To what extent did ordinary Britons support or oppose the pursuit of empire abroad, and how did popular support for the empire change (ebb and flow) over time? Did they even notice or care? Was empire the province and concern of upper class Britons only? These questions continue to divide historians (and wider public opinion in Britain) to this day. Though it covers only a single historical episode and one segment of working-class opinion, Guan’s essay provides some evidence to help us grapple with these questions. At the same time, we may question how “anti-imperialist” the views expressed by the Chartist press were. What were main sources of outrage, and what does this tells us about how working-class reformers viewed their government and overseas empire in the mid-19th century?
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