CLIO 7 (1) - page 36

the beginnings of western civilisation in Australia.
This is an important factor of the transportation, as
if it never had occurred, the country may well have
had a different way of civilisation and their relations
to the rest of the world may have been very dif-
ferent, as they would have not had those convicts
who built using their knowledge of Britain, basing
their models and labour on the way they had known
from an upbringing in Britain, therefore shaping
the way the city would develop and progress.
Therefore, the desire for a use of a main port to not
only transport 160,000 convicts, but to also deliv-
er supplies and soldiers willing to guard England’s
‘territory’ made the British come up with a solution:
A second factor is the development of Aus-
tralian society through the convicts habituating the
land. In 1868, where the colonies were freed from
the British grasp, many of the criminals originally
transported chose to stay on and build a new soci-
ety, in which they could prosper, knowing that they
would be shunned from society if returned to Eng-
land. However, in the new land, they had already
worked a lot and become respected, even by the
officers who had been controlling them. Moreover,
many of the prisoners held in exile were political
prisoners, such as the Irish Ribbonmen, who there-
fore had political experience. Many of these prison-
ers were exiled for challenging the English monar-
chy and the Queen and so wanted the new system
to be a democracy. Furthermore, many children
had been transported for crimes such as stealing,
the youngest recorded being 9, so they had only
ever grown up working on the land, attempting to
recreate a western civilisation in Australia; to them
this was their home. The second most popular
crime for being exiled after thievery was treachery,
so many of the convicts who chose to stay were
those once politicians who had been taken prison-
er. Consequently, a new society was formed, with
many of the once criminals taking up positions of
power and using this influence to continue the work
which had been begun by the exiled in building a
new country with a different civilisation, still under
the control of the British government.
Another effect of transportation was the
effect it had on the aborigine communities already
living within those areas taken as penal colonies.
Unlike when the first ships sailed to America, the
focus was not on studying and learning from the
natives already living there, attempting to convert
them to follow British rules, but on the desper-
ate need for somewhere to send exiled criminals.
This therefore meant that in general, the natives
were ignored, being pushed into the small areas of
Australia which were still free colonies. This creat-
ed a large divide between those who had arrived
and those who had always been there, as their land
was taken over, with them being forced into small-
er areas, or else helping the British government
in transforming the land into a country which the
British Empire could control, making them seem
more impressive. Due to the arrival of the British,
who forced work and brought new diseases their
immune systems couldn’t fight, it is estimated that
between 1770 and 1800 the population of indige-
nous Australians was reduced by around 90%. The
tensions of this divide can still be felt within Aus-
tralia today and, although there have been other
factors affecting and worsening these tensions, the
original hostility and tensions are often traces back
to the initial occupation of Australia.
The effect of the transportation can be
seen in many cultural aspects of society in Austral-
ia today, with around 20% of Australians having
ancestors who were exiled convicts, which is now
considered a proud aspect of one’s heritage, as it
shows the roots of the foundation of the country.
Moreover, it is compulsory for students in second-
ary school to learn about the transportation or the
change in Australian society due to the influence of
Britain, showing the commitment from the govern-
ment to hold on to this heritage. It was widely con-
sidered for a long time that is was something to be
ashamed of if there was heritage of a convict, but
that has been changed. However, despite the many
references still made in popular culture in austral to
the transportation, it is becoming less of an impor-
tant feature of Australian society.
- James Cook claims Australia as a Brit-
ish colony
American independence
- first ship of convicts is transported
to Australia
last ship of convicts is transported to
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