On this day on 3rd January

On this day in 1780 Michael Sadler, the youngest son of James Sadler, was born in Snelston, Derbyshire on 3rd January 1780. His family, though members of the Church of England, were in sympathy with the Methodist movement. At the age of seventeen Sadler published a pamphlet, An Apology for the Methodists (1797).

In 1800 Sadler moved to to Leeds where he worked for his father. In 1810 Sadler joined with his brother, Benjamin Sadler, to establish a company importing Irish linen. He also served as honorary treasurer of the poor rates. During this period Sadler became concerned about the condition of children working in local factories.

He argued against those who supported an unregulated society. He suggested that in a "society in which persons enjoyed unequal measures of economic freedom, it was not true that the individual pursuit of self-interest would necessarily lead to collective well-being." He added that "individual effort needed to be restrained and guided by the conscience of the community acting through the organisation of the state."

In 1829 the Duke of Newcastle offered Sadler the seat of Newark in the House of Commons. Elected with a majority of 214 votes, Sadler soon established himself as one of the best parliamentary speakers of the day. In 1831 Sadler moved to the safer seat of Aldborough.

Pamphlets published by Sadler included The State and Prospects of the Country (1829), The Factory Girl's Last Day (1830), On Poor Laws for Ireland (1830), On Ministerial Plan of Reform (1831) and On the Distress of the Agricultural Labourers (1831).

In October 1831 Sadler began his campaign to improve the condition of the agricultural labourers in Britain. He proposed: (1) the erection of suitable cottages by the parish authorities; (2) the provision of allotments large enough to feed a cow; (3) the provision of gardens to encourage horticulture among the labourers; (4) the provision of parish land for unemployed labourers.

Sadler was strongly supported by John Wood, who owned the most successful worsted spinning business in Britain. Wood donated £40,000 to Sadler's campaign for a ten-hour bill, aimed at reducing the excessive hours worked by children. According to his biographer, Gary Firth: "Throughout 1832 Wood canvassed for Sadler at Westminster, and that year he attended a large Easter rally in York.... In October 1832 Wood employed the Revd Matthew Balme as schoolmaster of a purpose-built school adjoining his mill."

On 16th March 1832 Sadler introduced legislation that proposed limiting the hours of all persons under the age of 18 to ten hours a day. He argued: "The parents rouse them in the morning and receive them tired and exhausted after the day has closed; they see them droop and sicken, and, in many cases, become cripples and die, before they reach their prime; and they do all this, because they must otherwise starve. It is a mockery to contend that these parents have a choice. They choose the lesser evil, and reluctantly resign their offspring to the captivity and pollution of the mill."

William James disagreed with Michael Sadler's views: "I have no doubt that the right honourable member (Michael Sadler) is actuated by the best intentions and motives, but I think that the course which he pursues will fail in attaining the object which he has in view. Undoubtedly the system which is pursued in these manufactories relating to the working of young children is a great evil; but it appears to me that the remedy which the honourable gentleman proposes to apply is worse than the disease. There appears to me to be only a choice of evils - the children must either work or starve. If the manufacturer is prevented working his mill for more than a certain number of hours together, he will often be unable to execute the orders which he may receive, and consequently, the purchaser must go to foreign countries for a supply. The result will be that you will drive the English capitalist to foreign countries, where there is no restrictions upon the employment of labour and capital."

Henry Thomas Hope agreed: "It is obvious, that if you limit the hours of labour, you will, to nearly the same extent, reduce the profits of the capital on which the labour is employed. Under these circumstances, the manufacturers must either raise the price of the manufactured article or diminish the wages of their workmen. If they raise the price of the article the foreigner gains an advantage. I am informed that the foreign cotton-manufacturers, and particularly the Americans, tread closely upon the heels of our manufacturers. The right honourable member (Michael Sadler) seems to consider that it is desirable for adults to replace children. I cannot concur with that opinion, because I think that the labour of children is a great resource to their parents and of great benefit to themselves. I therefore, on the these grounds, oppose this measure. In the first place I doubt whether parliament can protect children as effectively as their parents; secondly; because I am of the opinion that a case for parliamentary interference has not yet been made out; and thirdly, because I believe that the bill will be productive of great inconvenience, not only to persons who have embarked large capital in the cotton manufactures, but even to workmen and children themselves - that I feel it my duty to oppose this measure."

The vast majority of the House of Commons were opposed to Sadler's proposal. However, in April 1832 it was agreed that there should be another parliamentary enquiry into child labour. Sadler was made chairman and for the next three months a parliamentary committee, that included John Cam Hobhouse, Charles Poulett Thompson, Robert Peel, Lord Morpeth, and Thomas Fowell Buxton interviewed 89 witnesses.

On 9th July Michael Sadler discovered that at least six of these workers had been sacked for giving evidence to the parliamentary committee. Sadler announced that this victimisation meant that he could no longer ask factory workers to be interviewed. He now concentrated on interviewing doctors who had experience treating people who worked in textile factories.

Sadler was one of the chief speakers at the meeting organised by Richard Oastler at York on 24th April 1832. Later that year 16,000 people assembled in Fixby Park, near Huddersfield, to thank him for his work on behalf of child workers.

In the 1832 General Election, Sadler's opponent was John Marshall, the Leeds flax-spinning magnate. Marshall used his considerable influence to win the election and Sadler was now without a seat in the House of Commons.

Sadler's report was published in January 1833. The information in the report shocked the British public and Parliament came under increasing pressure to protect the children working in factories. Lord Ashley, son and heir of the 6th Earl of Shaftesbury, agreed to take over from Sadler as the leader of the factory reform movement in Parliament. Michael Sadler died in Belfast on 29th July 1835.

Michael Sadler
Michael Sadler

On this day in 1793 woman's suffragist, Lucretia Coffin was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts. At the age of thirteen Lucretia was sent to a boarding school run by the Society of Friends. She eventually became a teacher at the school. Her interest in women's rights began when she discovered that male teachers at the school were paid twice as much as the female staff.

In 1811 Lucretia married James Mott, another teacher at the school. Ten years later, she became a Quaker minister. Lucretia and her husband were both opposed to the slave trade and were active in the American Anti-Slavery Society. In 1840, Mott and her friend, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, travelled to London as delegates to the World Anti-Slavery Convention. Both women were furious when they, like the British women at the convention, were refused permission to speak at the meeting. Stanton later recalled: "We resolved to hold a convention as soon as we returned home, and form a society to advocate the rights of women."

However, it was not until 1848 that Lucretia Mott and Stanton organised the Women's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls. Stanton's resolution that it was "the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves the sacred right to the elective franchise" was passed, and this became the focus of the group's campaign over the next few years. In 1866 Mott joined with Stanton and Lucy Stone to establish the American Equal Rights Association. The following year, the organisation became active in Kansas where Negro suffrage and woman suffrage were to be decided by popular vote.

Lucretia Mott
Lucretia Mott

On this day in 1795 Josiah Wedgwood died. Josiah, the thirteenth and youngest son of the potter, Thomas Wedgwood, was born in Burslem, Stoke, on 12th July 1730. His mother, Mary Stringer Wedgwood, was the daughter of the Unitarian minister at Newcastle under Lyme, and taught all her sons and daughters to read and write. At the age of seven he walked three-and-a-half-miles to attend the local school.

At the age of nine Josiah left school and joined the family business at Churchyard Works. His father had died so Josiah was apprenticed to his elder brother. After an attack of smallpox at the age of eleven, his health deteriorated and the disease which left his right knee permanently weakened and work as a potter became difficult. Josiah spent his time reading and researching about the craft of pottery.

In 1742 Josiah left the family business and joined Harrison & Alders, a minor pottery in Stoke. In 1754, aged only twenty-four, he obtained a partnership with Thomas Whieldon, eleven years his senior. Wedgwood and Whieldon are credited with several innovations, including "the division of labour, with men employed on different tasks - throwing, turning, handling, decorating, mixing slip." They paid their workers well and gave them regular presents of a shirt or a pair of shoes. As a result of this treatment they "exacted scrupulous obedience, respectful behaviour, and strict punctuality".

According to Robin Reilly, "Wedgwood's work with Whieldon was largely concerned with the improvement of ceramic bodies, glazes, colours, and shapes, and it is clear that his efforts were directed principally towards the development of lead-glazed, cream-coloured earthenware (creamware) and the creation and improvement of coloured glazes." Wedgwood later explained that there were good economic reasons for these experiments, "the improvement of our manufacture of earthenware, which at that time stood in great need of it, the demand for our good decreasing daily, and the trade universally complained of as being bad and in a declining condition."

