Sunday, March 18, 2007

McNamara's band of radicals

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
1857 William Henry Thomas McNamara (WH McNamara; WHT McNamara; Bill McNamara), radical orator and owner of McNamara's Book and News Depot at 221 Castlereagh St, Sydney, where many radicals of the day met, including the poet Henry Lawson, who married his step-daughter Bertha Bredt.

McNamara learned journalism in Melbourne and was in Sydney by May, 1887. After a time in Sydney, he went back to Melbourne, married Bertha Bredt senior, a widow with two daughters (Bertha and Hilda), and on his return in 1892 became Sydney's radical bookseller.

On May 4, 1887, McNamara and six others met as a socialist group and began taking members. They held debates on Sundays and out of these, and open-air meetings, grew the foundation of the Australian Socialist League (ASL), which met on Sunday evenings at 533½ George St, Sydney, with McNamara, George Black and Thomas Walker as leaders. The ASL reading rooms housed more than 220 foreign newspapers, many of them radical. Contemporary anarchist Jack Andrews preferred to call it the "Alleged Socialist League".

WHT McNamara's Book and News Depot
McNamara's first bookshop, founded in 1892, was at 238 Castlereagh St, next door to the Labour Bureau run by the American anarchist Larry Petrie, who bombed the Aramac. Heat from the police forced the move to 221, next door to Leigh House on one side, and on the other the Active Service Brigade, urban unemployed workers organised by John Dwyer (1856 - 1934) and Arthur Desmond during the 1890s Depression. The Brigade ran a soup kitchen, housed the homeless and also disrupted Parliament and Protestant church services ...

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