While it might be peculiar to find an American President’s statue on English soil, there is a great story behind it. The city of Manchester was apparently a close ally to the late president.
Due to the blockade of Confederate cotton, English mill towns experienced famine. The workers in Manchester still wrote a letter of support to Abraham Lincoln’s cause. Lincoln responded by gifting the city with food as a sign of gratitude.
Who Built the Statue?
Abraham Lincoln’s statue was sculpted by the American artist George Grey Bernard. Bernard was trained in Paris and was known for his symbolic pieces. The statue of Lincoln was no exception. In fact, it gathered quite the controversy. It was made with rough features and was slouching.
There are three castings of this statue. The first casting of the statue was set at Lytle Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. The second was placed in Manchester City, England, in 1919, and the last casting in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1922. It took Bernard 8 years to complete the project altogether. (Source: National Park Service)
What Was the Significance of Having His Statue in Manchester?
According to the archives at the Manchester Central Library, the city was known to be one of the close allies of the late president. The town’s people showed their support in Lincoln’s union during the American Civil War as well as his goal to abolish slavery. The statue was erected in his honor as a reminder of the historical relationship between the United States and Victorian Manchester. (Source: I Love Manchester)
What Happened to the Mill Towns Then?
While the United States was the largest supplier of cotton in the world back in the 1900s. Manchester City was the largest processor of raw cotton. However, during the blockade of confederate cotton to ultimately stop the US slave trade, the supply of cotton to the mill towns dropped significantly.
Due to the lack of supply, there was less cotton to process, causing loss of jobs and a drastic decrease in production, which affected neighboring towns. While life was difficult for cotton mill workers, they supported Lincoln’s aim of abolishing slavery. (Source: I Love Manchester)
What Did Lincoln Say in His Letter?
On January 19, 1863, Lincoln wrote a letter to thank the people of Manchester for their support despite the sad circumstances they faced. This was received by Abel Heywood, the Lord Mayor of the city. A photocopy of the letter can be found in the Manchester Libraries Information and Archives.
By January 1865, the US Congress passed the 13th amendment to the constitution; slavery was officially throughout the United States. (Source: I Love Manchester)
What Happened to Abraham Lincoln?
On April 11, 1865, Lincoln gave a speech about promoting voting rights for blacks and virtually equalizing the treatment of whites and people of color. John Wilkes Booth, an actor and a Confederate spy plotted against the president.
Booth found out that Lincoln would be attending a play with General Grant at the Ford’s Theatre. Booth entered Lincoln’s theatre box and shot him on the back of the head. Lincoln was taken to the Petersen House after being assisted by Dr. Charles Leale. He was in a coma for 8 hours before he passed. (Source: The Lincoln Assassination Encyclopedia)