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Title: Great Britain and the American Civil War
Author: Adams, Ephraim Douglass
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Great Britain and the American Civil War" ***

[Illustration: LORD JOHN RUSSELL
(_From Trevelyan's "Garibaldi and the Making of Italy_")]





This work was begun many years ago. In 1908 I read in the British Museum
many newspapers and journals for the years 1860-1865, and then planned a
survey of English public opinion on the American Civil War. In the
succeeding years as a teacher at Stanford University, California, the
published diplomatic correspondence of Great Britain and of the United
States were studied in connection with instruction given in the field of
British-American relations. Several of my students prepared excellent
theses on special topics and these have been acknowledged where used in
this work. Many distractions and other writing prevented the completion
of my original plan; and fortunately, for when in 1913 I had at last
begun this work and had prepared three chapters, a letter was received
from the late Charles Francis Adams inviting me to collaborate with him
in preparing a "Life" of his father, the Charles Francis Adams who was
American Minister to Great Britain during the Civil War. Mr. Adams had
recently returned from England where he had given at Oxford University a
series of lectures on the Civil War and had been so fortunate as to
obtain copies, made under the scholarly supervision of Mr. Worthington
C. Ford, of a great mass of correspondence from the Foreign Office files
in the Public Record Office and from the private papers in the
possession of various families.

The first half of the year 1914 was spent with Mr. Adams at Washington
and at South Lincoln, in preparing the "Life." Two volumes were
completed, the first by Mr. Adams carrying the story to 1848, the
second by myself for the period 1848 to 1860. For the third volume I
analysed and organized the new materials obtained in England and we were
about to begin actual collaboration on the most vital period of the
"Life" when Mr. Adams died, and the work was indefinitely suspended,
probably wisely, since any completion of the "Life" by me would have
lacked that individual charm in historical writing so markedly
characteristic of all that Mr. Adams did. The half-year spent with Mr.
Adams was an inspiration and constitutes a precious memory.

The Great War interrupted my own historical work, but in 1920 I returned
to the original plan of a work on "Great Britain and the American Civil
War" in the hope that the English materials obtained by Mr. Adams might
be made available to me. When copies were secured by Mr. Adams in 1913 a
restriction had been imposed by the Foreign Office to the effect that
while studied for information, citations and quotations were not
permissible since the general diplomatic archives were not yet open to
students beyond the year 1859. Through my friend Sir Charles Lucas, the
whole matter was again presented to the Foreign Office, with an exact
statement that the new request was in no way related to the proposed
"Life" of Charles Francis Adams, but was for my own use of the
materials. Lord Curzon, then Foreign Secretary, graciously approved the
request but with the usual condition that my manuscript be submitted
before publication to the Foreign Office. This has now been done, and no
single citation censored. Before this work will have appeared the
limitation hitherto imposed on diplomatic correspondence will have been
removed, and the date for open research have been advanced beyond 1865,
the end of the Civil War.

Similar explanations of my purpose and proposed work were made through
my friend Mr. Francis W. Hirst to the owners of various private papers,
and prompt approval given. In 1924 I came to England for further study
of some of these private papers. The Russell Papers, transmitted to the
Public Record Office in 1914 and there preserved, were used through the
courtesy of the Executors of the late Hon. Rollo Russell, and with the
hearty goodwill of Lady Agatha Russell, daughter of the late Earl
Russell, the only living representative of her father, Mr. Rollo
Russell, his son, having died in 1914. The Lyons Papers, preserved in
the Muniment Room at Old Norfolk House, were used through the courtesy
of the Duchess of Norfolk, who now represents her son who is a minor.
The Gladstone Papers, preserved at Hawarden Castle, were used through
the courtesy of the Gladstone Trustees. The few citations from the
Palmerston Papers, preserved at Broadlands, were approved by
Lieut.-Colonel Wilfred Ashley, M.P.

The opportunity to study these private papers has been invaluable for my
work. Shortly after returning from England in 1913 Mr. Worthington Ford
well said: "The inside history of diplomatic relations between the
United States and Great Britain may be surmised from the official
archives; the tinting and shading needed to complete the picture must be
sought elsewhere." (Mass. Hist. Soc. _Proceedings_, XLVI, p. 478.) Mr.
C.F. Adams declared (_ibid._, XLVII, p. 54) that without these papers
"... the character of English diplomacy at that time (1860-1865) cannot
be understood.... It would appear that the commonly entertained
impressions as to certain phases of international relations, and the
proceedings and utterances of English public men during the progress of
the War of Secession, must be to some extent revised."

In addition to the new English materials I have been fortunate in the
generosity of my colleague at Stanford University, Professor Frank A.
Golder, who has given to me transcripts, obtained at St. Petersburg in
1914, of all Russian diplomatic correspondence on the Civil War. Many
friends have aided, by suggestion or by permitting the use of notes and
manuscripts, in the preparation of this work. I have sought to make due
acknowledgment for such aid in my foot-notes. But in addition to those
already named, I should here particularly note the courtesy of the late
Mr. Gaillard Hunt for facilities given in the State Department at
Washington, of Mr. Herbert Putnam, Librarian of Congress, for the
transcript of the Correspondence of Mason and Slidell, Confederate
Commissioners in Europe, and of Mr. Charles Moore, Chief of Manuscripts
Division, Library of Congress, for the use of the Schurz Papers
containing copies of the despatches of Schleiden, Minister of the
Republic of Bremen at Washington during the Civil War. Especially thanks
are due to my friend, Mr. Herbert Hoover, for his early interest in this
work and for his generous aid in the making of transcripts which would
otherwise have been beyond my means. And, finally, I owe much to the
skill and care of my wife who made the entire typescript for the Press,
and whose criticisms were invaluable.

It is no purpose of a Preface to indicate results, but it is my hope
that with, I trust, a "calm comparison of the evidence," now for the
first time available to the historian, a fairly true estimate may be
made of what the American Civil War meant to Great Britain; how she
regarded it and how she reacted to it. In brief, my work is primarily a
study in British history in the belief that the American drama had a
world significance, and peculiarly a British one.


_November 25, 1924_


CHAPTER                                                       PAGE

   I. BACKGROUNDS  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   1
 III. THE DEVELOPMENT OF A POLICY, MAY, 1861  .  .  .  .  .  .  76
  IV. BRITISH SUSPICION OF SEWARD .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 113
   V. THE DECLARATION OF PARIS NEGOTIATION .  .  .  .  .  .  . 137
 VII. THE "TRENT"  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 203
VIII. THE BLOCKADE .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 244
  IX. ENTER MR. LINDSAY  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 274



LORD JOHN RUSSELL   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . _Frontispiece_
_From Trevelyan's "Garibaldi and the Making of

LORD LYONS (1860)  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   _facing p_. 42
_From Lord Newton's "Life of Lord Lyons" (Edward
Arnold & Co_.)

SIR WILLIAM GREGORY, K.C.M.G.  .  .  .  .  .       "     90
_From Lady Gregory's "Sir William Gregory,
K.C.M.G.: An Autobiography"_ (_John Murray_)

WILLIAM HENRY SEWARD  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .       "    114
_From Lord Newton's "Life of Lord Lyons"_ (_Edward
Arnold & Co._)

C.F. ADAMS   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .       "    138
_From a photograph in the United States Embassy,

JAMES M. MASON  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .       "    206
_From a photograph by L.C. Handy, Washington_

"KING COTTON BOUND"   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .       "    262
_Reproduced by permission of the Proprietors of




In 1862, less than a year after he had assumed his post in London, the
American Minister, Charles Francis Adams, at a time of depression and
bitterness wrote to Secretary of State Seward: "That Great Britain did,
in the most terrible moment of our domestic trial in struggling with a
monstrous social evil she had earnestly professed to abhor, coldly and
at once assume our inability to master it, and then become the only
foreign nation steadily contributing in every indirect way possible to
verify its judgment, will probably be the verdict made against her by
posterity, on calm comparison of the evidence[1]." Very different were
the views of Englishmen. The historian, George Grote, could write: "The
perfect neutrality [of Great Britain] in this destructive war appears to
me almost a phenomenon in political history. No such forbearance has
been shown during the political history of the last two centuries. It is
the single case in which the English Government and public--generally so
meddlesome--have displayed most prudent and commendable forbearance in
spite of great temptations to the contrary[2]." And Sir William
Harcourt, in September, 1863, declared: "Among all Lord Russell's many
titles to fame and to public gratitude, the manner in which he has
steered the vessel of State through the Scylla and Charybdis of the
American War will, I think, always stand conspicuous[3]."

Minister Adams, in the later years of the Civil War, saw reason somewhat
to modify his earlier judgment, but his indictment of Great Britain was
long prevalent in America, as, indeed, it was also among the historians
and writers of Continental Europe--notably those of France and Russia.
To what extent was this dictum justified? Did Great Britain in spite of
her long years of championship of personal freedom and of leadership in
the cause of anti-slavery seize upon the opportunity offered in the
disruption of the American Union, and forgetting humanitarian idealisms,
react only to selfish motives of commercial advantage and national
power? In brief, how is the American Civil War to be depicted by
historians of Great Britain, recording her attitude and action in both
foreign and domestic policy, and revealing the principles of her
statesmen, or the inspirations of her people?

It was to answer this question that the present work was originally
undertaken; but as investigation proceeded it became progressively more
clear that the great crisis in America was almost equally a crisis in
the domestic history of Great Britain itself and that unless this were
fully appreciated no just estimate was possible of British policy toward
America. Still more it became evident that the American Civil War, as
seen through British spectacles, could not be understood if regarded as
an isolated and unique situation, but that the conditions preceding that
situation--some of them lying far back in the relations of the two
nations--had a vital bearing on British policy and opinion when the
crisis arose. No expanded examination of these preceding conditions is
here possible, but it is to a summary analysis of them that this first
chapter is devoted.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the American War for separation from the Mother Country it is
unnecessary to dilate, though it should always be remembered that both
during the war and afterwards there existed a minority in Great Britain
strongly sympathetic with the political ideals proclaimed in
America--regarding those ideals, indeed, as something to be striven for
in Britain itself and the conflict with America as, in a measure, a
conflict in home politics. But independence once acknowledged by the
Treaty of Peace of 1783, the relations between the Mother Country and
the newly-created United States of America rapidly tended to adjust
themselves to lines of contact customary between Great Britain and any
other Sovereign State. Such contacts, fixing national attitude and
policy, ordinarily occur on three main lines: governmental, determined
by officials in authority in either State whose duty it is to secure the
greatest advantage in power and prosperity for the State; commercial,
resulting, primarily, from the interchange of goods and the business
opportunities of either nation in the other's territory, or from their
rivalry in foreign trade; idealistic, the result of comparative
development especially in those ideals of political structure which
determine the nature of the State and the form of its government. The
more obvious of these contacts is the governmental, since the attitude
of a people is judged by the formal action of its Government, and,
indeed, in all three lines of contact the government of a State is
directly concerned and frequently active. But it may be of service to a
clearer appreciation of British attitude and policy before 1860, if the
intermingling of elements required by a strict chronological account of
relations is here replaced by a separate review of each of the three
main lines of contact.

Once independence had been yielded to the American Colonies, the
interest of the British Government rapidly waned in affairs American.
True, there still remained the valued establishments in the West Indies,
and the less considered British possessions on the continent to the
north of the United States. Meanwhile, there were occasional frictions
with America arising from uncertain claims drawn from the former
colonial privileges of the new state, or from boundary contentions not
settled in the treaty of peace. Thus the use of the Newfoundland
fisheries furnished ground for an acrimonious controversy lasting even
into the twentieth century, and occasionally rising to the danger point.
Boundary disputes dragged along through official argument, survey
commissions, arbitration, to final settlement, as in the case of the
northern limits of the State of Maine fixed at last by the Treaty of
Washington of 1842, and then on lines fair to both sides at any time in
the forty years of legal bickering. Very early, in 1817, an agreement
creditable to the wisdom and pacific intentions of both countries, was
reached establishing small and equal naval armaments on the Great Lakes.
The British fear of an American attack on Canada proved groundless as
time went on and was definitely set at rest by the strict curb placed by
the American Government upon the restless activities of such of its
citizens as sympathized with the followers of McKenzie and Papineau in
the Canadian rebellion of 1837[4].

None of these governmental contacts affected greatly the British policy
toward America. But the "War of 1812," as it is termed in the United
States, "Mr. Madison's War," as it was derisively named by Tory
contemporaries in Great Britain, arose from serious policies in which
the respective governments were in definite opposition. Briefly, this
was a clash between belligerent and neutral interests. Britain, fighting
at first for the preservation of Europe against the spread of French
revolutionary influence, later against the Napoleonic plan of Empire,
held the seas in her grasp and exercised with vigour all the accustomed
rights of a naval belligerent. Of necessity, from her point of view,
and as always in the case of the dominant naval belligerent, she
stretched principles of international law to their utmost interpretation
to secure her victory in war. America, soon the only maritime neutral of
importance, and profiting greatly by her neutrality, contested point by
point the issue of exceeded belligerent right as established in
international law. America did more; she advanced new rules and theories
of belligerent and neutral right respectively, and demanded that the
belligerents accede to them. Dispute arose over blockades, contraband,
the British "rule of 1756" which would have forbidden American trade
with French colonies in war time, since such trade was prohibited by
France herself in time of peace. But first and foremost as touching the
personal sensibilities and patriotism of both countries was the British
exercise of a right of search and seizure to recover British sailors.

Moreover this asserted right brought into clear view definitely opposed
theories as to citizenship. Great Britain claimed that a man once born a
British subject could never cease to be a subject--could never "alienate
his duty." It was her practice to fill up her navy, in part at least, by
the "impressment" of her sailor folk, taking them whenever needed, and
wherever found--in her own coast towns, or from the decks of her own
mercantile marine. But many British sailors sought security from such
impressment by desertion in American ports or were tempted to desert to
American merchant ships by the high pay obtainable in the
rapidly-expanding United States merchant marine. Many became by
naturalization citizens of the United States, and it was the duty of
America to defend them as such in their lives and business. America
ultimately came to hold, in short, that expatriation was accomplished
from Great Britain when American citizenship was conferred. On shore
they were safe, for Britain did not attempt to reclaim her subjects
from the soil of another nation. But she denied that the American flag
on merchant vessels at sea gave like security and she asserted a naval
right to search such vessels in time of peace, professing her complete
acquiescence in a like right to the American navy over British merchant
vessels--a concession refused by America, and of no practical value
since no American citizen sought service in the British merchant marine.

This "right of search" controversy involved then, two basic points of
opposition between the two governments. First America contested the
British theory of "once a citizen always a citizen[5]"; second, America
denied any right whatever to a foreign naval vessel in _time of peace_
to stop and search a vessel lawfully flying the American flag. The
_right of search in time of war_, that is, a belligerent right of
search, America never denied, but there was both then and later much
public confusion in both countries as to the question at issue since,
once at war, Great Britain frequently exercised a legal belligerent
right of search and followed it up by the seizure of sailors alleged to
be British subjects. Nor were British naval captains especially careful
to make sure that no American-born sailors were included in their
impressment seizures, and as the accounts spread of victim after victim,
the American irritation steadily increased. True, France was also an
offender, but as the weaker naval power her offence was lost sight of in
view of the, literally, thousands of _bona fide_ Americans seized by
Great Britain. Here, then, was a third cause of irritation connected
with impressment, though not a point of governmental dispute as to
right, for Great Britain professed her earnest desire to restore
promptly any American-born sailors whom her naval officers had seized
through error. In fact many such sailors were soon liberated, but a
large number either continued to serve on British ships or to languish
in British prisons until the end of the Napoleonic Wars[6].

There were other, possibly greater, causes of the War of 1812, most of
them arising out of the conflicting interests of the chief maritime
neutral and the chief naval belligerent. The pacific presidential
administration of Jefferson sought by trade restrictions, using embargo
and non-intercourse acts, to bring pressure on both England and France,
hoping to force a better treatment of neutrals. The United States,
divided in sympathy between the belligerents, came near to disorder and
disruption at home, over the question of foreign policy. But through all
American factions there ran the feeling of growing animosity to Great
Britain because of impressment. At last, war was declared by America in
1812 and though at the moment bitterly opposed by one section, New
England, that war later came to be regarded as of great national value
as one of the factors which welded the discordant states into a national
unity. Naturally also, the war once ended, its commercial causes were
quickly forgotten, whereas the individual, personal offence involved in
impressment and right of search, with its insult to national pride,
became a patriotic theme for politicians and for the press. To deny, in
fact, a British "right of search" became a national point of honour,
upon which no American statesman would have dared to yield to British

In American eyes the War of 1812 appears as a "second war of
Independence" and also as of international importance in contesting an
unjust use by Britain of her control of the seas. Also, it is to be
remembered that no other war of importance was fought by America until
the Mexican War of 1846, and militant patriotism was thus centred on the
two wars fought against Great Britain. The contemporary British view
was that of a nation involved in a life and death struggle with a great
European enemy, irritated by what seemed captious claims, developed to
war, by a minor power[7]. To be sure there were a few obstinate Tories
in Britain who saw in the war the opportunity of smashing at one blow
Napoleon's dream of empire, and the American "democratic system." The
London _Times_ urged the government to "finish with Mr. Bonaparte and
then deal with Mr. Madison and democracy," arguing that it should be
England's object to subvert "the whole system of the Jeffersonian
school." But this was not the purpose of the British Government, nor
would such a purpose have been tolerated by the small but vigorous Whig
minority in Parliament.

The peace of 1814, signed at Ghent, merely declared an end of the war,
quietly ignoring all the alleged causes of the conflict. Impressment was
not mentioned, but it was never again resorted to by Great Britain upon
American ships. But the principle of right of search in time of peace,
though for another object than impressment, was soon again asserted by
Great Britain and for forty years was a cause of constant irritation and
a source of danger in the relations of the two countries. Stirred by
philanthropic emotion Great Britain entered upon a world crusade for the
suppression of the African Slave Trade. All nations in principle
repudiated that trade and Britain made treaties with various maritime
powers giving mutual right of search to the naval vessels of each upon
the others' merchant vessels. The African Slave Trade was in fact
outlawed for the flags of all nations. But America, smarting under the
memory of impressment injuries, and maintaining in any case the doctrine
that in time of peace the national flag protected a vessel from
interference or search by the naval vessels of any other power, refused
to sign mutual right of search treaties and denied, absolutely, such a
right for any cause whatever to Great Britain or to any other nation.
Being refused a treaty, Britain merely renewed her assertion of the
right and continued to exercise it.

Thus the right of search in time of peace controversy was not ended with
the war of 1812 but remained a constant sore in national relations, for
Britain alone used her navy with energy to suppress the slave trade, and
the slave traders of all nations sought refuge, when approached by a
British naval vessel, under the protection of the American flag. If
Britain respected the flag, and sheered off from search, how could she
stop the trade? If she ignored the flag and on boarding found an
innocent American vessel engaged in legal trade, there resulted claims
for damages by detention of voyage, and demands by the American
Government for apology and reparation. The real slave trader, seized
under the American flag, never protested to the United States, nor
claimed American citizenship, for his punishment in American law for
engaging in the slave trade was death, while under the law of any other
nation it did not exceed imprisonment, fine and loss of his vessel.

Summed up in terms of governmental attitude the British contention was
that here was a great international humanitarian object frustrated by an
absurd American sensitiveness on a point of honour about the flag. After
fifteen years of dispute Great Britain offered to abandon any claim to a
right of _search_, contenting herself with a right of _visit_, merely to
verify a vessel's right to fly the American flag. America asserted this
to be mere pretence, involving no renunciation of a practice whose
legality she denied. In 1842, in the treaty settling the Maine boundary
controversy, the eighth article sought a method of escape. Joint
cruising squadrons were provided for the coast of Africa, the British
to search all suspected vessels except those flying the American flag,
and these to be searched by the American squadron. At once President
Tyler notified Congress that Great Britain had renounced the right of
search. Immediately in Parliament a clamour was raised against the
Government for the "sacrifice" of a British right at sea, and Lord
Aberdeen promptly made official disclaimer of such surrender.

Thus, heritage of the War of 1812 right of search in time of peace was a
steady irritant. America doubted somewhat the honesty of Great Britain,
appreciating in part the humanitarian purpose, but suspicious of an
ulterior "will to rule the seas." After 1830 no American political
leader would have dared to yield the right of search. Great Britain for
her part, viewing the expansion of domestic slavery in the United
States, came gradually to attribute the American contention, not to
patriotic pride, but to the selfish business interests of the
slave-holding states. In the end, in 1858, with a waning British
enthusiasm for the cause of slave trade suppression, and with
recognition that America had become a great world power, Britain yielded
her claim to right of search or visit, save when established by Treaty.
Four years later, in 1862, it may well have seemed to British statesmen
that American slavery had indeed been the basic cause of America's
attitude, for in that year a treaty was signed by the two nations giving
mutual right of search for the suppression of the African Slave Trade.
In fact, however, this was but an effort by Seward, Secretary of State
for the North, to influence British and European opinion against the
seceding slave states of the South.

The right of search controversy was, in truth, ended when American power
reached a point where the British Government must take it seriously into
account as a factor in general world policy. That power had been
steadily and rapidly advancing since 1814. From almost the first moment
of established independence American statesmen visualized the
separation of the interests of the western continent from those of
Europe, and planned for American leadership in this new world.
Washington, the first President, emphasized in his farewell address the
danger of entangling alliances with Europe. For long the nations of
Europe, immersed in Continental wars, put aside their rivalries in this
new world. Britain, for a time, neglected colonial expansion westward,
but in 1823, in an emergency of European origin when France,
commissioned by the great powers of continental Europe, intervened in
Spain to restore the deposed Bourbon monarchy and seemed about to
intervene in Spanish America to restore to Spain her revolted colonies,
there developed in Great Britain a policy, seemingly about to draw
America and England into closer co-operation. Canning, for Britain,
proposed to America a joint declaration against French intervention in
the Americas. His argument was against the principle of intervention;
his immediate motive was a fear of French colonial expansion; but his
ultimate object was inheritance by Britain of Spain's dying influence
and position in the new world.

Canning's overture was earnestly considered in America. The
ex-Presidents, Jefferson and Madison, recommended its acceptance, but
the Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, opposed this, favouring
rather a separate declaration by the United States, and of this opinion
was also President Monroe. Thus arose the Monroe Doctrine announcing
American opposition to the principle of "intervention," and declaring
that the American continents were no longer to be regarded as open to
further colonization by European nations. The British emergency
situation with France, though already quieted, caused Monroe's Message
to be greeted in England with high approval. But Canning did not so
approve it for he saw clearly that the Monroe Doctrine was a challenge
not merely to continental Europe, but to England as well and he set
himself to thwart this threatening American policy. Had Canning's policy
been followed by later British statesmen there would have resulted a
serious clash with the United States[8].

In fact the Monroe Doctrine, imposing on Europe a self-denying policy of
non-colonial expansion toward the west, provided for the United States
the medium, if she wished to use it, for her own expansion in territory
and in influence. But for a time there was no need of additional
territory for that already hers stretched from the Atlantic to the Rocky
Mountains, two-thirds of the way from ocean to ocean. Her population was
growing fast. But four millions at the time of the Revolution, there
were thirteen millions in 1830, and of these nearly a third were already
across the Appalachian range and were constantly pressing on towards new
lands in the South and West. The Monroe Doctrine was the first definite
notice given to Europe of America's preconceived "destiny," but the
earlier realization of that destiny took place on lines of expansion
within her own boundaries. To this there could be no governmental
objection, whether by Great Britain or any other nation.

But when in the decade 1840 to 1850, the United States, to the view of
British statesmen, suddenly startled the world by entering upon a policy
of further territorial expansion, forsaking her peaceful progress and
turning toward war, there was a quick determination on a line of British
policy as regards the American advance. The first intimation of the new
American policy came in relation to the State of Texas which had
revolted from Mexico in 1836, and whose independence had been generally
recognized by 1842. To this new state Britain sent diplomatic and
consular agents and these reported two factions among the people--one
seeking admission to the American Union, one desiring the maintenance
of independence.

In 1841 Aberdeen had sent Lord Ashburton to America with instructions to
secure, if possible, a settlement of all matters in dispute. Here was a
genuine British effort to escape from national irritations. But before
the Treaty of 1842 was signed, even while it was in the earlier stages
of negotiation, the British Government saw, with alarm, quite new
questions arising, preventing, to its view, that harmonious relation
with the United States the desire for which had led to the Ashburton
mission. This new development was the appearance of an American fever
for territorial expansion, turning first toward Texas, but soon voiced
as a "manifest destiny" which should carry American power and
institutions to the Pacific and even into Central America. Among these
institutions was that of slavery, detested by the public of Great
Britain, yet a delicate matter for governmental consideration since the
great cotton manufacturing interests drew the bulk of their supplies of
raw cotton from the slave-holding states of America. If Texas, herself a
cotton state, should join the United States, dependence upon slave-grown
cotton would be intensified. Also, Texas, once acquired, what was there
to prevent further American exploitation, followed by slave expansion,
into Mexico, where for long British influence had been dominant?

On the fate of Texas, therefore, centred for a time the whole British
policy toward America. Pakenham, the British minister to Mexico, urged a
British pressure on Mexico to forgo her plans of reconquering Texas, and
strong British efforts to encourage Texas in maintaining her
independence. His theory foreshadowed a powerful buffer Anglo-Saxon
state, prohibiting American advance to the south-west, releasing Britain
from dependence on American cotton, and ultimately, he hoped, leading
Texas to abolish slavery, not yet so rooted as to be ineradicable. This
policy was approved by the British Government, Pakenham was sent to
Washington to watch events, a _chargé_, Elliot, was despatched to Texas,
and from London lines were cast to draw France into the plan and to
force the acquiescence of Mexico.

In this brief account of main lines of governmental contacts, it is
unnecessary to recite the details of the diplomatic conflict, for such
it became, with sharp antagonisms manifested on both sides. The basic
fact was that America was bent upon territorial expansion, and that
Great Britain set herself to thwart this ambition. But not to the point
of war. Aberdeen was so incautious at one moment as to propose to France
and Mexico a triple guarantee of the independence of Texas, if that
state would acquiesce, but when Pakenham notified him that in this case,
Britain must clearly understand that war with America was not merely
possible, but probable, Aberdeen hastened to withdraw the plan of
guarantee, fortunately not yet approved by Mexico[9].

The solution of this diplomatic contest thus rested with Texas. Did she
wish annexation to the United States, or did she prefer independence?
Elliot, in Texas, hoped to the last moment that Texas would choose
independence and British favour. But the people of the new state were
largely emigrants from the United States, and a majority of them wished
to re-enter the Union, a step finally accomplished in 1846, after ten
years of separate existence as a Republic. The part played by the
British Government in this whole episode was not a fortunate one. It is
the duty of Governments to watch over the interests of their subjects,
and to guard the prestige and power of the state. Great Britain had a
perfect _right_ to take whatever steps she chose to take in regard to
Texas, but the steps taken appeared to Americans to be based upon a
policy antagonistic to the American expansion policy of the moment. The
Government of Great Britain appeared, indeed, to have adopted a policy
of preventing the development of the power of the United States. Then,
fronted with war, she had meekly withdrawn. The basic British public
feeling, fixing the limits of governmental policy, of never again being
drawn into war with America, not because of fear, but because of
important trade relations and also because of essential liking and
admiration, in spite of surface antagonisms, was not appreciated in
America. Lord Aberdeen indeed, and others in governmental circles,
pleaded that the support of Texan independence was in reality perfectly
in harmony with the best interests of the United States, since it would
have tended toward the limitation of American slavery. And in the matter
of national power, they consoled themselves with prophecies that the
American Union, now so swollen in size, must inevitably split into two,
perhaps three, rival empires, a slave-holding one in the South, free
nations in North and West.

The fate of Texas sealed, Britain soon definitely abandoned all
opposition to American expansion unless it were to be attempted
northwards, though prophesying evil for the American madness. Mexico,
relying on past favours, and because of a sharp controversy between the
United States and Great Britain over the Oregon territory, expected
British aid in her war of 1846 against America. But she was sharply
warned that such aid would not be given, and the Oregon dispute was
settled in the Anglo-Saxon fashion of vigorous legal argument, followed
by a fair compromise. The Mexican war resulted in the acquisition of
California by the United States. British agents in this province of
Mexico, and British admirals on the Pacific were cautioned to take no
active steps in opposition.

Thus British policy, after Texan annexation, offered no barrier to
American expansion, and much to British relief the fear of the extension
of the American plans to Mexico and Central America was not realized.
The United States was soon plunged, as British statesmen had prophesied,
into internal conflict over the question whether the newly-acquired
territories should be slave or free.

The acquisition of California brought up a new problem of quick transit
between Atlantic and Pacific, and a canal was planned across Central
America. Here Britain and America acted together, at first in amity,
though the convention signed in 1850 later developed discord as to the
British claim of a protectorate over the Atlantic end of the proposed
canal at San Juan del Nicaragua. But Britain was again at war in Europe
in the middle 'fifties, and America was deep in quarrel over slavery at
home. On both sides in spite of much diplomatic intrigue and of
manifestations of national pride there was governmental desire to avoid
difficulties. At the end of the ten-year period Britain ceded to
Nicaragua her protectorate in the canal zone, and all causes of
friction, so reported President Buchanan to Congress in 1860, were
happily removed. Britain definitely altered her policy of opposition to
the growth of American power.

In 1860, then, the causes of governmental antagonisms were seemingly all
at an end. Impressment was not used after 1814. The differing theories
of the two Governments on British expatriation still remained, but
Britain attempted no practical application of her view. The right of
search in time of peace controversy, first eased by the plan of joint
cruising, had been definitely settled by the British renunciation of
1858. Opposition to American territorial advance but briefly manifested
by Britain, had ended with the annexation of Texas, and the fever of
expansion had waned in America. Minor disputes in Central America,
related to the proposed canal, were amicably adjusted.

But differences between nations, varying view-points of peoples,
frequently have deeper currents than the more obvious frictions in
governmental act or policy, nor can governments themselves fail to react
to such less evident causes. It is necessary to review the commercial
relations of the two nations--later to examine their political ideals.

In 1783 America won her independence in government from a colonial
status. But commercially she remained a British colony--yet with a
difference. She had formed a part of the British colonial system. All
her normal trade was with the mother country or with other British
colonies. Now her privileges in such trade were at an end, and she must
seek as a favour that which had formerly been hers as a member of the
British Empire. The direct trade between England and America was easily
and quickly resumed, for the commercial classes of both nations desired
it and profited by it. But the British colonial system prohibited trade
between a foreign state and British colonies and there was one channel
of trade, to and from the British West Indies, long very profitable to
both sides, during colonial times, but now legally hampered by American
independence. The New England States had lumber, fish, and farm products
desired by the West Indian planters, and these in turn offered needed
sugar, molasses, and rum. Both parties desired to restore the trade, and
in spite of the legal restrictions of the colonial system, the trade was
in fact resumed in part and either permitted or winked at by the British
Government, but never to the advantageous exchange of former times.

The acute stage of controversy over West Indian trade was not reached
until some thirty years after American Independence, but the uncertainty
of such trade during a long period in which a portion of it consisted
in unauthorized and unregulated exchange was a constant irritant to all
parties concerned. Meanwhile there came the War of 1812 with its
preliminary check upon direct trade to and from Great Britain, and its
final total prohibition of intercourse during the war itself. In 1800
the bulk of American importation of manufactures still came from Great
Britain. In the contest over neutral rights and theories, Jefferson
attempted to bring pressure on the belligerents, and especially on
England, by restriction of imports. First came a non-importation Act,
1806, followed by an embargo on exports, 1807, but these were so
unpopular in the commercial states of New England that they were
withdrawn in 1810, yet for a short time only, for Napoleon tricked the
United States into believing that France had yielded to American
contentions on neutral rights, and in 1811 non-intercourse was
proclaimed again with England alone. On June 18, 1812, America finally
declared war and trade stopped save in a few New England ports where
rebellious citizens continued to sell provisions to a blockading British
naval squadron.

For eight years after 1806, then, trade with Great Britain had steadily
decreased, finally almost to extinction during the war. But America
required certain articles customarily imported and necessity now forced
her to develop her own manufactures. New England had been the centre of
American foreign commerce, but now there began a trend toward
manufacturing enterprise. Even in 1814, however, at the end of the war,
it was still thought in the United States that under normal conditions
manufactured goods would again be imported and the general cry of
"protection for home industries" was as yet unvoiced. Nevertheless, a
group of infant industries had in fact been started and clamoured for
defence now that peace was restored. This situation was not unnoticed in
Great Britain where merchants, piling up goods in anticipation of peace
on the continent of Europe and a restored market, suddenly discovered
that the poverty of Europe denied them that market. Looking with
apprehension toward the new industries of America, British merchants,
following the advice of Lord Brougham in a parliamentary speech, dumped
great quantities of their surplus goods on the American market, selling
them far below cost, or even on extravagant credit terms. One object was
to smash the budding American manufactures.

This action of British merchants naturally stirred some angry patriotic
emotions in the circles where American business suffered and a demand
began to be heard for protection. But the Government of the United
States was still representative of agriculture, in the main, and while a
Tariff Bill was enacted in 1816 that Bill was regarded as a temporary
measure required by the necessity of paying the costs of the recent war.
Just at this juncture, however, British policy, now looking again toward
a great colonial empire, sought advantages for the hitherto neglected
maritime provinces of British North America, and thought that it had
found them by encouragement of their trade with the British West Indies.
The legal status of American trade with the West Indies was now enforced
and for a time intercourse was practically suspended.

This British policy brought to the front the issue of protection in
America. It not only worked against a return by New England from
manufacturing to commerce, but it soon brought into the ranks of
protectionists a northern and western agricultural element that had been
accustomed to sell surplus products to West Indian planters seeking
cheap food-stuffs for their slaves. This new protectionist element was
as yet not crystallized into a clamour for "home markets" for
agriculture, but the pressure of opinion was beginning to be felt, and
by 1820 the question of West Indian trade became one of constant
agitation and demanded political action. That action was taken on lines
of retaliation. Congress in 1818 passed a law excluding from American
ports any British vessel coming from a port access to which was denied
to an American vessel, and placing under bond in American ports British
vessels with prohibition of their proceeding to a British port to which
American vessels could not go. This act affected not merely direct trade
with the West Indies, but stopped the general custom of British ships of
taking part cargoes to Jamaica while _en route_ to and from the United
States. The result was, first, compromise, later, under Huskisson's
administration at the British Board of Trade, complete abandonment by
Britain of the exclusive trade basis of her whole colonial system.

The "retaliatory system" which J.Q. Adams regarded as "a new declaration
of independence," was, in fact, quickly taken up by other non-colonial
nations, and these, with America, compelled Great Britain to take stock
of her interests. Huskisson, rightly foreseeing British prosperity as
dependent upon her manufactures and upon the carrying trade, stated in
Parliament that American "retaliation" had forced the issue. Freedom of
trade in British ports was offered in 1826 to all non-colonial nations
that would open their ports within one year on terms of equality to
British ships. J.Q. Adams, now President of the United States, delayed
acceptance of this offer, preferring a treaty negotiation, and was
rebuffed by Canning, so that actual resumption of West Indian trade did
not take place until 1830, after the close of Adams' administration.
That trade never recovered its former prosperity.

Meanwhile the long period of controversy, from 1806 to 1830, had
resulted in a complete change in the American situation. It is not a
sufficient explanation of the American belief in, and practice of, the
theory of protection to attribute this alone to British checks placed
upon free commercial rivalry. Nevertheless the progress of America
toward an established system, reaching its highest mark for years in the
Tariff Bill of 1828, is distinctly related to the events just narrated.
After American independence, the partially illegal status of West Indian
trade hampered commercial progress and slightly encouraged American
manufactures by the mere seeking of capital for investment; the neutral
troubles of 1806 and the American prohibitions on intercourse increased
the transfer of interest; the war of 1812 gave a complete protection to
infant industries; the dumping of British goods in 1815 stirred
patriotic American feeling; British renewal of colonial system
restrictions, and the twelve-year quarrel over "retaliation" gave time
for the definite establishment of protectionist ideas in the United
States. But Britain was soon proclaiming for herself and for the world
the common advantage and the justice of a great theory of free trade.
America was apparently now committed to an opposing economic theory, the
first great nation definitely to establish it, and thus there resulted a
clear-cut opposition of principle and a clash of interests. From 1846,
when free trade ideas triumphed in England, the devoted British free
trader regarded America as the chief obstacle to a world-wide acceptance
of his theory.

The one bright spot in America, as regarded by the British free trader,
was in the Southern States, where cotton interests, desiring no
advantage from protection, since their market was in Europe, attacked
American protection and sought to escape from it. Also slave supplies,
without protection, could have been purchased more cheaply from England
than from the manufacturing North. In 1833 indeed the South had forced a
reaction against protection, but it proceeded slowly. In 1854 it was
Southern opinion that carried through Congress the reciprocity treaty
with the British American Provinces, partly brought about, no doubt, by
a Southern fear that Canada, bitter over the loss of special advantages
in British markets by the British free trade of 1846, might join the
United States and thus swell the Northern and free states of the Union.
Cotton interests and trade became the dominant British commercial tie
with the United States, and the one great hope, to the British minds, of
a break in the false American system of protection. Thus both in
economic theory and in trade, spite of British dislike of slavery, the
export trading interests of Great Britain became more and more directed
toward the Southern States of America. Adding powerfully to this was the
dependence of British cotton manufactures upon the American supply. The
British trade attitude, arising largely outside of direct governmental
contacts, was bound to have, nevertheless, a constant and important
influence on governmental action.