In 1759 Wedgwood left Whieldon to become an independent potter, renting the Ivy House Works at Burslem for £15 a year and hiring his cousin, Thomas Wedgwood, as journeyman. Thomas, who was four years younger than Josiah, had served his apprenticeship at a manufacturer's in Worcester where he learnt how to make a new form of porcelain. His skills were so valuable that he was willing to pay him £22 a year, well above the average for a skilled artisan.

Ivy House was the first pottery factory in England. Wedgwood employed fifteen men and boys. He taught his men the techniques developed while he worked with Whieldon. The rich green and yellow glazes were applied in the shape of cauliflowers, pineapples, artichokes and melons. He also arranged for his pots to be decorated by the new transfer printing. The men took prints from engraved copper plates, made on paper or on sheets of glue using ceramic colour, and pressed them on to the glaze. This trade grew rapidly in worth from £30 a month in 1763 to £650 a month eight years later.

On one of his trips to Liverpool in 1762 Wedgwood met Thomas Bentley, a general merchant in the town. Bentley was the same age as Wedgwood and held similar Nonconformist religious views. They were both sympathetic to the Unitarian movement. There is no set doctrinal beliefs that all Unitarians agree on. In fact, the most important aspect of Unitarianism is the right of individuals to develop their own religious opinions. Unitarians tend to believe that Jesus Christ was a human religious leader to be followed but not worshipped. Unitarians argued that Jesus is the "great exemplar which we ought to copy in order to perfect our union with God". Wedgwood's mother had taught him that "knowledge based upon reason, experience, and experiment was preferable to dogma."

Bentley had received a better education and spoke French and Italian and knew a great deal about art. He also had radical political views and was a strong opponent of the slave-trade and a great supporter of female education. The two men became close friends and Bentley became Wedgwood's agent in Liverpool. Bentley had a tremendous impact on Wedgwood's political views.

They soon developed a very close relationship. In a letter he wrote to Bentley soon afterwards he described him as "my much esteemed friend... I shall not care how Quakerish or otherwise antique it may sound, as it perfectly corresponds with the sentiments I wish to continue towards you." Wedgwood told Bentley he loved receiving his letters: "The very feel of them, even before the seal is broke, cheers my heart and does me good. They inspire me with taste, emulation and everything that is necessary for the production of fine things."

Wedgwood and Bentley were both strong supporters of the radical reformer, John Wilkes. In June 1762 Wilkes established The North Briton, a newspaper that severely attacked the George III and his prime minister, Earl of Bute. In March 1763, Wedgwood wrote to Bentley about Wilkes being forced into exile. "It gives universal disgust here and is the general topic of every political club in town".

Josiah Wedgwood married his third cousin, Sarah Wedgwood, on 25th January 1764. He wrote that "for a handful of the first months after matrimony" he wished "to hear, see, feel or understand nothing" but his wife. He told Thomas Bentley that as a result of the damage caused by his early smallpox, his physiology was so adapted to feeling pain that sensual pleasures was more "than I shall ever be able to express."

Sarah was a substantial heiress and brought with her a considerable dowry, said to have been £4,000, which came under Wedgwood's control. "Sarah was intelligent, shrewd, and well educated - better, in fact, than her husband - and they shared a broad sense of humour and a strong sense of family duty. In the first years of their marriage, she helped Josiah with his work, learning the codes and formulae in which he recorded his experiments, keeping accounts, and giving practical advice on shapes and decoration." Over the next few years Sarah had seven children: Susannah (1765), John (1766), Josiah (1769), Thomas (1771), Catherine (1774), Sarah (1776) and Mary (1778).

In 1765, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the wife of George III, ordered a tea-set from Wedgwood, complete with candlesticks and fruit baskets, "with a gold ground, and raised flowers upon it in green". He followed it up by sending a box of patterns and vases to the Queen and soon won permission to style himself "Potter to Her Majesty" while his creamware was granted the name of "Queen's Ware". A second tea-set was ordered by the King, to a simpler design which became known as "the Royal Pattern".

The royal commissions sealed his reputation. Wedgwood wrote two years later: "The demand for Queen's Ware... still increases. It is really amazing how rapidly the use of it has spread almost all over the whole globe, and how universally it is liked. How much of this general use and estimation is owing to the mode of its introduction - and how much to its real utility and beauty are questions in which we may be a good deal interested for the government of our future conduct."

It has been claimed that Josiah Wedgwood had the "supreme gift of being able to persuade the governing classes that that they had a community of tastes and interests". Joel Mokyr, the author of The Enlightened Economy: Britain and the Industrial Revolution (2009) has pointed out: "The notion of marketing was pushed furthest by the famed potter Josiah Wedgwood, whose appeals to snobbery and to the nobility-envy of the merchant and middle classes were an early example of what some might think of as consumer manipulation. Wedgwood's marketing strategies included a brazen display of goods targeted at the high and the mighty, to be imitated by the would-have-beens and even by the never-were."

During this period Josiah Wedgwood became friends with the industrialist, Matthew Boulton. Wedgwood visited his factory in Birmingham in May 1767. At the time Boulton was employing over 500 people and had a turnover of £30,000. Wedgwood was impressed as he only had a turnover of around £5,000. Wedgwood wrote to his friend, Thomas Bentley: "He is I believe the most complete manufacturer in England in England, in metal. He is very ingenious."

The following year Boulton formed a partnership with Wedgwood. It was agreed that Wedgwood would supply plain ornamental vases which Boulton would finish by applying colourful gold and purple metal works (ormolu) to vases. Boulton told Wedgwood that he was convinced that they were going to "supplant the French in the gilt business" and would extend "the sale of it to every corner of Europe."

Unfortunately, Wedgwood had to cancel the arrangement because of ill-health. For the past 25 years he had been troubled by numbness in the knee and fatigue in the muscles he used to compensate when walking. A fall from a horse made his leg even worse. He examined by his doctor, Matthew Turner, who told him that he had broken his shinbone. However, he was also concerned about the tumour in his leg that was the result of having smallpox he had as a child. He feared it was spreading and he advised him to have his leg amputated. This was carried out without anesthetic in April, 1767.

Matthew Boulton and his friend Erasmus Darwin formed what became known as the Lunar Society of Birmingham. The group took this name because they used to meet to dine and converse on the night of the full moon. Wedgwood also attended these meetings. Other members included James Watt, Joseph Priestley, Thomas Day, William Small, John Whitehurst, John Robison, Joseph Black, William Withering, John Wilkinson, Richard Lovell Edgeworth and Joseph Wright. This group of scientists, writers and industrialists discussed philosophy, engineering and chemistry.

As Maureen McNeil has pointed out: "These innovating men of science and industry were drawn together by their interest in natural philosophy, technological and industrial development, and social change appropriate to these concerns. The society acquired its name because of the practice of meeting once a month on the afternoon of the Monday nearest the time of the full moon, but informal contacts among members were also important."

At one of these meetings Wedgwood met the engineer James Brindley. He had great success from building the Bridgewater Canal for Francis Egerton, the Duke of Bridgewater. This provided Manchester manufacturers with an alternative way of transporting their goods to the port of Liverpool. As this reduced the costs of transporting goods between these two cities from 12s to 6s a ton (20 cwt), Bridgewater had little difficulty in persuading people to use his canal. It was a "powerful signal regarding the profitability and feasibility of canals".

The financial success of the Bridgewater Canal encouraged other business people to join together to build canals. Josiah Wedgwood had been transporting his pottery by pack-horses. The poor state of the roads meant a great number of breakages. In 1766 Wedgwood and some of his business friends decided to recruit James Brindley to build the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Wedgwood had already bought for £3,000 the Ridgehouse estate of some 350 acres, situated between Burslem, Hanley and Newcastle under Lyme, and built there a factory which he named Etruria. A crucial advantage of the location of the factory was its position next to the proposed Trent and Mersey Canal.

The canal began within a few miles of the River Mersey, near Runcorn and finished in a junction with the River Trent in Derbyshire. It was just over ninety miles long with more than 70 locks and five tunnels. At the time it was described as the "greatest civil engineering work built in Britain." Although the canal cost £130,000 to build, it reduced the price of transporting Wedgwood's goods from £210s to 13s 4d a ton.

John Wilkes returned to England in 1768 and in March stood as Radical candidate for Middlesex. The vote was held in public and of the 15 electors, 13 voted for "Wilkes and Liberty". After being elected Wilkes was arrested and taken to King's Bench Prison. For the next fortnight a large crowd assembled at St. George's Field, a large open space by the prison.

On 10th May, 1768 a crowd of around 15,000 arrived outside the prison. The crowd chanted 'Wilkes and Liberty', 'No Liberty, No King', and 'Damn the King! Damn the Government! Damn the Justices!'. Fearing that the crowd would attempt to rescue Wilkes, the troops opened fire killing seven people. Anger at the Massacre of St. George's Fields led to disturbances all over London.

Josiah Wedgwood was an active member of the Unitarian Church. Like most Unitarians, Wedgwood was a political reformer. He supported universal male suffrage and annual parliaments. Wedgwood made it clear that he supported Wilkes and in defiance of the king he produced pottery that contained portraits of John Wilkes and other campaigners for universal suffrage.

On 8th June Wilkes was found guilty of libel and sentenced to 22 months imprisonment and fined £1,000. Wilkes was also expelled from the House of Commons but in February, March and April, 1769, he was three times re-elected for Middlesex, but on all three occasions the decision was overturned by Parliament. In May the House of Commons voted that Colonel Henry Luttrell, the defeated candidate at Middlesex, should be accepted as the MP. John Horne Tooke and other supporters of Wilkes formed the Bill of Rights Society. At first the society concentrated on forcing Parliament to accept the will of the Middlesex electorate, however, the organisation eventually adopted a radical programme of parliamentary reform.

In November, 1768, Wedgwood and Thomas Bentley of Liverpool became partners in Etruria. Arthur Young visited the company and later wrote: "In general we owe the possession of this most flourishing manufacture to the inventive genius of Mr. Wedgwood, who not only originally introduced the present cream coloured ware, but has since been the inventor of every improvement, the other manufactures being little better than mere imitators... Wedgwood has lately entered into a partnership with a man of sense and spirit, who will have taste enough to continue in the inventive plan."

In 1769 Bentley moved to Great Newport Street in London to undertake the management of the Wedgwood showrooms and to establish a ceramic enamelling studio at Little Cheyne Row in Chelsea. In 1770 Empress Catherine the Great of Russia commissioned a huge dinner service of 952 pieces, each depicting a different British scene. "Nothing of the kind had previously been attempted in England, and Bentley's support in supervising and training as many as thirty-three previously semi-skilled painters, and finding illustrations for them to copy, must have been invaluable to Wedgwood". The service was successfully completed in 1774, and cost the Empress £2,700.

Wedgwood continued to experiment and in 1775 he developed what became known as "jasper". This was a hard ceramic body that could be coloured and polished on a lapidary's wheel. Two years later he wrote that it was only after carrying out 5,000 experiments, that he could genuinely say, "I am now absolute in this precious article." Jasper enabled him to produce white figures in relief against a coloured background.

Wedgwood now employed artists such as John Flaxman to design his vases. Wedgwood said that he "lamented that Flaxman's Anthony and Cleopatras were so fine that he could hardly bear to part with them. Flaxman and his wife became good friends of the family and often stayed at Etruria. He sculpted at least twenty-two portraits of "illustrious moderns" for Wedgwood. In 1781 he designed lavish mouldings and allegorical friezes for the drawing-room ceiling at Etruria Hall.

Wedgwood had a bell rigged to a turret across the yard from his house and every morning at quarter to six he rang it to tell his employees it was time to start work. Wedgwood believed it important to regulate working hours and to stop his workers from spending too much time in the alehouse. Although he insisted on strict factory discipline he also "subsidized an early form of sick-benefit scheme, and conditions for work at Etruria compared favourably with those to be found anywhere in Europe".

Brian Dolan, the author of Josiah Wedgwood: Entrepreneur to the Enlightenment (2004) claims that Wedgwood and Bentley believed very strongly that they needed to improve the quality of life of their workforce: "Their accomplishments in designing new materials and products, and the money they made for their products, amounted to nothing if it did not generate broader social change; the principles of mercantile freedoms should extend to social freedoms, to create, in essence, a more egalitarian society."

In December 1778, Thomas Bentley wrote to Wedgwood: "I have not any friend by whose side I have been accustomed to engage and conquer; and who had the same energy that you constantly possess, when there is occasion for it, either to promote the public good, assist your friends, or support your own rights. I fancy I can do anything with your help, and I have been so much used to it, that when you are not with me upon these occasions I seem to have lost my right arm".

Wedgwood was devastated by Bentley's death on 26th November 1780. The St James's Chronicle commented: "For his (Thomas Bentley) uncommon ingenuity, for his fine taste in the arts, his amiable character in private life, and his ardent zeal for the prosperity of his country, he was justly admired, and will long be most seriously regretted by all who had the pleasure of knowing so excellent a character". Bentley's letters were carefully bound in a great thick book and was described by Wedgwood as "Josiah's Bible".

In 1780 he joined the Society for Constitutional Information and became friendly with other reformers such as Joseph Priestley, John Cartwright, John Horne Tooke, John Thelwall, Granville Sharp, Thomas Walker, Joseph Gales and William Smith and the Duke of Richmond. It was an organisation of social reformers, many of whom were drawn from the rational dissenting community, dedicated to publishing political tracts aimed at educating fellow citizens on their lost ancient liberties. It promoted the work of Tom Paine and other campaigners for parliamentary reform. (40)

Wedgwood told his friend and partner, Thomas Bentley, who was also a member: "I wish every success to the Society for Constitutional Information and if I was upon the spot should gladly not confine myself to wishes only. If at this distance I can in any way promote their truly patriotic designs, either by my money or my services, they are both open to you to command as you please. I rejoice to hear that the Duke of Richmond and Lord Selbourne are friends of annual parliaments." He ended the letter with a quotation from fellow member, Major John Cartwight, "that every member of the state must either have a vote or be a slave".

The following year his close friend, Joseph Priestley, had his house burnt down in Birmingham. He wrote to Priestley on 2nd September: "I persuade myself that you will rise still more splendid and more respected from what was intended to sink you. Your calmness and magnanimity on this trying occasion have put your enemies to shame. We esteem you in every point of view; and we are employed at this moment in drawing up a letter which is to be addressed to you by all the savants of the capital."

In 1787 Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson and William Dillwyn established the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Other supporters were William Allen, John Wesley, Samuel Romilly, Thomas Walker, John Cartwright, James Ramsay, Charles Middleton, Henry Thornton and William Smith. Sharp was appointed as chairman. He accepted the title but never took the chair. Clarkson commented that Sharp "always seated himself at the lowest end of the room, choosing rather to serve the glorious cause in humility... than in the character of a distinguished individual." Clarkson was appointed secretary and Hoare as treasurer. At their second meeting Samuel Hoare reported subscriptions of £136.

Josiah Wedgwood joined the organising committee. He urged his friends to join the organisation. Wedgwood wrote to James Watt asking for his support: "I take it for granted that you and I are on the same side of the question respecting the slave trade. I have joined my brethren here in a petition from the pottery for abolition of it, as I do not like a half-measure in this black business."

As Adam Hochschild, the author of Bury the Chains: The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery (2005) has pointed out: "Wedgwood asked one of his craftsmen to design a seal for stamping the wax used to close envelopes. It showed a kneeling African in chains, lifting his hands beseechingly." It included the words: "Am I Not a Man and a Brother?" Hochschild goes onto argue that "reproduced everywhere from books and leaflets to snuffboxes and cufflinks, the image was an instant hit... Wedgwood's kneeling African, the equivalent of the label buttons we wear for electoral campaigns, was probably the first widespread use of a logo designed for a political cause."

Thomas Clarkson explained: "Some had them inlaid in gold on the lid of their snuff boxes. Of the ladies, several wore them in bracelets, and others had them fitted up in an ornamental manner as pins for their hair. At length the taste for wearing them became general, and this fashion, which usually confines itself to worthless things, was seen for once in the honourable office of promoting the cause of justice, humanity and freedom."

Hundreds of these images were produced. Benjamin Franklin suggested that the image was "equal to that of the best written pamphlet".Men displayed them as shirt pins and coat buttons. Whereas women used the image in bracelets, brooches and ornamental hairpins. In this way, women could show their anti-slavery opinions at a time when they were denied the vote. Later, a group of women designed their own medal, "Am I Not a Slave And A Sister?"

