Wakefield and South Australia

Michael Langley introduces the prophet of free colonisation in Australasia.

In the context of British Imperial expansion in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it would probably be true to say that its three greatest prophets were Lord Lugard, Cecil Rhodes and Edward Gibbon Wakefield.

This does not ignore the administrative genius of a handful of others, notably Sir BartleFrere, Sir Harry Johnston and, of an earlier generation, Sir Stamford Raffles; but the former three expressly represented the outstanding and quite independent forces that worked behind the acquisition of the British Empire.

Lugard, of course, expressed in his Dual Mandate the principle of indirect rule in native settled territories, the forerunner of Albert Sarraut’s Mise en valeur des Colonies Françaises in Tunisia; Rhodes embodied the commercial and less altruistic ambition behind annexation and the rather imprecise vision of an empire from the Cape to Cairo; and Wakefield expounded the creed of the coloniser in the essentially European settled territories.

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