Australia History Between 1830 and 1850 Part I

The systematic colonization and origins of South Australia (1830-1850). – The inadequacy of the system of criminal deportation, combined with the land policy of free land concessions, to rapidly promote Australian colonization, suggested, from the third decade of the nineteenth century, some legislative and administrative measures intended to favor the latter in other ways. While in fact, already in the constitution of New South Wales, which came into force in 1824, the practice of indentured service, or service bound by contract, was legalized (as we have seen), and a few years later the method of assisted immigration of desirable colonist, that is, the immigration of desirable settlers subsidized at the expense of the public budget; the Land Regulations of 1825, already mentioned, aimed at substituting the sale of the free concession of land, and this sale, first made at fixed prices, with 1828 the auction was already operating, near the inhabited centers, so intense was the land demand. It was, therefore, a twofold evolution, both in the field of labor and in that of land policy: an unrelated and fragmentary evolution, if you like, but not exclusive to Australia only at that time. It was a question of various and still dissociated elements of a new system of colonization, which was then developing in the British colonial empire, under the pressure, on the one hand, of the need for capital and the hand of man. it operates by the great colonies of Anglo-Saxon population (Australasia and Canada in the forefront); on the other, from the internal needs of the motherland. England, in fact, was then going through that very agitated period of its economic and social history, which will precede the adoption of free trade; period of repetitive economic crises, mainly due to agrarian protectionism, which, with the sudden stagnation of industrial and commercial activity, put men and capital out of use in increasing numbers. While so the English emigration, which becomes more abundant every day after 1815 and especially after 1824 (the year of the removal of the last prohibitions that still hindered it), rising from 23,000 emigrants per year in the period 1815-1830 to 70,000. that 1831-40.

According to existingcountries, a threefold interest thus came to draw the attention of England more vividly to its colonies, and in particular to the largest and most remote of them, the Australian continent; and to urge a colonial solution that would reconcile all three of those interests. They are: the national interest of preserving the mass of emigrants to the British world as much as possible; the capitalist one, of ensuring in the colonies a profitable and politically secure investment in the exuberant capital at home; the colonial one, finally, of extending the population and cultivation on the new lands, allowing capital and labor to flow in at the same time. This solution, theoretically proposed by an acute thinker and philanthropist, Edoardo Gibbon Wakefield, became the practical aim of a society born in England in 1830 under his inspiration, the Colonization Society, aimed at substituting a systematic colonization for the purely empirical one practiced until then. Of the three fundamental elements of production – land, capital and labor – the most remote English colonies, that of the antipodes in particular, largely possessed the first, but were unable to adequately attract the other two: not work, because it was attracted to countries. new ones closer and more advanced; not capital, because it saw itself condemned to unproductivity if it could not count on a corresponding influx of hands. It was therefore necessary to divert the emigratory currents from their spontaneous course, to artificially direct them towards these colonies, and this with a very simple means: by paying for the trip to the emigrants. And since the the burden for this purpose weighing on the budget of the metropolis or, worse, of the colonies would have been enormous, to lighten it, the practically inexhaustible land capital that the colonies possessed had to be used. But the union of capital and workers, artificially achieved by this means, could only be precarious, as long as the low price of the land put up for sale had allowed immigrant workers to accumulate in a short time with relatively high wages the sum necessary to purchase a plot of land sufficient for their maintenance. Hence the need for a high selling price of public lands, but not so high as to hinder the sale of land and with it the formation of Emigration fund, i.e. ultimately the influx of immigrants themselves. The sufficient price – as the systematic colonization theorist called the price sufficient to prevent the transfer of the wage worker to land as a free owner, before another worker brought to the colony with the aid of the Emigration fund could take the place – thus became the keystone of the whole ingeniously devised system: the keystone, inevitably, cannot be abstractly determined for all the colonies, but only practically, colony by colony, with an empirical method of successive approximation, in based on the specific conditions of each of them.

Australia History Between 1830 and 1850 1