Monday, March 15, 2010

Joseph Cook

I think Joseph Cook is a Prime Minister. Or maybe not.

All I know is the next several names after him are Prime Ministers. So I'm making the assumption that he is too.

Ah! I'm right. Lord Wiki says he was Prime Minister number six. He came after Andrew Fisher, and before Andrew Fisher. He was sandwiched in between there for fifteen months.

Baby Joseph was born in Silverdale England on 7 December 1860.

I'm looking at Google Maps. Silverdale is about four hours north-west of London. It's about an hour away from where Frederick Bailey Deeming killed his wife and children.

Lord Wiki says Cook had no formal education, and at the age of nine, he started working in coal mines. I'm all for the no-formal-education bit; but it's probably not optimal for kids that age to be working in mines. Yikes.

As a teen, Cook got involved with something called Primitive Methodism. I'm going to read what Lord Wiki has to say about this; see if it's interesting.

It's a form of Methodism that started in England, around 1810.

A lot of this information is boring to me. It's all about the politics and origins of the movement. I'm not really into that. Towards the end though, Lord Wiki gives some insight into what it involved.

They were into the whole revivalist thing....loud preaching and all that. They sang with zeal, and their tunes often borrowed from songs of popular culture.

It sounds like they were spirited folks, and I'm getting that they were seen as an embarrassment by other more "respectable" Christians.

The church treated all members as equals, and allowed both women and children to become preachers. That's pretty cool.

They believed that God could be called upon by preachers to intervene in their lives, and they believed in the supernatural.

I wonder if Cook's whole family got involved with the church, or just Cook alone.

In 1885 he married a woman named Mary Turner. I'm not sure if she was a church friend, or not.

Soon after the wedding they moved to New South Wales. Cook did more of the coal-mining thing. By 1887, he was General-Secretary of the Western Miners Association. But he was in the east. What's the deal with that? Well, I guess it's all perspective. We're always west of SOMETHING. I live in what's known as the south-west. But to people in California, I'm out east.

Cook joined protests against Chinese Immigration. I wonder what his reasoning was behind that...besides basic racism. And how did Christians back then justify such things?

Lord Wiki says that Cook was one of the founders of the Labor Party. That happened in 1891, so Cook was fairly young. I guess he'd be about thirty-one. It looks like he moved to Australia, and just got right in the middle of things. I've heard that's fairly typical with homeschoolers. They're supposedly more likely to get involved with politics and the community.

I'm guessing that Cook wasn't homeschooled by choice. The coal-mining job gives me the sense that this was a path thrust upon them. But I wonder if that type of childhood (whether by choice or not) increases the chances of someone becoming politically active.

In 1891, Cook joined the New South Wales Legislative Assembly via the seat of Hartley. This is a big deal because it was the first time a person from the Labor Party got a seat in Parliament. But then in 1894, Cook quit the Labor Party, and joined the Free Trade Party. He did this because the Labor Party wanted everyone to sign a pledge saying that they'd be bound to the decisions made by the party. I guess that would mean you couldn't vote in opposition to your party. I'd probably be with Cook on this one. It seems a bit stifling.

When the whole Federation thing happened in 1901, Cook joined Federal Parliament. He had the seat of Parramatta.

I'm going to have to read this next part slowly in order to understand it. I've already read it three times quickly, and I'm a bit loss.

I also have to jump around to other Lord Wiki articles in order to get a full picture.

George Reid became the first Leader of the Opposition. He's the one that led the Free Trade Party that Cook had joined. Cook became Reid's deputy. But then when Reid became Prime Minister, Cook didn't get any Ministry jobs. Lord Wiki says this was because Reid had to offer jobs to Protectionist Members. I don't really understand that, but oh well.

In 1908, Reid retired from leadership. Cook then merged The Free Trade Party (which had been renamed as the Anti-Socialist Party) with the Protectionists. They called this new group the Commonwealth Liberal Party, and Cook became deputy leader. Who was the main leader then?

Oh! It was Deakin. And this group was also the one known as the Deakinite Party. Who did I write about recently that was in that?

Maybe it was Pattie Menzies' father? I have to go read my old post.....

Okay yes. It was Mrs. Menzies' father that was part of that group.

Anyway, so Deakin was the leader of the party first. Then he stepped down in 1910, and Cook became leader.

In 1913, Cook became Prime Minister. Things were difficult for Cook because Labor had the majority in the Senate. He then did the whole double dissolution thing. I'm not quite sure if that worked out for him or not. If you do a double dissolution....if the Governor-General grants permission for it...are you guaranteed to get the results you wanted? Couldn't you end up with another majority of something you didn't want?

In September 1914, the Labor Party was able to use the war to get themselves back into the power seat. They reminded the voters that they had supported the idea of an independent Australian defense force. The conservative parties had been opposed to that. It's funny. I think these days, it's the more conservative parties that support the defense stuff.

