South Australian Emigration Association.

A meeting of the members of the South Australian Association was held on Monday, at Exeter Hall, “for the purpose of explaining the principles, objects, plan, and prospects of a new colony,” proposed to be founded in South Australia. Mr W. Whitmore in the chair.

Upon taking the chair, Mr Whitmore stated, that the first question which the meeting would have to consider would be this–whether there existed or not at present any necessity for a more extended system of colonization. It appeared to him that there was a great defect in our present system of colonication, and that it would be greatly to our advantage if we established it upon a new principle, well and seriously considered. That which struck him as the greatest defect was, that we did not provided that colonization which included within it members of all classes of society. Large numbers of emigrants went out with capital, but not carrying with them that number of the lower class which was necessary to employ their capital to advantage. In other cases, perhaps almost as numerous, the labourer went out without capital which was necessry to enable him to employ his labour to advantage. This was a striking defect. Now the question which they were then called upon to consider, regarded the best means of remedying that defect. Those means, it appeared to him, were quite practicable, and might be accomplished in this manner, vz. by establishing as a system that all the waste lands which they were about to colonize should be sold at a given price, such as the market would command, and that the proceeds of such sales should be employed in sending out to the colonies a sufficient number of labourers to cultivate the lands so sold. If this system could be carried into effect, he apprehended that all the evils of our present system of colonization would be removed, and that we should be enabled to transplant a portion of the community of the mother country with all its various grades into the new country which they now proposed to coloniz. He believed that if we proceeded upon this principle, we should lay the foundation of the greatest colony which England had ever settled.

Mr Grote, M.P., moved the first resolution,–”That the wealth and prosperity of this country have been greatly promoted by the establishment of British colonies in various parts of the world, and that colonization, when conducted systematically and upon sound principles, offers the means of extending indefinitely the commercial empire of the united kingdom, and the field of employment for British capital and labour.” He would not enter into the recommendations which this undertaking offered to all classes of the community ; but he would venture to state, that to any gentleman who considered the prospectus which had been put out by the association, and who recollected that it was a matter of certainty that the land in the colony was to be used as the means of raising a fund to carry over thither the labour, which was superabundant here, it must be evident that from this important innovation on our colonial system great benefit must be derived[?] both to the new colony and to the mother country.

Mr Clay, M.P., in seocnding the resolution, entered at great length into the difficulty of finding employment, which now prevails in all parts of the community, and then, after condemning the corn laws, continued thus–Colonization, if carried on to a considerable extent, would as effectually add millions of fertile acres to our shores as if the Irish sea were filled up with fertile land. If that miracle took place is it not clear that all distress would immediately cease, and that the emplyment which the addition of so many fertile acres would afford must give a new stimulus to the prosperity of the country ? Is it not clear that the miserable compotation[?] for potato-gardens in Ireland would cease, and that the difficulties flowing from an unemployed population would cease ? Does any man doubt that it would be well worth the while of our capitalists to take such land at from 10s to 20s an acre. (Hear.) Yet this plan is in effect the same as if the land were added to our own island, because, if this plan of colonization be adopted, a transplantation of a sufficiency of labourers, now wanting employment, from this country, for its culture, will take place, which is equivalent to the transportation of the land to the labourer. In point of fact, the ocean joins these distant lands, instead of separating them. (Hear.)– There can be no doubt but that a wider comercial code, and the removal of restrictions on labour, would greatly facilitate, extend, and increase the commercial intercourse between the old nation of the world ; but in no case would the increase be in proportion to that which might be calculated on, as the consequence of a connection with newly-formed countries in other climates. As regards the establishment of colonies, it is virtually an extension of the mother country.

Colonel Torrens, M.P., proposed the second resolution– “That in establishing colonies, great care ought to be taken to combine labour and capital with land, in such proportions as are best calculated to insure the prosperity of all classes of society, and that, in establishing modern colonies, this important consideration has been so generally overlooked.” It was, he said, almost unnecessary for him to state that in all systems of colonization, land, labour, and capital, ought to be combinedin just proportions ; and yet this simple principle had been hitherto greatly neglected by those who had led new colonies from the mother country. In the first place, the whole of the land of this colony was to be public land. No individual was to obtain a single acre by gift. There was to be no patronage, no job–all were to be on a footing of equality, and nobody was to have a single inch of land for nothing. There would also be another advantage in this system, which would arise in the following :–In other colonies, the labourer who had gone out and found that he could get land for nothing, had often fallen into the mistake that land was wealth, instead of it being merely the means of producing wealth. That fatal mistake had often led him to refuse the work of the master with whom he had gone out, and set up for himself as an independent landowner. He had in consequence set up, where he was far away from the market of the colony, where he had no roads over which to convey his produce, and where he had perished miserably. But in this colony the labourers would be compelled for some time to work for hire.

Mr Guest, M.P. seconded the resolution.

Mr Hutt, M.P. moved the third resolution to the following effect:–”That in order to promote the greatest prosperity of a new colony, it is expedient that all waste land, without any exception, shall be declared public land, and be disposed of to individuals by sale only, and according to an uniform, impartial, and permanent system.”

Captain Gowan seconded the resolution, and spoke in the highest terms of the salubrity of the climate of Australia. Many of his fellow soldiers in India had gone there for the recovery of their health, and had found something so temperate and soothing in the country, that they had retired there altogeher, preferring its mild and gentle breeze to the chills of their native country, England.

Mr P. Scrope, M.P. moved “That it is also desirable that the whole of the purchase money of public land, without any deduction, should be employed in providing a free passage from the mother country to the colony, of young adult persons of the labouring class, who may be willing to emigrate, and in equal proportion of both sexes.” As the want of labour was the great difficulty in all infant colonies, the more labour they imported, the greater labour did they give their land ; the more they got for the sale of it, the greater was their power of importing fresh labour. This resolution, therefore, acted in a reciprocal manner upon itself, and when it was once fairly put into operation they would proceed onwards on the road to prosperity with accelerated velocity, meeting with no other obstacle than the unwillingness of England to part with her inhabitants.

Mr Wilks, M.P. seconded the resolution.

Mr Handson moved –”That amongst the unoccupied portions of the earth which form part of the British dominions, the south coast of Australia appears to be a sport peculiarly suitable for founding a colony upon the principles embodied in the preceding resolutions.” The place where this colony was to be founded was one distinguished from every other part of Australia, from its possessing a facility of internal communications prior even to the formation of roads, and the soil would amply repay the labour expended on its cultivation.

Mr Robert Owen (not of Lanark) said that the coasts of this colony abounded with whales, and that its whale fisheries might become valuable.

Mr M. D. Hill rose to propose the resolution embodying the mode of carrying the principles of this association into effect. No colony could go on without some law. He did not care how little they had of it, provided they made up in quality what was deficient in quantity. The hon. member entered into an elaborate description of the laws intended to be enacted for the colony, and concluded by moving–”That the provisions for the peace, order, and good government of the British Province of South Australia, as contained in the bill now before Parliament, are highly satisfactory.”

Mr D. Wakefield seconded the resolution.

Sir W. Molesworth, M.P. proposed, and Mr Childers, M.P., seconded the following resolution :–”That it is the opinion of this meeting that the thanks of the country are due to Mr Spring Rice for his prompt and enlightened conduct in promoting the beneficial public object of the South Australian Association.”

The resolutions were carried unanimously. Thanks were given to the Chairman, and the meeting, at which many ladies were present, broke up. The proceedings lasted from twelve o’clock to a quarter before five.

Citation: Scotsman (Edinburgh, United Kingdom), 05 July 1834, available at the Scissors and Paste Database,