Preacher, Politician, Patriot

D.W.A. Baker
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Preacher, Politician, Patriot

Published

18 October 2016

ISBN

9780522864984

Ebook File Size

7.2MB

Imprint

Melbourne University Press

Preacher, Politician, Patriot

D.W.A. Baker
In a cool, authoritative and gently ironic biography, Don Baker considers the life of the fiery founding father John Dunmore Lang.
John Dunmore Lang had a finger in most pies in colonial New South Wales. He arrived in 1823, a young Presbyterian minister in search of a pulpit. Fifty years later his funeral befitted a founding father not only of the Presbyterian Church in Australia but of the nation itself He established the Scots Church and his own secondary school, the Australian College. He was a populist politician whose republican and democrat leanings strengthened during a quarter-century in the Legislative Council. He ran three newspapers. He circled the globe eight times; one of his many missions was to recruit clerics, along with respectable tradesmen and small farmers from the British Isles—anywhere but Papist Ireland. He wrote a book or two during most voyages. And that is not the half of it. Volatile and vindictive, Lang loved a fight, answered only to God and was never still. Towards the end of a…
John Dunmore Lang had a finger in most pies in colonial New South Wales. He arrived in 1823, a young Presbyterian minister in search of a pulpit. Fifty years later his funeral befitted a founding father not only of the Presbyterian Church in Australia but of the nation itself.

He established the Scots Church and his own secondary school, the Australian College. He was a populist politician whose republican and democrat leanings strengthened during a quarter-century in the Legislative Council. He ran three newspapers. He circled the globe eight times; one of his many missions was to recruit clerics, along with respectable tradesmen and small farmers from the British Isles—anywhere but Papist Ireland. He wrote a book or two during most voyages.

And that is not the half of it. Volatile and vindictive, Lang loved a fight, answered only to God and was never still. Towards the end of a life peppered with church rifts, he was locked out of the very church he had built. The financial dealings of this fierce preacher of moral rectitude were labyrinthine and shady. They twice landed him in gaol—as did a willingness to libel opponents. Yet he was a hero to ordinary workers and a perceptive critic of the treatment of Aboriginal people.

Lang is a problematic giant from our colonial past. Don Baker, his cool, authoritative, gently ironic biographer, considers him 'almost as large a figure as he claimed to be'.

D.W.A. Baker

Don Baker was Reader in History at the Australian National University from 1965 to 1987. He is the author of Preacher, Politician, Patriot: A Life of John Dunmore Lang (MUP 1994) and The Civilised Surveyor: Thomas Mitchell and the Australian Aborigines (MUP 1997).

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