Discussion Manchester and the Union

Llewellyn

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When I was a schoolboy, my school held its annual Speech Day and Prize Giving in an establishment called the Free Trade Hall, in Manchester, England. The original FTH was built in the 1850s, though the Hall I knew and loved was a rebuild after the original was destroyed by enemy air action in late December 1940 - what we called the Christmas Blitz. The Luftwaffe came on the night of 22/23rd, and set the city alight. Then they came again the following night. My grandparents were bombed out of their home in these raids, but that is another story.

The site of the Hall was Peter Street. In earlier years this had been open land called St Peters Field, and it was here in 1819 that the incident known as the Peterloo Massacre occurred, when cavalry was loosed on a peaceful public gathering which had assembled to hear speeches calling for extension of political representation and for repeal of the Corn Laws; tariffs on foreign grain imports.

When the original Hall was built, it was named to commemorate Manchester's role in bringing about the abolition of the tariffs. It was a place of public amenity, and in later years would become the home of the city's Halle Orchestra. It was also the venue of several dates between young soldier, Mr Llewellyn, and the gorgeous girl who I would marry, and for whom I have grieved these last two years. Amongst others we saw the Dave Brubeck Quartet at the height of their "Take Five" fame, and it is where a member of the audience shouted out "Judas" at Bob Dylan for playing electronic sets in May 1966.

Between 1861-65 Manchester and surrounding cotton towns were hit hard by the Cotton Famine, but the workers maintained their support for the Union and abolition. Seventy or so years later the next generation of cotton workers generously welcomed Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi, despite the fact that he had organised boycotts of cotton goods manufactured in Lancashire towns. The working folk showed that they placed freedom and justice before their own personal comfort and prosperity.

On New Years Eve, 1862, the day before the Emancipation Proclamation came into force, Mancunians gathered once more at the Free Trade Hall, under the chairmanship of Mayor Abel Heywood (himself a remarkable man) to show support for Mr Lincoln, and for abolition.

This is the address which they sent:-


"To Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States:

As citizens of Manchester, assembled at the Free-Trade Hall, we beg to express our fraternal sentiments toward you and your country. We rejoice in your greatness as an outgrowth of England, whose blood and language you share, whose orderly and legal freedom you have applied to new circumstances, over a region immeasurably greater than our own. We honor your Free States, as a singularly happy abode for the working millions where industry is honored. One thing alone has, in the past, lessened our sympathy with your country and our confidence in it—we mean the ascendency of politicians who not merely maintained negro slavery, but desired to extend and root it more firmly. Since we have discerned, however, that the victory of the free North, in the war which has so sorely distressed us as well as afflicted you, will strike off the fetters of the slave, you have attracted our warm and earnest sympathy. We joyfully honor you, as the President, and the Congress with you, for many decisive steps toward practically exemplifying your belief in the words of your great founders: "All men are created free and equal." You have procured the liberation of the slaves in the district around Washington, and thereby made the centre of your Federation visibly free. You have enforced the laws against the slave-trade, and kept up your fleet against it, even while every ship was wanted for service in your terrible war. You have nobly decided to receive ambassadors from the negro republics of Hayti and Liberia, thus forever renouncing that unworthy prejudice which refuses the rights of humanity to men and women on account of their color. In order more effectually to stop the slave-trade, you have made with our Queen a treaty, which your Senate has ratified, for the right of mutual search. Your Congress has decreed freedom as the law forever in the vast unoccupied or half unsettled Territories which are directly subject to its legislative power. It has offered pecuniary aid to all States which will enact emancipation locally, and has forbidden your Generals to restore fugitive slaves who seek their protection. You have entreated the slave-masters to accept these moderate offers; and after long and patient waiting, you, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, have appointed to-morrow, the first of January, 1863, as the day of unconditional freedom for the slaves of the rebel States. Heartily do we congratulate you and your country on this humane and righteous course. We assume that you cannot now stop short of a complete uprooting of slavery. It would not become us to dictate any details, but there are broad principles of humanity which must guide you. If complete emancipation in some States be deferred, though only to a predetermined day, still in the interval, human beings should not be counted chattels. Women must have the rights of chastity and maternity, men the rights of husbands, masters the liberty of manumission. Justice demands for the black, no less than for the white, the protection of law—that his voice be heard in your courts. Nor must any such abomination be tolerated as slave-breeding States, and a slave market—if you are to earn the high reward of all your sacrifices, in the approval of the universal brotherhood and of the Divine Father. It is for your free country to decide whether any thing but immediate and total emancipation can secure the most indispensable rights of humanity against the inveterate wickedness of local laws and local executives. We implore you, for your own honor and welfare, not to faint in your providential mission. While your enthusiasm is aflame, and the tide of events runs high, let the work be finished effectually. Leave no root of bitterness to spring up and work fresh misery to your children. It is a mighty task, indeed, to reorganize the industry not only of four millions of the colored race, but of five millions of whites. Nevertheless, the vast progress you have made in the short space of twenty months fills us with hope that every stain on your freedom will shortly be removed, and that the erasure of that foul blot upon civilization and Christianity—chattel slavery—during your Presidency will cause the name of Abraham Lincoln to be honored and revered by posterity. We are certain that such a glorious consummation will cement Great Britain to the United States in close and enduring regards. Our interests, moreover, are identified with yours. We are truly one people, though locally separate. And if you have any ill-wishers here, be assured they are chiefly those who oppose liberty at home, and that they will be powerless to stir up quarrels between us, from the very day in which your country becomes, undeniably and without exception, the home of the free. Accept our high admiration of your firmness in upholding the proclamation of freedom."


Well this is a long post. If any interest is shown by Forum members I will finish off the story - Lincoln's reply, his statue in Lincoln Square, Manchester, and US Grant's visit and speech, differences of opinion between the cities of Liverpool and Manchester . . . . .
 
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Llewellyn

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Three weeks later, the President replied to the working folk of Manchester in typically Lincolnian terms.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, January 19, 1863.
To the Working-men of Manchester:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the address and resolutions which you sent me on the eve of the new year. When I came, on the 4th of March, 1861, through a free and constitutional election to preside in the Government of the United States, the country was found at the verge of civil war. Whatever might have been the cause, or whosoever the fault, one duty, paramount to all others, was_ before me, namely, to maintain and preserve at once the Constitution and the integrity of the Federal Republic. A conscientious purpose to perform this duty is the key to all the measures of administration which have been and to all which will hereafter be pursued. Under our frame of government and my official oath, I could not depart from this purpose if I would. It is not always in the power of governments to enlarge or restrict the scope of moral results which follow the policies that they may deem it necessary for the public safety from time to time to adopt.

I have understood well that the duty of self-preservation rests solely with the American people; but I have at the same time been aware that favor or disfavor of foreign nations might have a material influence in enlarging or prolonging the struggle with disloyal men in which the country is engaged. A fair examination of history has served to authorize a belief that the past actions and influences of the United States were generally regarded as having been beneficial toward mankind. I have, therefore, reckoned upon the forbearance of nations. Circumstances -to some of which you kindly allude - induce me especially to expect that if justice and good faith should be practised by the United States, they would encounter no hostile influence on the part of Great Britain. It is now a pleasant duty to acknowledge the demonstration you have given of your desire that a spirit of amity and peace toward this country may prevail in the councils of your Queen, who is respected and esteemed in your own country only more than she is by the kindred nation which has its home on this side of the Atlantic.

I know and deeply deplore the sufferings which the working-men of 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 upon the foundation of human rights, and to substitute for it one which should rest exclusively on the basis of human slavery, was likely to obtain the favor of Europe. Through the action of our disloyal citizens, the working- men of Europe have been subjected to severe trials, for the purpose of forcing their sanction to that attempt. Under the 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. It is indeed an energetic and re-inspiring assurance of the inherent power of truth, and of the ultimate and universal triumph of justice, humanity, and freedom. I do not doubt that the sentiments you have expressed will be sustained by your great nation; and, on the other hand, I have no hesitation in assuring you that they will excite admiration, esteem, and the most reciprocal feelings of friendship among the American people. I hail this interchange of sentiment, therefore, as an augury that whatever else may happen, whatever misfortune may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exist between the two nations will be, as it shall be my desire to make them, perpetual.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.


A mere 35 miles from Manchester lay the port of Liverpool, which was known as a hotbed of Confederate sympathy. Prestigious businessmen and politicians banded together in what was called "The Southern Club" and there was much economic activity which supported the South, much of it clandestine and underhand. The construction of warships, the most famous being the Alabama, are probably the best known examples, but it was only a small part of the total extent of the South-supporting goings-on. It was said, with only a little facetiousness, that there were more Confederate flags flying along the Mersey than in Richmond. William Ewart Gladstone, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the British government throughout the period of the war, and who went on to become Prime Minister on four occasions before the end of the century, was a Liverpudlian. Though a Liberal, he resisted the early abolition of slavery, his family (father) had been the owner of a large number of slaves in the Caribbean. Only a matter of weeks before the folk of Manchester had sent their address to Lincoln, Gladstone had made a speech in Newcastle (north-east England) supporting the South -"They have made a nation" he declared.

Moving forward several years, President Grant, together with his wife, Julia, and son Jesse started their world tour, arriving in Liverpool on 28 May 1877. He was, no doubt, bound to be diplomatic despite making outspoken remarks elsewhere during the course of his long tour. However, despite the good welcome he received, he cannot have been unaware of Liverpool's part during the war. His speech, therefore was formulaic, pointing out the rather obvious facts that the two nations were "of one kindred, one blood, one language, and one civilization".

Two days later he arrived in Manchester, where he and his family were accommodated in a guest suite in the prestigious new Town Hall (just around the corner from the Free Trade Hall, where this thread started !) The Town Hall had not yet been formally opened, this would happen the following September, so the Grants were the very first guests of Manchester to stay in the magnificent building. The reception and speeches were the first to be made from there. He spoke publicly to the people of the city, and it seems to me that he would have remembered the support that the city gave to the Union in the dark days of war. These words and tense seem to be carefully chosen, and full of meaning - praise for Manchester, and a subtle rebuke to many other parts of the Kingdom, most notably perhaps Liverpool where the General and his family had been only the previous day,

" There has been on the part of my countrymen a feeling of friendship towards Manchester, distinct and separate from that which they feel for all the rest of England ."

