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    An Irish catholic bishop blesses the victory of a protestant Scottish politician

    Catholic and protestant friction was often raw in nineteenth century Canada, and perhaps no more so than in St. John’s, Newfoundland. So it was a rare incident of political ecumenism when the city’s predominantly Irish Catholics elected a Scottish Presbyterian to the colony’s Legislative Council. The Catholic candidate was a Mr. Hogan and the Presbyterian was Dr. Carson. An excerpt from Dr. Carson’s election victory speech was published in the Newfoundland Patriot, and reprinted in the Toronto Canadian Correspondent and Advocate, March 29, 1834.

    No longer shall the free householders of Newfoundland be marshalled in tens, and driven like a herd of cattle to the hustings. No longer shall our proud, overbearing aristocrats, of whom we have now only a very few, strut along their wharfs, like eastern bashaws, collecting around them, their servants, their clerks, their planters, to say to them “you must either vote for ——— or quite my service; you must sacrifice your consciences at the shrine of my cupidity, or starve.” No longer shall freemen be locked up in committee rooms, until the commanding work tally is pronounced, to be dragged forth and guarded to the poll, to give an unwilling suffrage. Was this freedom, gentlemen? It was the very mockery of freedom. It was despotism.

    On Saturday when I perambulated the Town of St. John’s, attended by thousands of my friends, the lovers of liberty, we considered it our first duty, to pay our respects to the head of the Catholic church; he received us at the gate of his palace, his head uncovered, his countenance, as usual, beaming with intelligence and benevolence. I shall never forget the cordial grasp of his hand. He addressed the multitude in his usual style of eloquence and strongly recommended me to the cause of liberty, of the poor and oppressed. A Catholic Bishop and an Irishman blessed the cause of a Presbyterian and a Scotchman.


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    TAGS: Politics, Elections, Religion, Catholicism, Protestantism, Ecumenism, St. John’s, Newfoundland


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