MAJORITY OF THE COLONY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA,
Twenty-one years on Monday, the 28th De cember last, this country was proclaimed as a colony of the British Crown, under the designa tion of ' South Australia ' On the 28th of December,
1836, the British flag was hoisted on the plains of Glenelg, and the congratulatory thunders of a British, man-of-war pealed over the waters of Holdfast Bay as Captain Hind marsh, the first Governor of South Australia, read the royal proclamation in presence of the assembled settlers. ,It was a memorable day to all who were connected with its proceed ings and must also be an interesting day to all existing colonists, whether present or not at the founding of the province. As our readers will doubtless expect from us some reference to what may be termed the natal day of our adopted land, we shall do our best to furnish them with a few particulars, conscious, however, that but very little can be given within the limits of a newspaper article — con- fident, also, that the history of South Australia will one day be worthily written. Before reciting the incidents and occurrences of the memorable day of proclamation, it may be interesting to many if we briefly advert to the movements preliminary to that event. The actual founder of the colony, so far at least as relates to tho fundamental principle upon which it is constituted, was Mr. Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the cardinal point of whose theory was, that the system of making free grants of enormous tracts of country to individual ad venturers should be discontinued, that all the crown lands should be sold, and that the pro -duce of such sales should be wholly devoted to 'the introduction of labour. On these princi ples South Australia was founded, this being 'the first of Her Majesty's colonies to which the Wakefield principle was applied. As our readers are aware, it was afterwards held desirable to modify that portion of the Wake -field system that required the whole of the Land Fund to be applied to immigration pur poses ; and still more recently it has been held ?desirable to set the Land Fund entire'y free ifrom all special obligations. But there can be no doubt as to the vast benefit which South Australia derived at the outset by the opera tion of the Wakefield system, notwithstanding the increase of population and the progress of society might render another system pre ferable. The colony of South Australia was founded by the Act of 4 and 5 William IV., c. 95 ; sub sequently amended by the Act 1 and 2 Victoria, c. 60. The last-mentioned Act was passed on the 31st of July, 1838. Under the joint ope- ration of both Acts the early administration of the colony was established, Commissioners having been appointed to carry the Acts into execution. The following is a list of the original Commissioners: — Colonel Torrens, Chairman. G.F. Angas. S. Mills. E. Barnard. Jacob Montefiore W. Hutt G. Palmer. J.G.Lefevre. J. Wright W.A.Mackinnon,M.P. G. Barnes, Treasurer. Rowland Hill, Secretary. The Commissioners were resident in Eng land, but they were authorized to appoint their representative in the colony, and Mr. James Hurtle Fisher, now President of the Legislative Council, was the first Resident Commissioner in South Australia. By provision of the two Acts before mentioned, the powers of the Com missioners and the powers of the Colonial Go vernment were wholly separate and distinct ; the Commissioners having no authority to levy taxes, or to make and administer laws, and the government having no authority whatever as respects the disposal of the land. These divi sions of authority led, in the early days of the colony, to unhappy disputes, which continued to prevail until Colonel Gawler was appointed with the double powers of Governor and Resident Commissioner. The first Imperial Act establishing the colony precluded the Commissioners from exercising their general power3 until after land should have been sold to the value of £35,000; and, further, until they had invested £20,000 in Exchequer Bills as a guarantee to the Home Government against possible losses that might arise from an attempt to found a colony on speculative principles. The same Act, how ever, and also the Act of Victoria, authorized the Commissioners to raise, by loan if possible, the sum of £200,000 for defraying the costs and charges of founding the colony, such loan to be secured upon the ordinary revenue arising from rates and duties to be levied in the province. The Commissioners were also Authorized to borrow an additional sum of money, but not exceeding £50,000, for the sole purpose of conveying poor emigrants to the colony lefore the sales of waste lands should put them in funds for this purpose The upset price of land was fixed under the original Acts at a minimum of 12s. per acre, without distinction of price as to town or country acres ; but as the Commissioners were em powered to advance upon the legal minimum they resolved that the price of land should be £l per acre, and that the country lands should be laid out in sections, as nearly as practicable, of eighty acres each. The Act of Victoria 1 and 2 authorized the Commissioners to employ money raised on, land or revenue securities, either for rha administering of Government or for the introduction of immigrants, but such convertible applications of money were to be regardsd as loans between the two sources of revenue, and were to be carried into separate accounts. A limit was also put to tho borrow ing of mosey from the Emigration Fund, the debt to which was never to exceed one-third of its amount for the