Petition from the residents of Clermont to Samuel Walker Griffiths, Chief Secretary of Queensland requesting that Chinese Miners are enabled to work in the Clermont goldfields

The discovery of gold at Clermont in 1861 saw a large influx of hopeful prospectors, and within a year the township which arose had become a major inland centre.  Among the newcomers were Chinese miners whose numbers increased in the colony following further discoveries over the ensuing decades.  Racial conflict between Europeans and Chinese in Queensland generally followed a similar pattern to that of New South Wales and Victoria, where Chinese prospectors were regularly driven from their claims by force.  European residents of Clermont, on the other hand, held polarised views. In 1879 a storm of protest erupted when a district court judge dismissed a case against Young Kin who was alleged to owe money to a European.  Worse was to come when a powerful anti-Chines association formed in Clermont with the object of permanently expelling all Chinese from the field.  The agitation commenced after the Queensland Government issued a proclamation to prevent Chinese miners from working on any new goldfield. Yet when Clermont was included in the proclamation, 70 European miners, businessmen and local pastoralists forwarded a petition to Premier Sir Samuel Walker Griffith in which they insisted that, as the goldfield had been in existence for more than two decades, the Chinese miners should be allowed to remain. The petition serves as a reminder that racial conflict on the frontier was note as one-sided as many historians believe.


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