John Bright was born in Baltimore on 1st January 1908. The family moved to Chicago and as a young man he attended the Hobo College on West Madison Street. His teachers included Emma Goldman, Bill Haywood and Ben Reitman and he came under the influence of the Industrial Workers of the World. (1)
Bright then went on to study at the New School for Social Research in New York City. During this period he became involved in the campaign to free Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco. "I was intensely concerned about that case, as millions of people in the world were, and I and the entire faculty and student body of the New School went up to Boston for the last-minute picketing plea to the powers that be... Sacco and Vanzetti were murdered... and I was plunged into a terrible despair, a great and disillusionment with my country." (2)
Bright had a variety of jobs while living in Chicago. This included working in a drugstore and as an assistant to Ben Hecht, a journalist working at the Chicago Daily News. He became friends with Kubec Glasmon who introduced him to Al Capone. Bright was present at a banquet at the Commonwealth Hotel when the gangster ordered the murder of two other criminals. The men were immediately beaten to death with baseball bats in front of Bright.
Bright wanted to be a writer and in October, 1929, he moved to Hollywood with his friend, Kubec Glasmon. The two men wrote a novel, Beer and Blood, about their experiences in Chicago. (3) It failed to find a publisher but it was eventually it was bought by Darryl Zanuck and he told Bright and Glasmon to turn it into a screenplay. He told them that it had too many different characters and stories and to concentrate on Tom Powers and his friend, Matt Doyle. (4)
Public Enemy, with Powers played by James Cagney, was released in 1931. It was an immediate success with the "story of a wisecracking hood who seemed to delight in a violence indelibly stamped the gangster genre". (5) The most remarkable scene in the film was when Cagney smacked Mae Clarke in the face with a cut grapefruit. Bright argued that Cagney arranged to fake the scene because Clarke was suffering from a cold. However, the director, William Wellman, told Cagney: "Jimmy, look, this is the best scene in the picture. This scene will be talked about for a century... It's got to be real, and if it's real this scene will make you one of the biggest stars in the business... You give it to her, really give it to her."
Cagney was in a dilemma - should he double-cross her or not? He finally decided that he had to do it. "So the look on Mae Clarke's face in the film was real. Not only did Jimmy give it to her, but he added something of his own - he twisted the grapefruit. That grapefruit juice was like a razor - it cut into her, giving her agony; her look was one of surprise and betrayal." (6)
Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner, the authors of Radical Hollywood (2002) argue that Bright was one of the first "left-wingers to have an early remarkable impact" on Hollywood. "Both politically and aesthetically, scriptwriter John Bright was... the first important left-wing innovator in Hollywood. The Public Enemy also had the great box office virtue of relating events that the public knew about from the tabloid press, thus blurring boundaries between news and fiction in ways that only the rare literate, socially critical silent films had done earlier." (7)
Most reviewers were highly critical of the film. Time Magazine: "This is not a Hugoesque fable of gangsters fighting among themselves, but a documentary drama of the bandit standing against society. It carries to its ultimate absurdity the fashion for romanticizing gangsters, for even in defeat the public enemy is endowed with grandeur." (8)
The Public Enemy was a great success and the "newspapers had photographs of the lines going all around the block" to see the film". (9) The film earned nearly seven times its production costs, making it the 9th highest grossing film of 1931. This success resulted in Bright worked on a series of films for Hollywood. This included Smart Money (1931), Blonde Crazy (1931), Gentleman for a Day (1932), Taxi! (1932), The Crowd Roars (1932), Three on a Match (1932), If I Had a Million (1932) and She Done Him Wrong (1932).
John Bright later recalled that when he first arrived in Hollywood "there was no left-wing movement at all". He was one of the original four secret members in the Hollywood section of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA). Another early member was John Howard Lawson, who lectured to young actors, telling them that their performances had to advance the class struggle. (10)
Darryl Zanuck eventually became aware that Bright was bringing in politics into his screenplays. He was unhappy when The Nation described Taxi! as a film with "great social significance". Zanuck asked Bright if that was what he intended, he said yes. Zanuck replied: "I'll be a son of a bitch. I thought it was all cops and robbers." Bright's contract was not renewed and he was out of work for several years. (11)
In 1933 Bright joined forces with other left-wing writers to form the Screen Writers Guild (SWG). This included Dorothy Parker, Donald Ogden Stewart, Alan Campbell, Lillian Hellman, Dashiell Hammett, Lester Cole, Paul Green, Gordon Kahn, John Howard Lawson, Samuel Ornitz, Joseph Mankiewicz, Charles Brackett and Philip Dunne. The film studios responded by refusing to hire Guild members and forming a rival organization called the Screen Playwrights.
Later that year Robert F. Wagner, chairman of the National Recovery Administration, introduced a bill to Congress to help protect trade unionists from their employers. With the support of Frances Perkins, the US Secretary of Labor, Wagner's proposals became the National Labor Relations Act. It established a three man National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) empowered to administer the regulation of labour relations in industries engaged in or affecting interstate commerce.
