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Charles Dickens - Things To Remember While Reading Excerpts From American Notes:

plan prisoners england staff

  • By the 1840s Charles Dickens was the most popular author in Britain and had achieved international fame. His recent novels included The Pickwick Papers (1837) and Oliver Twist (1838).
  • Books about America were very popular in England at the time. British citizens were intrigued with America's new democratic government and wanted to know more. Dickens' publishers provided him a contract to travel to America and write about his adventures. He was to compare American and British institutions.
  • In contrast to the system at Cherry Hill prisoners in the Auburn plan, known as the Silent System, were allowed to be among other inmates though only to work in groups during the day and under very strict supervision. They were able to make products sold in the outside world. Like the Philadelphia plan, inmates could not speak or communicate with one another and spent their nights sleeping in separate cells. Guards stayed with the prisoners night and day to make sure they obeyed the strict silence rules, requiring a large staff. The Philadelphia plan required a more expensive building but a much smaller staff.
  • Dickens strongly opposed slavery. His outspokenness on the trip met with increasing resistance from the American public. By June, when Dickens set sail back to England, his popularity in the United States had sharply declined.
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