Three Rebellions: Canada 1837-38, South Wales 1839 and Victoria 1854
My latest work to be published in May is a major study of the context, causes, consequences and commemoration of three popular disturbances in the British Empire during the early years of Queen Victoria’s long reign. In the Canadas during 1837 and 1838, at Newport in South Wales in 1839 and at the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat, Victoria in Australia in 1854, thousands of largely working people took up arms against the forces of colonial rule and oppression. What characterised linked these three events was a popular form of constitutionalism, linked to British radicalism and especially to Chartism that sought constitutional and democratic change but which was denied by colonial oligarchies that sought to retain political power at the centre. All three rebellions failed when faced by the overwhelming force of the colonial state but, although defeated militarily they each played a significant role in the emergence of more responsive and responsible government. Today, the losers are better remembered than those who defeated them in 1837-1838, 1839 and 1854.
The book attempts something that has never been done before: a detailed examination of political developments in Canada, South Wales and Australia in the first six decades of the nineteenth century. It is based on a comprehensive examination of available materials and should appeal to both historians and general readers interested in considering how and why Canada and Australia, two of the most important white-settler colonies of the British Empire, achieved a form of self-government and why reform in Britain took much longer. It also provides analysis of the global impact of British radicalism and the ways in which its ideas were transposed to the colonies and modified in turn by that experience.