John Bull & Uncle Sam - Four Centuries of British-American Relations
men enslaved

The multiple movements for moral and humanitarian reform, which swept through the United States in the first decades of the nineteenth century, are a prime example of the strength of the anglicizing impulse in American life. The strength of this impulse is especially remarkable in that it flourished against a background of intense political animosity that produced the War of 1812 and at other times created acute tension between Britain and the United States.

Almost all of the so-called benevolent societies -- the Bible societies, the tract societies, the missionary societies, and the societies fighting prostitution and vice -- that were such a conspicuous feature of American life in the first half of the nineteenth century were copied from British models. So too was the preeminent moral movement of the era, which intersected with many of the other moral reform movements -- the crusade to abolish slavery. American abolitionism mimicked the British anti-slavery movement, borrowing wholesale its tactics and symbols and looking to its leaders, such as George Thompson, for advice and approval.

After World War II the modern civil rights movement -- the movement to integrate America's black population fully and equally into the nation's life -- gathered force in the United States. In a reversal of the roles played in nineteenth century abolitionism, British civil rights leaders employed American tactics and symbols and looked to American civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King as models. And even the British opponents of minority rights modeled themselves after American extremist groups.

The American woman suffrage movement was spawned by the abolition movement. At its inception it looked to Britain for inspiration, although Americans such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony quickly established their credentials on both sides of the Atlantic. The woman suffrage movement evolved over the course of the nineteenth century simultaneously with the power and prestige of the American nation, which by the end of the nineteenth century approached the power and prestige of Great Britain. Therefore, woman suffrage became a reciprocal enterprise in which American and British leaders such as Cary Chapman Catt and Millicent Garrett Fawcett cooperated as equals and contributed to the ultimate success of each others' goals.

After World War II the modern civil rights movement -- the movement to integrate America's black population fully and equally into the nation's life -- gathered force in the United States. In a reversal of the roles played in nineteenth century abolitionism, British civil rights leaders employed American tactics and symbols and looked to American civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King as models. And even the British opponents of minority rights modeled themselves after American extremist groups.

The American Colonization Society

The American Colonization Society was founded in 1816 to encourage the "colonizing of the free people of color of the United States" in West Africa, taking as its model the British effort in Sierra Leone. The first American blacks arrived in West Africa in 1821. In 1847 the black settlers severed their links with the Society and established the independent nation of Liberia. Shown here is currency issued by the Society and by the independent Liberian state.

Paper currency of varying denominations, issued in Liberia in 1834, 1837, and 1864. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (98A)

Abolitionist Book for Children

British abolitionists produced literature for all ages depicting the horrors of slavery. Here is an illustrated children's book, showing the inhumane conditions in a packed slave ship. American abolitionists addressed themselves to children as well, using British material seen here.

Amelia Opie. The Black Man's Lament; or How to Make Sugar. London: Harvey & Darton, 1826. Page 2 Early Printed Collections, The British Library (100)

Immediate Abolition of Slavery

This volume by the British Quaker anti-slavery crusader, Elizabeth Heyrick (1769-1831), is said to have been the first publication in the Anglo-American world to advocate the immediate, unconditional abolition of slavery in the West Indies. It inspired William Lloyd Garrison and other Americans to seek to apply her remedy of immediate abolition to slavery in the United States.

Elizabeth Heyrick. Immediate, Not Gradual Abolition: or, An Inquiry into the Shortest, Safest, and Most Effectual Means of Getting Rid of West Indian Slavery. Philadelphia: Joseph Rakestraw, 1824. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (101)

British West Indian Emancipation

So influential were the fortunes of the British anti-slavery movement among American abolitionists that the Americans celebrated August 1, 1834 as an unofficial holiday -- the anniversary of Britain's emancipation of the slaves in the West Indies. Here is an address that Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), delivered at Concord, Massachusetts, August 1, 1844, to celebrate the anniversary of West Indian emancipation.

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson. An Address Delivered at the Court House in Concord, Massachusetts, on 1st August, 1844. Boston: J. Munroe and Company, 1844. Miscellaneous Pamphlet Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (105)

A Black Abolitionist in Britain

In August 1845 Frederick Douglass (1817-1885), an escaped slave who had become one of the most powerful American apostles of anti-slavery, visited Britain to avoid the danger of capture by his owner and to express to British abolitionists their American brethren's "deep appreciation" for their assistance. Here, in Douglass's farewell speech to British supporters on March 30, 1847, he praises the racial justice he experienced in Britain, where he says "the very dogs . . . know that I am a man."

