China's move towards modernisation continued in 1910 with the abolition of slavery, a practice which had been legal for some 3,000 years. Rather in contrast, on 1st September the Vatican introduced a compulsory oath against modernism, to be taken by all priests upon ordination. This requirement remained mandatory until 1967.


​In England, King Edward VII died on 6th May, six days after catching a cold. His successor to the throne was his son, George, who would be crowned George V in 1911. On hearing of his father's death George wrote in his diary, "I have lost my best friend and the best of fathers ... I never had a [cross] word with him in my life. I am heart-broken and overwhelmed with grief but God will help me in my responsibilities and darling May will be my comfort as she has always been. May God give me strength and guidance in the heavy task which has fallen on me". King Edward VI's death was mourned in Australia every bit as much as in Britain.


​In the USA immediately following a 4th July heavyweight boxing fight between African-American Jack Johnson and white American James J. Jeffries, won by the former, race riots broke out all over the country.


In Australia, at the federal election of 13th April 1910 Labour won 41 seats in the house of representatives and 22 in the senate; the Fusionists’ totals were 31 and 14 respectively. Since the inception of the Commonwealth no single party had ever previously won a majority in either house, let alone both. Moreover, Labour’s victory represented the first time in history that a social-democratic party had achieved power anywhere in the world.

The Fusionists’ loss was at least in part attributable to dissension within the party’s ranks. Deakin, for example, wanted the party to be named the Liberals, but many party members objected to this as they believed it harked back to Deakin’s Protectionists. Most newspapers continued to refer to the party as the Fusionists. Another factor was the widespread perception that the merger between the Free Traders and Protectionists was merely a marriage of convenience fuelled by the presumption that Labour, if elected, would implement a series of radical policies. However, "fears of Labour extremism were not fulfilled by Labour’s use of its power, for the new government behaved with the restraint and respect of a reformist rather than a radical party.” [1]

Perhaps the most significant decision taken by Labour during its tenure was its choice of Canberra, rather than Dalgety, as the nation’s future capital. The fact that an aboriginal name was selected might seem strange, especially in light of the prevailing belief in white supremacy, but in fact it was an extremely popular decision. (The main alternative suggestion for the capital’s name was Shakespeare!)

In the country which a large number of Australians referred to a “home” the main events of 1910 were the death on 6th May of King Edward VII and the ascent to the throne of his son, who became known as George V, and who would remain on the throne until 1936. Other major world events included revolutions in Mexico and Portugal, the return of Halley’s comet, and the creation of the Union of South Africa with the unification of four previously separate British colonies: Cape Colony, Natal Colony, Transvaal Colony and Orange River Colony.

The 1910 VFL season saw Carlton, no longer coached by John Worrall, dominate the home and away rounds to top the ladder with just 3 losses in 18 matches. However, the Blues fell apart during the finals, losing their semi final clash with South Melbourne by 12 points and succumbing by 14 points to Collingwood in the challenge final. The Magpies thus won their first flag since 1903, and their fourth in total (three in the VFL and one in the VFA).

North Melbourne scored a comfortable 9.14 (68) to 5.9 (39) triumph over Brunswick in the VFA to capture their third flag. Teams in the VFA comprised 16 players this season. Elsewhere, premierships were claimed by Port Adelaide (SAFL), East Fremantle (WAFL), Cananore (TFL), YMCA (NWSAFL) and South Brisbane (QFL). The WAFL premiership play-off was noteworthy in that East Perth, which had only entered the competition in 1906, reached it for the first ever time. Within a decade the Royals would establish themselves as one of the leading teams not only in Western Australia but nationally as well.


FOOTNOTES

[1]  A Short History of Australia by Manning Clark page 223.)

1910: ​Labour in Power

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“ A nation which put leisure above overtime was was able to prove that they were the right stuff on the sports field, though there were more spectators than participants. That typical delight in the other man’s failure was beginning to show, as Manning Clark says ‘because the one thing Australians do know is failure: they know the failure of being unable to impose their will on their vast continent. They know they’re going to be beaten by drought, by flood, by fire, by the rise and fall in world prices over which they have no control’.” (Australia: A History by Mike Walker, page 108.)