Governmental policy, seeking national power, conflicting trade and
industrial interests, are the favourite themes of those historians who
regard nations as determined in their relations solely by economic
causes--by what is called "enlightened self-interest." But governments,
no matter how arbitrary, and still more if in a measure resting on
representation, react both consciously and unconsciously to a public
opinion not obviously based upon either national or commercial rivalry.
Sometimes, indeed, governmental attitude runs absolutely counter to
popular attitude in international affairs. In such a case, the
historical estimate, if based solely on evidences of governmental
action, is a false one and may do great injustice to the essential
friendliness of a people.

How then, did the British people, of all classes, regard America before
1860, and in what manner did that regard affect the British Government?
Here, it is necessary to seek British opinion on, and its reaction to,
American institutions, ideals, and practices. Such public opinion can
be found in quantity sufficient to base an estimate only in travellers'
books, in reviews, and in newspapers of the period. When all these are
brought together it is found that while there was an almost universal
British criticism of American social customs and habits of life, due to
that insularity of mental attitude characteristic of every nation,
making it prefer its own customs and criticize those of its neighbours,
summed up in the phrase "dislike of foreigners"--it is found that
British opinion was centred upon two main threads; first America as a
place for emigration and, second, American political ideals and

British emigration to America, a governmentally favoured colonization
process before the American revolution, lost that favour after 1783,
though not at first definitely opposed. But emigration still continued
and at no time, save during the war of 1812, was it absolutely stopped.
Its exact amount is unascertainable, for neither Government kept
adequate statistics before 1820. With the end of the Napoleonic wars
there came great distress in England from which the man of energy sought
escape. He turned naturally to America, being familiar, by hearsay at
least, with stories of the ease of gaining a livelihood there, and
influenced by the knowledge that in the United States he would find
people of his own blood and speech. The bulk of this earlier emigration
to America resulted from economic causes. When, in 1825, one energetic
Member of Parliament, Wilmot Horton, induced the Government to appoint a
committee to investigate the whole subject, the result was a mass of
testimony, secured from returned emigrants or from their letters home,
in which there constantly appeared one main argument influencing the
labourer type of emigrant; he got good wages, and he was supplied, as a
farm hand, with good food. Repeatedly he testifies that he had "three
meat meals a day," whereas in England he had ordinarily received but one
such meal a week.

Mere good living was the chief inducement for the labourer type of
emigrant, and the knowledge of such living created for this type
remaining in England a sort of halo of industrial prosperity surrounding
America. But there was a second testimony brought out by Horton's
Committee, less general, yet to be picked up here and there as evidence
of another argument for emigration to America. The labourer did not
dilate upon political equality, nor boast of a share in government,
indeed generally had no such share, but he did boast to his fellows at
home of the social equality, though not thus expressing it, which was
all about him. He was a common farm hand, yet he "sat down to meals"
with his employer and family, and worked in the fields side by side with
his "master." This, too, was an astounding difference to the mind of the
British labourer. Probably for him it created a clearer, if not
altogether universal and true picture of the meaning of American
democracy than would have volumes of writing upon political
institutions. Gradually there was established in the lower orders of
British society a visualization of America as a haven of physical
well-being and personal social happiness.

This British labouring class had for long, however, no medium of
expression in print. Here existed, then, an unexpressed public opinion
of America, of much latent influence, but for the moment largely
negligible as affecting other classes or the Government. A more
important emigrating class in its influence on opinion at home, though
not a large class, was composed about equally of small farmers and small
merchants facing ruin in the agricultural and trading crises that
followed the end of the European war. The British travellers' books
from 1810 to 1820 are generally written by men of this class, or by
agents sent out from co-operative groups planning emigration. Generally
they were discontented with political conditions at home, commonly
opposed to a petrified social order, and attracted to the United States
by its lure of prosperity and content. The books are, in brief, a
superior type of emigrant guide for a superior type of emigrant,
examining and emphasizing industrial opportunity.

Almost universally, however, they sound the note of superior political
institutions and conditions. One wrote "A republican finds here A
Republic, and the only Republic on the face of the earth that ever
deserved the name: where all are under the protection of equal laws; of
laws made by Themselves[11]." Another, who established an English colony
in the Western States of Illinois, wrote of England that he objected to
"being ruled and taxed by people who had no more right to rule and tax
us than consisted in the power to do it." And of his adopted country he
concludes: "I love the Government; and thus a novel sensation is
excited; it is like the development of a new faculty. I am become a
patriot in my old age[12]." Still another detailed the points of his
content, "I am here, lord and master of myself and of 100 acres of
land--an improvable farm, little trouble to me, good society and a good
market, and, I think, a fine climate, only a little too hot and dry in
summer; the parson gets nothing from me; my state and road taxes and
poor rates amount to §25.00 per annum. I can carry a gun if I choose; I
leave my door unlocked at night; and I can get snuff for one cent an
ounce or a little more[13]."

From the first days of the American colonial movement toward
independence there had been, indeed, a British interest in American
political principles. Many Whigs sympathized with these principles for
reasons of home political controversy. Their sympathy continued after
American independence and by its insistent expression brought out
equally insistent opposition from Tory circles. The British home
movement toward a more representative Government had been temporarily
checked by the extremes into which French Liberalism plunged in 1791,
causing reaction in England. By 1820 pressure was again being exerted by
British Liberals of intelligence, and they found arguments in such
reports as those just quoted. From that date onward, and especially just
before the passing of the Reform Bill of 1832, yet always a factor, the
example of a prosperous American democracy was an element in British
home politics, lauded or derided as the man in England desired or not an
expansion of the British franchise. In the earlier period, however, it
is to be remembered that applause of American institutions did not mean
acceptance of democracy to the extent of manhood franchise, for no such
franchise at first existed in America itself. The debate in England was
simply whether the step forward in American democracy, was an argument
for a similar step in Great Britain.

Books, reviews and newspapers in Great Britain as the political quarrel
there grew in force, depicted America favourably or otherwise according
to political sympathies at home. Both before and after the Reform Bill
of 1832 this type of effort to mould opinion, by citation of America,
was widespread. Hence there is in such writing, not so much the
expression of public opinion, as of propaganda to affect that opinion.
Book upon book, review upon review, might be quoted to illustrate this,
but a few notable examples will suffice.

The most widely read and reviewed book on the United States before
1840, except the humorous and flippant characterization of America by
Mrs. Trollope, was Captain Basil Hall's three-volume work, published in
1829[14]. Claiming an open mind, he expected for his adverse findings a
readier credence. For adverse to American political institutions these
findings are in all their larger applications. In every line Hall
betrays himself as an old Tory of the 'twenties, fixed in his belief,
and convinced of the perfection and unalterableness of the British
Constitution. Captain Hamilton, who wrote in 1833, was more frank in
avowal of a purpose[15]. He states in his preface:

     "... When I found the institutions and experiences of the
     United States deliberately quoted in the reformed parliament,
     as affording safe precedent for British legislation, and
     learned that the drivellers who uttered such nonsense,
     instead of encountering merited derision, were listened to
     with patience and approbation by men as ignorant as
     themselves, I certainly did feel that another work on America
     was yet wanted, and at once determined to undertake a task
     which inferior considerations would probably have induced me
     to decline."

Harriet Martineau, ardent advocate of political reform at home, found in
the United States proofs for her faith in democracy[16]. Captain Marryat
belittled Miss Martineau, but in his six volumes proved himself less a
critic of America than an enemy of democracy. Answering a review of his
earlier volumes, published separately, he wrote in his concluding
volume: "I candidly acknowledge that the reviewer is right in his
supposition; my great object has been to do serious injury to the cause
of democracy[17]."

The fact was that British governing and intellectual classes were
suffering a recoil from the enthusiasms leading up to the step toward
democracy in the Reform of 1832. The electoral franchise was still
limited to a small minority of the population. Britain was still ruled
by her "wise men" of wealth and position. Meanwhile, however, just at
the moment when dominant Whig influence in England carried through that
step forward toward democratic institutions which Whigs had long lauded
in America, the latter country had progressed to manhood suffrage, or as
nearly all leading Englishmen, whether Whig or Tory, regarded it, had
plunged into the rule of the mob. The result was a rapid lessening in
Whig ruling-class expression of admiration for America, even before long
to the complete cessation of such admiration, and to assertions in Great
Britain that the Reform of 1832 was "final," the last step toward
democracy which Britain could safely take. It is not strange that the
books and reviews of the period from 1830 to 1840, heavily stress the
dangers and crudity of American democracy. They were written for what
was now a nearly unanimous British reading public, fearful lest Radical
pressure for still further electoral reform should preach the example of
the United States.

Thus after 1832 the previous sympathy for America of one section of the
British governing class disappears. More--it is replaced by a critical,
if not openly hostile attitude. Soon, with the rapid development of the
power and wealth of the United States, governing-class England, of all
factions save the Radical, came to view America just as it would have
viewed any other rising nation, that is, as a problem to be studied for
its influence on British prosperity and power. Again, expressions in
print reflect the changes of British view--nowhere more clearly than in
travellers' books. After 1840, for nearly a decade, these are devoted,
not to American political institutions, but to studies, many of them
very careful ones, of American industry and governmental policy.

Buckingham, one-time member of Parliament, wrote nine volumes of such
description. His work is a storehouse of fact, useful to this day to the
American historical student[18]. George Combe, philosopher and
phrenologist, studied especially social institutions[19]. Joseph Sturge,
philanthropist and abolitionist, made a tour, under the guidance of the
poet Whittier, through the Northern and Eastern States[20].
Featherstonaugh, a scientist and civil engineer, described the Southern
slave states, in terms completely at variance with those of Sturge[21].
Kennedy, traveller in Texas, and later British consul at Galveston, and
Warburton, a traveller who came to the United States by way of Canada,
an unusual approach, were both frankly startled, the latter professedly
alarmed, at the evidences of power in America[22]. Amazed at the energy,
growth and prosperity of the country and alarmed at the anti-British
feeling he found in New York City, Warburton wrote that "they
[Americans] only wait for matured power to apply the incendiary torch of
Republicanism to the nations of Europe[23]." Soon after this was written
there began, in 1848, that great tide of Irish emigration to America
which heavily reinforced the anti-British attitude of the City of New
York, and largely changed its character.

Did books dilating upon the expanding power of America reflect British
public opinion, or did they create it? It is difficult to estimate such
matters. Certainly it is not uninteresting that these books coincided in
point of time with a British governmental attitude of opposition, though
on peaceful lines, to the development of American power, and to the
adoption to the point of faith, by British commercial classes, of free
trade as opposed to the American protective system. But governing
classes were not the British public, and to the great unenfranchised
mass, finding voice through the writings of a few leaders, the
prosperity of America made a powerful appeal. Radical democracy was
again beginning to make its plea in Britain. In 1849 there was published
a study of the United States, more careful and exact than any previous
to Bryce's great work, and lauding American political institutions. This
was Mackay's "Western World," and that there was a public eager for such
estimate is evidenced by the fact that the book went through four
British editions in 1850[24]. At the end of the decade, then, there
appeared once more a vigorous champion of the cause of British
democracy, comparing the results of "government by the wise" with
alleged mob rule. Mackay wrote:

     "Society in America started from the point to which society
     in Europe is only yet finding. The equality of men is, to
     this moment, its corner-stone ... that which develops itself
     as the sympathy of class, becomes in America the general
     sentiment of society.... We present an imposing front to the
     world; but let us tear the picture and look at the canvas.
     One out of every seven of us is a pauper. Every six
     Englishmen have, in addition to their other enormous burdens,
     to support a seventh between them, whose life is spent in
     consuming, but in adding nothing to the source of their
     common subsistence."

British governing classes then, forgoing after 1850 opposition to the
advance of American power, found themselves involved again, as before
1832, in the problem of the possible influence of a prosperous American
democracy upon an unenfranchised public opinion at home. Also, for all
Englishmen, of whatever class, in spite of rivalry in power, of opposing
theories of trade, of divergent political institutions, there existed a
vague, though influential, pride in the advance of a people of similar
race, sprung from British loins[25]. And there remained for all
Englishmen also one puzzling and discreditable American institution,
slavery--held up to scorn by the critics of the United States, difficult
of excuse among her friends.

Agitation conducted by the great philanthropist, Wilberforce, had early
committed British Government and people to a crusade against the African
slave trade. This British policy was clearly announced to the world in
the negotiations at Vienna in 1814-15. But Britain herself still
supported the institution of slavery in her West Indian colonies and it
was not until British humanitarian sentiment had forced emancipation
upon the unwilling sugar planters, in 1833, that the nation was morally
free to criticize American domestic slavery. Meanwhile great
emancipation societies, with many branches, all virile and active, had
grown up in England and in Scotland. These now turned to an attack on
slavery the world over, and especially on American slavery. The great
American abolitionist, Garrison, found more support in England than in
his own country; his weekly paper, _The Liberator_, is full of messages
of cheer from British friends and societies, and of quotations from a
sympathetic, though generally provincial, British press.

From 1830 to 1850 British anti-slavery sentiment was at its height. It
watched with anxiety the evidence of a developing struggle over slavery
in the United States, hopeful, as each crisis arose, that the free
Northern States would impose their will upon the Southern Slave States.
But as each crisis turned to compromise, seemingly enhancing the power
of the South, and committing America to a retention of slavery, the
hopes of British abolitionists waned. The North did indeed, to British
opinion, become identified with opposition to the expansion of slavery,
but after the "great compromise of 1850," where the elder American
statesmen of both North and South proclaimed the "finality" of that
measure, British sympathy for the North rapidly lessened. Moreover,
after 1850, there was in Britain itself a decay of general humanitarian
sentiment as regards slavery. The crusade had begun to seem hopeless and
the earlier vigorous agitators were dead. The British Government still
maintained its naval squadron for the suppression of the African slave
trade, but the British official mind no longer keenly interested itself
either in this effort or in the general question of slavery.

Nevertheless American slavery and slave conditions were still, after
1850, favourite matters for discussion, almost universally critical, by
English writers. Each renewal of the conflict in America, even though
local, not national in character, drew out a flood of comment. In the
public press this blot upon American civilization was a steady subject
for attack, and that attack was naturally directed against the South.
The London _Times_, in particular, lost no opportunity of presenting the
matter to its readers. In 1856, a Mr. Thomas Gladstone visited Kansas
during the height of the border struggles there, and reported his
observations in letters to the _Times_. The writer was wholly on the
side of the Northern settlers in Kansas, though not hopeful that the
Kansas struggle would expand to a national conflict. He constantly
depicted the superior civilization, industry, and social excellence of
the North as compared with the South[26].

Mrs. Stowe's _Uncle Tom's Cabin_ excited greater interest in England
than in America itself. The first London edition appeared in May, 1852,
and by the end of the year over one million copies had been sold, as
opposed to one hundred and fifty thousand in the United States. But if
one distinguished writer is to be believed, this great British interest
in the book was due more to English antipathy to America than to
antipathy to slavery[27]. This writer was Nassau W. Senior, who, in
1857, published a reprint of his article on "American Slavery" in the
206th number of the _Edinburgh Review_, reintroducing in his book
extreme language denunciatory of slavery that had been cut out by the
editor of the _Review_[28]. Senior had been stirred to write by the
brutal attack upon Charles Sumner in the United States Senate after his
speech of May 19-20, 1856, evidence, again, that each incident of the
slavery quarrel in America excited British attention.

Senior, like Thomas Gladstone, painted the North as all anti-slavery,
the South as all pro-slavery. Similar impressions of British
understanding (or misunderstanding) are received from the citations of
the British provincial press, so favoured by Garrison in his
_Liberator_[29]. Yet for intellectual Britain, at least--that Britain
which was vocal and whose opinion can be ascertained in spite of this
constant interest in American slavery, there was generally a fixed
belief that slavery in the United States was so firmly established that
it could not be overthrown. Of what use, then, the further expenditure
of British sympathy or effort in a lost cause? Senior himself, at the
conclusion of his fierce attack on the Southern States, expressed the
pessimism of British abolitionists. He wrote, "We do not venture to hope
that we, or our sons, or our grandsons, will see American slavery
extirpated, or even materially mitigated[30]."


[Footnote 1: State Department, Eng., Vol. LXXIX, No. 135, March 27,

[Footnote 2: Walpole, _Russell_, Vol. II, p. 367.]

[Footnote 3: _Life of Lady John Russell_, p. 197.]

[Footnote 4: There was a revival of this fear at the end of the American
Civil War. This will be commented on later.]

[Footnote 5: This was the position of President and Congress: yet the
United States had not acknowledged the right of an American citizen to
expatriate himself.]

[Footnote 6: Between 1797 and 1801, of the sailors taken from American
ships, 102 were retained, 1,042 were discharged, and 805 were held for
further proof. (Updyke, _The Diplomacy of the War of 1812_, p. 21.)]

[Footnote 7: The people of the British North American Provinces regarded
the war as an attempt made by America, taking advantage of the European
wars, at forcible annexation. In result the fervour of the United Empire
Loyalists was renewed, especially in Upper Canada. Thus the same two
wars which fostered militant patriotism in America against England had
the same result in Canadian sentiment against America.]

[Footnote 8: Temperley, "Later American Policy of George Canning" in
_Am. Hist. Rev._, XI, 783. Also _Cambridge History of British Foreign
Policy_, Vol. II, ch. 2.]

[Footnote 9: Much has recently been published on British policy in
Texas. See my book, _British Interests and Activities in Texas,
1838-1846_, Johns Hopkins Press, Balt., 1910. Also Adams, Editor,
_British Diplomatic Correspondence concerning the Republic of Texas_,
The Texas State Historical Association, Austin, Texas, 1918.]

[Footnote 10: In my studies on British-American relations, I have read
the leading British reviews and newspapers, and some four hundred
volumes by British travellers. For a summary of the British travellers
before 1860 see my article "The Point of View of the British Traveller
in America," in the _Political Science Quarterly_, Vol. XXIX, No. 2,
June, 1914.]

[Footnote 11: John Melish, _Travels_, Vol. I, p. 148.]

[Footnote 12: Morris Birkbeck, _Letters from Illinois_, London, 1818, p.

[Footnote 13: Letter in Edinburgh _Scotsman_, March, 1823. Cited by
_Niles Register_, Vol. XXV, p. 39.]

[Footnote 14: _Travels in North America_, 1827-28, London, 1829.]

[Footnote 15: Captain Thomas Hamilton, _Men and Manners in America_,
Edinburgh and London, 1833. 2 vols.]

[Footnote 16: _Society in America_, London, 1837. 3 vols. _Retrospect of
Western Travel_, London, 1838. 2 vols.]

[Footnote 17: Captain Frederick Marryat, _A Diary in America, with
Remarks on Its Institutions_, Vol. VI, p. 293.]

[Footnote 18: James Silk Buckingham, _America, Historical, Statistic and
Descriptive_, London, 1841-43. 9 vols.]

[Footnote 19: _Notes on the United States of North America during a
phrenological visit_, 1838-9-40, Edinburgh, 1841. 3 vols.]

[Footnote 20: _A Visit to the United States in 1841_, London, 1842.]

[Footnote 21: George William Featherstonaugh, _Excursion through the
Slave States_, London, 1844. 2 vols.]

[Footnote 22: William Kennedy, _Texas: The Rise, Progress and Prospects
of the Republic of Texas_, London, 1841. 2 vols. George Warburton,
_Hochelaga: or, England in the New World_, London, 1845. 2 vols.]

[Footnote 23: Warburton, _Hochelaga_, 5th Edition, Vol. II, pp. 363-4.]

[Footnote 24: Alexander Mackay, _The Western World: or, Travels through
the United States in 1846-47_, London, 1849.]

[Footnote 25: This is clearly indicated in Parliament itself, in the
debate on the dismissal by the United States in 1856 of Crampton, the
British Minister at Washington, for enlistment activities during the
Crimean War.--_Hansard_, 3rd. Ser., CXLIII, 14-109 and 120-203.]

[Footnote 26: Gladstone's letters were later published in book form,
under the title _The Englishman in Kansas_, London, 1857.]

[Footnote 27: "The evil passions which 'Uncle Tom' gratified in England
were not hatred or vengeance [of slavery], but national jealousy and
national vanity. We have long been smarting under the conceit of
America--we are tired of hearing her boast that she is the freest and
the most enlightened country that the world has ever seen. Our clergy
hate her voluntary system--our Tories hate her democrats--our Whigs hate
her parvenus--our Radicals hate her litigiousness, her insolence, and
her ambition. All parties hailed Mrs. Stowe as a revolter from the
enemy." Senior, _American Slavery_, p. 38.]

[Footnote 28: The reprint is without date, but the context shows the
year to be 1857.]

[Footnote 29: For example the many British expressions quoted in
reference to John Brown's raid, in _The Liberator_ for February 10,
1860, and in succeeding issues.]

[Footnote 30: Senior, _American Slavery_, p. 68.]



It has been remarked by the American historian, Schouler, that
immediately before the outbreak of the Civil War, diplomatic
controversies between England and America had largely been settled, and
that England, pressed from point to point, had "sullenly" yielded under
American demands. This generalization, as applied to what were, after
all, minor controversies, is in great measure true. In larger questions
of policy, as regards spheres of influence or developing power, or
principles of trade, there was difference, but no longer any essential
opposition or declared rivalry[31]. In theories of government there was
sharp divergence, clearly appreciated, however, only in governing-class
Britain. This sense of divergence, even of a certain threat from America
to British political institutions, united with an established opinion
that slavery was permanently fixed in the United States to reinforce
governmental indifference, sometimes even hostility, to America. The
British public, also, was largely hopeless of any change in the
institution of slavery, and its own active humanitarian interest was
waning, though still dormant--not dead. Yet the two nations, to a degree
not true of any other two world-powers, were of the same race, had
similar basic laws, read the same books, and were held in close touch at
many points by the steady flow of British emigration to the
United States.

When, after the election of Lincoln to the Presidency, in November,
1860, the storm-clouds of civil strife rapidly gathered, the situation
took both British Government and people by surprise. There was not any
clear understanding either of American political conditions, or of the
intensity of feeling now aroused over the question of the extension of
slave territory. The most recent descriptions of America had agreed in
assertion that at some future time there would take place, in all
probability, a dissolution of the Union, on lines of diverging economic
interests, but also stated that there was nothing in the American
situation to indicate immediate progress in this direction. Grattan, a
long-time resident in America as British Consul at Boston, wrote:

     "The day must no doubt come when clashing objects will break
     the ties of common interest which now preserve the Union. But
     no man may foretell the period of dissolution.... The many
     restraining causes are out of sight of foreign observation.
     The Lilliputian threads binding the man mountain are
     invisible; and it seems wondrous that each limb does not act
     for itself independently of its fellows. A closer examination
     shows the nature of the network which keeps the members of
     this association so tightly bound. Any attempt to untangle
     the ties, more firmly fastens them. When any one State talks
     of separation, the others become spontaneously knotted
     together. When a section blusters about its particular
     rights, the rest feel each of theirs to be common to all. If
     a foreign nation hint at hostility, the whole Union becomes
     in reality united. And thus in every contingency from which
     there can be danger, there is also found the element of
     safety." Yet, he added, "All attempts to strengthen this
     federal government at the expense of the States' governments
     must be futile.... The federal government exists on
     sufferance only. Any State may at any time constitutionally
     withdraw from the Union, and thus virtually dissolve it[32]."

Even more emphatically, though with less authority, wrote one Charles
Mackay, styled by the American press as a "distinguished British poet,"
who made the usual rapid tour of the principal cities of America in
1857-58, and as rapidly penned his impressions:

     "Many persons in the United States talk of a dissolution of
     the Union, but few believe in it.... All this is mere bravado
     and empty talk. It means nothing. The Union is dear to all
     Americans, whatever they may say to the contrary.... There is
     no present danger to the Union, and the violent expressions
     to which over-ardent politicians of the North and South
     sometimes give vent have no real meaning. The 'Great West,'
     as it is fondly called, is in the position even now to
     arbitrate between North and South, should the quarrel stretch
     beyond words, or should anti-slavery or any other question
     succeed in throwing any difference between them which it
     would take revolvers and rifles rather than speeches and
     votes to put an end to[33]."

The slavery controversy in America had, in short, come to be regarded in
England as a constant quarrel between North and South, but of no
immediate danger to the Union. Each outbreak of violent American
controversy produced a British comment sympathetic with the North. The
turmoil preceding and following the election of Lincoln in 1860, on the
platform of "no extension of slavery," was very generally noted by the
British press and public, as a sign favourable to the cause of
anti-slavery, but with no understanding that Southern threat would at
last be realized in definite action. Herbert Spencer, in a letter of May
15, 1862, to his American friend, Yeomans, wrote, "As far as I had the
means of judging, the feeling here was at first _very decidedly_ on the
side of the North[34] ..." The British metropolitan press, in nearly
every issue of which for at least two years after December, 1860, there
appeared news items and editorial comment on the American crisis, was at
first nearly unanimous in condemning the South[35]. The _Times_, with
accustomed vigour, led the field. On November 21, 1860, it stated:

     "When we read the speech of Mr. Lincoln on the subject of
     Slavery and consider the extreme moderation of the sentiments
     it expresses, the allowance that is made for the situation,
     for the feelings, for the prejudices, of the South; when we
     see how entirely he narrows his opposition to the single
     point of the admission of Slavery into the Territories, we
     cannot help being forcibly struck by the absurdity of
     breaking up a vast and glorious confederacy like that of the
     United States from the dread and anger inspired by the
     election of such a man to the office of Chief Magistrate....
     We rejoice, on higher and surer grounds, that it [the
     election] has ended in the return of Mr. Lincoln. We are glad
     to think that the march of Slavery, and the domineering tone
     which its advocates were beginning to assume over Freedom,
     has been at length arrested and silenced. We rejoice that a
     vast community of our own race has at length given an
     authoritative expression to sentiments which are entertained
     by everyone in this country. We trust to see the American
     Government employed in tasks more worthy of a State founded
     on the doctrines of liberty and equality than the invention
     of shifts and devices to perpetuate servitude; and we hear in
     this great protest of American freedom the tardy echo of
     those humane doctrines to which England has so long become a

Other leading journals, though with less of patronizing
self-complacency, struck the same note as the _Times_. The _Economist_
attributed Lincoln's election to a shift in the sympathies of the "lower
orders" in the electorate who had now deserted their former leaders, the
slave-owning aristocracy of the South, and allied themselves with the
refined and wise leaders of the North. Lincoln, it argued, was not an
extremist in any sense. His plan of action lay within the limits of
statesmanlike moderation[36]. The _Saturday Review_ was less sure that
England should rejoice with the North. British self-esteem had suffered
some hard blows at the hands of the Democratic party in America, but at
least England knew where Democrats stood, and could count on no more
discourtesy or injustice than that inflicted in the past. The Republican
party, however, had no policy, except that of its leader, Seward, and
from him might be expected extreme insolence[37]. This was a very early
judgment of Seward, and one upon which the _Saturday Review_ preened
itself later, as wholly justified. The _Spectator_, the only one of the
four journals thus far considered which ultimately remained constant in
advocacy of the Northern cause, was at first lukewarm in comment,
regarding the 1860 election, while fought on the slavery issue, as in
reality a mere contest between parties for political power[38].

Such was the initial attitude of the English press. Each press issue
for several weeks harped on the same chord, though sounding varying
notes. If the South really means forcible resistance, said the _Times_,
it is doomed to quick suppression. "A few hundred thousand slave-owners,
trembling nightly with visions of murder and pillage, backed by a
dissolute population of 'poor whites,' are no match for the hardy and
resolute populations of the Free States[39]," and if the South hoped for
foreign aid it should be undeceived promptly: "Can any sane man believe
that England and France will consent, as is now suggested, to stultify
the policy of half a century for the sake of an extended cotton trade,
and to purchase the favours of Charleston and Milledgeville by
recognizing what has been called 'the isothermal law, which impels
African labour toward the tropics' on the other side of the
Atlantic[40]?" Moreover all Americans ought to understand clearly that
British respect for the United States "was not due to the attitude of
the South with its ruffian demonstrations in Congress.... All that is
noble and venerable in the United States is associated with its Federal

Did the British public hold these same opinions? There is no direct
evidence available in sufficient quantity in autobiography or letters
upon which to base a conclusion. Such works are silent on the struggle
in America for the first few months and presumably public opinion, less
informed even than the press, received its impressions from the journals
customarily read. Both at this period and all through the war, also, it
should be remembered, clearly, that most newspapers, all the reviews, in
fact nearly all vehicles of British expression, were in the early
'sixties "in the hands of the educated classes, and these educated
classes corresponded closely with the privileged classes." The more
democratic element of British Society lacked any adequate press
representation of its opinions. "This body could express itself by such
comparatively crude methods as public meetings and demonstrations, but
it was hampered in literary and political expression[42]." The opinion
of the press was then, presumably, the opinion of the majority of the
educated British public.

Thus British comment on America took the form, at first of
moralizations, now severe toward the South, now indifferent, yet very
generally asserting the essential justice of the Northern position. But
it was early evident that the newspapers, one and all, were quite
unprepared for the determined front soon put up by South Carolina and
other Southern States. Surprised by the violence of Southern
declarations, the only explanation found by the British press was that
political control had been seized by the uneducated and lawless element.
The _Times_ characterized this element of the South as in a state of
deplorable ignorance comparable with that of the Irish peasantry, a
"poor, proud, lazy, excitable and violent class, ever ready with knife
and revolver[43]." The fate of the Union, according to the _Saturday
Review_, was in the hands of the "most ignorant, most unscrupulous, and
most lawless [class] in the world--the poor or mean whites of the Slave
States[44]." Like judgments were expressed by the _Economist_ and, more
mildly, by the _Spectator_[45]. Subsequently some of these journals
found difficulty in this connection, in swinging round the circle to
expressions of admiration for the wise and powerful aristocracy of the
South; but all, especially the _Times_, were skilled by long practice
in the journalistic art of facing about while claiming perfect
consistency. In denial of a Southern right of secession, also, they were
nearly a unit[46], though the _Saturday Review_ argued the case for the
South, making a pointed parallel between the present situation and that
of the American Colonies in seceding from England[47].

The quotations thus far made exhibit for the leading papers an initial
confusion and ignorance difficult to harmonize with the theory of an
"enlightened press." The Reviews, by the conditions of publication, came
into action more slowly and during 1860 there appeared but one article,
in the _Edinburgh Review_, giving any adequate idea of what was really
taking place in America[48]. The lesser British papers generally
followed the tone of the leading journals, but without either great
interest or much acumen. In truth the depth of British newspaper
ignorance, considering their positiveness of utterance, appears utterly
astonishing if regarded from the view-point of modern historical
knowledge. But is this, after all, a matter for surprise? Was there not
equal confusion at least, possibly equal ignorance, in America itself,
certainly among the press and people of the Northern States? They also
had come by experience to discount Southern threats, and were slow to
understand that the great conflict of ideals and interests was at
last begun.

The British press both influenced and reflected educated class opinion,
and, in some degree, official opinion as well. Lord John Russell at the
Foreign Office and Lord Lyons, British Minister at Washington, were
exchanging anxious letters, and the latter was sending home reports
remarkable for their clear analysis of the American controversy. Yet
even he was slow to appreciate the inevitability of secession.

[Illustration: LORD LYONS (_From a photograph taken at Boston, U.S.A.,
in 1860) (From Lord Newton's "Life of Lord Lyons," by kind permission_)]

Other officials, especially those in minor positions in the United
States, showed a lack of grasp of the situation similar to that of the
press. An amusing illustration of this, furnishing a far-fetched view of
causes, is supplied in a letter of February 2, 1860, from Consul Bunch,
at Charleston, S.C., to Lord Lyons, the British Minister at
Washington[49]. Bunch wrote describing a dinner which had been given the
evening before, by the Jockey Club of Charleston. Being called upon for
a speech, he had alluded to the prizes of the Turf at home, and had
referred especially to the Plates run for the various British colonies.
Continuing, he said:

     "'... I cannot help calling your attention to the great loss
     you yourselves have suffered by ceasing to be a Colonial
     Dependency of Great Britain, as I am sure that if you had
     continued to be so, the Queen would have had great pleasure
     in sending you some Plates too.'

     "Of course this was meant for the broadest sort of joke,
     calculated to raise a laugh after dinner, but to my
     amazement, the company chose to take me literally, and
     applauded for about ten minutes--in fact I could not go on
     for some time."

Bunch evidently hardly knew what to make of this demonstration. He could
with difficulty believe that South Carolina wished to be re-annexed as a
colony of Great Britain, and comments upon the episode in a somewhat
humorous vein. Nevertheless in concluding his letter, he solemnly
assures Lord Lyons that

     "... The Jockey Club is composed of the 'best people' of
     South Carolina--rich planters and the like. It represents,
     therefore, the 'gentlemanly interest' and not a bit of
     universal suffrage."

It would be idle to assume that either in South Carolina or in England
there was, in February, 1860, any serious thought of a resumption of
colonial relations, though W.H. Russell, correspondent of the _Times_,
reported in the spring, 1861, that he frequently heard the same
sentiment in the South[50]. For general official England, as for the
press, the truth is that up to the time of the secession of South
Carolina no one really believed that a final rupture was about to take
place between North and South. When, on December 20, 1860, that State in
solemn convention declared the dissolution "of the Union now existing
between South Carolina and the other States, under the name of the
'United States of America,'" and when it was understood that other
Southern States would soon follow this example, British opinion believed
and hoped that the rupture would be accomplished peaceably. Until it
became clear that war would ensue, the South was still damned by the
press as seeking the preservation of an evil institution. Slavery was
even more vigorously asserted as the ignoble and sole cause. In the
number for April, 1861, the _Edinburgh Review_ attributed the whole
difficulty to slavery, asserted that British sympathy would be with the
anti-slavery party, yet advanced the theory that the very dissolution of
the Union would hasten the ultimate extinction of slavery since economic
competition with a neighbouring free state, the North, would compel the
South itself to abandon its beloved "domestic institution[51]."

Upon receipt of the news from South Carolina, the _Times_, in a long and
carefully worded editorial, took up one by one the alleged causes of
secession, dismissed them as inadequate, and concluded, "... we cannot
disguise from ourselves that, apart from all political complications,
there is a right and a wrong in this question, and that the right
belongs, with all its advantages, to the States of the North[52]." Three
days later it asserted, "The North is for freedom of discussion, the
South represses freedom of discussion with the tar-brush and the
pine-fagot." And again, on January 10, "The Southern States expected
sympathy for their undertaking from the public opinion of this country.
The tone of the press has already done much to undeceive them...."

In general both the metropolitan and the provincial press expressed
similar sentiments, though there were exceptions. The _Dublin News_
published with approval a long communication addressed to Irishmen at
home and abroad: "... there is no power on earth or in heaven which can
keep in peace this unholy co-partnership.... I hope ... that the North
will quietly permit the South to retire from the confederacy and bear
alone the odium of all mankind[53]...." The _Saturday Review_ thought
that deeper than declared differences lay the ruling social structure of
the South which now visioned a re-opening of the African Slave Trade,
and the occupation by slavery of the whole southern portion of North
America. "A more ignoble basis for a great Confederacy it is impossible
to conceive, nor one in the long run more precarious.... Assuredly it
will be the Northern Confederacy, based on principles of freedom, with a
policy untainted by crime, with a free working-class of white men, that
will be the one to go on and prosper and become the leader of the New
World[54]." The _London Chronicle_ was vigorous in denunciation. "No
country on the globe produces a blackguardism, a cowardice or a
treachery, so consummate as that of the negro-driving States of the new
Southern Confederacy"--a bit of editorial blackguardism in itself[55].
The _London Review_ more moderately stigmatized slavery as the cause,
but was lukewarm in praise of Northern idealisms, regarding the whole
matter as one of diverging economic systems and in any case as
inevitably resulting in dissolution of the Union at some time. The
inevitable might as well come now as later and would result in benefit
to both sections as well as to the world fearing the monstrous empire of
power that had grown up in America[56].

The great bulk of early expressions by the British press was, in truth,
definitely antagonistic to the South, and this was particularly true of
the provincial press. Garrison's _Liberator_, advocating extreme
abolition action, had long made a practice of presenting excerpts from
British newspapers, speeches and sermons in support of its cause. In
1860 there were thirty-nine such citations; in the first months of 1861
many more, all condemning slavery and the South. For the most part these
citations represented a comparatively unknown and uninfluential section,
both in politics and literature, of the British people. Matthew Arnold
was among the first of men of letters to record his faith that secession
was final and, as he hoped, an excellent thing for the North, looking to
the purity of race and the opportunity for unhampered advance[57]. If
English writers were in any way influenced by their correspondents in
the United States they may, indeed, have well been in doubt as to the
origin and prospects of the American quarrel. Hawthorne, but recently at
home again after seven years' consulship in England, was writing that
abolition was not a Northern object in the war just begun. Whittier
wrote to _his_ English friends that slavery, and slavery alone, was the
basic issue[58]. But literary Britain was slow to express itself save in
the Reviews. These, representing varying shades of British upper-class
opinion and presenting articles presumably more profound than the
newspaper editorials, frequently offered more recondite origins of the
American crisis. The _Quarterly Review_, organ of extreme Conservatism,
in its first article, dwelt upon the failure of democratic institutions,
a topic not here treated at length since it will be dealt with in a
separate chapter as deserving special study. The _Quarterly_ is also the
first to advance the argument that the protective tariff, advocated by
the North, was a real cause for Southern secession[59]; an idea made
much of later, by the elements unfriendly to the North, but not
hitherto advanced. In these first issues of the Reviews for 1861, there
was frequently put forth the "Southern gentlemen" theory.

