“The missionaries are the best help our people have”

Shadrach Livingstone James gives a pro-missionary, anti-goverment speech

Shadrach Livingstone James gives a pro-missionary, anti-goverment speech

Shadrach Livingstone James seems to have been a popular speaker in Melbourne, newspaper records showing he gave talks to student groups and churches. Here, he’s being reported on a speech he gave to a missionary conference. At this point, he may have returned to Maroopna, where his father, Thomas James had spent his last years. His mother was Ada Cooper, making William Cooper his uncle. Like him, he seems to have become a great letter writer, orator, not to mention bridge-builder with white community groups.

The article was published in the Recorder (Port Pirie, SA : 1919 – 1954) on Tuesday 16 April 1929, on page 4. The full text is as follows:


Aborigine Representation,


Mr. Shadrach Livingston James, a full-blooded aborigine, attended the conference in Melbourne last week called by the Minister for Home affairs (Mr. Abbott) to discuss the Bleakley report on native problems.

Mr. S. L. James is a full-blooded aborigine with, the poise and cultured speech of the educated white man. Though still quite a young man, he is profound in his reflections, on the problem of emancipating, his people. He wants them to take their share in the development of the country of which he feels they are the rightful heirs.

His father was for some-years a teacher in the Curnmergunja district in New South Wales Buthas now re- tired and is living in Melbourne. Mr. James, sen., is noticeably proud of his clever son, and hopes to see him accomplish great things for the cause to which they are both whole-heartedly devoted.

“The missionaries are the best help our people have,” said Mr, S. L. James. “It is to their efforts that we owe what opportunities we have to raise the standard of our civilisation, and take our place in the modern world.

“Many of us are as intelligent and as well educated as lots of white men, but we cannot get the chance, to prove our ability. Even Government departments discriminate against us.

“What we want” is an aboriginal representative in Parliament, and a native administrator working: for us under the direction of the Minister.

“The hearts of many of my people are burning with ambition, but the only way they can rise is with the Government.

“Our lands have been taken, and for lack of opportunity we are a backward people. The missionaries have tried to teach as many of us as possible. Now we ask for proper scope to develop.

“I think that the spiritual leader ship of the churches is of the greatest value, but it should be supplemented by reforms in the civil administration.”

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