Wedgwood, Joseph Priestley, Thomas Day and Erasmus Darwin helped form the Birmingham Anti-Slavery Committee. They were attacked by several leading merchants in the city and some of them even petitioned Parliament against abolition. Priestley declared that although they supported the commercial interests, they would oppose "any commerce which always originates in violence and often terminates in cruelty".

In November 1794 Wedgwood's health began to fail. His face swelled and he suffered acute pain in the jaw, attributed to a decayed tooth. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he became unconscious. Josiah Wedgwood died, probably from cancer of the jaw, on 3rd January 1795, at Etruria Hall. He had made substantial gifts to his children during his lifetime but the total value of his estate nevertheless approached £500,000 (over £200 million in today's money).

Josiah Wedgwood
Josiah Wedgwood

On this day in 1855 Hubert Bland, youngest of the four children of Henry Bland, a successful commercial clerk, was born in Woolwich, London. He was educated at various local schools, and from an early age showed a strong interest in politics. As a youth Bland wanted to join the army but the death of his father forced him to run the family business.

In 1877 Bland met Edith Nesbit a young woman who shared his interest in politics. Bland was a disciple of William Morris and Henry George, and helped to convert Edith to socialism. In 1879 discovered she was pregnant and the baby was born two months after they were married on 22nd April, 1880. According to her biographer, Julia Briggs: "Bland continued to spend half of each week with his widowed mother and her paid companion, Maggie Doran, who also had a son by him, though Edith did not realize this until later that summer when Bland fell ill with smallpox. With characteristic optimism, she forgave him, befriended Maggie, and set about supporting the household by writing sentimental poems and short stories, and by hand-painting greetings cards."

In 1883 Edith and Hubert joined the Fellowship of the New Life, an organisation founded by Thomas Davidson. According to another member, Ramsay MacDonald, the group were influenced by the ideas of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Edith and Hubert were both socialists and on 24th October 1883 they decided with their Quaker friend Edward Pease, to form a debating group. They were also joined by Havelock Ellis and Frank Podmore and in January 1884 they decided to call themselves the Fabian Society. Bland chaired the first meeting and was elected treasurer. Nesbit and her husband became joint editors of the society's journal, Today . Soon afterwards other socialists in London began attending meetings. This included Eleanor Marx, Annie Besant, Olive Schreiner, Clementina Black, Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb.

In April 1884 Edith wrote to her friend, Ada Breakell: "I should like to try and tell you a little about the Fabian Society - it's aim is to improve the social system - or rather to spread its news as to the possible improvements of the social system. There are about thirty members - some of whom are working men. We meet once a fortnight - and then someone reads a paper and we all talk about it. We are now going to issue a pamphlet. I am on the Pamphlet Committee. Now can you fancy me on a committee? I really surprise myself sometimes."

Hubert Bland was unpopular with most of the Fabians. George Bernard Shaw described him as "a man of fierce Norman exterior and huge physical strength... never seen without an irreproachable frock coat, tall hat, and a single eyeglass which infuriated everybody. He was pugnacious, powerful, a skilled pugilist, and had a shrill, thin voice reportedly like the scream of an eagle. Nobody dared be uncivil to him."

His biographer, Julia Briggs, argued that he was an unsual socialist: "Bland was an atypical Fabian, since he combined socialism with strongly conservative opinions that reflected his social background and his military sympathies.... He was also strongly opposed to women's suffrage. At the same time he advocated collectivist socialism, wrote Fabian tracts, and lectured extensively on socialism." Bland was unconvinced by democracy and described it as "bumptious, unidealistic, disloyal… anti-national and vulgar".

In 1885 Bland also joined the Social Democratic Federation (SDF). Other members included Tom Mann, John Burns, Eleanor Marx, William Morris, George Lansbury, Edward Aveling, H. H. Champion, John Scurr, Guy Aldred, Dora Montefiore, Frank Harris, Clara Codd, John Spargo and Ben Tillet. However, he did not stay long as he found the views of its leader, H. H. Hyndman, too revolutionary. After his experience of the SDF, Hubert Bland, rejected extremism and advocated what became known as gradualism.

Bland was a freelance journalist until 1889 when he obtained the position as a columnist for the radical newspaper, Manchester Sunday Chronicle . In the newspaper and in several pamphlets that he wrote for the Fabian Society, Bland advocated a mixture of state socialism and imperialism. In The Outlook (1889) Bland argued in favour of the nationalization of the means of production.

In 1893 Hubert Bland joined the Independent Labour Party. However, his support of the Boer War made him unpopular with members of both the ILP and the Fabian Society. Bland argued that the livelihood of British working people depended on the maintenance of the Empire. He wrote that if the British army was defeated in South Africa it would mean "starvation in every city of Great Britain." Unlike most socialists, Bland was an opponent of women's rights. He wrote: "Woman's metier in the world - I mean, of course, civilized woman, the woman in the world as it is - is to inspire romantic passion ... Romantic passion is inspired by women who wear corsets. In other words, by the women who pretend to be what they not quite are."

Edith Nesbit was a regular lecturer and writer on socialism throughout the 1880s. However she gave less time to these activities after she published The Story of the Treasure-Seekers (1899). Julia Briggs has pointed out: "With the creation of Oswald Bastable, she knew that she had discovered a highly original way of writing about and for children, and from this point in her career she never looked back. She now invented the children's adventure story, more or less single-handed, adding to it fantasy, magic, time-travel, and a delightful vein of subversive comedy. The next ten years or so saw the publication of all her major work, and in the mean time she was also composing poems, plays, romantic novels, ghost stories, and tales of country life."

Claire Tomalin has argued: "Bland is one of the minor enigmas of literary history in that everything reported of him makes him sound repellent, yet he was admired, even adored, by many intelligent men and women... He did not aspire to be consistent. He allowed his wife to support him with her pen for some years, but was always opposed to feminism... In mid-life he joined the Catholic Church, a further cosmetic touch to his old-world image, but without modifying his behaviour or even bothering to attend more than the statutory minimum of masses."

In 1911 Hubert Bland began to go blind. Unable to work, Bland was supported by his wife, Edith Nesbit, who was now a very successful novelist. Hubert Bland died of a heart attack on 14th April, 1914.

Hubert Bland
Hubert Bland

On this day in 1883 Clement Attlee, the son of Henry Attlee, was born in Putney. His mother, Ellen Attlee, was the daughter of Thomas Simons Watson, who was educated at Cambridge University and became secretary of the Art Union. Clement was the seventh of eighth children and had three sisters and four brothers.

For more than 200 years the Attlee family had become wealthy, primarily through corn mills and brewing. His grandfather, Richard Attlee had been especially successful. Henry, the ninth of his tenth children, was articled to the solicitors Druces, where he rose to become senior partner in 1897. He became one of His Majesty's Lieutenants of the City of London and eventually, in 1906, President of the Law Society.

The family home was a large villa with two storeys. As well as a large garden they had their own tennis court. As well as three domestic servants, the family employed a full-time gardener. "On first appearance, Henry Attlee appeared rather austere, with a long white beard, top hat, and dress suit. All his children, however, remembered him as warm, convivial and affectionate. On those occasions when he had won a case in court, he was known to chase them through the garden and leap through the flowerbeds." In 1898 Henry Attlee purchased a large country house in Thorpe-le-Soken, which had 200 acres of land.

Henry and Ellen Attlee were committed Anglicans and there was a strong tradition of "good works" in the family. "Every morning Henry Attlee said prayers before breakfast to the whole family and servants; after breakfast, psalms were read with Ellen Attlee presiding… Attlee was instilled with an enduring sense of Christian values." Henry was on the council of St Bartholomew's Hospital in London and Ellen was involved in charitable activity through the church. The eldest son, Bernard, became a clergyman. The eldest daughter, Mary, went to South Africa as a missionary.

Clement Attlee was very close to his older brother Tom Attlee. At the age of nine he followed Tom to board at Northaw Place preparatory school in Hertfordshire. Other pupils at the time included William Jowitt and Hilton Young, two future MPs. Clement enjoyed his time at Northaw Place but considered its teaching methods eccentric and blamed the school for not giving him a good enough grounding in Latin and Greek.

In 1896 at the age of thirteen went on, like all the boys in the Attlee family, to Haileybury College. He spent four years in the middle of his class and was never identified as a candidate for a scholarship to one of Britain's prestigious universities. According to John Bew: "Haileybury had hardened what was essentially Conservative - and most decidedly imperialist - political convictions. He was aware that such a thing as socialism existed but did not think it worth much consideration. As for the plight of the poor in England, he showed no sign of empathy; quite the contrary. One of his earliest poems, which appeared in the Haileybury magazine in 1899, was a strongly worded attack on the London cabbies who were striking at the time. Before long, he predicted, these upstarts would be forced to beg for their fares."

