Why by the 1830's, was the continuation of convict transportation to the Australian colonies under increasing scrutiny, and what arguments and interests were at stake in this debate?

Essay by yoshimiCollege, UndergraduateB-, April 2004

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By the late eighteenth century, Britain was no stranger to the process of colonisation. However from Captain Cook's first arrival at Botany Bay until the complete reprieve of the Hulks Act in 1850, successive British governments would experiment with a revolutionary style of colonisation called 'Convict Transpotation'. This would see over 115,000 convicts being transported to the two colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemans Land, in an effort to relieve a domestic surge in convict numbers following the industrial revolution (which had caused increases both in population and urbanisation). However by the 1830's this process was to receive much opposition from those who viewed transportation as too mild a punishment. Following a number a reforms to solve this problem, many took the alternate view that transportation was inhumane and similar to slavery. Transportation was placed under further scrutiny when voluntary migration to Australia began to grow with the prospect of an end to transportation and it became clear that Australia, 'must one day or another be one of the greatest colonies belonging to the British Empire' .

The settlement of Australia began in earnest with the arrival of convicts and soldiers under Governor Arthur Philip at Botany Bay in January 1788, (the 26th of this month being the date now celebrated as 'Australian Day'). This settlement consisted fundamentally of the two penal colonies, which were set up in New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land (modern day Tasmania). The number of free settlers was at an absolute minimum. However, when the benefits gained by the officers became apparent, along with the gradual development of the wool growing industry, the numbers of free settlers would gradually increase as well. This gradual influx of enterprising and upstanding British citizens was to cause Philip and his successive governors difficulties in any...