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John Stuart Mill

Mill left no systematic legacy— there is no "Millism." But 200 years after his birth, his liberalism is still relevant. And Britain's greatest ever public intellectual was often surprisingly contrarian

By Richard Reeves   May 2006

In May 1873, the British establishment was shaken by a bitter row. It concerned the legacy of John Stuart Mill, who had just died. The Times had printed an obituary which was an exercise in posthumous character assassination. It was written by Abraham Hayward, a Tory lawyer and fierce critic of liberals, feminists and philosophers. Mill (who was guilty on all three counts) had been a target of Hayward’s vitriol ever since the two had faced each other in the London Debating Society half a century earlier and Mill, in the words of one observer, had “gone over Hayward as…

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