"A delight to read. With humor, graceful expression, and a stunning command of illuminating sources, Cunliffe brings a sharp and unusually cosmopolitan Anglo-American perspective to the enormous subject of slavery."
—Journal of the Early Republic
In a three part study, Cunliffe explores the context of chattel and wage slavery in Britain and the United States. He first outlines the evolution of the concept of wage slavery in Europe and the United States, demonstrating how this concept bore upon opinions about chattel slavery in America.
In his second section, Cunliffe discusses the precariousness of Anglo-American relationships during the period of 1830 to 1860. In their resentment of British rebukes aimed at the persistence of slavery in a democracy, Americans retaliated by claiming that British wage slavery was worse than American plantation slavery.
Cunliffe concludes by charting the career of Lester, the seemingly atypical New York abolitionist. Lester displayed a conviction that Britain was a corrupt and brutal society, most of whose leading citizens detested America. Cunliffe maintains that Lester's opinions were shared by many of his countrymen during the antebellum decades; in this sense he may have been more truly representative of American attitudes than either Southerners like Fitzhugh or Northerner abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison.
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