Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2001-10 > 1003930938

From: (Bryant Smith)
Subject: Re: Irritating Posts
Date: 24 Oct 2001 06:42:18 -0700
References: <>, <>

(Phil Moody) wrote in message news:<>...
> Renia wrote:
> That's about the gist of it. America was a penal colony before
> Australia. I would imagine that as many Americans have convict
> ancestors, as do Australians, if not more, for it went on longer!
> PLM: Though this is really OT, I thought I should say something about
> everyones usage of "convict", because I think it is misleading. The convicts
> who were transported were not serial killers and rapists. They were people
> who were convicted of worshiping another religion other than the state
> religion, people who could not pay their debts in a timely manner because of
> one hardship or another and those who were caught lifting a loaf to feed
> their starving families.
> These people would merely get a slap on the wrist now. The bankruptcy
> courts are full of people now, who would have gone to debtors prison for the
> same set of circumstances and faced deportation. Think of all the people on
> welfare or the dole now and say to your self,"all of these people would have
> been transported."

Not a bad idea, actually ...

> I know of no one who has been deported for shop lifting.
> We are talking about two completely different justice systems and therefore
> you are comparing apples to oranges.
> Many people have received traffic and parking tickets and have just
> plead
> guilty and paid the fine, rather than hire an attorney for a trivial matter
> when they know they are guilty any way. These people are literally convicts
> because they have been "convicted" of a crime and as I fall within this
> category of the population, I would still take exception to someone calling
> me a convict.

Cheer up. There are in most states of the U.S. today many laws
the violations of which are not "crimes." This is because under
the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, made applicable to state
and local governments by the Fourteenth, you have a right to trial
by a jury before being convicted of a crime. Because giving every
accused speeder et al a jury trial on demand would overwhelm the
courts, most states have invented the concept of "infraction,"
an offense not punishable by imprisonment and therefore not a
"crime" under Constitutional doctrines.

> This is because when I hear "convict", I envision people who
> have done hard time because they are a menace to society and not people who
> have had a traffic ticket, or two:-)
> I think everyone is placing to much emphasis on the word convict, when it
> does not have the same meaning. I have not seen anyone mention "indentured
> servitude" during this entire thread,

Indentured servitude was entirely different. It was voluntary,
usually arising when someone wanted to come to a colony but
could not afford the passage. Such a person would sign an "indenture"
agreeing to work for a definite period of time for the other party,
in exchange for having his fare paid, and usually a little pocket money
was thrown into the deal. This difference is very clear in American
(U.S.) Constitutional law. The Thirteenth Amendment provided that
"Neither slavery nor *involuntary* servitude, except as a punishment
for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall
exist within the United States, or any place subject to their
jurisdiction." [My emphasis.]

> because everyone is to busy using
> convict in a derogatory sense,

It is difficult to use a pejorative word in a non-pejorative sense!

> to insult first the Aussie's and now
> Americans and I feel that it is wholly inappropriate in that context.

My original remark, which touched off this remarkable
thread, was to the effect that because many if not most
ot the early immigrants to Australia were convicts, the
job of finding one's English ancestors ought to be considerably
easier for Aussies than for North-Americans because there
should be records of the transportations readily available.
The subsequent discussion of transportation of convicts to
"America" or parts thereof is a legitimate, if somewhat
non-medieval, study of potential sources of genealogical
As an aside, I had a taxi driver somewhere in the Cook
Islands some years ago, whose accent sounded Australian
to me. When I asked him if he was Australian, he affected
to be very offended, saying no, he was Tasmanian, the
Australians were all from the criminal classes. (Tasmania
was of course, also originally a penal colony!)
As to "insult," I'm sure all of us have ancestors guilty
of various disreputable acts and I for one would be glad
of records identifying some of my "missing" ancestors as
convicts or vampires or whatever, just so long as I could
find them, honi soit qui mal y pense.

Bryant Smith
Playa Palo Seco
Costa Rica

> Cheers,
> Phil
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [mailto:]On Behalf Of Renia
> Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2001 12:42 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Irritating Posts
> John Steele Gordon wrote:
> > "John Steele Gordon" <> wrote in message
> > news:MshB7.49421$...
> <snip>
> >
> > I seem to remember that one of the reasons Britain began settling
> Australia
> > (1788) was that it no longer had the convenient dumping ground of the
> > American colonies in which to get rid of the riffraff. If that is the
> case,
> > then transportation to the American colonies must have been considerable.
> >
> > JSG
> That's about the gist of it. America was a penal colony before
> Australia. I would imagine that as many Americans have convict
> ancestors, as do Australians, if not more, for it went on longer!
> Renia

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