Monday, September 21, 2009

Henry Parkes

I think Henry Parkes is the father of Federation. I'm not too excited to be writing about Federation because I'm still not sure when to capitalize it. I'll just do my best, I suppose.

Stephen gave me some instructions on the whole issue. I understood the theory of it all...but I'm not sure I'll be able to correctly apply it to this.

The basic idea is if you're talking about federation in general, you don't capitalize. If you're talking about the Federation of Australia, then you capitalize it. It sounds actually very simple. But me being me....I'm sure I'll still get confused.


Lord Wiki says that Baby Henry was born on 27 May 1815 in England. The town was Coventry. It's ninety-five miles northwest of London. I really don't know much about England geography, which is sad because I've been there. Hey, but at least I know where England is on the world map. I just don't know much about within England.

Lord Wiki says that Daddy and Mommy Parkes were yeoman. I have no idea what that means. I shall go and read....

I read. I didn't learn much. I'm still confused. It has something to do with social class and farming. That's about all I know.

Lord Wiki says Parkes had very little schooling. As an unschooling mommy, I love hearing that.

When he was young, he worked at a rope-walk. I don't know what that is. What immediately came to mind was a tightrope walker thing. Lord Wiki says it's about making ropes. He says it was harsh work.

It seems Parkes did a lot of hard work.

Lord Wiki says that he became policitely active in the 1930's. This might have started around 1932 which would mean Parkes was around fifteen. So this was pretty much something he did during his teen years.

Besides hard work and politics, Parkes also did a lot of reading. He even wrote some poetry. He gave some of the poems to the daughter of a local butcher. She ended up becoming his wife. They got married in 1836. Parkes was twenty-one.

It sounds like they had a rough beginning to their marriage...very rough. Two of their children died.

They decided to emigrate to New South Wales. I guess perhaps they felt they'd find more happiness there. They traveled via assisted passage on the ship Strathfieldsaye. I'm pretty sure assisted passage is when Australia would pay most of the fares for the British people to come over.  They were pretty desperate to populate the country with more white people.

The date of the Parkes arrival was 25 July 1839. That would be in the winter. I wonder if it was cold.

They had a new baby. It has been born two days before their arrival. I can't imagine...having a new child and a new country. I wonder what Parkes' wife felt more....happiness or stress?

Well, if she was happy and/hopeful, those feelings probably died down pretty fast. Parkes tried to find work, but failed. They had a tiny bit of money, but soon had to sell their belongings to get more money.

Parkes finally did get a job. He went to work for a guy named James Jamison. Jamison was a wealthy Australian guy who founded the Bank of New South Wales. There's a street named after him in Sydney. I'm not sure if I remember it. I'll go look at a map.

Okay. I see it. It's small. It's between George Street and York Street. It's close to Wynyard Station. It's close to Darling Harbour, so we might have passed it when we were in that area.

Jamison didn't live on Jamison street. He lived out in Penrith. That's in western Sydney. It's REALLY west though....way past Parramatta.

So the Parkes were way out in Penrith. Actually, wait. It wasn't Penrith. It was just NEAR Penrith. The exact place was Regentville. Jamison had a fancy shmancy home there. Parkes was one of his workers.

For his work, Parkes received 25 pounds a year. That doesn't seem like a lot of money, but I don't know anything about the inflation stuff. Plus, I have no idea how to translate pounds into dollars. I'm guessing it wasn't a great salary though. He received a ration of food. Lord Wiki says it consisted of rice, flour, and sugar. They'd get meat sometimes, but it was often bad. That's pretty rude. Jamison was wealthy. He couldn't manage to get his workers some decent meat?

Parkes worked there for only six months. I wonder if he quit, or if he was fired.

He returned to Sydney. He became an officer for the Sydney's Customs Department. Oh okay. Jamison recommended him for the job. So I guess he wasn't fired. It's more like he was promoted. That's good.

Life for the Parkes improved a bit. They had more money. The problem is they also had a lot of old debts.

Parkes had an argument with his boss at some point. He quit the customs job. On a positive note, Lord Wiki says he left on amicable terms.

In 1842, Parkes published a book of poetry. The poetry made him fairly popular. I guess he was a good poet.

Around this time, Parkes met a poet named Charles Harpur and an editor of a magazine called the Weekly Register. Lord Wiki says these men had some influence on Parkes.

In 1844, Parkes worked on Kent Street. I think I remember that one. It's near Darling Harbour. I think I walked on that street on our second to last day in Sydney. I walked from the Rocks to Darling Harbour.

