New Colony, Free Press?
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The massacre of the survivors of the shipwrecked Maria off the South Australian coast in 1840 is one of South Australia’s founding stories, mythologised in later nineteenth century accounts as a meaningless act by cowardly and bloodthirsty natives. As Robert Foster, Rick Hosking and Amanda Nettelbeck showed in their 2002 book Fatal Collisions, that is not how it was seen at the time. And now, from Beth Duncan’s new book Mary Thomas: Founding Mother we can see how the massacre became an occasion not only for an argument over the rights of Aborigines to the same protections under British law as the settlers, but a struggle for the freedom of the press.