CHAPTER I. BACKGROUNDS
The fact was that British governing and intellectual classes were suffering a recoil from the enthusiasms leading up to the step toward democracy in the Reform of 1832. The electoral franchise was still limited to a small minority of the population. Britain was still ruled by her "wise men" of wealth and position. Meanwhile, however, just at the moment when dominant Whig influence in England carried through that step forward toward democratic institutions which Whigs had long lauded in America, the latter country had progressed to manhood suffrage, or as nearly all leading Englishmen, whether Whig or Tory, regarded it, had plunged into the rule of the mob. The result was a rapid lessening in Whig ruling-class expression of admiration for America, even before long to the complete cessation of such admiration, and to assertions in Great Britain that the Reform of 1832 was "final," the last step toward democracy which Britain could safely take. It is not strange that the books and reviews of the period from 1830 to 1840, heavily stress the dangers and crudity of American democracy. They were written for what was now a nearly unanimous British reading public, fearful lest Radical pressure for still further electoral reform should preach the example of the United States.
Thus after 1832 the previous sympathy for America of one section of the British governing class disappears. More - it is replaced by a critical, if not openly hostile attitude. Soon, with the rapid development of the power and wealth of the United States, governing-class England, of all factions save the Radical, came to view America just as it would have viewed any other rising nation, that is, as a problem to be studied for its influence on British prosperity and power. Again, expressions in print reflect the changes of British view - nowhere more clearly than in travellers' books. After 1840, for nearly a decade, these are devoted, not to American political institutions, but to studies, many of them very careful ones, of American industry and governmental policy.
Buckingham, one-time member of Parliament, wrote nine volumes of such description. His work is a storehouse of fact, useful to this day to the American historical student. George Combe, philosopher and phrenologist, studied especially social institutions. Joseph Sturge, philanthropist and abolitionist, made a tour, under the guidance of the poet Whittier, through the Northern and Eastern States. Featherstonaugh, a scientist and civil engineer, described the Southern slave states, in terms completely at variance with those of Sturge. Kennedy, traveller in Texas, and later British consul at Galveston, and Warburton, a traveller who came to the United States by way of Canada, an unusual approach, were both frankly startled, the latter professedly alarmed, at the evidences of power in America. Amazed at the energy, growth and prosperity of the country and alarmed at the anti-British feeling he found in New York City, Warburton wrote that "they [Americans] only wait for matured power to apply the incendiary torch of Republicanism to the nations of Europe." Soon after this was written there began, in 1848, that great tide of Irish emigration to America which heavily reinforced the anti-British attitude of the City of New York, and largely changed its character.
Did books dilating upon the expanding power of America reflect British public opinion, or did they create it? It is difficult to estimate such matters. Certainly it is not uninteresting that these books coincided in point of time with a British governmental attitude of opposition, though on peaceful lines, to the development of American power, and to the adoption to the point of faith, by British commercial classes, of free trade as opposed to the American protective system. But governing classes were not the British public, and to the great unenfranchised mass, finding voice through the writings of a few leaders, the prosperity of America made a powerful appeal. Radical democracy was again beginning to make its plea in Britain. In 1849 there was published a study of the United States, more careful and exact than any previous to Bryce's great work, and lauding American political institutions. This was Mackay's "Western World," and that there was a public eager for such estimate is evidenced by the fact that the book went through four British editions in 1850. At the end of the decade, then, there appeared once more a vigorous champion of the cause of British democracy, comparing the results of "government by the wise" with alleged mob rule. Mackay wrote: