Australia & James Cook
These episodes will focus on Australia and their founding fathers. The first thing up is an interview with an Australian on this topic. The main episode and then the resources mini-sode are next.
Links to other resources as well as the transcript are below the pictures.
A picture of James Cook
A drawing of Cook's arrival at Botany Bay
By Unknown author - <a rel="nofollow" class="external free" href="https://www.nla.gov.au/apps/cdview?pi=nla.pic-an7890396&referercode=cat">https://www.nla.gov.au/apps/cdview?pi=nla.pic-an7890396&referercode=cat</a>, Public Domain, Link
Map of Cook's First Journey
Arthur Phillip's ship at the Battle of Havana
By <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Paton" class="extiw" title="w:Richard Paton">Richard Paton (1717–1791)</a> - <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="https://collections.nmm.ac.uk/collections/objects/11899.html">collections.nmm.ac.uk</a> (Transferred from <a class="external text" href="https://en.wikipedia.org">en.wikipedia</a>), Public Domain, Link
Other Resources(Clickable links on the titles)
For this week's episode I read: James Cook - A life from beginning to end which was a great short biography of James Cook's life. At a shade under 50 pages it gives great highlights of his life and is a better place to start than Wikipedia.
The second book I read was The Fatal Shore - The epic of Australia's founding which is a great overview of the founding Australia from Cook, to Aboriginal history, to everything that happened after Cook. This book is quite chunky at 600 pages before notes and biography, so it's not a quick read but it's also not a dry boring read at least. I haven't gotten through all of it quite yet but I did at least get a little past what we covered in the episode this week.
Rum, Rebels, and Ratbags is an Australian podcast about not so famous Australian people who made big impacts on Australia or the world. They have 1 episode about Joseph Banks as well as 2 episodes on Arthur Phillip
History Extra has a whole episode on the Endeavour, the ship Captain Cook used on his first voyage across the world
Why do Countries Exist has a good 30-minute survey of Australian History that you can take a listen to.
Anthology of Heroes has an episode on the modern-day Robin Hood type folk hero of Australia
If you can't wait for the second Australia episode please check out these episodes about Arthur Phillip and his time in Australia.
Today in True Crime has a short 13-minute overview of Arthur Phillip's journey to Australia (scroll down to May 13, 2020)
The Leading By Proxy podcast is a history of the governor generals of Australia and they have a 20-minute episode on Arthur Phillip's
Then some honorable mention resources:
Cook's second voyage as a free audiobook podcast
Comedian's have a live talk show about Captain Arthur Phillip - Cursing here so be warned.
Hello everyone, sorry for the delay in getting this episode out! We had a baby while Hurricane Sally swept over our little city all during the covid pandemic. So..... that was unprecedented. I gave fleeting thought to giving my second daughter the middle name "coronicane" but decided she and my wife might not enjoy that so... yeah.
Just a thought here if you haven't noticed yet, each episode is going to be a pretty different format, each nation has such a different founding story that I think it best to let the format of their episode be shaped by the nature of their founding so think of that part of each episode as my abstract art giving you my feelings on what I learned.
With that in mind, we're going to start by plopping down in the middle of the 18th Century UK and then we'll get to some background information later. James Cook, or Captain Cook as he's better known, is where we will start today. Cook was born in 1728 to a poor family in Yorkshire. His father was a farm worker and James had a basic education for that time at a village school and worked on the farm. But apparently he had a dizzying intellect and he moved into the city to work at a shop which just so happened to be near the port. He was an apprentice to the merchant who owned the shop but before long, in 1746, he was allowed to leave to become an apprentice to a ship owner. During that time he lived with the ship owner's family and impressed them enough to rise through the ranks in the owner's company. After a few years of that he decided to move on once again to join the Royal Navy.
Most people in the Navy had been forced into the navy at this time because the life was so difficult. But it was one of the only avenues of social mobility in society then. A skilled sailor could rise up to a place of high status with just a little luck and it seemed like James Cook had the ambition to do just that.
The first ship he was placed on was The Eagle, Hugh Palliser was the captain. In 1758 they left patrols around england and ended up in Newfoundland, Quebec stayed for 9 years. During this time, 1760, Cook was promoted to an NCO
Palliser became a very important person for Cook advocating for him where he didn't have social connections to do it otherwise.
Cook was appointed master of the ship during the first long voyage aboard the Mercury. He successfully charted the St. Lawrence River in Canada and this was very helpful in the British war effort against the French. In recognition of this he was promoted to Steersman and was made a surveillance assistant. He was responsible for surveying the waters in Canada, Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia. During this time he observed his first solar eclipse which he also sent records of back to London. This seems like his first interaction with the Royal Society of London, basically a science Society with a long history.