Am I reading too much into this ? What do you think ?

There is a statue of Lincoln located in central Manchester, and some of the words from his January 1863 letter are inscribed on the base. Two similar statues were given to England by one of President Taft's sons and were due to be erected in 1914 to mark a hundred years of peace between the two nations. One was intended for London, of course, and the other - of all places - for Liverpool. The Great War intervened, and in addition another Taft son declared that he did not like the statue. So London eventually got another statue, which stands in Parliament Square, and at the end of the Great War Manchester bought the other. It stood in a park a mile or so from the city centre, but in 1986 it was brought into its present location, and the immediate area was renamed Lincoln Square.
 
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Tom Elmore

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Thanks to @Llewellyn I learned a new word today: Mancunian - a native of Manchester, England.

Incidentally, I know of five Mancunians who fought at Gettysburg, all on the Union side:

-Corporal Henry S. Houghton, Company D, 15th Massachusetts, born in 1839, captured during the battle of Gettysburg.

-Private Thomas H. White, Company F, 108th New York, born in 1844, transferred to a hospital as a nurse in July 1863.

-1st Sergeant Thomas Lees, Company B, 2nd New Hampshire, captured at Gettysburg but returned to his unit.

-Private John Flaugherty, Company G, 11th U.S. Infantry, killed at Gettysburg.

-2nd Lieutenant Joseph Wiley Gelray, Company A, 2nd Massachusetts, born on February 28, 1840 (his father's name was Robert Gelray), severely wounded in the right arm (amputated) at Gettysburg. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant as of July 4, 1863, discharged, and promoted to Captain of Company, 57th Massachusetts. He afterwards served as Assistant Inspector General to General Bartlett, then was promoted to Major of the 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, and finally to Colonel of the 59th Massachusetts Infantry, although he was not yet mustered into the latter unit when the war ended. [source: John W. Busey and Travis W. Busey, Union Casualties at Gettysburg]
 

Llewellyn

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I'm resurrecting this thread because I have recently discovered (with some civic pride) that the first British citizen (as opposed to British-born immigrant) to be awarded the Medal of Honor was a Mancunian, Philip Baybutt. The following is a tweaked cut'n'paste from Wikipedia:-

Born in Manchester in 1844, he journeyed to Fall River, Massachusetts, to visit his brother, but he joined the Union Army when war broke out. The nonconformist working class community in his native city were strongly opposed to slavery, and this opposition continued despite the hardships resulting from the Union blockade and the consequent 'cotton famine'. Philip fought in eight major battles and was seriously wounded twice as two of his horses were shot beneath him. He was awarded the Medal of Honor after snatching the enemy flag while fighting for the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry in action at Luray, Virginia, 24 September 1864.
When he returned to Britain, he had eight children but never fully recovered from his injuries and died aged 62


He is buried in Manchester Southern Cemetery. In 2002 a Civil War style headstone was erected on his family grave, with due ceremony.


Baybutt.jpeg
 

Lubliner

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@Llewellyn I couldn't help but think along the lines of the Gettysburg Address when I read the letter from Manchester. Somehow these thoughts received by Lincoln from your people seemed to have enough profound impact to help him form the express sentiments found in his November delivery. Whether it was consciously done or subconsciously, I believe it was a significant influence.
Lubliner.
 

Llewellyn

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Britain
@Llewellyn I couldn't help but think along the lines of the Gettysburg Address when I read the letter from Manchester. Somehow these thoughts received by Lincoln from your people seemed to have enough profound impact to help him form the express sentiments found in his November delivery. Whether it was consciously done or subconsciously, I believe it was a significant influence.
Lubliner.
That's an interesting observation, @Lubliner . Thank you.

Here's another web page which mentions the disparity of opinion about slavery between the cities of Manchester and Liverpool, despite them only being 35 miles apart. I found it interesting to note that it was evident two generations before the Civil War, vide the references to the reception of the 18th century abolitionist, Thomas Clarkson.

https://ilovemanchester.com/why-manchester-abraham-lincoln-statue-square
 

Lubliner

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That's an interesting observation, @Lubliner . Thank you.

Here's another web page which mentions the disparity of opinion about slavery between the cities of Manchester and Liverpool, despite them only being 35 miles apart. I found it interesting to note that it was evident two generations before the Civil War, vide the references to the reception of the 18th century abolitionist, Thomas Clarkson.

https://ilovemanchester.com/why-manchester-abraham-lincoln-statue-square
After reading of Manchester's goals and human rights advocacy during and before our Civil War, I began to be curious of how they felt about the American Revolution. The hot-bed of that movement was fomented in Boston, mainly Irish/English immigrants. This also made me believe that the harbor ports such as both Liverpool and Boston may have had more diversity of cultures, and a differing set of ethics than more inland cities; therefore, more turmoil. What do you think?
Thanks,
Lubliner.
 
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