“This is a well-written, marvelously researched, and utterly fascinating study of an episode in the social, political, economic, and even religious history of imperial Britain.”
Thomas C. Kennedy, author of British Quakerism, 1860–1920: The Transformation of a Religious Community
“Lowell Satre has written a fascinating book that addresses a question perennial to modern day commercial economies where complex chains of supply are at the root of production.... Satre's work is invaluable for identifying the context of today's problems, the significance of law, and strategies for mobilization.”
Law and History Review
“Satre’s story-telling ability is maintained to the very last page.... The author handles the impressive breadth of government, business, journalistic and private primary sources and evidence in a controlled and balanced way.... Satre deftly exposes the firm in this nuanced social and political history.”
Journal of African History
At the turn of the twentieth century, Cadbury Bros. Ltd. was a successful, Quaker-owned chocolate manufacturer in Birmingham, England, celebrated for its model village, modern factory, and concern for employees. In 1901 the firm learned that its cocoa beans, purchased from Portuguese plantations on the island of São Tomé off West Africa, were produced by slave labor.
Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business is a lively and highly readable account of the events surrounding the libel trial in which Cadbury Bros. sued the London Standard over the newspaper’s accusation that the firm was hypocritical in its use of slave-grown cocoa. Lowell J. Satre probes issues as compelling now as they were a century ago: globalization, corporate social responsibility, journalistic sensationalism, and devious diplomacy.
Satre illuminates the stubborn persistence of the institution of slavery and shows how Cadbury, a company with a well-regarded brand name from the nineteenth century, faced ethical dilemmas and challenges to its record for social responsibility. Chocolate on Trial brings to life the age-old conflict between economic interests and regard for the dignity of human life.
Lowell J. Satre is emeritus professor of history at Youngstown State University, in Youngstown, Ohio. He is author of Thomas Burt, Miners’ MP, 1837–1922: The Great Conciliator. More info →
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The first decades of the twentieth century were years of dramatic change in Zanzibar, a time when the social, economic, and political lives of island residents were in incredible flux, framed by the abolition of slavery, the introduction of colonialism, and a tide of urban migration.
In our time, we require a religion, ethics, and politics adequate to confront the global crises we face. In our scientific era of “progress,” we might expect to look with confidence to the “scientific” disciplines of political science, sociology, and economics to solve the problems of our civilization. We might also look to the older disciplines of religion and ethics to determine our values and to tell us what we ought to do.
The abolition of the slave trade is normally understood to be the singular achievement of eighteenth-century British liberalism. Abolitionism and Imperialism in Britain, Africa, and the Atlantic expands both the temporal and the geographic framework in which the history of abolitionism is conceived.
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