Chattel Slavery and Wage Slavery, The Anglo-American Context by Marcus Cunliffe

By Marcus Cunliffe

Publication by means of Cunliffe, Marcus

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Extra resources for Chattel Slavery and Wage Slavery, The Anglo-American Context 1830-1860

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Nathaniel Hawthorne was Ameri­ can consul in Liverpool from 1853 to 1857; his book on England was entitled Our Old Home (1863). Other Amer­ icans— clergymen, scholars, merchants, officials, re­ formers, journalists— stepped ashore by the boadoad to satisfy their curiosity. 4 Anglo-American circles, then, acknowledged a com­ mon heritage and in some respects a continuing set o f mutual interests.

During the American Civil War they were to be placed on record as endorsing the Union cause. But recent scholarship has considerably modified the notion that while the British aristocra­ cy leaned to the Confederacy, the lower classes were staunchly committed to emancipation and to Union vic­ tory. In truth, many remained suspicious o f American conduct, and continued to accuse antislavery leaders of hypocrisy. 20 When we turn to the United States, the story is re­ markably similar. Again, workingmen (or those who spoke on their behalf) were naturally enough not in favor o f slavery in the abstract.

What other sol­ ace had the poor? In this interpretation, their impov­ erishment (or immiseration, in the Marxist term) was confronted with nothing more than commiseration, and even that in small doses mingled with injunctions to be worthy o f their hire. It may be that the abolitionists, as critics o f at least a part o f the American status quo, did conceal a perplexed uneasiness over the emerging industrial order. ” It may be that they displaced their uneasiness, however unwittingly, by finding a scapegoat in plantation slavery— a phenome­ non far removed in space from the tenements o f New York and Boston, the tall chimneys and clanking ma­ chinery of modern times.

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