Richard Bell

Richard Bell was born at Merthyr Tydfil in 1859. He joined the Great Western Railway Company in 1876. Bell was active in the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants and became organizing secretary of the union in 1893. Five years later he was elected General Secretary of the railway union.

Bell was selected as the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) candidate for Derby. In the 1900 General ElectionBell joined James Keir Hardie as the two LRC members of the House of Commons. However, once in Parliament, Richard Bell associated himself with the Liberal Party.

Bell was replaced by another railwayman, Jimmy Thomas, at the 1910 General Election . After leaving the House of Commons, Bell joined the Employment Exchange branch of the Board of Trade. Bell retired from the Board of Trade in 1920 but continued in local politics and served as a member of the Southgate Urban District Council (1922-29). Richard Bell died on 1st May, 1930.

Richard Bell

Prof. Bell has published two books. The first, a monograph titled We Shall Be No More: Suicide and Self-Government in the Newly United States, examines the role that discourse regarding self-destruction played in the cultural formation of the early republic. The second work, Buried Lives: Incarcerated in Early America, a co-edited volume of essays centered on the experience of incarcerated subjects and citizens in early America, is the product of a conference organized at the McNeil Center in 2009. Prof. Bell is currently at work upon a new book-length micro-history. The project is titled “The Lost Boys: A Story of Slavery and Justice on the Reverse Underground Railroad,” and is under contract with Simon & Schuster. Prof. Bell is also the author of several journal articles, most recently in the Journal of the Early Republic, Early American Literature, Slavery and Abolition, and History Compass.

Prof. Bell has held research fellowships at more than a dozen libraries and institutes. Since 2006 he has served as the Mellon Fellow in American History at Cambridge University, the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society, a Mayer Fellow at the Huntington Library, a Research Fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Abolition and Resistance at Yale University and as a Resident Fellow at the John W Kluge at the Library of Congress. He is also a frequent lecturer and debater on the C-Span television network.

Prof. Bell is the recipient of more than a dozen teaching awards, including the 2017 University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor for teaching faculty in the Maryland state system. He is also one of the conveners of the Washington Area Early American Seminar, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Maryland Historical Society, and the Chair of the UMD United Kingdom Fellowships Committee. He lives in University Park, MD, with his wife and two daughters.

Early America American history to 1865 American Revolution Early Republic history of violence in America history of suicide history of slavery, abolition and resistance history of print communication

Dr Richard Thomas Bell

My interests are in the interaction of social and economic change with political conflict in early modern Britain. I am currently completing a project on the history of imprisonment in early modern England, exploring how straining credit networks, swelling inmate populations and political upheaval reshaped early modern prisons and their social worlds, and the political resonances this had within and beyond the prison walls.

I have also worked on religious radicalism during the English Revolution and on the Manuscript Pamphleteering in Early Stuart England project at the University of Birmingham. In addition, I am developing a new project exploring everyday experiences of the early modern state, based on testimony from across the social spectrum, and the ways in which they shaped popular political consciousness.

Research Interests

  • The history of imprisonment
  • The early modern state and society
  • Popular politics, social relations and interpersonal conflict

I am currently working on a book provisionally titled Imprisonment in Early Modern England: Politics, Debt and Carceral Societies, which will offer new insight into both the nature of early modern society and the origins of modern carceral practices. It reveals that from the mid-sixteenth century, England was an increasingly carceral society the threat of imprisonment for debt loomed over social relations defined by personal credit as economic change led to rising social instability and civil litigation. Anxiety over financial ruin, public shame and loss of liberty became the stuff of everyday life. Exploring the significance of this phenomenon, I will uncover the prison’s internal social structures, its place within wider society and its role in political conflict. In addition, this book will provide a much-needed early modern perspective to histories of imprisonment. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century developments solidified a new logic of imprisonment as a vital tool of social order, much of which persisted even as prisons were reformed into the principal mode of criminal punishment. Thus, I reveal how straining credit networks, swelling inmate populations and political upheaval reshaped early modern prisons and their social worlds, and the resonances this had within and beyond the prison walls.

