• EAN: 9781862873995
  • 176 pages; 6" x 8⅝"

The State and The People

Australian federation and nation making, 1870-1901


Product Description

The State and the People tells the story of the Australian colonies’ coming together into a single federation in the latter years of the 19th century. Author John Manning Ward, pre-eminent Australian interpreter of colonial relations with Great Britain, had a distinct view of Australian federation. His liberal-conservative approach differed sharply from the nationalist or modern progressivist approaches of other scholars.

Between the radical republican challenge and the cultural cringe, lies Ward’s Australia: essentially pro-British, pragmatic and animated by the ‘hope of capital’.

Ward’s federation reflects pragmatic forces and developments, the constitutional outcome having the common sense of a common law tradition at its core. Federation is not the representation of a nationalist assertion against the mother country, but rather the expression of a colonial nationality anchored within a tradition of British imperial history abroad.

Ward’s untimely death intervened in 1990 and The State and The People is incomplete. It comprises the substantial chapters then written. The editors, Professor Deryck Schreuder and Emeritus Professor Brian Fletcher, make clear that we have been deprived of quantity, not quality. Ward’s scholarship remains sharp, his prose elegant and his argument penetrating. The State and The People contributes significantly to our understanding of Federation and to continuing debate on the Australian constitution and identity.

Foreword/ Acknowledgments/ List of Illustrations/ Editors’ introduction/ A note on the text

The Stable Society and its Enemies

A stable society of growth

The population and progress


Federation and nationalism

Great Expectations — the 1870s-1880s

Federation Advocated

Why federation?

The role of the state

Conservative advocates of federation

New liberal advocates of federation

Some opponents of federation

Federation Achieved

The relations of the Commonwealth and the States

"A compromise, with all the faults of a compromise"

Solving the problem of dissolutions of parliament

The electoral franchise problem

Establishing a High Court

A Constitution of checks and balances

The distribution of powers

The Australian state is made

Epilogue: Federation and the New Liberalism

It is clear from this text that Ward had worked out much of what he had to say by the early 1980s, and it is not surprising that it often reads now like the product of a by-gone age. And yet, in some ways, it also seems lucidly up-to-date, hinting at an understanding of federation that is still to be properly realised. …

It is in his treatment of liberalism, pure and simple, that the book is most valuable. The reader becomes steadily more impressed with the federal movement as the work of men (women are absent) genuinely interested in the impact of ideas on daily life. During the last parts of the argument, we begin to feel that federation was, among other things, an intellectual adventure. That is a notion of considerable originality, at least as it comes from Ward’s hands. …

There is a succinctness and aloofness about his writing so that sometimes the text feels more like an essay (in the old sense) than a thorough history. Even as an essay, however, its presentation, at least towards the end, has a power that takes the reader by surprise. .. It is a deeply suggestive work … – Labour History, Vol 90, May 2006

A very enlightening contribution to our education on the characters and events which led to the formation of the Commonwealth – Tasmanian Law Society Newsletter, 2002

John Ward had a very individual view of Australia’s evolution as a nation within the framework of the British colonial empire. His explanation of Federation is thus different from other scholars, and so enriches our perspective on Australia’s past. …

Quite apart from being a work of scholarly significance, The State & the People is written in a beautifully simple style, easy to read and easy to understand. Students of history in schools, colleges and universities will find it a key text to study with care. But all of us as citizens will find it a book to read with pleasure.

It will tell us things about Australia’s history, its people and values, which we may not have previously known. It will surely challenge our views about why Federation happened, the role of key individuals and why we ended up with the kind of constitution which the Founders came to write. – Sir Ian Turbott AO, Founding Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney

As the pre-eminent Australian interpreter of colonial relations with Great Britain, John Ward has a deeply informed view about the evolving imperial connection and the transformation from colony to nation. … For [him] … Federation was not the representation of a national assertion against the mother country, but rather the expression of a maturing colonial society, anchored within a broad tradition of British imperial history. …

A distinctive insight into a major episode of Australian history. This is unheroic history with heroic themes and consequences. It is the kind of history of federation of which the founders themselves would have approved. – HE Lt General John Sanderson AC, Governor of Western Australia

I am enjoying it, admiring it. I like John W’s account of the day at Clontarf in 1868 … – Professor Geoffrey Blainey

This is an engaging account of Australian federation written by a distinguished professor of history … the editors have done an excellent job in bringing this important study to fruition.

‘Why,’ asks Ward, ‘did the Australian colonies federate in 1901?’

Ward argues that conservatives, liberals and the labor movement produced three different federation movements, which coalesced briefly in the troubled 1890s to bring about federation. Federation was a compromise between conservatives and liberals, who managed to win support from labor. More particularly, conservatives and ‘old liberals’ supported federation as a means of dividing political power, thus limiting government intervention in social and economic affairs, whereas, he implies, ‘new liberals’ supported federation to expand such intervention.

While a ‘sincere nationalism’ probably motivated Edmund Barton, Ward rejects the thesis that any common principle or elevated goal unified the conservative and liberal ranks – other than the concrete objective of federation, itself motivated by the deeper and divergent political objectives of old and new liberalism. …

Why did the Australian colonies agree to federate in the 1890s and not before? Ward’s central thesis is that ‘the long debate over federation … was on whether and how the role of the state should be extended in social and economic matters. – Proctor (Queensland Law Society), November 2002

Ward’s self-confessed liberal conservative interpretation of the development of our nation state is strongly and coherently developed from the period of 1870 until Federation.

One of the more interesting aspects of this book is the complex portrayal of colonial society. It emerges that early Australian society was brimming with religious, racial and class tensions. …

It was also a period of growing Anglo-Saxon nationalism. Most of the population saw themselves as transplanted Britons. Ward emphasises this view because it contradicts the nationalist interpretation of Federation as a product of a nascent Australian rather than British identity. … it places pre-Federation society in its correct context and challenges any lazy assumptions about an Australian identity. Chapter 3 is a succinct and thorough exploration of the various attitudes towards Federation … – Law Society NSW Journal, Vol 41(2), March 2003

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