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Lachlan Macquarie - Colonial Administrator

Lachlan Macquarie is unknown in his native land. He was born on the islet of Ulva, off Mull, in 1761. He joined the British Army as a boy, and at 14 went to Halifax during the American War of Independence, but saw no fighting. Lachlan, a bright young man, got a commission and joined a regiment being sent to India in 1788. There he did very well, was regularly promoted and became not only a soldier, but a kind of statesman. By 1809 he had been made Major General Macquarie, commanding the 73rd Regiment of Foot, and was chosen to go to Australia to follow the dreadful Captain Bligh, just deposed by the colony's soldiers, as military governor of New South Wales.

Lachlan arrived in 1810 and announced at once his intention that all the bother that had beset the colony would give place to a spirit of conciliation and harmony among all classes of society. He was a very moralistic Scot, very much against disorderly houses and the popular sport of nude bathing. He disapproved of reckless drinking too; he therefore reduced the number of inns
and put up the duty on rum to discourage excess. But he did encourge newspapers, and came to like Australia.

Traditionally, punishments in the colony were cruel, and they had certainly been kept that way by Captain Bligh. Macquarie worked to make the law far more humane. He promoted new buildings to turn Sydney into a handsome town instead of the scruffy penal settlement that it had been. Always a crafty Scot, Macquarie reorganised the silver coinage by employing a craftsman to punch out the centre pieces of the silver coins. The little bit from the middle became a coin on its own, while the original piece kept its value. This was a near bit of sharp practice, but he was doing it for the benefit of the place and not tor his own profit.

The people who really disliked were the landowners and free settlers who enjoyed the cheap labour of the convicts, some of whom had been sent out for monstrous crimes such as the theft of handkerchiefs. Australia's classes kept complaining to London but Macquarie soldiered on to create a decent society out of a situation parable to the slaveholders' society of  the American South.

Macquarie was removed in 1821, to the satisfaction of the rich and the dismay of ordinary Australians. With him gone alot of the old savagery returned, there were more convicts transported and the lash whistled loudly.

Despised and distrusted by the politicos at home, Lachlan Macquarie died obscurely in a London lodging house in 1824. But he was buried with honour on Mull, under a stone that reads Major General Lachlan Macquarie - the father of Australia.

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