John Gladstone

(1764—1851) merchant and politician

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(1764–1851). Slave owner, instigator of the ‘coolie trade’, and father of the British prime minister William Ewart Gladstone (1809–98). Sir John Gladstone was a leading member of the West Indian Association of Liverpool, a group of plantation owners and merchants trading with the West Indies in slave-produced commodities. He owned sugar estates in Jamaica and British Guiana and was a passionate opponent of abolition. In 1830, in a series of last-ditch attempts to persuade the government not to end West Indian slavery, Gladstone (then a member of Parliament and spokesman for the West India interest) argued that slavery was normal in primitive societies, and that West Indian Blacks had peculiar constitutions, enabling them to work easily under a tropical sun. He held up the dreadful prospect of freed slaves slaughtering the smaller white populations.


From The Oxford Companion to Black British History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: British History.

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