Cook was married during this time as well and there isn't a lot specific about his family we will talk about because, frankly he wasn't around much being in the Navy, most Navy personnel at this time were at sea constantly. There is one tidbit about her that's important, when she was older she burned the many letters sent to her by James, it's thought this was done to keep personal information about him from getting out after he became a national hero.
First time leading a trip - 1768 on the HMS Endeavour. This voyage had two purposes
- The official story was needing to go to the southern hemisphere to observe Venus passing in front of the sun. The voyage was to take details notes and report back about this very rare event.
- Another reason, which seems to have been a kind of secret reason only mentioned behind closed doors, was to search for the "great southern continent" what we know now as Antarctica
Because of the way British culture worked at the time Cook was unable to officially lead the expedition so Joseph Banks did this instead. He was a naturalist from the aristocracy and had the needed credentials and education to officially lead a voyage like this. Even so, Cook was in charge of choosing the ship for the voyage and chose a freight ship rather than a traditional naval vessel for the smaller crew size, larger cargo area, and shallower birth to enable it to more easily approach land.
This brings us to one of the "firsts" that James Cook did. He successfully prepared his ship to fight against scurvy and is thought to be the first man to sail a long journey like this without losing any of his crew to scurvy. So let's talk about scurvy, you scurvy dog, the first thing to know about scurvy is that it's more than just a pirate insult. It was a terrible problem for sailors especially on long voyages. I often hear Michael Troy on the American Revolution Podcast talking about how disease was more a threat than the enemy for the US and British Armies in the field and that was also true on-board ships. It was not uncommon to have the majority of one's crew die from scurvy over the course of a long voyage. As an aside, do yourself a favor and don't look up the details of scurvy death, it's pretty terrible.
Nowadays we know it comes from Vitamin C deficiency but up to this point they had not been able to figure out what caused it. So in the fight against this there were a few new theories that had been put forward and that Cook either was tasked with trying or decided to try. He brought malt, wort, beer, Sauerkraut and Lind's rob on his ship in that effort. He also insisted on frequently stopping to bring on fresh food and vegetables. Now before you get distracted looking up all that let me give you a quick rundown and then we'll be back to Captain Cook. Malt is a grain product that is used to add flavor or nutrients to drinks, especially beer with the type of malt used being a strong part of the flavor of the beer. Wort is basically just beer that hasn't yet been fermented. I'm assuming you know what beer is. Sauerkraut is basically fermented thin strips of cabbage. Lind's rob is a boiled concentration of citrus fruit. Alright hopefully that satisfied your curiosity. By July 1768 they had food, a few cannons, and lots of scientific equipment loaded up... and they set off for the Pacific.
They sailed down the western edge of Europe and then west towards the Americas and down around Cape Horn which is the southernmost tip of South America. They started heading northwest from there into the Pacific and specifically to Tahiti to watch and study Venus passing in front of the Sun. This first part of the journey was without incident, which wasn't a given considering it took almost 9 months of sailing.
When they finally got to Tahiti, in April of 1769, they settled in Matavai Bay where they traded with locals and waited for the transit of Venus. While waiting they stumbled upon another first, at least for Great Britain, tattoos. Apparently no one in Great Britain had ever heard of or seen tattoos up to this point. They would eventually bring this knowledge back to Great Britain, and Banks(that's the noble that was nominally in charge of the expedition) wrote about it when he was back...so Joseph Banks, father of British tattoos?? During the wait two crew members seem to have ran away to live on Tahiti and a native Tahitian man named Omai agreed to sail with them back to England and visit the country(on Cook's third voyage in 1776 Omai was returned to Tahiti). It would be so very interesting to have a journal from one of them but alas there is not one available. Finally on June 3 of the same year, 1769, the transit of Venus happened and they took their measurements and observations and set off to the west in search of the "southern continent" (remember that's what we call Antarctica). They dealt with the "Roaring Forties which was an area with incredibly strong winds but were able to, after 6 months of work, chart the water and coasts of all of New Zealand's main islands.
It seems, at this time, Cook was careful to not offend the native peoples of the places he went; I say this time because later on he is going to run into some prickly situations with native peoples. He had the men make a show of strength with their gunpowder weapons and then once the natives were impressed have honest dealings with them and strict discipline was maintained.