I am also beginning a new project on how everyday experiences of state and political authority shaped early modern popular politics. Using testimonies of interactions with social institutions as diverse as guilds, courts, assizes, sheriffs and church officers, I will investigate how men and women across the social spectrum explicitly described encounters with the early modern state in the years leading up to English Revolution. By asking how people engaged with, thought about and sometimes pushed back against the tendrils of the decentralised state, I will test the extent, limits and ambiguities of personal participation and negotiation with institutional authority. As with my work on prisoners, I will explore how conceptions of political authority, exposed in everyday interactions with the state, intersected with political debates about rights, authority and governance that dominated seventeenth-century England.

Richard Bell: Hamilton, the Founders, and Democracy

Would you like to be the smartest Hamilton fan in town? Then don’t miss Dr. Richard Bell and “Hamilton, the Founders, and Democracy” on Thursday, October 1.

Prepare to clutch your pearls, because real-life Alexander Hamilton barely knew Aaron Burr during the Revolutionary War, and their duel didn’t really occur until four years after the election of 1800. But don’t cancel your subscription to Disney+ just yet. After all, the truth should never get in the way of a good musical—and Dr. Richard Bell has so much more to offer than just the facts.

Important note about the tickets: Series package includes access to all 1pm and 7pm lectures. Lecture times may vary, so check each date before you purchase.

About Richard Bell

Dr. Richard Bell is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland. He holds a BA from the University of Cambridge and a PhD from Harvard University. Bell has won more than a dozen teaching awards. He has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress, and received the National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar award. His latest book is Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home.

People in Parkas

You wouldn’t guess that it was midsummer from the way people are dressed in waterproofs, parkas and high vis jackets this afternoon on the windswept precinct behind the town hall in Ossett.

Figures drawn as I waited in the hairdressers. Watercolour added later from memory, but for most of the people I could remember that as the colour seemed as if it was a part of the character, as much as the way they walked.

Biographical/historical note

Born in Manteo, North Carolina, Richard C. "Dick" Bell attended the NC State School of Design, graduating in 1950. After an internship with Simons and Simons Landscape Architects in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bell won the Prix de Rome. During his career as a landscape architect in Raleigh he designed the Brickyard (University Plaza) at NC State University, Pullen Park in Raleigh, and the amphitheater at Meredith College. He also designed his office complex, called the Water Garden.

Richard Bell

‘Never send to know for whom the bell tolls It tolls for thee.’ (John Donne, 1624).

‘Toll’ is a curious word, an imposed cost, a price, an expense, a demand, a payment, a tariff, an impost, a tax … but it’s also the sound a bell makes … and here it’s the voice of Richard Bell, who, along with all other first nation peoples, is paying a heavy toll indeed – one imposed by a redundant colonial mindset.

As an Australian-born person of European heritage, I’m embarrassed by the insulting Union Jack in the corner of our national flag and the silly colonial apron strings of having in place a Governor General, the Queen’s representative in Australia. I can’t even begin to imagine the hurt, humiliation and disgust disenfranchised blackfellas must feel the insufferable toll they’ve paid for colonisation. These are insurmountably complex issues impossible to do any real justice to in my feeble essay, so I’m making a few cursory observations only.

Bell proposed a monumental artwork to the Australia Council for the Arts, with the support and stewardship of Aboriginal curator Clothilde Bullen, to represent Australia at the 2019 Venice Biennale. ‘My proposal is critiquing the processes and inner workings of the art world, that’s what I do,’ Bell said.

It is titled ‘We Don’t Really Need This/EMBASSY: BELL Invites’ and staged in two locations, the Australian Pavilion in La Giardini and the island of Certosa. I asked Bell why Venice was important to him and what he expected his proposal to achieve. He said, ‘It’s important for the validation of my work, being able to represent my country on the international stage and to bring more attention to the issues I’m discussing in my work. I expected it would be an irresistible prop for visitors to appropriate, tapping into the current vogue for “selfies” being a social media hit, hopefully going viral.’

