Sue Young Histories

John Stuart Mill 1806 - 1873

August 19, 2008

John Stuart Mill 1806 – 1873 British philosopher, political economist, civil servant and Member of Parliament, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. He was an exponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham, although his conception of it was very different from Jeremy Bentham‘s.

John Stuart Mill was a friend of Edwin Chadwick and John Chapman, and he was a friend of homeopaths Jean Barthelemy Arles Dufour and James John Garth Wilkinson (Frederic Harold Young, The philosophy of Henry James, Sr, (Bookman Associates, 1951). Page 5). John Stuart Mill knew many homeopathic advocates and supporters.

In 1836, John Stuart Mill took over_ The Westminster Review_ and merged it with The London Review. As proprietor of _ The Westminster Review_, John Stuart Mill used the journal to support those politicians such as Thomas Wakley (the founding editor of The Lancet who was a friend of homeopath John Epps), Joseph Brotherton, a Swedenborgian (based on the works of Emanuel Swedenborg), and vegetarian radical, Thomas Slingsby Duncombe (who was also a friend of homeopath John Epps)and Thomas Attwood (who attended the Water Cure at Malvern under Edward Johnson), who were advocating further reform of the House of Commons.

John Stuart Mill was a passionate defender of Human Rights and he spoke out forcefully against slavery.

John Chapman worked for _ The Westminster Review_ under John Stuart Mill before John Chapman purchased _ The Westminster Review_ in 1851.

John Stuart Mill was a friend of John Chapman and he wrote for _ The Westminster Review_, as did his wife:

It was one of these that first attracted the attention of Mrs. John Stuart Mill, and drew from her pen that able article on The Enfranchisement of Woman in _ The Westminster Review_ of October, 1852.

The Westminster Review was founded in 1823 by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill as a quarterly journal for philosophical radicals, and was published from 1824 to 1914.

In 1851 the journal was acquired by John Chapman based at 142 the Strand, London, a publisher who originally had medical training. The then unknown Mary Ann Evans, later better known by her pen name of George Eliot, had brought together his authors, including Francis William Newman, William Rathbone Greg, Harriet Martineau and the young journalist Herbert Spencer who had been working and living cheaply in the offices of The Economist opposite John Chapman’s house.

These authors met during that summer to give their support to this flagship of free thought and reform, joined by others including John Stuart Mill, William Benjamin Carpenter, Robert Chambers and George Jacob Holyoake. They were later joined by Thomas Henry Huxley, an ambitious young ship’s surgeon determined to become a naturalist.

George Eliot became assistant editor and produced a four page prospectus setting out their common beliefs in progress, ameliorating ills and rewards for talent, setting out a loosely defined evolutionism as “the fundamental principle” of what she and John Chapman called the “Law of Progress”.

John Stuart Mill also had many friends who were advocates and supporters of homeopathy. He was a friend of Thomas Carlyle, was a patient of homeopath James Manby Gully and a friend of homeopaths Robert Masters Theobald and James John Garth Wilkinson. John Stuart Mill was also a friend of William Benjamin Carpenter, and his intimate friend Alexander Bain, wrote for the Westminster Review under the editorship of John Stuart Mill and under the editorship of John Chapman.

John Stuart Mill was close to Herbert Spencer who first entered into publication through publisher and homeopath John Chapman and George Eliot, and his close friend Edwin Chadwick, the sub editor of The Examiner, took the Water Cure at Malvern under homeopath James Manby Gully. Edwin Chadwick also wrote for _ The Westminster Review_ under Jeremy Bentham.

In the 1865 General Election John Stuart Mill was invited to stand as the Radical candidate for the Westminster seat in Parliament. In the House of Commons John Stuart Mill campaigned with Henry Fawcett and Peter Alfred Taylor for parliamentary reform, and in 1866 presented the petition organised by Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, Emily Davies, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Dorothea Beale in favour of women’s suffrage.

John Stuart Mill, added an amendment to the 1867 Reform Act that would give women the same political rights as men. However, the amendment was defeated by 196 votes to 73. John Stuart Mill’s attacks on colonialism in the West Indies made him unpopular and he was defeated in the 1868 General Election.

John Stuart Mill wrote to August Comte 15.6.1843:

it does not appear to me that medical science has reached a sufficient state of positive perfection for freedom of conscience to cease operating in the realm of ideas

John Stuart Mill also wrote:

Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.


The people, consequently, may desire to oppress a part of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this, as against any other abuse of power.

John Stuart Mill calls this type of power:

the “tyranny of majority” when the majority oppresses the minority by their decisions which could be harmful and wrong sometimes. As he writes, that tyranny of majority “is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities.

John Stuart Mill advised that we should stretch out our minds into the strange shapes of opposing arguments.

Harriet Taylor Mill (née Harriet Hardy) 1807 – 1858 was a philosopher and women’s rights advocate.

She was an original member of the Kensington Society that produced the first petition requesting votes for women.

Taylor also took part in the agitation for women to be allowed to take part in local government and after the passing of the 1870 Education Act served as a member of the London School Board.

Her extant corpus of writing is very small, and she is largely remembered for her influence, which he said was very great, on her second husband, John Stuart Mill, one of the pre eminent thinkers of the 19th century.

Harriet Taylor Mill also wrote for the Westminster Review, and did her daughter Helen Taylor.


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