'...Passing … to the general question of the case of our Aborigines, we would observe, that the murders committed from time to time by the whites on the blacks, and by the blacks on the whites, are, to a serious extent, chargeable upon us as a nation. We have not done our duty as a civilized and a Christian people. We have invaded the territory of the New Hollanders - have taken forcible possession of their rightful property - have amassed immense wealth by the tillage and pasturage of their soil;- and yet have kept back the only price at which the right to do all this could be purchased… [Yet] ...the right of civilized states to take possession of barbarous countries, rests entirely upon the principle of a full equivalent being given by the invaders. … It ...[is]... the imperative duty of the foreigner to make his seizure of the soil decidedly and obviously advantageous to its primitive owners. This he can do by teaching them how that soil may be made conducive to the subsistence and comfort of themselves and their families - by weaning them from the brutalities of savage to the enlightened pleasures of civilised life - and, above all, by communicating to them the imperishable blessings of Christianity… [A]s a nation …[the British]… title to this territory rested on no better foundation than that of might. She had seized it by main force, utterly regardless of the question of right. And is it, therefore, at all wonderful that her piratical invasion should have been resented by the lords of the soil? Was it not perfectly natural that the native should feel himself an injured man, and that he should appeal to the only authority from which he could expect redress - his spear? But the seizure of his property was not the only grievance inflicted on him by the whites. His morals were corrupted by the poisonous seductions of ardent spirits - his person was contaminated by the diseases of British vice - his wife and his daughters were made the victims of the white man's lust - and, but too frequently, he beheld his kindred and his friends slain by the Englishman's axe or musket. The only wonder is, that under the provocation of these accumulated injuries and insults, the Aborigines have not slaughtered every European they have encountered in the solitudes of their forests. Ignorant as they are of law and authority, exasperated as they have been by unprovoked outrages on all that is dear to them as sentient beings, their forbearance has been truly wonderful, and only reflects the deeper disgrace on their heartless oppressors.'
From an editorial printed in the weekly Sydney journal 'The Colonist' on 12 December 1838. The author was the Presbyterian minister, Rev William McIntyre (1806-1870), later founder and headmaster of the 'High School of Maitland'. One of McIntyre's greatest admirers is also one of his best known one time pupils, Sir Samuel Walker Griffith (1845-1920), one time Premier of Queensland and the first Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. Griffith later praised McIntyre, saying that:
'On the whole he was a remarkable man, and his name deserves to be remembered as one of the foremost worthies of New South Wales.'
The Right to Live ...is also the title of a doctoral thesis
It contains the intriguing untold story of the struggle of Europeans who were in dissent of colonial Queensland’s frontier indigenous policy. The study utilises a pivotal moment - a month long newspaper campaign in Queensland’s leading journal in 1880, and the troubled conscience, trials and tribulations of its author and orchestrator - the Copenhagen-born but British and French educated Australian political commentator and newspaper editor Carl Adolph Feilberg (1844-1887) - in an ambitious attempt to enter the mindset and rationale of the period, and its political players on a colonial and imperial level.
The study forms a chronological narrative of a series of key events, public debates, politics and prominent individuals related to the colonial frontier in north-eastern Australia, and it confronts its reader with a number of disclosures. Prominent in the first volume are a series of highly questionable attempts by Queensland’s first governor and government to institutionalise systems and practices which were fundamentally illegal. An influential, well documented and particularly appalling moment in this descent from constitutional governing was reached when these men secretly issued a death warrant for two troopers accused of rape and murder, so as to avoid legal procedures and the possibility of inconvenient public exposure.
Ultimately the story concludes in the prime ministerial office and the corridors of power in London during the 1880s, where Queensland’s indigenous policy had become the ground for a deep-seated distrust and the cause of a major behind-the-scenes fallout with the leadership of both sides of British politics. Ultimately this situation caused a serious setback for the national security of Australia, simultaneously forming the main trigger behind the first step towards an Australian federation.
‘The Right to Live’ may be seen as a history moving in three levels. There is an individual level, dealing with the mindset and personal struggles of arguably the most influential voice of political dissent to the frontier indigenous policy in the history of colonial Queensland. Yet another level attempts to encompass the entire political history of race and humanitarian dissent in nineteenth century north-eastern Australia, depicting all major issues and combatants involved, and finally there is an underlying endeavour to utilise this history to further some deeper reflection on the issue of race, prejudices and mankind. As such this study represents a comprehensive journey in search of new answers to fundamental questions related to respect for diversity and human rights in human history, and dealing with a period where race-thinking was allowed an ever increasingly overpowering, ultimately catastrophic, influence on the European mind.