A symbol of imperial unity? The Australian colonies and the 1897 Imperial Conference

Journal article


Little, Alex, Hutchison, Margaret and Mountford, Benjamin. (2023). A symbol of imperial unity? The Australian colonies and the 1897 Imperial Conference. Australian Journal of Politics and History. pp. 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajph.12892
AuthorsLittle, Alex, Hutchison, Margaret and Mountford, Benjamin
Abstract

The 1897 colonial conference coincided with Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and an outpouring of late-Victorian imperial sentiment. Against this backdrop of imperial celebration, colonial leaders met with Secretary of State for the Colonies, Joseph Chamberlain, whose own views as to the importance of imperial reform were taking shape. For the most part, while grateful for Chamberlain's interests, Australian leaders feared significant imperial reform might undermine rather than reinforce imperial unity. As a result, the conference struggled to translate pro-imperial sentiment into tangible commitments. This article argues that the meetings between Chamberlain and colonial leaders in 1897 are worthy of examination not only because they shed light on Anglo-Australian relations but also because they provide insight into a significant period in the history of late-Victorian British imperialism and the development of Australian federation. Drawing on the confidential proceedings of the conference, this article offers a close reading of the key imperial issues under discussion and their resonance in contemporary Australian and imperial political discourse. Moreover, it contends that the conference debates reflected not only important issues in Anglo-Australian affairs, but also a series of broader ambitions and limitations when it came to the campaign for imperial unity in the late-Victorian era.

KeywordsAustralia; Colony
Year2023
JournalAustralian Journal of Politics and History
Journal citationpp. 1-20
PublisherThe University of Queensland
John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd
ISSN1467-8497
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/ajph.12892
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85159845472
Web address (URL)https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajph.12892
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1-20
FunderAustralian Catholic University (ACU)
Research Training Program Scholarship (RTP), Australian Government
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online21 May 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted07 Jan 2023
Deposited23 Jun 2023
Additional information

© 2023 The Authors. Australian Journal of Politics & History published by The University of Queensland and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

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