Attlee came under the influence of his housemaster Frederick Webb Headley, who had right-wing political opinions, and was the author of Darwinism and Modern Socialism (1909). The principle theme of the book is a defence of capitalism, specifically of the ingenuity of capitalists large and small, concluding that socialism would never take root in Britain. If introduced socialism would have a "crushing, deadening influence" and would "introduce unjust and impossible economics". It would, Headley maintained, "destroy the main motives for enterprise and put an end to the struggle for existence, the action of which maintains the health and vigour of human communities."

Attlee's views on politics can be discovered by his contribution to Haileybury School Debating Society. For example, he opposed the motion "that museums and picture galleries should be open on Sundays". What class, Attlee asked, would benefit from the opening of museums and galleries? Certainly not the poorer class, as they could not appreciate them. He thought that it would be giving the upper class another excuse for not going to church. It was introducing the thin end of the wedge."

Clement's conservative views brought him into conflict with his father who was a strong supporter of the Liberal Party. He had many friends in the party including John Morley, who had served as Chief Secretary for Ireland and Secretary of State for India, who lived close by in Putney. Morley had also published biographies of Oliver Cromwell and William Ewart Gladstone. Both these books were later read by Clement Attlee.

Henry Attlee and his sons disagreed about the Boer War. Whereas the boys felt the strong emotions of patriotism during the conflict, their father believed the good name of the country was being besmirched by the actions of a "rather unsavoury cosmopolitan clique of financiers in Johannesburg" who were falsely claiming to act in the interests of the empire. How could the British criticize the actions of other colonial powers in the "scramble for Africa" - such as Belgium, Germany and France - when it acted in ways that were just as ignoble?

Francis Beckett claims that "Attlee was a perfectly able though undistinguished pupil, becoming a prefect but not head of house... He was so shy that he could hardly bring himself to speak in the school's Literary and Debating Society. He was given the job of running the house library because he had read all the books... For a small, shy bookworm without any talent for games, he contrived to stay out of trouble most of the time. If anyone knew what to look for, they might have seen a natural politician in the making."

Clement Attlee entered University College to read Modern History in October 1901. His brother Tom was also at Oxford University and in his final year of Corpus Christi. The brothers relished the freedom of university, which contrasted to their regimented existence at Haileybury. They were given a generous stipend by their father and embraced the university lifestyle - rowing, reading and socializing. Tom later recalled: "Your time at Oxford was your own and you did not waste a bit of it."

Clement Attlee was not an outstanding student. Some tutors suggested he could have achieved a first-class degree, but found himself reading around the history syllabus. One of his tutors described him as a "level-headed, industrious, dependable man with no brilliance of style... but with excellent sound judgement." He received a second-class degree but developed a life-long interest in history. His sister Mary commented that his knowledge of history was "of the greatest help to him, for not only has it provided him with a sound understanding of the causes of tendencies in modern society, but it is a subject which gives every intelligent student of it perspective and a sense of balance."

Attlee did not take an interest in politics or economics while at university. It did not cross his mind to question the order or structure of society. He admitted that at this time he was a "good old fashioned imperialist conservative". He later recalled: "The capitalist system was as unquestioned as the social system. It was just there. It was not known under that name because one does not give a name to something of which one is unconscious." He later recalled: "In my day we were extraordinarily backward. I was a very backward boy myself - we knew nothing about socialism."

Attlee wrote in his autobiography, As It Happened (1954): "Oxford University was at that time predominately Conservative though there was a strong Liberal group, notably at Ballioli, which counted among its undergraduates such men as R. H. Tawney and William Temple, the future Archbishop, whose influence on socialist thought was in later years to be so great. Socialism was hardly spoken of, although Sidney Ball at St. John's and A.J. Carlyle, at University College, kept the light burning. I was at this time a Conservative, but I did not take any active part in politics. I never belonged to any political club."

In the autumn of 1904 he entered the Lincoln's Inn chambers of Sir Philip Gregory, a leading conveyancing lawyer, and was called to the bar by the Inner Temple in March 1906. This was achieved through his father's connections. He also studied under Theobald Matthew, a famous Common Law barrister. Attlee had a spell in his father's firm of solicitors, which he found boring. "Attlee devoted no great energy to the law, and was idling his life away in congenial London company, insulated from most practical cares by living at home." He eventually came to the conclusion that he was "not really much interested in the law and had no ambition to succeed."

In October 1905, Clement and his younger brother, Laurence, was asked to inspect the work of Haileybury House. The founder of the settlement, Cecil Nussey, an old Haileyburian, while at Oxford University, became a disciple of the generation of social thinkers that had been inspired by the ideas of Thomas Hill Green, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Balliol College. "Green's ethical socialism was based on the premise that human self-perfection could only be achieved through society, and that society therefore had the moral obligation to ensure the best conditions for everyone. This entailed for the individual not random and remote acts of charity, but the obligation on the more fortunate to share their fuller lives with the poor."

Nussey's idea was that old Haileyburians would become residents rather than as occasional visitors to the people living in the East End of London. The two brothers were given a tour of the Haileybury Club, an institution where working-class boys between the ages of fourteen and eighteen met under the supervision of Haileyburians. The school was in Stepney and was a different world from that in which they had been raised. "This was the dark heart of the East End - densely populated by dockworkers, casual labourers and notorious for unemployment, poverty, crime and disease."

At first Attlee feared the idea of living with people from such a different background. Clement was so shy that he found it agonizing to talk to the boys. At first he agreed to give one night a week to the club. The club was open for five nights a week, from 8 to 10 pm. All the boys joined the Territorial Army and represented 'D' Company of the 1st Cadet Battalion of the Queen's Regiment. They took part in drilling and they learnt to clean and load rifles. The boys wore a uniform on club nights, "which gave them a pride in their appearance which their everyday rags could not offer."

On 13th March 1906, Clement Attlee took a commission in the Territorial Army and became a second lieutenant. He was now spending several nights a week at the club. He later pointed out how this experience changed his political views. "A boy from a public school knowing little or nothing of social or industrial matters, who decides, perhaps at the invitation of a friend or from loyalty to his old school that runs a mission, or to the instinct of service that exists in everyone, to assist in running a boys' club.... The thoughtless schoolboy will have become interested in social problems in the concrete, and from this it is but a step to studying them in the abstract, and he soon sees how little his efforts can accomplish, and will perceive that the faults he sees are only the effects of greater causes."

Clement Attlee came to the conclusion it was "vital to break up the huge collection of people of one class living as it were among the natives and create a more natural system". He believed that social workers should live with the people who they were serving. In the autumn of 1907, the manager of Haileybury House resigned and Nussey asked Attlee if he would be interested in taking the job, a residential position with an annual salary of £50. He accepted and he moved into Haileybury House. He now had much more contact with the boys, often visiting their homes and talking with their parents. Attlee later recalled that there was "no better way of getting to know what social conditions are like than in a boy's club. One learns much more of how people in poor circumstances live through ordinary conversation with them from studying volumes of statistics."

Gradually, Attlee came to the conclusion that the capitalist system had to be reformed to ensure that all classes of society could have an accepted standard of living. The only way it was possible to understand how "people in poor circumstances" live was living among them and having the experiences yourself. Christian ethics had been a central part of Attlee's childhood, so serving others was nothing new. (26) It was by having conversations with the boys and their parents "was a step to examining the whole basis of our social and economic system." He now understood "why the Poor Law was so hated." Roy Jenkins, described Attlee's experience in the East End as his "road to Damascus".

Clement Attlee by George Harcourt (c. 1925)
Clement Attlee by George Harcourt (c. 1925)

On this day in 1895 Thomas J. C. Martyn, the son of a British soldier, was born. His father was killed in Rhodesia and on the outbreak of the First World War, joined the Royal Flying Corps. During the conflict he lost his leg in an aircraft accident.

After the war he became a journalist and in 1923 he was recruited by Henry Luce to work as Foreign News editor on the recently established Time Magazine. He had little experience in journalism but Martyn, who was fluent in French and German, seemed to know a great deal about European politics. Isaiah Wilner, the author of The Man Time Forgot (2006), has pointed out: "He (Martyn) thumped around suavely somehow, a skilled billiards player with a touch of class, or so it appeared to the young Americans."

