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West somehow found the time to write a two-volume history of Tasmania, which was published in 1852.

Image title:
John West

Government Printing Office
collection, State Library of
New South Wales

John West (1809–1873)

Leader in the anti-transportation movement, and a federalist

West was a minister in the Congregational Church who came to Tasmania (then Van Diemen's Land) from England in 1838. Though the British government decided in that year to stop sending convicts to the mainland, it continued to send them to Tasmania. West became a leader in the movement to stop the convicts coming. In the late 1840s the British government tried to send convicts again to the mainland, so everyone became interested in the convict question. West planned an Australia-wide anti-transportation protest movement. It created a flag very similar to today's Australian flag. The British government stopped transportation in 1852.

West had travelled through Australia in this movement. In 1854 he wrote a series of articles for the Sydney Morning Herald, explaining why the colonies needed to federate. No-one was very interested at this time, as the individual colonies had just gained the power to govern themselves. Late in 1854, the Congregationalist owner of the Sydney Morning Herald made West editor of the paper. He did a good job and still found time to preach.