23rd July 1946 - Death of James Maxton

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23rd July 1946 - Death of James Maxton

'The greatest gentleman in the House of Commons.'

So said Winston Churchill upon the death of James Maxton, the man who, more than any other, personified the spirit of ‘Red Clydeside’. 

Born in Pollokshaws on 22 June 1885, Maxton followed in the footsteps of both of his parents by becoming a teacher. He joined the Barrhead branch of the Independent Labour Party in 1904 and became a key figure in the history of the labour movement.

Maxton was a vocal opponent of the First World War and was imprisoned for sedition in 1916, following a speech encouraging Glasgow’s workers to strike. He was elected MP for Bridgeton in 1922 and served its constituents until his death.

Maxton devoted much of his political life to alleviating poverty in Glasgow. His principles, charisma and warmth of personality won him the respect of political friends and foes alike, and his death was mourned across the political spectrum.

Glasgow City Archives holds James Maxton’s personal papers, a fantastic source of information about the man and his contribution to twentieth-century public life, in Glasgow and beyond. 

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​General election leaflet, 1922 (ref: TD956/26/1)

Maxton was driven by a desire to improve conditions for Glasgow’s children, which stemmed from his own circumstances. The birth of Maxton’s son, James, was beset with complications and he required constant care. Maxton’s wife Sissie suffered as a result and died shortly before the 1922 general election.
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​Prison letter from Maxton to his wife Sissie (ref: TD956/4/4.3)

Glasgow City Archives holds many of Maxton’s letters to family, friends and colleagues. These include a number from his time in prison.
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​‘The Bridgeton Biffer v Westminster Walloper’ (ref: TD956)

This cartoon depicts Maxton fighting against the Westminster establishment. Notice the support each ‘boxer’ has in his corner, and from different parts of the watching crowd. It looks like Maxton is winning!
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Arrest warrant for James Maxton and James McDougall (ref: TD956/8/2.2)

This warrant sets out the charges against Maxton and McDougall, following a public meeting at Glasgow Green on 26 March 1916. They were each sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment.
 
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