The American Civil War, Lancashire and the Cotton Famine, 1861-65

5:00pm - 7:00pm / Friday 7th December 2018
Type: Lecture / Category: Department / Series: Centre for the Study of International Slavery
  • Admission: Admission is free. Please register here.
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The American Civil War, Lancashire and the Cotton Famine, 1861-65 with Gervase Phillips (Manchester Metropolitan University).

At the outset of the American Civil War, an editorial in the British periodical The Economist noted the potentially disastrous consequences of disruption to the supply of cotton from the South: “We can safely assume that nearer four than three millions are dependent for their daily bread on this branch of our industry.” And the Confederacy proved ruthlessly determined to exploit that leverage to secure recognition: “The cards are in our hands and we intend to play them out to the bankruptcy of every cotton factory in Great Britain” (The Charleston Mercury, 4 June 1861).

For the cotton operatives of Lancashire and Cheshire, the ensuing Cotton Famine meant deprivation and unemployment. For Victorian Britain, struggling both to respond diplomatically to America’s internecine conflict, and confronted by the inadequacies of its own provisions for relief of domestic destitution on an unprecedented scale, America's Civil War took on an immense, if now largely forgotten, significance.

The event is free to attend and open to all, the lecture will begin at 5.15pm and be followed by a drinks reception.