Eureka 30, 1884

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Background

The fifth paper of the series on The Eureka Stockade appeared in the Ballarat Star newspaper on 21 June 1884.[1]

By 31 May 1884 almost 200 pounds had been collected for a monument to be raised on the site of the Eureka Stockade. Four 64 pounder cannons were presented by Sir Frederick Sargood, the Minister for Defence.


Alexander Morrison, the first secretary of the movement for a monument at Eureka. Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection
EUREKA STOCKADE, 1854
To Mayor Councillors Town of Creswick Gentlemen
OFFICE: LYDIARD STREET BALLARAT, APRIL 1884
A meeting of Citizens was held at the Royal Hotel, Ballarat, on Wednesday, April 16th, for the purpose of taking steps to secure the erection of a suitable MEMORIAL to make the site of the conflict that took place on Sunday Morning, December 3rd, 1854, between the Diggers of Ballarat, and the Government Forces. The Committee confidently appeal not only to the Pioneer Diggers of Ballarat, but to the native youth of Victoria to assist them to carry out this long deferred, but much desired work. The blood spill at the Eureka Stockade served to stimulate and advance the cause of civil and political liberty throughout Australia, and to that sacrifice the free and enlightened constitution now enjoyed is, to a great measure, virtually due. To indelible perpetuate the memory of this fact in a proper manner, so that future generations may not forget what they owe to the past, is the object that the Committee have in view; they solicit your cordial sympathy and support, and trust that the thirtieth anniversary of the Stockade in December next, will witness the unveiling of a Memorial that will not only be a credit to Ballarat, but a fitting tribute to the heroic self-abnegation and valour of those who fell at its base.
I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient servant,
A.T. MORRISON,
Hon. Secretary.



EUREKA STOCKADE MEMORIAL

CHAIRMAN:- COUNCILLOR ROBERT LEWIS. J.P

COMMITTEE:- JOHN HICKMAN, J.P., MAYOR CITY OF BALLARAT.

JOHN FERGUSON, J.P., MAYOR TOWN OF BALLARAT EAST

J. NOBLE WILSON, J.P., CHAIRMAN BALLARAT WATER COMMISSION

COUNCILLOR CHARLES SALTER,

JOSEPH ROFF

THEOPHILUS WILLIAMS

MR. W. H. BECHERVAISE

“ E. W. SPAIN

“ CHARLES DYTE

“ JOHN HALL

HON. SECRETARY & TREASURER COUNCILLOR A.T. MORRISON, J.P.

EXTRACT FROM THE “BALLARAT COURIER:” APRIL 18. “ A feeling of real pleasure has been aroused among the pioneers of the goldfields by Wednesday evening’s meeting; and this is no wonder for it calls to mind an event which had everything to do with the formation of the free institutions which we now life under, and with a great deal of other progress which we all now witness. It was a rebellion against stupidity, stubbornness, and tyranny in high places, but it was no rebellion against the Queen and the British connection; so that no matter how loyal a person’s feelings may be, he can conscientiously support Wednesday evening’s project. Everybody can give their money, much or little, to enable the Eureka Stockade to be commemorated by a monument on the spot, because while everybody in the colony has benefited by that struggle, nobody’s loyal scruples are assailed by such a step being taken. Young, middle-aged, and old may all well put their shoulders to the wheel in such a case, give what they can afford in the shape of money, because the event to be memorialised is one which in some way or other has conduced to everybody’s advantage. Wednesday’s meeting has put the monument idea into such an excellent shape that it cannot fail to be a success; and it will be a red-letter day in the calendar of the whole colony when the structure has been completed.”


