Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chris Watson (Thanks Jack)

Chris Watson is probably a Prime Minister.

I sort of remember when Jack suggested that I write about him.

Jack likes helping me come up with topics.

I'll start doing the research....

Watson is the third Prime Minister. I know the first one is Barton. Who was the second?

Lord Wiki says it was Alfred Deakin. I recognize that name. I think he has a school named after him.

Back to our man of the day....

Hi, Chris Watson.

Lord Wiki lists Watson's birthday as c. 9 April 1867. What does that c mean? I'm guessing it MIGHT mean his exact birthday is not known. I'll skip the numerology and astrology stuff for now. I don't want to work with a maybe-birthday.

The reason I'm guessing his birthdate might not be known (besides the little c) is Lord Wiki says there are mysteries surrounding his birth. Mystery might be the wrong word here. I can't really think of the right one. Questions, maybe?

Watson told people his dad was a British seaman named George Watson. Apparently, this is a lie. His real dad might be a man from Chile. And there's a good chance Watson himself was born in Chile. This would make him the only Australian Prime Minister not born in Australia or the UK.

Watson's mom was a Kiwi. She and her husband sailed the seas with their baby. Then they split up and the mom met the Watson guy. Little Chris took the new man's name.

Lord Wiki says that none of this stuff was known until after Watson's death. I wonder if Watson himself knew. It's possible that his mom kept it a secret from him.

Watson lived in New Zealand as a child. That's where he went to school. Later he moved to Sydney. I'm not sure if the whole family moved there, or if he moved by himself.

In Sydney, Watson worked for newspapers. I don't think he went to university. It seems he learned through his job. I guess he read the news. He met writers. He learned stuff. All this led him to becoming interested in politics.

Watson helped start the Labor Party. He had been involved with trade union stuff. In 1892, he became vice-president of the Sydney Trades and Labour Council. Lord Wiki says that's now called the Labor Council of New South Wales. The current vice-presidents are Russ Collison, Barry Johnson, Marilyn Issanchon, and Michael Williamson. Maybe some day, one of these four people will be Prime Minister. You never know.....

Oh! Watson actually eventually became president of the organization. He had settled some dispute, and I guess those in charge were impressed with him.

No wait. He didn't become president of the Labor Council. He became president of the Labor Party. Oops.

Oh no no. I'm totally getting this wrong. He WAS president of the council, and then chairman of the Labor Party. The dispute had been between those two entities. I guess they were both happy with the outcome. One wanted Watson as president and the other as their chairman.

Watson was a popular guy!

There's a lot of stuff here that's going way above my head.

I'll try and take this slow....

Watson was elected into the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. What is that?

I'll have to go read about it.

It's the lower house of Parliament....not Canberra Parliament, but the local New South Wales one. Here's their website.

The current Member for Kiama is Matthew James Brown. I chose to look at him because we've been to Kiama.

Back to Chris Watson and stuff I probably won't understand.

Lord Wiki says Watson, and a Labour leader named James McGowan, voted to keep George Reid as the Premier. It has something to do with them wanting the Federation thing worked out.

I'm pretty lost here. I have no idea what Reid has to do with the Federation. There's a whole entry about him. I don't feel like reading it all.

Maybe when I read about Watson on another website later, they'll explain things in a way that's easier for me to understand.

It seems Watson and the rest of the Labour Party supported the idea of the Federation. But they seemed to have some reservations about the details of the whole thing.

There's something about a referendum here. I'm feeling very stupid. I'm not sure if I should just forget about it...skip it. Or should I read it slowly and try to understand.

I guess I better do the latter. Otherwise, I'll feel like a failure.

Anyway, don't take anything I say as gospel because I may be getting things wrong here. And I'm also getting this information from Lord Wiki. He's sometimes wrong about things. Okay?

On 3 June 1898 there was a referendum. I guess it was about Federation. The Labour Party opposed it, Watson included.

Watson got really mad about something. What? I'm not sure.

