Record

CodeNA9213
Dates1879-1923
Person NameMaclean; John (1879-1923)
SurnameMaclean
ForenamesJohn
ActivityJohn Maclean (1879-1923) was born in Pollockshaws, Renfrewshire on 24 August 1879. He was educated at Pollockshaws Academy and Queen's Park School and took part time and summer jobs. From 1896-1897 he was pupil teacher at Polmadie School and graduated from the Free Church Teachers Training College in 1900. From 1901 he was assistant master at Strathbungo School, Shawlands and studied a part time MA in Political Economy at Glasgow University in his free time. He graduated in 1904 and from 1904-1907 took continuation classes in chemistry, mathematics and physics at Glasgow Technical College. In 1900 he joined Pollockshaws Progressive Union. In 1903 he joined the Social Democratic Federation, a marxist organisation, and in 1905 he was a founding member of the Glasgow Teachers' Socialist Society. In 1906 he was appointed Social Democratic Federation lecturer in economics and held Sunday afternoon classes in Glasgow. When the Scottish Labour College was founded in 1916 Maclean was one of its two paid tutors. He was arrested in September 1915 following a public speech in which he referred to the First World War as 'this murderous business' for 'using language likely to cause a breach of the peace. He was fined and subsequently dismissed from his job by Govan School Board. In November 1915 he took part in the Glasgow Rent Strike and was arrested shortly afterwards and tried for discouraging recruitment to the armed forces and impeding the production of vital war materials. He was found guilty and sentenced to three years penal servitude. He was however, released on the 30 June 1917. The All russian Congress of Workmen's and Soldiers' Councils sent frateranl greetings to Maclean and in Glasgow a mass meeting of workers celebrated his release on 10 July. He was elected honourary president of the First Congress of Soviets and appointed First Bolshevik Consul for Scotland. He was arrested again in April 1918 on the charge of sedition. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years. Whilst in prison he believed that his food was being drugged. His wife, Agnes wrote a letter concerning this to the British Socialist Party and when it was published the public outcry resulted in his release from prison. He was greeted on 3 December 1918 by a reception of workers at Buchanan Street Station. He resumed his educational and propaganda activities. In 1921 he became involved with the unemployment movement and formed and became secretary of the Scottish Provisional Council. In May 1921 he was arrested on charges of sedition including the incitement to revolution and demanding a general strike. He served three months and almost immediately after his release was re-arrested for urging the unemployed to take food if they could not afford it. He was refused bail and went on hunger strike. He was released twelve months later on 25 October 1922. He stood as candidate in a local election at Kinning Park and a General Election in Gorbals, Glasgow, but was defeated. He was arrested once more in April 1923 for breaching the peace, and although found guilty and refusing to pay the fine, the issue was quietly dropped. He died of pneumonia on 30 November 1923. The Glasgow Trades Council raised over £2,000 from all over the world to pay off his debts and the John Maclean Society was formed to popularise his ideas and to preserve his memory.
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