On Kent Street, Parkes was an ivory and bone turner. That sounds like something that would be illegal today....probably not very nice to elephants. I wonder what kind of bone it was. Maybe elephant? I forgot to mention that he had done this type of work during his youth in England. He was probably quite good at it.

He later moved his shop to Hunter Street. I guess he made some good money. He was able to own some newspapers. Sadly though, the good times didn't last long. Parkes went bankrupt.

Okay. Now we get into the political stuff.

Parkes did some political writing in the early 1840's. In 1848 he did his first political speech. The two main issues around this time were the stopping of transportation (of the convicts) and self-government. I thought transportation ended for the most part in 1840. I'm a tiny bit confused.

I might be just reading things wrong. Maybe Parkes became involved in politics before the 1840's. By the time he made his speech, most of transportation would have ended.

Lord Wiki has a whole thing about transportation. I shall read it.

Transportation was suspended in 1840. It didn't officially end until 1850. And that was just New South Wales. Western Australia didn't start sucking up convicts UNTIL 1850. I guess England decided if they couldn't send them to NSW....

The last convict ship arrived in Western Australia in 1868.

Lord Wiki says Parkes had major debates with William Charles Wentworth. Really? That kind of surprises me. What did they argue about?

I'm reading and not finding anything I understand enough to answer that question. Maybe I'll find it one day.....

Parkes had a seat in Parliament in 1858. He was in the seat for only six months. That guy didn't stay too long with stuff, did he?

It seems his main problem through out life was financial. He was constantly struggling with that stuff...even when he found success elsewhere.

In 1859 he returned to Parliament. He was a member for East Sydney. The Sydney Morning Herald described him as being radical.

Lord Wiki lists some of the stuff that Parkes supported.

He was for free trade.

He was for public schools.

He was against the government giving money to religious schools.

He wanted prisons to be improved.

He was a believer in immigration. He went to England in 1861 for some kind of emigration thing. Lord Wiki says he left his wife and five kids in poverty. That's pretty sad.

Parkes went around making speeches. I guess he tried to convince people to come to Australia?

In 1866, Parkes introduced the Public Schools Act. This said that no one could be a teacher without proper teacher training. I have very mixed feelings about that. I received extensive teacher training. I'm not sure if it made me that great at working with kids. For awhile, it made me NERVOUS to be around kids. I second-guessed everything I did. I think teaching often comes naturally (to some people) and we make it seem way too complicated. One could probably just read a few education books and be as good of a teacher as someone who got a four year degree.

On the other hand, I was horrified when I began working at the preschool in Fort Worth and realized I was the only one who had a masters degree in education. Worse than that, many of the teachers didn't even have a bachelors degree in education. Some didn't have a bachelors degree in ANYTHING. They were just out of high school. One head teacher had a degree in art. Her only previous work with children had been as a camp counselor. She had never worked with three-year-olds before. I thought that was nuts because in NYC it was SO hard to become a head teacher. You had to have a master degree. Even then it was competitive. At the popular NYC preschools, most of the head teachers have been in their jobs for ten plus years.

I was very snobby against this Fort Worth school. My viewpoints have changed though. From my homeschooling experience, I don't think you need a fancy degree to be a teacher. BUT, I still have no love for the school. I realize now that this didn't truly come from the lack of education degrees the teachers held. It came from the fact that the school had a educational philosophy that was totally different from the one I had been taught and believed in. If the school believed what I believed, they would have easily trained the teachers to behave in a way that pleased me. Instead they managed to train them in a way that did not please me.

The question of Parke's education act then was what's the definition of properly trained teacher. My idea of a properly trained teacher might be what someone else sees as a horrible teacher. The preschool in Fort Worth was very excited to hire me. The director loved that I had an actual masters degree. But once I was hired, and they realized my educational philosophy was so different from their own, they weren't so happy. They seemed very relieved when I told them I needed to resign.

In 1868, the son of Queen Victoria was visiting New South Wales. He was shot in the back by an assassin named Henry James O'Farrell. O'Farrell at first claimed to be something called a Fenian. These are people who fight for Irish independence. The Duke survived, but the incident caused major sentiments of anti-Fenianism. Parkes himself became very zealous in his anti-Fenianism. That's kind of odd. He fought for Australian independence. Why would he be against Irish independence? Well, I guess it was about the violent aspect of their movement. Maybe that's what Parkes was against. It's like today you can be against Palestinian terrorists, but still believe Palestinians deserve their own state.

