The United States was home to Dickens’s largest and most enthusiastic audience outside of Great Britain. However, his relationship with America was strained by his first tour of the country in 1842. He was appalled by the sight of slavery in operation and found fault with some common American habits of the time, such as tobacco chewing (and spitting.)
Dickens frequently announced his support for an international copyright law during his American readings, complaining about the “robbers” in American publishing who were pirating his works. His vocal advocacy led to loud protests by the American press.
Dickens’s disillusionment with the American democratic project was apparent in American Notes for General Circulation (1842) and Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-44). Illustrations from the latter are shown here. Responding to slow sales of the first few parts of Chuzzlewit, Dickens sent his title character to America, where he is conned into settling in a swampy frontier town ironically named Eden.