The connection between Aboriginal people and the British Crown is well established. Less understood is their appreciation of, and reliance on, British democratic traditions in their politics. Drawing on the archive of Aboriginal activist, William Cooper, this article explores the way he used the language and practices associated with British democracy to advance his political claims in interwar Australia. With Protestant Christianity, Britishness represented a cluster of values and attributes which Cooper claimed as the Aborigines’ own. In drawing on an ‘imperial ideology of democracy’, he was part of a global black political renaissance characteristic of the times demanding justice, freedom and representation.