Home Political science British Humanitarianism and the Congo Reform Movement, 1896-1913
A scant 10 percent of the donors gave 76 percent of the money, and the top 25 donors, listed below, accounted for almost half the donations. With the notable exception of Roger Casement, these donors were wealthy people who regularly donated to philanthropic causes.
Table 4.2 The 25 largest donors to the Congo Reform Association
Quakers (?3,205) and manufacturers (?2,918) predominated among the top 25. Quaker cocoa manufacturer William Cadbury’s ?1,241 was almost 10 percent of the CRA’s total funds. His contribution looms even larger considering his personal subsidies to Morel, totaling at least ?2,800 from 1905-12, worth over ?250,000 in 2013 currency. The belief that Cadbury stopped giving the CRA money in favor of subsidies to Morel is incorrect; he donated at least once a year until 1913. William’s cousin Barrow and his uncle George joined him in the top tier, ranking fourth and sixth, respectively. Their Quaker competitor, Joseph Rowntree, was the third most generous. These CRA contributions were only a small fraction of what the Cadburys and Rowntrees spent on philanthropic causes, religious activities, the peace movement, and social activism. For example, George and Richard Cadbury were the main financial backers of the Free Church Council movement, contributing ?1,200 annually.
William Cadbury’s generosity to Morel and the CRA has raised questions about his motives. Cadbury Brothers bought its cocoa from the Portuguese colonies of Sao Tome and Principe for a decade after learning that the plantation workers were essentially enslaved. William Cadbury spent years gathering information and working with the Portuguese government to remedy the situation at a pace which drew criticism from Fox Bourne and others. Cadbury’s desire to remain in the background of the Congo reform movement, which he explicitly tied to the cocoa controversy, and Morel’s public belittling of the cocoa slavery issue raised suspicions that Cadbury used Congo reform and Morel to deflect attention from his own dubious ethical situation. Morel failed to observe that he had a conflict of interest, writing Cadbury privately that a boycott was inevitable but defending his patron publicly, due to his Congo focus, his personal affection for Cadbury, and his financial dependence on him. Lowell Satre concludes that Cadbury was well meaning but cautious, slow to act, and too willing to accept the Foreign Office’s advice and Portuguese assurances. After traveling to the islands himself, he decided to organize a boycott, not much consolation to the Africans abducted while he had delayed. Cadbury’s support of Morel and the CRA seems to have been sincere and not a ruse to deflect attention, though the Congo agitation had that effect.
The second largest CRA donor was William A. Albright, a partner in the Birmingham chemical manufacturing firm of Albright and Wilson. A Quaker, Albright had been active on the Anti-Slavery Society’s Committee since 1898. Unlike the chocolate manufacturers, who remained in the background, Albright joined the CRA Executive Committee.
At fifth place was the leading female donor, philanthropist Katherine Thomasson, niece of the nineteenth-century Quaker reformer John Bright. Her late husband, John P. Thomasson, had made his fortune spinning cotton in Bolton and served as an MP. Before his death in 1904, he was the APS’s largest donor and supported women’s suffrage, labour rights, and land reform. His fortune, one of Britain’s largest, was valued at ?1,159,000 at his death, or over ?100,000,000 in 2013 money. Although John and Katherine became Unitarians, their patterns of philanthropy had much in common with the Quaker manufacturing families.
Sir William Pickles Hartley, a Methodist jam manufacturer and wholesale grocer, had pledged a third of his income to philanthropy. His CRA donations were a tiny portion of the nearly ?300,000 he gave away before he died in 1922. He financed Morel’s most popular book, Red Rubber.
Thomas Hodgkin, a Quaker historian and retired banker, was an active member of both the APS and the Anti-Slavery Society. His uncle and namesake had discovered Hodgkin’s lymphoma and cofounded the APS.
Two non-Quakers complete the top ten. John Holt was not noted for philanthropy despite his passionate attachment to human rights for Africans; the Congo reform movement was his major philanthropic commitment, through his donations and even larger subsidies for Morel. Holt stopped funding the CRA in 1907 while still subsidizing Morel. Neither Holt’s nor Cadbury’s subsidies to
Morel appeared anywhere in the CRA’s records or publications, making Morel vulnerable to suspicions of secret funding from conniving commercial interests.
Lord Monkswell, CRA President (1906-09), was the tenth largest donor. Though not a Quaker himself, Monkswell was the scion of a long line of Quakers. His CRA work awakened his humanitarian spirit, leading him to become Chairman of the amalgamated British and Foreign Anti-Slavery and Aborigines’ Protection Society in 1909.
Among the next 15 donors, three were notable exceptions to the dominant theme of wealthy English Nonconformist philanthropists. Roger Casement, an Irishman of no independent means, donated the CRA’s first ?100. Ludwig Deuss, a Hamburg merchant married to an African, donated ?100 during one of the CRA’s many hours of need, plus smaller sums later. The Earl of Lonsdale, Hugh Cecil Lowther, was the most unusual individual large donor of all. Not known for philanthropy, he was a bon vivant and a sportsman famous for a failed attempt to reach the North Pole. Donating ?125 made only a small dent in his ?80,000 annual allowance, but as an aristocrat he was notable for having donated at all. A mere 15 aristocrats donated in their own names to the CRA, and only Monkswell gave more.
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