Interpreting Folk Songs in History
People who experience an important historical event may
express their views or perspectives in the form of folk songs.
Such songs may be simple, but historians often find them a rich source of
information about how people felt,
and how they expressed their feelings and opinions.
Because feelings ran high during the confederation debate, it is not
surprising that events, issues, and opinions were expressed in song.
On April 5, 1948, The Independent carried the
"Hero of '48".
The Confederate carried the
"Battle Song of Newfoundland"
on May 12, 1948.
People who feel strongly about an issue use a variety of techniques
to convince the listener of the superiority of their viewpoint.
Some techniques will rely on honest, reasonable arguments; others
may distract the reader from the real issues. Some techniques
- Everyone is doing this or agrees with this position.
- Categorical statements
- These statements are presented as if they are absolutely true and
- Deductive reasoning
- Since two statements are true, then the third statement is true (e.g.,
if a and b are true, then c is true). If there is no connection
between the statements, then this technique is flawed.
- Personal attack
- A statement may attack an individual personally rather than
challenge his or her ideas.
- A statement that refers to a famous person or group in order to
support a position or opinion.
The following exercises will help you to find evidence of these
"The Hero of '48"
"Battle Song of Newfoundland", an
anti-confederate and a pro-confederate song respectively.
- a) The Hero of '48"
Find an example of each of the following:
b) In this song, what use is made of stereotyping?
- personal attack
- categorical statement
- deductive reasoning
- a) "Battle Song of Newfoundland"
b) Why is personification used extensively in this song?
- In verses one, three, five and eight, identify the techniques used to support the arguments.