Then the referendum was passed on 20 April. I'm assuming that's April 1899. The Labour Party opposed the commonwealth constitution, but their vote didn't carry enough weight.

The first Federal election was held in February 1901. Watson got in via the seat of Bland. That seat didn't last long actually. It was abolished in 1906.

Watson soon became the leader of the Labour Party. I guess it wasn't yet the Labor Party. Lord Wiki keeps changing the spelling. When did it actually make the change?

Lord Wiki says that happened in 1912.

I'm going to go back and change my spellings. I want to be historically accurate here.

Watson became Prime Minister in 1904. He was part of the Labour party, not Labor.

Lord Wiki says Watson was the youngest Prime Minister...at age thirty-seven. I thought the person I recently wrote about was the youngest. Wasn't he? Who did I just write about? I have to go back and check....

It was Stanley Bruce. And I'm wrong. He was thirty-nine when he became Prime Minister. I didn't write that he was the youngest. I just wrote that this seemed like a young Prime Minister age to me.

Watson is even younger. He's close to my age. I'll be thirty-seven in a few months.

Watson was Prime Minister for a very short time; only four months. Then a few years later his seat in Parliament was abolished. Poor guy. He got a new seat though, so it's not so bad. He took the seat of South Sydney.

At the age of 42, Watson retired from politics. Well, he retired from Parliament. He still was part of the Labour Party. Maybe by now it was the Labor Party. Anyway, he worked for them. But then he was expelled because of the whole Conscription issue. Like Billy Hughes, he supported the idea. The Labor Party did not.

Watson was then involved with road stuff. He was one of the founders of the National Roads and Motorist Association (NRMA). It gets confusing because it turns out there's an Australian insurance company called NRMA. If you Google NRMA, you find this. It's a page asking you which NRMA you're looking for. I think the website belongs to the insurance company, but they're nice enough to point you to the other NRMA.

The NRMA that Watson helped develop was aimed at improving early road conditions.

Watson's first wife died in 1921. A few years later he married a waitress. He met her when she served him at a restaurant. That's pretty cool.

They had a daughter together.

Watson died in Double Bay.

What year?


In 2004, the Labor Party had a celebration to honor the 100th anniversary of Watson's Ministry. I guess maybe they felt guilty for expelling him from the party. Watson's daughter was at the celebration.

There's a Canberra suburb named after Watson. That actually sounds familiar to me. Did we stay near there?

Yeah! I just looked it up. That's where our holiday park was. That's the place where we tasted pink musk sticks for the first time. Oh....I miss all the magpies. Lord Wiki says there are television stations in Watson. I remember Tim mentioning that. I guess he saw them on one of his runs.

I miss Canberra.

I'm going to exit Lord Wiki and read another website. I hope to understand things better.

Here's the Aussie government Prime Minister site. Their writing is usually pretty easy for me to follow.

I think one of my problems is I'm a little stressed this morning...for VERY trivial reasons. We have a family reunion in Chicago on Saturday and I don't know what to wear. It's casual. I don't have to squish into anything fancy. The problem is I'm very cheap and lazy about buying clothes. The cheap part isn't so bad. You can find good stuff at thrift stores, and it's much more eco to buy things via that route. But the lazy part is bad. I rarely have the motivation or energy to go clothes shopping. Plus, Goodwill kind of grosses me out. I'm fine once the clothes are home and washed. But the store itself is a little....I don't know what word to use. I guess I feel it's kind of dirty. It might just be my perception.

Anyway, I SHOULD have gone shopping this weekend, but I didn't think of it. Tim said he might come home early from work this week so I can go.

Otherwise, I'll have to wear one of my old dresses. Those who read all our Aussie trip reports will know the dresses. I wear the same five dresses all the time. My family jokes about it so I guess I'm a little self-conscious. Even my NIECES bring it up all the time. They keep asking me why I'm wearing the same clothes.

I do have skirts that I could wear, but they make my butt look huge.

I'll probably wear one of the old dresses...probably the purple or blue one.

Anyway, that's my current drama.

Back to Watson.

Although he had a very short time in office, he had a strong impact on Australia government.

The website says, John Christian (Chris) Watson arrived in Australia in 1887, aged 20. Within three years, he had a job, a wife, and a cause – labour politics.

The guy works fast.

Watson quit school in New Zealand when he was ten. He went to work for a railway construction site. See kids? Don't drop out of school. You might end up as the leader of a country someday.

By the time, Watson was thirteen he was doing the newspaper work. He was an apprentice. Later he moved to Sydney and got jobs with The Daily Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Herald, and the Australian Star.

He was a very successful school drop-out.

Watson was involved with rowing and football. He had athletic school. He was also good at playing cards.

The early 1890's is when the whole Labour Party thing started gaining ground in Australia. Watson was involved with it's beginnings.

In 1892, he supported miners on strike in Broken Hill.

In 1893, he worked to help the unemployed. That year he also organized some kind of unity conference. It was held at Miller's Point. That's where Luna Park is.

This site is confusing me as much as Lord Wiki did.

I guess the most important thing to know is that Watson was the first Labour Prime Minister. He's pretty much the father of the Labor Party.

This page of the site says Watson established the solidarity rule. They say...by which he was expelled from the Labor Party. I'm not sure I understand that. Are they saying it was his solidarity rule that got him expelled. The Labor Party didn't like it. Did it have something to do with war conscription? Or did he once establish a solidarity rule (whatever that may be) and that rule allowed the Labor Party to later expel him?

I'm googling here without much luck.

I think I'll try to find another website.

Here's the Australian Biographical Dictionary site. That's usually interesting. I'm not sure if it will be any easier for me to understand though.

Watson's daddy was part of a ship named Julia. I love trivia like this. Julia was a Brig. Lord Wiki says it was a type of ship popular in the 18th and 19th century. There's a picture here. It looks like a basic explorer boat...like the type Captain Cook sailed on. Oh, and they're popular with pirates. So, it's like a pirate ship.

The Endeavor....I can't believe I forgot Cook's ship. Was it a Brig? Nope. She was a Barque. I'm dumb when it comes to Nautical stuff. To me, all those old history ships look alike. What can I say?

Let's return to Watson.

His daddy sailed from Chile to New Zealand on the Julia. Why? Okay, well he was a chief officer.

He found love in New Zealand. He and his new wife hopped back on the ship and sailed to Guam. That sounds like a fun and exciting life.

A few years later, Watson's mom was back in New Zealand with a baby. Soon she had a new man.

This website says Watson lost his job, and that's why he moved to Sydney.

I wonder if he ever returned to New Zealand to visit his mom, or if she came to visit him?

And what happened to his biological father? Did he completely disappear from the picture. Did Watson ever know about him?

This website says Watson was handsome with sapphire blue eyes. I don't think he's that great-looking, but maybe it's just a bad photo. Or maybe he's not my type.

Watson was into the whole trade union thing. I think I already knew that.

The website describes Watson as being friendly and well-likable.

I'm reading about all the Federation stuff here. I understand it a little, but probably not enough to try and explain it. The idea I'm getting again is that Watson supported the idea of the Federation, but there were aspects of it that didn't please him. I think he tried to change things, but couldn't change them as much as he wanted. He had to kind of compromise.

I might have this completely wrong.

At one point, Watson changed his beard and he looked like a viking. I love the little bits of information this website provides.

Watson didn't have much love for Barton. He did like Deakin though.

In 1920, Watson shaved off his beard. I'm not sure why that's important, but I'm reporting it anyway. Honestly, beard stuff is easier for me to understand than all this political history stuff.

I wonder if this post is as awful as I imagine.

What I think is this: The more I read about all of it, the more I'll understand. I digested a little bit today. I'll add some more early Prime Ministers to my list. They might actually already be on the list. I'll check. If they're not, I'll add them. When I read about the other guys, I'll learn even more. Eventually, I'll understand most of it....hopefully!

P.S-I just checked. Both Deakin and Barton are on the list. They're probably only 3-4 weeks away. So, we'll be back to this subject soon.