John Moss of Otterspool (1782-1858): Railway Pioneer Slave Owner Banker
This is the story of one of Liverpool's leading Georgian / Victorian businessmen. John Moss's dealings impacted on the lives of countless thousands on three continents. The recent discovery of 312 of his letters, unseen for over 150 years, has enabled new light to be shed on a lifetime of achievement.
Moss's work brought him into dialogue with some of the greatest politicians of his day. Sir John Gladstone, William Ewart Gladstone, Sir Robert Peel, the Duke of Wellington, William Huskisson, William Wilberforce, William Roscoe and many more feature in this beautifully written biography.
As the first chairman of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, Moss was one of the pioneers who eventually established the supremacy of railways over canals. Working alongside the great engineers George Stephenson and Joseph Locke, he played a major part in bringing a national rail network into being and in exporting the same business model to Continental Europe.
As the owner of 1,000 slaves, Moss had to react quickly to the mounting anti-slavery legislation which eventually brought about emancipation. Thereafter, with labour in short supply, he and John Gladstone shipped paid workers all the way from India to their West Indian sugar plantations; an immensely controversial act which proved the ultimate solution to the problem.
For more than 50 years, Moss guided his internationally renowned bank through chaotic financial times which make the credit crunch of the 2000s look like a storm in a tea cup.