Weekend history post
If Boston had its Tea Party, Sydney had its Rum Rebellion. "The Rum Rebellion, also known as the Rum Puncheon Rebellion, of 1808 was the only successful armed takeover of government in Australia's recorded history." Michael Duffy's multimedia presentation describes this key piece of Australian history which is replete with references to Captain Bligh (yes, the Captain Bligh), liquor monopolies, prison colonies and real estate speculation.
What is striking about both the Tea Party and the Rum Bellion is the linkage between the notions of property and efforts to assert individual freedom. It's often forgotten that freedom was often framed in times past as the power to own oneself and the fruits of labor. It was a radical notion then and a shocking idea today in an era when socialism pretends to be the bedrock of individual rights; and so the historical events are worth remembering.
An Australian reader writes:
I'd already read your post with interest. However, I fear your mainly American readers won't appreciate all the nuances in our history. The formation of Australia is actually very interesting. Few realise that the initial colonisation was substantially sponsored by people who were opposed to slavery. In 1786, Governor Phillip drew up plans for the proposed new colony. He wrote:
“The laws of this country [England] will of course, be introduced in [New] South Wales, and there is one that I would wish to take place from the moment his Majesty’s forces take possession of the country: That there can be no slavery in a free land, and consequently no slaves.”