The proposal was not successful as the officially commissioned artwork for the 2019 Biennale. That honour was given to the Sydney/Paris based video, installation and performance artist, Angelica Mesiti. Her appointment is the first since contentious selection rules were introduced last year. These apparently stemmed from a directive of the Venice Biennale themselves that the commissioning must be entirely from within the Australia Council, so as to preclude any perception of favour by vested interests. Wondering if missing out on being commissioned for Venice made him feel hard done by, I asked Bell, who replied, ‘Gee I don’t have much time to think about that. I actually do stuff, rather than dwell on things. I try to have a positive approach and not get caught up in negativity. It’s something that took me a long time to learn.’

The first and major component of his proposal is ‘We Don’t Really Need This’, an architectural intervention imposed on the existing Australian Pavilion by wrapping it in chains and thus excluding entry. Chains are heavily loaded devices in an artwork (or reality) they are used to hold things in place, such as a ship at anchor, as a lifting device or in the Australian bush in a process inanely referred to as ‘pulling scrub’ dragging a long length of heavy anchor chain between two bulldozers and brutalising the native landscape, as only foolish white men would. Chains are used to restrain a dog or other animal, and more darkly they are synonymous with immobilisation of people, incarceration or slavery.

While the Pavilion is shut down, a conversation about matters beyond the confines of the Venice Biennale must ensue. In consumer culture it’s well known the best way to generate desire is to create exclusivity. There is a void inside we all know it exists, but it is inaccessible. It’s an embodiment of the emptiness that must fill the hearts of all Aboriginal peoples who’ve been colonised and dispossessed, an emptiness that is palpable when you think about it for long.

In an art historical context, the mocked-up images of Bell’s proposal suggest Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum, Berlin, 2001, that exhibits the social, political and cultural history of the Jews in Germany. Here, diagonal lines criss-cross the exterior design of its architecture representating the railway tracks that ferried people to Nazi death camps. Bell’s vision also invokes Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s wrapped Reichstag in Berlin, 1995, and Pont-Neuf in Paris, 1985, or Santiago Sierra’s ‘Wall Enclosing a Space’, Venice Biennale, 2003. For this, Sierra bricked up the entrance to the Spanish pavilion, prohibiting entry to all who didn’t hold a Spanish passport, thus bringing into question the idea of a homogenous egalitarian gathering of sovereign states celebrating fine art as an international family at the Biennale.

‘EMBASSY: BELL Invites’ was originally proposed to be installed on the island of Certosa concurrent with the pavilion work, as a companion artwork previously shown at but not limited to Monash University Museum of Art in 2013 Performa 15, New York City in 2015 the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 2016. It’s an homage to and continuing conversation with the original Aboriginal Embassy of Australia Day 1972, when four young men erected a beach umbrella on the lawns outside Parliament House in Canberra and put up a sign, which read ‘Aboriginal Embassy’.

‘EMBASSY: BELL Invites’ will present a political program that will be developed into the next installment in another location, around themes of Indigenous sovereignty, forced migration, and the effects of late capitalism. Professor Gary Foley has written: ‘Bell’s Aboriginal Embassy project is in certain ways in keeping with the politically educative nature of much of his other work and the theatrical and artistic aspects of the 1972 Embassy.’

From an outsider’s perspective, Bell appears to be a provocateur of the staid and timid, applied at times with a wicked sense of humour. He’s a passionate and deeply sensitive Aboriginal man disappointed by the mediocrity of society, understandably disappointed at the snail’s pace of advancement for equity and recognition of his sovereign people, the lie of terra nullius, and the twin insults of restrictions placed on freedom of Aboriginal communities via the Federal Government’s Intervention of 2007 and its Basics Card of 2017.

A hard-working and deep-thinking artist, Bell freely admits he’s discriminatory and matter of fact, a man with the courage of his convictions. He makes purposeful sweeping generalisations about whitefellas and the colonial mindset, a conscious provocation. Some people may consider that racist, but he says, ‘To be racist you have to be in a position of power.’

