Generalizing from Historical Data
The development of generalizations is a skill that is foundational to critical and analytical thinking. A generalization describes a relationship between two or more factors or situations. The historian often uses historical data to determine if a set of phenomena is causally related to another set of phenomena.
An intriguing question in the examination of results on the first and second referenda is whether religious groupings help to explain why people voted the way they did. One way to investigate this is to see if denominational data correlates well with referendum results.
The first referendum, conducted on June 3, 1948, concluded with the responsible government being the preferred option, but with a plurality. Commission of Government was the choice for 22, 311 voters (14.32%), Confederation with Canada for 64,066 voters (41.13%), and Responsible Government for 69,400 voters (44.55%). The fight during the first referendum campaign was based largely on economic issues. Confederates argued that confederation would bring improved housing, water and sewer, family allowances, better transportation, more markets for goods, reduced taxation, and increased employment. Of course, those favoring Responsible Government argued otherwise, reminding voters that if the they won, they could then choose independence, economic union with the United States, or even confederation with Canada.
Once it was obvious that a second referendum was necessary, a new campaign began. Commission of Government was dropped from the ballot, and the Confederate and Responsible Government groups vied for the votes of the third group. Although they continued to use economic arguments, another issue soon crept in: namely religious affiliation. During the first referendum, Roman Catholic Districts on the Avalon Peninsula solidly voted for Responsible Government. In some Protestant districts, concern was expressed, particularly by the Orangemen, that Roman Catholics would unduly influence the results of the referendum. This sentiment, often influenced by the Confederate whisper campaign, was a reaction to the stand of key leaders (e.g., Archbishop Roche) in the Roman Catholic Church.
In this lesson, students are required to see if there is a relationship between voting patterns and patterns in Roman Catholic share of the population. Before they begin, you may wish to have them construct a scattergraph to show if there is a direct, indirect or no relationship between two variables: Catholic share of the total district population (independent variable) and the percentage vote in the same district for Reponsible Government (dependent variable). Since a scattergraph gives only a visual impression of the strength of the relationship, a further "test" is necessary. Students are encouraged to use Spearman's rank correlation coefficient to determine the strength of the relationship. If the Roman Catholic vote is the prime causal factor in how people voted, the correlation coefficient would be +1.00 (i.e., the higher the percentage Catholic, the higher the percentage who voted in favor of responsible government). A coefficient of -1.00 would indicate an indirect relationship between the two variables. A value of 0.00 would indicate that there is no relationship.
By engaging in these processes, students will achieve the following outcomes:
Canadian History 1201
Social Studies Skills
This lesson also promotes the following social studies skills:
Interpreting Visual Format
For students who may have difficulty with the analysis of statistics, the following steps are suggested: