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Indigenous people in British settler colonies, 1830s–1910

This book focuses on the ways in which the British settler colonies of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa treated indigenous peoples in relation to political rights, commencing with the imperial policies of the 1830s and ending with the national political settlements in place by 1910. Drawing on a wide range of sources, its comparative approach provides an insight into the historical foundations of present-day controversies in these settler societies.

Open Access (free)
‘If they treat the Indians humanely, all will be well’
Julie Evans, Patricia Grimshaw, David Philips and Shurlee Swain

This chapter focuses on the early political developments in the British settler colonies in the region of North America, which later became Canada, from the late 1830s to around 1870. By 1840, there were four colonies in mainland British North America, clustered in the south-eastern corner of the vast Canadian land mass, the rest of which remained under the administration of the Hudson's Bay Company. Representative government had been introduced during the last quarter of the eighteenth century, beginning with the maritime colonies of Nova Scotia (1758), Prince Edward Island (1773) and New Brunswick (1785), and extending to Upper and Lower Canada, the constituent parts of the new province of Canada, in 1791. Discussions of the status of Indigenous peoples in the British North American colonies reflect competing and at times conflicting understandings among the four major stakeholders: the Colonial Office, with its locally based governors and Indian agents; the missionaries; the settlers; and the Indigenous peoples themselves.

in Equal subjects, unequal rights
Open Access (free)
Saving the White voters from being ‘utterly swamped’
Julie Evans, Patricia Grimshaw, David Philips and Shurlee Swain

This chapter focuses on the voting rights and political outcomes of the intensified appropriation of Indigenous lands by British settler colonists in South Africa from the 1870s to 1910. By the 1870s, important economic and political developments in South Africa prompted Britain to act in consolidating its interests throughout the Southern African region. These developments, which included the ‘mineral revolution’ through the discovery of diamond fields and gold fields, and Lord Carnarvon's federation scheme of 1870, together reshaped the political geography of South Africa within three decades. By the end of the nineteenth century, the separate African polities had almost entirely disappeared under some form of European colonial jurisdiction, and Britain was also directly threatening the independence of the two Boer republics. The chapter summarizes the political developments related to the voting rights of people, including settlers and Indigenous in the British settler colonies of Natal and Cape Colony.

in Equal subjects, unequal rights
Open Access (free)
One or two ‘honorable cannibals’ in the House?
Julie Evans, Patricia Grimshaw, David Philips and Shurlee Swain

This chapter focuses on the expansion of the British Empire and early political developments in the British settler colonies in the region of Australasia from the late 1830s to around 1870. The first colonies on the Australian continent and the islands of New Zealand in the decades from the late 1830s to 1870 were notable for their swift movement politically from initial Crown colonies to virtual local self-government. The British Government first made arrangements for representative government based on a property franchise for all of these colonies, and then conceded responsible government to the settler colonists. Further, by 1860, the legislatures of the eastern and southeastern Australian colonies had instituted full manhood suffrage. The Indigenous peoples of the Australasian colonies, Aborigines and Maori, were included in this process to self-government and democracy. The means by which colonists could acquire land and their subsequent usage of it would strongly influence Maori and Aborigines' entitlement to political citizenship and the likelihood of their exercising it.

in Equal subjects, unequal rights
Open Access (free)
Better ‘the Hottentot at the hustings’ than ‘the Hottentot in the wilds with his gun on his shoulder’
Julie Evans, Patricia Grimshaw, David Philips and Shurlee Swain

This chapter focuses on the expansion of the British Empire and early political developments in the British settler colonies in South Africa from the late 1830s to around 1870. The British took over the Cape Colony from the Dutch by a combination of military conquest and formal cession by treaty; the colonial annexations of Xhosa land were similarly based on both military conquest and cession by treaties following the various frontier wars. By the 1830s, the British authorities who had taken over the Cape from the Dutch found themselves trying to govern a society that was a complex mixture of ethnic populations, including White settlers, Khoisan, the Xhosa and other African groups. The British Government granted representative government to both the British colonies in South Africa, Cape and Natal, in the 1850s. A comparison of the minority rule of British settlers in the settler colonies of Natal and Cape, and a discussion of the inclusion of colonists and Indigenous people on the basis of property franchise in representative governments, are also presented.

in Equal subjects, unequal rights