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Freedom BurningAnti-Slavery and Empire in Victorian Britain$
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Richard Huzzey

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451089

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451089.001.0001

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Uncle Tom’s Britain

Uncle Tom’s Britain

(p.21) 2 Uncle Tom’s Britain
Freedom Burning

Richard Huzzey

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the complexities of British reactions toward the American Civil War. Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin was a literary phenomenon across the Atlantic, selling 1,500,000 copies in Britain and her colonies. The commercial frenzy surrounding Stowe's novel also spurred numerous new anti-slavery tracts and reinforced the crowds attending public meetings to hear fugitive slaves and other abolitionist lecturers. Yet just a decade after this frenzy, Britain responded so uncertainly and ambiguously to the American Civil War. There was no direct pattern of support for North or South based on social class or political party, but rather a wide variety of responses. Those who agreed on other political questions found themselves at odds over the rebellion. The chapter traces the conflicting and apparently baffling pattern of British responses to the American Civil War to the huge variety of plans and ideas that existed for dismantling Southern slavery in the decades before.

Keywords:   American Civil War, Britain, emancipation, abolition, Southern slavery, British

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