The Guardian was founded by cotton merchant who profited off slaveryMarch 28, 2023
The Guardian’s not so liberal past… How the now virtuous and high-minded newspaper was founded in 1821 by a cotton merchant who profited off free labour – before it sided with the slave-owning South in the American Civil War
- Guardian newspaper founded om 1821 by cotton merchant John Edward Taylor
- He was radicalised after seeing Peterloo Massacre which left 15 dead at protest
The Guardian was founded as the Manchester Guardian in 1821 by cotton merchant John Edward Taylor (1791-1844).
Taylor became a merchant after being apprenticed to a cotton manufacturer at the age of 14, rising to become a partner in the business seven years later.
He began to write political articles for newspapers and journals, including the Manchester Gazette, and decided to set up his own newspaper after witnessing the Peterloo Massacre in the city in 1819.
Taylor was radicalised by what he saw at Peterloo, where a military cavalry charge left 15 dead and hundreds injured in an ill-judged attempt to scatter a crowd of 60,000 protesters.
Taylor discovered that the only reporter from a national newspaper, John Tyas of The Times, had been arrested and imprisoned in what Taylor feared was a government attempt to suppress news of the event.
Founder: Cotton merchant John Edward Taylor founded the Manchester Guardian in 1821
Slaves picking cotton on a plantation in the fields in 1800
He teamed up with 11 liberal-minded textile owners from Manchester – then the centre of the cotton industry and known as Cottonopolis – to finance the venture, at a cost of £1,050.
The first edition appeared on May 5, 1821, as a four-page weekly newspaper costing 7d (seven old pence).
The Manchester Guardian went on to side with the slave-owning South in the American Civil War and it was only after Taylor’s nephew, C P Scott, took the helm as editor in 1872 that the paper began to forge the liberal independent identity that it is now known for.
The slave trade was abolished in the British Empire in 1807 but it was another 26 years before the Abolition of Slavery Act finally banned the ownership of other humans in Britain and its colonies.
The Guardian was founded as the Manchester Guardian in 1821 by cotton merchant John Edward Taylor
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