The editor of the magazine was Briton Hadden. Another colleague was John S. Martin, who specialized in writing humorous stories for the magazine. Other journalists who wrote for the magazine included Manfred Gottfried and Niven Busch. He also became close to Roy Edward Larsen, the circulation manager. It has been claimed that Martyn and Gottfried wrote as much as two thirds of the magazine.

In April, 1925, Henry Luce discovered that Time Incorporated had lost $1,958.84 over the previous four months. He decided that he could save a considerable sum of money by relocating to Cleveland. John Penton, claimed he could save Luce $20,000 a year by printing the magazine in the city. Luce signed the contract without telling his partner, Briton Hadden, and key members of staff such as Martyn.

Time Magazine moved to Cleveland in August, 1925. Most of the journalists, researchers and office staff refused to relocate. This was partly because Luce refused to pay for their moving expenses. Instead, he sacked the entire staff but offered to reappoint them if they applied for jobs in Cleveland. Martyn was furious and resigned. He also sold his 500 shares in the company to Luce.

Martyn founded Newsweek on 17th February, 1933. He told his friends he hoped to "run Harry Luce out of business". Martyn explained that his new magazine "marshals facts against their background, throws revealing light into obscure situations - helps you understand the news." Investors in the venture included John Hay Whitney and Paul Mellon, the son of Andrew W. Mellon.

In 1937 Newsweek merged with the weekly journal Today, which was owned by W. Averell Harriman and Vincent Astor. As a result of the deal, Harriman and Astor provided the magazine with $600,000 in venture capital funds. Astor became chairman and the principal stockholder of the company. Malcolm Muir was brought in as editor-in-chief of the magazine.

Phil Graham, the owner of the Washington Post, had close links with the Central Intelligence Agency. It has been claimed that Graham played an important role in Operation Mockingbird, the CIA program to infiltrate domestic American media. In 1961 Graham purchased Newsweek. Thomas J. C. Martyn retired to Agrolândia, Brazil, where he died on 5th February, 1979.

Thomas J. C. Martyn
Thomas J. C. Martyn

On this day in 1907 Ronald Cartland, the son of Major Bertram Cartland and Mary Hamilton Scobell, and the younger brother of Barbara Cartland. His father was killed in May 1918 at the age of forty-two during the last German counter-offensive of the First World War. Ronald, aged eleven, wrote a letter to his mother saying, "I feel so awfully proud of him and in a way it's lovely to remember him so young and cheery."

In 1920 Cartland entered Charterhouse. He took an interest in politics and was active in the Debating Society. Although both his father and grandfather had been active in the Conservative Party he became a supporter of the Labour Party and argued "that Socialism is the right policy". His housemaster reported: "If he can curb his revolutionary tendencies I expect him to do well."

The financial health of the family became difficult and and Cartland was unable to go to university. In 1925 he became a cashier at the trading house of Edward Boustead & Company. In 1926 he joined the Young Conservatives. After meeting Sir Henry Page Croft the MP for Christchurch he was offered a job working for the Empire Industries Association. He did this for only a couple of months before becoming the personal assistant of the director of education at Conservative Central Office.

Cartland became close friends with Antony Bulwer-Lytton and worked for him in his campaign to become the Conservative MP for Shoreditch in the 1929 General Election. Both men saw themselves as left-wing Tories who distrusted the tribal nature of partisan politics. Bulwer-Lytton was beaten into third place. Bulwer-Lytton later told his friends that the Shoreditch Labour Party people were much nicer than their Conservative counterparts.

In 1935 the Conservative Party MP for King's Norton, Major Lionel Beaumont-Thomas, became involved in an adulterous affair that had led to a messy divorce. As this was the second time this had happened he was asked to retire from the House of Commons. Cartland became the new candidate and won the seat in the 1935 General Election, beating the Labour Party candidate, Gilbert Mitchison by 5,875 votes.

Cartland was one of those Tory MPs who opposed the government's policy of appeasement. The Tory loyalists, Harry Chips Channon, named Cartland as one of the "insurgents" that were making things difficult for Neville Chamberlain. The list included Winston Churchill, Leo Amery, Harold Nicolson, Katharine Stewart-Murray, Robert Boothby, Harold Macmillan, Brendan Bracken, Edward Spears, Jack Macnamara, Victor Cazalet, Duncan Sandys, Ronald Tree, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Paul Emrys-Evans, Derrick Gunston, Leonard Ropner and Vyvyan Adams.

Neville Chamberlain wanted to negotiate a peace agreement with Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. However, he was aware that his Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, was opposed to this and he instructed Major George Joseph Ball to have the telephones of Eden and his supporters tapped. Ball also spread the rumour amongst his newspaper friends that Eden was very ill and that he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He suggested that Eden might resign so that he could take a three month holiday from politics.

Eden made it clear to the prime minister that he was unwilling to force President Eduard Beneš of Czechoslovakia, to make concessions. William Strang, a senior figure in the Foreign Office, also urged caution over these negotiations: "Even if it were in our interest to strike a bargain with Germany, it would in present circumstances be impossible to do so. Public sentiment here and our existing international obligations are all against it."

On 4th February, 1938, Adolf Hitler sacked the moderate Konstantin von Neurath as Foreign Minister, and replaced him with the hard-line, Joachim von Ribbentrop. Eden argued that this move made it even more difficult to get an agreement with Hitler. He was also opposed to further negotiations with Benito Mussolini about withdrawing from its involvement in the Spanish Civil War. Eden stated that he completely "mistrusted" the Italian leader.

At a Cabinet meeting Chamberlain made it clear that he was unwilling to back down over the issue. Anthony Eden resigned on 20th February 1938. He told the House of Commons the following day: "I do not believe that we can make progress in European appeasement if we allow the impression to gain currency abroad that we yield to constant pressure. I am certain in my own mind that progress depends above all on the temper of the nation, and that temper must find expression in a firm spirit. This spirit I am confident is there. Not to give voice it is I believe fair neither to this country nor to the world."

Major George Joseph Ball persuaded the BBC to relegate Eden's resignation to the second story on the evenings bulletins and to say nothing at all about Germany or Italy. The Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph all supported Chamberlain against Eden. The Times claimed that "his policy of appeasement, which is also the policy of peace." The Manchester Guardian, not under the control of Major Ball, noted that although a resignation of this kind might have precipitated a major government crisis, the press had "preserved a unity of silence that could hardly be bettered in a totalitarian state."

Harold Nicolson wrote in his diary: "Not that I mind the calm jubilation of Lord Londonderry or Sir Arnold Wilson. After all, they have for years waved the swastika aloft and have the right to shout aloud in joy. Nor do I mind the wild-west cries of Lady Astor. She also has fought bravely for Hitler and Mussolini and is entitled, during her fleeting visits to the House of Commons, to indulge in her whoopee. What I mind is the glow of unctuous relief which illuminates the features of the average Tory. That, again, is hard to bear."

Tim Bouverie, the author of Appeasing Hitler: Chamberlain, Churchill and the Road to War (2020) has pointed out Nicolson reflected public opinion. "In early March, one of the first national opinion polls ever held in Britain found that 71 per cent of voters thought Eden right to resign, with 58 per cent opposed to Chamberlain's foreign policy. Left-wing and liberal opinion was particularly outraged. One hundred and sixty-three university dons signed a petition attacking the Government and there were protests from the League of Nations Union, Welsh miners, the National Peace Council, the Trade Union Congress, the New Commonwealth Society and the Youth Peace Assembly."

Major George Joseph Ball now attempted to undermine Anthony Eden by suggesting he was a homosexual and that while he was at university he had attempted to seduce Eddie Gathorne-Hardy. Ball also pointed out that most of his close friends were bachelors or well-known bisexuals (Ronald Cartland, Robert Boothby, Harold Nicolson, Harry Crookshank, Jack Macnamara, Jim Thomas, Noel Coward) etc.). As a result of these relationships Eden's marriage to Beatrice Beckett was in difficulty and she was having affairs with other men.

Ronald Cartland told Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, Hugh Dalton, that around forty Tory MPs would consider voting against the government if there had been some alternative combination in waiting. Another problem was the majority of his colleagues were "still terrified of the communist bogy" and, therefore, blind to the danger from Nazi Germany. Cartland was also also highly critical of Neville Chamberlain who was getting increasingly dictatorial and that "they had now a Führer in the Conservative Party."

In a debate in the House of Commons, Cartland defended Eden against the smear campaign organised by Major Ball. He claimed it was wrong for The Times to suggest that Eden had resigned because of ill-health. Quite the contrary, he argued, Eden had taken the decision to resign "in the full possession of his powers and faculties, and... he had never been better in health since he went to the Foreign Office." Cartland added that Chamberlain was "employing methods, which are not in keeping with our traditions and which, even if they are successful, must spoil our good name."