We talked about how he is pigeonholed as ‘an angry, bitter, old man’ (as he facetiously puts it). Quite simply it isn’t true I found him a nice bloke and it doesn’t take long talking with him for this to become apparent. Bell was bemused by the irony of the suggestion that he could be thought of as being in an empowered position, via his prominent art practice. The art world is a very precipitous world to inhabit, and it’s a position he doesn’t take lightly.

For some reason, considering Richard Bell’s practice I’m reminded of Eddie Murphy in the classic film 48 Hours (1982). Armed with a borrowed police badge he confronts a cowboy in a redneck bar saying, ‘You know what I am? I’m your worst fuckin’ nightmare man, a nigger with a badge.’

For me, Richard Bell embodies that attitude … confrontational, intelligent, fearlessly critical, a spokesman for his brothers in and out of the art world … but he’s not acting!

Biographical/historical note

Born in Manteo, North Carolina, Richard C. "Dick" Bell attended the NC State School of Design, graduating in 1950. After an internship with Simons and Simons Landscape Architects in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bell won the Prix de Rome. During his career as a landscape architect in Raleigh he designed the Brickyard (University Plaza) at NC State University, Pullen Park in Raleigh, and the amphitheater at Meredith College. He also designed his office complex, called the Water Garden.


This “superbly researched and engaging” (The Wall Street Journal) true story about five boys who were kidnapped in the North and smuggled into slavery in the Deep South—and their daring attempt to escape and bring their captors to justice belongs “alongside the work of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edward P. Jones, and Toni Morrison” (Jane Kamensky, Professor of American History at Harvard University).

Philadelphia, 1825: five young, free black boys fall into the clutches of the most fearsome gang of kidnappers and slavers in the United States. Lured onto a small ship with the promise of food and pay, they are instead met with blindfolds, ropes, and knives. Over four long months, their kidnappers drive them overland into the Cotton Kingdom to be sold as slaves. Determined to resist, the boys form a tight brotherhood as they struggle to free themselves and find their way home.

Their ordeal—an odyssey that takes them from the Philadelphia waterfront to the marshes of Mississippi and then onward still—shines a glaring spotlight on the Reverse Underground Railroad, a black market network of human traffickers and slave traders who stole away thousands of legally free African Americans from their families in order to fuel slavery’s rapid expansion in the decades before the Civil War.

“Rigorously researched, heartfelt, and dramatically concise, Bell’s investigation illuminates the role slavery played in the systemic inequalities that still confront Black Americans” (Booklist).

New Article By Professor Richard Bell In The Journal Of The Early Republic

"Counterfeit Kin: Kidnappers of Color, the Reverse Underground Railroad, and the Origins of Practical Abolition", an article by Professor Richard Bell, is featured in the Summer 2018 volume of the Journal of the Early Republic.

This article examines the roles of black and mixed-race operatives in the criminal human trafficking networks that kidnapped and consigned to slavery thousands of free people of color in the early nineteenth century. The first section explores the distinctive abilities, modus operandi, and motivations of these unexpected and largely overlooked conductors on this Reverse Underground Railroad. The second section triangulates their behavior not only against that of confidence men and counterfeiters working in the shadows of the emerging capitalist economy in the early republic, but also in relationship to that of the many African-descended men and women in the long history of American slavery whose actions thwarted other black people's dreams of liberty. The final section interrogates the distinctive ways in which free black families, neighborhoods, and communities responded to the threat posed by kidnappers of color. It argues that the efforts of black urban dwellers to publicly denounce, promptly apprehend, and violently punish by extralegal means these pernicious predators served to elaborate a new form of direct antislavery action, an early and formative species of the sort of "practical abolition' activities more typically associated with the aftermath of the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.

Watch the video: Πέντε Πιθηκάκια Μικρά + 10 Παιδικά Τραγούδια. Zouzounia Baby (January 2022).