American Citizens, British Slaves: Yankee Political Prisoners in an Australian Penal Colony 1839-1850

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Cassandra Pybus, Hamish Maxwell-Stewart
Michigan State University Press, 2002 - History - 270 pages
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This book tells the strange story of almost a hundred United States citizens who were transported to Van Diemen's Land in 1839-40.
As members of the Patriot Army that had conducted border raids into the colony of Upper Canada in 1838, they saw themselves as courageous republican activists, impelled by a moral duty to liberate their northern neighbours from British oppression. Instead of heroic liberators, they became political prisoners of Her Majesty's government.
Sent to Van Diemen's Land by Lieutenant-Governor Arthur - in the hope of deterring any more Yankees from exporting their abhorrent ideology to the Queen's domain - the Patriot exiles endured years of harsh treatment before they were eventually pardoned. Not being British subjects, their transportation was almost certainly illegal.
Eleven of the Patriots wrote narratives about their time in Van Diemen's Land. From these interlocking accounts, Cassandra Pybus and Hamish Maxwell-Stewart have constructed a compelling story of the Patriots' experiences as convicts, drawing also on unpublished letters, newspaper reports and government archives.
This story of political exile and punishment provides a window into the everyday life of the many thousands of forgotten men and women who endured the calculated cruelties of penal transportation. Virtually unknown until brought to life in this remarkable book, the story of the Patriots also considers the political and legal issues of penal transportation as a tool of political repression.

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About the author (2002)

Cassandra Pybus is a senior research fellow at the University of Tasmania and the founding editor of the e-journal Australian Humanities Review.Hamish Maxwell-Sewart is a Port Authur Fellow and History lecturer at the University of Tasmania.

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