When the Guild appealed to the NLRB, it certified the Guild as the "exclusive bargaining agency" for screenwriters employed by 13 of 18 Hollywood studios, based on elections in which writers chose the Guild over the Screen Playwrights. By 1936 the Screen Writers Guild claimed that it had over a thousand members. (12)
Victor Jerome was the head of the Party's Cultural Commission. For a time, Jerome personally assumed responsibility for the Hollywood branches, "insulating them from the rest of the Party in Los Angeles and keeping them in direct touch with the national leadership". (13) John Howard Lawson ran the Hollywood branch. However, as Victor Navasky, the author of Naming Names (1982) pointed out: "John Howard Lawson, who ran the Hollywood branch, quickly understood that the collective process of movie making precluded the screenwriter, low man on the creative totem pole, from influencing the content of movies." (14)
Jerome was used to defend the actions of Joseph Stalin. He spent a lot of time in Hollywood in the 1930s explaining the Moscow Show Trials, which resulted in the executions of leading figures such as Gregory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Yuri Piatakov, Karl Radek, Grigori Sokolnikov, Nickolai Bukharin, Alexei Rykov, Genrikh Yagoda, Nikolai Krestinsky and Christian Rakovsky. (15)
This caused problems for Jerome as many of its Hollywood members supported the Leon Trotsky wing of the party. At one meeting, John Bright, asked Jerome: "Comrade Jerome, what if a Party decision is made that you cannot go along with?" Jerome replied: "When the Party makes a decision, it becomes your opinion." (16) As a result of these comments Bright left the Communist Party of the United States.
With the rise of power of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, John Bright, anti-fascist beliefs became more mainstream. Bright was one of the founders of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League (HANL) in 1936. Other members included Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Walter Wanger, Dashiell Hammett, Donald Ogden Stewart, John Howard Lawson, Clifford Odets, Cedric Belfrage, Dudley Nichols, Frederic March, Lewis Milestone, Oscar Hammerstein II, Ernst Lubitsch, Mervyn LeRoy, Gloria Stuart, Sylvia Sidney, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chico Marx, Benny Goodman, Fred MacMurray and Eddie Cantor. Another member, Philip Dunne, later admitted "I joined the Anti-Nazi League because I wanted to help fight the most vicious subversion of human dignity in modern history". (17)
Bright was very politically active during this period. He supported Upton Sinclair in his attempts to become governor of California. He was executive secretary of the Hollywood Scottsboro Committee, a group set up to gain the freedom of the Scottsboro Nine. Bright also campaigned for the release of the Tom Mooney and Warren Billings. During this period he became great friends with Lincoln Steffens and Ella Winter. (18)
Bright was asked to write the screenplays for several years during the next few years. This included Here Comes Trouble (1936), Girl of the Ozarks (1936), The Accusing Finger (1937), John Meade's Woman (1937), San Quentin (1937) and Back Door to Heaven (1938). Howard Fast, another member of the Communist Party of the United States, later recalled that attempts were made to recruit Bright to write the screenplay of Citizen Tom Paine. (19)
During the hearings held by Martin Dies, the first chairman of the Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), in 1940, it was claimed that John Bright had persuaded James Cagney and Frederic March, to give money to those fighting fascism during the Spanish Civil War. Cagney had given $500 for an ambulance. He commented: "I was raised in poverty and by golly you can't go through life and build walls and say everything is fine for me and to hell with the other fellow." (20)
Despite this testimony John Bright continued to work in Hollywood and was involved in the screenplays of Broadway (1942), Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942), I Walk Alone (1948), Joe Palooka (1948), Close-Up (1948), The Kid from Cleveland (1949) and The Brave Bulls (1951).
After the war the Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) opened its hearings concerning communist infiltration of the motion picture industry. The first ten men accused of being communists: Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Albert Maltz, Adrian Scott, Samuel Ornitz, Dalton Trumbo, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, John Howard Lawson and Ring Lardner Jr, refused to answer any questions about their political and union activities. Known as the Hollywood Ten, they claimed that the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution gave them the right to do this. The HUAC and the courts during appeals disagreed and all were found guilty of contempt of Congress and each was sentenced to between six and twelve months in prison.
John Bright was ordered to appear before the HUAC. Although he had left the Communist Party of the United States a long time ago he was unwilling to testify against former comrades and in 1952 decided to go and live in Mexico and joined a colony of blacklisted screenwriters that included Ring Lardner Jr., Albert Maltz, Hugo Butler, Jean Rouverol and Ian McLellan Hunter. (21)
While in exile he used the name Hal Croves to write black-market scripts. In 1960 Dalton Trumbo became the first blacklisted writer to use his own name when he wrote the screenplay for the film Spartacus. Based on the novel by another left-wing blacklisted writer, Howard Fast, is a film that examines the spirit of revolt. Trumbo refers back to his experiences of the House of Un-American Activities Committee. At the end, when the Romans finally defeat the rebellion, the captured slaves refuse to identify Spartacus.
Bright now returned to Hollywood but found little work. For a time Bright became a story editor to the production company formed by Bill Cosby. He also worked behind the scenes on the 1971 film of Trumbo's anti-war novel, Johnny Got His Gun. The authors of Tender Comrades (1997) pointed out: "A lifelong smoker, drinker, and bon vivant, Bright surprised people merely by staying alive as long as I did. He lived out his years in conditions of shocking poverty in a Hollywood apartment, his mind and tongue acerbic to the end." (22)
John Bright died in 1989.
A native Chicagoan, Bright had been drawn as a youngster toward a fading radical milieu of great significance: hobo-intellectuals, the free-spirited and free-loving bunch around Dr. Ben Reitman and the badly diminished but still evocative Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) headquartered in the Windy City....
Both politically and aesthetically, scriptwriter John Bright was... The Public Enemy also had the great box office virtue of relating events that the public knew about from the tabloid press, thus blurring boundaries between news and fiction in ways that only the rare literate, socially critical silent films had done earlier...
