Maclean, the second youngest of seven children, was born in
Pollockshaws, Glasgow in 1879. John did well at school and although
his widowed mother was extremely poor, she was determined that
he would have a good education. In 1896 he became a pupil-teacher
and later entered the Free Church Teacher Training College.
in 1900, Maclean became a teacher in Glasgow. He also studied
part time for an MA at Glasgow University where he met James
Maxton. The two men were both committed socialists and over
the next few years worked together on numerous campaigns. Maclean
joined the Social Democratic Federation and the Glasgow Teacher's
Socialist Society and was active in the trade union and co-operative
was also a pacifist and during the First World War Maclean played
a prominent role in the peace campaign. Maclean and James Maxton
were both arrested and charged with sedition. Found guilty,
the men served over a year in prison. Maclean was arrested again
soon after his release and was sentenced to five years for sedition.
He was sent to Peterhead Prison but following a mass protest
he was released after only serving six months.
the war Maclean formed the Tramp Trust Unlimited, an organisation
that campaigned for a minimum wage, a six-hour day and full
wages for the unemployed. He also established the Scottish Workers'
Republican Party (SWRP) but in the municipal elections held
in November 1923, none of the twelve SWRP candidates came anywhere
near victory. Even Maclean only polled 623 votes out of a total
of 8,190. Weakened by poor health and his spells in prison,
John Maclean died in 1923.