The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Improvement

David Dale, Robert Owen and New Lanark Cotton

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Abstract

    This chapter reads the iconic model village of New Lanark as a node in a global history of cotton, arguing that textiles, but cotton in particular, represents a potent way to re-think Scotland’s ‘Age of Improvement’ with specific attention to the ‘Problem of Slavery’. The first section situates New Lanark at the cross-section of the resurgence of interest in cotton as a centrepiece of global history, and the current recovery of the memory of slavery in Scotland more specifically: at New Lanark it identifies the global in the local. The second section re-evaluates the ideology of ‘gradual improvement’ espoused by New Lanark’s key owners. First, David Dale who founded the mill in 1785 and was chair of Glasgow's Abolitionist Society in the 1790s. Second, Robert Owen who pioneered factory reform but often endorsed pro-slavery arguments in the context of the movement for emancipation in the late 1820s. During his travels in the United States and the Caribbean Owen recorded observations on slavery which are reproduced here. Finally, this chapter considers some of the tensions produced where the ideology of ‘gradual improvement’ meets a world system in which racialized chattel enslavement forms an extreme pole on the spectrum of labour.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationCultures of Improvement in Scottish Romanticism 1707-1840
    EditorsAlex Benchimol, Gerard McKeever
    PublisherRoutledge
    Chapter5
    Edition1
    ISBN (Electronic)9781351056427
    ISBN (Print) 9781138482937
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Fingerprint

    Robert Owen
    Slavery
    Cotton
    Ideology
    Global History
    Scotland
    Village
    Recovery
    1820s
    Resurgence
    Factory
    1790s
    Iconic
    Centerpiece
    World System
    Enslavement
    Glasgow
    Emancipation
    Abolitionist
    Cross Section

    Cite this

    Morris, M. (2018). The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Improvement: David Dale, Robert Owen and New Lanark Cotton. In A. Benchimol, & G. McKeever (Eds.), Cultures of Improvement in Scottish Romanticism 1707-1840 (1 ed.). Routledge.
    Morris, Michael. / The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Improvement : David Dale, Robert Owen and New Lanark Cotton. Cultures of Improvement in Scottish Romanticism 1707-1840. editor / Alex Benchimol ; Gerard McKeever. 1. ed. Routledge, 2018.
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    abstract = "This chapter reads the iconic model village of New Lanark as a node in a global history of cotton, arguing that textiles, but cotton in particular, represents a potent way to re-think Scotland’s ‘Age of Improvement’ with specific attention to the ‘Problem of Slavery’. The first section situates New Lanark at the cross-section of the resurgence of interest in cotton as a centrepiece of global history, and the current recovery of the memory of slavery in Scotland more specifically: at New Lanark it identifies the global in the local. The second section re-evaluates the ideology of ‘gradual improvement’ espoused by New Lanark’s key owners. First, David Dale who founded the mill in 1785 and was chair of Glasgow's Abolitionist Society in the 1790s. Second, Robert Owen who pioneered factory reform but often endorsed pro-slavery arguments in the context of the movement for emancipation in the late 1820s. During his travels in the United States and the Caribbean Owen recorded observations on slavery which are reproduced here. Finally, this chapter considers some of the tensions produced where the ideology of ‘gradual improvement’ meets a world system in which racialized chattel enslavement forms an extreme pole on the spectrum of labour.",
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    Morris, M 2018, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Improvement: David Dale, Robert Owen and New Lanark Cotton. in A Benchimol & G McKeever (eds), Cultures of Improvement in Scottish Romanticism 1707-1840. 1 edn, Routledge.

    The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Improvement : David Dale, Robert Owen and New Lanark Cotton. / Morris, Michael.

    Cultures of Improvement in Scottish Romanticism 1707-1840. ed. / Alex Benchimol; Gerard McKeever. 1. ed. Routledge, 2018.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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    Morris M. The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Improvement: David Dale, Robert Owen and New Lanark Cotton. In Benchimol A, McKeever G, editors, Cultures of Improvement in Scottish Romanticism 1707-1840. 1 ed. Routledge. 2018