     "At a distance of three thousand miles, the Southern planters
     did, indeed, bear a resemblance to the English country
     gentleman which led to a feeling of kinship and sympathy with
     him on the part of those in England who represented the old
     traditions of landed gentility. This 'Southern gentleman'
     theory, containing as it did an undeniable element of truth,
     is much harped upon by certain of the reviewers, and one can
     easily conceive of its popularity in the London Clubs.... The
     'American,' so familiar to British readers, during the first
     half of the century, through the eyes of such travellers as
     Mrs. Trollope, now becomes the 'Yankee,' and is located north
     of Mason and Dixon's line[60]."

Such portrayal was not characteristic of all Reviews, rather of the Tory
organs alone, and the Radical _Westminster_ took pains to deny the truth
of the picture, asserting again and again that the vital and sole cause
of the conflict was slavery. Previous articles are summed up in that of
October, 1863, as a profession of the _Westminster's_ opinion
throughout: "... the South are fighting for liberty to found a Slave
Power. Should it prove successful, truer devil's work, if we may use the
metaphor, will rarely have been done[61]."

Fortunate would it have been for the Northern cause, if British opinion
generally sympathetic at first on anti-slavery grounds, had not soon
found cause to doubt the just basis of its sympathy, from the trend of
events in America. Lincoln had been elected on a platform opposing the
further territorial expansion of slavery. On that point the North was
fairly well united. But the great majority of those who voted for
Lincoln would have indignantly repudiated any purpose to take active
steps toward the extinction of slavery where it already existed. Lincoln
understood this perfectly, and whatever his opinion about the ultimate
fate of slavery if prohibited expansion, he from the first took the
ground that the terms of his election constituted a mandate limiting his
action. As secession developed he rightly centred his thought and effort
on the preservation of the Union, a duty imposed by his election to the

Naturally, as the crisis developed, there were many efforts at still
another great compromise. Among the friends of the outgoing President,
Buchanan, whose term of office would not expire until March 4, 1861,
there were still some Southern leaders, like Jefferson Davis, seeking
either a complete surrender to Southern will, or advantages for Southern
security in case secession was accomplished. Buchanan appealed
hysterically to the old-time love of the Union and to the spirit of
compromise. Great congressional committees of both Senate and House of
Representatives were formed seeking a solution. Crittenden for the
border states between North and South, where, more than anywhere else,
there was division of opinion, proposed pledges to be given to the
South. Seward, long-time champion of the anti-slavery North, was active
in the Senate in suggestion and intrigue seemingly intended to
conciliate by concessions. Charles Francis Adams, early a Free Soiler,
in the House of Representatives Committee conducted his Republican
colleagues along a path apparently leading to a guarantee of slavery as
then established[62]. A constitutional amendment was drafted to this
effect and received Lincoln's preliminary approval. Finally Lincoln, in
his inaugural address, March 4, 1861, declared:

     "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with
     the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I
     believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no
     inclination to do so."

It should be no matter for surprise, therefore, that, as these efforts
were observed in Great Britain, a note of uncertainty began to replace
the earlier unanimity of opinion that the future of slavery was at stake
in America. This offered an easy excuse for a switch-about of sympathy
as British commercial and other interests began to be developed, and
even dismayed the ardent friends of the anti-slavery North. Meanwhile
the Government of Great Britain, from the very first appearance of the
cloud of civil war, had focused its attention on the point of what the
events in America portended to British interests and policy. This is the
business of governments, and their agents would be condemned as
inefficient did they neglect it. But did British governmental policy go
beyond this entirely justifiable first thought for immediate British
interests to the point of positive hope that England would find an
advantage in the breaking up of the great American Republic? American
opinion, both then and later, believed Great Britain guilty of this
offence, but such criticism was tinged with the passions of the Civil
War. Yet a more impartial critic, though possibly an unfriendly one
because of his official position, made emphatic declaration to like
effect. On January 1, 1861, Baron de Brunow, Russian Ambassador at
London, reported to St. Petersburg that, "the English Government, at the
bottom of its heart, desires the separation of North America into two
republics, which will watch each other jealously and counterbalance one
the other. Then England, on terms of peace and commerce with both,
would have nothing to fear from either; for she would dominate them,
restraining them by their rival ambitions[63]."

If, however, one turns from the surmises of foreign diplomats as to the
springs of British policy, to the more authentic evidence of official
and private diplomatic correspondence, there is found no proof for such
accusations. Certainty neither Lord John Russell, Foreign Secretary, nor
Lord Lyons, British Minister at Washington, reveal any animus against
the United States. Considering his many personal ties with leaders of
both factions Lyons, from the first, reported events with wonderful
impartiality, and great clarity. On November 12, 1860, he sent to
Russell a full description of the clamour raised in the South over the
election of Lincoln, enumerated the resignation of Federal officials
(calling these "ill-judged measures"), and expressed the opinion that
Lincoln was no Radical. He hoped the storm would blow over without
damage to the Union[64]. Russell, for his part, was prompt to instruct
Lyons and the British consuls not "to seem to favour one party rather
than the other," and not to express opinions or to give advice, unless
asked for by the State Governments, in which case the advice should be
against all violent action as tending toward civil war[65].

This bare statement may indeed be interpreted as indicating an eager
readiness on Russell's part to accept as final the dissolution of the
Union, but such an interpretation is not borne out by a reading of his
instructions. Rather he was perplexed, and anxious that British agents
should not gain the ill-will of either American faction, an ill-will
that would be alike detrimental in the future, whether the Union
remained unbroken or was destroyed.

Strict instructions against offering advice are therefore repeated
frequently[66]. Meanwhile the first concrete problem requiring British
action came from the seizure by South Carolina of the Federal customs
house at the port of Charleston, and the attempt of the State
authorities to collect port dues customarily paid to Federal officials.
British shipowners appealed to Consul Bunch for instructions, he to
Lyons, and the latter to the American Secretary of State, Judge Black.
This was on December 31, 1860, while Buchanan was still President, and
Black's answer was evasive, though asserting that the United States must
technically regard the events in South Carolina as acts of violent
rebellion[67]. Black refused to state what action would be taken if
Bunch advised British shipowners to pay, but a way out of the
embarrassment was found by advising such payment to State authorities
"under protest" as done "under compulsion." To one of his letters to
Bunch on this topic, Lyons appended an expression indicative of his own
early attitude. "The domestic slavery of the South is a bitter pill
which it will be hard enough to get the English to swallow. But if the
Slave Trade is to be added to the dose, the least squeamish British
stomach will reject it[68]."

Nevertheless the vigorous action of South Carolina, soon followed by
other Southern States, made a deep impression on Russell, especially
when compared with the uncertainty and irresolution manifested in the
attempted compromise measures of Northern statesmen. In a private letter
to Lyons, January 10, 1861, he wrote "I do not see how the United States
can be cobbled together again by any compromise.... I cannot see any
mode of reconciling such parties as these. The best thing _now_ would
be that the right to secede should be acknowledged.... I hope sensible
men will take this view.... But above all I hope no force will be
used[69]." And again twelve days later, "I suppose the break-up of the
Union is now inevitable[70]." To Russell, as to most foreign observers,
it seemed that if the South with its great wealth, its enormous extent
of territory, and its five and one-half millions of population, were
determined to leave the Union, no force whatever could compel a return.
History failed to record any revolution on so large a scale which had
not succeeded. His desire, therefore, was that the North would yield to
the inevitable, and would not plunge into a useless civil war disastrous
alike to the prosperity of America and of foreign nations. Russell's
first hope was that the South would forgo secession; his second, this
accomplished, that there would be no war, and in this sense he
instructed Lyons. The latter, less expectant of peaceful separation, and
more aware of the latent power of the North, maintained throughout his
entire service at Washington that there was at least a _chance_ that the
North could subdue the South by might of arms[71], but he also, looking
to British interests, saw his early duty, before war broke, in cautious
suggestions against forcible Northern action. Thus from January to
March, 1861, British effort and indirect advice were based on the hope
that British trade interests might escape the tribulations inevitable
from a civil conflict in America. Beyond that point there was no grasp
of the complications likely to arise in case of war, and no clear
formulation of British policy[72].

In fact up to the middle of March, 1861, both public and official
British opinion discounted armed conflict, or at least any determined
Northern effort to recover the South. Early British attitude was,
therefore, based on a misconception. As this became clear, public
opinion began to break from a united humanitarian pro-Northern sentiment
and to show, in some quarters, quite another face. Even as early as
January the _Economist_ expressed wonder that the Northern States had
not availed themselves gladly of the chance to "shake off such an
incubus, and to purify themselves of such a stain[73]." and a month
later professed to believe that Great Britain would willingly permit the
North to secure compensation for loss of territory by annexing
Canada--provided the Canadians themselves desired it. This, it was
argued, would directly benefit England herself by cutting down military
expenditures[74]. The _London Press_ indulged in similar speculation,
though from the angle of a Canadian annexation of the Northern States,
whose more sober citizens must by now be weary of the sham of American
democracy, and disgusted with the rowdyism of political elections, which
"combine the morals of a horse race, the manners of a dog fight, the
passions of a tap-room, and the emotions of a gambling house[75]."
Probably such suggestions had little real purpose or meaning at the
moment, but it is interesting that this idea of a "compensation" in
Canada should have been voiced thus early. Even in the United States the
same thought had occurred to a few political leaders. Charles Sumner
held it, though too wise, politically, to advance it in the face of the
growing Northern determination to preserve the Union. It lay at the
bottom of his increasing bitterness toward his old friend Charles
Francis Adams, now busy in schemes intended, apparently, to restore the
Union by compromise, and it led Sumner to hope for appointment as
Minister to England[76].

The chief organ of British upper-class opinion, the _Times_, was one of
the first to begin the process of "face about," as civil war in America
seemed imminent[77]. Viewed from the later attitude of the _Times_, the
earlier expressions of that paper, and in truth of many British
journals, seem merely the customary platitudinous British holding up of
horrified hands at American slavery. On January 19, 1861, a strong
editorial still proclaimed the folly of South Carolina, as acting
"without law, without justice," but displayed a real dismay at the
possible consequences of war to British trade and commerce. On January
22, the _Times_ reprinted an article from the _Economist_, on a probable
cessation of cotton supply and editorially professed great alarm, even
advocating an early recognition of the Southern confederacy if needed to
maintain that supply. From this time on there is no further note in the
_Times_ of the righteousness of the Northern cause; but while it is
still asserted that war would be folly, the strength of the South, its
superiority as a military nation, are depicted.

A long break of nearly six weeks follows with little editorial comment.
Soon the correspondence from New York, previously written by Bancroft
Davis, and extremely favourable to the Northern cause, was discontinued.
W.H. Russell, the famous war correspondent of the Crimea, was summoned
to London and, according to his own story, upon being given papers,
clippings, and correspondence (largely articles from the _New York
Herald_) supporting the right of the South to secede, hastily took his
departure for America to report upon the situation[78]. He sailed from
Queenstown on March 3, and arrived in New York on March 16. At last on
March 12, the _Times_ took positive ground in favour of the justice of
the Southern cause.

     "No treachery has been at work to produce the disruption, and
     the principles avowed are such as to command the sympathies
     of every free and enlightened people. Such are the widely
     different auspices under which the two rival Republics start
     into existence. But mankind will not ultimately judge these
     things by sympathies and antipathies; they will be greatly
     swayed by their own interest, and the two Republics must be
     weighed, not by their professions or their previous history,
     but by the conduct they pursue and the position they maintain
     among the Powers of the earth. Their internal institutions
     are their own affair; their financial and political
     arrangements are emphatically ours. Brazil is a slave-holding
     Empire, but by its good faith and good conduct it has
     contrived to establish for itself a place in the hierarchy of
     nations far superior to that of many Powers which are free
     from this domestic contamination. If the Northern Confederacy
     of America evinces a determination to act in a narrow,
     exclusive, and unsocial spirit, while its Southern
     competitor extends the hand of good fellowship to all
     mankind, with the exception of its own bondsmen, we must not
     be surprised to see the North, in spite of the goodness of
     its cause and the great negative merit of the absence of
     Slavery, sink into a secondary position, and lose the
     sympathy and regard of mankind."

This to Northern view, was a sad relapse from that high moral tone
earlier addressed to the South notifying slave-holders that England
would not "stultify the policy of half a century for the sake of an
extended cotton trade[79]."

The _Economist_, with more consistency, still reported the violence and
recklessness of the South, yet in logical argument proved to its own
satisfaction the impossibility of Northern reconquest, and urged a
peaceful separation[80]. The _Spectator_, even though pro-Northern, had
at first small hope of reunion by force, and offered consolation in the
thought that there would still remain a United States of America
"strong, powerful and free; all the stronger for the loss of the Black
South[81]." In short from all quarters the public press, whatever its
sympathy, united in decrying war as a useless effort doomed to failure
if undertaken in the hope of restoring the Union. Such public opinion,
however, was not necessarily governmental opinion. The latter was indeed
more slow to make up its mind and more considerate in expressing itself.
When it became clear that in all probability the North would fight,
there was still no conception, any more than in the United States
itself, of the duration and intensity of the conflict. Indeed, Russell
yet hoped, as late as the end of January, that no protracted war would
occur. Nevertheless he was compelled to face the situation in its
relation to British commerce.

On February 16, Russell addressed Lyons on that aspect of possible war
which would at once call for a determination of British policy. "Above
all things," he wrote, "endeavour to prevent a blockade of the Southern
coast. It would produce misery, discord, and enmity incalculable[82]."
Within a week Forster, a thorough friend of the North throughout the
whole war, was interrogating the Ministry in the House of Commons in
regard to the situation at Charleston, and expressing the hope that
England would not in any way attempt to interfere[83]. This was the
first reference in Parliament, its sittings but just renewed after the
long vacation, to the American conflict, but British commercial
interests were being forced to a keener attention, and already men in
many circles were asking themselves what should be the proper
governmental attitude; how soon this new Southern Confederacy could
justly claim European recognition; how far and how fast European
governments ought to go in acknowledging such a claim; what ought to be
the proper policy and position of a neutral power; whether, indeed, a
declaration of neutrality ought to be issued.

With these questions rapidly coming to the front, it became important
for British statesmen to know something about the leaders in this new
Southern movement, the attitude of the people in general, and the
purposes of the new Government. Here, unfortunately, Lord Lyons could
be no guide. The consuls in the South, however, were in a position to
give their impressions. On February 28, 1861, Bunch wrote to Russell,
describing the election of Davis and Stephens[84], to the Presidency and
Vice-Presidency of the Confederacy, and giving a personal
characterization of many members of the Government. He was rather
caustic. Davis, he said, was the only _able_ man, and he, unfortunately,
was a confirmed "manifest destiny" leader, so much so in fact that Bunch
prophesied a renewal of filibustering when once the North had acquiesced
in a Southern State and the fear of the North had passed. Bunch had no
faith in any future greatness of the South, asserting that it would be a
State despised among nations for its maintenance of slavery, and that it
could not hope for any encouragement or sympathy from the humane nations
of Europe; in fact, his entire characterization was wholly damning to
the South. Yet it is to be noted that he never for a moment questioned
that the South had already actually established its independence. This
he seems to take for granted. Thus again, and from another quarter,
there was presented the double difficulty of England in regard to the
Civil War--the difficulty of reconciling sentiments of humanity long
preached by Great Britain, with her commercial interests and her
certainty that a new State was being born.

For men in the Northern Government Lyons was in a position to report,
but up to the end of January he had not written in any great detail with
regard to the new administration and its make-up, though on January 7,
he had informed Russell that Seward would be the Secretary of State and
had expressed the fear that with regard to Great Britain he would be "a
dangerous Foreign Minister[85]." Lincoln was still in Illinois and the
constituency of the Cabinet was yet uncertain, but Seward's voice was
sure to be a powerful one. Occasionally Lyons found some opportunity to
talk with him. On February 4, 1861, in an official letter to Russell,
Lyons reported at length an interview with Seward, in which the latter
had expressed his extreme confidence that the trouble in America was but
superficial and that union sentiment in the South would soon
prevail[86]. In a private letter of the same date, however, Lyons
asserted that Seward was indeed likely to be a very dangerous Secretary
of State. He had told Lyons that if European governments interfered to
protect their commerce, he could unite America by a foreign war in order
to resist such interference[87]. Again, on February 12, while himself
expressing hope that a solution might be found for the difficulties in
America, Lyons warned Russell that there were those who would solve
these difficulties by a foreign war, especially if foreign governments
refused to acknowledge a United States declaration without formal
blockade closing the Southern ports[88]. Writing privately, Lyons
exhibited great anxiety in regard to Seward's attitude and suggested
that the best safeguard would be close union by England and France, for
if these two governments took exactly the same stand in regard to trade,
Seward would hardly dare to carry out his threat[89].

Lyons' letter of February 4 called out from Russell an instruction in
which it was repeated that advice to either party should be withheld and
a strictly neutral attitude maintained, and Russell concluded by an
assertion that if the United States attempted a jingo policy toward
England, the British Cabinet would be tolerant because of its feeling of
strength but that "blustering demonstrations" must not be carried too
far[90]. Even as early as December, 1860, Russell had foreseen the
possibility of what he considered a mere jingo policy for home effect in
America. Now, however, upon the repeated expression of fears from Lyons
that this might be more than mere "bunkum," Russell began to instruct
Lyons not to permit English dignity to be infringed, while at the same
time desiring him to be cautious against stirring American antagonism.
Lyons' earlier disquietude seems, indeed, to have passed away for a
time, and on February 26 he wrote that everyone was waiting to see what
Lincoln would do when inaugurated, that there was still hope of
compromise, and that in his own view this was still possible. In this
letter the tone is more important than the matter, and so far as Lyons
is concerned the tone is all distinctly hopeful, all favourable to a
resumption of normal relations between the North and South. He at least
had no hope of disruption, and no happiness in it[91].

Before this communication could reach England Russell had thoroughly
awakened to the seriousness of the American situation in relation to
British foreign trade. On March 9, writing privately to Lyons, he
stated, "I hope you are getting on well with the new President. If he
blockades the Southern ports we shall be in a difficulty. But according
to all American doctrine it must be an actual blockade kept up by an
efficient force[92]." Thus, before any act had really occurred in
America, the matter of a blockade was occupying the attention of British
statesmen. One difficulty at the time was that there was no one in
England qualified to speak for the new administration at Washington.
Dallas, the American Minister appointed under the Buchanan
administration, while, unlike some other diplomatic representatives
abroad, faithful to the cause of the United States, was nevertheless not
wholly trusted by Lincoln or by Seward, and was thus handicapped in
representing to Russell American conditions or intentions. Indeed he had
very little communication with Russell. Adams' nomination to England was
known to Lyons on March 20, for on that day he telegraphed to Russell,
"Mr. Charles Francis Adams, of Massachusetts, is appointed Minister in
London. I think it a very good appointment[93]." This news was received
in London on April 2, but over six weeks were yet to elapse before Adams
reached his post. The appointment of Adams, however, seemed to Lyons a
matter of congratulation in his hope that no vicious anti-British policy
would be indulged in by Seward. Ten days after his telegram, he wrote at
length to Russell, making an excellent statement and analysis in regard
to the character of Adams.

     "Mr. Adams is son of John Quincy Adams, the fifth P. of the
     U.S., and grandson of John Adams, the second P. The
     grandfather was the first Am. minister in England. The father
     was one of the Plenipotentiaries who signed in London the
     Convention of the 3rd July, 1815. Mr. Adams as a member of
     the H. of R. for one of the districts of Mass., acted with
     the less violent section of the 'Republican' Party. During
     the last session of Congress he made a very remarkable
     speech on the state of the Union, denying the reasonableness
     of the complaints of the Southern States, but stating his
     desire that every concession not inconsistent with honour and
     principle should be made to them. He is considered to be a
     man of great independence of character, and has the
     reputation of being very tenacious of his own opinions. In
     manner he is quiet and unassuming. He is a man of good
     fortune. Mrs. Adams comes of a considerable family in Mass.,
     of the name of Brooks. The late wife of Mr. Edward Everett,
     who, as your L. is aware, has held the offices of Minister in
     London and Secretary of State, was her sister[94]."

Similar characterizations were being forwarded at almost the same time
by Bunch in regard to the Southern Commissioners, now being despatched
to London, but they were not so favourable. Mann, wrote Bunch, was the
son of a "bankrupt grocer." His personal character was "not good," yet
he alone of the three Commissioners appointed had had diplomatic
experience. Yancey, it was stated, was an able lawyer, a stirring
orator, and a recognized leader of the secession movement, but he was
also extremely pro-slavery in his views, had expressed himself in favour
of a renewal of the slave trade, and throughout his career had been a
"manifest destiny" man. Of Rost, Bunch had no knowledge. In conclusion
Bunch described the extreme confidence expressed in the South in "King
Cotton," and in rather bitter criticism stated that the Southern
Commissioners thought even England, the foe of slavery, would now be
compelled to bend the knee and recognize the South in order to get

The Northern British Consuls on the other hand took an astonishingly
pro-Northern view of the whole situation. Archibald, consul at New York,
wrote to Russell soon after the fall of Sumter, an exceedingly strong
statement of his faith in the power of the North and its fixed and
unalterable determination to force the South back into the Union, his
confidence in Northern success, and his belief in the justice of the
Northern cause. He ventured to suggest the proper policy for England to
pursue, viz., to offer immediately her services in mediation but wholly
and clearly on the side of the North. He stated that if England did not
feel free to offer mediation, she should at least show "such a
consistent and effective demonstration of sympathy and aid" for the
North as would help in shortening the war[96]. The British Consul at
Boston wrote to Russell in much the same vein. So far, indeed, did these
men go in expressing their sympathy with the North, that Lyons, on April
27, commented to Russell that these consuls had "taken the Northern War
Fever," and that he had mildly reproved Archibald[97].

With the inauguration of Lincoln on March 4, and the installation of
Seward as Secretary of State, it was possible for Lyons to become more
active in his efforts to prevent a disruption of British Trade. On March
20 he told Seward in a confidential conversation:

     "... If the United States determined to stop by force so
     important a commerce as that of Great Britain with the
     cotton-growing States, I could not answer for what
     might happen.

     "... It was, however, a matter of the greatest consequence to
     England to procure cheap cotton. If a considerable rise were
     to take place in the price of cotton, and British ships were
     to be at the same time excluded from the Southern Ports, an
     immense pressure would be put upon Her Majesty's Government
     to use all the means in their power to open those ports. If
     Her Majesty's Government felt it to be their duty to do so,
     they would naturally endeavour to effect their object in a
     manner as consistent as possible, first with their friendly
     feelings towards both Sections of this Country, and secondly
     with the recognized principles of International Law. As
     regards the latter point in particular, it certainly appeared
     that the most simple, if not the only way, would be to
     recognize the Southern Confederacy[98]."

This was plain speaking, and Lyons' threat of recognizing the South did
not at the moment stir Seward to any retort. But five days later, on
March 25, Lyons gave a dinner to Seward and a number of the foreign
Ministers, and there Seward's violent talk about seizing any and all
ships that tried to trade with the South, even if there was no blockade,
made Lyons very anxious. As a host he diverted the conversation lest it
become too acrimonious, but he himself told Seward

     "... that it was really a matter so very serious that I was
     unwilling to discuss it; that his plan seemed to me to amount
     in fact to a paper blockade of the enormous extent of coast
     comprised in the seceding States; that the calling it an
     enforcement of the Revenue Laws appeared to me to increase
     the gravity of the measure, for it placed Foreign Powers in
     the dilemma of recognizing the Southern Confederation or of
     submitting to the interruption of their commerce[99]."

Lyons' advice to Russell was that no rebuff should be given the Southern
Commissioners when they arrived in London, but that they be treated
well. This, he thought, might open Seward's eyes to his folly. Still
Lyons did not yet fully believe that Seward would be so vigorous as his
language seemed to imply, and on March 29 he wrote that "prudent
counsels" were in the ascendant, that there would be no interference
with trade "_at present_," and that a quieter tone was everywhere
perceptible in Washington[100].

From the point of view of the British Minister at Washington, the
danger spot in relations between the United States and Great Britain lay
in this matter of interference with trade to Southern ports. Naturally,
and as in duty bound, he sought to preserve that trade. At first,
indeed, he seems to have thought that even though a civil war really
ensued the trade might continue uninterrupted. Certainly he bore hard
and constantly on this one point, seeking to influence not only
officials at Washington but the public press. Thus, in a letter to Bunch
dated April 12, 1861, at a time when he knew that W.H. Russell, the
_Times_ correspondent, would shortly appear in Charleston, he instructed
Bunch to remember that in talking to Russell he must especially impress
him with the idea that any interruption of trade might and probably
would result in a British recognition of the South. Lyons wrote, "...
the _only_ chance, if chance there still be of preventing an
interruption of the English commerce with the S. is the fear entertained
here, that it would lead to our recognizing the S.C.[101]" In these
words is revealed, however, as in other communications from Lyons, the
fact that he was striving to prevent an interruption of trade rather
than that he was convinced such interruption ought to result in a
British recognition of the South. Indeed, as will be seen, when the
blockade was at last declared, Lyons thought it no cause for recognition
and was most tolerant of its early ineffectiveness.

While Lyons was thus keeping in close touch with Seward, the relations
between England and America at London were exceedingly meagre. All that
the American Minister Dallas knew of Russell's intentions is summed up
in his despatches to Seward of March 22 and April 9, 1861[102]. On the
former date, he gave an account of an interview with Russell in which
the latter simply refused to pledge himself against a recognition of
the Confederacy; in the latter, presenting a long memorial written by
Seward to all of the larger European Governments arguing in friendly
spirit the cause of the North, Dallas reported that he drew from Russell
merely a general expression of England's kindly feeling towards the
United States and her hope that there might still be a peaceful
solution. Russell again refused to make any pledge in regard to English
policy. In this interview it was tacitly agreed that it would be better
for Great Britain to await Adams' arrival before taking any definite
action, or so at least Dallas understood Russell--though the latter
later denied that any pledge of delay was given. There is no doubt,
however, that in Russell's mind, whatever he might say to Dallas, the
separation in America was an accomplished fact and the hope of Great
Britain was centred upon the idea of a peaceful separation.

Up to and including April 1, indeed, Lyons had been reporting that no
definite stand was yet being taken by the American Government. At the
same time Russell was continuing his instructions to Lyons to recommend
conciliation "but never to obtrude advice unasked[103]." Yet Russell was
not wholly undisturbed by the reports of Seward's quarrelsome attitude,
for in a private letter of the same date as the preceding, he wrote to
Lyons, "I rely upon your wisdom, patience, and prudence, to steer us
through the dangers of this crisis. If it can possibly be helped Mr.
Seward must not be allowed to get us into a quarrel. I shall see the
Southerners when they come, but not officially, and keep them at a
proper distance[104]." It is an interesting query, whether this fear
thus expressed of Seward's temper was not of distinct benefit to the
United States at the moment when the Southern Commissioners arrived in
England. The inference would seem to be clear, that in spite of Lyons'
advice to treat them well, the effect upon Russell of Seward's attitude
was to treat them coolly. Russell was indeed distinctly worried by
Seward's unfriendly attitude.

In the meantime the British press and public, while still uncertain and
divided as to the merits of the conflict were now substantially a unit
in accepting separation as final. The _Times_, with judicial ponderosity
declared: "The new nationality has been brought forth after a very short
period of gestation.... and the Seceding States have now constituted
themselves a nation[105] ..." At the other end of the scale in newspaper
"tone," the _London Press_ jeered at the Northern American eagle as
having "had his tail pulled out and his wings clipped--yet the meek bird
now holds out his claws to be pared, with a resignation that would be
degrading in the most henpecked of domestic fowls[106]." Having now
veered about to expressions of confidence in the permanency of the
Southern Confederacy the _Times_ was also compelled to alter its opinion
of Southern Statesmen. An editorial gave high praise to the Confederate
Congress sitting at Montgomery, stated its personnel to be far superior
to that of the Congress at Washington, yet was unable to resist making
the customary reference to manners traditionally American;

     "With regard to the Congress itself, we cannot refrain from
     quoting the _naïve_ testimony of a visitor in its favour.
     'Gentlemen here [Montgomery] who have spent much time in
     Washington city declare that they have never witnessed such
     industry, care, propriety, courtesy, and pleasant
     Congressional action. _Not one member has appeared in his
     seat under the influence of liquors or wines_, not a harsh
     word has been uttered in debate, and all exhibit the most
     unflagging energy and determination[107].'"

The most of the British press quickly followed the lead of the _Times_,
forgot its previous dictum that the South was in the control of
"ignorant ruffians," and dilated upon the statemanlike directness and
sagacity of Southern leaders as contrasted with the stupidity of the
North, displayed in its tariff policy[108]. A few journals thought that
the North might eventually win in a prolonged struggle but that such a
victory would be disastrous to the principles of federalism[109], and,
in any case, that this civil war was one without "a noble cause to
sustain either side[110]." By May nearly all the older journals were
aligned on the right of the South to secede, and on the fact of a
successful secession, though still differing as to the basic causes and
essential justice involved. In this same month, however, there emerged a
few vigorous champions of the Northern cause and prospects. In April the
_Spectator_ agreed that the Great Republic was at an end[111]; in May it
urged the North to fight it out with hope, asserting a chance of
ultimate victory because of superior resources and the sympathy of all
European nations[112]. A small newspaper of limited circulation, the
_Morning Star_, organ of John Bright, had from the first championed the
Northern cause. Now, as the armed conflict broke in America, it was
joined by a more important paper, the _Daily News_, which set itself the
task of controverting the _Times_. Moreover the _Daily News_ was all the
more influential in that it was not uncritical of the North, yet
consistently, throughout the war, expressed sympathy for the cause and
principles behind the efforts of the Northern Government. Selling for a
low price, twopence-halfpenny, the _Daily News_, like the _Westminster_
among the Reviews, appealed to a broader and more popular constituency
than the older publications, especially to a constituency not yet vocal,
since still unrepresented, in Parliament[113].

The _Daily News_ was fortunate in having, after 1862, the best-informed
New York correspondent writing to the London press. This was an
Irishman, E.L. Godkin, who, both at home and in America, was the
intimate friend of literary men, and himself, later, a great moulder of
public opinion[114]. Harriet Martineau further aided the _Daily News_ by
contributing pro-Northern articles, and was a power in Radical
circles[115]. But literary England in general, was slow to express
itself with conviction, though Robert Browning, by April, 1861, was
firmly determined in his pro-Northern sentiment. In August he was
writing in letters of the "good cause[116]." But Browning was a rare
exception and it was not until the Civil War had been under way for many
months that men of talent in the non-political world were drawn to make
comment or to take sides. Their influence at the outset was

In spite of press utterances, or literary silence, alike indicative of
a widespread conviction that Southern independence was assured, there
still remained both in those circles where anti-slavery sentiment was
strong, and in others more neutral in sympathy, a distaste for the
newly-born State as the embodiment of a degrading institution. Lincoln's
inaugural address denying an intention to interfere with slavery was a
weapon for the friends of the South, but it could not wholly still that
issue. Even in the _Times_, through the medium of W.H. Russell's
descriptive letters, there appeared caustic criticisms. He wrote in his
"Diary," "I declare that to me the more orderly, methodical, and perfect
the arrangements for economizing slave labour ... are, the more hateful
and odious does slavery become[118]," and in his letter of May 8, from
Montgomery, having witnessed an auction sale of slaves he stated:

     "I am neither sentimentalist nor Black Republican, nor negro
     worshipper, but I confess the sight caused a strange thrill
     through my heart. I tried in vain to make myself familiar
     with the fact that I could, for the sum of $975, become as
     absolutely the owner of that mass of blood, bones, sinew,
     flesh and brains as of the horse which stood by my side.
     There was no sophistry which could persuade me the man was
     not a man--he was, indeed, by no means my brother, but
     assuredly he was a fellow creature[119]."

This was hard printing for the _Times_, in its new advocacy of the
South, and Russell's description was made much of by the _Westminster
Review_ and other publications that soon began to sound again the
"issue" of slavery[120]. Yet the _Westminster_ itself in the same
article decried the folly of the Northern attempt at reconquest. So also
thought even John Bright at the moment, when expressing himself
privately to friends in America[121].

Slavery, then, still remained an issue before the British public, but of
what use was it to upbraid the South, if a new world State were in fact
born? And if a State in power, why not give it prompt recognition? The
extreme British anti-slavery opponents feared that this was just what
the Government was inclined to do, and with promptness. Here and there
meetings were hurriedly called to protest against recognition[122]. This
fear was unfounded. Neither in London nor at Washington was there any
official inclination to hasten recognition. Lyons had held up to Seward
the logic of such action, if British trade were illegally interfered
with. By April 9 Lyons was aware that the so-called Radical Party in the
Cabinet would probably have its way, that conciliation would no longer
be attempted, and that a coercive policy toward the South was soon to
follow. On that date he wrote to Russell stating that people in
Washington seemed so convinced that Europe would _not_ interfere to
protect its trade that they were willing to venture any act embarrassing
to that trade. He himself was still insisting, but with dwindling
confidence, that the trade must not be interfered with under any
circumstances. And in a second letter of this same date, he repeated to
Russell his advice of treating the Southern Commissioners with
deference. Any rebuff to them, he asserts again, will but increase the
Northern confidence that they may do anything without provoking the
resistance of England[123].

Like a good diplomat Lyons was merely pushing the argument for all it
was worth, hoping to prevent an injury to his country, yet if that
injury did come (provided it were sanctioned by the law of nations) he
did not see in it an injury sufficient to warrant precipitate action by
Great Britain. When indeed the Southern capture of Fort Sumter in
Charleston harbour finally brought the actual clash of arms, Lyons
expressed himself with regard to other elements in the struggle
previously neglected in his correspondence. On April 15 describing to
Russell the fall of Sumter, he stated that civil war had at last begun.
The North he believed to be very much more powerful than the South, the
South more "eager" and united as yet, but, he added, "the taint of
slavery will render the cause of the South loathsome to the civilized
world." It was true that "commercial intercourse with the cotton States
is of vital importance to manufacturing nations[124]...." but Lyons was
now facing an actual situation rather than a possible one, and as will
be seen later, he soon ceased to insist that an interruption of this
"commercial intercourse" gave reasonable ground for recognition of
the South.

With the fall of Fort Sumter and the European recognition that a civil
war was actually under way in America, a large number of new and vexing
problems was presented to Russell. His treatment of them furnishes the
subject matter of later chapters. For the period previous to April,
1861, British official attitude may be summed up in the statement that
the British Minister at Washington hoped against hope that some solution
might be found for the preservation of the Union, but that at the same
time, looking to future British interests and possibly believing also
that his attitude would tend to preserve the Union, he asserted
vehemently the impossibility of any Northern interference with British
trade to Southern ports. Across the water, Russell also hoped faintly
that there might be no separation. Very soon, however, believing that
separation inevitable and the disruption of the Union final, he fixed
his hope on peaceful rather than warlike secession. Even of this,
however, he had little real expectation, but neither he nor anyone else
in England, nor even in America, had any idea that the war would be a
long and severe one. It is evident that he was already considering the
arrival of that day when recognition must be granted to a new,
independent and slave-holding State. But this estimate of the future is
no proof that the Russian Ambassador's accusation of British
governmental pleasure in American disruption was justified[125].
Russell, cautious in refusing to pledge himself to Dallas, was using
exactly such caution as a Foreign Secretary was bound to exercise. He
would have been a rash man who, in view of the uncertainty and
irresolution of Northern statesmen, would have committed Great Britain
in March, 1861, to a definite line of policy.

On April 6, Russell was still instructing Lyons to recommend
reconciliation. April 8, Dallas communicated to Russell an instruction
from Seward dated March 9, arguing on lines of "traditional friendship"
against a British recognition of the Confederacy. Russell again refused
to pledge his Government, but on April 12 he wrote to Lyons that British
Ministers were "in no hurry to recognize the separation as complete and
final[126]." In the early morning of that same day the armed conflict in
America had begun, and on the day following, April 13, the first
Southern victory had been recorded in the capture of Fort Sumter. The
important question which the man at the head of the British Foreign
Office had now immediately to decide was, what was to be England's
attitude, under international law, toward the two combatants in
America. In deciding this question, neither sentiment nor ideals of
morality, nor humanitarianism need play any part; England's _first_ need
and duty were to determine and announce for the benefit of her citizens
the correct position, under International law, which must be assumed in
the presence of certain definite facts.


[Footnote 31: Dr. Newton asserts that at the end of the 'fifties Great
Britain made a sharp change of policy. (_Cambridge History of British
Foreign Policy_, Vol. II, p. 283.)]