Intermittently a communist, Bright was always and more profoundly the product of this environment, the roughneck bohemian who hung out in nightspots and with crowds far below normal Hollywood taste. For those reasons he proved right for one star in particular: James Cagney.
(1) Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner, Radical Hollywood (2002) page 14
(2) John Bright, quoted in Tender Comrades (1997) page 130
(3) John McCabe, Cagney (1999) page 420
(4) John Bright, quoted in Tender Comrades (1997) page 132
(5) James Monaco, The International Encyclopedia of Film (1991) page 91
(6) John Bright, quoted in Tender Comrades (1997) page 135
(7) Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner, Radical Hollywood (2002) page 14
(8) Time Magazine (4th May, 1931)
(9) John Bright, quoted in Tender Comrades (1997) page 137
(10) Ted Morgan, Reds: McCarthyism in Twenty-Century America (2003) page 516
(11) John Bright, quoted in Tender Comrades (1997) page 140
(12) Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner, Radical Hollywood (2002) page 45
(13) Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner, Radical Hollywood (2002) page 85
(14) Victor Navasky, Naming Names (1982) page 78
(15) Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner, Radical Hollywood (2002) page 85
(16) John Bright, quoted in Tender Comrades (1997) page 151
(17) Philip Dunne, Take Two: A Life in Movies and Politics (1992) page 110
(18) John Bright, quoted in Tender Comrades (1997) pages 144-148
(19) Howard Fast, Being Red (1990) page 78
(20) James Cagney, testimony to the Un-American Activities Committee (17th August, 1940)
(21) Ring Lardner Jr., I'd Hate Myself in the Morning (2000) page 137
(22) Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle, Tender Comrades (1997) page 129
Bright, John. A History of Israel (2nd Ed.). Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1972.
We have the 2nd second edition ( 519 pages). The fourth edition is 574 pages, accommodates some recent archeological developments and is available at: http://www.amazon.com/ A-History-Israel-John-Bright/ dp/0664220681/ ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=13766745 05&sr=8-1&keywords=john+bright +history+of+israel
John Bright was the Cyrus H. McCormick Professor of Hebrew and Interpretation of the Old Testament at Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, VA until his death in 1995. He is also the author of The Kingdom of God: The Biblical Concept and its Meaning for the Church.
Wikipedia offers this about Mr. (Prof.) Bright.
“John Bright (25 September 1908 – 26 March 1995) was an American biblical scholar, the author of several important books including the influential A History of Israel (1959), currently in its fourth edition. He was closely associated with the American school of Biblical criticism pioneered by William F. Albright, which sought to marry archaeology to a defense of the reliability of the Bible, especially the earlier books of the Old Testament.
“Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, John Bright was raised in the Presbyterian Church U.S., and attended Union Theological Seminary in Virginia where he earned his B.D. in 1931, followed by a Th.M. degree four years later. In the winter of 1931-32, Bright participated in an archaeological campaign at Tell Beit Mirsim, where he met the renowned William Foxwell Albright of Johns Hopkins University, who became his mentor. He also participated in a dig at Bethel in 1935. In the autumn of that year he studied under Albright at Johns Hopkins University but dropped out later due to insufficient funds to continue his studies, and took a position as the assistant pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Durham, North Carolina, which did not last long. He was able to resume his studies at Johns Hopkins while he was the pastor of Catonsville Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, and completed his doctoral degree in 1940. He then went back to Union Theological Seminary where he was appointed to the Cyrus H. McCormick Chair of Hebrew and Old Testament Interpretation, a position he held until his retirement in 1975.
"Influence and legacy
“Bright's work A History of Israel for which he is most famous was published in 1959, with a second and third edition in 1972 and 1981. The second edition (1972) included new information from the Adad-nirari stela, published in 1968, and the Hebrew ostracon found at Mecad Hasavyahu (Yabneh-Yam), published in 1962. His third edition (1981) included a thorough revision of the first four chapters. While including new data, Bright maintained his theological conviction that "the heart of Israel’s faith lies in its covenantal relationship with YHWH."
“In an appendix to the fourth edition (2000) of Bright's work, William P. Brown outlined some of the changes in the field of historical research since the third edition. Brown notes:
"`It should be pointed out that the driving force behind John Bright’s scholarship was his desire to disseminate to the church and general public the fruits of biblical scholarship. In an interview held soon after the publication of the third edition of his textbook, Bright comments on identifying an `outstanding motif’ in his work: `those of us who have gone more deeply into the subject have a duty to communicate to the church in a usable form what we know—and to the general public if they are interested’’’ (Kendig B. Cully, “Interview with John Bright: Scholar of the Kingdom” [The Review of Books and Religion, 11/4 (1983), p.4]).
"• The Age of King David: A Study in the Institutional History of Israel (doctoral dissertation 1940) (Union Seminary Review, 53  pp.87-109).
• The Kingdom of God: The Biblical Concept and Its Meaning for the Church (New York/Nashville: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1953)
• Early Israel in Recent History Writing (Westminster 1956)
• Jeremiah: A Commentary (Anchor Bible 21: Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1965).
• The Authority of the Old Testament (Baker, 1975)
• Covenant and Promise: The Prophetic Understanding of the Future in Pre-Exilic Israel (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976).
