|Presented for sale by Phil Barber, Post Office Box 8694, Boston, Mass. 02114-0036 Telephone (617) 492-4653|
All items in this catalog are unconditionally guaranteed to be genuine and accurately described. Each catalog entry is briefly described for its general appearance, historical significance, and content. Every one contains hours of additional historic reading, much more than I could find the space to describe here.
Please consult my collector information pages and glossary of terms page linked below, if you are not sure what the descriptions mean. Your comments are always welcome, as are your inquiries, if you have questions about these historic collectibles.Enjoy your browsing!
Although we tend to look at our history in a vacuum, the rest of the world has always eagerly followed events in the United States. This was especially true during the Civil War. With the secession of the southern states, enemies of freedom everwhere gleefully celebrated the apparent self-destruction of the world's only experiment in democratic self-government. The success of the United States had been a thorn in the side of Europe's petty Kings and Emperors, whose people looked across the ocean for a model of how they might live as well, free of their arbitrary authorities.
There was strong support for the insurgency among the English aristocracy, who identified with the highly class-structured Southern society and its controlling slaveholder elite. British diplomatic recognition of the rebels, with subsequent financial and military aid, would almost certainly have won the Confederacy’s independence, just as the American Revolution would have failed without French economic aid and military intervention. Southern strategists counted on the enormous value of cotton to clinch British support for their cause. Cotton was the U.S.'s most valuable export commodity and was in great demand in English textile mills, yet Southerners were unaware of the fact that "King Cotton" had been dethroned by 1861. English merchants had already begun growing short-strand cotton in the Empire's Egyptian and Indian possessions, and as valuable as cotton was to the American economy, it amounted to only 10% of the nation's agricultural output. In addition, British trade with the northern manufacturing states was more lucrative than that with the cotton states - and perceived economic advantages are always the root cause of participation in or refraining from armed struggle.
Britons of all classes were solidly opposed to human slavery, which England had abolished throughout her vast empire in 1834. Working people in particular supported the Union war effort, despite the cost to themselves. Literally millions of mill workers faced destitution, as British mills cut back production during early wartime cotton shortages. Southerners cynically hoped that the spectre of class warfare in Britain would frighten the leaders of the world’s mightiest superpower into alliance with them. Lincoln’s brilliant stroke of turning the war to preserve the Union into a campaign to end slavery was aimed primarily at Great Britain, and doomed Southern hopes of support from that nation, as well as from France and Russia, whose governments her diplomats had also courted.
British newspapers are generally strongly pro-Confederate and hostile to the United States' leaders and war effort. They contain splendid perspectives on the conflict that are not to be found in any other contemporary accounts. Their correspondents traveled and marched with rebel forces and sent home vivid pictures and words of what life was like in "rebeldom." The English pictorial newspapers, chiefly the great Illustrated London News, the world's first pictorial newsweekly, contain the highest quality wood engravings of American news. They are very similar in style to the American Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's, and offer glimpses into life in the South and the North, the like of which are not to be found elsewhere. For this reason I am proud to include these often overlooked treasures among my Civil War catalog offerings.
For more on Britain's involvement in our war, and how its government's actions (and inaction) profoundly affected its outcome, we recommend Amanda Foreman's new book "A World on Fire, Britain’s Crucial Role in America's Civil War" (2011).
I hope you have enjoyed this listing, and have found it useful and informative. This catalog contains a very small sampling of our large and ever-changing inventory of Civil War newspapers. More organized and diverse editions of the catalog are planned to be uploaded to this site, so please visit us again. We normally try to have at least three to four hundred different individually described items in each of our topic catalogs, but they tend to sell out so rapidly that it is hard to keep up with the demand! Please feel free to e-mail your comments to our address below, or call us during regular business hours, eastern time.
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Contents ©:2013 Phil Barber.