After the mapping of New Zealand they continued west and found the purpose of our episode today, Australia, specifically the eastern coast. They landed at Botany Bay on April 20, 1770 and the British flag was planted to claim this area for the King. Much scientific work was done collecting samples of wildlife, plants, and trees with over 1,000 new animal and plant species documented and collected, hence the name Botany Bay. There were native peoples here but they were wary of foreigners and mostly tried to stay far away from them and there is even a story about the crew finding abandoned kids in a hut that the natives had fled from.
After collecting enough stuff and charting lots of places they headed off for the next destination only to run into one of Australia's most famous things! The Great Barrier Reef, being friendly tried to give the ship a handshake but underestimated it's strength and instead punched a gaping hole in the ship. Note to self, don't sail too near Reefs. Of course they had no idea thee Reef was there and so Cook also was the first person we know of to discover the Great Barrier Reef! There was a frenzied time where there was fear the ship might be lost but they were able to patch it up and get back to Australia where they were able to do more permanent repairs. From there they started to head back home which took them around Asia and Africa.
And that's it, arguably Australia's most famous man, with landmarks and cities named by and for him, was in Australia for only 70 days.
When they finally got home, 3 years later, in 1771 everyone was overjoyed as they had been presumed lost at sea. Because of being officially in charge of the expedition Joseph Banks received almost all of the accolades for their journey. Cook was at that time just a lieutenant but from this expedition was promoted to commander, a step below Captain. Cook's greatest accomplishment on this his first voyage was the extremely accurate charting of New Zealand and Australia which the British would use to great effect when they founded colonies there not too many years in the future.
There were other things he did including 2 more world-spanning voyages but those are outside the scope of this episode so I can only give the rest of his life a brief summary here before we must move on. His next voyage, in 1772, was one in which he was tasked with finding the southern continent again. This time he was able to find what he could about it with 3 trips across the Antarctic Circle and concluded that while there was a great southern continent it was iced over and not useful for anything. On his way home he made it to Easter Island, which had already been discovered, among other places.
On his third voyage, in 1776, he was trusted with finding the northwest passage, a fabled waterway passage that would allow ships to take a shortcut around the north side of the North American Continent to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific. He was able to travel to the entrance to where a passageway would be near Alaska but was unsuccessful in finding anything, because it didn't exist. He did however find trouble in Hawaii. After having stayed there a little while with seemingly friendly relations with the natives their ship was crippled in a storm and they needed to return back to Hawaii to refit. Something went wrong on this return trip and they were met with immediate hostility. Through some confusing situations Cook was killed by the Hawaiians and his body taken into the forest. And just like that our first founder of Australia disappears from the scene. Or did he...A few centuries later a young texan came of age in the mid 1900s and developed a fascination with Captain Cook. He would go on to a prodigious career in TV starting in 1964 with a man named Captain James T Kirk and the Enterprise named after Captain Cook and the Endeavour.
So there you have it one of the main inspirations for Star Trek came from Captain Cook and his first voyage. Now there are many good books and podcasts on Captain Cook that go much more in depth on his life that I'll reference in the podcast links mini-sode that comes with this episode. Or if you want to wait a while he will get more podcast time in the N's with New Zealand when I get there eventually.
Continuing on to the final part of this story we'll take a look at what happened after Cook's journey. We'll title this section "you obey or I'll stick you on a boat and ship you to the ends of the earth"
Let's do a little background to get an idea of what's happening here:
Back in the 17th and 18th century version of Great Britain the life of a regular worker was a terrible, cramped one. These are the kinds of people who probably never made it very far out of their neighborhood or farming village and crime was rampant, especially in the cities, as it was one of the only ways to make a reasonable living; crime so rampant in fact that there came to be a belief among the upper-class that there was a "criminal class" a whole class of people who lived off crime and was a sizable minority of the population in London. During this time English law was in some ways very far ahead in terms of the fair rule of law. But this system was seen as lax on criminals and so to offset this they ended up making 200 different crimes capital punishment. So they starting doling out hangings like like Oprah dole's out houses. "A sooty face on the highway? You get the gallows! Forged a document, the gallows!".
These extreme punishments along with the massive numbers of poor and desperate people lead to a lot of capital punishment sentences. There was one glimmer of rusty hope and that was that many of these sentences were lessened by the King or other high officials. But to commute a death sentence would mean a long jail stay and that meant building more jails and spending more money...or... banishing them to a far off land where they could be slave labor to help develop your colonial empire! Well you can guess which they chose. So off they went to America starting in the 1600s and lasting until the Americans decided they no longer wanted to be British in the 1770s. During the century and a half this convict transportation had been taking place there had been an estimated 40,000 British convicts shipped off to the colonies in America. With this outlet for convicts now closed, the jails started to become overcrowded and so, when it became apparent that the Americans were not going to roll over and come back to the British crown, the British authorities had to make a decision on where to send these convicts.