[Footnote 32: Thomas Colley Grattan, _Civilized America_, 2 vols. 2nd
ed., London, 1859, Vol. I, pp. 284-87. The first edition was printed in
1859 and a third in 1861. In some respects the work is historically
untrustworthy since internal evidence makes clear that the greater part
of it was written before 1846, in which year Grattan retired from his
post in Boston. In general he wrote scathingly of America, and as his
son succeeded to the Boston consulship, Grattan probably thought it
wiser to postpone publication. I have found no review of the work which
treats it otherwise than as an up-to-date description of 1859. This fact
and its wide sale in England in 1860-61, give the work importance as
influencing British knowledge and opinions.]

[Footnote 33: Charles Mackay, _Life and Liberty in America: or, Sketches
of a Tour in the United States and Canada in 1857-8_, one vol., New
York, 1859, pp. 316-17. Mackay was at least of sufficient repute as a
poet to be thought worthy of a dinner in Boston at which there were
present, Longfellow, Holmes, Agassiz, Lowell, Prescott, Governor Banks,
and others. He preached "hands across the seas" in his public lectures,
occasionally reading his poem "John and Jonathan"--a sort of advance
copy of Kipling's idea of the "White Man's Burden." Mackay's concluding
verse, "John" speaking, was:

     "And I have strength for nobler work
       Than e'er my hand has done,
     And realms to rule and truths to plant
       Beyond the rising sun.
     Take you the West and I the East;
       We'll spread ourselves abroad,
     With trade and spade and wholesome laws,
       And faith in man and God."

[Footnote 34: Duncan, _Life and Letters of Herbert Spencer_, Vol. I, p.

[Footnote 35: R.C. Hamilton, Manuscript Chapters and Notes on "The
English Press and the Civil War." Mr. Hamilton was at work on this
subject, as a graduate student, but left Stanford University before
completing his thesis. His notes have been of considerable value, both
for suggested citations from the English Press, and for points of

[Footnote 36: _Economist_, November 24, 1860. Six months later, however,
the _Economist_ pictured Lincoln as merely an unknown "sectionalist,"
with no evidence of statesmanship--_Economist_, June 1, 1861.]

[Footnote 37: _Saturday Review_, November 24, 1860.]

[Footnote 38: _Spectator_, November 24, 1860.]

[Footnote 39: The _Times_, November 26, 1860.]

[Footnote 40: _Ibid._, November 29, 1860.]

[Footnote 41: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 42: R.L. Duffus, "Contemporary English Popular Opinion on the
American Civil War," p. 2. A thesis presented in fulfilment of the
requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, Stanford University,
1911. This thesis is in manuscript. It is a valuable study of the
Reviews and of the writings of men of letters. Hereafter cited as Duffus
"English Opinion."]

[Footnote 43: The _Times_, January 12, 1861.]

[Footnote 44: _Saturday Review_, January 12, 1861.]

[Footnote 45: _Economist_, December 8, 1860. _Spectator_, January 19,

[Footnote 46: _Spectator_, December 1, 1860. _Times_, January 29, 1861.
_Economist_, May 25, 1861.]

[Footnote 47: _Saturday Review_, January 19, 1861.]

[Footnote 48: _Edinburgh Review_, Vol. 112, p. 545.]

[Footnote 49: Lyons Papers.]

[Footnote 50: Russell, _My Diary North and South_, Boston, 1863, p. 134.
"Then cropped out again the expression of regret for the rebellion of
1776, and the desire that if it came to the worst, England would receive
back her erring children, or give them a prince under whom they could
secure a monarchical form of government. There is no doubt about the
earnestness with which these things are said." Russell's _Diary_ is
largely a condensation of his letters to the _Times_. In the letter of
April 30, 1861 (published May 28), he dilates to the extent of a column
on the yearning of South Carolina for a restoration of colonial
relations. But Consul Bunch on December 14, 1860, reported a Charleston
sentiment very different from that of the Jockey Club in February. He
wrote to Lyons:

     "The church bells are ringing like mad in celebration of a
     newly revived festival, called 'Evacuation Day,' being the
     _nefastus ille dies_ in which the bloody Britishers left
     Charleston 78 years ago. It has fallen into utter disuse for
     about 50 years, but is now suddenly resuscitated apropos _de_
     nothing at all."

In this same letter Bunch described a Southern patriotic demonstration.
Returning to his home one evening, he met a military company, which from
curiosity he followed, and which

     "drew up in front of the residence of a young lawyer of my
     friends, after performing in whose honour, through the medium
     of a very brassy band, a Secession Schottische or Palmetto
     Polka, it clamorously demanded his presence. After a very
     brief interval he appeared, and altho' he is in private life
     an agreeable and moderately sensible young man, he succeeded,
     to my mind at any rate, in making most successfully, what Mr.
     Anthony Weller calls 'an Egyptian Mummy of his self.' the
     amount of balderdash and rubbish which he evacuated (_dia
     stomatos_) about mounting the deadly breach, falling back
     into the arms of his comrades and going off generally in a
     blaze of melodramatic fireworks, really made me so unhappy
     that I lost my night's rest. So soon as the speech was over
     the company was invited into the house to 'pour a libation to
     the holy cause'--in the vernacular, to take a drink and spit
     on the floor."

Evidently Southern eloquence was not tolerable to the ears of the
British consul. Or was it the din of the church bells rather than the
clamour of the orator, that offended him? (_Lyons Papers_.)]

[Footnote 51: _Edinburgh Review_, Vol. 113, p. 555.]

[Footnote 52: The _Times_, January 4, 1861.]

[Footnote 53: Letter to _Dublin News_, dated January 26, 1861. Cited in
_The Liberator_, March 1, 1861. Garrison, editor of _The Liberator_, was
then earnest in advocating "letting the South go in peace" as a good

[Footnote 54: _Saturday Review_, March 2, 1861, p. 216.]

[Footnote 55: _London Chronicle_, March 14, 1861. Cited in _The
Liberator_, April 12, 1861.]

[Footnote 56: _London Review_, April 20, 1861. Cited in Littel's _Living
Age_, Vol. LXIX, p. 495. The editor of the _Review_ was a Dr. Mackay,
but I have been unable to identify him, as might seem natural from his
opinions, as the Mackay previously quoted (p. 37) who was later New York
correspondent of the _Times_.]

[Footnote 57: Matthew Arnold, _Letters_, Vol. I., p. 150. Letter to Mrs.
Forster, January 28, 1861.]

[Footnote 58: Julian Hawthorne, _Nathaniel Hawthorne and his Wife_, Vol.
II, pp. 271-78. _Life and Letters of John Greenleaf Whittier_, Vol. II,
pp. 439 seq.]

[Footnote 59: _Quarterly Review_, Vol. 110, p. 282. July, 1861.]

[Footnote 60: Duffus, "English Opinion," p. 7.]

[Footnote 61: _Westminster_, Vol. LXXX, p. 587.]

[Footnote 62: Adams' course was bitterly criticized by his former
intimate friend, Charles Sumner, but the probable purpose of Adams was,
foreseeing the certainty of secession, to exhibit so strongly the
arrogance and intolerance of the South as to create greater unity of
Northern sentiment. This was a purpose that could not be declared and
both at home and abroad his action, and that of other former
anti-slavery leaders, for the moment weakened faith that the North was
in earnest on the general issue of slavery.]

[Footnote 63: _Services rendered by Russia to the American People during
the War of the Rebellion_, Petersburg, 1904, p. 5.]

[Footnote 64: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV,
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States," No. 1.]

[Footnote 65: _Ibid._, No. 6. Russell to Lyons, December 26, 1860.]

[Footnote 66: _Ibid._, Russell to Lyons, No. 9, January 5, 1861, and No.
17, February 20, 1861.]

[Footnote 67: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1861, _Lords_, Vol. XVIII.
Correspondence with U.S. Government respecting suspension of Federal
Customs House at the Port of Charleston. Nos. 1 and 3.]

[Footnote 68: Lyons Papers. Lyons to Bunch, December 12, 1860.]

[Footnote 69: _Ibid._, The same day official instructions were sent
permitting Bunch to remain at Charleston, but directing him, if asked to
recognize South Carolina, to refer the matter to England. F.O., Am.,
Vol. 754, No. 6. Russell to Lyons, January 10, 1861.]

[Footnote 70: Lyons Papers. Russell to Lyons, January 22, 1861.]

[Footnote 71: This view was not shared by Lyons' colleagues at
Washington. The Russian Minister, Stoeckl, early declared the Union
permanently destroyed, and regretting the fact, yet hoped the North
would soon accept the inevitable and seek close co-operation with the
South in commerce and in foreign relations. This view was repeated by
him many times and most emphatically as late as the first month of 1863.
(Russian Archives, Stoeckl to F.O., January 29-February 10, 1863. No.
342.) It was not until September, 1863, that Stoeckl ventured to hope
for a Northern reconquest of the South. I am indebted to Dr. Frank A.
Golder, of Stanford University, for the use of his notes and transcripts
covering all of the Russian diplomatic correspondence with the United
States, 1860-1865. In the occasional use made of this material the
English translation is mine.]

[Footnote 72: Stoeckl reported that at a dinner with Lyons, at which he,
Mercier and Seward were the guests, Seward had asserted that if Civil
War came all foreign commerce with the South would be interrupted. To
this Lyons protested that England could not get along without cotton and
that she would secure it in one way or another. Seward made no reply.
(_Ibid._, March 25-April 9, 1861, No. 810.)]

[Footnote 73: _Economist_, January 12, 1861.]

[Footnote 74: _Ibid._, February 23, 1861.]

[Footnote 75: _London Press_, March 23, 1861. Cited in Littell's _Living
Age_, Vol. LXIX, p. 438.]

[Footnote 76: Before Adams' selection as Minister to England was decided
upon, Sumner's Massachusetts friends were urging him for the place.
Longfellow was active in this interest. _H.W. Longfellow_, by Samuel
Longfellow, Vol. II, pp. 412-13.]

[Footnote 77: John Bright later declared "his conviction that the
leading journal had not published one fair, honourable, or friendly
article toward the States since Lincoln's accession to office." Dasent,
_Life of Delane_, Vol. II, p. 38. The time is approximately correct, but
the shift in policy began earlier, when it came to be feared that the
North would not submit to peaceable secession.]

[Footnote 78: Bigelow, _Retrospections_, Vol. I, pp. 344-45.]

[Footnote 79: See _ante_, p. 40.]

[Footnote 80: _Economist_, March 2, 1861.]

[Footnote 81: _Spectator_, March 16, 1861.]

[Footnote 82: Lyons Papers.]

[Footnote 83: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXI, p. 814. February 22, 1861.
William E. Forster was of Quaker descent and had early taken part in
public meetings called to express humanitarian sentiment. From 1850 on
he was an acceptable public speaker in all matters liberal, as free
trade, social reform, and anti-slavery. Elected to Parliament in 1859
and again in 1861 from Bradford, where he was engaged in business as a
woollen manufacturer, he sought, after the fashion of new Members, a
cause to represent and found it in championship of the North. Having
great native ability, as shown by his later distinguished career, it was
the good fortune of the United States thus to enlist so eager a
champion. Forster and John Bright were the two leading "friends of the
North" in Parliament. The latter already had established reputation, but
was more influential out of Parliament than in it. Forster, with a
reputation to make, showed skill in debate, and soon achieved prestige
for himself and his American cause. Henry Adams, son and private
secretary of the American Minister to England, once told the writer that
he regarded Forster's services as, on the whole, the most valuable
rendered by any Englishman to the North.]

[Footnote 84: F.O., Am., Vol. 780, No. 30.]

[Footnote 85: Newton, _Lord Lyons_, Vol. I, p. 30.]

[Footnote 86: F.O., Am., Vol. 760, No. 40.]

[Footnote 87: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, February 4, 1861.]

[Footnote 88: F.O., Am., Vol. 760, No. 59.]

[Footnote 89: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, February 12, 1861.]

[Footnote 90: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States," No. 17. Russell to
Lyons, February 20, 1861.]

[Footnote 91: F.O., Am., Vol. 761, No. 78. Received March 11. It is
curious that in the first period of the war Lyons made no extended
characterization of Lincoln. Probably his contacts with the new
President were insufficient to justify it. The first record of personal
impressions was that made by W.H. Russell and later printed in his
"Diary" but not reproduced in his letters to the _Times_. Russell was
taken to the White House. "Soon afterwards there entered, with a
shambling, loose, irregular, almost unsteady gait, a tall, lank, lean
man, considerably over six feet in height, with stooping shoulders, long
pendulous arms, terminating in hands of extraordinary dimensions, which,
however, were far exceeded in proportion by his feet.... The impression
produced by the size of his extremities, and by his flapping and
wide-projecting ears, may be removed by the appearance of kindliness,
sagacity, and awkward bonhomie of his face ... eyes dark, full, and
deeply set, are penetrating, but full of an expression which almost
amounts to tenderness.... A person who met Mr. Lincoln in the street
would not take him to be what--according to usages of European
society--is called a 'gentleman' ... but, at the same time, it would not
be possible for the most indifferent observer to pass him in the street
without notice."--_My Diary_, I, pp. 37-8.]

[Footnote 92: Lyons Papers.]

[Footnote 93: F.O., Am., Vol. 761.]

[Footnote 94: F.O., Am., Vol. 762, No. 122. March 30, 1861. Received
April 16.]

[Footnote 95: F.O., Am., Vol. 780, No. 37. March 21, 1861. Received
April 9.]

[Footnote 96: F.O., Am., Vol. 778, No. 26. April 24, 1861.]

[Footnote 97: Russell Papers.]

[Footnote 98: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, March 26, 1861. Printed
in Newton, _Lord Lyons_, Vol. I., p. 31.]

[Footnote 99: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 100: Russell Papers.]

[Footnote 101: Lyons Papers.]

[Footnote 102: _U.S. Messages and Documents_, 1861-2, pp, 80-81.]

[Footnote 103: F.O., Am., Vol. 754, No. 79. Russell to Lyons, April 6,

[Footnote 104: Lyons Papers, Russell to Lyons, April 6, 1861.]

[Footnote 105: The _Times_, February 26, 1861.]

[Footnote 106: _London Press_, March 30, 1861, Cited in Littell's
_Living Age_, Vol. 69, p. 379.]

[Footnote 107: The _Times_, March 26, 1861.]

[Footnote 108: _Saturday Review_, May 11, 1861, pp. 465-6.]

[Footnote 109: _Economist_, May 4, 1861.]

[Footnote 110: _Examiner_, January 5 and (as quoted) April 27, 1861.
Cited in Littell's _Living Age_, Vol. 68, p. 758 and Vol. 69, p. 570.]

[Footnote 111: _Spectator_, April 27, 1861.]

[Footnote 112: _Ibid._, May 4, 1861.]

[Footnote 113: These four publications, the _Spectator_, the
_Westminster_, the _Daily News_, and the _Morning Star_, were the
principal British pro-Northern organs. In addition _The Liberator_ names
among the lesser and provincial press the following: _Nonconformist,
British Standard, Dial, Birmingham Post, Manchester Examiner, Newcastle
Chronicle, Caledonian Mercury_ and _Belfast Whig_. Duffus, "English
Opinion," p. 40.]

[Footnote 114: Godkin had joined the staff of the _Daily News_ in 1853.
During the Crimea War he was special war correspondent. He had travelled
extensively in America in the late 'fifties and was thoroughly well
informed. From 1862 to 1865 his letters to the _Daily News_ were of
great value in encouraging the British friends of the North. In 1865
Godkin became editor of the New York _Nation_.]

[Footnote 115: W.E. Forster said of her, "It was Harriet Martineau alone
who was keeping English opinion about America on the right side through
the Press." The _Daily News_ Jubilee Edition, p. 46.]

[Footnote 116: James, _William Wetmore Story and His Friends_, Vol. II,
p. 92.]

[Footnote 117: Moncure D. Conway's _Autobiography_ asserts that
two-thirds of the English authors "espoused the Union cause, some of
them actively--Professor Newman, Mill, Tom Hughes, Sir Charles Lyell,
Huxley, Tyndall, Swinburne, Lord Houghton, Cairns, Fawcett, Frederic
Harrison, Leslie Stephen, Allingham, the Rossettis," Vol. I, p. 406.
This is probably true of ultimate, though not of initial, interest and
attitude. But for many writers their published works give no clue to
their opinions on the Civil War--as for example the works of Dickens,
Thackeray, William Morris, or Ruskin. See Duffus, "English Opinion,"
p. 103.]

[Footnote 118: Russell, _My Diary_, I, p. 398.]

[Footnote 119: The _Times_, May 30, 1861.]

[Footnote 120: _Westminster Review_, Vol. 76, pp. 487-509, October,

[Footnote 121: Bright to Sumner, September 6, 1861. Cited in Rhodes,
_United States_, Vol. III, p. 509.]

[Footnote 122: A meeting held in Edinburgh, May 9, 1861, declared that
anti-slavery England ought never to recognize the South. Reported in
_Liberator_, May 31, 1861.]

[Footnote 123: F.O., Am., Vol. 762, Nos. 141 and 142.]

[Footnote 124: _Ibid._, No. 146.]

[Footnote 125: See _ante_, pp. 50-51.]

[Footnote 126: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." Nos. 24, 25 and 26.]



In June, 1859, a short-lived Conservative Government under the
leadership of Lord Derby had been replaced by a "coalition" Liberal
Government, at the head of which stood Palmerston, but so constituted
that almost equal influence was attributed to the Foreign Secretary,
Lord John Russell. Both men had previously held the Premiership, and, as
they represented different wings of the Whig-Liberal party, it was
prophesied by political wiseacres that personal friction would soon lead
to a new disruption. Nor were the possible elements of discord confined
to these two. Gladstone, formerly a Peelite Tory, and for a time
uncertain whether to return to the Tory fold or to join the Liberals,
had yielded to Palmerston's promise of a free hand in financial matters,
and had joined the Ministry as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Opposed to
him in a certain sense, as the rival claimant for political leadership
among the younger group, was Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Home Secretary
until July, 1861, thereafter until his death in April, 1863, Secretary
for War. Acting in some degree as intermediary and conciliator between
these divergent interests stood Lord Granville, President of Council,
then a "Conservative-Liberal," especially valuable to the Cabinet for
the confidence reposed in him by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

In 1861 Palmerston was seventy-seven years old. Long before this he had
built his popularity upon a vigorous British "patriotism," assertive of
England's honour and jealous for British advantage. Now, however, as
head of a Government requiring the most delicate handling to maintain
itself, he devoted his energies to details of political management in
which he had great skill. His ambition was, primarily, to retain office,
and in this purpose he was fortunate because, unknown to his ministerial
colleagues, he had received an indirect pledge from Lord Derby, the
Opposition leader, that there would be, for a time at least, no
determined effort to unseat him so long as his Ministry brought forward
no Bill for a further expansion of the franchise. In the unwillingness
to make any further adventure toward an expanded democracy Palmerston
was wholly at one with Derby. Of like opinion, though less strongly so,
was Russell, whose popular nickname, "Finality John," gained by his
assertion that the Reform Bill of 1832 was England's last step toward
democracy, sufficiently indicates his stand on the franchise
question. In fact every member of the Cabinet belonged to the
"Conservative-Liberal" group, though with shades of political faith, and
none were really Liberals--far less Radicals. The outspoken Radicals in
Parliament, like John Bright, and his friend Cobden, who had refused to
take office under Palmerston, gave a lukewarm support to the Ministry,
but would not pledge themselves to steadfast adherence. They had hopes
of Gladstone, believed that he would ultimately come into their group,
but meanwhile watched with anxiety his delighted immersion, as indeed
Palmerston desired it, in the details of financial management to the
exclusion of other questions.

The matter of ministerial and general British attitude toward democracy
as affecting British policy during the American Civil War will be
considered in a later chapter. In the spring of 1861 it had not become a
clear-cut British opinion and did not, so far as historical evidence can
determine, affect early governmental policy toward America. The
outstanding feature of the British Government in 1861 is that it was
made up of various so-called "Liberal" elements, the representatives of
each of which carried on the business of his own department much as he
pleased. Palmerston's was, of course, the deciding opinion, whenever he
cared to express it, but this he did but rarely. His great concern was
to keep his all-star associates running smoothly together and thus to
give no occasion for parliamentary criticism and attack. It followed
that Russell, eight years the junior of Palmerston, was in foreign
affairs more powerful and independent than is customary. Indeed the
Government was at times spoken of as the "Palmerston-Russell Ministry."
These two were the leaders of the team; next came Gladstone and
Cornewall Lewis, rivals of the younger generation, and each eager to
lead when their elders should retire from harness. Gladstone's great
ability was already recognized, but his personal political faith was not
yet clear. Lewis, lacking his rival's magnetic and emotional qualities,
cold, scholarly, and accurate in performance, was regarded as a
statesman of high promise[127]. Other Cabinet members, as is the custom
of coalitions, were more free in opinion and action than in a strict
party ministry where one dominating personality imposes his will upon
his colleagues.

Lord John Russell, then, in foreign policy, was more than the main voice
of the Government; rather, save in times of extreme crisis, governmental
foreign policy was Russell's policy. This was even more true as regards
American than European affairs, for the former were little understood,
and dependence was necessarily placed upon the man whose business it was
to be familiar with them. Indeed there was little actual parliamentary
or governmental interest, before midsummer of 1861, in the American
question, attention in foreign affairs being directed toward Italian
expansion, to the difficulties related to the control of the Ionian
islands, and to the developing Danish troubles in Schleswig-Holstein.
Neither did the opposition party venture to express a policy as regards
America. Lord Derby, able but indolent, occasionally indulged in caustic
criticism, but made no attempt to push his attack home. Malmesbury, his
former Foreign Secretary, was active and alert in French affairs, but
gave no thought to relations across the Atlantic[128]. Disraeli, Tory
leader in the Commons, skilfully led a strong minority in attacks on the
Government's policy, but never on the American question, though
frequently urged to do so by the friends of the South. In short for the
first year of the Civil War, 1861, the policy of Great Britain toward
America was the policy of Lord John Russell, unhampered by friend
or foe.

This being the case, what did Russell know about the American crisis?
Briefly, no more than has already been stated as derived from the
reports of British officials in the United States, and from the pages of
the public press. The salient facts known to Russell were few. Lincoln's
Cabinet had been named. Lincoln himself was absolutely an unknown
quantity, but it was unbelievable that a man of his origins and history
could be more than a mere figurehead--an opinion then held as widely in
America as in England. But someone must determine American policy, and
by universal consent, this would be Seward.

The new Secretary of State was at the moment better known in England
than any other American statesman, with the possible exception of
Charles Sumner, whose visits and personal contacts had established a
circle of British friendships. Both men were accepted as champions of
anti-slavery, Sumner for his vigorous denunciations and his so-called
"martyrdom" under the physical violence of the South Carolinan, Brooks;
and Seward for his clever political anti-Southern leadership in the
United States Senate. But Seward's reputation in this respect was offset
by the belief that he was anti-British in his personal sentiments, or at
least that he was very ready to arouse for political ends the customary
anti-British sentiment of his Irish constituents in the State of New
York. In 1860, on the occasion of the visit to the United States of the
Prince of Wales, Seward is alleged to have stated to the Duke of
Newcastle that in case he became Secretary of State it would then
"become my duty to insult England, and I mean to do so"--a threat,
whether jocose or not, that aroused much serious and anxious speculation
in British governmental circles[129]. Moreover Seward's reputation was
that of a wily, clever politician, rather unscrupulous in methods which
British politicians professed to disdain--a reputation serving to dim
somewhat, as indeed it did in America also, the sincere idealisms and
patriotism of the statesman. Altogether, Seward was regarded in Great
Britain as a rather dangerous man, yet as the inevitable guiding power
in the new Republican administration.

This estimate was shared by many in the United States also, but not by
all. The new American Minister to London, Charles Francis Adams, himself
a most stiffly upright politician, both regarded Seward as the only
possible leader of Republican party policy and rejoiced that this was
so, having great confidence in his chief's integrity and wisdom. Adams
himself was well suited to his new post. He was known as having early in
1849 fought the battle of anti-slavery as a "Free Soil Whig," and later
as a leading Republican member of Congress from Massachusetts.
Principally, however, he was suited to his post by education, family,
and character. He had been taken as a boy to Russia during his father's
ministry at St. Petersburg, and later had been educated in England. His
father and grandfather, John Quincy Adams and John Adams, both
Presidents of the United States, had both, also, been American Ministers
at London. Intensely patriotic, but having wide acquaintance through
training and study with European affairs, especially those of Britain,
and equipped with high intellectual gifts, Adams was still further
fitted to his new post by his power of cool judgment and careful
expression in critical times. His very coolness, sometimes appearing as
coldness and stiff dignity, rendered him an especially fit agent to deal
with Russell, a man of very similar characteristics. The two men quickly
learned to respect and esteem each other, whatever clash arose in
national policies.

But meanwhile Adams, in April, 1861, was not yet arrived in London. The
Southern Government organized at Montgomery, Alabama, but soon
transferred to Richmond, Virginia, was headed by Jefferson Davis as
President and Alexander Stephens as Vice-President. Neither man was well
known in England, though both had long been prominent in American
politics. The little British information on Davis, that he had served in
the United States Senate and as a Cabinet member, seemed to indicate
that he was better fitted to executive duties than his rival, Lincoln.
But Davis' foreign policy was wholly a matter for speculation, and his
Cabinet consisted of men absolutely unknown to British statesmen. In
truth it was not a Cabinet of distinction, for it was the misfortune of
the South that everywhere, as the Civil War developed, Southern
gentlemen sought reputation and glory in the army rather than in
political position. Nor did President Davis himself ever fully grasp the
importance to the South of a well-considered and energetic foreign
policy. At first, indeed, home controversy compelled anxious attention
to the exclusion of other matters. Until war cemented Southern
patriotism, Davis, himself regarded as an extremist, felt it necessary
in denial of an asserted unreasonableness of personal attitude, to
appoint to office men known for their earlier moderate opinions on both
slavery and secession[130]. "The single exception to this general
policy[131]" was the appointment as agents to Europe of Yancey, Rost and
Mann, all of them extreme pro-slavery men and eager secessionists. Of
these Mann was the only one with any previous diplomatic experience.
Yancey's choice was particularly inappropriate, for he at least was
known abroad as the extreme fire-eating Southern orator, demanding for
ten years past, that Southern action in defence of states rights and
Southern "interests," which now, at last, the South was attempting[132].

Yancey and Rost, starting on their journey on March 16, reached London
on April 29[133]. Meanwhile in this same month of April, conditions in
America, so long confused and uncertain, were being rapidly clarified.
The South, earlier than the North, had come to a determined policy, for
while during January and February, at the Montgomery convention, there
had been uncertainty as to actively applying the doctrinaire right of
secession, by March the party of action had triumphed, and though there
was still talk of conferences with the North, and commissioners actually
appointed, no real expectation existed of a favourable result. In the
North, the determination of policy was more slowly developed. Lincoln
was not inaugurated until March 4, and no positive pronouncement was
earlier possible. Even after that date uncertainty still prevailed.
European correspondents were reporting men like Sumner as willing to let
the South go in peace. The Mayor of New York City was discussing the
advisability of a separate secession by that financial centre from
Nation and State alike--and of setting up as a "free town." Seward, just
appointed Secretary of State, was repudiating in both official and
private talk any intention to coerce the South by force of arms[134]. It
is no wonder that British statesmen were largely at sea over the
American situation.

But on April 13, 1861, the Stars and Stripes floating over Fort Sumter
in Charleston harbour was lowered in surrender of a Federal fortress
under the armed attack of the newly-born Confederacy. That event drove
away as by magic the uncertainty of the North, and removed the last
vestiges of Southern doubt. A great wave of militant patriotism swept
over both sections[135]. Hurriedly both North and South prepared for
war, issuing calls for volunteers and organizing in all accustomed
warlike preparations. The news of Sumter reached London on April 27, and
that civil war seemed certain was known on April 29. On April 17, Davis,
since the South lacked a navy, approved a proclamation offering to issue
letters of marque and reprisal. On April 19 Lincoln proclaimed a
Northern intention to treat as pirates any privateers acting under such
letters, and also gave notice of a blockade of Southern ports, to be
instituted later. Thus suddenly, so it seemed to British officials and
public after the long delay and uncertainty of months, events in America
had precipitated a state of war, though in fact there were still to
elapse other months in which both North and South laboured to transform
a peaceful society into one capable of waging effective battle.

The result of this sudden change in the American horizon was to alter,
almost as quickly, the previous delay in outlining a British policy,
though, presumably, the British Government, while waiting the turn of
events, had given careful consideration to the steps required of it in
just such a situation as had now arisen. Certainly both Lyons and
Russell had been deeply anxious for some time, and had visualized a
proper British policy. The movement in Great Britain now became rapid.
On April 29, Malmesbury, in the Lords, spoke of the news of civil war
which had arrived "this morning," and asked if the Government had tried
to prevent it, or had set on foot negotiations with other powers to
check it. Wodehouse, replying for the Government, stated that the United
States as an independent State would have resented any suggestions from
Great Britain, and that Lyons had been instructed to be extremely
careful about offering advice unless "asked for by the contending
parties themselves." Both speakers commented on the "ties of blood"
rendering Britain especially anxious in this American quarrel, and
regretted the conflict[136]. Malmesbury's query as to the approach to
another government, meaning France, was evaded. That some such approach,
in accordance with the earlier advice of Lyons[137], had already been
made, is evident from the fact that three days later, on May 1, Dallas
learned from Russell of the plan of joint action with France, though
what that action would be was not made clear[138]. As Dallas' report was
soon the basis of an American complaint shortly to be considered, the
paragraph referring to this matter is important:

     "The solicitude felt by Lord John Russell as to the effect of
     certain measures represented as likely to be adopted by the
     President induced him to request me to call at his private
     residence yesterday. I did so. He told me that the three
     representatives of the Southern confederacy were here[139];
     that he had not seen them, but was not unwilling to do so,
     _unofficially_; that there existed an understanding between
     this government and that of France which would lead both to
     take the same course as to recognition, whatever that course
     might be; and he then referred to the rumour of a meditated
     blockade of Southern ports and their discontinuance as ports
     of entry--topics on which I had heard nothing. But as I
     informed him that Mr. Adams had apprised me of his intention
     to be on his way hither, in the steamship 'Niagara,' which
     left Boston on the 1st May, and that he would probably arrive
     in less than two weeks, by the 12th or 15th instant, his
     lordship acquiesced in the expediency of disregarding mere
     rumour, and waiting the full knowledge to be brought by my
     successor. The motion, therefore, of Mr. Gregory may be
     further postponed, at his lordship's suggestion."

May 3rd, Russell held an unofficial interview with the two Southern
commissioners in fact arrived, Yancey and Rost. As reported by
them[140], Russell listened with attention to their representation, but
made no informing comment. They argued the constitutional right of
secession, depicted the firm determination of the South, were confident
of early acquiescence by the North, and especially laid stress on the
Southern desire for free trade. Russell's own report to Lyons on this
interview and on one held six days later, May 9, is in substantial
agreement, but much more is made by him than by the Commissioners of a
question put by Russell as to a Southern plan of reviving the African
slave-trade[141]. Yancey and Rost denied this and asserted "that they
had prohibited the slave-trade, and did not mean to revive it." Their
report to Richmond does not depict this matter as of special
significance in the interview; Russell's report to Lyons lays stress
upon it. The general result of the interview was that Russell listened,
but refused, as to Dallas, to make any pledge on recognition. But the
Southern Commissioners came away with a feeling of confidence and were
content to wait on British action[142].

On this same day, May 3, Russell received from the Attorney-General a
memorandum in reply to a query as to recognizing the belligerency of the
South and as to the right of the South to issue letters of marque and
reprisal. The memorandum notes that Southern privateering would be
dangerous to British commerce with the North, but sees no help for it.
"The best solution," wrote the Attorney-General, "would be for the
European nations to determine that the war between the two Confederacies
shall be carried on on the principles of 'Justum Bellum,' and shall be
conducted according to the rules of the Treaty of Paris. Recognize the
Southern States as a Belligerent on this condition only[143]." The next
day, referring to this memorandum, Russell wrote Lyons that the law
officers "are of opinion that we must consider the Civil War in America
as regular war[144]," but he does _not_ comment on the legal advice to
press the South to abandon privateering before recognizing her
belligerent rights, for this is the only meaning that can be attached to
the last sentence quoted from the Attorney-General's memorandum. This
advice, however, in view of the opinion that there was "no help for it,"
was presumably but a suggestion as to a possible diplomatic manoeuvre
with little confidence that it would succeed. The "best solution" was
not the probable one, for the South, without a navy, would not readily
yield its only naval weapon.

In these few days British policy was rapidly matured and announced. The
letter of May 4 to Lyons, stating the Civil War to be a "regular war"
was followed on May 6 by a formal instruction giving Lyons advance
notice of the determination reached by the Cabinet to recognize the
belligerent rights of the South. Russell indulged in many expressions of
regret and sympathy, but Lyons was not to conceal that this British
action represented the Government's view of the actualities of the
American situation. Yet while Lyons was not to conceal this opinion he
was not instructed to notify Seward, officially, of the recognition of
Southern belligerency[145]. Here was a correct understanding of the
difficulty of the diplomatic position at Washington, and a permitted
avoidance by Lyons of dangerous ground[146]. Russell was not then aware
of the tenacity with which Seward was to cling to a theory, not yet
clearly formulated for foreign governments, that the Civil War was a
rebellion of peoples rather than a conflict of governments, but he does
appear to have understood the delicacy of formal notification to the
constituted government at Washington[147]. Moreover his instructions
were in line with the British policy of refusing, at present, a
recognition of Southern sovereignty.

On the same day, May 6, a copy of the instructions to Lyons was sent to
Cowley, British Ambassador at Paris, directing him to request France to
join, promptly, in recognizing Southern belligerent rights. Cowley was
also instructed that the blockade and privateering required precautions
by European governments, and it was suggested that France and England
unite in requesting both belligerents to accede to the second and third
articles of the Declaration of Paris[148]. These articles refer to the
exemption from capture, except contraband, of enemy's goods under a
neutral flag, and of neutral goods under an enemy's flag[149]. This day,
also, Russell stated in Parliament that England was about to recognize
the belligerent rights of the South, and spoke of the measure as a
necessary and inevitable one. May 7, Cowley notified Russell that
Thouvenel, the French Foreign Minister, was in complete agreement with
England's policy[150], and on May 9, in a more extended communication,
Cowley sent word of Thouvenel's suggestion that both powers issue a
declaration that they "intended to abstain from all interference," and
that M. de Flahault, French Ambassador at London, had been given
instructions to act in close harmony with Russell[151].

The rapidity of movement in formulating policy in the six days from May
1 to May 6, seems to have taken the British public and press somewhat by
surprise, for there is a lack of newspaper comment even after Russell's
parliamentary announcement of policy on the last-named date. But on May
9 the _Times_ set the fashion of general approval in an editorial
stating that Great Britain was now coming to see the American conflict
in a new light--as a conflict where there were in fact no such ideals
involved as had been earlier attributed to it. Southern rights were now
more clearly understood, and in any case since war, though greatly to be
regretted, was now at hand, it was England's business to keep strictly
out of it and to maintain neutrality[152]. This generalization was no
doubt satisfactory to the public, but in the Government and in
Parliament men who were thinking seriously of specific difficulties
realized that the two main problems immediately confronting a British
neutral policy were privateering and blockade. The South had declared
its _intention_ to use privateers. The North had declared its
_intention_, first to hang those who engaged in privateering, and second
to establish a blockade. Neither declaration had as yet been put
into effect.

The first action of the British Government was directed toward
privateering. On May 1, Russell sent a note to the Lords Commissioners
of the Admiralty calling attention to the Southern plan to issue letters
of marque and reprisal and directing that reinforcements be sent to the
British fleet in American waters. This was prompt action on unofficial
information, for Davis' proclamation bore date of April 17, and Lyons'
despatch containing copies of it, sent on April 22, was not received by
Russell until May 10[153]. Ordinary news from the United States required
ten days to get into print in London[154], but official messages might
be sent more rapidly by way of telegraph to Halifax, thence by steamer
to Liverpool and by telegraph again to London. In case the telegram to
Halifax coincided with the departure of a fast vessel the time was
occasionally reduced to seven days, but never less. At the best the
exact information as to the contents of the Davis and Lincoln
proclamations of April 17 and 19 respectively, could have been received
only a few days before the order was issued to reinforce the
British fleet.

