The Red Ribbon Rebellion was one of several diggers’ political movements that arose on the Victorian goldfields in the early 1850s, beginning with the monster meeting at Forest Creek in 1851. The Red Ribbon movement centred around the town of Bendigo.
Agitators involved in the Red Ribbon movement (who sported red ribbons in their hats to symbolise their defiance of the law and the prohibitive licence fees imposed on lucky and unlucky miners alike) organised the Bendigo Petition in mid-1853. By the time the petition made its way to Melbourne, it had grown to 13 metres in length. The petition called for a reduction in monthly licence fees and land reform for diggers. Once thought to be lost, the petition was presented to the State Library of Victoria in 1988 by Melbourne collector, Dr John Chapman.
Large gatherings of diggers took place in Bendigo over the course of August 1853. Over 10,000 people welcomed the petition representatives back to the diggings on 13 August, assembled under the Diggers’ Flag, designed by William Dexter.