Parkes pushed the idea of a Fenian conspiracy. It sounds like he became a bit paranoid. People listened to him for awhile, but then when nothing happened, he lost political popularity. Parkes reminds me of the far right Republicans in America today....all their Obama conspiracies.

Wow. This reminds me so MUCH of what we're going through today. Lord Wiki talks about how Parkes claimed he had nothing against Irish people in general. This he said as he also expressed worry about too many Irish immigrants. The Irish became quite hostile to him.

I hear people today say they're not against Muslims. They're just against Muslim terrorists or Muslim fanatics. And I think there's a valid point to that. It's just they need to remember there are fanatics in all religions. If I bring this up to these people, they do usually agree with me. Yes, all fanatics are bad...well, especially the ones that murder others for their cause. It doesn't matter what religion or belief system they come from.

It also reminds me of people who say they don't hate Jews. They just hate Zionists. That to me if offensive because it's saying they don't believe Jews deserve their own country. The Jews wouldn't NEED their own country if the grandparents of the people who say these things had done more to help the Jews and welcomed them into their own country. To me, it's better to say I don't hate Jews or Zionists, but I do hate fanatic violent Zionists.

Sometimes it's hard because what we hate about a group might be an important aspect of the group. I sometimes think/say I don't mind Christians as long as they don't push their beliefs on me. Well, pushing your belief on others is a pretty big aspect of Christianity. They have the one religion that believes salvation can only come if you believe what they believe. If they believe I'm going to hell, and they DON'T try to convert me, that's rude in itself. Christians just can't win with me.

Maybe what I SHOULD say is I don't like Christianity. I do NOT like the religion. But I do like many Christians. It's like I don't like the Republican Party, but I do like some Republicans.

Still. It seems rude to not like a huge aspect of a person. And I don't feel too happy about those Australians who hate Americans, but make an exception for me. It still hurts, even though I agree with a lot of their Anti-American feelings. Although wait. That could be different. It's different to hate Americans, but make an exception for me than it is to hate America but be fine with Americans...including me.

Yeah, I think it's totally different.

It's like the difference between someone saying I'm against homeschooling and someone else saying I hate homeschoolers.

Wow. I'm totally on a tangent here.

Let me get back on track......

I think the problem is I'm a bit bored. This is getting long and tedious.

Maybe I can skip ahead.....

I'm going to just read and report the highlights.

Parkes became Leader of the Opposition. He resigned from that in 1877.

In 1881 he had bad health. Lord Wiki seems to be saying that this came from overworking.

He decided to go on a voyage. He went to America for six weeks, and then England.

Parkes was against Asian immigration. He said he didn't think they were an inferior race. He felt they were superior and powerful. That's what concerned him.

Parkes' wife died in 1888. He got remarried soon after. Some saw this as being too fast. I don't think Parkes was too popular in the media.

His second wife didn't live too long either.

Parkes had a pretty rough life. He ended up dying in poverty. That was in 1896. He never got to see The Federation.

All right. I'm going to go to visit the Australian Dictionary of Biography. I'll see if they say anything that interests me. I have to remind myself that I'm not getting paid for this, I'm not doing this for school, and it's not being graded. If I'm bored by something, it's perfectly okay to skim the reading and go off in annoying tangents.

John Parkes is supposed to be all about federation stuff. Yet I'm honestly more interested in his dead wives, his financial woes, his Ivory work, and his education acts.

Maybe the biography dictionary has more of the fun trivial stuff that I like.

Parkes had six older siblings.

He had little formal schooling. Instead he did hard work to help support the family. I'm guessing he didn't much love his unschooling life....seeing that he was so big into establishing public schools in Australia. I'd blame those feelings on the hard labor stuff. If he got to spend his day studying nature, reading books, playing board games, and doing independent study....he'd probably be more of an unschooling fan.

The website says that when Parkes and his wife left their relatives, he assured them he'd make a fortune and come back for all of them. The idealistic immigrant....I think that's a common character in our world.

Mr. and Mrs. Parkes were somewhat offended and disgusted by their fellow ship passengers. These people spoke harsh and blasphemous words that the Parkes weren't accustomed to.

Their first surviving child was the one born a few days before they reached Sydney.

