Aussie Educator

Nationalism & Federation

This page has been archived and is no longer being added to or maintained.

From separate colonies to one nation, ardent royalists with loyalty to Britain to nationalists who saw Australia as a nation able to stand by itself. In the space of less than two centuries, there has been significant change, though the concept, and the movement, began only a few decades after European settlement.

This page covers the leading figures in the Federation process and a first section on Federation including life at the time of federation, the states and federation, The Constitution, other documents, timelines & chronologies.

This page has been archived and is no longer being maintained.

The Second Page covers a second section on Federation looking at The Centenary of Federation, student activities & resources and multiple information links. There is a section on Nationalism in Australia, including multimedia material.

There are also journals, databases, primary documents, reference material and other information where these are relevant.

Leading Figures

  • Leading Figures in the Federation Movement
    ‘Politicians from all six colonies helped make the Australian Commonwealth. Many were remarkable characters, some were powerful intellects. But if the Constitution was mostly the creation of bearded men, Federation was also the result of pressure from ordinary men and women who, on at least one occasion, revived the movement when the politicians appeared to have lost interest’. Fascinating list. Some individuals detailed below.

Individual Figures

  • Alfred Deakin
    Victorian. Barrister, Federationist, one of the first Prime Ministers. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online. Also see the Guide to the Papers of Alfred Deakin, National Library of Australia.
  • Andrew Inglis Clark
    Tasmania. Barrister, Federationist, judge, law reformer, university vice-chancellor. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.
  • Catherine Helen Spence
    South Australia. Charity worker, journalist, women’s activist, women’s suffragist. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.
  • Charles Cameron Kingston
    South Australia. Radical politician, barrister, Premier. Credited with extending the franchise to women in South Australia. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.

Edmund Barton

Australia’s first Prime Minister, a leading light in the federation movement.

  • Edmund Barton
    The man, his role, his life. National Museum of Australia.
  • Edmund Barton [2]
    National Library of Australia. Includes access to his papers.
  • Sir Edmund Barton
    New South Wales]. Barrister, Federationist, Premier, Prime Minister, High Court Judge. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.
  • King O’Malley
    Tasmania. Federationist, insurance agent, politician, anti-conscriptionist. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.
  • Maybanke Susannah Anderson
    New South Wales. Also known as Maybanke Susannah Wolstenhome [married name]. Historian, feminist, school owner, women’s suffragist. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.
  • Representatives from Colonies
    Copy of an original document listing all who attended the 1897 Australasian Federal Convention.
  • Sir George Houstoun Reid
    New South Wales. Barrister, Federationist, Prime Minister, public servant, High Commissioner. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.

Sir Henry Parkes

‘Father of Federation’, politician, activist, died before Federation finally occurred.

  • Henry Parkes
    Emigration to Australia, self-government campaigner, premier, literary works, references, links. Wikipedia.
  • Resources
    Annotated links to resources from the Henry Parkes Foundation. Articles, commentary, more.
  • Sir Henry Parkes
    New South Wales. Political activist, Federationist, Premier, Free Trade Politician. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.
  • Sir John [Baron Forrest] Forrest
    Western Australia. Explorer Federationist, Premier, Surveyor-General. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.
  • Sir John Quick
    Victoria. Barrister, Federationist, industrial arbitrator, journalist, judge. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.
  • Sir Robert Randolph Garran
    New South Wales. Barrister, Federationist, political writer, First Australian Public Servant. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.
  • Sir Samuel Walker Griffith
    Queensland. Barrister, Federationist, High Court Judge, Chief Justice [he drafted the Judiciary Act which inaugurated the High Court], Premier. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.

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Federation 1

Constitution, The

  • 2000 Boyer Lectures
    “The Rule of Law and the Constitution : The Hon. Murray Gleeson, AC”. ‘Chief Justice Gleeson offers his thoughts on our Constitution, the rich history of law, our rights, and the importance of the court’s independence’.
  • Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act
    ‘This compilation was prepared on 4 September 2013 taking into account alterations up to Act No. 84 of 1977’.
  • Constitution of Australia
    Historical information, various articles, amendments, role of the conventions, interpretation, criticism, notes, references, links. Wikipedia.
  • Research Paper 12 1996-97
    “The Need for a New Preamble to the Australian Constitution and/or a Bill of Rights”. Major issues, recent reform initiatives, the Preamble, a possible Australian Bill of Rights, links to charters and bills from around the world.
  • The Australian Constitution
    Full text, sections on Federalism, constitutional overview, constitutional reform, republic or monarchy, more. A full copy can also be gained from this Senate site.
  • The Australian Federal Constitution
    A Guide to the Constitution.


Original documents, editorials of the time, cartoons, images, other documents.

  • Australian Federation Full Text Database
    Federation Debates and Participant’s Writings. Debates include Melbourne [1890], Sydney [1891], Corowa [1893], Bathurst [1896], Adelaide & Sydney [1897] and Melbourne [1898]. Each available online or as a PDF, as are the accounts and associated writings, covering many topics. Photograph of the 1890 Federal Council membership.
  • Commonwealth Documents
    Documents relating to Federation and the birth of the nation. A second section lists documents as late as the 1980s.
  • Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 [UK]
    Significance, history, description, view all pages, download the transcript in PDF or RTF format.
  • Constitution Documents
    ‘Australia was the first country in the world to be created as a result of a free vote of its people. Our constitutional documents chart the evolution of our nation, and demonstrate how legal documents can shape the lives of a people and the destiny of a continent’. Links to Documenting Democracy, UNESCO listing of these and follow up acts relating to national interests of the time.
  • Creating a Nation
    From Drafting the Constitution to The coming of federation.
  • Editorials
    ‘January editions of Australian newspapers in 1901 prominently featured the Federation of the states. Editorial opinion reflected the variety of reactions to the creation of this new nation’. Editorials from a range of Victorian papers.
  • Federation
    A collection of documents on individual topics from the National Archives of Australia.
  • Federation Gallery
    ‘A permanent exhibition that brings together seven key documents in Australia’s history’ National Archives.
  • New Zealand and Australasian Federation, 1883-1901
    ‘Another view’ of what occurred at the time.
  • Records About The Formation of Australia
    ‘The National Archives holds a rich store of Federation material’. Multiple links access these. They include the Documenting a Democracy site and the following.
  • Records of the Australasian Federal Conventions of the 1890s
    Melbourne 1890, Sydney 1891 and the three sessions of the 1897/8 conference [Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne]. All debates, some proceedings.
  • Sir Henry Parkes’s Tenterfield Oration, 1889
    Listen to the speech and then become involved in the activities linked to it. For a transcription, see Tenterfield Oration.

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Life at The Time of Federation

  • Federation Ephemera
    ‘Australian Federation ephemera including photographs from the Alfred Lee family papers [electronic resource]’. State Library of NSW. Now at Pandora Archive.
  • Life at the Time of Federation
    ‘This unit of work encourages students to investigate what life was like in Australia at the time of Federation through an examination of a time capsule containing seven key objects. Students explore the meaning of these objects to reveal their role in our national identity and their importance in the Federation process’. Life at the time of Federation [PDF 5.3 MB].
  • The Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation Project
    ‘Focuses on the private, community and public life of Australia’s Chinese communities before and after Federation in 1901’.
  • Unfinished Business
    ‘Radio National’s social history series covering Federation. Full text of the episode concerning the actual day of Federation - A Nation in a Day. This is a long document. It runs to 27 printed pages’.

The States & Federation

Timelines & Chronologies

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