The first suggestion was by British Africa Company which wanted to send them to McCarthy Island, a large island in the Gambia River. The idea was to just drop them in a small area surrounded by natives and let them die and those who survived would become planters on the island. The second was a bay near the Orange River in Southwest Africa but after sending a scouting ship, the land there was deemed too dry to support the agriculture needed for the colony. So the third option came up. Botany Bay, it was too far away to send a scouting ship but it got glowing reviews from our old friend Joseph Banks, the scientist that had served as the nominal head of the Cook expedition, and so they decided on Botany Bay as their choice for their convict colony fleet. Arthur Phillip was appointed as leader of the expedition and to be the first governor of this new convict wonderland in the southern hemisphere.
And that is where we will come to our abrupt conclusion to today's podcast. I know, we haven't even landed settlers in Australia yet!! But remember this podcast is about the people that most citizens think of as their founder and Cook seems to be the man to fit that bill and we are already bursting at the seams of our 30-minute time limit. I will be making a second round once I finish every country's first round but for now if you want to know how the story finishes I have recommendations in the podcast links mini-sode.
Also this seems like as good a time as any to introduce my Patreon account to you. One of the benefits of being a patron of mine is that you can choose countries to go out of order or choose to have a second episode about a certain country. So if you like what I'm doing here and want to help me spend more time here rather than doing normal work please send me some loose change and I'll see to it that this continues to get better! Otherwise please rate me on your favorite podcast app and send me a chat on the website at www.lang4life.com/founders or on the founders of nations facebook group. I will not be including a "what I learned" on this episode because frankly my brain is running on fumes with this new baby and the hurricane having caused damage to our living space that we are dealing with. So hope to see you all in a few weeks for the Algeria Podcast!
Episode 2 Arthur Phillip
Welcome back for this Patreon-funded episode. Sally, our first Patreon supporter, chose a second episode for Australia as part of her perks so here we are. We'll do a little recap of what's happened so far and continue on to more of the story.
If you recall, last time we were in Australia we saw the rise and then death of Captain Cook. From a poor farm boy to leader of world-sailing expeditions and finally being killed in the Hawaiian islands during some sort of dispute with the native people there. Well his legacy in Australia, of course, comes from his second journey where he found Australia's eastern coast and made a pretty good map, as was his custom, of the area.
While all this was going on we also considered the situation with crime and "transportation" in the UK. Transportation was the transporting of criminals to convict colonies. I talked about that a little more in the first Australia episode so go back and have a listen to the section if you want to go over that again.Some review on that though, around the time of Cook's discovery of Australia the US was rebelling against British control and so the first option for convict transportation was now closed. There was some discussion about various places and eventually Australia was agreed upon as the best option. And with the convict overcrowding becoming a crisis they didn't even have time to send another scouting mission even though probably should have seeing as they pretty much just had Cook's one map of the area that was based on a brief visit.
Arthur Philip was made captain/governor of the first expedition of convicts. But who was he? That's what we'll talk about today and what he did in Australia. The two main sources I'll be using for today's episode are the Fatal Shore, a history of Australia's founding, and Arthur Phillip: Sailor, Mercenary, Governor, Spy. They are both very well researched from the number of pages and quality of primary sources I found at the back of both of them. I prefer the latter, it is written much more like a narrative and not so much like a history book. It also has thorough background on things going on around the time so you can pretty much read it without knowing much about the era and get a good grasp on it. I usually include all the books I use on the book list I'm making on bookshop.org but they don't have this one so it won't be on there. bookshop.org is a website that basically puts together lots of small book shops into one big online marketplace. I'll have a link to that on the webpage for the episode as well as the description that comes along with the episode on your podcast app.
Anyways, he was 48 at the time of the journey having been born in 1738. He was born of a German father, who had immigrated to England as a language teacher, and an English mother. Sometime in his very young years his father was killed in Naval Service and his mother must have pushed her cousin(the captain of a naval ship) to take him on as a captain's servant. So in 1747, at 9 years old, he was put on a ship and began his apprenticeship, similar to what James Cook had done but Cook was much older when this happened.
By 1751 he was admitted to a Charity school for children whose father's had died in the Navy. At this school the children were basically treated as if they were already on a ship, rations, bedding, and other things were all based on what one would find on a ship and the education they received was very focused on life at sea. This lasted for 3 years and he was sent off to begin a formal apprenticeship. This time with a whaling boat's captain, they spent time up near the North Pole whaling in European Continent. Whaling, as you probably can guess, was a dangerous and bloody job and I'm sure this was quite a shock even for someone who had basically grown up on the sea.
