tasmania: rationalizing the attitude

Posted: January 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

Tasmania. A final solution down under…

…It did not take long for the white community to convince itself that the Europeans were the aggrieved party, threatened by savages who denied them the right to farm and graze their own properties in peace. From time to time humane administrators tried to remind them otherwise “It is no less the duty than it is the disposition of the Lieutenant Governor,” proclaimed Governor Sorell in 1817, “to forbid and prevent, and when perpetrated, to punish any ill treatment of the native people of this island, and to support and encourage all measures which may tend to conciliate and civilize them.”

A British view of British rule in Tasmania was rendered about 1830 in this Pictorial Proclamation for Blacks. “Blessings of Civilization and Peace”- decent English clothes, decent English dogs, and benign military protection. The bottom two panels depict “Righteous Administration of Justice” a black who killed a white is duly hanged and vice versa. In fact, the settlers killed aborigines with impunity. Image: WIKI

“It is undeniable,” said another official pronouncement, “that, in manyformer Instances, cruelties have been perpetuated repugnant to Humanity and disgraceful to the British character, while few attempts can be traced on the part of the Colonists to conciliate the Native People or to make them sensible that Peace and Forebearance are the objects desired.” From London the Colonial Office kept an evangelical watch upon events in the island, and in 1830 a committee of inquiry exposed some of the worst excesses of the sealers and bushrangers.

But the classic settler-native syndrome was already far advanced. The gentlemen in their country houses, the rich merchants in their mansions above the Hobart waterfront, the local administrators preoccupied with penal affairs and orderly government- all were reaching the now familiar conclusion that life in tasmania would be much happier if there were no Tasmanians.

---Robert Dowling, Tasmanian Aborigines 1856–57, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased 1949---click image for source...

—Robert Dowling, Tasmanian Aborigines 1856–57, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased 1949—click image for source…

In language, the decrees of Authority remained irreproachably pious, and frequently warned the colonists that they must not be cruel to the natives. In intent, the announcements became ever less tolerant. ( to be continued)…

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