James McCulloch

Infobox_Premier | name =James McCulloch
nationality =Australian
order =5th Premier of Victoria
term_start =27 June 1863
term_end =6 May 1868
term_start2 =11 July 1868
term_end2 =20 September 1869
term_start3 =9 April 1870
term_end3 =19 June 1871
term_start4 =20 October 1875
term_end4 =21 may 1877
predecessor1 =John O'Shanassy
predecessor2 =Charles Sladen
predecessor3 =John Alexander MacPherson
predecessor4 =Graham Berry
successor1 =Charles Sladen
successor2 =John Alexander MacPherson
successor3 =Charles Gavan Duffy
successor4 =Graham Berry
deputy =


caption =
birth_date =1819
birth_place =Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland
death_date =31 January 1893
death_place =England
constituency =
party =
spouse = Susan and Margaret Boak
profession =
religion =


footnotes =

"James McCulloch is also the name of the cashier of the Baltimore branch of the Second National Bank of the United States. This James McCulloch was not involved in the McCulloch vs. Maryland U.S. Supreme Court case."

Sir James McCulloch (1819 - 31 January, 1893), Australian colonial politician, was the 5th Premier of Victoria. McCulloch was born in Glasgow. He had only a primary education and as a young man worked in shops, eventually becoming a junior partner in a softgoods firm. In 1853 he arrived in Melbourne to start a branch of his firm, which later became McCulloch, Sellar and Co. In the boom conditions following the Victorian Gold Rush, he soon became a wealthy man and a director of several banks and other companies. He was President of the Chamber of Commerce in 1856-57 and 1862-63.

McCulloch was appointed a member of the Legislative Council in September 1854. When Victoria gained responsible government in 1856, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly for Wimmera, which he represented until 1859, when he shifted to East Melbourne. He later represented Mornington and Warrnambool.

The historian Raymond Wright describes McCulloch as a "cautious liberal." He served as Commissioner for Trade and Customs 1857-58 under William Haines and as Treasurer 1859-60 under William Nicholson. When John O'Shanassy's conservative government resigned in June 1863 McCulloch became Premier and Chief Secretary for the first time. He was also Postmaster-General 1864-68.

McCulloch's liberal government was the strongest Victoria had yet seen, and proved to be the longest lived so far, surviving for nearly five years. Much of its reforming zeal came from the Attorney-General, George Higinbotham, a crusading radical. The McCulloch government fought a series of battles with the conservative landowners who dominated the Legislative Council. The most important was over the tariff issue: McCulloch was a protectionist while the Council was controlled by free traders.

In 1865 the Council sought a confrontation with the Assembly by rejecting the government's tariff bill and then denying supply to McCulloch's government. McCulloch, who was a director of the London Bank, then took the extraordinary step of lending his own government 860,000 pounds to meet its debts and running expenses. After a conference between the two Houses broke down, McCulloch called an election in February 1866, at which his supporters won a large majority in the Assembly. When the Council again rejected his tariff bill, he resigned, leaving the Governor, Sir Charles Darling, unable to find anyone else who could form a government. Finally, after prolonged negotiations, McCulloch agreed to resume office and the Council passed a modified tariff bill and granted supply. Both sides claimed victory, but most of the concessions were made by the Council.

In 1867 another crisis blew up when the Council again rejected the government's budget, because it contained a clause granting a pension to the retiring Governor Darling, which conservatives said was a payment for his collusion in McCulloch's unorthodox methods of financing the government. McCulloch called another election for February 1868, which he won comfortably. But in May word came that the Colonial Secretary in London, the Duke of Buckingham, had instructed the new Governor, Sir John Manners-Sutton, to support the Council in blocking the grant to Darling.

McCulloch at once resigned, and the Governor commissioned a conservative member of the Council, Charles Sladen, to form a government which did not have a majority in the Assembly. This negation of democracy provoked widespread protests and produced a dangerous situation, which was resolved only in July when the Colonial Office changed its mind about Darling's pension and the Council agreed to a moderate reform bill broadening its electoral base. McCulloch resumed office, but without Higinbotham, who disapproved of this compromise.

McCulloch remained in office until September 1869, and was Premier again from April 1870 to June 1871 and from October 1875 to May 1877, but these periods in office were relatively uneventful. His main achievement in this period was to pass a bill abolishing all government funding to religious schools, a measure which was supported by all denominations except the Anglicans, since it freed church schools from government supervision. McCulloch's government also introduced a bill to create a system of free, secular government schools, but the Catholics and Anglicans joined forces to block it.

McCullch grew increasingly conservative after 1870 and in 1875 he had a political falling out with Higinbotham. Tired and disillusioned, he resigned from Parliament in 1878. He was knighted in 1870 and made KCMG in 1874. In 1886 he retired to England, and died in Epsom, Surrey in 1893. He married twice but had no children.

References

*Geoff Browne, "A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1900-84", Government Printer, Melbourne, 1985
*Don Garden, "Victoria: A History", Thomas Nelson, Melbourne, 1984
*Kathleen Thompson and Geoffrey Serle, "A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1856-1900", Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1972
* Raymond Wright, "A People's Counsel. A History of the Parliament of Victoria, 1856-1990", Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992


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