- The pottery maker Wedgwood made this medallion designed by Henry Webber
in 1789. It was made from clay brought back from Sydney Cove, one of
the earliest British settlements in Australia (the "First Fleet" had
arrived to settle there in 1788).
- Josiah Wedgwood was an extremely famous and wealthy businessman who
was always interested in Britain's empire. He was keen on empire because
it allowed him to trade his pottery all over the world. However, he
was also keen on empire because he believed it brought the best values
of British civilisation to "uncivilised" parts of the world.
- Wedgwood was a keen opponent of slavery and campaigned against it
until it was abolished. He supported the idea that convicts sent out
to Australia could be given a fresh start.
- The medallion's subject is 'Hope encouraging Art and Labour, under
the influence of Peace, to pursue the employments necessary to give
security and happiness to an infant settlement'. In the medallion the
woman on the left represents Hope. The two other women are Peace and
Art, and the man represents Labour.
- What Wedgwood was saying was that convicts could come out to Australia
for a fresh start (Hope). If they worked hard (Labour) they could achieve
a better life than they had back in Britain (Peace) and improve themselves
with hobbies or education (Art). It was an optimistic view. However,
historians are not all convinced by this view.
- In the 1600s and 1700s Britain transported convicts to America. After
the American Revolution of 1776 this was no longer an option. By the
time Cook mapped and claimed Australia in 1770 Britain’s jails
were already overcrowded. Once prisoners could not be transported, the
prisons reached crisis point.
- In 1788 the first convict colony in Australia was set up with
about 750 convicts. From then until 1868 Britain transported about 160,000
convicts to Australia.