University of Tasmania
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The politics of grievance : society and political controversies in New South Wales, 1819-1827

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posted on 2023-05-26, 23:56 authored by Connor, Michael Charles
This thesis studies three controversies of the time and place, namely the settler's petition of 1819 and the subsequent questioning of the legal status of emancipists, the Dinnerist Crisis of 1825, and the Sudds-Thompson Case in 1826 ‚ÄövÑvÆ 1827. In background to the study stands a statement by Michael Roe, 'As settlement spread, the relative importance of the gaols declined and the penal method of government became inadequate. What new form of power was to take its place concerned all interests in the colonies' . 1 Although Roe was discussing the period 1835 to 1851 this concern with future power had long been present in the colony. In the period of this thesis that concern was expressed as a desire for the granting of constitutional reforms, particularly trial by jury and some form of representative government. When these demands were discussed the colony was troubled by a question, should the emancipated convicts be allowed to participate in these boons if they were granted? While following these political concerns, the individuals placed in the foreground of this study are examined and an attempt is made to delineate the personal within their public actions. Some of the familiar building blocks of colonial history are re-examined, and the claims are made that there were no 'exclusives', William Wentworth was not the author of a book which appeared over his name, and Laurence Hynes Halloran caused the SuddsThompson Case. The three clashes studied in this thesis occurred under the administration of different governors, Macquarie, Brisbane and Darling. They took place without, and with, a free press. Not all the same protagonists were involved in each dispute. The first two incidents appear to have common political aims, while the third protested against a parade ground ceremony and the death of a soldier. The law courts, public dinners, and iron collars served as occasions for colonial conflict and political manoeuvring. Each event was political, and personal. In 1819 an elite, a blended group of emancipated convicts and free emigrants, organized a widely supported settler petition. At the head of a wish list of commercial reforms they placed a plea for the introduction of trial by jury ‚ÄövÑvÆ whether the emancipated convicts were to take part was not clearly represented. Shortly afterwards, and as Commissioner Bigge was conducting his Inquiry for the Colonial Office, the legal rights of the freed convicts were disturbed as the implications of a London trial, Bullock v. Dodd, spread to the colony. The `dinnerist crisis' of 1825 occurred around the trivial matter of Governor Brisbane's departure from Sydney. A dinner organized to farewell him developed into a confrontation between factions. Then, at the end of 1826, the Darling government became enmeshed in the disastrous Sudds-Thompson Case. The thesis is largely drawn from an examination of primary sources, and suggests different perspectives and parameters for the study of colonial society. Throughout, it is argued that much of the accepted historiography is inaccurate, partial, and often based on confused chronology. Attention is particularly drawn to the increasing role of the newspapers, and their powers of choosing matters to dispute, their ability to sustain and direct argumentation, and their questionable legacy as historical sources. Also, two men, Edward Eagar and Laurence Halloran, are brought forward and examined for their contributions to the confrontations which marked the period 1819‚ÄövÑvÆ 1827. As its title suggests, 'The Politics of Grievance' highlights the personal resentments which underpinned the public face of progressive colonial politicking.


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Copyright 2002 the Author Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2003. Includes bibliographical references

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