Responsible Government in an Imperial Context

Angela Woollacott

in Settler Society in the Australian Colonies

Published in print March 2015 | ISBN: 9780199641802
Published online May 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191779091 | DOI:
Responsible Government in an Imperial Context

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Social and Cultural History


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In the Australian colonies—as in Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand—the status of fully independent manhood with political rights was linked to the quest for colonial self-government. While they looked to Canada for the model of self-government, Australian settlers and residents reconceived themselves as new actors on the imperial and global stage, forging democratic modernity through constitutional innovation. Responsible government constitutions for New South Wales, Tasmania, and Victoria were enacted in 1855, for South Australia in 1856, and for Queensland in 1859 when it separated from New South Wales. Other electoral reforms followed, especially male suffrage and the secret ballot. To explore the ways in which political reformers in the Australian colonies embodied imperial connections and experience, and were aware of questions of indigenous dispossession, this chapter considers Henry Samuel Chapman, one of the leading advocates of responsible government in the white settler colonies.

Keywords: political manhood; colonial self-government; Canadian model; responsible government; manhood suffrage; secret ballot; indigenous dispossession; Henry Chapman

Chapter.  11970 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Social and Cultural History

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