Socialist Worker

The Cotton Famine

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2586

Image of the Cotton Famine from the London Illustrated News

Image of the Cotton Famine from the London Illustrated News

This new pamphlet tells the story of how textile workers in Lancashire came to support the abolition of slavery in the US.

It dispels the myth that textile workers refused to handle cotton. The Civil War in the US between 1861 and 1865 had brought the British textile industry to its knees. But, rather than side with the slave-owning southern states, workers packed out meetings to support the fight against slavery.

There are complex questions about the fight to end slavery which are alluded to. For instance, Abraham Lincoln’s hypocrisy in saying he supported abolition to one group and then the opposite to another.

The meat of the pamphlet is excellent at showing how the British working class was on the right side of history, and dragged the vacillating ruling class behind them.

The Cotton Famine by Mark Krantz

Published by Red Roof, £4. Go to

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Article information

Tue 9 Jan 2018, 10:17 GMT
Issue No. 2586
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