THE EUREKA STOCKADE THE LAST LICENSE HUNT (BY ONE OF THE INSURGENTS) No. V

Five Hundred Pounds had been offered for the capture of Vern, and £400 for Lalor and Black, but there was no man who knew of their place of concealment base enough to betray them. About the beginning of February, 1855, the diggings were very lively, and large quantities of gold were obtained on the various leads. The ground was exceedingly rich about the Gravel Pits, Red Streak, and Eureka. Money was plentiful, and diggers and business men were doing well. Everybody was settling down quietly to his ordinary occupation, full of hope for the future. The claims in those days were very small, 34 feet square for eight men. So it became customary – owing to the great expenses of sinking a shaft – for one or two in a party to “shepherd” a couple of claims until the lead was proved near enough to warrant a shaft being sunk. A large number of claims had been taken up on the flat at the foot of the Red Streak. As the lead had not yet been proved near by, the “shepherds” had a jolly time of it, some sinking an inch per day in their shafts; dressing a part of a log or a slab; playing cards with brother “shepherds”, telling long-winded yarns, or any other amusement to while away the time. I was one of the shepherds on the flat at that time. One hot morning we were lounging under the shade of a “fly,” when we were startled by a brother shepherd arriving on the ground with a Government proclamation in his hand, which he had torn from a stump on his way from home. The proclamation was read and consisted of a notice calling on the diggers to taking out their licenses, and informing them that the police would be out on a given date to search for unlicensed persons. This was a pretty state of affairs, after all we had suffered. The same abominable practice of digger-hunting was to be resumed and persisted in. Haines, who had stated in the House when the address to the Governor was debated, that the grievances of the diggers were about being enquired into, was now in power, having succeeded Forster. But “enquiring” into the grievances, appeared to be the limit of their intentions, as there was now not now the slightest evidence of their intention to redress them. The starling notice calling on the diggers to take out their licenses was signed “Charles Wale Sherard.” The question now arose, What’s to be done? After some time spent in discussion, it was unanimously decided that the order should not be obeyed, and that a meeting should be called on Bakery Hill. A Cornishman and I were deputed to take immediate steps for calling a meeting. We immediately consulted two of the old leaders, but we got little assistance from them. They were marked men, and as the State trials had not yet come off, they were afraid to make themselves conspicuous. We went to Fletcher’s printing office, and ordered 100 posters, headed “The License Hunt Again,” calling on the diggers to attend a public meeting on Bakery Hill next day at 11a.m. My Cornish friend and I got each a billy of paste, and took different routes with 50 posters each under our arms, and wherever we found a Government proclamation we posted one of our notices alongside as near as possible, or above if there was room. That was my first and last attempt at bill sticking, and I flatter myself that it was a most successful one. The appearance of the two notices caused an immense excitement among the diggers, and the opinion appeared general that the Government order should not be obeyed. I went up to the camp in the morning, a few minutes before the Government offices opened, to reconnoitre. I found about a score of the ultraloyalist or weak kneed men of the day around the door of the office, where the licenses were issued. I then returned to Bakery Hill, quite satisfied with what I had seen. On getting to the top of the hill I could see there were thousands of diggers wending their way toward the old trysting ground. The vast multitude assembled round a bullock dray, and it was some time before a chairman could be induced to preside over the meeting, which was one of the largest ever held on Ballarat. It was considered there were 15,000 men present at that meeting. A chairman was appointed after a little delay, the notice calling the meeting, and the Government proclamation were read. A large number of the new officials were present. Mr Foster, superintendent of police, and Messrs Daly and Templeton were conspicuous in their uniform. A resolution was submitted to the meeting, declaring that no more licenses would be taken out. The resolution was seconded by someone in the crowd. They both advised the diggers to take out licenses, as they believed the obnoxious licensing law would soon be repealed, and for the sake of peace they should take out licenses once more. Mr Daly asked them to take out the license for three months, and promised to use his best influence to get the money returned if the licensing law was repealed in the meantime. The vast multitude listened in silence to the officials and treated them respectfully but when they finished, a loud negative went up from the assembled