In 1755, the Seven Years War between mainly France and England was on the horizon. This is often known as the real first world war, it has a ton of podcast and other resources I'll link to in the mini-sode, so if you are curious about it pause this and go listen to those or put a note down somewhere to go listen to it later as we don't have time to go into much of it here. Suffice to say, action was ahead for the British Navy and Arthur Phillip was headed into the thick of it. Phillip quit his apprenticeship and his uncle, who had originally taken Phillip on as a servant took him back on as a captain's servant again.
He served with his uncle for around 4 years before getting promoted to mid-shipmen. From there he began his climb up to his final position as Admiral. One of the battles Phillip fought in was the siege of Havana by the English in 1762, Havana was one of the most important Spanish colonies in the New World. One of the naval actions is actually recorded in a painting of a naval painter, I've got that picture up on the webpage for the episode if you want to go look at it later. If you look close enough you may actually be able to see Phillip, well maybe not. The siege, which was eventually successful, was a bloody affair with around ten thousand killed and of those most were killed by disease. I'm sure this must have had a big impact on him as he cared for ships and fleets.
By 1763 the war was over and Phillip, as a lieutenant now, was put on half-pay allowed to go his way as a free man unless called back up to service. He married a rich widow and lived with her as an owner of an estate for 6 years until they were "separated" which was the version of divorce available to normal people in England at the time. According to the pre-nuptual agreement and the separation agreement Phillip gave up all rights to his ex-wife's money and belongings and, with just a lieutenant's half-pay to live on was badly in need of an income.
You'd think that would put him back on a ship in the Navy but that wasn't the case; in 1769 he got permission from the Navy to go to France, where he stayed for most of the next 5 years. The official report says that this move was for "health reasons" but the author of Sailor, Mercenary, Governor, Spy makes a compelling case that he was actually sent by the Navy to spy on French shipyards. It would take me half of our episode to make it make sense so I'll just recommend you read that book if you want to know more about how he pieces it together. For about 5 years he was back and forth between France and England until the Third Colonia Wars happened between Spain and Portugal.
Portugal and Spain were constantly struggling in the New World as Portugal had Brazil and Spain help most of the rest of South America. One of the main sources of their angst was a place called Colonia de Sacramento which was just across the Rio De Plata from none other than Buenos Aires, one of the star cities of our Argentina episode. This city was owned by the Portuguese and was a great place for British merchants to get access to the illegal trade among the Spanish colonies, who, if you listened to the Argentina episode already, you may remember were always trying to trade around the trade regulations put in place by Spain. A new war started up over this outpost and England was looking for people to send to help Portugal...but also to help gather information about the coastal towns and cities in the Americas to help prepare just in case England ever wanted to move in.
Phillip was sent with high recommendations to the Portuguese and was given a ship of the line to command(it was common for foreign officers to be loaned out to allies during war and to be given higher command than they would have been entitled to otherwise). His official job, help the Portuguese with their war went pretty well, he made a good impression on the Portuguese superiors in Brazil and was put in charge of the naval defense of Colonia for a year from 1775-1776 where he did his job well and you can be sure that being so close to Buenos Aires he was doing his best job of mapping and charting the area.
If you've listed to the Argentina episode your antennas should really be twitching now as the information Phillip collected here would be used in the British double invasion of Buenos Aires in which the Spanish Viceroy fled the city and left it to defend itself. These invasions were eventually repulsed by city milita...so you would think this was a failed mission, and I'm sure that's what the British thought at the time. But actually this self-defense of the city was one of the biggest events that lead to the revolution in Buenos Aires which would lead, through Jose de San Martin and others to most of the southern half of South America freeing itself from the Spanish. Go take a listen to that episode after this one if you're interested to know more about that.
Back to Brazil we go, he helped the Portuguese fleet in the area and the highlight of the expedition was the capture of one of Spain's top of the line ships which had gotten separated from it's squadron. He was eventually able to sail it back to Portugal and from there headed back to England where he was was consulted often in British plans to invade Spanish holdings in South America. Eventually, other, more direct threats reared their heads and the British were forced to call all of those off and it wouldn't be until the 1800s that the events I alluded to a few moments ago would happen in Buenos Aires.