[Illustration: _Photo: F. Hollyer_. SIR WILLIAM GREGORY, K.C.M.G. (_From
Lady Gregory's "Sir William Gregory, K.C.M.G.: An Autobiography," by
kind permission_)]

The next day, May 2, Ewart, in the Commons, asked "if Privateers sailing
under the flag of an unrecognized Power will be dealt with as Pirates,"
thus showing the immediate parliamentary concern at the Davis and
Lincoln proclamations. Russell stated in reply that a British fleet had
been sent to protect British interests and took occasion to indicate
British policy by adding, "we have not been involved in any way in that
contest by any act or giving any advice in the matter, and, for God's
sake, let us if possible keep out of it[155]." May 6, Gregory, a friend
of the South, who had already given notice of a motion for the
recognition of the Confederacy as an independent State, asked whether
the United States had been informed that a blockade of Southern ports
would not be recognized unless effective, and whether there would be
acquiescence in the belligerent right of the South to issue letters of
marque and reprisal[156]. Russell replied that Lincoln had _not_ been
informed that a blockade must be effective to be respected since the
Washington Government did not need to be told of an international rule
which it had itself long proclaimed. As to the second point, he now
announced what heretofore had not been clearly stated, that Southern
privateers could not be regarded by Great Britain as pirates, for if so
regarded Britain would herself have to treat them as pirates and would
thus be unneutral. This was in fact, in spite of Northern bitter
accusations that Britain was exhibiting governmental sympathy with the
South by her tolerance of the plan of Southern privateering, an
inescapable conclusion. Russell added, however, that the matter of
privateering involved some new questions under the Declaration of Paris
upon which the Government had not yet decided what stand to take[157].
It was on this same day, in fact, that Russell had instructed Cowley to
take up with France the question of the Declaration of Paris[158],
Privateering and blockade, declared in America months before there was
any possibility of putting them into effect, and months before there
were any military operations in the field, forced this rapid European
action, especially the action of Great Britain, which, more than any
other European nation, feared belligerent interference with her carrying
and export trade. How was the British Government to know that Davis
would not bend every energy in sending out privateers, and Lincoln to
establish a blockade? The respective declarations of Davis and Lincoln
were the _first_ evidences offered of belligerent status. It was
reasonable to assume that here would come the first energetic efforts of
the belligerents. Nor was British governmental intelligence sufficiently
informed to be aware that Davis, in fact, controlled few ships that
could be fitted out as privateers, or that two-thirds of the Northern
navy was at the moment widely scattered in foreign seas, making
impossible a prompt blockade.

To the British view the immediate danger to its commercial interests lay
in this announced maritime war, and it felt the necessity of defining
its neutral position with speed. The underlying fact of the fixity of
Southern determination to maintain secession had in the last few weeks
become clearly recognized.

Moreover the latest information sent by British officials in America,
some of it received just before the issue of the Proclamation of
Neutrality, some just after, was all confirmative of the rapid approach
of a great war. A letter from Bunch, at Charleston, was received on May
10, depicting the united Southern will to resist Northern attack, and
asserting that the South had no purpose save to conduct a strictly
defensive war. Bunch was no longer caustic; he now felt that a new
nation was in process of birth[159]. May 4, Monson, writing from
Washington, and just returned from a trip through the South, in the
course of which he had visited Montgomery, stated "_no reconstruction_
of the Union is possible," and added that there was no danger of a
servile insurrection, a matter that now somewhat began to disturb the
British Government and public[160]. A few days later on, May 12, Lyons
expressed his strong sympathy with the North for reasons of
anti-slavery, law, and race, but added that he shrank from expressions
of sympathy for fear of thus encouraging the Northern Cabinet in its
plan of prosecuting civil war since such a war would be frightful in its
consequences both to America and to England[161].

Such reports if received before the issue of the Proclamation of
Neutrality must have strengthened the feeling that prompt action was
necessary; if received later, they gave confidence that that action had
been wise. May 9, Forster asked in the Commons a series of questions as
to the application of the British Foreign Enlistment Act in the American
crisis. What would be the status of British citizens serving on
Confederate privateers? How would the Government treat citizens who
aided in equipping such privateers? Did not the Government intend to
take measures to prevent the infringement of law in British ports? Here
was pressure by a friend of the North to hasten an official announcement
of the policy already notified to Parliament. Sir George Lewis replied
stating that the Government was about to issue a general proclamation
warning British subjects not to take any part in the war[162]. Similar
questions were asked by Derby in the Lords on May 10, and received a
similar answer[163]. The few days' delay following Russell's statement
of May 6 was due to consideration given by the Law Officers to the exact
form required. The Proclamation as issued was dated May 13, and was
officially printed in the _London Gazette_ on May 14.

In form and in substance the Proclamation of Neutrality did not differ
from customary usage[164]. It spoke of the Confederacy as "states
styling themselves the Confederate States of America," prohibited to
Englishmen enlistment on either side, or efforts to enlist others, or
equipment of ships of war, or delivery of commissions to such ships. War
vessels being equipped in British ports would be seized and forfeited to
the British Government. If a belligerent war-ship came into a British
port, no change or increase of equipment was to be permitted. If a
subject violated the Proclamation he was both punishable in British
courts and forfeited any claim to British protection. The Parliamentary
discussion on May 16 brought out more clearly and in general unanimity
of opinion the policy of the Government in application of the
Proclamation; the South was definitely recognized as a belligerent, but
recognition of independence was for the future to determine; the right
of the South to send out privateers was regretfully recognized; such
privateers could not be regarded as pirates and the North would have no
right to treat them as such, but if the North in defiance of
international opinion did so treat them, Great Britain had at least
warned its subjects that they, if engaged in service on a Southern
privateer, had no claim to British protection; a blockade of the South
to be respected must be effective at least to the point where a vessel
attempting to pass through was likely to be captured; the plan of
blockading the entire Southern coast, with its three thousand miles of
coast line, was on the face of it ridiculous--evidence that Members of
Parliament were profoundly ignorant of the physical geography of the
Southern seaboard[165].

The Parliamentary discussion did not reveal any partiality for one side
in the American quarrel above the other. It turned wholly on legal
questions and their probable application. On May 15 Russell sent to
Lyons the official text of the Proclamation, but did not instruct him to
communicate it officially to Seward, leaving this rather to Lyons'
discretion. This was discretionary in diplomatic usage since in strict
fact the Proclamation was addressed to British subjects and need not be
communicated officially to the belligerents. In the result the
discretion permitted to Lyons had, an important bearing, for recognition
of Southern belligerency was opposed to the theory upon which the
Northern Government was attempting to proceed. Lyons did not then, or
later, make official communication to Seward of the Proclamation[166].
The fact soon appeared that the United States seriously objected to the
Proclamation of Neutrality, protesting first, its having been issued at
all, and, in the second place, resenting what was considered its
"premature" announcement by a friendly nation. This matter developed so
serious a criticism by both American Government and public, both during
and after the Civil War, that it requires a close examination. Did the
British Government exhibit an unfriendly attitude toward the North by a
"premature" Proclamation of Neutrality?

On May 13 the new American Minister landed at Liverpool, and on the
morning of the fourteenth he was "ready for business" in London[167],
but the interview with Russell arranged for that day by Dallas was
prevented by the illness of Russell's brother, the Duke of Bedford[168].
All that was immediately possible was to make official notification of
arrival and to secure the customary audience with the Queen. This was
promptly arranged, and on May 16 Adams was presented, Palmerston
attending in the enforced absence of Russell. Adams' first report to
Seward was therefore brief, merely noting that public opinion was "not
exactly what we would wish." In this he referred to the utterances of
the press, particularly those of the _Times_, which from day to day and
with increasing vigour sounded the note of strict neutrality in a
"non-idealistic" war. On May 30 the _Times_, asserting that both parties
in America were bidding for English support, summed up public opinion
as follows:

     "We have been told, in fact, by Northern politicians, that it
     does not become us to be indifferent, and by Southern leaders
     that they are half inclined to become British once more. Both
     sides are bidding for us, and both sides have their partisans
     over here. On such perilous ground we cannot walk too warily.

     "For our own part, we are free to confess that the march of
     events has induced us to regard the dispute as a more
     commonplace kind of quarrel than it at first appeared to be.
     The real motives of the belligerents, as the truth
     transpires; appear to be exactly such motives as have caused
     wars in all times and countries. They are essentially selfish
     motives--that is to say, they are based upon speculations of
     national power, territorial aggrandizement, political
     advantage, and commercial gain. Neither side can claim any
     superiority of principle, or any peculiar purity of

     "We certainly cannot discover in these arguments anything to
     remove the case from the common category of national or
     monarchical quarrels. The representations of the North might
     be made word for word by any autocrat or conqueror desirous
     of 'rectifying' his frontier, consolidating his empire, or
     retaining a disaffected province in subjection. The
     manifestos of the South might be put forth by any State
     desirous of terminating an unpleasant connexion or exchanging
     union for independence....

     "It is just such a question as has been left times out of
     mind in this Old World to the decision of the sword. The
     sword will be the arbitrator in the New World too; but the
     event teaches us plainly enough that Republics and
     Democracies enjoy no exemption from the passions and follies
     of humanity."

Under these impressions Adams presented himself on May 18 for his first
interview with Russell[169]. He stated that he had come with the idea
that there was

     ".... little to do beyond the duty of preserving the
     relations actually existing between the two nations from the
     risk of being unfavourably affected by the unfortunate
     domestic disturbances prevailing in my own country. It was
     not without pain that I was compelled to admit that from the
     day of my arrival I had felt in the proceedings of both
     houses of Parliament, in the language of Her Majesty's
     ministers, and in the tone of opinion prevailing in private
     circles, more of uncertainty about this than I had before
     thought possible,"

Adams then inquired whether the replies given by Russell to Dallas
refusing to indicate a policy as to recognition of the South implied a
British purpose "to adopt a policy which would have the effect to widen,
if not to make irreparable, a breach [between North and South] which we
believed yet to be entirely manageable by ourselves."

Russell here replied that "there was no such intention"; he had simply
meant to say to Dallas that the British Government "were not disposed in
any way to interfere." To this Adams answered that:

     ".... it was deserving of grave consideration whether great
     caution was not to be used in adopting any course that might,
     even in the most indirect way, have an effect to encourage
     the hopes of the disaffected in America.... It was in this
     view that I must be permitted to express the great regret I
     had felt on learning the decision to issue the Queen's
     proclamation, which at once raised the insurgents to the
     level of a belligerent State, and still more the language
     used in regard to it by Her Majesty's ministers in both
     houses of Parliament before and since. Whatever might be the
     design, there could be no shadow of doubt that the effect of
     these events had been to encourage the friends of the
     disaffected here. The tone of the press and of private
     opinion indicated it strongly."

Russell's answer was that Adams was placing more stress on recent events
than they deserved. The Government had taken the advice of the Law
Officers and as a result had concluded that "as a question merely of
_fact_, a war existed.... Under such circumstances

     it seemed scarcely possible to avoid speaking of this in the
     technical sense as _justum bellum_, that is, a war of two
     sides, without in any way implying an opinion of its justice,
     as well as to withhold an endeavour, so far as possible, to
     bring the management of it within the rules of modern
     civilized warfare. This was all that was contemplated by the
     Queen's proclamation. It was designed to show the purport of
     existing laws, and to explain to British subjects their
     liabilities in case they should engage in the war."

To this Adams answered "... that under other circumstances

     I should be very ready to give my cheerful assent to this
     view of his lordship's. But I must be permitted frankly to
     remark that the action taken seemed, at least to my mind, a
     little more rapid than was absolutely called for by the
     occasion.... And furthermore, it pronounced the insurgents to
     be a belligerent State before they had ever shown their
     capacity to maintain any kind of warfare whatever, except
     within one of their own harbours, and under every possible
     advantage. It considered them a marine power before they had
     ever exhibited a single privateer on the ocean.... The rule
     was very clear, that whenever it became apparent that any
     organized form of society had advanced so far as to prove its
     power to defend and protect itself against the assaults of
     enemies, and at the same time to manifest a capacity to
     maintain binding relations with foreign nations, then a
     measure of recognition could not be justly objected to on any
     side. The case was very different when such an interference
     should take place, prior to the establishment of the proof
     required, as to bring about a result which would not probably
     have happened but for that external agency."

This representation by the American Minister, thus early made, contains
the whole argument advanced against the British Proclamation of
Neutrality, though there were many similar representations made at
greater length both by Adams later, and by Seward at Washington. They
are all well summarized by Bernard as "a rejection ... of the
proposition that the existence of war is a simple matter of fact, to be
ascertained as other facts are--and an assertion ... of the dogma that
there can be no war, so far as foreign nations are concerned, and,
therefore, no neutrality, so long as there is a sovereignty _de
jure_[170]." But in this first representation Adams, in the main, laid
stress upon the _haste_ with which the Proclamation of Neutrality had
been issued, and, by inference, upon the evidence that British
sympathies were with the South.

One British journal was, indeed, at this very moment voicing exactly
those opinions advanced by Adams. The _Spectator_ declared that while
the Proclamation, on the face of it, appeared to be one of strict
neutrality, it in reality tended "directly to the benefit of the
South[171]." A fortnight later this paper asserted, "The quarrel, cover
it with cotton as we may, is between freedom and slavery, right and
wrong, the dominion of God and the dominion of the Devil, and the duty
of England, we submit, is clear." She should, even though forced to
declare her neutrality, refuse for all time to recognize the
slave-holding Confederacy[172]. But the _Spectator_ stood nearly alone
in this view. The _Saturday Review_ defended in every respect the issue
of the Proclamation and added, "In a short time, it will be necessary
further to recognize the legitimacy of the Southern Government; but the
United States have a right to require that the acknowledgment shall be
postponed until the failure of the effort which they assert or believe
that they are about to make has resulted in an experimental proof that
subjugation is impossible[173]." A few provincial papers supported the
view of the _Spectator_, but they were of minor importance, and
generally the press heartily approved the Proclamation.

At the time of Adams' interview with Russell on May 18 he has just
received an instruction from Seward written under the impression aroused
by Dallas' report of Russell's refusal on April 8 to make any pledge as
to British policy on the recognition of Southern independence. Seward
was very much disturbed by what Russell had said to Dallas. In this
instruction, dated April 27[174], he wrote:

     "When you shall have read the instructions at large which
     have been sent to you, you will hardly need to be told that
     these last remarks of his lordship are by no means
     satisfactory to this government. Her Britannic Majesty's
     government is at liberty to choose whether it will retain the
     friendship of this government by refusing all aid and comfort
     to its enemies, now in flagrant rebellion against it, as we
     think the treaties existing between the two countries
     require, or whether the government of Her Majesty will take
     the precarious benefits of a different course.

     "You will lose no time in making known to Her Britannic
     Majesty's Government that the President regards the answer of
     his lordship as possibly indicating a policy that this
     government would be obliged to deem injurious to its rights
     and derogating from its dignity."

Having promptly carried out these instructions, as he understood them,
Adams soon began to report an improved British attitude, and especially
in the Government, stating that this improvement was due, in part, to
the vigour now being shown by the Northern Government, in part "to a
sense that the preceding action of Her Majesty's ministers has been
construed to mean more than they intended by it[175]." But at
Washington the American irritation was not so easily allayed. Lyons was
reporting Seward and, indeed, the whole North, as very angry with the
Proclamation of Neutrality[176]. On June 14, Lyons had a long
conversation with Seward in which the latter stubbornly denied that the
South could possess any belligerent rights. Lyons left the conference
feeling that Seward was trying to divide France and England on this
point, and Lyons was himself somewhat anxious because France was so long
delaying her own Proclamation[177]. To meet the situation, he and
Mercier, the French Minister, went the next day, June 15, on an official
visit to Seward with the intention of formally presenting the British
Proclamation and Thouvenel's instructions to Mercier to support it[178].
But Seward "said at once that he could not receive from us a
communication founded on the assumption that

     the Southern Rebels were to be regarded as Belligerents; that
     this was a determination to which the Cabinet had come
     deliberately; that he could not admit that recent events had
     in any respect altered the relations between Foreign Powers
     and the Southern States; that he would not discuss the
     question with us, but that he should give instructions to the
     United States Ministers in London and Paris who would thus be
     enabled to state the reasons for the course taken by their
     Government to Your Lordship and to M. Thouvenel, if you
     should be desirous to hear them.... He should not take
     Official cognizance of the recognition of the Belligerent
     Rights of Southern Rebels by Great Britain and France, unless
     he should be forced to do so by an Official communication
     addressed to the Government of the United States itself."

In the result the two Ministers submitted their papers to Seward "for
his own use only." They did not regard the moment well chosen "to be
punctilious." Lyons reported that Seward's language and demeanour
throughout the interview were "calm, friendly, and good humoured," but
the fact remained that the United States had not been officially
notified of the Proclamation of Neutrality, and that the American
Government, sensitive to popular excitement in the matter and committed
to the theory of a rebellion of peoples, was thus left free to continue
argument in London without any necessity of making formal protest and of
taking active steps to support such protest[179]. The official relation
was eased by the conciliatory acquiescence of Lyons. The public anger of
America, expressed in her newspapers, astonished the British press and,
temporarily, made them more careful in comment on American affairs. The
_Times_ told its readers to keep cool. "It is plain that the utmost care
and circumspection must be used by every man or party in England to
avoid giving offence to either of the two incensed belligerents[180]."
In answer to the Northern outcry at the lack of British sympathy, it
declared "Neutrality--strict neutrality--is all that the United States
Government can claim[181]."

While the burden of American criticism was thus directed toward the
British recognition of Southern belligerency, there were two other
matters of great moment to the American view--the attitude of the
British Government toward Southern privateers, and the hearing given by
Russell to the Confederate envoys. On the former, Seward, on May 21,
wrote to Adams: "As to the treatment of privateers in the insurgent
service, you will say that this is a question exclusively our own. We
treat them as pirates. They are our own citizens, or persons employed by
our own citizens, preying on the commerce of our country. If Great
Britain shall choose to recognize them as lawful belligerents and give
them shelter from our pursuit and punishment, the law of nations affords
an adequate and proper remedy[182]." This was threatening language, but
was for Adams' own eye, and in the next sentence of his letter Seward
stated that avoidance of friction on this point was easy, since in 1856
Great Britain had invited the United States to adhere to the Declaration
of Paris everywhere abolishing privateering, and to this the United
States was now ready to accede.

What Seward really meant to accomplish by this was not made clear for
the question of privateering did not constitute the main point of his
belligerent letter of May 21. In fact the proposed treatment of
privateers as pirates might have resulted in very serious complications,
for though the Proclamation of Neutrality had warned British subjects
that they would forfeit any claim to protection if they engaged in the
conflict, it is obvious that the hanging as a pirate of a British seaman
would have aroused a national outcry almost certain to have forced the
Government into protest and action against America. Fortunately the
cooler judgment of the United States soon led to quiet abandonment of
the plan of treating privateers as pirates, while on the other point of
giving "shelter" to Confederate privateers Seward himself received from
Lyons assurance, even before Adams had made a protest, that no such
shelter would be available in British ports[183].

In this same letter of May 21 Seward, writing of the rumour that the
Southern envoys were to be received by Russell "unofficially,"
instructed Adams that he must use efforts to stop this and that: "You
will, in any event, desist from all intercourse whatever, unofficial as
well as official, with the British Government, so long as it shall
continue intercourse of either kind with the domestic enemies of this
country." Here was a positive instruction as to the American Minister's
conduct in a given situation, and a very serious instruction, nearly
equivalent to "taking leave" after a rupture of diplomatic relations,
but the method to be used in avoiding if possible the necessity of the
serious step was left to Adams' discretion. Well might Adams' comment,
when reporting the outcome, that this was the "most delicate portion of
my task[184]." Adams again went over with Russell the suspicion as to
British intentions aroused in America by the Queen's Proclamation, but
added that he had not been able to convince himself of the existence of
an unfriendly design. "But it was not to be disguised that the fact of
the continued stay of the pseudo-commissioners in this city, and still
more the knowledge that they had been admitted to more or less
interviews with his lordship, was calculated to excite uneasiness.
Indeed, it had already given great dissatisfaction to my Government. I
added, as moderately as I could, that in all frankness any further
protraction of this relation could scarcely fail to be viewed by us as
hostile in spirit, and to require some corresponding action
accordingly." Russell replied that both France and England had long been
accustomed to receive such persons unofficially, as in the case of
"Poles, Hungarians, Italians, etc.," to hear what they had to say. "But
this did not imply recognition in their case any more than in ours. He
added that he had seen the gentlemen once some time ago, and once more
some time since; he had no expectation of seeing them any more[185]."

For the moment, then, a matter which under Seward's instructions might
have brought on a serious crisis was averted by the tact of Adams and
the acquiescence of Russell. Yet no pledge had been given; Russell
merely stated that he had "no expectation" of further interviews with
the Southern commissioners; he was still ready to hear from them in
writing. This caused a division of opinion between the commissioners;
Yancey argued that Russell's concession to Adams was itself a violation
of the neutrality the British Government had announced, and that it
should be met by a formal protest. But the other members insisted on a
reference to Richmond for instructions[186]. On the same day that Adams
reported the result to Seward he wrote privately to his son in Boston:

     "My position here thus far has not been difficult or painful.
     If I had followed the course of some of my colleagues in the
     diplomatic line, this country might have been on the high
     road to the confederate camp before now. It did not seem to
     me to be expedient so to play into the hands of our
     opponents. Although there has been and is more or less of
     sympathy with the slave-holders in certain circles, they are
     not so powerful as to overbear the general sentiment of the
     people. The ministry has been placed in rather delicate
     circumstances, when a small loss of power on either extreme
     would have thrown them out[187]."

In Adams' opinion the Liberals were on the whole more friendly, at
least, to the North than were the Conservatives, and he therefore
considered it best not to press too harshly upon the Government.

But the concluding sentence of this same letter was significant: "I wait
with patience--but as yet I have not gone so far as to engage a house
for more than a month at a time...." He might himself be inclined to
view more leniently the Proclamation of Neutrality and be able to find
excuses for the alleged haste with which it had been issued, but his
instructions required strong representations, especially on the latter
point. Adams' report to Seward of June 14, just noted, on the interview
with Russell of June 12, after treating of privateering and the Southern
commissioners, turns in greater length to the alleged pledge of delay
given by Russell to Dallas, and to the violation of that pledge in a
hasty issue of the Proclamation. He renews attack on the line already
taken on May 18[188]. From this time on, throughout and after the war,
this criticism was repeatedly made and with increasing bitterness.
British friends of the North joined in the American outcry. By mere
reiteration it became in the popular mind on both sides of the Atlantic
an accepted and well-founded evidence of British governmental
unfriendliness in May, 1861. At the conclusion of the Civil War, John
Bright in Parliament, commenting on the causes of American ill-will,
declared that the Government of 1861, knowing that Adams was on his way,
should in mere courtesy, have waited his arrival. Then, said Bright, the
Proclamation, entirely justifiable in itself, might have been issued
without offence and without embittering the United States[189].

Had in fact a "pledge to wait" been given to Dallas; and was the
Proclamation hasty and premature? Russell always denied he had given any
such pledge, and the text of Dallas' report of the interview of May 1
would seem to support that denial[190]. On that day Russell for the
second time told Dallas that England would not commit herself, as yet,
as regards Southern recognition, clearly meaning a recognition of
_sovereignty_, not of belligerency, and immediately asked Dallas what
the rumours of a blockade meant. Dallas replied that he had no
information on this point, and Russell "acquiesced in the expediency of
disregarding mere rumour, and waiting the full knowledge to be brought
by my successor. The motion, therefore, of Mr. Gregory may be further
postponed, at his lordship's suggestion."

The unprejudiced interpretation of this report is merely that Russell
refrained from pressing Dallas about a matter--blockade--of which Dallas
knew nothing, agreeing that this would be explained by Adams, and
especially that he let Dallas understand that Gregory's motion, which
was one for _recognizing the independence and sovereignty of the South_,
would be postponed. If there was a pledge here it was a pledge not to
recognize Southern sovereignty until after Adams' arrival.

But even if there was no promise of delay "there can be no question,"
writes the son of Adams in a brief biography of his father, "that the
proclamation of the 13th was issued with unseemly haste.... The purpose
was manifest. It was to have the status of the Confederacy as a
belligerent an accomplished fact before the arrival of the newly
accredited minister. This precipitate action was chiefly significant as
indicating an animus; that animus being really based on ... the belief,
already matured into a conviction, that the full recognition of the
Confederacy as an independent power was merely a question of time, and
probably of a very short time[191]." The author does not, however,
support the contemporary American contention that _any_ Proclamation was
contrary to international custom and that no recognition of belligerent
status was permissible to neutrals until the "insurgents" had forced the
mother country itself to recognize the division as fully accomplished,
even while war still continued. Indeed American practice was flatly
contradictory of the argument, as in the very pertinent example of the
petty Canadian rebellion of 1837, when President Van Buren had promptly
issued a proclamation of neutrality. It is curious that in his several
replies to Seward's complaints Russell did not quote a letter from
Stevenson, the American Minister to London, addressed to Palmerston, May
22, 1838. Stevenson was demanding disavowal and disapproval of the
"Caroline" affair, and incidentally he asserted as an incontrovertible
principle "that civil wars are not distinguished from other wars, as to
belligerent and neutral rights; that they stand upon the same ground,
and are governed by the same principles; that whenever a portion of a
State seek by force of arms to overthrow the Government, and maintain
independence, the contest becomes one _de facto_ of war[192]." This was
as exact, and correct, a statement of the British view as could have
been desired[193].

The American Minister, whatever his official representation, did not
then hold, privately, the view of "unfriendly animus." On July 2, 1861,
his secretary son wrote: "The English are really on our side; of that I
have no doubt whatever. [Later he was less sure of this.] But they
thought that as a dissolution seemed inevitable and as we seemed to have
made up our minds to it, that their Proclamation was just the thing to
keep them straight with both sides, and when it turned out otherwise
they did their best to correct their mistake[194]." The modern
historical judgment of the best American writers likewise exonerates the
British Government of "unfriendly animus[195]," but is still apt to
refer to the "premature" issue of the Proclamation.

This was also John Bright's view. But can Russell and the Government be
criticized even as exercising an unwise (not unfriendly) haste? Henry
Adams wrote that the British thought the "dissolution seemed inevitable"
and "we seemed to have made up our minds to it." Certainly this was a
justifiable conclusion from the events in America from Lincoln's
election in November, 1860, to his inauguration in March, 1861--and even
to a later date, almost in fact to the first week in April. During this
period the British Ministry preserved a strictly "hands off" policy.
Then, suddenly, actual conflict begins and at once each side in America
issues declarations, Davis on privateering, Lincoln on blockade and
piracy, indicative that _maritime_ war, the form of war at once most
dangerous to British interests and most likely to draw in British
citizens, was the method first to be tried by the contestants. Unless
these declarations were mere bluff and bluster England could not dare
wait their application. She must at once warn her citizens and make
clear her position as a neutral. The Proclamation was no effort "to keep
straight with both sides"; it was simply the natural, direct, and prompt
notification to British subjects required in the presence of a _de
facto_ war.

Moreover, merely as a matter of historical speculation, it was fortunate
that the Proclamation antedated the arrival of Adams. The theory of the
Northern administration under which the Civil War was begun and
concluded was that a portion of the people of the United States were
striving as "insurgents" to throw off their allegiance, and that there
could be no recognition of any Southern _Government_ in the conflict. In
actual practice in war, the exchange of prisoners and like matters, this
theory had soon to be discarded. Yet it was a far-seeing and wise theory
nevertheless in looking forward to the purely domestic and
constitutional problem of the return to the Union, when conquered, of
the sections in rebellion. This, unfortunately, was not clear to foreign
nations, and it necessarily complicated relations with them. Yet under
that theory Adams had to act. Had he arrived before the Proclamation of
Neutrality it is difficult to see how he could have proceeded otherwise
than to protest, officially, against any British declaration of
neutrality, declaring that his Government did not acknowledge a state of
war as existing, and threatening to take his leave. It would have been
his duty to _prevent_, if possible, the issue of the Proclamation.
Dallas, fortunately, had been left uninformed and uninstructed. Adams,
fortunately, arrived too late to prevent and had, therefore, merely to
complain. The "premature" issue of the Proclamation averted an
inevitable rupture of relations on a clash between the American theory
of "no state of war" and the international fact that war existed. Had
that rupture occurred, how long would the British Government and people
have remained neutral, and what would have been the ultimate fate of the
United States[196]?


[Footnote 127: Sir George Cornewall Lewis was better informed in the
early stages of the American conflict than any of his ministerial
colleagues. He was an occasional contributor to the reviews and his
unsigned article in the _Edinburgh_, April, 1861, on "The Election of
President Lincoln and its Consequences," was the first analysis of real
merit in any of the reviews.]

[Footnote 128: In his _Memoirs of an Ex-Minister_, Malmesbury makes but
three important references to the Civil War in America.]

[Footnote 129: Adams, _Charles Francis Adams_, p. 165.]

[Footnote 130: Dodd, _Jefferson Davis_, pp. 227-8.]

[Footnote 131: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 132: It was generally whispered in Southern political circles
that Davis sent Yancey abroad to get rid of him, fearing his
interference at home. If true, this is further evidence of Davis'
neglect of foreign policy.]

[Footnote 133: Du Bose, _Yancey_, p. 604.]

[Footnote 134: Adams, _Charles Francis Adams_, pp. 149-51.]

[Footnote 135: Possibly the best concise statement of the effect on the
North is given in Carl Schurz, _Reminiscences_, Vol. II, p. 223. Or see
my citation of this in _The Power of Ideals in American History_, ch. I,

[Footnote 136: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., Vol. CLXII, pp. 1207-9.]

[Footnote 137: See _ante_, p. 60.]

[Footnote 138: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-62_, pp. 83-4. Dallas
to Seward, May 2, 1862.]

[Footnote 139: An error. Mann did not arrive in London until May 15. Du
Bose, _Yancey_, p. 604.]

[Footnote 140: Richardson, _Messages and Papers of the Confederacy_,
Vol. II, p. 34. This report also shows that Mann was not present at the
first interview with Russell.]

[Footnote 141: F.O., America, Vol. 755, No. 128, Russell to Lyons, May
11, 1861. This document is marked "Seen by Lord Palmerston and the
Queen." The greater and essential part has been printed in
_Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil
War in United States." No. 33.]

[Footnote 142: Du Bose, _Yancey_, p. 604.]

[Footnote 143: Lyons Papers. The copy of the Memorandum sent to Lyons is
undated, but from Russell's letter to Lyons of May 4, in which it was
enclosed, it is presumable that the date of May 3 for the Memorandum
is correct.]

[Footnote 144: _Ibid._, Russell to Lyons, May 4, 1861.]

[Footnote 145: F.O., Am., Vol. 755, No. 121, Russell to Lyons, May 6,

[Footnote 146: It is to be remembered that the United States had given
no notice of the existence of a state of war.]

[Footnote 147: In diplomatic usage official notification of neutrality
to a belligerent has varied, but Russell's letters show him to have
appreciated a peculiar delicacy here.]

[Footnote 148: F.O., France, Vol. 1376, No. 553. Draft. Printed in
_Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on
International Maritime Law." No. 1.]

[Footnote 149: It is interesting that on this same day Lyons was writing
from Washington advocating, regretfully, because of his sympathy with
the North, a strict British neutrality:

     "The sympathies of an Englishman are naturally inclined
     towards the North--but I am afraid we should find that
     anything like a quasi alliance with the men in office here
     would place us in a position which would soon become
     untenable. There would be no end to the exactions which they
     would make upon us, there would be no end to the disregard of
     our neutral rights, which they would show if they once felt
     sure of us. If I had the least hope of their being able to
     reconstruct the Union, or even of their being able to reduce
     the South to the condition of a tolerably contented or at all
     events obedient dependency, my feeling against Slavery might
     lead me to desire to co-operate with them. But I conceive all
     chance of this to be gone for ever."

Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, May 6, 1861.]

[Footnote 150: F.O., France, Vol. 1390. No. 677.]

[Footnote 151: _Ibid._, No. 684. Printed in part in _Parliamentary
Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on International
Maritime Law." No. 3.]

[Footnote 152: _Times_, May 9, 1861.]

[Footnote 153: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 31.]

[Footnote 154: So stated by the _Times_, May 9, 1861.]

[Footnote 155: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., Vol. CLXII, pp. 1378-9. This blunt
expression of Great Britain's Foreign Secretary offers an interesting
comparison with the words of the American President Wilson, in a
parallel statement at the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. Wilson on
August 3, 1914, gave a special audience to newspaper correspondents,
begging them to maintain an attitude of calm impartiality. On August 4
he issued the first of several neutrality proclamations in which,
following the customary language of such documents, the people were
notified that neutrality did not restrict the "full and free expression
of sympathies in public and in private." But on August 18 in an address
to the people of the United States, this legal phraseology, required by
traditional usage was negatived by Wilson's appeal that "we must be
impartial in thought as well as in action, must put a curb upon our
sentiments as well as upon every transaction that might be construed as
a preference of one party to the struggle before another." And three
weeks later, on September 8, came the proclamation setting aside October
4 "as a day of prayer to Almighty God," informing Him that war existed
and asking His intervention. Possibly Russell's more blunt and pithy
expression was better suited to the forthrightness of the
British public.]

[Footnote 156: Hansard, _ibid_., pp. 1564-7. Gregory, a
"Liberal-Conservative," though never a "good party man" was then
supporting Palmerston's ministry. He was very popular in Parliament,
representing by his prominence in sport and society alike, the
"gentleman ruling class" of the House of Commons, and was a valuable
influence for the South.]

[Footnote 157: This subject is developed at length in Chapter V on "The
Declaration of Paris Negotiation."]

[Footnote 158: See _ante, p_. 88. The chronology of these rapidly
succeeding events is interesting:

  April 29--Malmesbury states in the Lords that "news was received
    this day."
  May 1--Naval reinforcements sent to American waters.
  May 1--Russell's interview with Dallas.
  May 2--Russell's plea in Parliament, "For God's sake keep out of
  May 3--Russell's first interview with Yancey and Rost.
  May 3--Attorney-General's memorandum.
  May 4--Russell's note to Lyons that this is a "regular war."
  May 6--Cowley instructed to ask France to recognize Southern
  May 6--Lyons notified that England will recognize Southern belligerency.
  May 6--Russell states in Parliament that privateers can not be
    treated as pirates.
    [Presumably, since parliamentary sittings begin in the late
      afternoons, the instructions to diplomats were drawn before
      the statement in Parliament.]
  May 9--Russell's second interview with Yancey and Rost.
  May 9--Sir George Lewis announces that a Proclamation of Neutrality
    will be issued soon.
  May 13--The Proclamation authorized.
  May 13--Adams reaches Liverpool.
  May 14--The Proclamation officially published in the _London Gazette_.
  May 14--Adams in London "ready for business."

It would appear that Russell's expressions in Parliament on May 2
indicated clearly the purpose of the Government. This was notified to
Lyons on May 4, which may be taken as the date when the governmental
position had become definitely fixed, even though official instructions
were not sent Lyons until the 6th.]

[Footnote 159: F.O., Am., Vol. 780, No. 50. Bunch to Russell, April 19,

[Footnote 160: F.O., Am., 789, Monson to Alston, received May 21.]

[Footnote 161: F.O., Am., 763, No. 197, Lyons to Russell, received May
26. The full statement is:

     "To an Englishman, sincerely interested in the welfare of
     this country, the present state of things is peculiarly
     painful. Abhorrence of slavery, respect for law, more
     complete community of race and language, enlist his
     sympathies on the side of the North. On the other hand, he
     cannot but reflect that any encouragement to the predominant
     war feeling in the North cannot but be injurious to both
     sections of the country. The prosecution of the war can lead
     only to the exhaustion of the North by an expenditure of life
     and money on an enterprise in which success and failure would
     be alike disastrous. It must tend to the utter devastation of
     the South. It would at all events occasion a suspension of
     Southern cultivation which would be calamitous even more to
     England than to the Northern States themselves."

[Footnote 162: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXII, p. 1763.]

[Footnote 163: _Ibid._, pp. 1830-34. In the general discussion in the
Lords there appeared disagreement as to the status of privateering.
Granville, Derby, and Brougham, spoke of it as piracy. Earl Hardwicke
thought privateering justifiable. The general tone of the debate, though
only on this matter of international practice, was favourable to
the North.]

[Footnote 164: For example see Hertslet, _Map of Europe by Treaty_, Vol.
I, p. 698, for the Proclamation issued in 1813 during the
Spanish-American colonial revolutions.]

[Footnote 165: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXII, pp. 2077-2088.]

[Footnote 166: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV,
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 35. Russell to
Lyons, May 15, 1861. Another reason for Lyons' precaution was that while
his French colleague, Mercier, had been instructed to support the
British Proclamation, no official French Proclamation was issued until
June 10, and Lyons, while he trusted Mercier, felt that this French
delay needed some explanation. Mercier told Seward, unofficially, of his
instructions and even left a copy of them, but at Seward's request made
no official communication. Lyons, later, followed the same procedure.
This method of dealing with Seward came to be a not unusual one, though
it irritated both the British and French Ministers.]

[Footnote 167: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2_, p. 85. Adams to
Seward, May 17, 1861.]

[Footnote 168: Bedford died that day.]

[Footnote 169: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2_, pp. 90-96. Adams
to Seward, May 21, 1861.]

[Footnote 170: Bernard, _The Neutrality of Great Britain during the
American Civil War_, p. 161. The author cites at length despatches and
documents of the period.]

[Footnote 171: _Spectator_, May 18, 1861.]

[Footnote 172: _Spectator_, June 1, 1861.]

[Footnote 173: _Saturday Review_, June 1, 1861.]

[Footnote 174: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2_, p. 82.]

[Footnote 175: _Ibid._, p. 98. Adams to Seward, June 7, 1861. See also
p. 96, Adams to Seward, May 31, 1861.]

[Footnote 176: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, June 10, 1861.]

[Footnote 177: _Ibid._, Lyons to Russell, June 14, 1861.]

[Footnote 178: F.O., Am., Vol. 766, No. 282. Lyons to Russell, June 17,
1861. Seward's account, in close agreement with that of Lyons, is in
_U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2_, p. 106. Seward to Adams, June
19, 1861.]

[Footnote 179: Bancroft in his _Seward_ (II, p. 183) prints a portion of
an unpublished despatch of Seward to Dayton in Paris, July 1, 1861, as
"his clearest and most characteristic explanation of what the attitude
of the government must be in regard to the action of the foreign nations
that have recognized the belligerency of the 'insurgents.'"

