Sunday, 9 May 2010

Wedgwood and Politics

Reading one of my local newspapers a short while ago, I came across a letter to the editor written by Tom Wedgwood (descendant of Josiah Wedgwood - left- in a portrait by Joshua Reynolds). He had felt compelled to write a response to an earlier letter to the editor, in which one Jordan Huxley had claimed that Josiah Wedgwood had been involved in right-wing politics. Although this was only one comment in a letter otherwise written about The Wedgwood Museum and a political candidate for the general election (backed by Tom Wedgwood), it was this statement that spurred me to write this post,

"Anyone with an ounce of political knowledge would know that in early nineteenth century he was part of the far right," (sic) - Jordan Huxley.

Mr Huxley; might I give you one or two pointers before you pen your next letter? Above all, I would suggest that you firstly check your facts very carefully before going ahead. As any biography (or even the Wikipedia article) of Josiah Wedgwood would tell you, the man died in 1795, five years shy of seeing in the nineteenth century.

Secondly, Josiah Wedgwood was one of the most prominent advocates for the abolition of slavery. The famous anti-slavery medallion of a chained slave on his knees bearing the caption, Am I Not A Man And A Brother? is one of the most well-known images of the eighteenth century abolitionist movement. It was produced by Wedgwood. No wonder his descendant finds Jordan Huxley's remark, "deeply offensive."

The slightest amount of research yields a huge amount of information about Josiah Wedgwood. His story is not obscure or hard to come by; he is well documented, as such an innovative and remarkable figure should be. Jordan Huxley's views on local politics are as valid as anybody else's and I would never question his right to air his opinion. What I take exception to is his disregard of well-known fact, be it knowingly or not. It's an unsound and unsupportable way to put forward an argument, and unfortunately ends up falling flat...

For Tom Wedgwood's letter, click here.

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