Phillip did, in early 1783, achieve the rank of Captain and was able to take over a ship-of-the-line for the British Navy. His first mission was to sail, as part of a 4 ship reinforcement group to help the British fleet in India fight the French. The other 3-ships eventually had to turn back because they were damaged in a storm and so Phillip's was the only ship that eventually completed it's mission. The only problem was, not long after they left England in the first place, a ceasefire had been signed so when he got to the Indian Ocean Fleet he was ordered to head back to England with a squadron of ships. During the years, 1783 to 1786 he was sent on more spying missions inside France(this seems like a not out of the ordinary thing for naval officers to do during peacetime).
And if you have an excellent memory you will remember from the beginning of Arthur Phillips' story that 1786 was the year he got his commission as governor/captain of this expedition. By this time he had friends in most of the navy's high places; having successfully captained a ship, spied on France and Spain and gained England prestige with Portugal as a loaned out officer. So when something like this came up it seemed not only to fit his skill set but he had friends enough to put him forward as their candidate.
He lobbied to be given a promotion to what is like our lowest ranking admiral but he was not high enough on the line of seniority and they were unwilling to break that so instead they increased his salary to the salary one would expect for one of the highest ranking admirals in the fleet. Why would they do such a thing? Well this expedition was going to be the first of its kind, transporting a thousand criminals across the world's oceans in order to start a colony that would be based on their labor. Not only the transporting part but also the setting up of a European society so far from any developed area. They would basically be in their own world and so Phillip would effectively be the all-powerful force there.
Once that was settled the planning began; If you are making a trip across town you can pretty much just throw it all together without much thought and at this point a trip across the Atlantic had become pretty mundane business for provisioning but this was an almost year-long journey around the world into a place where they would need to start from scratch setting up a food supply. So needless to say there was a lot of work that needed to be done.
Thankfully for everyone involved, Phillip was detail-oriented so he fitted out the ships as well as could be done writing over 800 letters to different naval boards and provisioners. Still this fleet would have some constraints that couldn't be undone. We don't have time to go into all the difficulties but here are a few.
One: The convicts being transported were mostly small-time criminals. It seems these criminals were just chosen on the basis of age with little thought as to how they would do creating a colony in a new land. Among the prisoners the were no carpenters in the group, only one fisherman, and only one gardener.
Two: The ships were packed like sardines, and I don't own the idiom lanes like sardines, I mean literally packed like sardines. There was about 3 tons of ship per person and when supplies were factored it it went down to any 1 ton per person. To give you an idea of what that means, you probably think that life on a submarine would be pretty packed right? Currently an American submarine has around 40 tons of ship per crew member aboard, cruise liners are like 250 tons per passenger, these ships had 3 tons of ship per person. They were super packed, if you think about the way slave ships were, if you've seen those pictures, that's what you should think about.
Three: There was not enough ammunition for the marines onboard these convict ships. You can imagine, this was a very tightly held secret as they took off going across the ocean.
Well some of these were sorted out, at least the ones that Phillip saw as the most likely to cause mass casualties. But the board was not interested in helping with any other than the most pressing of problems because this was already so expensive, so...early on the morning of May 13 the ships sailed away, crew packed like sardines, convict guards without ammunition, and just enough food and rations to make it to Australia as long as nothing went wrong. This group of ships will go on to be called the "First Fleet" and so if you go to look up any of this more closely that's what you should be looking for.
Their path went along trade routes where currents and winds could best help them move speedily across the world. They spent a little over two weeks going down the west coast of Europe until the northwest coast of Africa where they stopped at the Canary Islands. From there they spent about 2 months getting down to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil, where they got the citrus Phillip wanted to anti-scurvy use but was unable to get in England, and from there it took 6 weeks to head east to Cape Town in South Africa. From there it was 2 months to Botany Bay in Australia. And finally a few hours from Botany Bay to Port Jackson.
This is thought to be the first trip of it's kind transporting prisoners to the opposite side of the world and it had it's share of problems although the fleet was well managed enough to make it with very little death aboard. One of those problems was bilge water.
The bilge of a ship is the lowest point of the ship. It's that place where the left side and right side of the ship meet at the very bottom. Bilge water is stuff that ends up in that little area. If you look up pictures of it even today it is usually pretty disgusting with salt water, fresh water, oil, and various chemicals all mixing together as leaks and other things happen on the ship and the liquids drain down to the lowest point.
During this time period the bilge water often had excrement, dead rats, vomit and other exciting things in it; and while they had bilge pumps; the sheer amount of people crammed onto the boats of this fleet made it difficult to keep those bilges pumped enough. It is said that, on one ship, bulkheads, clothes, and everything else on the ship turned black from the fumes. When I lived in China there were these public bathrooms that were basically just big troughs in the ground and as soon as you walked in the smell was like a slap in the face. I imagine it was something like that just much much worse.