Cook stopped being Prime Minister, but he didn't quit politics. He became part of Billy Hughes National Party, and he involved himself with defending the White Australia Policy.

In 1921, he retired from Parliament, and became the Australian High Commissioner of London. He did that until 1927. In 1947 he died.

I'm done with Lord Wiki. I'm going to feed myself and my child. Then I'll look at my two other favorite Prime Minister information sources.....

I'm back.

Jack flipped a coin for me to determine which website I should go to next. We got tails. We're heading to the government Prime Minister site. It's not really "we" though. Jack just flipped the coin. Now he's off to do his own thing.

First, I'll read the Before Office page.

They say that Cook worked as a pit boy in the mines. I'm not sure what that means.

This website has a review of a book about child labour in coal lines. Maybe it will provide some insight. The author of the book offers the controversial opinion that children weren't always exploited. They often WANTED to work, and they were proud of their work. It still doesn't really explain what a pit boy was. I guess it was just a child who worked in the mines. I'm not sure if they had specific tasks. Hopefully, they did work that was less dangerous than the adults.

As a child and teen, Cook read to make up for his lack of formal education. By the age of sixteen he was a preacher in the Primitive Methodist Church. The Prime Minister site says he was a lay preacher. I'm wondering though if that term would have been used by the church itself. Since they believed in equality, I'm guessing they didn't use the term.

By 1885, Cook was working on the railroad. This is when he met his wife. She was a teacher. They had their wedding in August, and left for New South Wales on Christmas Eve. Or maybe he just left. I'm confused. I'm assumed they went together, but then the website says that she joined her husband and brother in 1886. She had been pregnant. Maybe she stayed behind to give birth?

Both Cook and his brother-in-law worked in the coal mines. So Cook went back to this career rather than the railroad one. I wonder if maybe Cook and the brother-in-law once worked together in the England mines. Maybe that's how Cook ended up meeting his wife?

The Cook family lived in Lithgow. That's about two hours west of Sydney, and pretty close to the Blue Mountains. It's about an hour north of Katoomba.

In Lithgow, Cook made himself busy. He had his mining job, and was active with the union. He studied to become Methodist Minister. Would that be with the Primitive Methodist Church? I'm guessing it is. So maybe there was a difference between a lay preacher and a formally trained one.

In 1888, the second Cook child was born. Around that time, Cook became General Secretary of the Union. I guess that would be the coal-mining union?

Cook became involved with a group called the Land Nationalisation League, which promoted the idea of a single tax for landowners. And he was also involved with some defense league that was coordinating a maritime strike. This happened in 1890, and Lord Wiki has some stuff to say about it.

He says it's important to Australia history. The labor unions lost the dispute, but it was an indication that unions were on their way to gaining more power. I think. Hopefully, I'm interpreting this all correctly.

It looks like what made this a big deal, and different from previous strikes, is the military was called into it all.

While the big strike was going on, Mrs. Cook gave birth to their third child. By 1900, they had six kids.

I'm reading a lot of stuff here, on the government site, that Lord Wiki already mentioned.

Here's something I don't think I knew yet. Although Cook wasn't in Reid's first ministry, I guess he was in the second. How many times was Reid Prime Minister?

Lord Wiki says it was only once.

Okay. I'm confused. Let me read more slowly and carefully.

Oh! Wait. I got it. This wasn't George Reid as Prime Minister. It was Reid as Premier of New South Wales. This was all before Federation. Reid was Premier from 1894-1899. During this time, Cook was Minister for Mines and Agriculture. Well, the mine thing makes sense. From what I've seen in the past, it seems people get ministry jobs that often have nothing to do with their education and/or background. So it's nice to see Cook getting a ministry job that actually fits him well.

Cook voted against the first referendum regarding Federation in 1898, but then he voted yes in 1899. He didn't just vote yes. He campaigned through out the mining community. I wonder what made him change his mind.

Wow. This family keeps popping out babies. There's all this political history, and then sprinkled through out is news of more and more children. I thought I found the last at 1900, but now I see that they had a seventh in 1902. There might be more later. I don't think it was that unusual though to have several kids in those days.

This website has some information about families in the 19th century. They talk about England, but it could probably apply to America and Australia as well. Anyway, the site says women in those day had an average of eight children. Today the average (in England) is 1.75 children. That's a huge change.

The Australian Bureau of Statistic says the average family size in Australia is 2.6....or at least that was the case in 2001. They say England's family size is 2.2. That confused me at first, because if you add 1.75 kids to two parents, you get 3.75. But then I remembered that a lot of families these days involve single parenting. America's average family size is 2.5. I always thought I had a small family, but mine is larger than the average!

I just left for a long break, and now I don't know where I was at.

