Kelley Outbreak

1229 Words Oct 13th, 2013 5 Pages
The Kelly outbreak is a famous phenomenon in Australia's colonial history. Whilst some people prefer to see the outbreak as a simple criminal incident between an outlaw and the police, most historians view it as a broader sociological phenomenon, involving conflict between a larger rural community and the colonial authorities.
An important issue for historians has been to understand the underlying causes of this criminal outbreak, whether it was mainly due to personal, ethnic or socio-economic factors. This essay will critically examine each of these explanations and argue that the actions of the Kellys and their supporters, and the reactions of the police can best be understood in terms of broad socio-economic developments in rural
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These changes, he argues, could not fail to produce 'profound results', one of which was an outbreak of social banditry 13 . Evidence from the period strongly supports such a view.
The region was first occupied by squatters during the late 1830s and 1840s, and was largely settled by 1847. By 1850, several villages were established, there were good seasons and high wool prices .... 14
Between 1860 and 1880 several land reform laws were introduced, intended to halt the monopoly of the squatters by creating a new rural class from the diggers - now experiencing diminishing returns on the goldfields. These laws made available small freeholds of pastoral land for 'selection' by any man or (single) woman over the age of eighteen.... 15
This effort to make land available to the new rural classes proved a failure however. The government's and the selectors' knowledge of agriculture, shaped by the European experience, proved largely to be inapplicable to Australia .. 16
In addition, selection was opposed and obstructed by the squatters who used their superior knowledge of land conditions, political and financial influence, and evasion of certain regulations of the Land Acts to amass large holdings of premium land, leaving poorer land to selectors. ... 17
This situation caused hardship and poverty among selectors, and stock theft became an increasing problem as the selectors sought to supplement meagre food supplies and income with stock stolen

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