Submitted by Heartfield on Fri, 17/06/2016 - 17:04
I think perhaps Mark understates the extent of the meetings held in support of the Union in Lancashire. In his memoirs WE Adams records hundreds of meetings in all parts of the country, but that ‘of all these meetings, only one, I think, passed resolutions of sympathy with the South.’ When Philip Foner searched local newspapers for records of meetings in the 1980s, these records were not digitised, and he found a score or so. When I looked, with the advantage of a digital search, it bore out Adams' recollection - there were upwards of a hundred, and very lively meetings and societies formed out of them. These were the foundation of the First International in Britain. Marx said that British workers had saved the nation's honour by persuading it not to fight America. But not Marx alone. It was commonly said at the time, by the Radical Democrat Nicholay, and also by Gladstone. It should be understood that Russell and Palmerston did not just threaten war against the Union, they waged it, sending thousands of troops to Canada and arming the Confederacy with ships. It must be true of course, that the decision to back off was one that reflected the balance of power that had been recalibrated with the North's victories (though early in the war, these were few). On the other hand, all of English society was in favour of the war, and only gradually was that turned around. The people who persuaded Britons that Secession ought not to be supported were those around the radical working class movement.