• A History of Israel: With an Introduction and Appendix by William P. Brown, 4th edition, Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000. (ISBN 0-664-22068-1) (Google books preview)
"1. "Obituary: Dr. John Bright, 86, A Biblical Historian". The New York Times. 1 April, 1995. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
Dr. John Bright, 86, A Biblical Historian - New York Times Retrieved 2011-08-20
2. Introduction to John Bright's A History of Israel, by William P. Brown
3. History of Israel - Introduction PDF (385 KB) p.13 fn.25
4. History of Israel - Introduction PDF (385 KB) p.19
5. History of Israel - Appendix PDF (385 KB) p.483, fn.103
Here endeth Wikipedia.
Here beginneth the prelimary work on Mr. (Prof.) Bright's volume.
"The History of Israel" in the second edition is constructed on Six Parts sandwiched between a Prologue and varied appendices:
• Part One: Antecedents and Beginning: Age of Patriarchs
• Part Two: Formative Period
• Part Three: Israel Under the Monarch: the Period of National Self-Determination
• Part Four: Monarchy (Cont’)—Crisis and Downfall
• Part Five: Tragedy and Beyond: Exilic and Postexilic Periods
• Part Six: Formative Period of Judaism
In an enlargement on the Six Parts, we bring this.
(A) Before History: Foundations and Civilizations in the Ancient Orient
(B) Ancient Orient in the 3rd Millenium B.C.
Part One. Antecedents and Beginnings: Age of Patriarchs
1. The World of Israel’s Origins (2000-1550 B.C.)
2. Patriarchs: Narratives, Historical Settings, Ancestors
Part Two. Formative Period
3. Exodus and Conquest: Foundation of the People of Israel— Western Asia, Egyptian Dynasty, Amarna Period
4. Constitution and Faith of Early Israel—Faith, Constitution, and History of the Tribal League
Part Three. Israel Under the Monarcy: Period of Self-Determination 5. From Tribal Confederacy to Dynastic State—Saul, David, and Solomon
6. Independent Kingdoms of Israel and Judah—Divided Monarchy (922 B.C.—to mid-eighth century)
Part Four. Monarchy (Cont’): Crisis and Downfall
7. Assyrian Conquest—Fall of Israel, Assyrian Advance, Hezekiah, Prophets
8. Kingdom of Judah: Last Century—End of Assyrian Dominance, Neo-Babylonian Empire, Prophets
Part Five. Tragedy and Behind: Exilic and Postexilic Periods
9. Exile and Restoration—Exile (587 B.C.-539 B.C.), Restoration
10. Jewish Community in the Fifth Century: Ezra-Nehemiah
Part Six: Formative Period of Judaism—Ezra to Maccabean Revolt, Persian Period, Hellenistic Period
An authoritative history of the Old Testament such as John Bright's "A History of Israel" must, ironically, proceed on a degree of faith. This naturally undermines the intent of the work from the outset, which is ostensibly to authenticate patriarchal traditions by providing them with a historical basis. Bright, in accepting most Biblical accounts as realitiesùincluding the covenant at Sinai, ancient Old Testament claims to monotheism, and the Genesis rendering of a personal relation between the individual and his God ùultimately masquerades religious dogma as serious history. Bright's thick, maximalist approach to the history of Israel is rich and enthralling, but theoretically flawed and a great deal more hypothetical than the author would have us believe.
The storyline of the Bible is not, in all likelihood, historical, but rather an accumulation of myths, fables, and revisionist stratagems designed to legitimize the past, present and future claims of an ancient people. The fact of the matter is, archaeology continues to contradict biblical postulates, and little hard evidence has been unearthed that can corroborate even the most basic assumptions of the Old Testament as modern critics have pointed out, "Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Saul, David, Solomonùnone of these biblical characters turns up in any written sources outside the Bible." In this, it likely true that arguably the most cherished component of Israeli religious loreùthe leaders, prophets, kings and teachersùcannot be said with any certainty to have existed anywhere other than in the Bible itself.
This is not a tragedy, nor does it deal a deathblow to Bright's noble enterprise. Historical inquiry is, by its nature, a difficult and delicate process, and a genuinely fact-based and minimalistic approach to the pre-history and history of Israel would undoubtedly yield a slim volume that would raise issues only to set them asi.
Bright's speeches, which must be carefully studied to understand the kind of appeal he made, were edited by James E. Thorold Rogers in 1879, his letters by H. J. Leech in 1885, and his diaries by R. A. J. Walling in 1930. The standard biography of Bright is George Macaulay Trevelyan, The Life of John Bright(1913), but it is circumscribed and dated in its approach and needs to be supplemented by Herman Ausubel, John Bright, Victorian Reformer (1966), and Donald Read, Cobden and Bright: A Victorian Political Partnership (1967). The most penetrating account of Bright's political milieu and claim to leadership is given in J. Vincent, The Formation of the Liberal Party, 1857-1868 (1966). See also the essay on Bright in Asa Briggs, Victorian People: Some Reassessments of People, Institutions, Ideas and Events, 1851-1867 (1954 rev. ed. 1970).
Dr. John Bright, 86, A Biblical Historian
The Rev. Dr. John Bright, an authority on biblical history and prophetic interpretation, died on Sunday at Westminster Canterbury House, a Presbyterian-Episcopal retirement home in Richmond. He was 86.
Dr. Bright, who lived in Richmond, suffered a long illness, said Prof. James L. Mays, presiding scholar of the Old Testament at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond.
Dr. Bright was professor emeritus of Hebrew and Old Testament interpretation at Union Seminary. His 35-year career there began in 1940 and was interrupted only by his service as an Army chaplain in World War II. He retired in 1975, but continued to write and publish.
His books included "The Authority of the Old Testament" (Baker, 1975) "Kingdom of God" (Abindon, revised edition 1980) "A History of Israel" (Westminster, 1981), and a commentary on "Jeremiah" for the Anchor Bible Series (Doubleday, 1965). All remain in print.
