FACTOID # 11: Oklahoma has the highest rate of women in State or Federal correctional facilities.
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 


FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:



(* = Graphable)



Encyclopedia > Samuel Griffith
Sir Samuel Griffith
Sir Samuel Griffith

Sir Samuel Walker Griffith (June 21, 1845 - August 9, 1920), Australian politician and judge, was the principal author of the Constitution of Australia. He was born in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, on 21 June 1845, the son of a Congregational minister who migrated to Queensland when Samuel was eight. He was educated at schools in Ipswich, Sydney and Maitland, towns where his father was a minister, then at the University of Sydney, where he graduated in Arts in 1863. He then studied law in Brisbane, where he was admitted to the Bar in 1867, and in 1870 he returned to Sydney to complete an MA. In the same year he married Julia Janet Thomson.

In 1872 Griffith was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly. Throughout his career he saw himself as a lawyer first and a politician second, and continued to appear at the Bar even when he was in office. In Parliament he gained a reputation as a liberal reformer. He was Attorney-General, Minister for Education and Minister for Works, and became leader of the liberal party in 1879. His great enemy was the conservative leader Sir Thomas McIlwraith, whom he accused (correctly) of corruption.

Griffith became Premier in 1883, holding office until 1888, and was knighted in 1886. He was regarded as a close ally of the labour movement. He introduced a bill to legalise trade unions, and declared that "the great problem of this age is not how to accumulate wealth but how to secure its more equitable distribution." In 1888 his government was defeated. In opposition he wrote radical articles for The Boomerang, William Lane's socialist newspaper.

But in 1890 Griffith suddenly betrayed his radical friends and became Premier again at the head of an unlikely alliance with McIlwraith, the so-called "Griffilwraith." The following year his government used the military to break the great shearers' strike, and he earned the nickname "Oily Sam."

Griffith was always a supporter of federation. He headed the Queensland delegation to the 1891 Melbourne Constitutional Convention, and his fine legal mind brought him a leading role in its deliberations. "It fell to my lot to draw the Constitution," he wrote, "after presiding for several days on a Committee, and endeavouring to ascertain the general consensus of opinion."

This first draft enshrined the basic principles of what eventually emerged as Australia's constitution: a federal system with specified powers ceded by the colonies to a national government, a bicameral legislature with an upper house in which all the colonies would have equal representation, and a federal judiciary.

In 1893 Griffith promoted himself from premier to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland. He was therefore not a delegate to the 1897 conventions which produced the final draft of the Constitution, but he acted as a behind-the-scenes advisor to Sir Robert Garran, secretary of the Drafting Committee, which followed the structure he had laid out in 1891. In 1899 he (most improperly) campaigned publicly for a yes vote in the federation referendum in Queensland.

When the federal Parliament passed the Judiciary Act in 1903, creating the High Court of Australia, Griffith was the natural choice as the first Chief Justice. During his sixteen years on the bench Griffith sat on some 950 reported cases. In 1913 he visited England and sat on the Privy Council. After 1910 his health declined, and in 1917 he suffered a stroke. He retired from the Court in 1919 and died at his home in Brisbane on 9 August 1920. He is commemorated by Griffith University in Brisbane. The Samuel Griffith Society is a conservative organisation dedicated to defending what it sees as the principles of the Constitution.

External links

  • The Australian Constitution (http://psephos.adam-carr.net/countries/a/australia//constitutions/austconstindex.shtml)
  • Griffith Universiy, Brisbane (http://www.gu.edu.au/)
  • Samuel Griffith Society (http://www.samuelgriffith.org.au/)

Further reading

  • Roger B Joyce, Samuel Walker Griffith, University of Queensland Press, 1984
Preceded by:
Thomas McIlwraith
Premiers of Queensland
First term
Followed by:
Thomas McIlwraith
Preceded by:
Boyd Morehead
Second term Followed by:
Sir Thomas McIlwraith

  Results from FactBites:
Samuel Griffith - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (809 words)
Sir Samuel Walker Griffith (June 21, 1845 – August 9, 1920), Australian politician and judge, was the principal author of the Constitution of Australia.
In 1872 Griffith was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly.
He is commemorated by Griffith University in Brisbane, the suburb of Griffith in Canberra, and the federal electoral division of Griffith.
Griffith University - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1471 words)
Griffith University is an Australian public university with five campuses in Brisbane and two at the Gold Coast.
The Griffith University campuses are: Nathan Campus, located in the suburb of Nathan, which was the first Griffith University campus to be established in Queensland.
Griffith Law School is spread across three of the five Griffith University campuses, with undergrad combined degree programs taught from the Nathan and Gold Coast campuses, and post graduate and professional programs taught from the Legal Practice Centre located at the South Bank campus.
  More results at FactBites »



Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m