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Cartoon from 1864 commenting on convict transportation to Australia
(HIP/Topfoto: Punch, 29 October 1864)
  • This cartoon was published in Punch magazine in 1864. Punch was a popular journal, which was famous for its cartoons. These cartoons often dealt with serious issues, but tried to comment in a lighthearted way.
  • At the time of this cartoon transportation to Australia from Britain was already over. A number of factors brought this about.
  • There was a strong campaign in Britain against transportation, on the grounds that it was immoral and because conditions on the convict ships were appalling.
  • There were also many complaints from settlers in Australia. Many believed that ex-convicts were responsible for the crime and squalor that affected some Australian towns.
  • Other settlers believed that the presence of convict workers meant that there were fewer jobs for free workers, and that their wages were low as a result.
  • Other critics believed that there was no need for convict labour because enough immigrants were coming in to seek their fortune in the gold mines.
  • All of these pressures meant that transportation ended in the 1850s. However, the British government still moved convicts around Australia until the 1860s.
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