Image Electors arriving to vote, Mackay, 1877

TLF ID R9200

This black-and-white pen-and-ink sketch depicts voters arriving at a polling station in a state by-election in Mackay, Queensland, on 23 April 1877. The voters arrive in horsedrawn buggies and carriages. Speech bubbles and banners include the slogans 'VOTE for LONG', 'Yah! no slavery!' and 'Beor! and down with Kanaka Labour!' One man at the polling booth appears to be blowing a trumpet and another is waving a hat. A man in the middle of the sketch waves his hat and says, 'Down with the slave trader!'



Educational details

Educational value
  • This sketch depicts the strong language used for slogans in support of W H Long, who opposed Henry Rogers Beor (1846-80) in the by-election for the seat of Bowen in 1877. The references to 'slavery' refer to Beor's support for the continued use of indentured labour from the South Pacific Islands. Supporters of the practice argued that the labour was necessary for the development of Qld, opponents that it was 'slavery' that threatened white jobs and wages.
  • The word 'Kanakas', used in this sketch, was a derogatory term for South Pacific Islanders, who were treated virtually as slaves in the sugar industry. Often kidnapped in the early years of the practice, they undertook arduous work believed at the time to be too difficult for Europeans in the tropics. The death rate of Islanders in northern Qld was four times that of Europeans due to poor food and housing, medical neglect and mistreatment.
  • The issue of South Pacific Islander labour, prominent in this sketch, reflects the importance of the sugar industry to Mackay and the belief among sugar producers that white workers were unsuited to sugar-cane work in the harsh tropical conditions. Mackay became the largest sugar-producing area in Qld within a decade of being founded in 1862 and the region remains the largest sugar-producing area in Australia. It also has the largest population of people of South Pacific Islander descent in Australia.
  • Beor won the by-election and joined the Liberal government, retaining the seat until his death in December 1880. Beor, a Brisbane barrister, argued for the retention of South Pacific Islander labour, fearing that to ban it would cause negative effects such as scarce labour, higher labour costs and reduced sugar production. He also advocated territorial separation of northern and southern Qld, supporting Bowen as the hub of the north. Long was against separation.
  • The diary from which this sketch is taken is a particularly important historical record because in 1918 a major cyclone and a tidal wave hit the Mackay area, destroying much of the town's documented history. The diary is part of the Rawson Archive held by the State Library of Qld, a collection of handwritten pen-and-ink diaries and photographs that provides a record of Mackay at the time.
Year level

4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • history;
  • studies of society and environment
Strand
  • History/Historical knowledge and understandings
  • Studies of society and environment/Time, continuity and change

Other details

Contributors
  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 06 Sep 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: State Library of Queensland
  • Address: Brisbane QLD 4000 Australia
  • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of State Library of Queensland
  • Content provider
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 1877
  • Name: Charles Rawson
  • Remarks: illustrator
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning resource type
  • Image
Browsers
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  • Safari - minimum version: 5.1 (MacOS)
Operating systems
  • MacOS - minimum version: 10.6
  • MS-Windows - minimum version: XP - maximum version: 7
Rights
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and State Library of Queensland, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements