especially Catholics from Ireland who soon comprised 40% of the residents.

Newfoundland was now a permanent settlement requiring a more established government. No elections were allowed but courts of law were set up in 1791 and the first civilian governor was appointed in 1817. In 1832 representative government was established with an elected General Assembly and a nominated Legislative Council consisting entirely of royal officials appointed by London. Newfoundland received a colonial assembly in 1832, which was and still is referred to as the House of Assembly, after a fight led by reformers William Carson, Patrick Morris and John Kent.

William Carson (1770–1843) was a Scottish-born physician who came to the island in 1808. He called for the replacement of the system of arbitrary rule by naval commanders, seeking instead to have a resident governor and an elective legislature. Carson's systematic agitation helped win London's recognition of Newfoundland as a colony (1824) and the grant of elective house (1832). Carson was the reform leader in the House of Assembly (1834–1843, speaker 1837-1841). He served on the Executive Council (1842–1843).

The new government was unstable as the electorate was divided along religious and ethnic lines between the Catholic Irish and Protestant West Country populations of the colony. After religious riots in 1841 the Assembly was suspended. In 1842, the elected House of Assembly was amalgamated with the appointed Legislative Council. This was changed back after some agitation in 1848 to two separate chambers. After this, a movement for responsible government began. Canada and Nova Scotia obtained "responsible" government in 1848 (whereby the assembly had the final word, not the royal governor), and Newfoundland followed in 1855. Self-government was now a reality.

The Liberal Party, based on the Irish Catholic vote, alternated with the Conservatives, with its base among the merchant class and Protestants. With a prosperous population of 120,000, Newfoundlanders decided to pass in 1869 on joining the new confederation of Canada. With this, the Colony was declared the Dominion of Newfoundland; the head of state, the Governor-General, was to be appointed by the Legislative Council, while the head of domestic affairs was to be chosen by popular vote from among the House of Assembly.

Dominion of Newfoundland (1869-Present)

See: Dominion of Newfoundland
Newfoundland Tricolour

The Flag of Newfoundland, adopted 1914.

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