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Fragments of empire : a history of the western Pacific High Commission, 1877-1914

CollectionsANU Press (1965- Present)
Title: Fragments of empire : a history of the western Pacific High Commission, 1877-1914
Author(s): Scarr, Deryck
Date published: 1967
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : Australian National University Press
During the nineteenth century Britain{u2019}s overseas administrative responsibilities related not only to her major colonial dependencies but also to a multitude of small territories and islands, whither her citizens were drawn by evangelism or the lure of trade. Pre-eminent among such areas were the Western Pacific islands, where Britons seeking to collect copra, grow cotton, and recruit labourers for plantations in Fiji and Queensland constituted a problem in law and order. In 1877 the Governor of the recently ceded Crown Colony of Fiji was appointed High Commissioner and Consul-General; his duties included the control of the operations of his own nationals as well as treating with and advising the embryonic native governments of Samoa and Tonga. The present book is largely concerned with the various High Commissioners{u2019} efforts to carry out their difficult task, made more difficult by inadequate financial resources. The author has looked at the local scene in detail: the fluid socio-political system of Samoa, the rigid hierarchical structure of Tonga, the relations between islanders, traders, recruiters, and planters in the New Hebrides, Solomon, and Gilbert Islands. This well-documented study reflects the author{u2019}s thorough acquaintance with local conditions and with the intricacies of imperial policy which should be of great value to the scholar, while the colourful nature of the subject and the vigorous way the story of the islands is unfolded will appeal greatly to the general reader.


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