(previous … Separation From New South Wales)

Governor Lachlan Macquarie, SydneyIn 1808 the English Government held an inquiry as to the circumstances which had caused the expulsion of Governor Bligh, and though they cashiered Major Johnston, and indeed ordered the whole of New South Wales Corps to be disbanded, yet as they could not allow the blame to be totally Bligh’s, they yielded to the wishes of the settlers in so far as to appoint a new Governor in his place and despatched Major General Macquarie to take the position.

He was directed to re-instate Bligh for a period of twenty-four hours, in order to indicate to the colonists that the authorities in England would not tolerate anyone taking matters into their own hands. That it was the English Government and the English Government alone that reserved the right to appoint and dismiss the Governors. However, as Bligh had by this time gone to Tasmania, Macquarie was forced on his arrival, to merely proclaim what had been his intentions.

Macquarie’s Faults and Virtues

In the early days of the colonies, their destinies were, to a great extent, molded by the governors who had charge of them. Whether for good or evil, the influences of the governor was decisive and it was, therefore, a matter of good fortune to Sydney that during the long administration of Governor Lachlan Macquarie, this influence was mostly on the good side. Not to say Macquarie did not have his faults. He was a man absurdly filled with vanity and self-conceit. A man who instead of writing formal accounts to his superiors in England, wrote flowery accounts of himself and his wonderful doings. A man who was so egotistical, he affixed the names of himself and family members to nearly every place discovered in the colony during his term of office. Yet, apart from this weakness, Macquarie can be characterized as an exemplary man and an admirable Governor. He devoted himself heartily to his work, with his main thought for twelve years was how to improve the state of the little colony and how to raise the convicts who had been sent there.

Actively Involved in the Colony

Once every year he made a complete tour of the settled portions of the colony to observe their conditions and to find out what improvements were needed. He taught the farmers to build for themselves neat houses, in place of the crude huts they have been previously content living in. He also encouraged them to improve their system of farming, sometimes with advice, sometimes with money but more often with loans from the Government stores. He built churches and schools as he was greatly interested in the progress of religion and education and would neglect nothing that could serve to elevate the moral tone of the little community ( and certainly no community was in greater need of elevation!).

Encouraged Expansion and Growth

The fact that the British Government thought it necessary to send out 1,100 soldiers to keep order among a population of only 10,000 indicates very plainly what was the character of the people and justifies the sweeping assertion of Macquarie, that the colony consisted of those ‘ who had been transported and those who ought to have been.” Yet Macquarie generally showed a kindly attitude towards the convicts. He settled great numbers of them as free men on little farms of their own and if they did not succeed as well as they might have done, it was not for want of advice and assistance from the Governor.

(continues … Road Over the Blue Mountains)