     "Neither Great Britain nor France, separately nor both
     together, can, by any declaration they can make, impair the
     sovereignty of the United States over the insurgents, nor
     confer upon them any public rights whatever. From first to
     last we have acted, and we shall continue to act, for the
     whole people of the United States, and to make treaties for
     disloyal as well as loyal citizens with foreign nations, and
     shall expect, when the public welfare requires it, foreign
     nations to respect and observe the treaties.

     "We do not admit, and we never shall admit, even the
     fundamental statement you assume--namely, that Great Britain
     and France have recognized the insurgents as a belligerent
     party. True, you say they have so declared. We reply: Yes,
     but they have not declared so to us. You may rejoin: Their
     public declaration concludes the fact. We, nevertheless,
     reply: It must be not their declaration, but the fact, that
     concludes the fact."

[Footnote 180: The _Times_, June 3, 1861.]

[Footnote 181: _Ibid._, June 11, 1861.]

[Footnote 182: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2_, p. 87.]

[Footnote 183: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 56. Lyons to
Russell, June 17, 1861, reporting conference with Seward on June 15.]

[Footnote 184: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-62_, p. 104. Adams to
Seward, June 14, 1861.]

[Footnote 185: Bancroft, the biographer of Seward, takes the view that
the protests against the Queen's Proclamation, in regard to privateering
and against interviews with the Southern commissioners were all
unjustifiable. The first, he says, was based on "unsound reasoning" (II,
177). On the second he quotes with approval a letter from Russell to
Edward Everett, July 12, 1861, showing the British dilemma: "Unless we
meant to treat them as pirates and to hang them we could not deny them
belligerent rights" (II, 178). And as to the Southern commissioners he
asserts that Seward, later, ceased protest and writes: "Perhaps he
remembered that he himself had recently communicated, through three
different intermediaries, with the Confederate commissioners to
Washington, and would have met them if the President had not forbidden
it." Bancroft, _Seward_, II, 179.]

[Footnote 186: Du Bose, _Yancey_, p. 606.]

[Footnote 187: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters, 1861-1865_, Vol. I, p. 11.
Adams to C.F. Adams, Jnr., June 14, 1861.]

[Footnote 188: See _ante_, p. 98. Russell's report to Lyons of this
interview of June 12, lays special emphasis on Adams' complaint of
haste. _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV, "Correspondence
on Civil War in the United States," No. 52. Russell to Lyons, June
21, 1861.]

[Footnote 189: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXXVII, pp. 1620-21, March 13,

[Footnote 190: See _ante_, p. 85.]

[Footnote 191: C.F. Adams, _Charles Francis Adams_, p. 172. In preparing
a larger life of his father, never printed, the son later came to a
different opinion, crediting Russell with foresight in hastening the
Proclamation to avoid possible embarrassment with Adams on his arrival.
The quotation from the printed "Life" well summarizes, however, current
American opinion.]

[Footnote 192: _U.S. Documents_, Ser. No. 347, Doc. 183, p. 6.]

[Footnote 193: The United States Supreme Court in 1862, decided that
Lincoln's blockade proclamation of April 19, 1861, was "itself official
and conclusive evidence ... that a state of war existed." (Moore, Int.
Law Digest, I, p. 190.)]

[Footnote 194: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, p. 16. Henry Adams to
C.F. Adams, Jnr.]

[Footnote 195: Rhodes, _History of the United States_, III, p. 420
(_note_) summarizes arguments on this point, but thinks that the
Proclamation might have been delayed without harm to British interests.
This is perhaps true as a matter of historical fact, but such fact in no
way alters the compulsion to quick action felt by the Ministry in the
presence of probable _immediate_ fact.]

[Footnote 196: This was the later view of C.F. Adams, Jnr. He came to
regard the delay in his father's journey to England as the most
fortunate single incident in American foreign relations during the
Civil War.]



The incidents narrated in the preceding chapter have been considered
solely from the point of view of a formal American contention as to
correct international practice and the British answer to that
contention. In fact, however, there were intimately connected wth these
formal arguments and instructions of the American Secretary of State a
plan of possible militant action against Great Britain and a suspicion,
in British Governmental circles, that this plan was being rapidly
matured. American historians have come to stigmatize this plan as
"Seward's Foreign War Panacea," and it has been examined by them in
great detail, so that there is no need here to do more than state its
main features. That which is new in the present treatment is the British
information in regard to the plan and the resultant British suspicion of
Seward's intentions.

The British public, as distinguished from the Government, deriving its
knowledge of Seward from newspaper reports of his career and past
utterances, might well consider him as traditionally unfriendly to Great
Britain. He had, in the 'fifties, vigorously attacked the British
interpretation of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty and characterized Great
Britain as "the most grasping and the most rapacious Power in the
world"; he had long prophesied the ultimate annexation of Canada to the
United States; he had not disdained, in political struggles in the State
of New York, to whip up, for the sake of votes, Irish antagonism to
Great Britain; and more especially and more recently he had been
reported to have expressed to the Duke of Newcastle a belief that civil
conflict in America could easily be avoided, or quieted, by fomenting a
quarrel with England and engaging in a war against her[197]. Earlier
expressions might easily be overlooked as emanating from a politician
never over-careful about wounding the sensibilities of foreign nations
and peoples, for he had been even more outspoken against the France of
Louis Napoleon, but the Newcastle conversation stuck in the British mind
as indicative of a probable animus when the politician had become the
statesman responsible for foreign policy. Seward might deny, as he did,
that he had ever uttered the words alleged[198], and his friend Thurlow
Weed might describe the words as "badinage," in a letter to the London
_Times_[199], but the "Newcastle story" continued to be matter for
frequent comment both in the Press and in private circles.

British Ministers, however, would have paid little attention to Seward's
speeches intended for home political consumption, or to a careless bit
of social talk, had there not been suspicion of other and more serious
evidences of unfriendliness. Lyons was an unusually able and
well-informed Minister, and from the first he had pictured the
leadership of Seward in the new administration at Washington, and had
himself been worried by his inability to understand what policy Seward
was formulating. But, in fact, he did not see clearly what was going on
in the camp of the Republican party now dominant in the North. The
essential feature of the situation was that Seward, generally regarded
as the man whose wisdom must guide the ill-trained Lincoln, and himself
thinking this to be his destined function, early found his authority
challenged by other leaders, and his policies not certain of
acceptance by the President. It is necessary to review, briefly, the
situation at Washington.

[Illustration: WILLIAM HENRY SEWARD (_From Lord Newton's "Life of Lord
Lyons," by kind permission_)]

Lincoln was inaugurated as President on March 4. He had been elected as
a Republican by a political party never before in power. Many of the
leading members of this party were drawn from the older parties and had
been in administrative positions in either State or National
Governments, but there were no party traditions, save the lately created
one of opposition to the expansion of slavery to the Territories. All
was new, then, to the men now in power in the National Government, and a
new and vital issue, that of secession already declared by seven
Southern States, had to be met by a definite policy. The important
immediate question was as to whether Lincoln had a policy, or, if not,
upon whom he would depend to guide him.

In the newly-appointed Cabinet were two men who, in popular estimate,
were expected to take the lead--Chase, of Ohio, the Secretary of the
Treasury, and Seward, of New York, Secretary of State. Both were
experienced in political matters and both stood high in the esteem of
the anti-slavery element in the North, but Seward, all things
considered, was regarded as the logical leading member of the Cabinet.
He had been the favoured candidate for Republican Presidential
nomination in 1860, making way for Lincoln only on the theory that the
latter as less Radical on anti-slavery, could be more easily elected.
Also, he now held that position which by American tradition was regarded
as the highest in the Cabinet.

In fact, everyone at Washington regarded it as certain that Seward would
determine the policy of the new administration. Seward's own attitude is
well summed up in a despatch to his Government, February 18, 1861, by
Rudolph Schleiden, Minister from the Republic of Bremen. He described a
conversation with Seward in regard to his relations with Lincoln:

     "Seward, however, consoled himself with the clever remark,
     that there is no great difference between an elected
     president of the United States and an hereditary monarch. The
     latter is called to the throne through the accident of birth,
     the former through the chances which make his election
     possible. The actual direction of public affairs belongs to
     the leader of the ruling party, here as well as in any
     hereditary principality.

     "The future President is a self-made man and there is
     therefore as little doubt of his energy as of his proverbial
     honesty ('honest old Abe'). It is also acknowledged that he
     does not lack common sense. But his other qualities for the
     highest office are practically unknown. His election may
     therefore be readily compared with a lottery. It is possible
     that the United States has drawn the first prize, on the
     other hand the gain may only have been a small one. But
     unfortunately the possibility is not excluded that it may
     have been merely a blank."

The first paragraph of this quotation reports Seward's opinion; the
second is apparently Schleiden's own estimate. Two weeks later Schleiden
sent home a further analysis of Lincoln:

     "He makes the impression of a natural man of clear and
     healthy mind, great good-naturedness and best intentions. He
     seems to be fully conscious of the great responsibility which
     rests upon him. But at the same time it appears as if he had
     lost some of his famous firmness and resoluteness through the
     novelty of the conditions which surround him and the hourly
     renewed attempts from various sides to gain influence over
     him. He is therefore at present inclined to concede double
     weight to the superior political experience of his Secretary
     of State[200]."

This was written on March 4, and the situation was correctly described.
Seward led for the moment, but his supremacy was not unchallenged and
soon a decision was called for that in its final solution was to
completely overthrow his already matured policy towards the seceding
States. Buchanan had been pressed by South Carolina to yield possession
of federal property in that State and especially to withdraw Federal
troops from Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbour. After some vacillation he
had refused to do this, but had taken no steps to reinforce and
re-supply the weak garrison under the command of Major Anderson. On
March 5, Lincoln learned that Sumter would soon have to be yielded
unless reinforcements were sent. There followed ten days of delay and
indecision; then on March 15 Lincoln requested from each member of his
Cabinet an opinion on what should be done. This brought to an issue the
whole question of Seward's policy and leadership.

For Seward's policy, like that of Buchanan, was one of conciliatory
delay, taking no steps to bring matters to an issue, and trusting to
time and a sobering second thought to bring Southern leaders and people
to a less violent attitude. He sincerely believed in the existence of an
as yet unvoiced strong Union sentiment in the South, especially in those
States which were wavering on secession. He was holding communications,
through intermediaries, with certain Confederate "Commissioners" in
Washington, and he had agents in Virginia attempting to influence that
State against secession. To all these Southern representatives he now
conveyed assurances quite without warrant from Lincoln, that Sumter
would be evacuated, acting solely in the belief that his own "policy"
would be approved by the President. His argument in reply to Lincoln's
call for an opinion was positive against reinforcing Fort Sumter, and it
seemed to meet, for the moment, with the approval of the majority of his
Cabinet colleagues. Lincoln himself made no pertinent comment, yet did
not commit himself.

There the matter rested for a time, for the Confederate Commissioners,
regarding Seward's policy of delay as wholly beneficial to the maturing
of Southern plans, and Seward "as their cat's-paw[201]," did not care to
press for a decision. Moreover, Seward had given a personal pledge that
in case it were, after all, determined to reinforce Sumter, notification
of that determination would at once be given to South Carolina. The days
went by, and it was not until the last week of March that Lincoln,
disillusioned as to the feasibility of Seward's policy of conciliation,
reached the conclusion that in his conception of his duty as President
of the United States he must defend and retain Federal forts, or attempt
to retain them, for the preservation of the Union, and decided to
reinforce Fort Sumter. On March 29, the Cabinet assembled at noon and
learned Lincoln's determination.

This was a sharp blow to Seward's prestige in the Cabinet; it also
threatened his "peaceful" policy. Yet he did not as yet understand fully
that either supreme leadership, or control of policy, had been assumed
by Lincoln. On April 1 he drafted that astonishing document entitled,
"Some Thoughts for the President's Consideration," which at once reveals
his alarm and his supreme personal self-confidence. This document
begins, "We are at the end of a month's administration, and yet without
a policy either domestic or foreign." It then advocates as a domestic
policy, "_Change The Question Before The Public From One Upon Slavery,
Or About Slavery_, for a question upon _Union or Disunion_." Then in a
second section, headed "For Foreign Nations," there followed:

     "I would demand explanations from Spain and France,
     categorically, at once.

     "I would seek explanations from Great Britain and Russia, and
     send agents into Canada, Mexico and Central America to rouse
     a vigorous continental spirit of independence on this
     continent against European intervention.

     "And, if satisfactory explanations are not received from
     Spain and France.

     "Would convene Congress and declare war against them.

     "But whatever policy we adopt, there must be energetic
     prosecution of it.

     "For this purpose it must be somebody's business to pursue
     and direct it incessantly.

     "Either the President must do it himself, and be all the
     while active in it, or

     "Devolve it on some member of his Cabinet. Once adopted,
     debates on it must end, and all agree and abide.

     "It is not in my especial province;

     "But I neither seek to evade nor assume responsibility[202]."

Lincoln's reply of the same day, April 1, was characteristically gentle,
yet no less positive and definite to any save one obsessed with his own
superior wisdom. Lincoln merely noted that Seward's "domestic policy"
was exactly his own, except that he did not intend to abandon Fort
Sumter. As to the warlike foreign policy Lincoln pointed out that this
would be a sharp reversal of that already being prepared in circulars
and instructions to Ministers abroad. This was, indeed, the case, for
the first instructions, soon despatched, were drawn on lines of
recalling to foreign powers their established and long-continued
friendly relations with the United States. Finally, Lincoln stated as
to the required "guiding hand," "I remark that if this must be done, I
must do it.... I wish, and suppose I am entitled to have, the advice of
all the Cabinet[203]."

This should have been clear indication of Lincoln's will to direct
affairs, and even to Seward would have been sufficient had he not,
momentarily, been so disturbed by the wreck of his pacific policy toward
the South, and as yet so ignorant of the strength of Lincoln's quiet
persistence. As it was, he yielded on the immediate issue, the relief of
Sumter (though attempting to divert reinforcements to another quarter)
but did not as yet wholly yield either his policy of conciliation and
delay, nor give up immediately his insane scheme of saving the Union by
plunging it into a foreign war. He was, in fact, still giving assurances
to the Confederate commissioners, through indirect channels, that he
could and would prevent the outbreak of civil war, and in this
confidence that his ideas would finally control Lincoln he remained up
to the second week in April. But on April 8 the first of the ships
despatched to the aid of Sumter left New York, and on that day Governor
Pickens of South Carolina was officially notified of the Northern
purpose. This threw the burden of striking the first blow upon the
South; if Southern threats were now made good, civil war seemed
inevitable, and there could be no peaceful decision of the quarrel.

The reinforcements did not arrive in time. Fort Sumter, after a day and
a half of dogged fighting, was surrendered to the enemy on April 13--for
as an enemy in arms the South now stood. The fall of Sumter changed, as
in a moment, the whole attitude of the Northern people. There was now a
nearly unanimous cry for the preservation of the Union _by force_. Yet
Seward still clung, privately, to his belief that even now the "sober
second thought" of the South would offer a way out toward reunion
without war. In official utterances and acts he was apparently in
complete harmony with the popular will to reconquer the South. Davis'
proclamation on marque and privateering, of April 17, was answered by
the Lincoln blockade proclamation of April 19. But Virginia had not yet
officially seceded, and until this occurred there seemed to Seward at
least one last straw of conciliation available. In this situation
Schleiden, Minister for Bremen, came to Seward on the morning of April
24 and offered his services as a mediator[204].

Schleiden's idea was that an armistice be agreed upon with the South
until the Northern Congress should meet in July, thus giving a breathing
spell and permitting saner second judgment to both sides. He had
consulted with his Prussian colleague, who approved, and he found Seward
favourable to the plan. Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the
Confederacy, was then at Richmond, and to him, as an old friend,
Schleiden proposed to go and make the same appeal. Seward at once took
Schleiden to see Lincoln. The three men, with Chase (and the Prussian
Minister) were the only ones in the secret. Lincoln's first comment was
that he was "willing to make an attempt of contributing to the
prevention of bloodshed and regretted that Schleiden had not gone to
Richmond without consulting him or Seward." Lincoln further stated that
"he did not have in mind any aggression against the Southern States, but
merely the safety of the Government in the Capitol and the possibility
to govern everywhere," a concluding phrase that should have enlightened
Schleiden as to Lincoln's determination to preserve the Union. Lincoln
said he could neither authorize negotiations nor invite proposals, but
that he would gladly consider any such proposals voluntarily made.
Schleiden asked for a definite statement as to whether Lincoln would
recall the blockade proclamation and sign an armistice if Davis would
recall the letters of marque proclamation, but Lincoln refused to
commit himself.

This was scant encouragement from the President, but Seward still
thought something might result from the venture, and on that evening,
April 24, Schleiden started for Richmond, being provided by Seward with
a pass through the Union lines. He arrived on the afternoon of the
twenty-fifth, but even before reaching the city was convinced that his
mission would be a failure. All along his journey, at each little
station, he saw excited crowds assembled enthusiastic for secession,
bands of militia training, and every indication of preparation for war.
Already, on that same day, the Virginia secession ordinance had been
published, and the State convention had ratified the provisional
constitution of the Southern Confederacy. Schleiden immediately notified
Stephens of his presence in Richmond and desire for an interview, and
was at once received. The talk lasted three hours. Stephens was frank
and positive in asserting the belief that "all attempts to settle
peacefully the differences between the two sections were futile." Formal
letters were exchanged after this conference, but in these the extent to
which Stephens would go was to promise to use his influence in favour of
giving consideration to any indication made by the North of a desire
"for an amicable adjustment of the questions at issue," and he was
positive that there could be no return of the South to the Union.

On the afternoon of April 27 Schleiden was back in Washington. He found
that three days had made a great change in the sentiment of the Capitol.
"During my short absence," he wrote, "many thousands of volunteers had
arrived from the North. There was not only a feeling of security
noticeable, but even of combativeness." He found Seward not at all
disposed to pursue the matter, and was not given an opportunity to talk
to Lincoln; therefore, he merely submitted copies of the letters that
had passed between him and Stephens, adding for himself that the South
was arming _because_ of Lincoln's proclamation calling for volunteers.
Seward replied on April 29, stating his personal regards and that he had
no fault to find with Schleiden's efforts, but concluding that Stephens'
letters gave no ground for action since the "Union of these States is
the supreme as it is the organic law of this country," and must be

This adventure to Richmond by the Minister of Bremen may be regarded as
Seward's last struggle to carry out his long-pursued policy of
conciliatory delay. He had not officially sent Schleiden to Richmond,
but he had grasped eagerly at the opening and had encouraged and aided
Schleiden in his journey. Now, by April 27, hope had vanished, and
Seward's "domestic policy," as set forth in his "Thoughts for the
President's Consideration" on April 1, was discredited, and inevitably,
in some measure, their author also. The dates are important in
appreciating Seward's purposes. On April 27, the day of Schleiden's
return to Washington, there was sent to Adams that "sharp" despatch,
taking issue with British action as foreshadowed by Dallas on April 9,
and concluding by instructing Adams to lose no time in warning Russell
that such action would be regarded by the United States as "injurious to
its rights and derogating from its dignity[205]." It appears, therefore,
that Seward, defeated on one line of "policy," eager to regain prestige,
and still obsessed with the idea that some means could yet be found to
avert domestic conflict, was, on April 27, beginning to pick at those
threads which, to his excited thought, might yet save the Union through
a foreign war. He was now seeking to force the acceptance of the second,
and alternative, portion of his "Thoughts for the President."

Seward's theory of the cementing effect of a foreign war was no secret
at Washington. As early as January 26 he had unfolded to Schleiden this
fantastic plan. "If the Lord would only give the United States an excuse
for a war with England, France, or Spain," he said "that would be the
best means of re-establishing internal peace[206]." Again, on February
10, he conversed with Schleiden on the same topic, and complained that
there was no foreign complication offering an excuse for a break. Lyons
knew of this attitude, and by February 4 had sent Russell a warning, to
which the latter had replied on February 20 that England could afford to
be patient for a time but that too much "blustering demonstration" must
not be indulged in. But the new administration, as Lincoln had remarked
in his reply to Seward on April 1, had taken quite another line,
addressing foreign powers in terms of high regard for established
friendly relations. This was the tone of Seward's first instruction to
Adams, April 10[207], in the concluding paragraph of which Seward wrote,
"The United States are not indifferent to the circumstances of common
descent, language, customs, sentiments, and religion, which recommend a
closer sympathy between themselves and Great Britain than either might
expect in its intercourse with any other nation." True, on this basis,
Seward claimed a special sympathy from Great Britain for the United
States, that is to say, the North, but most certainly the tone of this
first instruction was one of established friendship.

Yet now, April 27, merely on learning from Dallas that Russell "refuses
to pledge himself" on British policy, Seward resorts to threats. What
other explanation is possible except that, seeking to save his domestic
policy of conciliation and to regain his leadership, he now was
adventuring toward the application of his "foreign war panacea" idea.
Lyons quickly learned of the changed tone, and that England, especially,
was to hear American complaint. On May 2 Lyons wrote to Russell in
cypher characterizing Seward as "arrogant and reckless toward Foreign
Powers[208]." Evidently Seward was making little concealment of his
belligerent attitude, and when the news was received of the speeches in
Parliament of the first week in May by which it became clear that Great
Britain would declare neutrality and was planning joint action with
France, he became much excited. On May 17 he wrote a letter home
exhibiting, still, an extraordinary faith in his own wisdom and his own
foreign policy.

     "A country so largely relying on my poor efforts to save it
     had [has] refused me the full measure of its confidence,
     needful to that end. I am a chief reduced to a subordinate
     position, and surrounded by a guard, to see that I do not do
     too much for my country, lest some advantage may revert
     indirectly to my own fame.

     "... They have misunderstood things fearfully, in Europe,
     Great Britain is in danger of sympathizing so much with the
     South, for the sake of peace and cotton, as to drive us to
     make war against her, as the ally of the traitors.... I am
     trying to get a bold remonstrance through the Cabinet before
     it is too late[209]."

The "bold remonstrance" was the famous "Despatch No. 10," of May 21,
already commented upon in the preceding chapter. But as sent to Adams
it varied in very important details from the draft submitted by Seward
to Lincoln[210].

Seward's draft was not merely a "remonstrance"; it was a challenge. Its
language implied that the United States desired war, and Seward's plan
was to have Adams read the despatch to Russell, give him a copy of it,
and then discontinue diplomatic relations so long as Russell held either
official or unofficial intercourse with the Southern Commissioners. This
last instruction was, indeed, retained in the final form of the
despatch, but here, as elsewhere, Lincoln modified the stiff expressions
of the original. Most important of all, he directed Adams to consider
the whole despatch as for his own guidance, relying on his discretion.
The despatch, as amended, began with the statement that the United
States "neither means to menace Great Britain nor to wound the
sensibilities of that or any other European nation.... The paper itself
is not to be read or shown to the British Secretary of State, nor any of
its positions to be prematurely, unnecessarily, or indiscreetly made
known. But its spirit will be your guide[211]." Thus were the teeth
skilfully drawn from the threat of war. Even the positive instructions,
later in the despatch, as to the Southern Commissioners, need not have
been acted upon by Adams had he not thought it wise to do so. But even
with alterations, the American remonstrance was so bold as to alarm
Adams. On first perusual he wrote in his diary, June 10, "The Government
seems almost ready to declare war with all the powers of Europe, and
almost instructs me to withdraw from communication with the Ministers
here in a certain contingency.... I scarcely know how to understand Mr.
Seward. The rest of the Government may be demented for all I know; but
he surely is calm and wise. My duty here is in so far as I can do it
honestly to prevent the irritation from coming to a downright quarrel.
It seems to me like throwing the game into the hands of the enemy[212]."

Adams, a sincere admirer of Seward, was in error as to the source of
American belligerent attitude. Fortunately, his judgment of what was
wise at the moment coincided with that of Lincoln's--though of this he
had no knowledge. In the event Adams' skilful handling of the situation
resulted favourably--even to the cessation of intercourse between
Russell and the Southern Commissioners. For his part, Lincoln, no more
than earlier, was to be hurried into foreign complications, and Seward's
"foreign war panacea" was stillborn.

The incident was a vital one in the Northern administration, for Seward
at last realized that the President intended to control policy, and
though it was yet long before he came to appreciate fully Lincoln's
customary calm judgment, he did understand the relation now established
between himself and his chief. Henceforth, he obeyed orders, though
free in suggestion and criticism, always welcome to Lincoln. The latter,
avowedly ignorant of diplomacy, gladly left details to Seward, and the
altered despatch, far from making relations difficult, rendered them
simple and easy, by clearing the atmosphere. But it was otherwise with
Foreign Ministers at Washington, for even though there was soon a "leak"
of gossip informing them of what had taken place in regard to Despatch
No. 10, they one and all were fearful of a recovery of influence by
Seward and of a resumption of belligerent policy. This was particularly
true of Lord Lyons, for rumour had it that it was against England that
Seward most directed his enmity. There resulted for British diplomats
both at Washington and in London a deep-seated suspicion of Seward, long
after he had made a complete face-about in policy. This suspicion
influenced relations greatly in the earlier years of the Civil War.

On May 20, the day before Seward's No. 10 was dated, Lyons wrote a long
twelve-page despatch to Russell, anxious, and very full of Seward's
warlike projects. "The President is, of course, wholly ignorant of
foreign countries, and of foreign affairs." "Seward, having lost
strength by the failure of his peace policy, is seeking to recover
influence by leading a foreign war party; no one in the Cabinet is
strong enough to combat him." Britain, Lyons thought, should maintain a
stiff attitude, prepare to defend Canada, and make close contacts with
France. He was evidently anxious to impress upon Russell that Seward
really might mean war, but he declared the chief danger to lie in the
fact of American belief that England and France could not be driven into
war with the United States, and that they would submit to any insult.
Lyons urged some action, or declaration (he did not know what), to
correct this false impression[213]. Again, on the next day, May 21, the
information in his official despatch was repeated in a private letter to
Russell, but Lyons here interprets Seward's threats as mere bluster. Yet
he is not absolutely sure of this, and in any case insists that the best
preventative of war with the United States is to show that England is
ready for it[214].

It was an anxious time for the British Minister in Washington. May 22,
he warned Sir Edmund Head, Governor of Canada, urging him to make
defensive preparation[215]. The following day he dilated to Russell,
privately, on "the difficulty of keeping Mr. Seward within the bounds of
decency even in ordinary social intercourse[216] ..." and in an official
communication of this same day he records Washington rumours of a
belligerent despatch read by Seward before the Cabinet, of objections by
other members, and that Seward's insistence has carried the day[217].
That Seward was, in fact, still smarting over his reverse is shown by a
letter, written on this same May 23, to his intimate friend and
political adviser, Thurlow Weed, who had evidently cautioned him against
precipitate action. Seward wrote, "The European phase is bad. But your
apprehension that I may be too decisive alarms me more. Will you
consent, or advise us to consent, that Adams and Dayton have audiences
and compliments in the Ministers' Audience Chamber, and Toombs'
[Confederate Secretary of State] emissaries have access to his

Two interpretations are possible from this: either that Seward knowing
himself defeated was bitter in retrospect, or that he had not yet
yielded his will to that of Lincoln, in spite of the changes made in his
Despatch No. 10. The former interpretation seems the more likely, for
though Seward continued to write for a time "vigorous" despatches to
Adams, they none of them approached the vigour of even the amended
despatch. Moreover, the exact facts of the Cabinet of May 21, and the
complete reversal of Seward's policy were sufficiently known by May 24
to have reached the ears of Schleiden, who reported them in a letter to
Bremen of that date[219]. And on the same day Seward himself told
Schleiden that he did "not fear any longer that it would come to a break
with England[220]." On May 27 Lyons himself, though still suspicious
that an attempt was being made to separate France and England, was able
to report a better tone from Seward[221].

British Ministers in London were not so alarmed as was Lyons, but they
were disturbed, nevertheless, and long preserved a suspicion of the
American Secretary of State. May 23, Palmerston wrote to Russell in
comment on Lyons' despatch of May 2: "These communications are very
unpleasant. It is not at all unlikely that either from foolish and
uncalculating arrogance and self-sufficiency or from political
calculation Mr. Seward may bring on a quarrel with us[222]." He believed
that more troops ought to be sent to Canada, as a precautionary
measure, but, he added, "the main Force for Defence must, of course, be
local"--a situation necessarily a cause for anxiety by British
Ministers. Russell was less perturbed. He had previously expressed
appreciation of Adams' conduct, writing to Lyons: "Mr. Adams has made a
very favourable impression on my mind as a calm and judicious man[223],"
and he now wrote: "I do not think Mr. Seward's colleagues will encourage
him in a game of brag with England.... I am sorry Seward turns out so
reckless and ruthless. Adams seems a sensible man[224]." But at
Washington Lyons was again hot on the trail of warlike rumours. As a
result of a series of conversations with Northern politicians, not
Cabinet members, he sent a cipher telegram to Russell on June 6,
stating: "No new event has occurred but sudden declaration of war by the
United States against Great Britain appears to me by no means
impossible, especially so long as Canada seems open to invasion[225]."
This was followed two days later by a despatch dilating upon the
probability of war, and ending with Lyons' opinion of how it should be
conducted. England should strike at once with the largest possible naval
force and bring the war to an end before the United States could
prepare. Otherwise, "the spirit, the energy, and the resources of this
people" would make them difficult to overcome. England, on her part,
must be prepared to suffer severely from American privateers, and she
would be forced to help the South, at least to the extent of keeping
Southern ports open. Finally, Lyons concluded, all of this letter and
advice were extremely distasteful to him, yet he felt compelled to write
it by the seriousness of the situation. Nevertheless, he would exert
every effort and use every method to conciliate America[226].

In truth, it was not any further belligerent talk by Seward that had so
renewed Lyons' anxiety. Rather it was the public and Press reception of
the news of the Queen's Proclamation of Neutrality. The Northern people,
counting beyond all reasonable expectation upon British sympathy on
anti-slavery grounds, had been angrily disappointed, and were at the
moment loudly voicing their vexation. Had Seward not already been turned
from his foreign war policy he now would have received strong public
support in it. But he made no effort to utilize public excitement to his
own advantage in the Cabinet. In England, Adams was able to report on
June 14 that Russell had no intention of holding further interviews with
the Southern Commissioners[227], but before anyone in Washington could
learn of this there was general knowledge of a changed tone from the
Secretary of State, and Lyons' fears were considerably allayed. On June
15, occurred that interview between Seward, Lyons, and Mercier, in which
Seward had positively refused to receive the Queen's Proclamation, but
had throughout evinced the greatest courtesy and goodwill. Lyons so
reported the conversation[228]. June 15 may, in fact, be taken as the
date when Lyons ceased to be alarmed over an immediate war. Possibly he
found it a little difficult to report so sudden a shift from stormy to
fair weather. June 21, he wrote that the "lull" was still
continuing[229]. June 24, he at last learned and described at length the
details of Lincoln's alteration of Despatch No. 10[230]. He did not
know the exact date but he expressed the opinion that "a month or three
weeks ago" war was very near--a misjudgment, since it should be
remembered that war seemed advisable to one man only--Seward; and that
on this issue he had been definitely cast down from his self-assumed
leadership into the ranks of Lincoln's lieutenants.

Lyons was, then, nearly a month behindhand in exact knowledge of
American foreign policy toward England, and he was in error in thinking
that an American attack on England was either imminent or intended.
Nevertheless, he surely was excusable, considering Seward's prestige and
Lincoln's lack of it, in reporting as he did. It was long, indeed,
before he could escape from suspicion of Seward's purposes, though
dropping, abruptly, further comment on the chances of war. A month
later, on July 20, he wrote that Seward had himself asked for a
confidential and unofficial interview, in order to make clear that there
never had been any intention of stirring agitation against England.
Personally, Seward took credit for avoiding trouble "by refusing to take
official cognizance of the recognition [by England] of the belligerent
rights of the South," and he asked Lyons to explain to Russell that
previous strong language was intended merely to make foreign Powers
understand the intensity of Northern feeling[231].

Lyons put no faith in all this but was happy to note the change,
mistakenly attributing it to England's "stiff tone," and not at all to
the veto of the President. Since Lyons himself had gone to the utmost
bounds in seeking conciliation (so he had reported), and, in London,
Russell also had taken no forward step since the issue of the Queen's
Proclamation--indeed, had rather yielded somewhat to Adams'
representations--it is not clear in what the "stiff tone" consisted.

Indeed, the cause of Seward's explanation to Lyons was the receipt of a
despatch from Adams, dated June 28, in which the latter had reported
that all was now smooth sailing. He had told Russell that the knowledge
in Washington of the result of their previous interviews had brought
satisfaction, and Russell, for his part, said that Lyons had "learned,
through another member of the diplomatic corps, that no further
expression of opinion on the subject in question would be
necessary[232]." This referred, presumably, to the question of British
intention, for the future, in relation to the Proclamation of
Neutrality. Adams wrote: "This led to the most frank and pleasant
conversation which I have yet had with his lordship.... I added that I
believed the popular feeling in the United States would subside the
moment that all the later action on this side was known.... My own
reception has been all that I could desire. I attach value to this,
however, only as it indicates the establishment of a policy that will
keep us at peace during the continuance of the present convulsion." In
reply to Adams' despatch, Seward wrote on July 21, the day after his
interview with Lyons, arguing at great length the American view that the
British Proclamation of Neutrality in a domestic quarrel was not
defensible in international law. There was not now, nor later, any
yielding on this point. But, for the present, this was intended for
Adams' eye alone, and Seward prefaced his argument by a disclaimer, much
as stated to Lyons, of any ill-will to Great Britain:

     "I may add, also, for myself, that however otherwise I may at
     any time have been understood, it has been an earnest and
     profound solicitude to avert from foreign war; that alone has
     prompted the emphatic and sometimes, perhaps, impassioned
     remonstrances I have hitherto made against any form or
     measure of recognition of the insurgents by the government of
     Great Britain. I write in the same spirit now; and I invoke
     on the part of the British government, as I propose to
     exercise on my own, the calmness which all counsellors ought
     to practise in debates which involve the peace and happiness
     of mankind[233]."

Diplomatic correspondence couched in the form of platform oratory leads
to the suspicion that the writer is thinking, primarily, of the ultimate
publication of his despatches. Thus Seward seems to have been laying the
ground for a denial that he had ever developed a foolish foreign war
policy. History pins him to that folly. But in another respect the
interview with Lyons on July 20 and the letter to Adams of the day
following overthrow for both Seward and for the United States the
accusations sometimes made that it was the Northern disaster at Bull
Run, July 21, in the first pitched battle with the South, which made
more temperate the Northern tone toward foreign powers[234]. It is true
that the despatch to Adams was not actually sent until July 26, but
internal evidence shows it to have been written on the 21st before there
was any news from the battle-field, and the interview with Lyons on the
20th proves that the military set-back had no influence on Seward's
friendly expressions. Moreover, these expressions officially made were
but a delayed voicing of a determination of policy arrived at many weeks
earlier. The chronology of events and despatches cited in this chapter
will have shown that the refusal of Lincoln to follow Seward's
leadership, and the consequent lessening of the latter's "high tone,"
preceded any news whatever from England, lightening the first
impressions. The Administration at Washington did not on May 21, even
know that England had issued a Proclamation of Neutrality; it knew
merely of Russell's statement that one would have to be issued; and the
friendly explanations of Russell to Adams were not received in
Washington until the month following.

In itself, Seward's "foreign war panacea" policy does not deserve the
place in history usually accorded it as a moment of extreme crisis in
British-American relations. There was never any danger of war from it,
for Lincoln nipped the policy in the bud. The public excitement in
America over the Queen's Proclamation was, indeed, intense; but this did
not alter the Governmental attitude. In England all that the public knew
was this American irritation and clamour. The London press expressed
itself a bit more cautiously, for the moment, merely defending the
necessity of British neutrality[235]. But if regarded from the effect
upon British Ministers the incident was one of great, possibly even
vital, importance in the relations of the two countries. Lyons had been
gravely anxious to the point of alarm. Russell, less acutely alarmed,
was yet seriously disturbed. Both at Washington and in London the
suspicion of Seward lasted throughout the earlier years of the war, and
to British Ministers it seemed that at any moment he might recover
leadership and revert to a dangerous mood. British attitude toward
America was affected in two opposite ways; Britain was determined not to
be bullied, and Russell himself sometimes went to the point of arrogance
in answer to American complaints; this was an unfortunate result. But
more fortunate, and _also a result_, was the British Government's
determination to step warily in the American conflict and to give no
just cause, unless on due consideration of policy, for a rupture of
relations with the United States. Seward's folly in May of 1861, from
every angle but a short-lived "brain-storm," served America well in the
first years of her great crisis.


[Footnote 197: See _ante_, p. 80.]

[Footnote 198: Barnes, _Life of Thurlow Weed_, II, p. 378. Seward to
Weed, December 27, 1861.]

[Footnote 199: _Ibid._, p. 355. Weed's letter was on the _Trent_ affair,
but he went out of his way to depict Seward as attempting a bit of
humour with Newcastle.]