multitude. The chairman put the resolution to the meeting and an immense forest of hands was held up in its favour. Of that large meeting there were only about 100 hands held up against it. The chairman declared the resolution carried by an immense majority, which announcement was received with loud cheers by the meeting. Another resolution was submitted, declaring that no resistance whatever was to be offered to the police, and that every man was to go quietly if arrested. This resolution was carried by acclamation, and gave rise to a good deal of hilarity in the meeting. Some of the diggers enquired factiously, “How are they off for room in the logs?” the meeting now quietly dispersed, a few of us congratulation ourselves on the very satisfactory results. A number of the leading inhabitants who were spectators, and the officials, went their home, while those who were instrumental in getting up the demonstration lingered behind, anxiously thinking of the morrow. That night was a sleepless one to many of us, and morning dawned with the nerves of many strung to the utmost tension. Every man went to his post, that is, to his work, excepting the week kneed ones, who either went for licenses or hid themselves to watch the events of the day. About mid-day word came round that the police were on the move. We soon saw about a dozen police coming up through the holes on the flat, unarmed, without any weapon, offensive or defensive, to be seen. They came quietly up, and something like the following passed between them and the diggers; - “Have you got a license?” “No.” “Arrah, now, thin, you divil, shure you bad better go and get one.” The police returned to the camp without a single prisoner. Thus ended the last “digger hunt” in Victoria. The blood of the patriots had not been shed in vain. We had not fought and suffered with redressing the wrongs of our fellow citizens. Young Victoria owes a debt of gratitude to the men of ’54. The peace, protection, and unfettered liberty we now enjoy were baptised with the blood of the martyr-patriots who fell at Eureka. No man was ever asked for a license after this. The license law was abolished immediately, and a miner’s right at £1 per annum established instead, and all laws treating the digger as an outlaw were repealed, and he has been treated ever since like any other member of the community. History has already taught us that English statesmen of the past never granted justice or reforms to colonial communities until blood was shed. I have worked on Ballarat with a man who was transported to Van Diemens Land from Canada for taking part in a rebellion in that country. Reforms were immediately granted there the same as here, after blood had been shed over it. Soon after this the State prisoners were brought to trial in Melbourne. The first put on his trial was a coloured man. An immense concourse of people hung round the Courthouse anxiously waiting to hear the result. After a long trial the prisoner was acquitted and discharged. On emerging from the Courthouse he was put in a chair and carried round the streets of the City in triumph with the greatest demonstrations of joy. The whole of the State prisoners were shortly afterwards acquitted. This was the “last feather that broke the camels back.” The haughty spirit of Sir Charles Hotham could not brook this. His tyrant spirit would not bend. It broke. He never recovered the shock and died at the end of the year 1855 of a broken heart. Official arrogance now became toned down to a normal standard. The duties of “Policeman X” were confined to those for which police were invented, and he became altogether a model policeman. The bitter animosities of the past soon died out, and a bright future began to dawn and remove the sable clouds that hung over Ballarat. The law began to be administered on the lines of justice and equity. The digger could now appeal to the tribunals with full confidence that he would receive justice. He was a new man altogether. He was placed on the same footing as Her Majesty’s other subjects, and not treated as an outcast and a vagabond. I have often been asked the question, was it well that the insurrection was put down? I can now sit down and calmly review the 30 years that have almost expired since the eventful 3rd December. After considering the good Government that has prevailed in our adopted country since then and the unfettered liberty enjoyed by every man, no matter how humble his station, in life, I can say yes; unhesitatingly, yes. In conclusion, I may state that I have never before published any statement or narrative of the stirring early times of Ballarat. Mine was a humble part in the tragic drama. My name does not appear in any of the records of the time, excepting in the list of those captured on that eventful morning. In all human probability these papers would never have appeared if I had not, accidentally seen an article in the Ballarat Star containing a few kindly remarks on the men of 1854.

Transcribed by Chrissy Stancliffe[2]

Also See

Commemoration

Alexander Morrison
  1. Ballarat Star, Saturday 21 June 1884
  2. Ballarat Star, Saturday 21 June 1884, p. 3