For my fellow ignorant Americans, Australia Day is a celebration of the day that the first "settlers" former residents of England's crowded jails and debtors' prisons landed at the site of what is now Sidney. England had recently lost their former dumping ground for poor people and petty criminals when Georgia was liberated along with the rest of the newly-formed United States.
Unlike Georgia, which was only a debtors' colony, the New South Wales penal colony also included petty criminals (remembering that manslaughter was considered a petty crime if the victim was also poor). The First Fleet, the designation accorded to the prison ships that arrived at the colony in January 1788 included 188 female convicts (mostly prostitutes and women who had "Pleaded the belly").
Oddly, the official Australia Day website
glosses over the importance of criminal transportation to Australia's white settlement, acting as if the newly-arrived residents of Botony Bay were just people who woke up one morning and decided to help spread the empire, and not the victims of a rigidly caste society and the soldiers assigned to guard and punish them.
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