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John Maclean


John Maclean

John Maclean, the second youngest of seven children, was born in Pollockshaws, Glasgow in 1879. John did well at school and although his widowed mother was extremely poor, she was determined that he would have a good education. In 1896 he became a pupil-teacher and later entered the Free Church Teacher Training College.

After graduating in 1900, Maclean became a teacher in Glasgow. He also studied part time for an MA at Glasgow University where he met James Maxton. The two men were both committed socialists and over the next few years worked together on numerous campaigns. Maclean joined the Social Democratic Federation and the Glasgow Teacher's Socialist Society and was active in the trade union and co-operative movements.

Maclean was also a pacifist and during the First World War Maclean played a prominent role in the peace campaign. Maclean and James Maxton were both arrested and charged with sedition. Found guilty, the men served over a year in prison. Maclean was arrested again soon after his release and was sentenced to five years for sedition. He was sent to Peterhead Prison but following a mass protest he was released after only serving six months.

After the war Maclean formed the Tramp Trust Unlimited, an organisation that campaigned for a minimum wage, a six-hour day and full wages for the unemployed. He also established the Scottish Workers' Republican Party (SWRP) but in the municipal elections held in November 1923, none of the twelve SWRP candidates came anywhere near victory. Even Maclean only polled 623 votes out of a total of 8,190. Weakened by poor health and his spells in prison, John Maclean died in 1923.