Lachlan Macquarie

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Lachlan Macquarie

Lachlan Macquarie (born January 31, 1762 on the Isle of Mull , an island in the Hebrides (sometimes the island Ulva is also given as the place of birth), † July 1, 1824 in London ) was Governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821 and is partly regarded as the founder of Australia .


He joined the army in 1776 and served in North America , India , Sri Lanka and Egypt in the years that followed . After holding the rank of captain for twelve years, he intended to leave the army. However, on January 1, 1810, he succeeded the previous Governor William Bligh , who had lost his office after the so-called Rum Rebellion in January 1808, the leadership of the young and poorly established colony of New South Wales . His job was to regain British control of the colony and establish discipline.

Development of the colony's infrastructure

When Macquarie arrived in Sydney in December 1809 , conditions were chaotic. The colony at that time had only about 5,000 European residents. It was still struggling to survive and was basically little more than the convict colony that was founded there on January 26, 1788.

Macquarie was the colony's first governor to come from the army rather than the navy. He led the colony in an enlightened, despotic manner. First he ousted the officers of the New South Wales Corps , such as B. John Macarthur , who had ruled the colony since William Bligh was deposed . His leadership was also characterized by the fundamental equal treatment of former prisoners and free settlers. The former prisoner Francis Greenway was the architect of many buildings in the young colony.

Macquarie solved the coin shortage problem in the early colony in 1813 when he bought Spanish silver coins , the silver dollar , valued at 10,000 shillings , and had two coins minted from them by punching out the center, producing two coins, the holey dollar and the dump . In doing so, he created the conditions for other means of payment such as foreign coins and rum to be pushed back as means of payment.

Macquarie was one of the first to see Australia's future as more than a prison colony. New South Wales for him was part of the British Empire where free citizens would live. Following this vision, he took care of the construction of roads, bridges, shipyards, churches and public buildings. Macquarie commissioned William Cox in 1814 to build the 163-kilometer road through the Blue Mountains . He initiated the construction of some of Sydney's oldest buildings still standing today, such as the B. the Hyde Park Barracks . He ordered judges to be sent to remote outposts such as Vandiemensland (now Tasmania ) or the Bay of Islands (now New Zealand ). He founded new places such as B. Richmond , Windsor , Pitt Town and Castlereagh .

During a visit to Hobart Town (now Hobart ) on the Derwent River in Vandiemensland, he was appalled by the dilapidated state of the city and ordered the land surveyor John Meehan to draw up a floor plan for the city. The planning from that time can still be found today in the road network of downtown Hobart.

Social policy

After the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the sea routes were free again. This, along with rising unemployment and crime in Britain, created a new wave of both prisoners and free settlers. The population of the colony grew to around 35,000 by the time he was recalled. Not least thanks to the expansion of the infrastructure initiated by Macquarie, the colony was able to expand in this way. During his tenure, the colony developed away from a pure convict colony. For Macquarie, it was therefore necessary to change the previous social policy.

The central approach of his policy was the equal treatment of former convicts whose sentences had expired or who had been pardoned. When Macquarie arrived in Australia in 1810, their numbers were larger than the free settlers.

In addition to the appointment of Francis Greenway as chief architect of the colony, he appointed William Redfern as chief doctor. Other moves that the free settlers disliked included the appointment of Andrew Thompson as judge and the invitation of former prisoners to tea in his residence, Government House . In return for the concessions, Macquarie expected ex-inmates to lead a “decent” lifestyle, especially “correct” marriages.

Relationship with Aborigines

Macquarie's policy towards the natives was based on cooperation and assimilation, but supported by military force if necessary. Compared to friendly tribes, he pushed through the nomination of a "chief", who was marked with his name on a bronze plaque. While this was normal practice for Europeans, it did not necessarily reflect the actual position of the elder concerned.

