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John West's 'Union Among the Colonies'

It is often forgotten that the federation of the Australian colonies had been discussed for some fifty years before it was finally achieved in 1901. John West - clergyman, public figure, newspaper editor - was one of the first major advocates of federation.

Drawing on his experience as a leader of the successful intercolonial movement against the renewal of the transportation of convicts to Australia, West, in a series of articles, argued the case for federation. These articles, published in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1854 under the title 'Union Among the Colonies', maintained that federation was necessary for the colonies because it would allow them to combine strength with freedom.

A theorist of the 'checks and balances' school who signed the articles 'John Adams' after the one-time American president, West believed that the American federal system provided a model for Australian colonies seeking to maintain the essentials of the British system of government. These articles provide a cogent argument for federalism that is still relevant in the twenty-first century, not least because the idea of 'checks and balances' remains central to any discussion of contemporary Australian politics.

Publication Details
Name of Publisher: Australian Scholarly Publishing
Place of Publication: Kew, Vic.
Resource Type: Monograph
ISBN: 1875606831
Publication Year: 2001
Subject Covered: Political science; Modern history