Editor Daily News,
Dear Sir - Although uneducated and unable to put into words what I feel towards this old island of ours, I would like to say something in her defence before Referendum Day.
First, I would like to say a word about our number one enemy. I have never seen him and hope I never will, but years ago I had a great respect for him. I thought that he was a real Newfoundlander, up right and down straight, but today he is lower in my estimation than the traditional yellow dog.
I've listened to him as barrelman, telling us to have more respect for our country and for ourselves. One night in particular stands out in my memory: he was telling us to forget our inferiority complex and stand up to the Americans and Canadians (then on our shores), as man to man and equals. By the time his fifteen minutes were up, I was six inches taller, and shouted good for you, Joey Smallwood, would to God there were more Newfoundlanders like you. But apparently, Sir, the impossible has happened. The Leopard has changed his spots, and he who taught us to have respect for our country now advises us to crawl on our bellies like snakes and cry to Canada to take us in and look after us.
I am afraid, Sir, if we listen to the ex-barrelman the children of future generations will read our history, and curse us for selling our birthright and theirs.
I can thank God however, that I won't have to face the shame of saying to my boy: Son, I sold you to Canada for a bonus, even before you were born.
Sir, I am a seaman, started when I was fourteen years and six months old. I have battled storms, fogs, snows, and ice for thirty-eight years, winter and summer without a break, am still doing it. Several times when night fell I didn't think I would be afloat and breathing when daylight broke; have been wrecked more than once, on our wild shores, and yet I love every rock, hill and stump of our old island home.
I have sailed over the greater part of this globe, have visited many beautiful countries, seen and talked with their peoples, but one gets no thrill out of it. It was their country, their home, and after months and perhaps years one sails back and on raising our old rugged coast, ah, how different that feeling is, the old ticker gives an extra beat, and as you gaze at the mountains perhaps through a thin curtain of fog, something sort of swells up inside you and you are half choked, and proud to say that is my country, that is my home.
If all the people looked at this thing seriously, Sir, they would see that we can't barter or sell this country, for one simple reason it is not wholly ours to sell. Hundreds of our fathers, brothers and sons, whose blood stains the beaches and fields of France still hold a stake in this old rock. Hove [sic] we as a people, sunk so low that we would sell over their graves the country they died for?
I would cry to our people: No, we can't do it and keep faith with our dead; we can't do it and hold our honour.
So, people, let us not sell our country, the crime would be just as black as if we sold our mother.
I would plead with every man and woman in our land to have more faith in God, more faith in our fellow countrymen, more faith in ourselves. And let us elect our own people, to govern our own country, and let us see to it, that those who we elect do a faithful and honest job. We can do it. If every man and woman in this country worked hard and honestly, only Almighty God could prevent us making this land a better place to live in. And if we do the job honestly, we are sure of His blessing. So to all our people, I would say, let us make one last desperate effort to hold our country, our self respect and our honour. And to Newfoundland I would say: God bless you.
May 25, 1948.
Reproduced by permission of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. From "Have Faith," The Daily News, 29 May 1948, p. 6.