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Remembering the Kangaroo Point Aboriginals ‘Hanged for Political Reasons’

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

On 24 September 1826, two Aboriginal men were hanged ‘for political reasons’ in Murray Street in Hobart. Black Dick and Jack were convicted in a kangaroo court and hanged following a prolonged campaign against Aborigines by the influential Hobart Town Gazette. The government wanted to teach Aborigines a lesson and keep support of the local […]

On 24 September 1826, two Aboriginal men were hanged ‘for political reasons’ in Murray Street in Hobart.

Black Dick and Jack were convicted in a kangaroo court and hanged following a prolonged campaign against Aborigines by the influential Hobart Town Gazette. The government wanted to teach Aborigines a lesson and keep support of the local press, according to Tasmanian Aboriginal Land Council Chairman Michael Mansell.

“These deaths need to be publicly acknowledged,” he said.

“Monuments around Tasmania honour the dead but ignore Aborigines who defended their country and their families against invaders.

Tasmania needs to know the truth about its history. These hangings were indicative of attitudes towards Aborigines at the time.”

The background to the incident was that in 1824, with Hobart Town firmly established at nipaluna, the Moomairremener people would frequent Hobart Town after food and clothing. Governor Arthur arranged for them to stay at Kangaroo Point, so named because of the abundance of kangaroo. The name changed from Kangaroo Point to Bellerive around 1830.

Three white settlers were speared to death by Aborigines in autumn 1826. Arthur was convinced this was the work of the Moomairremener people from Kangaroo Point, so he had two of them, Jack and Dick, arrested and tried for murder.

At the trial before Chief Justice Pedder, a young Aboriginal Jack and an old man Dick (names given to them by the whites), had no idea of the proceedings and were not allowed to give evidence because they could not swear an oath on the bible. They were convicted by a white jury before a white judge applying white law. They were hanged.

The gaol was in Murray Street opposite the then Court House. The latter, “a miserable, small, ill-constructed brick building” was used by prisoners awaiting trial across the road at the Supreme Court or for those awaiting execution. The Murray Street Gaol continued to be Hobart’s Gaol until 1 January 1857, when the Campbell Street Penitentiary was proclaimed a Gaol and House of Correction. – (Graham, P. J 1993 , ‘Episodes in the history of the Hobart Gaol, c. 1910-1955’, Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania).

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A group of Tasmanians gathered on Wednesday in Murray Street today to remember them. Michael Mansell explained the significance of the deaths to them.

Why were the two Aboriginals killed?
Have we learnt the lessons of history?
What should today’s government do?

Source: Tasmanian Times https://tasmaniantimes.com/2020/09/kangaroo-point-aboriginals-hanged-political-reasons/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kangaroo-point-aboriginals-hanged-political-reasons

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