current year. The difficulties which the founders of the colony experienced in obtaining their Acts were followed by subsequent difficulties in obtaining public support. It was found im possible to sell the £35,000 worth of land, and the Commissioners were compelled to resign without having accomplished anything of a practical character. A new Board of Commis sioners was appointed, but with little better promise of success, when Mr. George Fife Angas, one of the Commissioners, suggested the idea of establishing a Company to raise the required £35,000 for land, and also such other sums as should be necessary for ac tually starting the colony. The suggestion was well received, and the South Australian Com pany was the result. On the 22nd of January, 1836, the Company was declared to be formed with a subscribed capital of £200,000, which was enlarged the same year to £300,000, with further augmentations in 1837 ; and in 1838 Mr. Angus was appointed to the Chairmanship of this important Company, in consequence of which, he felt it his duty to resign his seat at the Board of Commissioners appointed under the Imperial Acts. The first regulations for the sale of South Australian lands were published by the Com missioners in the month of June, 1835. Each "lot" of land consisted of an eighty-acre country section and one town acre. The price of the ' lot' was fixed at £81, which was evidently - considered too high, for at the end of two months, and when enterprise in this direction seemed to have been quite exhausted, not half the requisite amount had been raised. It was at this crisis, when the project of founding the colony seemed to be about to fall to the ground, that three gentlemen connected with the South Australian Company proposed to the Commis sioners that they would buy up all the remain ing sections if the price were lowered to 12s. per acre. This was agreed to, but in order not to abandon the minimum of 20s., as originally fixed upon, an equivalent was granted by en larging the country eighty-acre sections to 134 acres without any addition to the price as paid for the smaller section. The new regulations were in force from October 1, 1835, to the end of February, 1836. The number of preliminary sections altogether sold was 437, including 58,995 acres, and realizing £35,397. The whole of this money was raised in 1835: In 1836 there were sold 1,680 acres for £1,378, both of which amounts now specified having been paid in England. In the year 1837 the first land sales were held in the colony, from which time its settlement rapidly proceeded. -His Majeety's ship Buffalo, bringing the first Governor and suite, left England on the 23rd of July, 1836, and anchored in Holdfast Bay on the 28th of December. There were, however, various arrivals before that date, to which it will be proper that some reference be made. The first English ship that reached South Australia with emigrants and settlers was the Duke of York, a vessel of 190 tons, dispatched by the South Australian Company.. This ship anchored on the 27th July, 1838, in Nepean Bay, Kangaroo Island, where the South Aus tralian Company's first depot was established. The first operation of the Company above mentioned was to commence a whale fishery, and the Duke of York was freighted, in addi tion to provisions for the pioneer settlers, with a large quantity of whaling stores and implements. This vessel had on board the Manager of the Company, Mr. Samuel Stephens, with eight other persons of inde- pendent means, and twenty-nine labourers. Another whaling ship, the Lady Mary Pelham, arrived at Nepean Bay three days after the Duke of York. The vessel last arriving had on board twenty-seven persons of the labouring class, and two other settlers. The third colonial arrival was the John Pirie, likewise belonging to the Company, and which
reached Nepean Bay on the 16th of August, 1836; having been dispatched, laden with pro visions and general stores, two days before the Duke of York and thirty-seven days before the Lady Mary Pelhain. The passengers by the John Fine were twenty-eight in number, and all of the labouring class. The Rapid and the Cygnet, ships chartered by the Commissioners for surveying purposes, followed the three pioneers of the Company ; the Rapid, on board of which was Colonel Light, the Surveyor General, reaching Kangaroo Island on the 20th of October, and the Cygnet on the 11th of September; The next vessel was the Emma, dispatched on the 21st of April by the South Australian Company, and which arrived on the 5th of October, The Africaine, commanded by Capt. Duff, reached Kangaroo Island on the 2nd of November, and Holdfast Bay on the 7th of the same month. This vessel landed the first private settlers on the main land of South Australia. The Tam O'Shanter, chartered by Mr, O. Gilles and others, is reported in the English Blue-Book as having arrived, on the 5th of October, but the statement is incorrect. The Africaine preceded the Tam O'Shanter, the latter vessel having left England on the 20th July, and having reached Holdfast Bay on the 16th December. The Tam O'Shanter was followed by the Buffalo, bringing Captain Siadmarsh, the first Colonial Governor, iwho arrived, as we need scarcely say, on the 28th of December, 1836. The following is a de tailed statement of the arrivals of the year 1836, the ships being given in order of their arrival in this colony : — Date of Arrival. Ship. By whom sent Tons. Total Passengers ____________ July 27... Duke of York ... S. A. Company ... 190 38 ' 30... Lady M. Pelham. Do. 206 29 Aug 16... John Pirie ... Do 105 28 ' 21... Rapid ... ...Commissioners... 