Australasia 1854: Eureka Rebellion
Taking advantage of the 1851 gold rush, the colonial government of Victoria began dramatically raising miner’s licence fees. In response to this action, and the accompanying heavy-handed police tactics, the mining population—or ‘diggers’—pushed for reform. Tensions between the two sides escalated until 1854, when government troops routed a force of rebel diggers who had built a stockade in Eureka goldfield. Despite its failure, the rising proved popular, convincing the government to enact almost all of the requested reforms.
15 Dec 1851 Rise of Ma‘afu▲
Following the establishment of his cousin, George Tupou, as ruler of Tonga, Tongan Prince ʻEnele Maʻafuʻotuʻitonga (known as Ma‘afu) traveled to the Lau Islands of neighboring Fiji in 1847. Ma‘afu quickly established himself as a leader among the substantial Tongan population of Lau and by the end of 1851 was considered by missionaries as the most powerful person in the region. In November 1853 George Tupou visited Lau, officially appointing Ma‘afu as a governor of the Tongans in Fiji.
26 May 1853 End of convict era in Tasmania▲
In the 1840s an anti-transportation movement developed in the British colony of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) to bring an end to the shipment of British convicts to that island. The end of transportation was pushed further by the establishment of the Australasian Anti-Transportation League in 1850 and facilitated by the beginning of the Australian gold rushes in 1851. In 1853 the St. Vincent unloaded the last shipment of convicts in Hobart, bringing an end to the 49-year-long convict era in Tasmania.
24 Sep 1853 Colony of New Caledonia▲
On 24 September 1853, under the orders of Emperor Napoleon III, Admiral Febvrier Despointes took formal possession of New Caledonia in the name of France, initially subordinating it to the French Settlements in Oceania. Five days later the French also took possession of Île des Pins to the south. Port-de-France (Nouméa) was founded the following year and the Loyalty and Chesterfield islands were annexed to the colony in the next decades.
27–28 Mar 1854 Anglo-French entry into Crimean War▲
In response to the Russian attack on the Ottoman port of Sinope and after the Russian Empire ignored an Anglo-French ultimatum, the French Empire formally declared war on Russia on 27 March 1854. The following day, the United Kingdom also declared war, bringing both nations into the Crimean War.
3 Dec 1854 Eureka Rebellion▲
Complaining about increasing licence fees and governmental oppression, restive gold miners in Ballarat, in the British colony of Victoria, established the Ballarat Reform League in November 1854 and threatened revolution if their grievances were not addressed. The colonial government in Melbourne responded by sending in British troops, confronting 190 rebel diggers under a Southern Cross flag at the hastily constructed Eureka Stockade. After a short battle in which as many as 60 diggers died for 6 British losses, the rebellion was suppressed. Despite this result, the popularity of the rebellion encouraged the Victorian government to adopt almost all of the requested reforms over the next twelve months.