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Orchardson, Ian Kipkerui (1970) Sir William Mackinnon, Shipowner, 1823-1893. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is a study of Sir William Mackinnon as a shipowner and as a man who played an important part in opening East Africa to British influence. By shrewdness and good fortune he took advantage of the dramatic progress in communications, which was part of the Industrial Revolution, and he built up a shipping company which became a major trading concern in the Indian Ocean. Under the influence of humanitarian ideas, and particularly those of David Livingstone, he felt a duty to use some of his wealth to improve the lot of less fortunate people and so he engaged in various commercial and philanthropic enterprises in Africa, and the company which he founded there towards the end of his life made a substantial contribution to British colonisation in East Africa. He became supreme as a shipowner, and his business acumen was undoubted, but his involvement in international affairs exposed his weakness as a politician and as an administrator. In the whirlpool of the scramble for Africa he was out of his depth beside the political giants of the time. The Mackinnon Papers, which were the most important source of information for this thesis, reveal Mackinnon as a man of rather narrow outlook, but deep religious convictions who believed that good works received their just reward. Compared with many of his contemporaries, who were involved with Africa, such as Henry Morton Stanley, Cecil Rhodes and King Leopold of Belgium, he was not very imaginative but in his desire to spread the benefits of Christian civilisation he was more sincere and humane.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 16:53

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