[ABOVE] A 19th century view of the Australian city of Melbourne as depicted in a coloured lithographic print. Samuel G. Cox and his family arrived in Melbourne in 1861 and lived there for the next five years or so.
Australia a fost pușcăria Marii Britanii. Cei mai mari criminali, cei mai periculoși delicvenți, cele mai incorijibile elemente, cei pentru care societatea din insulele britanice nu mai dădea doi bani erau ambarcați și trimiși “la capătul pământului“, de unde să nu se mai întoarcă. Deportarea în Australia a fost sinonimă cu condamnarea pe viață.
Din pricina acestei originii foarte puțin nobile, australienii păstrează și azi un complex de inferioritate față de europeni, în general, și față de britanici în mod special.
Există un film western foarte crud care poate funcționa ca o metaforă pentru formarea poporului australian. Numele lui este The Proposition. Este vorba despre o familie în care frații reprezintă individual câte un segment din societatea de la începutul formării poporului. Mijlociul este trimis să-l omoare pe cel mare ca să scape viața celui mai tânăr (reprezentând aici viitorul australienilor). Până la urmă mor foarte mulți, un adevărat masacru. Finalul carnagiului este marcat de replica simbol: “Ajunge!“, când propunerea inițială se împlinește, dar nu pentru salvarea mezinului, între timp mort, ci pentru că așa “nu se mai poate“, “nu se mai poate continua“. Am văzut filmul pe 20 Septembrie, după miezul nopții și am rămas marcat de violențele din el. Am rămas să meditez la grozaviile din care s-a format poporul australian și … am scris cu simpatie aceste puține rânduri.
Într-un fel foarte metaforic, frumoasa Australie de azi este țara “celor cu șansa a doua“. Este sinonimă cu frumusețea Bisericii, comunitatea celor condamnați la moarte de justiția divină, dar cruțați și așezați pe un tărâm al unui nou început prin harul lui Christos.
Sigur, foate mulți australieni, mai ales românii noștri, au emigrat în Australia în condiții foarte diferite de cele ale primilor coloniști. Adăugarea lor la populație a dat țării un colorit special pe care aștept cu nerăbdare să-l văd.
Wikipedia are următoarele intrări în această privință:
The mainland of the continent of Australia has been inhabited for more than 42,000 years by Indigenous Australians. After sporadic visits by fishermen from the north and by European explorers and merchants starting in the seventeenth century, the eastern half of the mainland was claimed by the British in 1770 and officially settled through penal transportation as the colony of New South Wales on 26 January 1788. As the population grew and new areas were explored, another five largely self-governing Crown Colonies were successively established over the course of the 19th century. It is true and it was because there were too many convicts in the prisons and gaols in London and it was getting overpopulated. If you went against the law and were caught, you were sentenced some years of transportation. America refused to take any more convicts. They also tried to build some colonies in Africa but it failed. Captain Cook reported of some untaken lands in the south. So the government decided to send some ships filled with convicts and passengers alike to cultivate the land. There were 11 ships in all and they sailed from Portsmouth. These ships later became known as The First Fleet. The First Fleet was led by Captain Phillip. There was also a Second Fleet.
Many of the convicts were sent to Australia for simple crimes like stealing a loaf of bread to feed their starving children. Saying things against the government in public could also get you deported to Australia.
There were 11 ships in the First Fleet that left England in May 1787, and more than 3/4 of the passengers were prisoners/convicts/criminals :
717 prisoners (537 men 180 women)
210 guards (191 soldiers and 19 officers)
They’re the departures:
“It is important to remember that no single, authoritative list of First Fleet arrivals exists. The best researched and documented work on the First Fleet is undoubtedly Mollie Gillen’s The Founders of Australia: a biographical dictionary of the First Fleet, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1989.”
During the late 18th and 19th centuries, large numbers of convicts were transported to the various Australian penal colonies by the British government. One of the primary reasons for the British settlement of Australia was the establishment of a penal colony to alleviate pressure on their overburdened correctional facilities. Over the 80 years more than 165,000 convicts were transported to Australia.
The number of convicts pales in comparison to the immigrants who arrived in Australia in the 1851–1871 gold rush. In 1852 alone, 370,000 immigrants arrived in Australia. By 1871 the total population had nearly quadrupled from 430,000 to 1.7 million people. The last convicts to be transported to Australia arrived in Western Australia in 1868. According to one estimate, “at least 1,000 of the convicts sent to Australia before 1850 were not white”.
[ABOVE] An emigrant ship leaving Southampton for Australia. ( An engraving from the London Illustrated News, 28th August 1852 ). Samuel Cox and Elizabeth Burnell emigrated to Australia early in 1861
[ABOVE] On Board an Emigrant Ship, an engraving by Matthew White Ridley (1837-1888) produced as an illustration for The Graphicmagazine in 1871. Samuel Cox and Elizabeth Burnell, together with their baby son George, arrived in Melbourne, Australia, in August 1861 after seven months at sea.