Arthur Phillip Part 2
Hello and welcome back. Today we are going to finish up the story of Arthur Phillip and the first convict colony in Australia. Last time we were together we saw Arthur Phillip rise from a captain's servant to the captain of a ship in the British Navy and then to being leader of what became known as the "First Fleet" headed to colonize a mysterious place on the other side of the globe.
With that (bilge water) accompanying them on their trip they eventually made it to Botany Bay, and then after looking around and finding little to make a colony with, sailed a bit north to what would be named Sydney Cove where they found, what is even today known as, one of the most best harbors in the world. It was protected from the ravages of wind and waves, very large, and the land had large trees which could be used for timber and a nice source of freshwater. Most of the fleet headed back to England and they were left with one open-sea worthy boat and one transport ship that was better served staying near the coast. The better location of Sydney cove though, did not mean smooth sailing, as you'll remember there had not been but one gardener in the group of convicts and others sent in the First Fleet.
The first of these problems was not with natives or provisions but the marines; who refused to guard the convicts and the marines and convicts all started robbing the food stores. The freemen, especially the marines were very offended at the way in which Phillip treated the prisoners, they were given almost the same level of rations as the free, they were given the same type of punishments, and sometimes less severe punishment than the marines(as Phillip was said to be very perturbed at those who were in authority abusing that). Things got so bad that before long Phillip made a night watch of 12 trustworthy convicts to watch the food stores. This actually worked for a while but before long the marines put up such resistance to the idea that it was abandoned.
As for the native people'sin the area, Phillip showed the desire to make friendly relations with them as well as he could from his 18th Century English colonial mindset. The new colony had come and taken away the local tribes fishing area and chopped down much of the forest around them, but of course the Europeans at the time thought that loss was trivial compared to the civilizing effect they would have on the natives. Of course one of the bad parts of that civilization was the same thing that happened in the New World of the Americas. Smallpox.
Smallpox seems to have killed around half of the local tribes. There is some confusion on how this happened as the English had been there for over a year before the epidemic began and they had not had anyone with smallpox on their almost year-long journey to Australia. It seems too much of a coincidence to think it might not have been from Europeans though so either some other Europeans had visited other parts of the island and introduced it there, or it somehow came out of this colony that didn't have smallpox. However it happened it did happen and over half the tribe was killed during the year 1789. But he did his best to make friends; outlawing anyone from assaulting natives, giving gifts to them, kidnapping a few to try to learn things from him (which seems to have eventually lead to him being speared just under the clavical, I say seems to because it's not clear exactly which of the reasons were available was used to throw it at him). Finally after the spearing and him surviving and not launching an assault on the natives they seemed to open up and things started to get much more friendly between the two groups.
The first two years harvest's amounted to little more than seed for future harvests. They had about 2 years worth of rations when they landed and the first supply ship from England ended up shipwrecked and never making it. Eventually everyone was put down to 1/3 rations of what they had originally been getting and it seemed like the whole colony was teetering on starvation. Phillip dispatched the only open-sea worthy ship to Cape Town and it was able to bring back around 4 months worth of supplies but soon after that ship wrecked and so the colony was fully isolated as it waited and hoped for a supply ship to come to their aid. Hope was falling at an all-time rate in the colony.
Clothing was in tatters and sometimes even sold for food. Convicts were beginning to die of starvation while working. When the first real harvest finally came in a full-third of it disappeared before it could reach the storehouse. The colony was leaning towards chaos. To combat this, Phillip had instituted harsh punishments for theft, especially of food, and also for antagonizing or attacking the aboriginals nearby. He dealt harshly with any criminal activity by free or convict person and this was met with much unhappiness from the free but it seems it was integral for keeping order in the colony as now Phillip was holding his authority in isolation.
I can't imagine what this would have been like, it's like a dystopian book but played out in real life. I'm amazed that Philip was able to keep everything together. Imagine you were in this colony for these first two years? How do you think you would have reacted as a prisoner or guard? I'm interested in your thoughts and I'll put that question up on reddit.
Finally in 1790 a ship came...carrying some supplies but mostly convicts. But it did finally come and hope was restored to the colony. After that 2-year wait finally hope had been restored to the colony and starvation seemed less of a worry. Henry Dodd, a farm worker Phillip had known from his farmer days had come along with Phillip and was put in charge of the harvests and his work with them lead to a good harvest coming in during the same year and eventually this lead to Phillip giving land grants to successful convicts in the hopes they would take freedom and become farmers there.
