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Black Founders: The Unknown History of Australia's First Black Settlers Paperback – 1 Apr 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: UNSW Press (1 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0868408492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0868408491
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,351,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
In 1788, when the First Fleet arrived in Australia, eleven of the convicts were black. A twelfth man, William Blue, was transported a few years later. Who were these men? And how did they come to be transported to Australia from Britain when each of them was living in America during the American War of Independence?

It seems likely that these were all African-American men who fought for the British during the American War of Independence and then either left direct for England, or moved to England via Nova Scotia. In an attempt to derail the revolutionary movement, Lord Dunmore (the British Governor in Virginia), opportunistically offered freedom to `all indented servants, Negroes or others that are able and willing to bear arms'. The declaration was dated 7 November 1775. As a consequence, hundreds of black men joined Dunmore's newly created `Ethiopian Regiment' to fight against their masters. The fate of many of these men was bitter: small pox decimated the regiment, and Britain's defeat left thousands of slaves to the mercy of their former owners. As the British fleet prepared for evacuation, freed black people scrambled for a place on the last ships to leave New York. Those who obtained a berth, and thus were recorded in `The Book of Negroes', discovered a new world of problems in London. Unemployment was high, few of the men had marketable skills and many sank into destitution. Inevitably, some of them fell foul of the law, were convicted of various crimes and sentenced to transportation. Their destination was to be the new penal colony of New South Wales.

Cassandra Pybus undertook research in Australia, Canada the United Kingdom and the United States in order to write this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me by Kate Grenville (Secret River). I have been researching my family history for some forty years and knew that my great-great-great-great grandfather was black, born in Connecticut in 1764. How he had arrived in Manchester, I did not know, but I did know he had gone to NSW Penal colony with the First Fleet as a convict. Cassandra Pybus has done an enormous amount of research and I was thrilled to read about his life.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
African American as early Australian settlers 19 Oct. 2007
By Bill Egan Ac - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a product of remarkable research by Professor Pybus. In a fascinating unravelling of little known facets of early European settlement of Australia it reveals that history is never as simple as we think, and that White Australia was never as White as some liked to believe. In today's Australia, where Sudanese migrants are being demonized for electoral gain, it reminds us that our true heritage is a mixed one we should embrace, not disown.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
`Australia's first bushranger was as black as pitch. He was not Aboriginal, as some might suppose.' 21 Sept. 2011
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In 1788, when the First Fleet arrived in Australia, eleven of the convicts were black. A twelfth man, William Blue, was transported a few years later. Who were these men? And how did they come to be transported to Australia from Britain when each of them was living in America during the American War of Independence?

It seems likely that these were all African-American men who fought for the British during the American War of Independence and then either left direct for England, or moved to England via Nova Scotia. In an attempt to derail the revolutionary movement, Lord Dunmore (the British Governor in Virginia), opportunistically offered freedom to `all indented servants, Negroes or others that are able and willing to bear arms'. The declaration was dated 7 November 1775. As a consequence, hundreds of black men joined Dunmore's newly created `Ethiopian Regiment' to fight against their masters. The fate of many of these men was bitter: small pox decimated the regiment, and Britain's defeat left thousands of slaves to the mercy of their former owners. As the British fleet prepared for evacuation, freed black people scrambled for a place on the last ships to leave New York. Those who obtained a berth, and thus were recorded in `The Book of Negroes', discovered a new world of problems in London. Unemployment was high, few of the men had marketable skills and many sank into destitution. Inevitably, some of them fell foul of the law, were convicted of various crimes and sentenced to transportation. Their destination was to be the new penal colony of New South Wales.

Cassandra Pybus undertook research in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States in order to write this book. She argues that `the tendency to read late nineteenth and twentieth century racial assumptions into early colonial Australia is almost universal among historians and social commentators, regardless of what side of the history wars they fight'. And what does this mean for our sense of identity in colonial times and beyond? There never was a `White Australia' either before Federation or after.

Only two of the twelve men are likely to familiar to some Australians: the ferryman William (Billy) Blue, whose likeness hangs in the Mitchell Library in Sydney, and the bushranger known as Black Caesar. Another of the men, John `Black Jack' Williams, became a Kangaroo Island sealer. Less is known about the other nine men.

Working from fragmentary sources, Cassandra Pybus has reconstructed at least parts of the lives of these twelve men, and provides a different view of Australia's early years.
I found this book fascinating. I understand - in general terms - the proximity of the American War of Independence to the establishment of a penal colony in New South Wales but not the specific series of events that resulted in these men being transported to Australia.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Who do you think you are? 11 Jan. 2012
By Kim Purnell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Cassandra Pybus has lifted the veil on the 'black founders" of our nation. Not only is her work revisionist history that may impact the teaching of our history in schools.. It helps us understand how the British were so determined to build a colony that they played with their own practices of length of working days for convicts, and then denied ex-convicts the right to leave the colony after their term even if they had seaman experience. At a personal level it introduced me to the stories of my ancestors John Martin and John Randall dteailed in this book and how they came to experience throughout their lifetime...slavery, freedom, conviction, life as farmers and policemen to fund their old age, having lived on 3 continents. Their tales are unique in world history as they derived from Bahamas (Martin) and Connecticut (Randall). Pybus writes with the ease of a novelist... and has left a profound impact on our national identity...and at a personal level answers to "who do you think you are?" question. Excellent read!
great book 23 April 2014
By Kevin Todd Clepps - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a very interesting part. I highly enjoyed reading this book. .It tells the some of the little known history of African-Australian people,who were among the first settlers of Australia
family research 14 Feb. 2014
By Joy Burt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Found a lot of unknown information regarding our family and their arrival in Australia. Found more than if I searched
an ancestory web site
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