Throughout the Civil War, liberal member of Parliament John Bright was Britain’s leading supporter of Lincoln’s policies. In a series of speeches in 1862–63 he argued that the Southern states were fighting for the maintenance of slavery, not independence, and that emancipated labor would improve the supply of cotton to British factories. Bright was almost solely responsible for presenting a positive image of Lincoln, and the North, in Britain. In 1863 he spoke vehemently against a House of Commons resolution calling for an alliance between Britain, France, and the Confederate states. Bright’s portrait hung in Lincoln’s office, and his testimonial advocating the president’s reelection was among the items removed from Lincoln’s pocket after his assassination.
I shall be happy to join in any mark of sympathy to the Free States of America, both on their success in their arduous struggle, and on the atrocious act which has mingled such deep grief with the very hour of triumph. I should think that initiative would be taken by friends of the cause who are in a position to act more effectively than I could. I should like an address to the American people to be signed by millions.