The website says He had by then become deeply involved in literary and political activities, attractions which highlighted the dullness of a business life. I think that one statement summarizes his life quite least all that I read from Lord Wiki. He was a failed businessman who did well with politics and poetry. But I guess the politics and poetry didn't make him enough money to live on.

The website says, Parkes's talents as a writer, extraordinary for one so lacking in formal education, developed quickly in the 1840s. Jack has had no formal education and he writes very well. So there! His writing at eight-years-old is much better than my writing at eight-years-old. Also, I'm currently reading A Fortunate Life, an awesome book written by a guy who never went to school as a child. A person really does NOT need schooling to be a good writer.

One of Parke's newspapers was The Empire. It was a political newspaper. The website says it was liberal. I think they're talking liberal as in left, and not liberal as in the Australian political party. Do you know how confusing that is for us Americans? Although now I'm screwed up the other way. I used to be messed up when I would read about the Liberal Party in Australia. It seemed so weird that they were the conservative party. But now liberal to me equals conservatives like John Howard. These days I get all confused when Americans refer to liberal politics. It takes me awhile to realize that they're talking about MY people.

When Parke returned from that trip to England and America, he was honored at Australian banquets. It's so odd that someone honored at banquets would die in poverty. And remember...while he was out traveling the globe, his wife and kids were living a poverty life in Australia. Instead of giving a banquet in Parkes' honor, why didn't they use that money to help the wife and kids?

Life is weird.

Okay. Here's some information about the actual federation stuff.

The website says he was an advocate for colonial union for thirty years. What is colonial union? Is that the same as federation. I'm guessing that it is....I'm thinking it refers to uniting the colonies.

There's two aspects of federation....right? Uniting the colonies and breaking free from the mother country....or breaking sort of free from the mother country.

Parkes became big on the whole federation thing. I guess that's why he's called the father of Federation.

This website says it wasn't just hard work that caused bad health. He was in a cab accident. Ouch.

His eventual death a few years later was the result of pneumonia. He was buried next to his first wife in the Blue Mountains.

The website gives some other major trivia stuff. It's probably not important, but I like knowing little things like this.

He loved books. Well, I'm not sure that's very trivial. Whether someone likes books or not can be very important to the type of person they become.

Maybe this isn't all trivia. It's more like....interesting facts?

The website says he was vain and craved recognition. Well, that's kind of an opinion...really. And the description would probably fit a lot of people.

The website says, Yet fiery integrity bit through in his scorn for the world's judgment of his marital and financial affairs and his inner resources provided resilience to weather crises which might have destroyed other men. The guy had a tough life, but he kept up his fight. I admire that.

He collected autographs. Interesting...

He liked champagne. Interesting again.....

This other website says that Parkes had three wives...not just two. Lord Wiki and the biographical dictionary might have said the same thing. I could have just missed it.

This migration heritage website has a photo of Parkes' briefcase. They have some other photos, and some information on Parkes. I'll read it, and then I'm going to end this and play Jack's new made up game.

The website says that before 1880 there was not much interest in uniting the colonies. Then things started to change. The website says this was partly because more and more citizens of the colonies had been born there. They started to feel more national pride. Although there really wasn't a nation yet.

Two other factors led to the whole federation thing. One was better communication. It's hard to want to unite with people that you can't easily talk to. But there were now telegraphs. People could do a little bit of bonding. They could imagine holding hands and becoming one.

And there was the whole Asian issue. The Australians were scared of too many Asians coming over. They felt if they united and formed a Federation, they could establish an immigration policy. Ouch.

Well, that's it for now.

I feel I'm missing something and I should do more. But Jack will get very annoyed with me if I don't quit now. I kind of promised.....


  1. Whoa ... you do sound bored today, deluged too by a topic that's so massive to get through the layers ... good job Luv ;)

  2. Redness,

    lol. Sorry! I do like the Federation thing. It just goes over my head sometimes.

  3. Hi Dina,
    The way i look at the whole Liberal issue is the Liberal Party in Australia stands for liberal/free financial markets or free from government regulations, which is a conservative ideal.

  4. Matt,

    That's a good way of looking at it. It's hard now for me to equate "liberal" with the left. I've been properly brainwashed by Australian politics.

  5. I suppose Parkes was named after him. It is the location of the monster radio telescope that was an integral part of the first moon landing and also does lots of spying for the US.

  6. Andrew,

    Yeah. I'm pretty sure it was named after him. In one of our earlier trip plans for 2009, we were going to go to Parkes. But we didn't.

    We did end up running into another radio telescope near Canberra though.