Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business

Overview

At the turn of the twentieth century, Cadbury Bros., Ltd., was a successful, Quaker-owned chocolate manufacturer in Birmingham, England, known as much for its model village, modern factory, and well-publicized concern for its employees as for the quality of its chocolates. In 1901, the firm learned that its cocoa beans, purchased from Portuguese plantations on the island of Sao Tome off West Africa, were produced by slave labor. While the company engaged in protracted investigations and fact-finding missions, the...
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Overview

At the turn of the twentieth century, Cadbury Bros., Ltd., was a successful, Quaker-owned chocolate manufacturer in Birmingham, England, known as much for its model village, modern factory, and well-publicized concern for its employees as for the quality of its chocolates. In 1901, the firm learned that its cocoa beans, purchased from Portuguese plantations on the island of Sao Tome off West Africa, were produced by slave labor. While the company engaged in protracted investigations and fact-finding missions, the British press, fueled by eyewitness accounts of brutal working conditions and images of shackled and bloodied slaves, began to level charges of profiting from human misery.

Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business recounts the events surrounding the libel trial in which Cadbury Bros. sued the Standard of London over the newspaper's accusation that the firm was hypocritical in its use of slave-grown cocoa. Lowell J. Satre's story probes the issues of globalization, corporate social responsibility, journalistic sensationalism, and devious diplomacy at a time when Western industrialized society was beginning to ask whether some cheap goods might not have too high a cost.

Based on meticulous research and written in clear and elegant prose, Chocolate on Trial is the first book about a landmark trial that laid bare the interplay of politics, labor, and social activism in the wake of imperialism and the globalizing economy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is a well-written, marvelously researched, and utterly fascinating study of an episode in the social, political, economic, and even religious history of imperial Britain.”
— Thomas C. Kennedy, author of British Quakerism, 1860–1920: The Transformation of a Religious Community

“Lowell Satre has written a fascinating book that addresses a question perennial to modern day commercial economies where complex chains of supply are at the root of production.... Satre's work is invaluable for identifying the context of today's problems, the significance of law, and strategies for mobilization.”
Law and History Review

“Satre’s story-telling ability is maintained to the very last page.... The author handles the impressive breadth of government, business, journalistic and private primary sources and evidence in a controlled and balanced way.... Satre deftly exposes the firm in this nuanced social and political history.”
Journal of African History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780821416259
  • Publisher: Ohio University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2005
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,176,993
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Lowell J. Satre is professor of history emeritus at Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio. He is author of Thomas Burt, Miners' MP, 1837-1922: The Great Conciliator.

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Table of Contents

1 Henry W. Nevinson and modern slavery 1
2 The firm of Cadbury and the world of slave labor 13
3 Portugal and West Africa 33
4 Evidence amassed 53
5 Joseph Burtt's report 73
6 Careful steps and concern - or dragging feet and hypocrisy? 100
7 Defending reputations 124
8 Cadbury Bros., Ltd. v. The Standard Newspaper, Ltd. 149
9 The verdict 175
10 Humanitarians, the foreign office, and Portugal, 1910-1914 183
11 The aftermath 208
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