Black Founders: The Unknown Story of Australia's First Black by Cassandra Pybus

By Cassandra Pybus

During this compelling new booklet, individual historian and author Cassandra Pybus unearths that black convicts have been between our first fleet settlers—a truth which profoundly complicates our knowing of race relatives in early colonial Australia. almost all these black founders have been initially slaves from the United States who had sought freedom with the British in the course of the American Revolution purely to discover themselves deserted and unemployed in England while the conflict used to be over. Pybus' tales comprise the infamous runaway 'Black Caesar', who grew to become our first bushranger, and the splendidly subversive Billie Blue, who was once the 1st ferryman on Sydney Harbour, after whom Blues element is called.

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Animals left to decompose in the streets leached into the puddles of urine and stagnant water, and even a discarded human corpse might be found among the decaying detritus. 1 The city was divided along an axis of east to west: brutal poverty and ostentatious wealth, bare subsistence and conspicuous consumption; The West End was a rapidly developing Mecca of theatrically designed shops that dazzled even the most sophisticated of visitors, as well as spectacularly grand houses. At the East End, the city disintegrated into an evil-smelling concentration of decrepit tenements in places such as the Minories, Wapping, St Katherine’s-by-the-Tower, Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Shadwell, Limehouse, Ratcliffe Highway, Stepney, and Mile End New Town, all within spitting distance of the Pool of London, as the port was then known.

The arrival of another large British fleet in September 1781 gave Clinton the opportunity to distract Washington’s attention from New York by embarking an invasion force supposedly bound for Virginia. André simultaneously sailed up the Hudson in the warship Vulture. On the night of 21 September, he was rowed ashore by a boatman for a conference with Arnold on the banks of the river, just within the American lines near Stony Point. While the two men were discussing details, the Vulture came under fire and was forced to drop downriver.

3 In May the county of New Kent was hard hit by slave defections to Arnold’s army, including yet another youth named Caesar, who subsequently disappeared from the list of taxable slaves on General Washington’s New Kent estate. Soldiers from Cornwallis’s army also raided the plantation Washington had established in the Great Dismal Swamp, taking the steers, 50 head of cattle, 200 barrels of corn, all the work implements and 21 men, 1 woman and 5 children, who were over half of the enslaved workforce.

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