162 24 Sept. 11... Cygnet ... Do. 239 81 Oct 5 ... Emma S. A. Company... 164 22 Nov. 2... Africaine ... Various 316 76 Dec 16... Tam O'Shanter... O. Gilles... 380 74 ' 23... HMS. Buffalo... Commissioners...| 850 171 546 Thee total arrivals by sea in 1836 were therefore 516 souls, of whom 375 preceded the arrival of the Governor, the proclamation of the colony, and the institution of the laws. Of the 546 arrivals in 1836, 105 were independent settlers, the remainder having been sent out either wholly or partly by the emigration fund or by private aid. The Buffalo, containing the Governor and party, in reality came to anchor off our shores four days prior to the landing at Glenelg, and to the proclamation of the colony beneath the ' Old Gum Tree.' On the 24th of December the royal vessel entered the harbour of Port Lincoln, the Cygnet then lying at anchor in that harbour. Captain Hindmarsh was immediately waited upon by Captain Lipson, who bore a letter from Colonel Light on the subject of the site of the intended metropolis. Sir John Jeffcott, the first Judge of the colony, together with many others of the early settlers, wished the capital of the colony to be fixed at Port Lincoln; but as Colonel Light and other gen tlemen had decided for the eastern shores of St. Vincent's Gulf, His Excellency de termined to lose no time in proceeding further. A short visit was, however, paid to Port Lincoln — His Excellency, accompanied by his Private Secretary, Mr. George Stevenson ; the Resident Commissioner, Mr. J. H. Fisher ; ind the Harbour-Master, Captain Lipson, landing at the Head of Spalding Cove. His Excellency, however, on learning that various officers of the Government, who had preceded him in the Rapid, Cygnet, and other vessels, were waiting for him in the Mount Lofty plains, resolved to set say again without delay. Accordingly, the Buffalo and Cygnet weighed anchor, and on the morning December 28, 1836, these vessels anchored in Holdfast Bay, with the rich plains outspread before them, and the Mount Lofty ranges for the first time greeting their sight. About 2 o'clock of the 28th Captain Hind marsh, with the members of his family, attended Mr. Fisher, Mr. Stevenson, Mr. Osmond Gilles, and the Rev. C. B. Howard, with their families, proceeded to the shore in three boats, escorted by a party of marines from the Buf falo. On landing they were met by Mr. Robert Gouger, first Colonial Secretary ; Mr. John Brown, Emigration Agent ; Mr. G. S. Kingston, Deputy Surveyor; Mr. Thomas Gilbert, Colonial Storekeeper; Mr. John Mor phett, Mr. Herbert Thomas, and others of the early settlers, who had fixed their habitations in the Glenelg plains. The various members of the Executive Council being collected together, the party assembled in Mr. Gouger's tent, where the Grovernor read aloud the orders of the King in Council erecting South Australia into a British province, and appointing the first officers of the Government. His Excellency subsequently read his own Commission as Governor and Commander-in-Chief, the cus tomary oaths being then administered to the Governor and other colonial officers present. After this the Commission was read to ths settlers, of whom about 200 were present, The British flag was unfurled to the winds, the marines firing a fen de joie, whilst the Buffalo thundered forth a salute from her broadside. The acclamations of the people were loud and long, all feeling that they were bearing some part, however humble, in laying the foundations of a future empire. A public dinner, to which the settlers joyfully contri buted of the best that their stores contained, was prepared on the occasion, loyal and patriotic toasts following with great rapidity and remarkable fervour, ail present being animated by one common impulse and being inspired with one common hope. A practically boundless territory was before them, and they had but to occupy it, cultivate it, and reap its fruits. The enthusiasm to which local records certify appears to have been fully shared in by the friends of South Australia in England. A monthly journal published in London under the title of the South Australian Record, and edited by Mr. Capper, of the Colonization Office, dwells in the following high-flown terms upon the founding and proclamation of the new colony : — "The landing of that little band in their new country, recals the awful emigration of Noah, and the promise that painted his horizon, and also the emigration of Moses. It reminds us of the Tyrians at Carthage, of AEneas and the dominion of the West, which tradition tells us was founded by him; of the stoat-hearted Bri tons who built up the great though still young nations of America; and, nearer to the present scene, the other colonies of Australia, irbosa errors of constitution have served as as imprestive tenon, while their unexampled prosperity points to the commercial fortune of the newer settlement. To the emigrant who was present at the formal assumption of the new country, and believed, according to the justest hopes, tnat he -was assisting at the foundation ot a new people, every occurrence of the day was more momentous than if they had been awaiting in the royal bedchamber, the lirth of a future king. They were ushering into existence a whole nation. To those who from a distance contemplate the placing of a people where late there was a blank oa the great map ot the world, and who have the glorious expectation of seeing, within the short space of man's life, in one and the same spot, a desert, a settlement, and a busy city, every act of the solemnity is full of meaning, intrinsic or extrinsic. It forms the bright strong line