One envelope, published by Stimpson & Co in New York in 1861, at the start of the American Civil War. Both the northern Union and southern Confederate states published illustrated envelopes from the 1850s, as political propaganda to sway support in their favour. In the Union states, slavery was a common theme as they sought to abolish it, whereas the Confederates wanted it preserved. Over 4,100 different envelope designs were produced, with versions published in most of the major cities, New York and Boston being the most prolific.
The envelope includes a verse, entitled 'Cotton is King!', and uses patriotic images to reinforce the poem. John Bull, the stereotypical Briton, is showing respect to a cotton bale whilst kneeling on a slave, a clear indication of his alleged priorities. John Bull also carries a paper with the word Manchester printed on it in his pocket.
American cotton grown by enslaved Africans was vital to Lancashire's cotton industry and the national economy, but many workers supported the abolition movement. During the Civil War, Union forces blockaded southern ports, preventing the export of raw slave-grown cotton. This action led to the "Lancashire cotton famine" of 1862-1863. Despite the effect on the local economy, many people in Manchester continued to support Abraham Lincoln and the Union states in the fight against slavery.
- Textile Industry, Propaganda, Anti Slavery Movements
- Open access.