Convicts & Courtesans

It’s come to my attention that I seem to need more time between my posts on Thomas Jefferson than I did when writing about George Washington. While accumulating the information and inspiration necessary to produce a post of substance, therefore, I detour onto various other topics & issues as well- to buy myself that time. (You can’t rush inspiration…!) Which is why today’s post (which comes as a surprise even to me!) is once again not anything Jeffersonian…

“Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.” (Joel 2:21 KJV)
“I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten…” (v.25)

Did you know that the most heavily-populated city in Australia, the city of Sydney, began its existence as a miserable, seemingly God-forsaken English penal colony? A thriving metropolis that today boasts well over four million residents once was a dumping ground for the criminal and the unwanted. Once only the destination for murderers, thieves and prostitutes, today this same locale is rated a beta world city, and ranks 16th. in Foreign Policy‘s 2008 Global Cities Index . This motley group of miscreants spawned the city that would eventually “help set global agendas, weather transnational dangers, and serve as [one of] the hubs of global integration.” (Wikipedia, “Global City”, 2008 Foreign Policy Ranking)

Talk about redemption!

As it turns out, this post actually does tie-in with my main Revolutionary thrust. Then called Sydney Cove’s, this harbor’s becoming an established outpost for prisoners was an absolute direct result of the Declaration of Independence, (which as we all know, was written by Mr. Jefferson, our man of the hour on ‘God, History and You’). No longer British territory, England could no longer transport her prisoners to American shores. Another solution had to be found. And so it was, on the shores of Australia instead.

Interesting how, as God and history would have it, both ‘settlements’ were founded out of the necessity of exodus relating to law. In one instance, fleeing the laws of tyrannical government; in the other, government expulsion of lawbreakers. How amazing (Amazing Grace?) that both ‘camps’ have so flourished over time. America the Beautiful and Sydney, world-class city!

God is good.

So here’s how it went down:
In January, 1788, eleven British warships and supply ships landed on Australian shores, bearing among other forms of cargo, over 800 convicted criminals (link) Governor Arthur Phillip commanded the expedition, and his assignment was to somehow create a fairly prosperous, i.e., self-sustaining penal colony. Records indicate that exactly the opposite was what developed. Since the voyage from England to the outpost took about eighteen months,
supplies ran out and were not replenished. Farming attempts had failed, so near-famine conditions existed, and the lack of medicines allowed sickness and disease to abound. A shortage of women led to aberrant and/or violent sexual activity. On the whole, I think it would be safe to say that the colony was on its last leg when help arrived in a rather unexpected form. Expecting food and medicine, instead the prisoners at Sydney Cove got a ship full of females. Desperately needing equipment and supplies, the men got women convicts instead. An assortment of over 200 thieves and prostitutes disembarked the ‘Lady Juliana’ in July of 1789, and basically saved the day.

Girl power! Chicks rule!

(Well, “…male and female created He them.” (Genesis 1:27) Ya can’t argue with that…the guy/girl dynamic has been known to work, and is a basic building block of society, right?)

Please return for more of the story, in Part 2 of ‘Convicts & Courtesans’…