[Footnote 200: Schleiden, a native of Schleswig, was educated at the
University of Berlin, and entered the Danish customs service. In the
German revolution of 1848 he was a delegate from Schleswig-Holstein to
the Frankfort Parliament. After the failure of that revolution he
withdrew to Bremen and in 1853 was sent by that Republic to the United
States as Minister. By 1860 he had become one of the best known and
socially popular of the Washington diplomatic corps, holding intimate
relations with leading Americans both North and South. His reports on
events preceding and during the Civil War were examined in the archives
of Bremen in 1910 by Dr. Ralph H. Lutz when preparing his doctor's
thesis, "Die Beziehungen zwischen Deutschland und den Vereinigten
Staaten während des Sezessionskrieges" (Heidelberg, 1911). My facts with
regard to Schleiden are drawn in part from this thesis, in part from an
article by him, "Rudolph Schleiden and the Visit to Richmond, April 25,
1861," printed in the _Annual Report of the American Historical
Association_ for 1915, pp. 207-216. Copies of some of Schleiden's
despatches are on deposit in the Library of Congress among the papers of
Carl Schurz. Through the courtesy of Mr. Frederic Bancroft, who
organized the Schurz papers, I have been permitted to take copies of a
few Schleiden dispatches relating to the visit to Richmond, an incident
apparently unknown to history until Dr. Lutz called attention to it.]

[Footnote 201: This is Bancroft's expression. _Seward_, II, p. 118.]

[Footnote 202: Lincoln, _Works_, II, 29.]

[Footnote 203: _Ibid._, p. 30.]

[Footnote 204: For references to this whole matter of Schleiden's visit
to Richmond see _ante_, p. 116, note 1.]

[Footnote 205: _U.S. Messages and Documents_, 1861-2, p. 82. This, and
other despatches have been examined at length in the previous chapter in
relation to the American protest on the Queen's Proclamation of
Neutrality. In the present chapter they are merely noted again in their
bearing on Seward's "foreign war policy."]

[Footnote 206: Quoted by Lutz, _Am. Hist. Assn. Rep_. 1915, p. 210.]

[Footnote 207: _U.S. Messages and Documents_, 1861-2, p. 80. This
despatch was read by Seward on April 8 to W. H. Russell, correspondent
of the _Times_, who commented that it contained some elements of danger
to good relations, but it is difficult to see to what he could have had
objection.--Russell, _My Diary_, I, p. 103. ]

[Footnote 208: Russell Papers.]

[Footnote 209: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 169.]

[Footnote 210: Yet at this very time Seward was suggesting, May 14, to
Prussia, Great Britain, France, Russia and Holland a joint naval
demonstration with America against Japan because of anti-foreign
demonstrations in that country. This has been interpreted as an attempt
to tie European powers to the United States in such a way as to hamper
any friendly inclination they may have entertained toward the
Confederacy (Treat, _Japan and the United States_, 1853-1921, pp. 49-50.
Also Dennet, "Seward's Far Eastern Policy," in _Am. Hist. Rev_., Vol.
XXVIII, No. 1. Dennet, however, also regards Seward's overture as in
harmony with his determined policy in the Far East.) Like Seward's
overture, made a few days before, to Great Britain for a convention to
guarantee the independence of San Domingo (F.O., Am., Vol. 763, No. 196,
Lyons to Russell, May 12, 1861) the proposal on Japan seems to me to
have been an erratic feeling-out of international attitude while in the
process of developing a really serious policy--the plunging of America
into a foreign war.]

[Footnote 211: _U.S. Messages and Documents_, 1861-2, p. 88. The exact
facts of Lincoln's alteration of Despatch No. 10, though soon known in
diplomatic circles, were not published until the appearance in 1890 of
Nicolay and Hay's _Lincoln_, where the text of a portion of the
original draft, with Lincoln's changes were printed (IV, p. 270). Gideon
Welles, Secretary of the Navy in Lincoln's Cabinet, published a short
book in 1874, _Lincoln and Seward_, in which the story was told, but
without dates and so vaguely that no attention was directed to it.
Apparently the matter was not brought before the Cabinet and the
contents of the despatch were known only to Lincoln, Seward, and the
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Sumner.]

[Footnote 212: C.F. Adams, "Seward and the Declaration of Paris," p. 21.
Reprint from _Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings_, XLVI, pp. 23-81.]

[Footnote 213: F.O., Am., Vol. 764, No. 206. Confidential.]

[Footnote 214: Russell Papers. This letter has been printed, in part, in
Newton, _Lyons_, I, 41.]

[Footnote 215: Lyons Papers.]

[Footnote 216: _Ibid._, Lyons to Russell, May 23, 1861.]

[Footnote 217: F.O., Am., Vol. 764, No. 209, Confidential, Lyons to
Russell, May 23, 1861. A brief "extract" from this despatch was printed
in the British _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States," No. 48. The
"extract" in question consists of two short paragraphs only, printed,
without any indication of important elisions, in each of the
paragraphs. ]

[Footnote 218: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 174. ]

[Footnote 219: Lutz, "Notes." The source of Schleiden's information is
not given in his despatch. He was intimate with many persons closely in
touch with events, especially with Sumner, Chairman of the Senate
Committee on Foreign Relations, and with Blair, a member of
the Cabinet.]

[Footnote 220: _Ibid._, Schleiden to Republic of Bremen, May 27, 1861.]

[Footnote 221: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 179, sets the date as June 8
when Seward's instructions for England and France show that he had
"recovered his balance." This is correct for the change in tone of
despatches, but the acceptance of Lincoln's policy must have been
immediate. C.F. Adams places the date for Seward's complete change of
policy much later, describing his "war mania" as lasting until the
Northern defeat of Bull Run, July 21. I think this an error, and
evidence that it is such appears later in the present chapter. See
Charles Francis Adams, "Seward and the Declaration of Paris," _Mass.
Hist. Soc. Proceedings_, XLVI, pp. 23-81.]

[Footnote 222: Russell Papers.]

[Footnote 223: Lyons Papers, May 21, 1861.]

[Footnote 224: _Ibid._, Russell to Lyons, May 25, 1861.]

[Footnote 225: F.O., Am., Vol. 765, No. 253.]

[Footnote 226: _Ibid._, No. 263, Lyons to Russell, June 8, 1861.]

[Footnote 227: See _ante_, p. 106.]

[Footnote 228: See _ante_, p. 102. Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 181, using
Seward's description to Adams _(U.S. Messages and Documents_, 1861-2, p.
106) of this interview expands upon the Secretary's skill in thus
preventing a joint notification by England and France of their intention
to act together. He rightly characterizes Seward's tactics as
"diplomatic skill of the best quality." But in Lyons' report the
emphasis is placed upon Seward's courtesy in argument, and Lyons felt
that the knowledge of British-French joint action had been made
sufficiently clear by his taking Mercier with him and by their common
though unofficial representation to Seward.]

[Footnote 229: Russell Papers. To Russell.]

[Footnote 230: _Ibid_, To Russell. Lyons' source of information was not

[Footnote 231: _Ibid._, To Russell.]

[Footnote 232: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2_, p. 110.]

[Footnote 233: _Ibid._, p. 118. To Adams.]

[Footnote 234: C.F. Adams, "Seward and the Declaration of Paris." p. 29,
and so argued by the author throughout this monograph. I think this
an error.]

[Footnote 235: The _Spectator_, friend of the North, argued, June 15,
1861, that the Queen's Proclamation was the next best thing for the
North to a definite British alliance. Southern privateers could not now
be obtained from England. And the United States was surely too proud to
accept direct British aid.]



If regarded merely from the view-point of strict chronology there
accompanied Seward's "foreign war" policy a negotiation with Great
Britain which was of importance as the first effort of the American
Secretary of State to bring European nations to a definite support of
the Northern cause. It was also the first negotiation undertaken by
Adams in London, and as a man new to the diplomatic service he attached
to it an unusual importance, even, seemingly, to the extent of
permitting personal chagrin at the ultimate failure of the negotiation
to distort his usually cool and fair judgment. The matter in question
was the offer of the United States to accede by a convention to the
Declaration of Paris of 1856, establishing certain international rules
for the conduct of maritime warfare.

This negotiation has received scant attention in history. It failed to
result in a treaty, therefore it has appeared to be negligible. Yet it
was at the time of very great importance in affecting the attitude
toward each other of Great Britain and the United States, and of the men
who spoke for their respective countries. The bald facts of the
negotiation appear with exactness in Moore's _Digest of International
Law_[236], but without comment as to motives, and, more briefly, in
Bernard's _Neutrality of Great Britain during the American Civil
War_[237], at the conclusion of which the author writes, with sarcasm,
"I refrain from any comment on this negotiation[238]." Nicolay and Hay's
_Lincoln_, and Rhodes' _United States_, give the matter but passing and
inadequate treatment. It was reviewed in some detail in the American
argument before the Geneva court of arbitration in the case of the
_Alabama_, but was there presented merely as a part of the general
American complaint of British neutrality. In fact, but three historical
students, so far as the present writer has been able to discover, have
examined this negotiation in detail and presented their conclusions as
to purposes and motives--so important to an understanding of British
intentions at the moment when the flames of civil war were rapidly
spreading in America.

These three, each with an established historical reputation, exhibit
decided differences in interpretation of diplomatic incidents and
documents. The first careful analysis was presented by Henry Adams, son
of the American Minister in London during the Civil War, and then acting
as his private secretary, in his _Historical Essays_, published in 1891;
the second study is by Bancroft, in his _Life of Seward_, 1900; while
the third is by Charles Francis Adams (also son of the American
Minister), who, in his _Life_ of his father, published 1900, gave a
chapter to the subject and treated it on lines similar to those laid
down by his brother Henry, but who, in 1912, came to the conclusion,
through further study, that he had earlier been in error and developed a
very different view in a monograph entitled, "Seward and the Declaration
of Paris."

[Illustration: C.F. ADAMS (_From a photograph in the United States
Embassy, London, by kind permission_)]

If these historiographic details seem unduly minute, partaking as they
do of the nature of a foot-note, in a work otherwise general in
treatment, the author's answer is that the personality of two of the
writers mentioned and their intimate knowledge of the effect of the
negotiation upon the mind of the American Minister in London are
themselves important historical data; a further answer is the fact
that the materials now available from the British Foreign Office
archives throw much new light both on the course of the negotiation and
on British purposes. It is here planned, therefore, first to review the
main facts as previously known; second, to summarize the arguments and
conclusions of the three historians; third, to re-examine the
negotiation in the light of the new material; and, finally, to express
an opinion on its conduct and conclusions as an evidence of
British policy.

In 1854, during the Crimean War, Great Britain and France, the chief
maritime belligerents engaged against Russia, voluntarily agreed to
respect neutral commerce under either the neutral's or the enemy's flag.
This was a distinct step forward in the practice of maritime warfare,
the accepted international rules of which had not been formally altered
since the Napoleonic period. The action of Great Britain was due in
part, according to a later statement in Parliament by Palmerston, March
18, 1862, to a fear that unless a greater respect were paid than
formerly to neutral rights, the Allies would quickly win the ill-will of
the United States, then the most powerful maritime neutral, and would
run the danger of forcing that country into belligerent alliance with
Russia[239]. No doubt there were other reasons, also, for the barbarous
rules and practices of maritime warfare in earlier times were by now
regarded as semi-civilized by the writers of all nations. Certainly the
action of the belligerents in 1854 met with general approval and in the
result was written into international law at the Congress of Paris in
1856, where, at the conclusion of the war, the belligerents and some
leading neutrals were gathered.

The Declaration of Paris on maritime warfare covered four points:

     "1. Privateering is, and remains, abolished.

     "2. The neutral flag covers enemy's goods, with the exception
     of contraband of war.

     "3. Neutral goods, with the exception of contraband of war,
     are not liable to capture under enemy's flag.

     "4. Blockades, in order to be binding, must be effective;
     that is to say, maintained by a force sufficient really to
     prevent access to the coast of the enemy[240]."

This agreement was adopted by Austria, France, Great Britain, Prussia,
Russia, Sardinia and Turkey, and it was further agreed that a general
invitation to accede should be extended to all nations, but with the
proviso "that the powers which shall have signed it, or which shall
accede thereto, shall not in future enter into any arrangement,
concerning the application of the law of neutrals in time of war, which
does not rest altogether upon the four principles embodied in the said
declaration[241]." In other words it must be accepted in whole, and not
in part, and the powers acceding pledging themselves not to enter into
any subsequent treaties or engagements on maritime law which did not
stipulate observance of all four points. Within a short time nearly all
the maritime nations of the world had given official adherence to the
Declaration of Paris.

But the United States refused to do so. She had long stood in the
advance guard of nations demanding respect for neutral rights. Little by
little her avowed principles of international law as regards neutrals,
first scoffed at, had crept into acceptance in treaty stipulations.
Secretary of State Marcy now declared, in July, 1856, that the United
States would accede to the Declaration if a fifth article were added to
it protecting all private property at sea, when not contraband. This
covered not only cargo, but the vessel as well, and its effect would
have been to exclude from belligerent operations non-contraband enemy's
goods under the enemy's flag, if goods and ship were privately owned.
Maritime warfare on the high seas would have been limited to battles
between governmentally operated war-ships. Unless this rule were adopted
also, Secretary Marcy declared that "the United States could not forgo
the right to send out privateers, which in the past had proved her most
effective maritime weapon in time of war, and which, since she had no
large navy, were essential to her fighting power."

"War on private property," said the Americans, "had been abolished on
land; why should it not be abolished also on the sea?" The American
proposal met with general support among the smaller maritime nations. It
was believed that the one great obstacle to the adoption of Marcy's
amendment lay in the naval supremacy of Great Britain, and that obstacle
proved insurmountable. Thus the United States refused to accede to the
Declaration, and there the matter rested until 1861. But on April 17
Jefferson Davis proclaimed for the Southern Confederacy the issue of
privateers against Northern commerce. On April 24 Seward instructed
representatives abroad, recounting the Marcy proposal and expressing the
hope that it still might meet with a favourable reception, but
authorizing them to enter into conventions for American adherence to the
Declaration of 1856 on the four points alone. This instruction was sent
to the Ministers in Great Britain, France, Russia, Prussia, Austria,
Belgium, Italy, and Denmark; and on May 10 to the Netherlands.

Having received this instruction, Adams, at the close of his first
meeting with Russell on May 18, after having developed at length the
American position relative to the issue of the British Proclamation of
Neutrality, briefly added that he was directed to offer adherence by
means of a convention, to the Declaration of Paris. Russell replied that
Great Britain was willing to negotiate, but "seemed to desire to leave
the subject in the hands of Lord Lyons, to whom he intimated that he had
already transmitted authority[242]...." Adams therefore did not press
the matter, waiting further information and instruction from Washington.
Nearly two weeks earlier Russell had, in fact, approached the Government
of France with a suggestion that the two leading maritime powers should
propose to the American belligerents adherence to the second and third
articles of the Declaration of Paris. France had agreed and the date of
Russell's instruction to Lyons was May 18, the day of the interview with
Adams. Confusion now arose in both London and Washington as to the place
where the arrangement was to be concluded. The causes of this confusion
will be considered later in this chapter; here it is sufficient to note
that the negotiation was finally undertaken at London.

On July 18 Russell informed Adams that Great Britain was ready to enter
into a convention with the United States, provided a similar convention
was signed with France at the same time. This convention, as submitted
by Adams, simply recorded an agreement by the two powers to abide by the
four points of the Declaration of Paris, using the exact wording of that
document[243]. Adams' draft had been communicated to Russell on July 13.
There then followed a delay required by the necessity of securing
similar action by Dayton, the American Minister at Paris, but on July 29
Adams reported to Russell that this had been done and that he was ready
to sign. Two days later, July 31, Russell replied that he, also, was
ready, but concluded his letter, "I need scarcely add that on the part
of Great Britain the engagement will be prospective, and will not
invalidate anything already done[244]." It was not until August 8,
however, that Cowley, the British Ambassador to France, reported that
Dayton had informed Thouvenel, French Foreign Minister, that he was
ready to sign the similar convention with France[245]. With no
understanding, apparently, of the causes of further delay, and
professing complete ignorance of the meaning of Russell's phrase, just
quoted[246], Adams waited the expected invitation to an official
interview for the affixing of signatures. Since it was a condition of
the negotiation that this should be done simultaneously in London and
Paris, the further delay that now occurred caused him no misgivings.

On August 19 Russell requested Adams to name a convenient day "in the
course of this week," and prefaced this request with the statement that
he enclosed a copy of a Declaration which he proposed to make in
writing, upon signing the convention. "You will observe," he wrote,
"that it is intended to prevent any misconception as to the nature of
the engagement to be taken by Her Majesty." The proposed
Declaration read:

     "In affixing his signature to the Convention of this day
     between Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland
     and the United States of America, the Earl Russell declares,
     by order of Her Majesty, that Her Majesty does not intend
     thereby to undertake any engagement which shall have any
     bearing, direct or indirect, on the internal differences now
     prevailing in the United States[247]."

Under his instructions to negotiate a convention for a pure and simple
adherence to the Declaration of Paris, Adams could not now go on to
official signature. Nor was he inclined to do so. Sincerely believing,
as he stated to Russell in a communication of August 23, that the United
States was "acting with the single purpose of aiding to establish a
permanent doctrine for all time," and with the object of "ameliorating
the horrors of warfare all over the globe," he objected "to accompany
the act with a proceeding somewhat novel and anomalous," which on the
face of it seemed to imply a suspicion on the part of Great Britain that
the United States was "desirous at this time to take a part in the
Declaration [of Paris], not from any high purpose or durable policy, but
with the view of securing some small temporary object in the unhappy
struggle which is going on at home[248]." He also pointed out that
Russell's proposed declaration either was or was not a part of the
convention. If it was a part then the Senate of the United States must
ratify it as well as the convention itself, and he would have gone
beyond his instructions in submitting it. If not a part of the
convention there could be no advantage in making the Declaration since,
unratified by the Senate, it would have no force. Adams therefore
declined to proceed further with the matter until he had received new
instructions from Washington.

To this Russell answered, August 28, with a very explicit exposition of
his reasons. Great Britain, he said, had declared her neutrality in the
American conflict, thereby recognizing the belligerent rights of the
South. It followed that the South "might by the law of nations arm
privateers," and that these "must be regarded as the armed vessels of a
belligerent." But the United States had refused to recognize the status
of belligerency, and could therefore maintain that privateers issued by
the Southern States were in fact pirates, and might argue that a
European Power signing a convention with the United States, embodying
the principles of the Declaration of Paris, "would be bound to treat the
privateers of the so-called Confederate States as pirates." Hence
Russell pointed out, the two countries, arguing from contradictory
premises as to the status of the conflict in America, might become
involved in charges of bad faith and of violation of the convention. He
had therefore merely intended by his suggested declaration to prevent
any misconception by the United States.

     "It is in this spirit that Her Majesty's Government decline
     to bind themselves, without a clear explanation on their
     part, to a Convention which, seemingly confined to an
     adoption of the Declaration of Paris of 1856, might be
     construed as an engagement to interfere in the unhappy
     dissensions now prevailing in the United States; an
     interference which would be contrary to Her Majesty's public
     declarations, and would be a reversal of the policy which Her
     Majesty has deliberately sanctioned[249]."

Thus the negotiation closed. Seward in declining to accept the proposed
declaration gave varying reasons in his instructions to Adams, in
London, and to Dayton, in Paris, for an exactly similar declaration had
been insisted upon by France, but he did not argue the question save in
generalities. He told Dayton that the supposed possible "intervention"
which Great Britain and France seemed to fear they would be called upon
to make was exactly the action which the United States desired to
forestall, and he notified Adams that he could not consent since the
proposed Declaration "would be virtually a new and distinct article
incorporated into the projected convention[250]." The first formal
negotiation of the United States during the Civil War, and of the new
American Minister in London, had come to an inglorious conclusion.
Diplomats and Foreign Secretaries were, quite naturally, disturbed, and
were even suspicious of each others' motives, but the public, not at the
moment informed save on the American offer and the result, paid little
attention to these "inner circle" controversies[251].

What then were the hidden purposes, if such existed, of the negotiating
powers. The first answer in historical writing was that offered by Henry
Adams[252], in an essay entitled "The Declaration of Paris, 1861," in
the preparation of which the author studied with care all the diplomatic
correspondence available in print[253]. His treatment presents Russell
as engaged in a policy of deception with the view of obtaining an
ultimate advantage to Great Britain in the field of commercial rivalry
and maritime supremacy. Following Henry Adams' argument Russell, on May
9, brought to the attention of France a proposal for a joint request on
the American belligerents to respect the second and third articles of
the Declaration of Paris, and received an acquiescent reply. After some
further exchanges of proposed terms of instructions to the British and
French Ministers at Washington, Russell, on May 18, sent a despatch to
Lyons with instructions for his action. On this same day Russell, in his
first interview with Adams, "before these despatches [to Lyons] could
have left the Foreign Office," and replying to Adams' proposal to
negotiate on the Declaration of Paris as a _whole_--that is to say, on
all four articles--intimated that instructions had already gone to
Lyons, with directions to assent to any modification of the article on
privateering that the United States might desire. Adams understood
Russell to prefer that the negotiation (for such Adams thought it was to
be) should take place in Washington, and did not press the matter.

This was deliberate deceit; first in a statement of fact since the
interview with Adams took place at noon on May 18, at Russell's country
house nine miles from London, and in all reasonable supposition the
despatch to Lyons would not have been sent until the Foreign Secretary's
return to his office; second because Lyons was not instructed to
_negotiate_ on the Declaration. The interpretation is justified
therefore that Russell "evaded the offer of the United States
Government." The result of this evasion was delay, but when Seward
learned from Lyons that he had no authority to negotiate a convention
and Adams received renewed instructions to proceed, the latter "kept his
temper, but the affair made a lasting impression on his mind, and shook
his faith in the straightforwardness of the British Government." In
renewing his overtures at London, Adams made explanations of the
previous "misunderstanding" and to these Russell replied with further
"inaccuracies" as to what had been said at the first interview.

Thus beginning his survey with an assertion of British deceit and
evasion from the very outset, and incidentally remarking that Lyons, at
Washington, "made little disguise of his leanings" toward the South,
Henry Adams depicts Russell as leading France along a line of policy
distinctly unfriendly to the North. Examining each point in the
negotiation as already narrated, he summarized it as follows:

     "The story has shown that Russell and his colleagues ...
     induced the French Government to violate the pledge in the
     protocol of the Declaration of Paris in order to offer to
     both belligerents a partial adhesion, which must exclude the
     United States from a simple adhesion, to the Declaration of
     Paris, while it placed both belligerents on the same apparent
     footing. These steps were taken in haste before Adams could
     obtain an interview. When Adams by an effort unexpected to
     Russell obtained an interview at Pembroke Lodge at noon of
     Saturday, May 18, and according to Russell's report of May
     21, said that the United States were 'disposed to adhere to
     the Declaration of Paris,' Russell evaded the offer, saying
     that he had already sent sufficient instructions to Lyons,
     although the instructions were not sufficient, nor had they
     been sent. When this evasion was afterward brought to his
     notice by Adams, Russell, revising his report to Lyons, made
     such changes in it as should represent the first proposal as
     coming from himself, and the evasion to have come from Adams.
     When at last obliged to read the American offer, Russell
     declared that he had never heard of it before, although he
     had himself reported it to Lyons and Lyons had reported it to
     him. When compelled to take the offer for consideration,
     Russell, though always professing to welcome adhesion pure
     and simple, required the co-operation of Dayton. When Adams
     overcame this last obstacle, Russell interposed a written
     proviso, which as he knew from Lyons would prevent
     ratification. When Adams paid no attention to the proviso but
     insisted on signature of the treaty, Russell at last wrote a
     declaration in the nature of an insult, which could not be

In this presentation of the case to the jury certain minor points are
insisted upon to establish a ground for suspicion--as the question of
who first made the proposal--that are not essential to Henry Adams'
conclusions. This conclusion is that "From the delays interposed by
Russell, Adams must conclude that the British Cabinet was trying one
device after another to evade the proposition; and finally, from the
written declaration of August 19, he could draw no other inference than
that Russell had resorted to the only defensive weapon left to him, in
order to avoid the avowal of his true motives and policy[255]." The
_motive_ of this tortuous proceeding, the author believed to have been a
deep-laid scheme to revive, _after_ the American War was ended, the
earlier international practice of Great Britain, in treating as subject
to belligerent seizure enemy's goods under the neutral flag. It was the
American stand, argues Henry Adams, that in 1854 had compelled Great
Britain to renounce this practice. A complete American adherence, now,
to the Declaration, would for ever tie Britain's hands, but if there
were no such complete adherence and only temporary observation of the
second article, after the war had resulted in the disruption of the
United States, thus removing the chief supporter of that article, Great
Britain would feel free to resume her old-time practice when she engaged
in war. If Great Britain made a formal treaty with the United States she
would feel bound to respect it; the Declaration of Paris as it stood
constituted "a mere agreement, which was binding, as Lord Malmesbury
declared, only so long as it was convenient to respect it[256]." Thus
the second article of the Declaration of Paris, not the first on
privateering, was in the eye of the British Cabinet in the negotiation
of 1861. Henry Adams ends his essay: "After the manner in which Russell
received the advances of President Lincoln, no American Minister in
London could safely act on any other assumption than that the British
Government meant, at the first convenient opportunity, to revive the
belligerent pretensions dormant since the War of 1812[257]."

This analysis was published in 1891. Still more briefly summarized it
depicts an unfriendly, almost hostile attitude on the part of Russell
and Lyons, deceit and evasion by the former, selfish British policy, and
throughout a blind following on by France, yielding to Russell's
leadership. The American proposal is regarded merely as a simple and
sincere offer to join in supporting an improved international practice
in war-times. But when Frederic Bancroft, the biographer of Seward,
examined the negotiation he was compelled to ask himself whether this
was all, indeed, that the American Secretary of State had in view.
Bancroft's analysis may be stated more briefly[258].

Seward's general instruction, Bancroft notes, bore date of April 24,
nearly a month before any foreign Power had recognized Southern
belligerent rights; it indicates "a plan by which he hoped to remove all
excuse for such action." In despatches to Dayton, Seward asserted a
twofold motive: "a sincere desire to co-operate with other progressive
nations in the melioration of the rigours of maritime war," and "to
remove every cause that any foreign Power could have for the recognition
of the insurgents as a belligerent Power[259]." This last result was not
so clear to Dayton at Paris, nor was the mechanism of operation ever
openly stated by Seward. But he did write, later, that the proposal of
accession to the Declaration of Paris was tendered "as the act of this
Federal Government, to be obligatory equally upon disloyal as upon loyal
citizens." "It did not," writes Bancroft, "require the gift of prophecy
to tell what would result in case the offer of accession on the part of
the United States should be accepted[260]."

Seward's object was to place the European nations in a position where
they, as well as the United States, would be forced to regard Southern
privateers as pirates, and treat them as such. This was a conceivable
result of the negotiation before European recognition of Southern
belligerency, but even after that recognition and after Dayton had
pointed out the impossibility of such a result, Seward pressed for the
treaty and instructed Dayton not to raise the question with France. He
still had in mind this main object. "If Seward," says Bancroft, "had not
intended to use the adherence of the United States to the declaration as
a lever to force the other Powers to treat the Confederates as pirates,
or at least to cease regarding them as belligerents, he might easily and
unofficially have removed all such suspicions[261]." In an interview
with Lyons on July 6 Seward urged a quick conclusion of the treaty,
arguing that its effect upon the revolted states could be determined
afterwards. Naturally Lyons was alarmed and gave warning to Russell.
"Probably it was this advice that caused Russell to insist on the
explanatory declaration[262]."

It would appear, then, that Seward much underestimated the acuteness of
Russell and Thouvenel, and expected them "to walk into a trap." Nor
could his claim "that there was no difference between a nation entirely
at peace and one in circumstances like those of the United States at
this time" be taken seriously. "He was furnishing his opponent with
evidences of his lack of candour." This clouded the effect that would
have followed "a wise and generous policy toward neutrals, which had
doubtless been in Seward's mind from the beginning[263]." In the end he
concluded the negotiation gracefully, writing to Adams a pledge of
American respect for the second and third articles of the Declaration of
Paris--exactly that which Lyons had originally been instructed by
Russell to secure.

     "We regard Great Britain as a friend. Her Majesty's flag,
     according to our traditional principles, covers enemy's goods
     not contraband of war. Goods of Her Majesty's subjects, not
     contraband of war, are exempt from confiscation, though found
     under a neutral or disloyal flag. No depredations shall be
     committed by our naval forces or by those of any of our
     citizens, so far as we can prevent it, upon the vessels or
     property of British subjects. Our blockade, being effective,
     must be respected[264]."

Thus Bancroft regards Seward's proposals of April 24 as in part the
result of humanitarian motives and in part as having a concealed purpose
of Northern advantage. This last he calls a "trap." And it is to be
noted that in Seward's final pledge to Adams the phrase "those of any of
our citizens" reserves, for the North, since the negotiation had failed,
the right to issue privateers on her own account. But Russell also, says
Bancroft, was not "altogether artless and frank." He had in view a
British commercial advantage during the war, since if the United States
respected the second and third articles of the Declaration of Paris, and
"if Confederate privateers should roam the ocean and seize the ships and
goods of citizens of the North, all the better for other commercial
nations; for it would soon cause the commerce of the United States to be
carried on under foreign flags, especially the British and French[265]."
Ulterior motive is, therefore, ascribed to both parties in the
negotiation, and that of Seward is treated as conceived at the moment
when a policy of seeking European friendship was dominant at Washington,
but with the hope of securing at least negative European support.
Seward's persistence after European recognition of Southern belligerency
is regarded as a characteristic obstinacy without a clear view of
possible resulting dangerous complications.

This view discredits the acumen of the American Secretary of State and
it does not completely satisfy the third historian to examine the
incident in detail. Nor does he agree on the basis of British policy.
Charles Francis Adams, in his "Life" of his father, writing in 1899,
followed in the main the view of his brother, Henry Adams. But in 1912
he reviewed the negotiation at great length with different
conclusions[266]. His thesis is that the Declaration of Paris
negotiation was an essential part of Seward's "foreign war policy," in
that in case a treaty was signed with Great Britain and France and then
those Powers refused to aid in the suppression of Southern privateering,
or at least permitted them access to British and French ports, a good
ground of complaint leading to war would be established. _This_ was the
ultimate ulterior purpose in Seward's mind; the negotiation was but a
method of fixing a quarrel on some foreign Power in case the United
States should seek, as Seward desired, a cementing of the rift at home
by a foreign war.

In the details of the negotiation C.F. Adams agrees with Bancroft, but
with this new interpretation. The opening misunderstanding he ascribed,
as did Lyons, to the simple fact that Seward "had refused to see the
despatch" in which Russell's proposals were made[267]. Seward's
instructions of July 6, after the misunderstanding was made clear to
him, pushing the negotiation, were drawn when he was "still riding a
very high horse--the No. 10 charger, in fact, he had mounted on the 21st
of the previous May[268]," and this warlike charger he continued to ride
until the sobering Northern defeat at Bull Run, July 21, put an end to
his folly. If that battle had been a Northern victory he would have gone
on with his project. Now, with the end of a period of brain-storm and
the emergence of sanity in foreign policy, "Secretary Seward in due time
(September 7) pronounced the proposed reservation [by Russell] quite
'inadmissible.' And here the curtain fell on this somewhat prolonged and
not altogether creditable diplomatic farce[269]."

Incidentally C.F. Adams examined also British action and intention.
Lyons is wholly exonerated. "Of him it may be fairly said that his
course throughout seems to furnish no ground for criticism[270]." And
Lyons is quoted as having understood, in the end, the real purpose of
Seward's policy in seeking embroilment with Europe. He wrote to Russell
on December 6 upon the American publication of despatches, accompanying
the President's annual message: "Little doubt can remain, after reading
the papers, that the accession was offered solely with the view to the
effect it would have on the privateering operations of the Southern
States; and that a refusal on the part of England and France, after
having accepted the accession, to treat the Southern privateers as
pirates, would have been made a serious grievance, if not a ground of
quarrel[271]...." As to Russell, combating Henry Adams' view, it is
asserted that it was the great good fortune of the United States that
the British Foreign Secretary, having declared a policy of neutrality,
was not to be driven from its honest application by irritations, nor
seduced into a position where the continuation of that policy would be

Before entering upon an account of the bearing of the newly available
British materials on the negotiation--materials which will in themselves
offer sufficient comment on the theories of Henry Adams, and in less
degree of Bancroft--it is best to note here the fallacy in C.F. Adams'
main thesis. If the analysis given in the preceding chapter of the
initiation and duration of Seward's "foreign war policy" is correct,
then the Declaration of Paris negotiation had no essential relation
whatever to that policy. The instructions to Adams were sent to eight
other Ministers. Is it conceivable that Seward desired a war with the
whole maritime world? The date, April 24, antedates any deliberate
proposal of a foreign war, whatever he may have been brooding, and in
fact stamps the offer as part of that friendly policy toward Europe
which Lincoln had insisted upon. Seward's frenzy for a foreign war did
not come to a head until the news had been received of England's
determination to recognize Southern belligerency. This was in the second
week of May and on the twenty-first Despatch No. 10 marked the decline,
not the beginning, of a belligerent policy, and by the President's
orders. By May 24 probably, by the twenty-seventh certainly, Seward had
yielded and was rapidly beginning to turn to expressions of
friendship[272]. Yet it was only on May 18 that Russell's first
instructions to Lyons were sent, and not until late in June that the
"misunderstanding" cleared away, instructions were despatched by Seward
to push the Declaration of Paris negotiations at London and Paris. The
battle of Bull Run had nothing to do with a new policy. Thus chronology
forbids the inclusion of this negotiation, either in its inception,
progress, or conclusion, as an agency intended to make possible, on just
grounds, a foreign war.

A mere chronological examination of documents, both printed and in
archives, permits a clearer view of British policy on the Declaration of
Paris. Recalling the facts of the American situation known in London it
will be remembered that on May 1 the British Government and Parliament
became aware that a civil war was inevitable and that the South planned
to issue privateers. On that day Russell asked the Admiralty to
reinforce the British fleet in West Indian waters that British commerce
might be adequately protected. Five days later, May 6, he announced in
the Commons that Great Britain must be strictly neutral, and that a
policy of close harmony with France was being matured; and on this day
he proposed through Cowley, in Paris, that Great Britain and France each
ask _both_ the contending parties in America to abide by the second and
third articles of the Declaration of Paris[273]. If there was ulterior
motive here it does not appear in any despatch either then or later,
passing between any of the British diplomats concerned--Russell, Cowley,
and Lyons. The plain fact was that the United States was not an adherent
to the Declaration, that the South had announced privateering, and the
North a blockade, and that the only portions of the Declaration in
regard to which the belligerents had as yet made no statement were the
second and third articles.

It was, indeed, an anxious time for the British Government. On May 9
Forster asked in the Commons what would be the Government's attitude
toward a British subject serving on a Southern privateer[274]. The next
day in the Lords there occurred a debate the general burden of which was
that privateering was in fact piracy, but that under the conditions of
the American previous stand, it could not be treated as such[275]. Both
in the Commons and the Lords speakers were referred to the forthcoming
Proclamation of Neutrality, but the uncertainty developed in both
debates is very probably reflected in the new despatch now sent to
Cowley, on May 11[276]. By that despatch France was asked to send an
instruction to Mercier in Washington similar to a draft instruction
intended for Lyons, a copy of which was enclosed to Cowley, the object
being to secure from the American belligerents adherence to _all_ the
articles, privateering included, of the Declaration of Paris[277].

Whatever Russell's purpose in thus altering his original suggestion, it
met with a prompt check from France. On May 9 Thouvenel had agreed
heartily to the proposal of May 6, adding the practical advice that the
best method of approach to the Confederacy would be through the consuls
in the South[278]. Now, on May 13, Russell was informed that Thouvenel
feared that England and France would get into serious trouble if the
North agreed to accede on privateering and the South did not. Cowley
reported that he had argued with Thouvenel that privateers were pirates
and ought to be treated as such, but that Thouvenel refused to do more
than instruct Mercier on the second and third articles[279]. For the
moment Russell appears to have yielded easily to this French advice. On
May 13 he had that interview with the Southern commissioners in which he
mentioned a communication about to be made to the South[280]; and on May
15 the London _Times_, presumably reflecting governmental decision, in
commenting on the Proclamation of Neutrality, developed at some length
the idea that British citizens, if they served on Southern privateers,
could claim no protection from Great Britain if the North chose to treat
them as pirates. May 16, Cowley reported that Thouvenel had written
Mercier in the terms of Russell's draft to Lyons of the eleventh, but
omitting the part about privateering[281], and on this same day Russell
sent to Cowley a copy of a _new_ draft of instructions to Lyons,
seemingly in exact accord with the French idea[282]. On the seventeenth,
Cowley reported this as highly satisfactory to Thouvenel[283]. Finally
on May 18 the completed instruction was despatched.

It was on this same day, May 18, that Adams had his first interview with
Russell. All that had been planned by Great Britain and France had been
based on their estimate of the necessity of the situation. They had no
knowledge of Seward's instructions of April 24. When therefore Adams,
toward the conclusion of his interview, stated his authority to
negotiate a convention, he undoubtedly took Russell by surprise. So far
as he was concerned a suggestion to the North, the result of an
agreement made with France after some discussion and delay, was in fact
completed, and the draft finally drawn _two days before_, on the
sixteenth. Even if not actually sent, as Henry Adams thinks, it was a
completed agreement. Russell might well speak of it as an instruction
already given to Lyons. Moreover there were two points in Adams'
conversation of the eighteenth likely to give Russell cause for thought.
The first was Adams' protest against the British recognition of a status
of belligerency. If the North felt so earnestly about this, had it been
wise to instruct Lyons to make an approach to the South? This required
consideration. And in the second place did not Adams' offer again open
up the prospect of somehow getting from the North at least a formal and
permanent renunciation of privateering?

