George Higinbotham’s extreme and uncompromising radical views and mesmerizing oratory have made him an iconic figure in Victoria’s colonial history – the darling of the liberals and the left. John Bennett has written a major re-assessment of this giant who was a dominating figure from the 1850s until his death in 1892.
Higinbotham was successively a gold digger who found no gold; a barrister who found few briefs; a crusading editor of Melbourne’s Argus; an independent member of Parliament who opposed political parties and ferociously attacked the “squatter” dominated Legislative Council and the Colonial Office; an overtly democratic Attorney-General who advocated government without supply; and Chief Justice of Victoria when his political dreams all foundered.
Yet he drew others to him as a Pied Piper. He was a mass of contradictions. Extraordinarily charitable to beggars, he treated his family miserably. A failure in achievement, he retained an enormous popularity which has endured for over a century.
The Victorian State Set of Lives of Australian Chief Justices, which includes, Sir William a’Beckett, Sir William Stawell and George Higinbotham is available for $120.00 – to order the Victorian State Set, click here.