He was born in Chattanooga, Tenn., and educated at Presbyterian College and Union Seminary in Richmond. He received a doctorate in Hebrew and the Old Testament at Johns Hopkins University, and was ordained in the Southern Presbyterian Church in 1935.
John Bright's Most Eloquent Speech
Christians do not often see their national governments bow to the demands of Christ, but they can point to a few significant Christian successes that changed the world for the better. One of the best known cases was the abolition of the slave trade brought about by William Wilberforce and his allies. But a Quaker-born Parliamentarian named John Bright also helped win important legislation for common people.
Allied with the radical statesman, Richard Cobden, he brought about repeal of the corn laws, which favored the rich at the expense of the poor. He also helped extend the right to vote to middle class artisans. He resisted all efforts to impose the Church of England on Irish Catholics. A speech of his prevented England from engaging in an ill-considered war with the United States over the Trent Affair, when, during the Civil War, the Union stopped a British ship and arrested two Confederate negotiators. (The United States later released the two at England's demand.) Bright's admiration for America led him to be called "The Honorable Member from the United States."
His speeches were steeped in the Bible and Milton, his two favorite books. His creed of action came "pure and direct from the New Testament" he said.
On this day, February 23, 1855 , John Bright, made the speech of his life. Opposing the Crimean War, he said: "The Angel of Death has been abroad throughout the land you may almost hear the beating of his wings. There is no one, as when the first-born were slain of old, to sprinkle with blood the lintel and the two side-posts of our doors, that he may spare and pass on he takes his victims from the castle of the noble, the mansion of the wealthy, and the cottage of the poor and lowly."
Bright's speech was alluding to the Bible story found in Exodus, where God sent his angel to kill the firstborn children of Egypt, but spared any Israelite who painted his door posts with blood. Afterwards, Benjamin Disraeli told him, "I would give all that I ever had to have delivered that speech."
The speech did not prevent the war, however. As Bright had foreseen, the campaign wasted many lives. More were lost through incompetent preparations than on the battlefield. Shocked by the disaster, and frustrated at being unable to avert it, Bright experienced a nervous breakdown. He lost his seat in Parliament, too. The public was for the war. But he had made a strong case for non-intervention and was soon seated from another district.
Israelite Kings Date Chart (Based on the chronology of John Bright)
Good kings, in terms of religious leadership or reforms
Good political leaders, but faulted for lack of commitment to God
Kings that showed mixed traits, with some good actions yet significant failures
Especially bad kings, as either political or religious leaders, or both
Kings assassinated or deposed
Kings with too little information or not evaluated
Underlined names are active links to Old Testament History articles.
|The United Monarchy|
|Dates (BC)||Kingdom of the Israelites|
|The Divided Kingdoms|
|Israel (Northern)||Judah (Southern)||Dates|
|843-815||Jehu||Athaliah (non-Davidic Queen)||843-837|
|786-746||Jeroboam II||Uzziah (Azariah)||783-742|
|721||Fall of Samaria|
|Fall of Jerusalem||587|
This chart is based on the chronology of John Bright (A History of Israel, 3rd edition, Westminster, 1981). There are other chronologies of the Israelite kings that differ in some details, for example, that of J. Maxwell Miller in Harper's Bible Dictionary.
The problem of OT chronology is complicated by various factors:
1) some biblical numbers are symbolic or schematized
2) variant manuscript readings differ
3) various date references are given in different portions of Scripture
4) little external verification to cross check dates
5) different systems of dating
6) problem of transferring lunar dates into solar dates
7) different methods of figuring the regnal years of kings
8) possibility of co-regencies of kings (we know of only one, that of Uzziah and Jotham), etc.
All of these factors make figuring a chronology of the Israelite kings much less precise than we are accustomed.
The purpose here is not to solve the historical debates but to provide a general relative time frame of Old Testament events for the purposes of biblical interpretation. The reader should be aware that these dates are not absolute, and could change in light of new evidence.
Send mail to the site director with questions or comments about this web site.
John Bright - History
ohn Bright was born in Rochdale in 1811, the son of a Quaker cotton spinner. He was educated at a succession of Quaker schools in the north of England, where he developed a lifelong love of the Bible and of the 17th-century English Puritan poets, especially Milton. Quaker beliefs shaped his politics, which consisted mainly of demands for an end to social, political, or religious inequalities between individuals and between peoples. The Brights were benevolent employers, but their faith in self-help and independence placed Bright at the head of the manufacturers who opposed factory legislation, trade unions, and social reform.
While still in his 20s he had led a successful campaign in Rochdale against the payment of compulsory taxes for the Anglican Church. When the Anti-Corn-Law League was formed in 1839 he became one of the leading members and worked closely with Richard Cobden in the campaign for the repeal of the Corn Laws. By 1841 he had emerged as the chief supporting speaker to Cobden. Also in 1839 he had married a fellow Quaker, Elizabeth Priestman but she died of consumption in September 1841, leaving Bright with one daughter.
In 1847 Bright married Margaret Elizabeth Leatham, another Quaker. She took an interest in politics, though Bright did little to encourage this. Four sons and three daughters were born to the Brights, their father adopting a typical Victorian patriarchal attitude, affectionate but dominating. As he grew older, Bright even came to look like an Old Testament patriarch, his striking appearance adding to the effect of his oratory.
