Cause and effect

How a tax cut led to the white settlement of Australia

How did a tax cut result in the white settlement of Australia?

Historians are always examining cause and effect. Did one event cause another? Is there a sufficient link between historical moments?

Since the 1600s the East India Company was trading profitably in India and later in the Americas. Its business was primarily tea and cotton.

After the war with the French in the 1750s, the English found their resources depleted. They needed more tax revenue.

The American colonials were not overly happy with British rule and were not particularly happy with British taxes. The call began for. “No taxes without representation‼”

Tax from the East India Company had declined as the Company faced increased competition from a number of “rogue” tea smugglers (primarily supported by the Dutch). The Company complained that British taxes were making it uncompetitive and that a tax cut would permit it to sell more product and pay more tax, including its growing back-taxes. The British government acceded to their request and passed the Tea Act 1773.

On learning of the favourable tax treatment afforded the Company, the Americans were incensed and in December 1773, the rebellious colonials tipped 340 crates of Company tea into the harbour at Boston (Boston’s governor was pro-British) in what has since been dubbed the Boston Tea Party.

The Boston Tea Party confirmed the anti-British sentiment that was fomenting among the colonials.

In April 1775, emotions spilled over once again and the Revolutionary War began.

On 4 July 1776, with the War still raging the 13 American colonies signed the Declaration of Independence and asserted their break from Britain.

The war was hard fought and did not conclude until 1783.

While most of history has concerned activity in the northern hemisphere, in the southern Hemisphere, Terra Australis has been home to history’s longest continuous civilisation. Probably assisted by the last Ice Age, and the freezing of the seas, about 50,000 years ago, perhaps longer, the migration out of Africa led Australia’s indigenous people to this great southern land.

The west coast of Australia first came to the attention of the Potuguese in the 1500s. They were not interested in a such barren land.

The Dutch discovered the west coast in the 1600s. In 1616, the Dutchman Dirk Hartog landed on the west coast and commemorated his visit by nailing a tin plate to a nearby tree, thus providing Australia its first “white” relic.

It was another Dutchman, Abel Janszoon Tasman who dubbed this land New Holland. A name that stuck for over a hundred years. In 1642, he discovered another land to the east that he called Nieuw Zeelandia.

In 1770, The British James Cook explored the east coast and reported favourably to the British Home Secretary Lord Sydney about what he saw.

From the early 1600s England sent droves of convicts to America. The Transportation Act of 1717 permitted English courts to sentence convicted felons to transportation for 7 years to America.

The number of convicts despatched to America became a significant issue for certain colonies. In 1670, Virginia legislated against the settlement of further convicts. In 1722, similar measures were taken by Pennsylvania which imposed a tax on those accepting convicts.

Estimates vary but range from 55,000 to 130,000 British convicts were transported and settled in the American colonies.

Of course, transportation to America ceased during and after the Revolutionary War.

Where was England to place its criminals after America was no longer an option and English gaols and hulks were full beyond capacity? ……

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