Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sir Henry Parkes - boozer and wowser at the same time

From May 27, 1815 Birth of Sir Henry Parkes (d. April 27, 1896), Australian politician (Free Trade Party, or Anti-Socialist Party), sometimes called the 'Father of Federation' and at least considered the most prominent among the Australian 'Founding Fathers'. Known for advocating abstinence while being a heavy drinker himself, Parkes was described during his lifetime by The Times of London as "the most commanding figure in Australian politics".

He was first elected to the New South Wales Parliament in 1854 and was a strong supporter of free trade, immigration programs and education reforms. He introduced laws that gave the government the power to employ teachers and create public schools, abolished government funding to religious schools and improved prisons. He was Premier of New South Wales five times between 1872 and 1891 and was knighted in 1877.

On October 24, 1889, at the Tenterfield School of Arts, Parkes delivered the Tenterfield Oration. The oration was seen as a clarion call to federalists and he called for a convention "to devise the constitution which would be necessary for bringing into existence a federal government with a federal parliament for the conduct of national undertaking".

His image appears on the Australian $5 note. The suburb of Parkes in Canberra is named after him as well as the town of Parkes in central New South Wales.

On April 4, 1888, The Republican, edited by Henry Lawson, printed Lawson's castigation of Parkes's recent speech at Liverpool, outside Sydney, in which Parkes had referred to the opposition as "native dogs and opossums", "inferior animals", "precursors of anarchy", "crimps, thieves and blacklegs", "withered tarantulas", "miserable poodle-headed creatures", "blacklegs, fools and anarchists"(!)

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

In 1895 on his 80th birthday, Parkes attributed his longevity to abstinence, advising other Australians to avoid alcohol as well. "This is the same gentleman who takes wine for his stomach's sake every day of his life", laughed The Bulletin.

Lawson & Co: associations with Henry and Louisa Lawson

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