 

Frederick Douglass. Draft Copy of Farewell Address Given upon Leaving England, March 30, 1847. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (106)

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) has been described as "the premiere anti-slavery novel of the ante-bellum period." First published in serialized from, June 5, 1851 to April 1, 1852, in a Washington, D.C., newspaper, the novel enjoyed phenomenal success on both sides of the Atlantic. British sales are said to have reached one and a half million. Visiting Britain shortly after the book was published, Mrs. Stowe was lionized by all segments of British society.

 

Harriet Beecher Stowe. Uncle Tom's Cabin. London: John Casell, 1852. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (107)

Illustrations for Uncle Tom's Cabin

Numerous British publishers produced editions of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Here are sketches of the illustrations for N. Cooke's 1852 London edition, drawn by George Housman Thomas (1824-1868), an English artist who had lived in the United States and who, therefore, was able to draw the personalities in the novel with some fidelity rather than as mere caricatures. The most prominent figure represented in these sketches is, of course, the villain, Simon Legree.

 

George Housman Thomas. Sketches for London edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (108)

American Slaves Freed

Progress toward the great and consuming goal of American and British abolitionists -- the total abolition of slavery in the United States -- was set in motion by Abraham Lincoln's (1809-1865) Emancipation Proclamation, the first draft of which, July 22, 1862, is seen here. Lincoln disappointed many Abolitionists by decreeing the abolition of slavery only in those areas not under Union Army control, but with this document the President placed the"peculiar institution" on the road to extinction.

 

Abraham Lincoln. Draft of Emancipation Proclamation, July 22, 1862. Page 2, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (109)

Inspiration for the American Woman's Movement

In 1904 woman's suffragist, Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) presented to the Library of Congress her copy of Mary Wollstonecraft's pathbreaking book, first published in London in 1792. In her inscription, Anthony declared herself "a great admirer of this earliest work for woman's right to Equality of rights ever penned by a Woman."

 

Mary Wollstonecraft. Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects. Boston: Peter Edes for Thomas and Andrews, 1792, frontispiece. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (110)

Giants of the American Woman Suffrage Movement

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) were life-long friends and partners in the suffrage movement. Both devoted their lives to the crusade because they believed that, as Anthony put it: "failure is impossible." Neither lived to see the Nineteenth Amendment that gave women the vote passed in 1920, but the amendment was known as the"Anthony amendment."

 

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, ca. 1870s Copyprint. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (112)

John Stuart Mill on Woman Suffrage

The distinguished British political philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was the most prominent male supporter of woman suffrage of his generation. Mill's speech to the House of Commons on "the Admission of Women to the Electoral Franchise," delivered May 20, 1867, was reprinted by women's groups in Britain and the United States under varying titles, as was Mill's better-known work, The Subjection of Women.

 

John Stuart Mill. Suffrage for Women. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1867. Reprint. Y.A. Pamphlet Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (114)

An American Suffrage Leader in London

As the woman suffrage movement developed, cooperation between British and American women became frequent and fruitful. Here is the handwritten draft of a speech delivered by Elizabeth Cady Stanton at a meeting at Prince's Hall in London on June 25, 1883, held in honor of her and Susan Anthony. Stanton's topic was the "social, educational, religious and political position of women in America."

 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Draft of Speech at Princess Hall, London, June 25, 1883, pp. 1 and 4. Page 2 Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (115a,b)

Women and Their Political Peers

This image, copied in Britain without the use of the American Indian, made the point that, in being denied the vote, respectable, accomplished women were reduced to the level of the disenfranchised outcasts of society.

 

Henrietta Briggs-Wall. "American Woman and her Political Peers, 1893." Hutchinson, Kansas: Henrietta Briggs-Wall, 1911. Postcard. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (116)

"The Stomach Tube"

"Forcible feeding" of British suffragists, engaged in hunger strikes in British prisons, aroused great sympathy for the women's movement in both Britain and the United States. "The sensation is most painful," reported a victim in 1909. "The drums of the ears seem to be bursting and there is a horrible pain in the throat and breast. The tube is pushed down twenty inches; [it] must go below the breastbone." The prisoners were generally fed a solution of milk and eggs.

