Sunday, 10 February 2019

A Life of Contrasts

I'm feeling in a reflective mood at the moment, maybe because we are in a state of change ourselves (good changes, exciting changes). I was quite moved by an item on a TV programme about the social reformer Robert Owen (1771-1858).

 You can find out more about Robert Owen and New Lanark Mills at 

The website says "he encountered much criticism and opposition in his lifetime" and I suppose he would have because he was working towards the improvement of health and conditions for factory workers in the late 1700's and did truly marvellous things.

Then by chance another programme led me to one of the worlds largest slave owners, merchant and politician, John Gladstone (1764-1851). Although he's not the only one who received compensation when slavery was abolished, being someone who owned so many slaves, he received one of the biggest payouts from the British Government - the equivalent in today's money of £83 million.

When he got rid of his African slaves he imported Indian labour and by all accounts they were little more than slaves (see Wikipedia for more details) living in terrible conditions.

Two men, living more or less at the same time, but such contrasting ideas on the value of human life.

You might also be interested in this story about modern slavery from The Conversation

Until next time

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