He became MP for Durham in 1843 and for Manchester in 1847. He spoke against the Corn Laws in parliament during Peel's second ministry until the laws were repealed in 1846. For five years, Cobden and Bright spoke frequently together from platforms throughout the country. Cobden's speeches provided persuasive arguments Bright concentrated upon denouncing the privileged political position of the agricultural landlords, which had enabled them to use parliament to pass the Corn Laws. Although Cobden had taught Bright the high moral and economic case for free trade, Bright tended to speak on behalf of the manufacturers and mill hands who, he said, shared a common interest in overturning the Corn Laws.
Four statues of the popular Bright: Left: by John Acton Adams. Middle Left: Left: by Albert Bruce-Joy. Middle right: by William Theed. Right: by Hamo Thornycroft. [Click on these images to enlarge them and to obtain additional information.]
Bright was a member of the Peace Society and denounced the Crimean War (1854-56) as un-Christian, contrary to the principles of international free trade, and harmful to British interests. "The Angel of Death," he said, "has been abroad throughout the land you may almost hear the beating of his wings." He blamed Lord Palmerston and the aristocracy for deluding the British people. He said that British foreign policy and the expensive network of diplomatic appointments constituted "a gigantic system of outdoor relief for the aristocracy." Frustrated at his failure to stop the war, Bright suffered a severe nervous breakdown (1856-58). His anti-war views also helped to lose him his Manchester seat in 1857, but within a few months he was elected as an MP for Birmingham, which he was to represent for the rest of his life. He seconded the motion against the Conspiracy Bill that led to the fall of Palmerston's government. Bright pressed for less-authoritarian British rule in India both before and after the Indian Mutiny (1857) and strongly supported the Union against the slave-owning Confederacy during the American Civil War (1861-65).
In 1859 Punch caricatures Bright for trying to expand the number of men who could vote: Left: Bright as Part of a Punch and Judy Show . Middle left: The Quaker and the Bauble . Middle right: The Last Pantomime of the Season . Right: Who will rouse him? [Click on thumbnails for larger images.]
Bright launched a speech-making campaign for parliamentary reform in Birmingham at the end of 1858 which faded out within a few months, but it marked the beginning of the movement toward the reform agitation of the mid-1860s. During the second half of 1866 Bright found himself the hero and chief mouthpiece of the reformers, accepted by both those who demanded universal suffrage and those who wanted more limited reform. In terms of immediate influence this was the high point of his career. Bright was satisfied with the household franchise introduced by the 1867 Reform Act, which extended the vote to skilled urban artisans but still excluded the town and country labourers. The artisans' intelligence and independence impressed him and he recommended every man who wanted the vote to acquire these qualities.
In 1866 Punch again caricatures Bright, who had now become a leader of the battle to extend the franchise:: Left: Going down to the house . Middle left: The Brummagen Frankenstein . Middle right: Wisdom and Wind-Bag . Right: A Very Greasy Pole [Click on thumbnails for larger images.]
In 1868 Bright accepted the post of President of the Board of Trade in Gladstone's first ministry but retired through ill-health in 1870. He returned to political life in 1881 as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He retired in 1882 because he opposed Gladstone's Home Rule policy for Ireland. Bright announced that he was not prepared to see power given to Irish nationalists who had made a mockery of parliamentary government. Bright was influential in the Unionist group in parliament and was regarded as one of the most eloquent speakers of his time
Bright's old-age recollections, which form the basis of the history of the ACLL, tend to be unconsciously self-inflating, sacrificing accuracy for effect. He deeply disliked being opposed, even by Cobden. This was an unfortunate product of his sensitive nature, and he often expressed his disappointment with a brusqueness that hurt the feelings of others. Bright was greatly admired and venerated in old age, but historians subsequently tended toward a more critical view of his personality and achievement. Bright died in 1889.
The two sides of John Bright, the mill-owning Rochdale radical who helped change the world
The toppling of slave trader Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol - and subsequent dunk in the city’s harbour - has sparked an angry debate about the nation’s monuments.
Oriel College, at Oxford University, wants to take down its controversial effigy of Cecil Rhodes, while there are also calls to get rid of tributes to the colonialist Robert Clive in London and Shrewsbury.
There have even been demands to rename Liverpool’s Penny Lane - famously immortalised in The Beatles song - on the seemingly erroneous grounds it was named after slave-ship owner James Penny.
But while councils across the country undertake reviews of their statues in the wake of anti-racism protests, sculptures of one historical Greater Manchester figure are unlikely to feature on any campaigner’s hitlist.
John Bright was a Rochdale mill owner and Liberal MP for Manchester between 1847 and 1857.
Perhaps best known for his role in abolishing the Corn Laws he was also famously anti-slavery and a profound influence on US president Abraham Lincoln.
In fact such was his impact on Lincoln that a long-standing testimonial from Bright calling for his re-election was found in Lincoln’s pocket after his assassination.
Statues of Bright can be found at Rochdale’s Broadfield Park, Albert Square in Manchester, and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
The Rochdale-born radical was a Quaker whose religious views shaped his pacifism and opposition to the slave trade.
He was said by Historian AJP Taylor to have done ‘more than any other man’ to prevent Britain intervening on the side of the pro-slavery South during the American Civil War.
Dr Mike Brennan - a retired Rochdale history teacher who has studied Bright in depth - says his campaigning methods were threefold.
As might be expected given his reputation as a great orator, these included speeches as an MP and at large public events, as well as publishing his views in pamphlets and books.
“Also remember that accounts of his parliamentary work reached the pages of every local and national paper in the 19th century,” adds Dr Brennan.
