Frontier Violence and Settler Manhood

TitleFrontier Violence and Settler Manhood
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsWoollacott, Angela
JournalHistory Australia
Date Published04/2009

In the Australian colonies—as in Canada and New Zealand—understandings of manliness forged on the frontiers of settlement were woven into political manhood, and thus the quest for colonial self-government. The full meanings of racial conquest and the frontier for Australian definitions of masculinity are a rich topic still to be properly understood. There is a line of argument in recent work on nineteenth-century Britain that men became less violent over the early and middle decades of the century, partly because violence became less acceptable as manly behaviour. This paper explores the writings of two men, Henry S. Chapman (1803-1881) and Thomas Murray-Prior (1819?1892), who had reason to know how frontier violence was built into colonial culture and politics. The evidence of the frontier has significant implications for understanding the meanings of political maturation in the period from the 1830s to the 1860s, including how manhood was reconfigured through political enfranchisement and vice versa, in Australia and the wider settler empire.

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