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Selden Society lecture 3: Kidnapping and slavery in Queensland: the Jason and the Hopeful
In 1871, the Supreme Court of Queensland upheld the conviction of Captain Coath of the schooner Jason for kidnapping nine South Sea Islanders with the intention of putting them to work as indentured labourers. Supporters of Captain Coath insisted the conviction was obtained through lies by disgruntled crew members and an insane Government Inspector. Opponents of the South Sea Islander labour trade pointed to the case as a symptom of widespread abuse.

With the rapid expansion of sugar production in the early 1880s, new sources of labour were sought. In 1884, the crew of the Burns Philp vessel Hopeful was charged with murder and kidnapping. Found guilty, the captain and mate were given the death sentence to enormous public outcry. Premier Samuel Griffith, a fierce opponent of the labour trade and the plantation system, established the Royal Commission to Enquire into Kidnapping in New Guinea Waters the following year. It revealed the widespread extent of murder, kidnapping, rape and deception in this new phase of recruiting.

Aug 18, 2022 05:30 PM in Brisbane

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