“They provided ready-made copy and were a central feature of the news. In Rochdale there were two major papers at the time. The first was the Rochdale Observer, a liberal paper and the Rochdale Times, a Tory paper. The depths of the accounts depended on which of them was reporting!”
The cotton trade was hugely important to Lancashire during the 1860s and much of the county depended on the industry’s survival.
During the American Civil War, a naval blockade of Confederate ports caused a shortage of cotton supplies leading to mass unemployment, poverty and hardship.
But support for Abraham Lincoln - who pledged to end the Atlantic slave trade - and the North held firm among workers in the area.
Rochdale’s loyalty to the North owed much to Bright’s speeches, but it was also to its liberal traditions and strong links to the Co-operative movement and Chartism.
The town’s famous Cotton Famine Road was built at this time after campaigners successfully lobbied for the 1863 Public Works Act, allowing leaders to fund vital civic improvements.
In a letter to Republican senator Charles Sumner - through whom he made his connection with Lincoln - Bright wrote ‘our working-class is with you and against the South’.
Their support was made clear at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in December 1862, where workers who had been influenced by Bright, pledged their full support to the president.
Bright drew parallels with the oppression of black slaves in the United States and Britain’s working class, but his benevolence as an employer has been questioned.
Despite his reputation as a champion of the oppressed, Bright opposed factory legislation, trade unions and social reform, while workers at his mills lived in some of Rochdale’s worst slums.
“The conditions of all the mill workers was poor,” says Dr Brennan. “The Bright mills were located just off Whitworth Road and a quarter of a mile away was the ‘Gank’ a notorious slum which comes out into the town centre through Toad Lane, another famous place in Rochdale.
“The population of the town rose from roughly 40,000 in 1801 to 120,000 in 1861 yet the housing occupied much the same boundaries. That is not to say that this was acceptable, but only when the town became a borough in 1856 was the town able to start to address these issues.”
At the time of the Cotton Famine Bright also advocated giving the poor loans, rather than donations, to help them, and argued the same to the Poor Law Commissioners.
“It was a case of “The prophet is not without honour except in his own country,” says Dr Brennan. “He was proposed as the candidate for MP by the local Liberal Association in the 1840’s but that was overruled and he was replaced by William Sharman Crawford, a very Radical MP endorsed by the Chartists.”
However he was not indifferent to the suffering of his workers. In December 1862 he wrote to his friend Sumner asking, ‘if a few cargoes of flour could come, say 50,000 barrels, as a gift from persons in your Northern States to the Lancashire working men’.
But while his position as a mill owner may always have coloured people’s view of him in Rochdale, by the standards of his time Bright was far more compassionate than most.
“He was opposed to the concept of slavery which saw a person as a possession, not a human who could be bought, sold, and even killed within the laws as they stood at the time,” adds Dr Brennan.
“That was not the case with mill workers, and very few mill owners would have had a different view, even men like John Fielden, the Todmorden mill owner and factory reformer who was the MP for Oldham from 1832 till 1848.”
Bright is also criticised for his contrary stance on extending the vote - writing against women’s suffrage and refusing to join the more forward-thinking Chartists.
Meanwhile, Dr Brennan&aposs research has found that Bright’s name rarely appears in published contributions to the Cotton Famine Relief Fund, although this could be due to his religious beliefs.
“Charity was done quietly, using the old Gospel maxim of not letting the left hand know what the right was doing,” the local historian said.
However, neither did the names of any of the prominent citizens of the town, who generally kept their charity work quiet and did not want to enter a sort of ‘giving competition’.
Born in 1811, John Bright inherited the family business with his two brothers Jacob and Thomas, following their father’s retirement, although it was the latter who ran the Fieldhouse mills.
Although he entered the cotton industry at 16, John was more politically minded, and cut his teeth both as a writer and speaker in the campaign against a church tax in Rochdale in the late 1830’s.
His opponent was the Reverend William Hay, Vicar of Rochdale and the magistrate who read the Riot Act at Peterloo.
From there, Bright moved on to the regional stage with speeches in Manchester, becoming one of the main figures as the campaign against the church tax built.
His friendship with Richard Cobden - with whom he formed the Anti-Corn Law League - comes from this time, and it was Bright who persuaded Cobden to stand as MP for Rochdale in the 1860’s.
Bright was a committed pacifist and lost his seat as Manchester’s MP due to his stance on the Crimean War. His frustration over his failure to stop the conflict also triggered a severe nervous breakdown.
However within a few months of his defeat he was elected as MP for Birmingham, a position he held for the rest of his life.
Bright also served as MP for Durham between 1843 and 1847.
His distant relative, the veteran MP Bill Cash, published a biography on him entitled John Bright: Statesman, Orator, Agitator.
While Bright served in William Gladstone’s cabinet, Cash believes the ‘staggering amount’ he achieved during his lifetime may have been overlooked as he was never prime minister himself.
Speaking ahead of the book’s publication, he said Bright had won every campaign he fought - from the repeal of the Corn Laws to taking on the aristocracy in Ireland and pushing for fairer treatment in the colonies of India.
He also successfully agitated for Parliamentary reform and promoted free-trade and religious freedom, as well as coining phrases such as &aposflogging a dead horse&apos and &aposEngland is the mother of all parliaments&apos.
Johnny Bright was the second oldest of five children and raised by his mother in an African-American working class neighbourhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He and his brothers shared two double beds in one room, while his mother and sister shared another bedroom.
