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Sir Henry Parkes - The Australian Colossus

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Sir Henry Parkes - The Australian Colossus

Stephen Dando-Collins

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Sir Henry Parkes- Father of Federation, Premier of NSW, Statesman, Visionary, Political Leader, Poet, Humanist May 27, 2015 brings the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir Henry Parkes. After he died, the London Times described him as ‘a colonial colossus.’ Henry Parkes received little schooling and worked on a rope-walk, breaking stones, as an ivory and bone turner, ironmonger, labourer and on the wharves before trying business life and ultimately politics. He and his first wife travelled to Australia on an assisted passage. Parkes steadily educated himself, reading voraciously and widely, including all the great poets. There has never been anyone else like Sir Henry Parkes in Australian public life. Not only was he the father of federation. His friends included Thomas Carlyle, fellow poet Lord Tennyson and British Prime Minister Gladstone. He convinced Florence Nightingale to send trained nurses to Australia. He conceived the international rabbit competition which led to the Pasteur affair and put Australia at the forefront of microbiology. He encouraged talented men to enter politics. Yet he shunned the limelight, rarely attending social functio

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