Friday 1 February 2013

By ’eck, it’s Abe Lincoln

The new Steven Spielberg film Lincoln has no scenes set in Lancashire. Perhaps it should have.

As the BBC’s Paul Mason points out, Lancashire’s cotton workers, urged on by Liberal MP John Bright, expressed solidarity with the Union’s fight against slavery and its blockade of the south, despite losing work from the resulting loss of cotton supplies.

Lincoln is commemorated by a statue in a square named after him in Manchester:
At a mass meeting in Manchester’s Free Trade Hall, on New Year's Eve 1862, attended by a mixture of cotton workers, and the Manchester middle class, they passed a motion urging Lincoln to prosecute the war, abolish slavery and supporting the blockade – despite the fact that it was by now causing them to starve. The meeting convened despite an editorial in the Manchester Guardian advising people not to attend.
Mr Lincoln, in a letter dated 19 January 1863, 150 years ago... replied with the words that are inscribed on his statue:
“I cannot but regard your decisive utterances on the question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country.
“It is indeed an energetic and re-inspiring assurance of the inherent truth and of the ultimate and universal triumph of justice, humanity and freedom… Whatever misfortune may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exists between the two nations will be, as it shall be my desire to make them, perpetual.”

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