The New South Wales Corps

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The New South Wales Corps

The New South Wales Corps
In 1792 the Royal Marines were replaced with the New South Wales Corps, which had been specifically recruited in Great Britain. Given grants of land, members of the corps became the colony's best and largest farmers, but they also posed a serious threat to the governors by their power over the economy. With a sharp eye for enhancing their income, they specialized in controlling the price of rum, which served largely as the colony's internal means of exchange.

Captain John Hunter, Phillip's successor as governor, who arrived in 1795, tried in vain to gain control of the rum traffic. The next governor, Captain Philip G. King, who served from 1800 to 1806, was no more successful. Both governors also had to house additional arrivals, and in 1804 King had to use the corps to put down a rebellion by Irish convicts.

In 1806 Captain William Bligh replaced King. The captain had gained notoriety earlier, when the crew of his ship, the Bounty, had mutinied in the Pacific. Bligh threatened the corps with the loss of their monopoly. He was met with the so-called Rum Rebellion, and on January 26, 1808, officers of the corps arrested him. Bligh was later sent to London, where he successfully defended his policies, but he was not restored to his governorship. The Rum Rebellion thus gave the leaders of the corps the immediate victory. Meanwhile, one of its ringleaders, John Macarthur, had found the solution to the colony's lack of valuable exports: in 1802 he had shown British manufacturers samples of Australian wool. It was only after 1810, however, with the breeding of the merino sheep, with its long staple wool, that sheep grazing gradually developed into a major economic activity

   

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