 

"Torturing Women in Prison. Vote Against the Government." London: National Women's Social and Political Union, ca. 1909. Color Lithograph. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (117b)

British and American Suffragists

Seen here is Harriot Stanton Blatch (1856-1940), daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, hanging posters in New York in December 1910, to advertise a speech by the militant British suffrage leader, Sylvia Pankhurst. Blatch and Pankhurst's mother, Emmeline, became close friends when Blatch lived in England.

 

Harriot Stanton Blatch Hanging Posters for Sylvia Pankhurst Tour, December 29, 1910. Copyprint. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (118)

The"World-Famous" Mrs. Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928) was the unchallenged leader of the direct action wing of the British suffrage movement. She had, followers claimed, "invented most of the ingenious and daring devices of the "Militant Suffragette' which have stirred up so much discussion throughout the civilized world." Pankhurst's first lecture tour of the United States in October 1909 had been arranged by Harriot Stanton Blatch.

 

"Mrs. Pankhurst, The World-Famous Leader of the English Suffragettes: Canadian Lecture Tour, October to January 1911-1912." New York: J.B. Pond Lyceum Bureau, 1911-1912. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (119)

Moderates versus Militants

In the fall of 1909 the American suffrage movement was threatened with a schism into moderate and militant wings. Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947), leader of the moderates the supporters of "evolutionary methods" here urges Millicent Fawcett (1847-1929), leader of the British moderate wing, to hasten to New York to counteract the influence of Emmeline Pankhurst's American lecture tour. "If anyone can save us from the deluge of suffrage anarchy," it is you, Catt tells Fawcett.

 

Carrie Chapman Catt. Letter to Millicent Fawcett, October 19, 1909. Holograph letter. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (122a,b)

Carrie Chapman Catt and Millicent Fawcett

The leaders of the moderate wings of the British and American suffrage movements were President Carrie Chapman Catt and first Vice-President Millicent Fawcett of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. They are seen here at the 1913 Budapest meeting of the Alliance. Fawcett is seated, front left; Catt is next to her.

 

Carrie Chapman Catt, Millicent Fawcett, and Other Board Members of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, Budapest, 1913. Copyprint. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (123)

Marches, Demonstrations

By the beginning of the First World War marches and demonstrations were acceptable to most members of the British and American suffrage movements, provided the appropriate permits were obtained. Among the most significant mass public meetings was the "Great Demonstration" at Hyde Park, London, June 21, 1908.

 

Souvenir of the Hyde Park Demonstration, June 21, 1908. Paper napkin. National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection, Printed Ephemera Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (124)

Woman Suffrage Parade

To dramatize nation-wide demand for a constitutional amendment to enfranchise women, a suffrage army 8,000 strong marched in grand procession in the nation's capital on March 3, 1913, the day before President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration. Ill treatment of the suffragists led to a congressional investigation and brought new support for the suffrage cause.

 

Official Program, Women's Suffrage Procession, Washington, D.C., March 3, 1913. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (125)

A C.A.R.D. Vigil

C.A.R.D. (the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination) faithfully followed Dr. King's model of non-violent, mass protests. Here is a C.A.R.D. flyer, calling for a nation wide vigil, May 3, 1967, at the Prime Minister's residence, from the papers of Bayard Rustin (1910-1987), the American civil rights and pacifist leader and associate of Dr. King. Rustin was present at the creation of C.A.R.D. and helped shape its philosophy of non-violence.

 

David Pitt and Julia Gaitskell. C.A.R.D. Flyer, May 3, 1967, London. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (129)

A British Black Power Movement

American Stokely Carmichael (1942-1998) is seen here addressing a Black Power rally in London in 1970. Pictures of the American leader, Malcolm X, are on the wall behind Carmichael. Sitting on Carmichael's right is a disciple of Malcolm X, Michael De Freitas, also called Michael X.

 

Stokely Carmichael Addressing Meeting. Horace Ove. "Black Power." The Arrivants: A Pictorial Essay on Blacks in Britain. London: Race Today Publications, March, 1987, p. 40. General Collections, Library of Congress (130)

The Stars and Bars in Britain

The British civil rights movement galvanized opponents who took their cue from racist groups in the United States. Here members of the so-called "British Movement," flying the Confederate flag, demonstrate against West Indians and Asians in London in 1980.

 

A British Movement Demonstration in London, 1980. Chris Steele-Perkins. Copyprint. Magnum Photos, Inc. 1980 Chris Steele-Perkins (131)

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