By John Plummer.
(Originally published during the Commercial Panic of 1857-8.)
Publication:The Blackburn Standard
Date:Wednesday, November 05, 1862
As the note at the beginning of this poem explains, the “Hard Times” referred to within came some four years prior to the Cotton Famine, following a financial crisis in the United States. The Commercial Panic offered an early indication of the dangers of global economic interconnectedness, and Britain in particular suffered a financial panic and manufacturing depression as a result. The opening lines of the poem, which refer to ‘terror’ from ‘o’er the broad Atlantic wave’ make the poem similarly applicable to the Cotton Famine, with the result of American events again being manufacturing stoppages, unemployment, and poverty. Like many Cotton Famine poems, “Hard Times” first paints a picture of poverty and then appeals to better-off citizens for relief, again making the poem suitable for adaptation for the Cotton Famine relief effort. – RM.