About this artwork

Archibald Alison was brought up and educated in Edinburgh before becoming a successful lawyer. His true vocation, however, was as a historian and social commentator, in both cases of strongly conservative temper. His mission, he wrote, was 'to oppose the erroneous opinions which, since the French Revolution, had ... overspread the world'. He did this in regular contributions to Blackwood's Magazine and then through his bestselling History of Europe during the French Revolution {1833 and 1842). Although his basic instincts were humanitarian, Alison's strongly conservative social attitudes led him to defend the institution of slavery, from which his own family had benefited considerably. In 1833, after abolition, he received over £4,000 (the equivalent of about £340,000 today) in compensation as trustee for his brother-in-law's Bellevue plantation in St Vincent. Later, at the time of the American Civil War, he became a prominent defender of slave-holding in the American South.

Patric Park

Patric Park