between desolate barbarism and busy civilization. It is the first act in realizing the dream of the philanthropist, tho emigrant, and the ambitious commercialisr, who, like Alexander, bat with less equivocal reason, find the civi lized world too small for their activity and their desires.' Unquestionably this language must, at the time, have appeared to many much too inflated. But it must also be admitted that for persons to stake then: fortunes, to rend their former associations, and, in fact, to jeopardize health and life, in order to settle upon an uninhabited, unsurveyed spot, at the world's antipodes, argued not only strong faith in the future of the projected colony, but also a large degree of moral courage on the part of the adventurers.' The emigrants of 1836 were doubtless a heroic band; but they also included many very sagacious and intelligent men, whose courage was well and wisely directed by full information and great prudence. The founding of South Australia not only awoke echoes at home responsive to the acclamations raised on these shores, but the colony of New South Wales, then strengthened with the strength of half a century's growth, trembled for its own prestige when considering the principles upon which South Australia was established. The Sydney Herald of October 26, 1835, com plained of tfce injustice done to that Colony, because South Australia was not to be founded 'under direction of the local authorities of New South 'Wales.' In the same journal we find the following :— "This new colony (i.e., South Australia), perfectly un shackled by prison discipline, by military governors, and by immense civil and legal establishments, and wholly independent ;and free, threatens to annihilate the other colonies. If it is be successfully established, the colony of New South Wales will probably become an inferior, subordinate, and subservient appendage to it. It may be predicted that no Governor will be able to maintain New South Wales as a penal settlement, if South Aus tralia is established as a free colony with a Governor appointed by the Crown. It is easy to foresee that if the colony of South Australia, with its immense terri tones already open to emigrants, with free institutions and a cheap and popular Government, becomes firmly established this convict colony will not long retain her present supremacy. She will speedily lose her importance, and perhaps become at last pro vincial appendage to a younger, freer, more vigorous, and parely British sister.' Such were the sentiments entertained on this side of the globe of the constitutional principles of the South Australian colony. That we have not altogether realised, the glowing prediction
of either of the writers above quoted may not only be acknowledged, but can be very easily accounted for. So far, however, as the prin ciples of self-government, religious equality, sale of all lands for public purposes, and free dom from convictiam may be regarded as the four corner-stones of a good constitutional system, the social structure then about to be erected on that foundation gave ample assu rance of permanence and stability. And now that one-and-twenty years have passed away, we may ask, were not the fathers and founders of the colony justified in their expectations ? During that period we have, of course, the records of various disappointments, reverses, and disasters. To the general and inevitable vicissitudes and fluctuations charac terizing alike the oldest and the youngest States, we have to superadd, in the case of South Aus tralia, many special and heavy discourage ments- The animosities of officials under the Hindmarsh administration flung the same reproach upon the fair fame of the infant lettlement that the bear-garden scenes in the Tasmanian Parliament now cast upon the reputation of that Legislature. The insolven cies and ruin under Colonel Gawler's adminis tration 'shook not only the foundations of our. colonial credit, but rendered necessary the interposition of the Parent State to rescue us from national extinction. Slowly recovering from these untoward events, the gold disco veries of Victoria drew away our population, ind paralyzed every interest in the colony; whilst, hard following upon the rush to the diggings, a reckless aud most- dispropor tionate shipment of goods by English con signors glutted our markets, and cast a gloom upon every department of trade. Finally, the failure of the harvest of 1855 almost destroyed one staple export of the season, and was the occasion of losses from which many have not yet recovered. Bat although South Australia, born amidst smiles and sun shine, has passed through a childhood of itormy days and frequent disappointments, it this day attains its majority, standing firmly, proudly erect, with brighter hopes than before, ind with surer guarantees than ever. Official mimosities, administrative delinquencies, the rivalry of an adjacent land of gold, agricultural failures, commercial difficulties, have all been met, endured, and surmounted. South Aus traha has attained her majority with her popnk ;ion at its highest point, with her native produce it its greatest aggregate, with her revenue at its maximum, with religion free and flourishing, with education (both for children and adults) rapidly progressing, with a constitutional system the most liberal on the lace of the jartb, with good balances in the Treasury, with good credit in the mother-country, and with every element conducive to a prosperous md glorious future career. Let us, therefore, not overlook the Providence that has blessed our efforts to make us what we are and to "ADVANCE AUSTRALIA"