At Central High School in Fort Wayne, Bright excelled at basketball, football and athletics (he also boxed and played softball). He helped his high school qualify for two Indiana State High School semifinals in basketball. He also won the 1945 Fort Wayne city championship in football and pole-vaulted 12 feet with a bamboo pole during a track-and-field meet.
In 1948, Bright began attending classes at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on an athletics scholarship. At the time, freshman athletes in the NCAA were not eligible to play sports so that they could focus on their academics. In his sophomore year, Bright excelled at athletics, basketball and football. As a quarterback, he passed for 975 yards and rushed for 975 yards. Bright became the first sophomore player ever to lead the NCAA in total yards for a single season, with 1,950 yards.
In his junior year(1950), Bright decided to give up basketball and athletics to focus on football. He set an NCAA record, with 2,400 total yards of offense (1,232 yards rushing and 1,168 yards passing), and helped Drake University post a record of 6–2–1 for the second straight year.
Johnny Bright Incident
Expectations were high for Bright when he headed into his senior season at Drake University, and he was considered a candidate for the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded to the most outstanding player in US college football. Over the first five games of the season, Bright had an NCAA-leading 821 rushing yards and 1,349 total yards. The Drake Bulldogs also had a perfect record of five wins and zero losses.
On 20 October 1951, Drake University played Oklahoma A&M (now known as Oklahoma State University) in a key Missouri Valley Conference battle. A win would give Drake University the conference title.
In the first seven minutes of the game, Bright received three separate hard blows to the face from Oklahoma A&M defensive tackle Wilbanks Smith (who was Caucasian). The third hit broke Bright’s jaw and, soon afterwards, he was forced to leave the game. Drake went on to lose 27–14. Meanwhile, Bright (who was also concussed) had to return to Iowa for medical treatment because no Oklahoma hospital would admit a Black man in 1951.
Most people believe that the blows were racially motivated, although Smith denied it. Pictures by Des Moines Register photographers John Robinson and Don Ultang clearly show that Bright was hit far from the football action in a sequence of six photos. (They received a Pulitzer Prize for their work in 1952.) Reporter Bob Spiegel also interviewed several people who stated that they had heard an Oklahoma A&M coach and several players using racist language in reference to Bright and encouraging the attack.
“There’s no way it couldn’t have been racially motivated,” Bright later told the Des Moines Register. “Bright was the victim of one of the ugliest racial incidents in the history of American sports,” says Graham Kelly, author of Go Stamps Go! The Story of the Calgary Stampeders.
In response to the incident, the NCAA changed its rules and added a mandatory suspension for anyone who strikes another player with his forearms, elbows or locked hands. They also made it mandatory to wear protective helmets with face masks and mouth guards.
However, the Missouri Valley Conference didn’t officially reprimand Smith, leading both Drake University and Bradley University to pull out of the conference in protest. (Drake’s football team returned to the conference in 1971.) Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) denied the incident for years but finally apologized in 2005.
Meanwhile, Bright graduated from Drake University with a Bachelor of Science in education in 1952. Although he was drafted by the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, he decided to join the Calgary Stampeders instead and became the first NFL top-round draft pick to opt for the CFL. The Stampeders’ offer was attractive financially, and Bright was concerned about his reception in the NFL. “I would have been the [Eagles’] first [Black] player. There was a tremendous influx of Southern players into the NFL at the time, and I didn’t know what kind of treatment I could expect.”
Calgary Stampeders (1952–54)
Bright played quarterback, fullback and linebacker for the Stampeders from 1952 to 1954. In his first year with the team, he was named a Western All-Star as a running back that season, he led the Western Interprovincial Football Union with 815 rushing yards.
Bright injured both shoulders while playing with the Stampeders and was released in 1954. He wasn’t out of a job for long, though, and signed with the Edmonton Eskimos on 31 August 1954.
Bright Shines in Edmonton (1954–64)
In Bright’s first three seasons in Edmonton (1954–56), the Eskimos won their first three Grey Cups in franchise history. During the 1956 championship game, Bright set a Grey Cup single-game record with 171 rushing yards (his record stood until 2013).
Bright played running back and linebacker in those first seasons and made the transition to full-time running back in 1957. For five consecutive seasons (1957–61), Bright hit 1,000 rushing yards and was a Western All-Star. He had a career-high 1,722 rushing yards in 1958 — a CFL single-season record at the time and an Eskimos single-season record to this day. In 1959, Bright led the CFL in rushing yards for the third straight year (1,340 yards) and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player — the first Black player to win the award.
Bright holds the Eskimos records for career rushing yards (9,966), 100-yard rushing games in a career (36) and most 100-yard rushing games in a season (16 in 1957). Bright and George Reed also share the CFL record for most career playoff touchdowns (19).
Canadian Citizen and Teacher
Bright was approached several times to return to the United States and play for the NFL but chose to stay in Canada. The pay was better in the CFL, and he had established a teaching career in Edmonton. But he also felt comfortable in Canada: “I never get into any problems up here because of my race.” In 1962, Bright became a Canadian citizen. After his CFL career ended in 1964, he became a full-time teacher and, eventually, principal at D.S. MacKenzie Junior High School and Hillcrest Junior High School, both in Edmonton. A school in Edmonton was named in his honour in 2010.
Bright died at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton in 1983, having suffered a massive heart attack during anaesthetic preparation for elective knee surgery. He was only 53 years old.
Honours and Awards
Canadian Football Hall of Fame (1970)
Alberta Sports Hall of Fame (1980)
US College Football Hall of Fame (1984)