Workers against slavery: the US Civil War, the First International and the British working class

Submitted by AWL on 16 August, 2015 - 10:13
  Front cover: Workers against slavery: the US Civil War, the First International and the British working class

In 1865, slavery was abolished in the United States at the end of a four year Civil War. This pamphlet looks at the stand taken during the war by workers in Britain, who organised mass protests against slavery and against British ruling-class plans for military intervention in support of the slave-owners. It tells the story of how this internationalist and anti-racist struggle revived the British labour movement, gave workers the confidence to fight for the vote, and contributed to the birth of Karl Marx's International Working Men's Association, the "First International".

Download Workers against slavery as a pdf here.

Currently out of print in hard-copy form, sorry.


Submitted by AWL on Sun, 10/05/2020 - 19:19

US politics convulsed by issue of slavery; breakdown of old party political system, rise of Republicans; armed clashes over whether Kansas will be slave or free state

Abolitionist John Brown attempts to lead slave uprising at Harpers Ferry, Virginia

November: Republican Abraham Lincoln elected President
December: South Carolina secedes from US

Six other Southern slave states secede, Confederate States of America formed, soon grows to eleven states
April: Civil War begins, slaves start to flee to US army
August: US Congress passes first anti-slavery war measures
November-December: Trent crisis seems to threaten US-British war December: British workers’ meetings in support of US begin

Summer: Congress, led by Radical Republicans, pushes US policy in more radical anti-slavery direction
Second half of year: Wave of workers’ meetings in Lancashire
22 September: Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation promising to free slaves in Confederate states
November: Recruitment of black soldiers begins tentatively
31 December: Great meeting at Free Trade Hall in Manchester, meetings in London

1 January: Emancipation Proclamation comes into effect, recruitment of black soldiers massively accelerates
26 March: “Monster” workers’ meeting at St James’ Hall, London

September: Foundation of International Working Men’s Association
November: Lincoln re-elected

April-June: Confederacy surrenders
14 April: Lincoln assassinated by Confederate sympathiser
December: Thirteenth Amendment to US Constitution ratified, slavery abolished throughout US

“Radical Reconstruction” begins in US, enfranchising ex-slaves; Reform Act enfranchises over a million British workers

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