All right. I think I'm at the part where Cook becomes a Member of Parliament for the seat of Parramatta. Around this time, the Cook family moved to Sydney. They lived in Marrickville. Parramatta is about thirty minutes north-west of there. Then Cook himself was often in Melbourne, because that's where Parliament was.

Goodness. More and more children are being popped out. Now I see that we're up to nine. Little Constance appeared in 1906.

I feel I'm more interested in the babies than the political stuff.

What can I say?

The political stuff is boring to me, and I'm feeling apathetic, because I know whatever I learn will be forgotten in a few weeks. I've already researched Reid, Hughes, and Deakin, and I hardly remember anything about them.

Here's the In Office page. I'll try to pay attention to at least some if it.

There's not much exciting stuff here. The website says the big thing in Cook's time as Prime Minister was that double dissolution. I guess it was Australia's first. Reid and Watson had tried to use that trick during their time as Prime Minister, but for some reason it never happened.

An election for Prime Minister was called for September 1915. Oh, wait. I think this was the double dissolution election. But then in August, Britain declared war. That kind of shook things up. And I guess the double dissolution that Cook had wanted  did not bring good results for himself.

This page has some information about Mrs. Cook. She was twenty-two when they married, and had been a school teacher for eight years. So, she started teaching at fourteen. That's hard to imagine in these days.

Her brothers worked in the mines too, although the website doesn't specify whether this is how the two lovebirds came together.

Since Cook was in Melbourne a lot, doing Parliamentary stuff, Mary Cook and the kids spent a lot of time in Sydney without their husband/father. I wonder why they didn't choose to all move to Melbourne. What kept them in Sydney?

Here's the After Office page. I think this gives a clearer picture than Lord Wiki did.

After Cook lost that September 1915 election, he became Leader of the Opposition. He did that for three years, and then he joined Billy Hughes' gang. In Hugh's Ministry, Cook was Navy Minister, than Treasurer. Later, he quit, and became High Commissioner to London.

In 1928, Cook became part of a commission involved with South Australia. South Australia government complained that Federal Budgets had somehow given them a deficit. I'm not sure how Cook got himself involved with that, but it sounds like he brought South Australia a good outcome.

Mr. and Mrs. Cook had returned to Australia (from England) in 1927. Then they moved to Bellevue Hill in Sydney. Joseph died in 1947, and his wife died three years later. I wonder if they had a ton of grandchildren.

The Fast Facts page says that Cook was the most humorless of the Prime Minister. Well, I'm feeling quite humorless as I write this post. Maybe that's why. Perhaps I'm channeling Cook's humorlessness. And well...I got some troublesome family news last night, and then troublesome friend news this morning. I'm a bit concerned, but keeping my hopes up. I'm trying to believe that things are going to turn out okay. But I don't want to have too much faith, because then I feel the universe will punish me for being cocky.

Now I'm going to look at the Australian Dictionary of Biography. I might learn something new, or gain a better understanding of stuff that confused me on the other websites.

Daddy Cook was a coal miner himself. I guess that's probably how young Joseph got into the business. Actually though, Daddy Cook was really Daddy Cooke. Joseph had dropped the "e" as part of his conversion to the Primitive Methodist movement.

The family struggled with poverty.

Daddy Cooke was killed in a coal mine was Joseph was thirteen.

Joseph became primary wage-earner. The Australian Dictionary of Biography says this experience gave Cook a high degree of self-confidence and a strong sense of obligation. Yeah. I can imagine that. Although I'm sure with other kids, it works out another way. Sometimes hardship makes us stronger, and sometimes it breaks us.

The website gives more indication of Cook's seriousness. He wasn't a fan of sports, gambling, alcohol, or any entertainment. He preferred to study. Well, studying can be entertaining. Learning is fun....for some of us. And I don't like alcohol and sport, so I'm kind of like Cook there. I don't mind gambling much though. And I like being entertained. I like the TV a lot, and video games, sometimes. I LOVE reading novels.

The website says that Cook didn't mind the company of other people, and with them he was quiet and modest.

It's hard to be around people who rarely laugh, and who never catch on to your jokes. I think that's such an awkward moment....either when you joke, and the other person doesn't laugh. Or the other person makes a joke, and you have to force yourself to push out a laugh. Friendship is much easier when people's senses of humor match each other.

I'm kind of skimming through all this. I guess Cook did well for himself in New South Wales. The website says he was able to build a big house for his family in Lithgow. At that time, he was head of the postal department.

The website explains why Cook was against the Federation at first. It was because all the states were going to be given equal representation. But then I guess they changed that? No, I don't think they did actually. I think each state has the same amount of Senators. Yeah, Lord Wiki says that when Federation first occurred, each state got six Senators. But maybe the House of Representatives is done by proportion? Okay yeah. Lord Wiki says that's determined by population.