In 1814 Macquarie founded the Native Institution in Parramatta, a school in which Aboriginal children were brought up according to Western values ​​and ideas. At least some of the students were forced to attend school. Even if the children were treated well, their upbringing is now considered a deliberate attempt to push back Aboriginal culture in favor of Western upbringing. The forced schooling of some children was also partly responsible for the outbreak of hostilities later.

Where there was resistance from the Aborginies, Macquarie sent punitive expeditions, on which he wrote in his diary in April 1816: I have this Day ordered three Separate Military Detachments to march into the Interior and remote parts of the Colony, for the purpose of Punishing the Hostile Natives, by clearing the Country of them entirely, and driving them across the mountains; as well as if possible to apprehend the natives who have committed the late murders and outrages, with the view of their being made dreadful and severe examples of, if taken alive. - I have directed as many Natives as possible to be made Prisoners, with the view of keeping them as Hostages until the real guilty ones have surrendered themselves, or have been given up by their Tribes to summary Justice. - In the event of the Natives making the smallest show of resistance - or refusing to surrender when called upon so to do - the officers Commanding the Military Parties have been authorized to fire on them to compel them to surrender; hanging up on trees the bodies of such natives as may be killed on such occasions, in order to strike the greater terror into the survivors.

In 1816 he ordered a punitive expedition that resulted in the Apin massacre . He sent troops to the Gundungurra and Dharawal tribes to punish them for previous acts of violence against settlers. Soldiers use their horses to drive an unknown number of men, women and children off cliffs. 14 people were shot.

Exploring the continent

Macquarie has promoted the exploration of the Australian continent in a special way. After numerous unsuccessful attempts in the first 25 years of the colony, the explorers Gregory Blaxland , William Charles Wentworth and William Lawson sent by him succeeded in finding a way through the Blue Mountains in 1813 . As part of the Great Dividing Range, these had formed a natural barrier to the colony's expansion. In the following years the interior could be settled. First, Macquarie ordered the establishment of Bathurst , the first inland city. He then named John Oxley chief surveyor and sent him north on expeditions along the New South Wales coast to find new rivers and new settlement land. Oxley discovered, among other things, the river systems of northern New South Wales. In what is now Queensland he discovered z. B. the location of the capital Brisbane .

Lachlan Macquarie loved it when things had his name. By naming numerous places, streets, islands, harbors, a university after himself, his wife and other relatives, he ensured that his name remained particularly visible to posterity. It was Macquarie himself who introduced the name Australia. Although had Matthew Flinders suggested the name before, but Macquarie was the first to use it in an official report in the 1817th

End as governor

Macquarie's reforms, in particular the equal treatment of former convicts and the lavish use of money from the Crown for public construction projects, earned him opposition both in the colony and in London. The government in London viewed the colony as a mere place to dump convicts who overcrowded British prisons.

In a letter to the Colonial Minister, later cited against him, he wrote that "the free settlers are by far the most dissatisfied people in the country" and that "ex-convicts are in many cases a model of a settler". The leaders of the free settlers, such as William Charles Wentworth or Macarthur, complained in London about Macquarie's politics. This led to the British government sending the English judge John Thomas Bigge to New South Wales in 1819 to examine the situation. Bigge agreed with the settlers and his report eventually led to Macquarie's abdication on December 1, 1821, by which time he had been in office longer than any of his predecessors. Bigge also suggested that future governors should not rule as sole rulers . Therefore, in 1825, the New South Wales Legislative Council was formed, Australia's first legislative body to advise the governor.

Back in the UK

Macquarie returned to Scotland and died in 1824. At that time he was still having to defend himself against Bigge's allegations. His reputation grew after his death, especially among the colony's former prisoners and their descendants, who made up the majority of Australia's population until the gold rush phases . Today he is often seen as the founder of Australia as a country as opposed to the convict colony. Taking care of his tomb on the Scottish island of Mull , the National Trust of Australia and the National Trust of Scotland adopted. "The Father of Australia" is written on the entrance stone of his mausoleum .

Web links

Commons : Lachlan Macquarie  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. , Macquaries Diary, archived