With the rapid flow of information—the American Civil War became a global event. On January 17, 1863, the Illustrated London News carried an article that celebrated President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation as long overdue.
Questioning the President’s motives, however, the author noted that slavery had been long prohibited in the British Empire, and bewailed the reality that a bloody internal war was required before America followed suit. The American Civil War badly polarized Britain, then the world’s premier power.
While the British government contemplated intervention on the side of the Confederacy, the rapidly growing working class arrayed firmly on the side of the Union, with workers in Manchester sending a direct letter of support to President Lincoln, an act that the President lauded as “sublime Christian heroism.”