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Three examples of Australia’s Federation (01 January 01) are shown , the first being a postcard sent from Hobart, Tasmania on December 27, 1900 and arriving in Christchurch New Zealand on 1 Jan 01. The front shows a photo of the Earl of Hopetoun, Kt. G.C.M.G., First Governor General of Australia, with the Australian flag and his personal standard. A pair of the 1d red pictorials showing Mount Wellington are postmarked with 2 strikes of the T.P.O.’s T.M.L.RY No. 2 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Click to Enlarge

The reverse shows a stylized map of the colonies in ‘The Dark Age of Australia’, a Crown over a Shield describing ‘The Birth of a Nation at the Century’s Dawn’ plus another map of Australia in “The New Era’ with members from the States dancing around the flag, as if it were a maypole. The writer of the short note wishing a Happy New Year had trouble with the date, as 27/12/90 (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Click to Enlarge

The second item, a coloured postcard produced in Bavaria, shows the Pavilion in Centennial Park, Sydney attended by special invitees and the gendarmerie at the “Swearing in Lord Hopetoun as Governor General of Australian Commonwealth”. The area was surrounded by members of the military, invited guests, school children, choirs and press ( many of whom were, according to the Sydney Evening News, decidedly 'under the weather') (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Click to Enlarge

The third item is an example of a ticket for the reserved area for the seated guests, and half of the ticket was to be presented to secure a seat (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Click to Enlarge

John Hope was the son of the sixth Earl of Hopetoun and his wife, Etheldred Anne, and he was born at Hopetoun, Scotland, on 25 September 1860. He was educated at Eton and Sandhurst, where he graduated in 1879, but did not enter the army. In 1883 he became the conservative whip in the House of Lords, in 1885 a lord in waiting to Queen Victoria, and for the years 1887 to 1889 represented the Queen as lord high commissioner to the general assembly of the Church of Scotland. He was appointed Governor of Victoria in 1889 and arrived in Melbourne on 28 November of that year.

A period of inflation was just coming to an end, and though efforts were made to bolster up a financial structure that was basically false, the position steadily deteriorated. In May 1893 all the banks in Melbourne, except for four, closed their doors and a long depression followed.. Hopetoun travelled throughout the colony making a favourable impression on all he met. No other governor had ever been so popular and he left Australia in March 1895 to the regret of all.

After his return to Great Britain he was made a Privy Councillor, was appointed Paymaster General in the Salisbury government from 1895 to 1898, and then became Lord Chamberlain until 1900. In October he was appointed the first Governor-General of Australia, arrived there in December and took part in the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia by the Duke of York on Tuesday, 1 January 1901 (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Click to Enlarge

Immediately after arriving he decided that the last premier of the senior state of N.S.W., Sir William Lyne should be asked to form the first Commonwealth government. But Lyne had been an opponent of Federation and could not get a following, so Edmund Barton became Australia’s Prime Minister.

Hopetoun, however, was not destined to hold his position for a long period. He had been given a salary of £10,000 a year, and he had some reason to believe an adequate provision would be made for his expenses; but this was not done, and in May 1902 Hopetoun resigned. Hopetoun, who had to provide for two residences, one in Sydney and another in Melbourne, had been placed in a quite unreasonable position.

After his return to Britain, he was Secretary for Scotland for a few months in 1905, but failing health, prevented him from taking a further part in politics and he died on 29 February 1908. He had been previously created Marquis of Linlithgow on 27 October 1902. He married in 1886 the Hon. Hersey Alice Eveleigh De Moleyne, daughter of the 4th Lord Ventry, who survived him with a daughter and two sons, the elder of whom, Victor Alexander John Hope, 2nd Marquis of Linlithgow, born in 1887, was Viceroy and Governor-General of India from 1936 to 1943.

Being first as Australia’s Governor-General, after a previous term as Victoria’s popular Governor, was not all that it was cracked up to be.

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