I usually think of socialist governments as caring more about the working class. But Cook, despite being anti-socialist, felt that no class should benefit at the expense of another class. One class benefiting from the expense of another reminds me of capitalism. The rich get rich by encouraging the middle and lower classes to buy. And in order to buy a lot of stuff, the lower and middle classes have to work for the upper classes.

Cook was also into free trade which I think of as capitalism.

I'm guessing it's part of my own misunderstandings and intolerance to fail to see how anti-socialist views would help the working classes.

Well, I guess Cook could have been one of those who believed that since HE worked himself out of poverty, other people could do it too. Yeah. I can see that viewpoint. Socialism is about more taxes. If you pay more taxes, you have less money for yourself and your family. But then my feeling is if you have more taxes, you have better services for the community.

That all goes back to a basic mindset. I think anti-socialist people take the viewpoint that we all make our own beds, and then we must lie in it. You shall reap what you sow. The pro-socialist people believe that sometimes life really sucks for people, and they don't have the materials to make their bed. They need help. And since some people have really expensive fancy bed sheets, and a bunch of them for that matter, they should help those who don't have any.

Cook remained very religious through out his life. I think it's interesting that Christianity doesn't seem to have a consensus over the whole socialism debate. From what I can see, some Christians are very much on the right, and then others are on the left. What does the bible say about all of it? What would Jesus do? Would he have voted for McCain or Obama? And would he go for Rudd or Abbott?

As for least American ones...Lord Wiki says they tend to lean more left. 78% voted for Obama, and 21% voted for Republican. The 21% are more likely to be Orthodox....the very religious Jews. Aren't Christians on the right also more likely to be religious?

And from my limited knowledge, atheists are more likely to be on the left.

Could we conclude that people who are more religious are also more likely to be politically on the right?

If that is true, why?

I wish I could find a website with religion and political demographics.

I'm guessing for Christians there's the abortion and homosexuality issues. But what about the anti-socialism aspects of the conservative parties on the right? Are they for that too?

Well, I guess really....each political party has different issues. People might agree with some, but not all. I know a Republican who is very big on the anti-socialism thing, and is anti-abortion. But he says he thinks people should marry who they want.

If we took homosexuality and abortion out of the equation, would more Christians be on the left? Or is there something about Christianity that makes people anti-socialist?

And aren't socialist countries more likely to have atheists? Think of the John Lennon song. We're supposed to imagine no possessions, and no religion. That sounds very socialist, maybe even communist. It's all about SHARING.

Yeah. From what I know (and someone please tell me if you think I'm wrong) there is a correlation between religion and politics. But I don't fully understand why.

Anyone want to share their personal stories. If you're an atheist on the left, what's your reasoning behind that? If your religious and on the right....why? What's the main thing you don't like about the left? And I'd also love to hear from people who don't fit in with the an atheist who's politically right, and a Christian who goes to church every week, but votes for the party on the left.

Anyway, I totally went off on a tangent here. And you know what....I think I'm going to end on that note. I just noticed the time, and it's much later than I imagined. I probably gave Cook less attention then I should have, but I just found the other stuff more interesting. Sorry.


  1. Very interesting tangents, Dina! You wonder about religious people being politically to the right. Could it be that religious people are afraid to stray from the straight & narrow, so they tend to be conservative? Just a guess ...

  2. You sure ask a lot of questions!
    Socialism is an interesting issue, isn't it.
    My thought on left vs. right for most issues is that most people (on either side) think, want, desire pretty much the same thing; they just propose different ideas of how to get there. That's why I hate politics. I figure we all pretty much want the same thing.
    Who DOESN'T want to feed the poor? or have health care for everyone? or more jobs or blablablablablalbla
    The only difference is: "more jobs can be achieved by doing ___" (and the other side will have a different plan to achieve essentially the same goal.

    And I (being uneducated in such matters) often have no clue as to which path is better (most of the time). And so I just throw my hands up b/c each side is just bickering about the other side (and lying about the other side) when really we pretty much want the same thing. - just have different ideas on how to achieve the same goal (usually).

    This is tied very closely to my "people are good" theory. ('cause we all want the same things, right? And they are good things. But we disagree on how to best achieve those.. )

  3. I just know someone is going to come along and say that we dont' all want the same thing.

    That won't fit into my world view, though.

  4. Barb: Hi! Yeah, I think you're probably right. Religious people probably do tend more to stay with the "Straight and narrow"

    Happy Organist: You're giving me all kinds of deep thoughts, my love.

    I think you're right. We DO all want the same least most of us. We want clean air, financial stabilities, hope for the future, safety, etc.

    I think the issue is each side has different priorities. One group might feel that clean water is the most important thing, and another might feel freedom and economic security are the most important. And we also have different fears, worries, and prejudices.