Ronald Cartland admitted that he could not support Chamberlain's policy of appeasement and at the end of the debate he joined twenty other Tory MPs in abstaining. This included Anthony Eden, Winston Churchill, Harold Macmillan, Brendan Bracken, Edward Spears, Jack Macnamara, Jim Thomas, Ronald Tree, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Paul Emrys-Evans and Vyvyan Adams. A junior member of the government, Robert Bernays, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, was tempted to resign but as he was paid £1,500 in addition to the £600 he received as an MP, the equivalent in 2020 prices to an additional £100,000 a year, he felt he could not afford to make this decision.

Major Joseph Ball became an important figure behind the scenes. Hugh Dalton, the Labour Party MP, asked Ronald Cartland who influenced Neville Chamberlain. He replied that none of his colleagues in the Cabinet did, but "there was a queer figure, Sir Joseph Ball, now in the Conservative Head Office, who had been in the Conservative Head Office, who had been in MI5 during the war, in whom the PM had great confidence."

Ball began a smear campaign against those members of the Conservative Party who opposed appeasement. Ball told sympathetic journalists that they were either gay or bisexual and gave them the derisory term "the glamour boys". Ball told the journalist Charles Graves, that these MPs that included Ronald Cartland, Anthony Eden, Harold Nicolson, Robert Boothby, Jack Macnamara and Jim Thomas, and "they are viewed with some suspicion by the party heads" and were providing a "smokescreen" for Winston Churchill.

On 12th September, 1938, Adolf Hitler whipped his supporters into a frenzy at the annual Nuremberg Rally by claiming the Sudeten Germans were "not alone" and would be protected by Nazi Germany. A series of demonstrations took place in the Sudeten area and on 13th September, the Czech government decided to introduce martial law in the area. Konrad Henlein, the leader of the Sudeten Germans, fled to Germany for protection.

Chamberlain now sent Hitler a message requesting an immediate meeting, which was promptly granted. Hitler invited Chamberlain to see him at his home in Berchtesgaden. It would be the first visit by a British prime minister to Germany for over 60 years. The last leader to visit the country was Benjamin Disraeli when he attended the Congress of Berlin in 1878. Members of the Czech government were horrified when they heard the news as they feared Chamberlain would accept Hitler's demands for the transfer of the Sudetenland to Germany.

On 15th September, 1938, Chamberlain, aged sixty-nine, boarded a Lockheed Electra aircraft for a seven-hour journey to Munich, followed by a three-hour car ride up the long and winding roads to Berchtesgaden, the home of Hitler. The first meeting lasted for three hours. Hitler made it very clear that he intended to "stop the suffering" of the Sudeten Germans by force. Chamberlain asked Hitler what was required for a peaceful solution. Hitler demanded the transfer of all districts in Czechoslovakia with a 50 per cent or more German-speaking population. Chamberlain said he had nothing against the idea in principle, but would need to overcome "practical difficulties".

Hitler flattered Chamberlain and this had the desired impact on him. He told his sister: "Horace Wilson heard from various people who were with Hitler after my interview that he had been very favourably impressed. I have had a conversation with a man, he said, and one with whom I can do business and he liked the rapidity with which I had grasped the essentials. In short I had established a certain confidence, which was my aim, and in spite of the hardness and ruthlessness I thought I saw in his face I got the impression that here was a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word."

Neville Chamberlain called an emergency cabinet meeting on 17th September. Duff Cooper, First Lord of the Admiralty, recorded in his diary: "Looking back upon what he said, the curious thing seems to me now to have been that he recounted his experiences with some satisfaction. Although he said that at first sight Hitler struck him as 'the commonest little dog' he had ever seen, without one sign of distinction, nevertheless he was obviously pleased at the reports he had subsequently received of the good impression that he himself had made. He told us with obvious satisfaction how Hitler had said to someone that he had felt that he, Chamberlain, was 'a man.' But the bare facts of the interview were frightful. None of the elaborate schemes which had been so carefully worked out, and which the Prime Minister had intended to put forward, had ever been mentioned. He had felt that the atmosphere did not allow of them. After ranting and raving at him, Hitler had talked about self-determination and asked the Prime Minister whether he accepted the principle. The Prime Minister had replied that he must consult his colleagues. From beginning to end Hitler had not shown the slightest sign of yielding on a single point. The Prime Minister seemed to expect us all to accept that principle without further discussion because the time was getting on."

Conservative MPs also began to criticize the proposed deal. Ronald Cartland said it was "peace with dishonour" (29) Anthony Eden told a constituency meeting that the "British people know that a stand must be made. They pray that it will not be made too late." Leo Amery commented that the terms to which Chamberlain had signed up "amounted to nothing less than Czechoslovakia's destruction as an independent state." Winston Churchill issued a statement that stated: "It is necessary that the nation should realise the magnitude of the disaster into which we are being led. The partition of Czechoslovakia under Anglo-French pressure amounts to a complete surrender by the Western Democracies to the Nazi threat of force."

Despite his disagreement with the Munich Agreement, Cartland did not vote against it in the House of Commons. Cartland, like the other Conservative MPs who had been critical of the government appeasement policy such as Winston Churchill, Duff Cooper, Anthony Eden, Leo Amery, Harold Macmillan, Harold Nicolson, Louis Spears, Robert Boothby, Brendan Bracken, Roger Keyes, Victor Cazalet, Sidney Herbert, Duncan Sandys, Leonard Ropner, Ronald Tree, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Paul Emrys-Evans, Vyvyan Adams and Jack Macnamara. The main reason why Conservative MPs abstained rather than voting with the Labour Party was that Chamberlain threatened a general election if his motion was defeated.

Ronald Cartland now became a constant critic of Chamberlain's government. On 14th November, 1938 he joined Labour MPs George Lansbury and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, to criticize the government over the high levels of unemployment in the country. "One thing at least is clear now, and it is that the Government have no unemployment policy as such... The principal and proper function of Government in relation to trade and employment is to try and create the conditions under which industry itself can carry on its enterprise with confidence and success, and it is to that end that the policy of the Government has been consistently directed.... First, I ask what are they doing to ensure that improved conditions of trade, if they arise in the next few years, will be immediately reflected in increased employment? What are they doing to see that this improved trade will result in better conditions of life for our people? What are they doing to increase production, to expand exports, to raise the purchasing power of the people at home?... It is not a problem of industries or individuals. It is a problem of both. It is a problem which affects every area in the country. In the last 12 months in Birmingham, which is the very centre of prosperity, unemployment has gone up by 20,000, and the hard core there has remained perfectly consistent over a series of years. I ask the Government, what are they going to do about it? When we consider the history of the past two years, it is useless to expect to solve this special unemployment problem by trusting to an improvement in trade.... I believe that what is really necessary is that we should harness and direct both industry and finance so as to maintain our markets abroad and extend our markets at home."

Sir Samuel Hoare, the Home Secretary, arranged for Tory MPs like Cartland who had doubts about appeasement, to have their phones tapped by the security services. In a speech made on 27th January, 1939, Hoare claimed that those warning about the intentions of Adolf Hitler as "jitterbugs" and scaremongers". Hoare described them as "timid panic-mongers are doing the greatest harm". They were undermining public confidence and creating a fatal feeling of the inevitability of war. "Worst of all," he added, "they are showing cowardice in the face of a potential enemy."

Major George Joseph Ball and the whips were keeping very close tabs on the group of anti-appeasement MPs. Jack Macnamara told Harold Nicolson that a friendly whip had admitted they were worried by their activities: "They know that we meet, and what they do not like is that we do not attack them in the House. If we came out into the open they would know where they stood. What they hate is this silent plotting." They respected the "big bugs" like Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden but the people they most distrusted were Ronald Cartland, Ronald Tree and Paul Emrys-Evans. Cartland could not believe that most people seemed unconcerned by the prospect of war. "And so we go on playing cricket, waiting for the racing specials, planning summer holidays... But are we awake? Worse, have the gods sent us mad before destruction falls?

Cartland like most of his friends on the left of the Tory Party became concerned by Neville Chamberlain's decision to close Parliament during the political crisis that was taking place during the summer of 1939. In a speech on the recess debate he gave in the House of Commons on 2nd August, Chamberlain admitted that he knew MPs would criticize him for trying to avoid "interrogation by the House" but he was determined that they should go on their summer holidays and return in October. He added that his critics were "very badly in need of a holiday as their reasoning faculties wanted a little freshening up." Chamberlain then infuriated anti-appeasers by saying "A vote against the Government on this occasion must be a vote of want of confidence."

