Lachlan Macquarie is credited with shaping Australia’s destiny, transforming a harsh, foreboding penal colony into an agricultural powerhouse and ultimately a prosperous society.
He also helped shape Australia’s national character. An egalitarian at heart, Macquarie saw boundless potential in Britain’s refuse, and under his rule many former convicts went on to become successful administrators, landowners and business people.
However, the governor’s ambitions for the colony (which he lobbied to have renamed ‘Australia’) brought him into conflict with the continent’s original land owners, and he was responsible for the deaths of Aboriginal men, women and children, brutally killed in a military operation intended to create terror among local indigenous people.
So was Macquarie the man who sowed the seeds of a new nation, or a tyrant who destroyed Aboriginal resistance?
In this, the most comprehensive biography yet of the fascinating colonial governor, acclaimed biographer Grantlee Kieza draws on Macquarie’s rich and detailed journals. He chronicles the life and times of a poor Scottish farm boy who joined the British army to make his fortune, saw wars on five continents and clawed his way to the top. Ultimately, Macquarie laid the foundations for a new nation, but, in the process, he played a part in the dispossession of the continent’s first nations.
Lover, fighter, egalitarian, autocrat, Lachlan Macquarie is a complex and engaging character who first envisaged something we now call Australia.