By Cassandra Pybus

During this compelling new ebook, exclusive historian and author Cassandra Pybus finds that black convicts have been between our first fleet settlers—a truth which profoundly complicates our realizing of race kin in early colonial Australia. each one of these black founders have been initially slaves from the US who had sought freedom with the British in the course of the American Revolution merely to discover themselves deserted and unemployed in England while the battle 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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Extra resources for Black Founders: The Unknown Story of Australia's First Black Settlers

Sample text

Many more claimed to be free than had papers to prove it, but inside the British lines few cared to make a distinction. After June 1779, any pretence was no longer necessary. ’ While some company commanders feared being overwhelmed with black indigents, especially women and children, the British accommodated everyone, regardless of age or gender. Only occasionally did they remonstrate with ‘idle’ black men, threatening expulsion if they did not work. 21 Black artisans worked on rebuilding projects and in the naval yards; black teamsters hauled provisions and collected firewood; black nurses and orderlies staffed the hospitals; black laundresses and needlewomen did the washing and sewing; black pilots guided the ships safely in and out of the port; black fiddlers and banjo players provided entertainment at balls and in taverns; black jockeys rode horses at the races; black cooks, servants and valets ensured the comfort of the elite.

Daniel Parker, his informal slave catcher, would have informed him that ✹ 36 blackfounderstext2 24/1/06 1:04 PM Page 37 ✹ F L E E I N G T H E F O U N D I N G FAT H E R S the fleet that had sailed in late April had carried hundreds of runaways, including Washington’s own property. Nevertheless, if Washington knew, he was at pains to conceal this intelligence. Observers from both sides noted his consternation as he remonstrated with Carleton that the action was against the expressed provisions of the treaty.

It was certainly possible that Blue took part in Benedict Arnold’s first campaign for the British at the beginning of 1781, when the defector was despatched to Virginia with a force of 1600 men to establish a naval base at Portsmouth. For this operation in enemy territory Arnold wanted to have black recruits who would blend unobtrusively into the local population to operate as spies and took several with him from New York. At his first point of call, the huge Byrd plantation at Westover on the James River, he set about obtaining more black recruits.

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