Across the nineteenth century, British immigrants (coming from England, Wales, or Scotland) to the United States fared better than almost any other group. The close cultural, religious, social, and linguistic ties between Great Britain and the United States rendered British assimilation to the U.S. far easier than others, while over half of British immigrants to the U.S. came as skilled workers and therefore found well-paying jobs in manufacturing textiles (Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century, Vol. 2, 73-6).

Both rapidly industrializing nations, Great Britain and the United States became economic competitors, yet their economies became integrally linked as cotton from the U. S. South fueled Britain's booming textile industry. At the outbreak of the American Civil War, politicians in Great Britain hotly debated whether to support the Union or Confederacy. While anti-British sentiment remained strongest in the North, the South's ties to slavery were diplomatically unwise for a Great Britain that had abolished slavery decades before. Both the U. S. and Confederacy sent emissaries to Great Britain, which throughout the war remained officially neutral. In practice, the British supplied munitions, built ships, and smuggled cotton for the Confederacy. However, Great Britain never formally recognized the Confederate States of America as a distinct nation, thereby crippling it diplomatically and aiding the Union war effort (Essential Civil War Curriculum).

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