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Review: The Southern Tree of Liberty - the Democratic Movement in New South Wales before 1856


Professor Angela Woollacott, the newly-appointed Professor of Modern History at Macquarie University, gave the opening address at the Australian Historical Association’s Annual Conference at Armidale in September. According to the Abstract of Papers, Professor Woollacott is an exponent of ‘a new research area exploring cultural understandings of the political changes in mid-nineteenth century Australia in an Imperial context.’ The argument of her address seems to have been that in the 1830s and the 1840s, the frontier was a violent place, and the violence became an essential part of ‘masculinity’. This characteristic was transferred to Sydney, where it ‘became built into colonial culture and politics’, and ‘may have shaped ideas of masculinity [and] colonial conceptions of political authority’ which led on to the establishment of responsible government in 1856.