John Bright, Lancashire and the American Civil War

WESTWOOD, Shannon Rebecca (2018). John Bright, Lancashire and the American Civil War. Masters, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This thesis aims to bridge the gap between the American Civil War and John Bright biographical historiography. It will re-evaluate the role of Bright’s transatlantic network and how it shaped his perspectives on the conflict, which has often been undermined by historiography. In doing this, it will reconsider Anglo-American relations and what issues were of considerable importance to Bright. Bright played a vital role in communicating with American citizens and has sometimes been overlooked by historians, with much emphasis being placed on Richard Cobden. The evidence used to demonstrate his significance in affairs was notably the collection MS 43391 from the British Library, as well as the Rochdale Observer and Manchester Guardian newspapers. This source from the British Library has been under-utilised by historians and therefore will offer a different approach into Anglo-American relations. Additionally, Bright’s speeches from Rochdale, Birmingham and the House of Commons were used in order to connect Bright’s private and public circles. Bright’s oratory skills were exemplary, and these speeches are an excellent showcase of his opinions and talent. The themes that will be discussed in these letters include British attitudes towards the war, abolition, the ‘Cotton Famine’, Manchester’s support for the Union, capital punishment and how the debates surrounding these topics evolved throughout the conflict. Britain’s policy of neutrality remained controversial throughout the conflict, and in this thesis the reasons for its controversy will be addressed. Where other works on Anglo-American relations have focused heavily on the question of slavery, this research aims to re-evaluate the evolution of Bright’s correspondence by shedding light on his interest in capital punishment, which is a lesser known aspect of his career. It contributes to our existing understanding of Anglo-American relations and the American Civil War more broadly but aims to centralise Bright’s engagement in his transatlantic network.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Thesis advisor - Roberts, Matthew [0000-0002-0639-1634]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Matthew Roberts
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2019 16:02
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2023 15:16

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