John Stuart Mill

20 May 1806 - 8 May 1873

He was born at No. 13, Rodney Street, Islington, London, when it was still largely rural, in what is now known as the Pentonville Road. Mill, Place, Bentham, Grote, Roebuck, and Molesworth are listed by G. J. Holyoake as being "leaders of the great Utilitarian party".

"One night when a great Reform League meeting was held in the Agricultural Hall, Islington, I accompanied him from the House of Commons to it. There were rumours of danger in attending it. This did not deter him. The meeting itself was ill spoken of by the press still he went. The crowd about the place made it perilous for one so fragile-looking as he, to force a way in. He never hesitated to try it. When we arrived on the thronged platform, it was a struggle to get to the front. The vast amphitheatre, with its distant lights and dense crowds the horsepit presenting a valley of faces, the higher ground hills of men, the iron rafters overhead were alive with hearers who had climbed there was a strange Miltonic scene. No sooner did the stout voice of Manton which alone all could hear announce the arrival of Mr. Mill than every man was silent; though few would catch the low, wise, brave words he uttered. Afterwards I returned to the House of Commons with him, he being interested in an expected division. The Islington meeting that night had been denounced as illegal. He went to justify the right of public meeting by his presence, and to share the responsibility of those who convened it. What man eminent as a thinker, save he, or Mr. John Morley, would incur the odium, peril, and discomfort of attending, for such a purpose, a workman's meeting such as that?" [Holyoake]

Mr. Mill's success in Parliament was greater than that of any philosopher who has entered in our time. Unfortunately, very few philosophers go there. Mr. Mill was a chartmaker in logic, in social economy, and in politics. None before him did what he did, and no successor has exceeded him. By his protest against the "subjection of women," he brought half the human race into the province of politics and progress. They have not all appeared there as yet but they are on the way. Giving the vote has, if we may paraphrase the words of Shakespeare; put into "Every man's hands The means to cancel his captivity." It is no mean thing to have done this. There is no reason for misgiving here. If the people misuse or neglect to use their power, the fault is their own. There is no one to reproach but themselves. [Holyoake]

In his autobiography Mill wrote that "Whoever, either now or hereafter, may think of me and my work I have done, must never forget that it is the product not of one intellect and conscience but of three, the least considerable of whom, and above all the least original, is the one whose name is attached to it." His collaborators being his wife Harriet Taylor (1807 - 1858) and after her death his step daughter Helen Taylor (1831 - 1907). [Spartacus]

His main works were: A System of Logic (1843), Principles of Political Economy (1848), On Liberty (1859), Considerations on Representative Government (1861), Utilitarianism (1861) and The Subjection of Women (1869). There is a memorial to J. S. Mill on the Thames Embankment.


Sources and Links


Gerald Massey Holyoake, Bygones, Chapters XXI and XXII
Spartacus Schoolnet" biography
Wikipedia biography
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Library of Economics and Liberty biography
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy biography
Utilitarianism biography
Bristol University, History of Economics many links