On This Day

Eureka Stockade

The battle at Eureka Stockade in Australia, crucial to developing democracy in the country
The battle at Eureka Stockade in Australia, crucial to developing democracy in the country

Historical Context

In 1854 a league of gold miners in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, which was then a colony of the United Kingdom, launched a revolt against their colonial government over miner's licensing and a lack of representation despite taxation via that license. Various other actions of the government, police and military inflamed the protests, which began during the Victorian gold rush of the mid-19th century.

The rebellion began in early December. On the first, the miners gathered and swore allegiance to the flag of the Southern Cross, repudiating the Union Jack in a potent symbol of independence. The miners hastily built a stockade and defended it from a swift attack by Australian colonial forces on December 3, 1854. The confrontation was brief, but violent; at least 27 people died, mostly rebelling miners.

Some of the captured rebels were put on trial in Melbourne, and the outpouring of public support for their cause led to the passing of electoral reform laws in Victoria, mandating suffrage for male colonists in the lower house of the Victorian parliament based on landholdings. Women's suffrage, also based on landholding, followed five years later. The battle at Eureka is thus considered to be an important part in the development of Australian democracy and independence.

Painting Info

Artist: J. B. Henderson
Location painted: Ballarat East (now Eureka), Victoria, Australia

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 1854-12-03 Eureka Stockade: In what is claimed by many to be the birth of Australian democracy, more than 20 goldminers at Ballarat, Victoria, are killed by state troopers in an uprising over mining licences

Historical Paintings