March 19, 2015 at 7:30 am #8922Robert JennerParticipant
So here is a very interesting perspective on what the Revolution meant to people outside of the United States. On January 26, 1788 11 ships sailed through the heads of Port Jackson, these 11 ships carried the first group of man and women sent to the new penal colony of Botany Bay. Being Australian this is my history, we are taught this in school, we are also taught that the reason that convicts were being sent to Australia is because of the revolution. Before the war convicts (yes it is true people) were sent to the American colonies, however, instead of being called convicts they were call indentured servants and they had to work off their sentence by helping grow crops or tend to the livestock.
My question here is, if King George had accepted the olive branch and the colonies had not declared their independence, do you think that countries such as Australia would ever have existed?March 20, 2015 at 7:19 am #8924DKeymaster
This is a great point to raise, so I wanted to learn a little more about it and came across this writing from 1896 about the topic of British convicts: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1833611?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
With some insight from that, to your question, I would say yes, those countries would have existed. It seemed Britain was in the habit of sending people from their empire whom they found undesirable to the far reaches of their empire, and as you mention for a period before the American Revolution.
Prisoners from their wars were sent (Irish, Scottish), political prisoners, felons, and undesirable citizens were all at some point sent away to a colony (north american, west indies, australia). Interestingly, the American colonies each had a way of handling this practice, and most colonies actively moved against it. For example, Pennsylvania, as mentioned in that article:
“But Pennsylvanians were from early days opposed to receiving convicts. In I722, May 5, their assembly passed an act for imposing a duty on “persons guilty of heinous crimes, and imported into the province as servants or otherwise.” They passed another in I729.”
Massachusetts would levy fines on ship owners whom brought in unsavory characters whom were not documented with purpose. This too appears to be another underlying cause of the revolution, where the colonial preferences were ignored by the King. Being this practice started in the 1600s, I would imagine many of the areas touched by British colonization (in several forms) would have evolved as they have. Had the British not colonized I still think most would exist in some form today, though likely at a different scale.March 21, 2015 at 1:21 am #8933JoshParticipant
It’s a very interesting point. But I agree with RevWar1776 Aus would still have come into being as it would have become increasingly impractical to send large fleets of convicts and indentured servants, there is a thin line between the two but a slight difference nonetheless, to highly populated colonies like the 13 states. Given the First Fleet was in a way the first mass transportation of its kind it’s more than likley the move was prompted by the opening of Australia rather than the loss of America.
Josh.March 23, 2015 at 6:04 am #8944Robert JennerParticipant
Dan and Josh, great points! I would also like to think that Australia would have been built even if the Revolution did not happen simply because it’s hard to hide a land mass that big! In Australia we really value our convict heritage, if you can trace your lineage back to a convict from the First Fleet you are in effect Australian Blue Blood, sort of like the Mayflower here. If you get a chance a like Podcasts check out the Podcast Angry History, they try very hard to right the wrongs of history, particularly the show called Australian a Founding a Convicts. This has some great points similar to what I mentioned here.March 25, 2015 at 4:27 am #8948DKeymaster
Cool, I’ll check it out. If anyone wants a quick click, it’s: http://www.angryhistory.com/2013/06/03/australias-founding-convicts/
Have you tried tracing your genealogy back that far? Would be great to know that much family history in general, and be even more fun to tie to to any major events/cultural historyJuly 10, 2017 at 12:47 am #9157Jamie OdomParticipant
I know this was posted a little while ago but it is a very interesting topic. When I was researching my family history several years ago I finally ran across my ancestor that had “emigrated” to the new world. I was very excited. Me and my family had originally thought that the first of our ancestors came over after the Civil War. I ended up finding out that our first ancestor came over on a ship called the ” Ye Merchants Hope” to Virginia in 1632. When I first ran across my ancestor’s name I was a little perplexed. It said that a John Dennis had “transported” my ancestor and 7 others for 300 acres of land to the new world in 1632. It sounded like my ancestor was a possible “convict” which really perplexed me because I was under the impression from our school system that only religious people immigrated to America during that time period. This led me on this crazy search regarding convicts transported from England to the American colonies. My research revealed that the British were sending about 1,000 convicts each year to America. Virginia would end up with about half of them working in the tabacco fields. They say that out of the 585, 800 immigrants to the 13 colonies during the years from 1700-1775 about 52, 200 were convicts. I also discovered that it was not until 1896 that American historical institutions actually admitted or recognized that convicts had been transported to the American colonies.
So while I was doing the research on my ancestor Robert Swanson, I noticed that the Cavaliers and Pioneers Patent book identifies that John Dennis was given this 350 acres of land. I also noticed that Robert was working on that land as a “Tabacco planter.” Later on after Robert passes away, Robert’s wife marries John Dennis ! In John Dennis’s will several years later, John leaves John Swanson, who was Robert’s son a portion of the land. So I have never really been able to figure out if Robert was some kind of indentured servant to John Dennis, a friend perhaps or maybe a petty convict that got off light. The records do not come out and say that he was a convict so it is a gray area.
Anyway in answer to your question I agree with the previous posters. The British would have definitely colonized Australia regardless of weather the American colonies split. In my opinion the British were the first “Capitalists” so to speak. They would have saw Australia as a new investment. There are sources that say the Brits were making money off of things that we may not think about today. For instance I read somewhere that British war vessels required two thousand trees for construction. Well we definitely had and have a lot of trees. I am not sure how true that is but I am sure there would have been resources that Australia could have contributed to the empire without being the primary convict destination.
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