The first two of these were Richard Phillimore, the first to successfully live as a free farmer and then James Ruse, who would end up being able to feed his family and then begin selling food to the colony's general store. This was the beginning of the upward climb for the colony as more and more land was farmed(with help from convict/forced labor) and crops began to be harvested more steadily.
Phillip though was cursed with what was likely kidney stones, that were unable to be taken care of in Australia. Slowly his health declined and eventually at the very end of 1792, about two year after that first supply ship finally appeared, he would get on a ship and return to England looking for a doctor who could help him. By May of 1793 they landed back in England.
Within a few months he was finally recovering, though still suffering from bouts of his health issue. He retired and was given half-pay again, but this time a governor's half-pay which was a lot of money. Soon after this, he found out that his separated wife had died and eventually he met and married Isabella Whitehead. He lived out his remaining years as a higher class gentleman. Spending some of them consulting with government types on the colony and giving recommendations for who should be assigned what job there.
That lasted until Napolean took over the French Revolution and big war started again on the high seas. Phillip was called up out of retirement into the Navy in 1796. He was in his mid-fifties by now but was placed in charge of 4 different ships in the space of a year and a half, then went on to be the main trainer for the coast guard, and eventually ended up as a naval inspector sent on jobs all over the country during the war to inspect that coast guard and the impress service(how the navy would often draft sailors). It seems he flung himself into these works just like he had to his colonial governorship. He spent almost no time at home during the war and the letters between he and his wife were less than happy.
But finally in 1805 he retired and they spent time together again. For 3 years they seemed to live a happy social life until in 1808 Phillip suffered a stroke and lost the use of the right side of his body. But miraculously 18 months later he seemed to be back to about normal again. He continued on until 1814
He had done a lot, starting from the son of an immigrant German teacher, to spy, to captain and eventually admiral and inspector. For our purposes his leading of the First Fleet trip was instrumental in setting up the colony. Most of the other convict fleets that came into Australia ended up with large majorities of convicts arriving half dead or already dead. Then leading the colony through it's birth and early difficulties set a strong foundation from which what we know as Australia today sprang. The reason he was not the original first founder was because he is not as well known as Cook and this podcast is mainly focused on that; but historically we could definitely say that he had a bigger effect on Australia than Cook did.
That's all for today's extra episode. Thanks again to Sally, the patreon supporter who chose Australia to get a second episode! If you enjoyed this or my other episodes please share with your friends or leave me a rating/review on whatever podcast app you listen to this on. That helps to let other people know this isn't a steaming pile of poo and might be worth trying out! The next interviews will be coming out in the following weeks and the main episode, on Azerbaijan, should be out in 2-3 weeks, I'm leaning more towards 3 as this new house needs some work and I haven't spent much time with my wife since we moved in. I do anticipate things will be more consistent now though, so every 2-3 weeks a new episode should be coming out.
If you all have any questions or thoughts for me please message me at whichever social media you have or go to the website and use the chat feature there. I'll be doing a little "what did I learn" here so if you are all done you can skip to the end and I'll see you next time, otherwise I'll continue right along!
What can we learn from Arthur Phillip? I think the first thing I learned from him was just to see what can happen from a life devoted to training and practicing one thing. From childhood he was on ships and in naval schools and he learned, firstly how to lead and organize men. In America nowadays many of us don't even figure out what we are going to do with ourselves until our late teens, at the earliest, and so gathering expertise and knowledge in that area start then. This is a positive for us in that we get to have more of an adult type choice in thinking about what we want to do but it has that negative effect that we just don't start until much later later and that can be difficult to overcome when competing with other countries that make choices earlier on. If you look at a country like China where they aren't so much into "choose your life", you pretty much get put into your track in middle school or high school and stay there. I often talk about this with my students, Americans are generally more well-rounded as we've taken so many different subjects in school while a regular Chinese student is much more focused in their studies on their subject. I found that collaboration between the more specialized students and students who are more well-rounded often leads to the best results. But I digress.
I think we can also see the ability of Phillip to adapt to different situations. He was naval officer, spy, and governor and these things all required very different attributes. And it seems like Phillip was able to execute all of the offices well so he was able to see and adapt to these new challenges. I have a friend named Chase that always beats all of my other friends, and myself, when we play Settlers of Catan, he always claims the key is to be flexible to adapt to the changing situation on the board; and this is what I see in Phillip's life. Adapting and Overcoming.
Alright that's really it for today, thanks for coming and I hope to see you next time!