Slavery as it Exists in America. Slavery as it Exists in England.

Slavery as it Exists in America./ Slavery as it Exists in England.

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This 1850 print offers a defense of slavery in America by satirically comparing it with a perceived system of “wage slavery” in England. In the top panel, two Northern men and two Southern men look upon a group of seemingly content slaves who are shown dancing, playing music, and smiling. The Northerners are surprised at this scene, amazed to find that popular assumptions at home about slavery were unfounded. The Southerners hope that the Northerners will return home with a new perspective on slavery, but demonstrate their readiness to fight for their rights if necessary. The lower panel shows a gathering of people outside of a cloth factory in England. On the side of the factory, a sign reads, “Sale / A Wife to be Sold.” On the left, a young farmer talks to his childhood friend, who appears as an old man. The older figure explains that life in a factory ages one more quickly, and that the workers die of old age at 40. To their right, a mother looks down upon her three children, lamenting “What wretched slaves, this factory life makes me & my children. Continuing right, two factory workers contemplate running away to the coal mines, where they would only work for 14 hours instead of their current 17. On the far right, two rotund men approach the workers with books labeled “Tythes” and “Taxes.” In the right corner, a man thanks God that he will soon die and be free of his “factory slavery.” Below the panels is included a portrait of the bust of George Thompson, a Scottish abolitionist. An accompanying quote from Thompson reads, “I am proud to boast that Slavery does not breathe in England,” although the creators of this print would argue otherwise. It was printed by J. Haven, who was active in Boston in the mid-19th century.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
Thompson, George
Haven, Joshua P.
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
image: 17 1/2 in x 10 3/8 in; 44.45 cm x 26.3525 cm
ID Number
catalog number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Political Caricatures
Chronology: 1850-1859
Architecture, Industrial Buildings
Civil War
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Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Clothing & Accessories
Domestic Furnishings
American Civil War Prints
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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