Cartland responded with a speech that shocked the House of Commons: "I am sorry to detain the House for a few moments, but I would like to say a few words as a backbencher of the Prime Minister's own party. It seemed to me, listening tonight, that there was a difference of view put forward by those who spoke from the Opposition side and those who spoke from this side, and perhaps the Prime Minister was quite justified in saying that many of the speeches made by the Opposition showed that Members lacked confidence in him. Hon. Members have every right to say it. They are here so that they can express their opinions. I am sure that my right hon. Friend would agree that everybody who spoke from this side put forward quite different arguments. All who have spoken from this side were meticulously careful to say that they did not regard this as a vote of confidence, and they welcomed the fact that the Prime Minister, in his opening speech, had most carefully not said that he regarded it as a vote of confidence."

He then turned to the issue of closing Parliament during a political crisis: "I am profoundly disturbed by the speech of the Prime Minister. We are going to separate until 3rd October. I suppose the majority of us in this House are going down to our constituencies to make speeches. A fantastic and ludicrous impression, as everybody on both sides of the House, with perhaps one exception, knows, exists in this country that the Prime Minister has ideas of dictatorship. It is a ludicrous impression and everybody here on both sides of the House knows it is ludicrous, but it does exist in the country... I do not know how many meetings I have addressed in the last year, but over and over again, I have had to deny the absurd impression that the Prime Minister in some way has ideas of dictatorship.... The speech which he has made this afternoon and his absolute refusal to accept any of the proposals put forward by Members on both sides of the House will make it much more difficult for those of us to try and dispel that idea."

The right hon. Gentleman is the head of a strong Government. He has an immense vote and he knows that he can carry anything through the Lobby. He has only to consult his right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary, and he can get anything through. How easy it would be for him, when the whole of democracy is trying to stand together to resist aggression, to say that he had tremendous faith in this democratic institution. Personally I cannot see why he could not come down and say, "We will decide to meet on 21st August, or on a certain date, and if, after consulting with the Opposition Leaders, we are all agreed that there is no reason to meet, then do not let Parliament meet."

Cartland finished his speech by considering the possibility of war: "Everybody would accept that. We are in the situation that within a month we may be going to fight, and we may be going to die.... There are thousands of young men at the moment in training in camps, and giving up their holiday, and the least that we can do here, if we are not going to meet together from time to time and keep Parliament in session, is to show that we have immense faith in this democratic institution. I cannot imagine why the Prime Minister could not have made a great gesture in the interests of national unity. It is much more important, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook said, to get the whole country behind you rather than make jeering, pettifogging party speeches which divide the nation. How can the Prime Minister ask for real confidence in himself as Prime Minister, and as Leader of the country rather than Leader of a party? I frankly say that I despair when I listen to speeches like that to which I have listened this afternoon."

Tory loyalists were furious with Cartland and several MPs shouted "nonsense" and urged him to sit down. They were especially upset when Cartland quoted a letter from a Conservative-voting constituent who said she was very upset because "so many people think the Prime Minister is a friend of Hitler". When he finished his speech Winston Churchill thumped him on the back and said, "Well done, my boy, well done!" Cartland also received support from other anti-appeasement MPs."

However, he was strongly attacked by other Tory MPs. Sir Patrick Hannon, who had previously been a supporter of the British Fascist Party. He made a nasty speech claiming that since he was partly responsible for getting Cartland his seat and that he wanted "to make it clear my regret and disappointment that I had anything to do with his selection as a Member of Parliament." John Morgan, the Labour MP for Doncaster defended Cartland: "It was not the speech of a man who was stabbing his own party in the back... but the speech of a man who has consistently... tried to gather together all the elements in this House... for the purpose of facing the situation which we have to face."

The following day The Evening Standard reported that Chamberlain had demanded the list of names of Tory MPs who had abstained at the end of the debate so that they can be "blacklisted". It added that: "The indications are that they will not be disciplined beyond being remonstrated with the Whips. I understand, however, that the case of Mr. Ronald Cartland is regarded as being different because of his criticism of the Prime Minister."

Ronald Cartland was attacked by the local newspapers and there were calls for him "to be hanged as a traitor, expelled from the party and removed from Parliament." One newspaper reported that twenty Tory MPs were trying to get Cartland expelled. It later became clear that Neville Chamberlain was behind these moves. He wrote to his sister Ida Chamberlain after the debate: "As for Master Cartland I hope he has effectually blotted his copybook in King's Norton and I am taking steps to stimulate local opposition."

In the weeks following the debate, almost all the rebellious Tory MPs faced the threat of deselection. Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, the MP for South Dorset, wrote to his uncle Viscount Robert Cecil: "I am in great trouble with my local Blimps but have extracted from them, after a very long wrangle, a free hand to say what I like about the Government's foreign policy. They think, all the same, that I am (a) a socialist, (b) a war-monger and (c) a poison-pen against the PM. I don't know what has happened to the Conservative Party. They seem to me insanely shortsighted and wrongheaded."

After the declaration of war Cartland became a full-time member of the 53rd Anti-Tank Regiment of the Royal Artillery. On 10th September 1939, Cartland went to dinner at Sissinghurst with Harold Nicolson and his family. Ben Nicholson commented that Cartland brought his boyfriend (Second Lieutenant Michael Shewell). Harold wrote in his diary that "Ronnie was brave but gloomy. He thinks they will all be killed for nothing."

At dinner with Robert Bernays and Guy Burgess at the Savoy Grill, he attacked David Margesson (Secretary of State for War) for the shortage of ammunition in every branch of the army and said he would like to see "Margesson and Chamberlain hung upon lamp-posts". He criticized the way the government was dealing with the crisis and wrote to his mother that "bombs will have to fall before the House appreciates the vast changes which itself and the Nation will have to undergo if we are to win."

On 8th January 1940, Ronald Cartland and his regiment joined the British Expeditionary Force under General John Gort in France. On 30th May the regiment was forced to retreat to Dunkirk. Anti-tank gunner Harry Munn later reported that: "Major Cartland who together with Mr Hutton-Squire and Mr D Woodward had observed this action from the very exposed position at the rear of the gun pit, came to me with new orders... At dawn we found ourselves under heavy fire from infantry and tanks. Very heavy casualties were inflicted on our battery and to save further losses Major Cartland gave the order to surrender. At this point heavy firing was going on and Major Cartland was killed."

Ronald Cartland
Ronald Cartland

On this day in 1956 Joseph Wirth died in Germany. Wirth was born in Freiburg on 6th September, 1879. He studied natural sciences and economics (1899-1906) before becoming a mathematics teacher at Freiburg High School.

Wirth joined the Catholic Centre Party and was elected to the Reichstag in 1914. During the First World War he served on the Western Front and the Eastern Front but in 1917 he developed pneumonia and was forced to return to Germany.

A member of the left-wing of the Catholic Centre Party Wirth joined with Matthias Erzberger in calling for peace negotiations. At the end of the war Wirth declared he was a republican and urged the abdication of Wilhelm II. During the German Revolution Wirth became minister of finance of the republication government of Baden.

In 1920 Hermann Mueller appointed Wirth as his minister of finance. The following year in May 1921 he became chancellor. In an attempt to obtain a lasting peace he joined with Walther Rathenau to negotiate the Treaty of Rapallo with the Soviet Union.

Wirth was unhappy with the level of reparations that Germany was being forced to pay and he resigned over this issue in November, 1922. He now worked closely with Hans Luther to keep right-wing nationalists out of power. In 1925 he left the Catholic Centre Party in protest against its close ties with the Nationalist Party (DNVP).

On 13th April, 1929, Wirth accepted the invitation of Hermann Mueller to join his Social Democratic Party government. The following year he became minister of the interior in the cabinet headed by Heinrich Bruening.

Wirth's liberal views made him unpopular with right-wing nationalists and when Adolf Hitler took power in January, 1933, he was forced into exile. Wirth lived in France until the Second World War when he moved to Switzerland.

After the war Wirth returned to West Germany. He once again became involved in politics and helped form the Christian Social Labour Party. Over the next few years he opposed West Germany's rearmament and the country's membership of NATO. Joseph Wirth, who won the Stalin Peace Prize in 1954.

Joseph Wirth
Joseph Wirth