In 1803, a British expedition was sent from Sydney to Tasmania (then known as Van Diemen’s Land) to establish a new penal colony there. The small party, led by Lt. John Bowen, established a settlement at Risdon Cove, on the eastern side of the Derwent River. Originally sent to Port Philip, but abandoned within weeks, another expedition led by Lieutenant-Colonel David Collins arrived soon after. Collins considered the Risdon Cove site inadequate, and in 1804 he established an alternative settlement on the western side of the river at Sullivan’s Cove, Tasmania. This later became known as Hobart, and the original settlement at Risdon Cove was abandoned. Collins became the first Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land.
When the convict station on Norfolk Island was abandoned in 1807-8, the remaining convicts and free settlers were transported to Hobart and allocated land for re-settlement. However, as the existing small population was already experiencing difficulties producing enough food, the sudden doubling of the population was almost catastrophic.
Starting in 1816, more free settlers began arriving from Great Britain. On 3 December 1825 Tasmania was declared a colony separate from New South Wales, with a separate administration.
The Macquarie Harbour penal colony on the West Coast of Tasmania was established in 1820 to exploit the valuable timber Huon Pine growing there for furniture making and shipbuilding. Macquarie Harbour had the added advantage of being almost impossible to escape from, most attempts ending with the convicts either drowning, dying of starvation in the bush, or (on at least two occasions) turning cannibal. Convicts sent to this settlement had usually re-offended during their sentence of transportation, and were treated very harshly, labouring in cold and wet weather, and subjected to severe corporal punishment for minor infractions.
In 1830, the Port Arthur penal settlement was established to replace Macquarie Harbour, as it was easier to maintain regular communications by sea. Although known in popular history as a particularly harsh prison, in reality its management was far more humane than Macquarie Harbour or the outlying stations of New South Wales. Experimentation with the so called model prison system took place in Port Arthur. Solitary confinement was the preferred method of punishment.
Many changes were made to the manner in which convicts were handled in the general population, largely responsive to British public opinion on the harshness or otherwise of their treatment. Until the late 1830s most convicts were either retained by Government for public works or assigned to private individuals as a form of indentured labour. From the early 1840s the Probation System was employed, where convicts spent an initial period, usually two years, in public works gangs on stations outside of the main settlements, then were freed to work for wages within a set district.
Transportation to Tasmania ended in 1853 (see section below on Cessation of Transportation).
In 1823 John Oxley sailed north from Sydney to inspect Port Curtis and Moreton Bay as possible sites for a penal colony. At Moreton Bay he found the Brisbane River, which Cook had guessed would exist, and explored the lower part of it. In September 1824, he returned with soldiers and established a temporary settlement at Redcliffe. On 2 December 1824, the settlement was transferred to where the Central Business District (CBD) of Brisbane now stands. The settlement was at first called Edenglassie. In 1839 transportation of convicts to Moreton Bay ceased and the Brisbane penal settlement was closed. In 1842 free settlement was permitted and people began to colonize the area voluntarily. On 6 June 1859 Queensland became a colony separate from New South Wales.
Transportation of convicts to Western Australia did not begin until 1850 and lasted until 1868. During that period, exactly 9668 convicts were transported to the colony, on 43 convict ships.
The first convicts to arrive in what is now Western Australia were convicts transported to New South Wales, sent by that colony to King George Sound (Albany) in 1826 to help establish a settlement there. At that time the western third of Australia was unclaimed land known as New Holland. Fears that France would lay claim to the land prompted the Governor of New South Wales, Ralph Darling, to send Major Edmund Lockyer, with troops and 23 convicts, to establish a settlement at King George Sound. Lockyer’s party arrived on Christmas Day, 1826. A convict presence was maintained at the settlement for nearly four years; in November 1830, control of the settlement was transferred to the Swan River Colony, and the troops and convicts withdrawn.
In April 1848, Charles Fitzgerald was appointed Governor of Western Australia. He petitioned Britain to send convicts to Western Australia for labor. Britain had refused to send convicts for a fixed term, but offered to send out first offenders in the final years of their terms
Most convicts in Western Australia spent very little time in prison. Those who were stationed at Fremantle were housed in the Convict Establishment, the colony’s convict prison, and misbehaviour was punished by stints there. The majority of convicts, however, were stationed in other parts of the colony. Although there was no convict assignment in Western Australia, there was a great demand for public infrastructurethroughout the colony, so that many convicts were stationed in remote areas. Initially, most convicts were set to work creating infrastructure for the convict system, including the construction of the Convict Establishment itself.
In 1852 a Convict Depot was built at Albany, but closed 3 years later. When shipping increased the Depot was re-opened. Most of the convicts had their Ticket-of-Leave and were hired to work by the free settlers. Convicts also manned the pilot boat, rebuilt York Street and Stirling Terrace; and the track from Albany to Perth was made into a good road. An Albany newspaper noted the convict’s good behaviour and wrote, “There were instances in which our free settlers might take an example”.
Western Australia’s convict era only came to an end with the cessation of penal transportation by Britain. In May 1865, the colony was advised of the change in British policy, and told that Britain would send oneconvict ship in each of the years 1865, 1866 and 1867, after which transportation would cease. In accordance with this, the last convict ship to Western Australia, the Hougoumont, left Britain in 1867 and arrived in Western Australia on 10 January 1868.
