Rum Rebellion

Rum Rebellion

▪ Australian history
      (Jan. 26, 1808), in Australian history, an uprising in which Gov. William Bligh (Bligh, William) of New South Wales (1806–08), who had earlier been the victim of the famous “Bounty” mutiny, was deposed by local critics, most of whom had ties with the New South Wales Corps. Bligh's stifling of the colony's rum traffic gave the rebellion its name, though other issues were also involved. Bligh had alienated the corps by accusing it of corruption and ineptitude. The immediate incident that led to the rebellion was Bligh's arrest of John Macarthur (Macarthur, John), a former corps officer and one of the colony's leading entrepreneurs, for a violation of port regulations. Macarthur had long been in conflict with Bligh over the disposition of grazing land for Macarthur's sheep and Macarthur's attempted manipulation of commodities prices. His arrest early in January 1808 seemed to augur ill for the colony's more prosperous settlers, including the corps officers. It appears likely that Macarthur convinced Maj. George Johnston of the corps to depose Bligh. The corps invaded Government House on Jan. 26, 1808, placed Bligh under arrest, and took over the administration of the colony until the arrival of Gov. Lachlan Macquarie in December 1809. In 1810 the corps was recalled to England and Bligh vindicated; Johnston was dismissed from service in 1811, and Macarthur could not return to New South Wales, for fear of facing charges, until 1817.

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