Copy Book Archive

Sublime Christian Heroism In replying to a letter of support from Manchester’s cotton workers, US President Lincoln showed how deeply touched he had been.
Queen Victoria 1837-1901
Music: Sir Charles Villiers Stanford

© John Topping, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0. Source

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Gibson Mill in Calderdale, a few miles northeast of Manchester. Lincoln was deeply moved by cotton workers’ gesture, as was Carl Shurz, Union major-general and subsequently a Republican Party senator. “Do you remember the touching address of the workingmen of Manchester?” he asked in a speech in Brooklyn, New York, on October 7th, 1864. “The English laborer stretched his hard hand across the Atlantic to grasp that of our President, and he said: ‘Although want and misery may knock at my doors, mind it not. I may suffer, but be you firm! Let the slave be free. All hail, American people! we are your brothers!’”

Sublime Christian Heroism
Washington’s embargoes on cotton from the American South during the Civil War (1861-1865) hit the British cotton industry hard. Nonetheless, on New Year’s Eve, 1862, the day before the historic Emancipation Proclamation took effect, workers defied scare-mongering politicians and journalists to gather in Manchester’s Free Trade Hall, and pledge their support to Abraham Lincoln. On January 19th, he replied.

I KNOW and deeply deplore the sufferings which the working men at Manchester and in all Europe are called to endure in this crisis.* It has been often and studiously represented that the attempt to overthrow this Government which was built on the foundation of human rights, and to substitute for it one which should rest exclusively on the basis of slavery, was likely to obtain the favour of Europe. Through the action of disloyal citizens, the working men of Europe have been subjected to a severe trial for the purpose of forcing their sanction to that attempt. Under these circumstances I cannot but regard your decisive utterances upon the question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country.

* For an extract from the cotton workers’ letter, see A Letter to the President.


Replying to a letter from Manchester’s cotton workers, who had backed the Union in the American Civil War of 1961-65, President Lincoln acknowledged that the fight against slavery was costing British industry dear. But the support of England’s working men moved him deeply, and he declared that never had any nation set a better example of Christian heroism. (58 / 60 words)


Taken from Abraham Lincoln’s letter as given in ‘Manchester and Abraham Lincoln: a side-light on an earlier fight for freedom’ (1900) by F. Hourani.

Suggested Music

Three Intermezzi for Clarinet and Piano

1: Andante espressivo

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)

Performed by Robert Plane and Benjamin Frisk.

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