In 1803 two ships arrived in Port Phillip which had been discovered and named by Lt. John Murray in the Lady Nelson during the previous year. The ships were the Calcutta with 300 convicts under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Collins, and the supply ship, Ocean. Collins had previously been Judge Advocate with the First Fleet in 1788. He chose Sullivan Bay near the present-day Sorrento, Victoria for the first settlement. It is some 90 km south east of present day Melbourne. About two months later the settlement was abandoned due to poor soil and water shortages and Collins moved the convicts to Hobart. Several convicts had escaped into the bush and were left behind to unknown fates with the hostile local aboriginal people. One such convict was the subsequently celebrated William Buckley. He lived in the western side of Port Phillip for the next 32 years before finally giving himself up to the new settlers. His survival, against the perceived impossible odds, is the source of the well-known Australian phrase – “Buckley’s Chance” (“You’ve got two chances – Buckley’s and none!”).
A second settlement was established at Westernport Bay, on the site of present-day Corinella, in November 1826. It comprised an initial 20 soldiers and 22 convicts, with another 12 convicts arriving subsequently. This settlement was abandoned in February 1828, and all convicts were returned to Sydney.
Between 1844 and 1849 about 1,750 convicts arrived there from England. They were referred to either as “Exiles” or the “Pentonvillians” because most of them came from Pentonville Probationary Prison. Unlike earlier convicts who were required to work for the government or on hire from penal depots, the Exiles were free to work for pay, but could not leave the district to which they were assigned. The Port Phillip District was still part of New South Wales at this stage. Victoria separated from New South Wales and became an independent colony in 1851.
Approximately 20% of the transportees were women, for whom conditions could be particularly harsh. For protection, most quickly attached themselves to male officers or convicts. Although they were routinely referred to as courtesans relatively few had been prostitutes in England; prostitution, like murder, was not a transportable offense.
Political prisoners made up a small proportion of convicts. They arrived in waves corresponding to political unrest in the British Isles. They included the First Scottish Martyrs in 1794; British Naval Mutineers (from the Nore Mutiny) in 1797 and 1801; Irish rebels in 1798, 1803, 1848 and 1868; Scots Rebels (1820); Yorkshire Rebels (1820 and 1822); leaders of the Merthyr Tydfil rising of 1831; The Tolpuddle Martyrs (1834); Swing Rioters and Machine Breakers (1828–1833); Upper Canada rebellion/Lower Canada Rebellion (1839) and Chartists (1842).
Cessation of transportation
With increasing numbers of free settlers entering New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) by the mid-1830s, opposition to the transportation of felons into the colonies grew. The most influential spokesmen were newspaper proprietors who were also members of the Independent Congregation Church such as John Fairfax in Sydney and the Reverend John West in Launceston, who argued against convicts both as competition to honest free labourers and as the source of crime and vice within the colony. The anti-transportation movement was seldom concerned with the inhumanity of the system, but rather the hated stain it was believed to inflict on the free (non-emancipist) middle classes.
Transportation to New South Wales ended in 1840, by which time some 150,000 convicts had been sent to the colonies. The sending of convicts to Brisbane in its Moreton Bay district had ceased the previous year, and administration of Norfolk Island was later transferred to Van Diemen’s Land.
The continuation of transportation to Van Diemen’s Land saw the rise of a well-coordinated anti- transportation movement, especially following a severe economic depression in the early 1840s. Transportation was temporarily suspended in 1846 but soon revived with overcrowding of British gaols and clamour for the availability of transportation as a deterrent. By the late 1840s most convicts being sent to Van Diemen’s Land (plus those to Victoria) were designated as “exiles” and were free to work for pay while under sentence. In 1850 the Australasian Anti-Transportation League was formed to lobby for the permanent cessation of transportation, its aims being furthered by the commencement of the Australian gold rushes the following year. The last convict ship to be sent from England, the St. Vincent, arrived in 1853, and on 10 August 1853 Jubilee festivals in Hobart and Launceston celebrated 50 years of European settlement with the official end of transportation.
Transportation continued in small numbers to Western Australia. The last convict ship to arrive in Western Australia, the Hougoumont, left Britain in 1867 and arrived in Western Australia on 10 January 1868. In all, about 164,000 convicts were transported to the Australian colonies between 1788 and 1868 on board 806 ships. Convicts were made up of English and Welsh (70%), Irish (24%), Scottish (5%) and the remaining 1% from the British outposts in India and Canada, Maoris from New Zealand, Chinese from Hong Kong and slaves from the Caribbean.
Only South Australia and the Northern Territory had never accepted convicts directly from England but they still accepted ex-convicts from the other states. Many convicts were allowed to travel as far as New Zealand to make a new life after being given limited freedom, even if they were not allowed to return home to England. At this time the Australian population was approximately 1 million and the colonies could now sustain themselves without the need for convict labour.
Franța și-a rezolvat problema delicvenților în aceiași manieră. Cine n-a citit aventurile celebrului Papillon?
Despre existența “coloniilor penale“ puteți citi aici: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penal_colony