For if an examination is made of Russell's instruction to Lyons of May
18 it appears that he had not, after all, dropped that reference to
privateering which Thouvenel had omitted in his own instructions to
Mercier. Adams understood Russell to have said that he "had already
transmitted authority [to Lyons] to assent to any modification of the
only point in issue which the Government of the United States might
prefer. On that matter he believed that there would be no difficulty
whatever[284]." This clearly referred to privateering. Russell's
instructions to Lyons took up the points of the Declaration of Paris in
reverse order. That on blockades was now generally accepted by all
nations. The principle of the third article had "long been recognized as
law, both in Great Britain and in the United States." The second
article, "sanctioned by the United States in the earliest period of the
history of their independence," had been opposed, formerly, by Great
Britain, but having acquiesced in the Declaration of 1856, "she means to
adhere to the principle she then adopted." Thus briefly stating his
confidence that the United States would agree on three of the articles,
Russell explained at length his views as to privateering in the
American crisis.

     "There remains only to be considered Article I, namely, that
     relating to privateering, from which the Government of the
     United States withheld their assent. Under these
     circumstances it is expedient to consider what is required on
     this subject by the general law of nations. Now it must be
     borne in mind that privateers bearing the flag of one or
     other of the belligerents may be manned by lawless and
     abandoned men, who may commit, for the sake of plunder, the
     most destructive and sanguinary outrages. There can be no
     question, however, but that the commander and crew of a ship
     bearing a letter of marque must, by the law of nations, carry
     on their hostilities according to the established laws of
     war. Her Majesty's Government must, therefore, hold any
     Government issuing such letters of marque responsible for,
     and liable to make good, any losses sustained by Her
     Majesty's subjects in consequence of wrongful proceedings of
     vessels sailing under such letters of marque.

     "In this way, the object of the Declaration of Paris may to a
     certain extent be attained without the adoption of any new

     "You will urge these points upon Mr. Seward[285]."

What did Russell mean by this cautious statement? The facts known to him
were that Davis had proclaimed the issue of letters of marque and that
Lincoln had countered by proclaiming Southern privateering to be
piracy[286]. He did not know that Seward was prepared to renounce
privateering, but he must have thought it likely from Lincoln's
proclamation, and have regarded this as a good time to strike for an
object desired by all the European maritime nations since 1856. Russell
could not, while Great Britain was neutral, join the United States in
treating Southern privateers as pirates, but he here offered to come as
close to it as he dared, by asserting that Great Britain would use
vigilance in upholding the law of nations. This language might be
interpreted as intended for the admonition of the North also, but the
_facts_ of the then known situation make it applicable to Southern
activities alone. Russell had desired to include privateering in the
proposals to the United States and to the South, but Thouvenel's
criticisms forced him to a half-measure of suggestion to the North, and
a full statement of the delicacy of the situation in the less formal
letter to Lyons accompanying his official instructions. This was also
dated May 18. In it Russell directed Lyons to transmit to the British
Consul at Charleston or New Orleans a copy of the official instruction
"to be communicated at Montgomery to the President of the so-styled
Confederate States," and he further explained his purpose and the
British position:

     "... You will not err in encouraging the Government to which
     you are accredited to carry into effect any disposition which
     they may evince to recognize the Declaration of Paris in
     regard to privateering....

     "You will clearly understand that Her Majesty's Government
     cannot accept the renunciation of privateering on the part of
     the Government of the United States if coupled with the
     condition that they should enforce its renunciation on the
     Confederate States, either by denying their right to issue
     letters of marque, or by interfering with the belligerent
     operations of vessels holding from them such letters of
     marque, so long as they carry on hostilities according to the
     recognized principles and under the admitted liabilities of
     the law of nations[287]."

Certainly this was clear enough and was demanded by the British policy
of neutrality. Russell had guarded against the complication feared by
Thouvenel, but he still hoped by a half-pledge to the North and a
half-threat to the South to secure from both belligerents a
renunciation of privateering. In short he was not yet fully convinced of
the wisdom of the French limitation. Moreover he believed that Thouvenel
might yet be won to his own opinion, for in an unprinted portion of this
same private letter to Lyons of May 18 Russell wrote:

     "I have further to state to you, with reference to my
     despatch of this day that H.M. Govt. were in the first
     instance inclined to propose to both of the contending
     parties to adopt the first clause of the Declaration of
     Paris, by which privateering is renounced. But after
     communication with the French Govt. it appeared best to limit
     our propositions in the manner explained in my despatch.

     "I understand however from Lord Cowley that, although M.
     Mercier is not absolutely instructed to advert to the
     abolition of privateering, yet that some latitude of action
     is left to him on that point should he deem it advisable to
     exercise it[288]."

Lyons and Mercier saw more clearly than did Russell what was in Seward's
mind. Lyons had been instructed in the despatch just cited to use his
own discretion as to joint action with the French Minister so long only
as the two countries took the same stand. He was to pursue whatever
method seemed most "conciliatory." His first private comment on
receiving Russell's instruction was, "Mr. Seward will be furious when he
finds that his adherence to the Declaration of Paris will not stop the
Southern privateering[289]," and in an official confidential despatch of
the same day, June 4, he gave Russell clear warning of what Seward
expected from his overture through Adams[290]. So delicate did the
matter appear to Lyons and Mercier that they agreed to keep quiet for a
time at least about their instructions, hoping to be relieved by the
transfer of the whole matter to London and Paris[291]. But in London
Russell was at this moment taking up again his favoured purpose. On June
6 he wrote to Grey (temporarily replacing Cowley at Paris) that he
understood a communication had been made in Paris, as in London, for an
American adherence to the Declaration of Paris; "... it may open the way
to the abolition of Privateering all over the world. But ... we ought
not to use any menace to the Confederate States with a view of obtaining
this desirable object[292]." Evidently, in his opinion, the South would
not dare to hold out and no "menace" would be required[293]. Six days
later, however, having learned from the French Ambassador that Dayton in
Paris had made clear to Thouvenel the expectation of the United States
that France would treat Southern privateers as pirates, Russell wrote
that England, of course, could not agree to any such conclusion[294].
Nevertheless this did not mean that Russell yet saw any real objection
to concluding a convention with the United States. Apparently he could
not believe that so obvious an inconsistency with the declared
neutrality of Great Britain was expected to be obtained by the American
Secretary of State.

Others were more suspicious. Lyons reported on June 13 that Seward had
specifically informed Mercier of his belief that a convention signed
would bind England and France to aid in suppressing Southern
privateering[295]. The effect of this on Lyons and Mercier was to
impress upon them the advisability of an _official_ notification to
Seward, of English and French neutrality--a step not yet taken and which
was still postponed, awaiting further instructions[296]. On June 15 the
two Ministers finally concluded they could no longer delay and made that
joint visit to Seward which resulted in his refusal to receive them as
acting together, or to receive officially their instructions, though he
read these for his private information. The remainder of June was spent
by Lyons in attempting to put matters on a more formal basis, yet not
pushing them unduly for fear of arousing Seward's anger. June 17, Lyons
told Seward, privately, and alone, that Great Britain _must_ have some
intercourse with the South if only for the protection of British
interests. Seward's reply was that the United States might "shut its
eyes" to this, but that if notified of what England and France were
doing, the United States would be compelled to make protest. Lyons
thereupon urged Seward to distinguish between his official and personal
knowledge, but Lyons and Mercier again postponed beginning the
negotiation with the Confederacy[297]. Yet while thus reporting this
postponement in one letter, Lyons, in another letter of the same date,
indicated that the two Ministers thought that they had found a solution
of the problem of how to approach, yet not negotiate with, the
Confederacy. The idea was Mercier's. Their consuls in the South were to
be instructed to go, not to the Southern President, but to the Governor
of the State selected, thus avoiding any overture to the Confederate
Government[298]. Even with this solution possible they still hesitated,
feeling as Lyons wrote "a little pusillanimous," but believing they had
prevented an explosion[299]. Moreover Lyons was a bit uneasy because of
an important difference, so it seemed to him, in his formal instructions
and those of Mercier. The latter had no orders, as had Lyons, to notify
Seward, if the agreement on maritime law was made in Washington, that
such agreement would not affect the belligerent right of the South to
issue privateers[300]. Apparently Mercier had been given no instructions
to make this clear--let alone any "latitude" to deal with
privateering--although, as a matter of fact, he had already given Seward
his personal opinion in accord with Lyons' instructions; but this was
not an official French stand. Lyons was therefore greatly relieved, the
"misunderstanding" now cleared away, that new instructions were being
sent to Adams to go on with the convention in London. His only
subsequent comment of moment was sent to Russell on July 8, when he
learned from Seward that Dayton, in Paris, had been directed to raise no
further question as to what would or would not be demanded of France in
case a convention were signed for an American adherence to the
Declaration of Paris. Lyons now repeated his former advice that under no
circumstances should a convention be signed without a distinct
declaration of no British responsibility or duty as regards Southern

The entire matter was now transferred to London and Paris. Lyons' report
of the misunderstanding and that new instructions were being sent to
Adams was received on June 30. Russell replied to Lyons on July 5 that
Adams had "never made any proposition" on the Declaration of Paris, and
that he would now await one[302]. July 11, Adams made his formal offer
to sign a convention and communicated a draft of it on the thirteenth.
On the day intervening, the twelfth, Russell took a very important step
indicative of his sincerity throughout, of his lack of any ulterior
motive, and of his anxiety to carry through the negotiation with no
resulting irritations or complications with the United States. He
recalled his instructions to Lyons about communicating with the
Confederacy, stating that in any case he had never intended that Lyons
should act without first officially notifying Seward. This recall was
now made, he wrote, because to go on might "create fresh irritation
without any adequate result," but if in the meantime Lyons had already
started negotiations with the South he might "proceed in them to the

Having taken this step in the hope that it might avert friction with the
United States, Russell, now distinctly eager to secure American
adherence to the Declaration in full, was ready to conclude the
convention at once. The warnings received from many sources did not
dismay him. He probably thought that no actual difficulties would ensue,
believing that the South would not venture to continue privateering.
Even if France were disinclined to make a convention he appears to have
been ready for signature by Great Britain alone, for on July 15 he
telegraphed Cowley, "I conclude there can be no objection to my signing
a Convention with the U.S. Minister giving the adherence of the U.S. to
the Declaration of Paris so far as concerns Gt. Britain. Answer
immediately by telegraph[304]." Cowley replied on the sixteenth that
Thouvenel could not object, but thought it a wrong move[305]. Cowley in
a private letter of the same day thought that unless there were "very
cogent reasons for signing a Convention at once with Adams," it would be
better to wait until France could be brought in, and he expressed again
his fear of the danger involved in Adams' proposal[306]. The same
objection was promptly made by Palmerston when shown the draft of a
reply to Adams. Palmerston suggested the insertion of a statement that
while ready to sign a convention Great Britain would do so only at the
same time with France[307]. Thus advised Russell telegraphed in the late
afternoon of the sixteenth to Cowley that he would "wait for your
despatches to-morrow," and that no reply had yet been given Adams[308],
and on the seventeenth he wrote enclosing a draft, approved by
Palmerston and the Queen, stating that Great Britain had no desire to
act alone if Dayton really had instructions identical with those of
Adams. He added that if thought desirable Adams and Dayton might be
informed verbally, that the proposed Convention would in no way alter
the Proclamation of Neutrality[309].

The remaining steps in the negotiation have already been narrated[310].
Russell informed Adams of the requirement of a similar French
convention, Adams secured action by Dayton, and in spite of continued
French reluctance and suspicion[311] all was ready in mid-August for the
affixing of signatures, when Russell, in execution of his previous
promise, and evidently now impressed with the need of an explicit
understanding, gave notice of his intended declaration in writing to be
attached to the convention[312]. On August 20 both Adams and Dayton
refused to sign, the former taking the ground, and with evident
sincerity, that the "exception" gave evidence of a British suspicion
that was insulting to his country, while Dayton had "hardly concealed"
from Thouvenel that this same "exception" was the very object of the
Convention[313]. While preparing his rejoinder to Adams' complaint
Russell wrote in a note to Palmerston "it all looks as if a trap had
been prepared[314]." He, too, at last, was forced to a conclusion long
since reached by every other diplomat, save Adams, engaged in this

But in reviewing the details of the entire affair it would appear that
in its initiation by Seward there is no proof that he then thought of
any definite "trap". April 24 antedated any knowledge by Seward of
British or French policy on neutrality, and he was engaged in attempting
to secure a friendly attitude by foreign Powers. One means of doing this
was by giving assurances on maritime law in time of war. True he
probably foresaw an advantage through expected aid in repressing
privateering, but primarily he hoped to persuade the maritime Powers not
to recognize Southern belligerency. It was in fact this question of
belligerency that determined all his policy throughout the first six
months of the American conflict. He was obstinately determined to
maintain that no such status existed, and throughout the whole war he
returned again and again to pressure on foreign Powers to recall their
proclamations of neutrality. Refusing to recognize foreign neutrality as
final Seward persisted in this negotiation in the hope that if completed
it would place Great Britain and France in a position where they would
be forced to reconsider their declared policy. A demand upon them to aid
in suppressing privateering might indeed then be used as an argument,
but the object was not privateering in itself; that object was the
recall of the recognition of Southern belligerency. In the end he simply
could not agree to the limiting declaration for it would have
constituted an acknowledgment by the United States itself of the
existence of a state of war.

In all of this Adams, seemingly, had no share. He acted on the simple
and straightforward theory that the United States, pursuing a
conciliatory policy, was now offering to adhere to international rules
advocated by all the maritime powers. As a result he felt both
personally and patriotically aggrieved that suspicion was directed
toward the American overtures[315]. For him the failure of the
negotiation had temporarily, at least, an unfortunate result: "So far
as the assumed friendliness of Earl Russell to the United States was
concerned, the scales had fallen from his eyes. His faith in the
straightforwardness of any portion of the Palmerston-Russell Ministry
was gone[316]."

And for Russell also the affair spelled a certain disillusionment, not,
it is true, in the good faith of Adams, for whom he still preserved a
high regard. Russell felt that his policy of a straightforward British
neutrality, his quick acquiescence in the blockade, even before actually
effective, his early order closing British ports to prizes of
Confederate privateers[317], were all evidences of at least a friendly
attitude toward the North. He may, as did nearly every Englishman at the
moment, think the re-union of America impossible, but he had begun with
the plan of strict neutrality, and certainly with no thought of
offensive action against the North. His first thought in the Declaration
of Paris negotiation was to persuade both belligerents to acquiesce in a
portion of the rules of that Declaration, but almost at once he saw the
larger advantage to the world of a complete adherence by the United
States. This became Russell's fixed idea in which he persisted against
warnings and obstacles. Because of this he attempted to recall the
instruction to approach the South, was ready even, until prohibited by
Palmerston, to depart from a policy of close joint action with France,
and in the end was forced by that prohibition to make a limiting
declaration guarding British neutrality. In it all there is no evidence
of any hidden motive nor of any other than a straightforward, even if
obstinately blind, procedure. The effect on Russell, at last grudgingly
admitting that there had been a "trap," was as unfortunate for good
understanding as in the case of Adams. He also was irritated,
suspicious, and soon less convinced that a policy of strict neutrality
could long be maintained[318].


[Footnote 236: VII., pp. 568-583.]

[Footnote 237: Ch. 8.]

[Footnote 238: _Ibid._, p. 181.]

[Footnote 239: Henry Adams, _Historical Essays_, p. 275.]

[Footnote 240: Text as given in Moore, _Digest_, VII, p. 562.]

[Footnote 241: _Ibid._, p. 563.]

[Footnote 242: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2_, p. 94. Adams to
Seward, May 21, 1861.]

[Footnote 243: Text given in _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol
XXV. "Correspondence respecting International Maritime Law." No. 18.]

[Footnote 244: _Ibid._, No. 25.]

[Footnote 245: _Ibid._, No. 26.]

[Footnote 246: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2_, p. 124. Adams to
Seward, Aug. 2, 1861.]

[Footnote 247: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV,
"Correspondence respecting International Maritime Law." No. 28.]

[Footnote 248: _Ibid._, No. 31.]

[Footnote 249: _Ibid._, No. 32.]

[Footnote 250: Moore, _Digest_. VII, pp. 578 and 581.]

[Footnote 251: The point of Russell's Declaration was made very early in
the London press. Thus the _Saturday Review_. June 8, 1861, commenting
on the report that America was ready to adhere to the Declaration of
Paris, stated that this could have no effect on the present war but
would be welcomed for its application after this war was over.]

[Footnote 252: In the general American argument before the Geneva
Arbitration Court it was stated that the practical effect of British
diplomacy in this connection was that "Great Britain was thus to gain
the benefit to its neutral commerce of the recognition of the second and
third articles, the rebel privateers and cruisers were to be protected
and their devastation legalized, while the United States were to be
deprived of a dangerous weapon of assault upon Great Britain." Cited in
Nicolay and Hay, _Lincoln_, IV, p. 280.]

[Footnote 253: Henry Adams, _Historical Essays_, pp. 237-279.]

[Footnote 254: _Ibid._, p. 271.]

[Footnote 255: _Ibid._, p. 273.]

[Footnote 256: _Ibid._, p. 277.]

[Footnote 257: This same view was maintained, though without stating
details, by Henry Adams, as late as 1907. See his "Education of Henry
Adams," Private Edition, p. 128.]

[Footnote 258: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, Ch. 31.]

[Footnote 259: Cited by Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 189.]

[Footnote 260: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 261: _Ibid._, p. 193.]

[Footnote 262: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 263: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 264: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2_, p. 1431 Seward to
Adams, Sept. 7, 1861.]

[Footnote 265: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 196. This speculation is not
supported by any reference to documents revealing such a purpose. While
it may seem a reasonable speculation it does not appear to be borne out
by the new British materials cited later in this chapter.]

[Footnote 266: C.F. Adams, "Seward and The Declaration of Paris" _Mass.
Hist. Soc. Proceedings_, XLVI, pp. 23-81.]

[Footnote 267: _Ibid._, p. 57. The quotation is from a despatch by Lyons
of Dec. 6, 1861; but this is inexact language. It is true that Seward
had refused to receive officially this despatch, but he had read and
considered it in private. Hence he knew _privately_ the facts of
Russell's proposal and that Lyons had no instructions to negotiate. The
incident of this despatch has been treated by me in Chapter IV, where I
regard Seward's refusal to receive officially the despatch as primarily
a refusal to be notified of Great Britain's proclamation of neutrality.
Bancroft treats this incident as primarily a clever refusal by Seward to
be approached officially by Lyons and Mercier in a joint representation,
thus blocking a plan of joint action. (Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 181.)
I agree with C.F. Adams that the only effect of this, so far as the
negotiation is concerned was that "Seward, by what has always, for some
reason not at once apparent, passed for a very astute proceeding, caused
a transfer of the whole negotiation from Washington to London and
Paris." ("Seward and the Declaration of Paris," p. 50.)]

[Footnote 268: _Ibid._, p. 51.]

[Footnote 269: _Ibid._, p. 64.]

[Footnote 270: _Ibid._, p. 60.]

[Footnote 271: _Ibid._, p. 58.]

[Footnote 272: Bancroft says June 8. But see _ante_, p. 130.]

[Footnote 273: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting International Maritime Law." No. 1. It was
with reference to this that Palmerston, on May 5, wrote to Russell: "If
any step were thought advisable, perhaps the best mode of our feeling
our way would be to communicate confidentially with the South by the men
who have come over here from thence, and with the North by Dallas, who
is about to return in a few days. Dallas, it is true, is not a political
friend of Lincoln, but on the contrary rather leans to the South; but
still he might be an organ, if it should be deemed prudent to take any
step." (Palmerston MS.)]

[Footnote 274: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., Vol. CLXII, p. 1763.]

[Footnote 275: _Ibid._, pp. 1830-34.]

[Footnote 276: This instruction never got into the printed Parliamentary
papers, nor did any others of the many containing the like suggestion,
for they would have revealed a persistence by Russell against French
advice--to which he ultimately was forced to yield--a persistence in
seeking to bind the belligerents on the first article of the Declaration
of Paris, as well as on articles two and three. The points at which
Russell returned to this idea are indicated in this chapter.]

[Footnote 277: F.O., France, Vol. 1376. No. 563. Draft.]

[Footnote 278: F.O., France, Vol. 1390. No. 684. Cowley to Russell, May
9, 1861.]

[Footnote 279: F.O., France, Vol. 1391. No. 713. Cowley to Russell, May
13, 1861.]

[Footnote 280: Richardson, _Messages and Papers of the Confederacy_, II,
p. 40.]

[Footnote 281: F.O., France, Vol. 1391. No. 733.]

[Footnote 282: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting International Maritime Law." No. 5.]

[Footnote 283: _Ibid._, No. 6. Note that this and the preceding document
are all that appeared in the Parliamentary Papers. Thouvenel's amendment
of Russell's plan did not appear.]

[Footnote 284: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2_, Adams to Seward,
May 21, 1861.]

[Footnote 285: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting International Maritime Law." No. 7.]

[Footnote 286: The text of these proclamations, transmitted by Lyons,
had been officially received in London on May 10.]

[Footnote 287: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting International Maritime Law." No. 8.]

[Footnote 288: F.O., Am., Vol. 755. No. 139. "Seen by Ld. P. and the

[Footnote 289: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, June 4, 1861. (Printed
in Newton, _Lyons_, I, 42.)]

[Footnote 290: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting International Maritime Law." No. 12. Marked
"Received," June 17.]

[Footnote 291: F.O., Am., Vol. 765. No. 262. Lyons to Russell, June 8,
1861. Also Russell Papers, June 10, 1861. This disinclination to act
extended also to the matter of getting in touch with the South, which
they also postponed. It appeared that Mercier was instructed to order
the French Consul at New Orleans to go in person to President Davis.
Both diplomats were very fearful of an "outbreak" from Seward on this
planned proposal to the Confederacy.]

[Footnote 292: F.O., France, Vol. 1376. No. 35. Draft. "Seen by Ld.
Palmerston and the Queen."]

[Footnote 293: In Washington, so different was the point of view, Lyons
and Mercier were now convinced they could not let Seward know of the
proposal to be made to the South. They feared he would send them their
passports. Mercier in informal talk had explained to Seward his
instructions on the Declaration of Paris in so far as the North was
concerned. Lyons and Mercier now planned a joint visit and
representation to Seward--that which was actually attempted on June
15--but were decided to say nothing about the South, until they learned
the effect of this "joint proposal." F.O., Am., Vol. 765. No. 262. Lyons
to Russell, June 8, 1861.]

[Footnote 294: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting International Maritime Law." No. 10. Russell
to Grey, June 12, 1861.]

[Footnote 295: Stoeckl was writing his Government that the state to
which the negotiation had come was full of danger and might lead to a
serious quarrel. He thought Russia should keep out of it until results
were clearer. On this report Gortchakoff margined "C'est aussi mon
avis." (Russian Archives, Stoeckl to F.O., June 12-24, 1861. No. 1359.)]

[Footnote 296: F.O., Am., Vol. 766. No. 278.]

[Footnote 297: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting International Maritime Law." No. 14. Lyons to
Russell, June 17, 1861. "Recd. June 30." It was in this interview that
Lyons discovered Seward's misconception as to the position of the
proposed negotiation, and made clear to Seward that he had no
instructions to sign a convention.]

[Footnote 298: F.O., Am., Vol. 766. No. 284.]

[Footnote 299: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, June 18, 1861.]

[Footnote 300: _Ibid._, Lyons to Russell, June 21, 1861.]

[Footnote 301: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting International Maritime Law." No. 22. Writing
privately on the same day Lyons comments on Mercier's "extreme caution"
in his relations with Seward. Lyons implied that all this personal,
rather than official communication of documents to Seward was Mercier's
idea, and that he, Lyons, doubted the wisdom of this course, but had
agreed to it because of the desire to act in perfect harmony with
France. Russell Papers, Lyons to Russell, July 8, 1861.]

[Footnote 302: Lyons Papers.]

[Footnote 303: F.O., Am., Vol 756. No. 227. On this same day Russell was
writing privately to Edward Everett, in Boston, a clear statement of the
British position, defending the Proclamation of Neutrality and adding,
"It is not our practice to treat five millions of freemen as pirates,
and to hang their sailors if they stop our merchantmen. But unless we
mean to treat them as pirates and to hang them, we could not deny them
belligerent rights." C.F. Adams, "Seward and the Declaration of Paris,"
pp. 49-50.]

[Footnote 304: F.O., France, Vol. 1377. No. 176. Draft. Russell to
Cowley, July 15, 1861.]

[Footnote 305: F.O., France, Vol. 1394. No. 871.]

[Footnote 306: Russell Papers. Also in a despatch of July 16 Cowley
repeated his objections and stated that Dayton had not yet approached
France. (F.O., France, Vol. 1394. No. 871.)]

[Footnote 307: F.O., Am., Vol. 755. No. 168. Enclosure. Palmerston's
Note to Russell was not sent to Adams but his exact language is used in
the last paragraph of the communication to Adams, November 18, as
printed in _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting International Maritime Law." No. 19.]

[Footnote 308: F.O., France, Vol. 1378. No. 730. Russell to Cowley, July
17, 1861. Containing draft of telegram sent on 16th at 4.30 p.m.]

[Footnote 309: _Ibid._, No. 729.]

[Footnote 310: See _ante_ pp. 142-45.]

[Footnote 311: F.O., France, Vol. 1394. No. 905. Cowley to Russell, July
26, 1861.]

[Footnote 312: It should be noted that during this period Russell
learned that on July 5, Lyons, before receiving the recall of
instructions, had finally begun through Consul Bunch at Charleston the
overtures to the South. On July 24, Russell approved this action
(_Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence
respecting International Maritime Law." No. 23.)]

[Footnote 313: F.O., France, Vol. 1395. No. 1031. Cowley to Russell,
August 20, 1861.]

[Footnote 314: Palmerston MS., Russell to Palmerston, August 26, 1861.]

[Footnote 315: See C.F. Adams, "Seward and the Declaration of Paris,"
pp. 58 and 74.]

[Footnote 316: Adams, _Life of C.F. Adams_, p. 209.]

[Footnote 317: The Confederate Commissions on August 14, 1861, just
before the critical moment in the Declaration of Paris negotiation, had
made vigorous protest against this British order, characterizing it as
giving a "favour" to the Government at Washington, and thus as lacking
in neutrality. Quoted by C.F. Adams, "Seward and the Declaration of
Paris," p. 31.]

[Footnote 318: A few facts about Southern privateering not directly
pertinent to this chapter are yet not without interest. There was no
case during the Civil War of a vessel actually going out as a privateer
(i.e., a private vessel operating under government letters of marque)
from a foreign port. (Adams, "Seward and the Declaration of Paris," p.
38.) No Southern privateer ever entered a British port. (Bernard,
_Neutrality of Great Britain_, p. 181). As a result of Seward's general
instruction of April 24, a convention was actually signed with Russia in
August, but it was not presented by Seward for ratification to the
United States Senate. Schleiden in a report to the Senate of Bremen at
the time of the _Trent_ affair, Nov. 14, 1861, stated that the Russian
Ambassador, von Stoeckl, inquired of Seward "whether the U.S. would
equip privateers in case war should break out with England and France.
Seward replied 'that is a matter of course.' Mr. Stoeckl thereupon
remarked that in any case no American privateer would be permitted to
cruise in the northern part of the Pacific because Russia, which is the
only state that has ports in those regions, would treat them as pirates
in accordance with the Convention of August 24. Mr. Seward then
exclaimed: 'I never thought of that. I must write to Mr. Clay about
it.'" (Schleiden MS.)]



The diplomatic manoeuvres and interchanges recounted in the preceding
chapter were regarded by Foreign Secretaries and Ministers as important
in themselves and as indicative of national policy and purpose. Upon all
parties concerned they left a feeling of irritation and suspicion. But
the public knew nothing of the details of the inconclusive negotiation
and the Press merely gave a hint now and then of its reported progress
and ultimate failure. Newspapers continued to report the news from
America in unaccustomed detail, but that news, after the attack on Fort
Sumter, was for some time lacking in striking incident, since both sides
in America were busily engaged in preparing for a struggle in arms for
which neither was immediately prepared. April 15, Lincoln called for
75,000 volunteers, and three weeks later for 42,000 additional. The
regular army was increased by 23,000 and the navy by 18,000 men. Naval
vessels widely scattered over the globe, were instructed to hasten their
home-coming. By July 1 Lincoln had an available land force, however
badly trained and organized, of over 300,000, though these were widely
scattered from the Potomac in the east to the Missouri in the west.

In the South, Davis was equally busy, calling at first for 100,000
volunteers to wage defensive battle in protection of the newly-born
Confederacy. The seven states already in secession were soon joined,
between May 4 and June 24, by four others, Arkansas, Virginia, North
Carolina and Tennessee in order, but the border states of Maryland,
Kentucky, and Missouri, though strongly sympathetic with the rest of the
South, were held to the Union by the "border state policy" of Lincoln,
the first pronouncement of which asserted that the North had no purpose
of attacking slavery where it existed, but merely was determined to
preserve the Union. The Northern Congress, meeting in extra session on
July 4, heartily approved Lincoln's emergency measures. It authorized an
army of 500,000, provided for a loan of $200,000,000, sanctioned the
issue of $50,000,000 in Treasury notes and levied new taxes, both direct
and by tariffs to meet these expenditures.

In the months preceding the attack on Sumter the fixed determination of
the South to secede and the uncertainty of the North had led the British
press to believe that the decision rested wholly with the South. Now the
North by its preparations was exhibiting an equally fixed determination
to preserve the Union, and while the British press was sceptical of the
permanence of this determination, it became, for a short time, until
editorial policy was crystallized, more cautious in prophecy. The
_Economist_ on May 4 declared that the responsibility for the "fatal
step" rested wholly on Southern leaders because of their passionate
desire to extend the shameful institution of which they were so proud,
but that the North must inevitably, by mere weight of population and
wealth, be the victor, though this could not conceivably result in any
real reunion, rather in a conquest requiring permanent military
occupation. Southern leaders were mad: "to rouse by gratuitous insult
the mettle of a nation three times as numerous and far more than three
times as powerful, to force them by aggressive steps into a struggle in
which the sympathy of every free and civilized nation will be with the
North, seems like the madness of men whose eyes are blinded and hearts
hardened by the evil cause they defend."

Two weeks later, the _Economist_, while still maintaining the justice of
the Northern cause, though with lessened vigour, appealed to the common
sense of the North to refrain from a civil war whose professed object
was unattainable. "Everyone knows and admits that the secession is an
accomplished, irrevocable, fact.... Even if the North were sure of an
easy and complete victory--short, of course, of actual subjugation of
the South (which no one dreams of)--the war which was to end in such a
victory would still be, in the eyes of prudence and worldly wisdom, an
objectless and unprofitable folly[319]." But by the middle of June the
American irritation at the British Proclamation of Neutrality, loudly
and angrily voiced by the Northern press, had caused a British press
resentment at this "wilful misrepresentation and misjudgment" of British
attitude. "We _do_ believe the secession of the Slave States to be a
_fait accompli_--a completed and irreversible transaction. We believe it
to be impossible now for the North to lure back the South into the Union
by any compromise, or to compel them back by any force." "If this is an
offence it cannot be helped[320]."

The majority of the London papers, though not all, passed through the
same shifts of opinion and expression as the _Economist_; first
upbraiding the South, next appealing to the North not to wage a useless
war, finally committing themselves to the theory of an accomplished
break-up of the Union and berating the North for continuing, through
pride alone, a bloody conflict doomed to failure. Meanwhile in midsummer
attention was diverted from the ethical causes at issue by the
publication in the _Times_ of Motley's letter analysing the nature of
the American constitution and defending the legal position of the North
in its resistance to secession. Motley wrote in protest against the
general British press attitude: "There is, perhaps, a readiness in
England to prejudge the case; a disposition not to exult in our
downfall, but to accept the fact[321]...."

He argued the right and the duty of the North to force the South into
subjection. "The right of revolution is indisputable. It is written on
the record of our race. British and American history is made up of
rebellion and revolution.... There can be nothing plainer, then, than
the American right of revolution. But, then, it should be called
revolution." "It is strange that Englishmen should find difficulty in
understanding that the United States Government is a nation among the
nations of the earth; a constituted authority, which may be overthrown
by violence, as may be the fate of any state, whether kingdom or
republic, but which is false to the people if it does not its best to
preserve them from the horrors of anarchy, even at the cost of blood."

Motley denied any _right_ of _peaceful_ secession, and his
constitutional argument presented adequately the Northern view. But he
was compelled also to refer to slavery and did so in the sense of
Lincoln's inaugural, asserting that the North had no purpose of
emancipating the slaves. "It was no question at all that slavery within
a state was sacred from all interference by the general government, or
by the free states, or by individuals in those states; and the Chicago
Convention [which nominated Lincoln] strenuously asserted that
doctrine." Coming at the moment when the British press and public were
seeking ground for a shift from earlier pro-Northern expressions of
sympathy to some justification for the South, it may be doubted whether
Motley's letter did not do more harm than good to the Northern cause.
His denial of a Northern anti-slavery purpose gave excuse for a,
professedly, more calm and judicial examination of the claimed
_Southern right_ of secession, and his legal argument could be met, and
was met, with equally logical, apparently, pro-Southern argument as to
the nature of the American constitution. Thus early did the necessity of
Lincoln's "border state policy"--a policy which extended even to
warnings from Seward to American diplomats abroad not to bring into
consideration the future of slavery--give ground for foreign denial that
there were any great moral principles at stake in the American conflict.

In the meantime the two sections in America were busily preparing for a
test of strength, and for that test the British press, reporting
preparations, waited with interest. It came on July 21 in the first
battle of Bull Run, when approximately equal forces of raw levies,
30,000 each, met in the first pitched battle of the war, and where the
Northern army, after an initial success, ultimately fled in disgraceful
rout. Before Bull Run the few British papers early taking strong ground
for the North had pictured Lincoln's preparations as so tremendous as
inevitably destined to crush, quickly, all Southern resistance. The
_Daily News_ lauded Lincoln's message to Congress as the speech of a
great leader, and asserted that the issue in America was for all free
people a question of upholding the eternal principles of liberty,
morality and justice. "War for such a cause, though it be civil war, may
perhaps without impiety be called 'God's most perfect instrument in
working out a pure intent[322].'" The disaster to the Northern army, its
apparent testimony that the North lacked real fighting men, bolstered
that British opinion which regarded military measures against the South
as folly--an impression reinforced in the next few months by the long
pause by the North before undertaking any further great effort in the
field. The North was not really ready for determined war, indeed, until
later in the year. Meanwhile many were the moralizations in the British
press upon Bull Run's revelation of Northern military weakness.

Probably the most influential newspaper utterances of the moment were
the letters of W.H. Russell to the _Times_. This famous
war-correspondent had been sent to America in the spring of 1861 by
Delane, editor of the _Times_, his first letter, written on March 29,
appearing in the issue of April 16. He travelled through the South, was
met everywhere with eager courtesy as became a man of his reputation and
one representing the most important organ of British public opinion,
returned to the North in late June, and at Washington was given intimate
interviews by Seward and other leaders. For a time his utterances were
watched for, in both England and America, with the greatest interest and
expectancy, as the opinions of an unusually able and thoroughly honest,
dispassionate observer. He never concealed his abhorrence of slavery,
terming apologists of that institution "the miserable sophists who
expose themselves to the contempt of the world by their paltry theiscles
on the divine origin and uses of Slavery[323]...." and writing "day
after day ... the impression of my mind was strengthened that 'States
Rights' meant protection to slavery, extension of slave territory, and
free-trade in slave produce with the other world[324]." But at the same
time he depicted the energy, ability, and determination of the South in
high colours, and was a bit doubtful of similar virtues in the North.
The battle of Bull Run itself he did not see, but he rode out from
Washington to meet the defeated army, and his description of the routed
rabble, jostling and pushing, in frenzy toward the Capitol, so ridiculed
Northern fighting spirit as to leave a permanent sting behind it. At
the same time it convinced the British pro-Southern reader that the
Northern effort was doomed to failure, even though Russell was himself
guarded in opinion as to ultimate result. "'What will England and France
think of it?' is the question which is asked over and over again," wrote
Russell on July 24[325], expatiating on American anxiety and chagrin in
the face of probable foreign opinion. On August 22 he recorded in his
diary the beginnings of the American newspaper storm of personal attack
because of his description of the battle in the _Times_--an attack which
before long became the alleged cause of his recall by Delane[326]. In
fact Russell's letters added nothing in humiliating description to the
outpourings of the Northern press, itself greedily quoted by
pro-Southern foreign papers. The impression of Northern military
incapacity was not confined to Great Britain--it was general throughout
Europe, and for the remainder of 1861 there were few who ventured to
assert a Northern success in the war[327].

Official Britain, however, saw no cause for any change in the policy of
strict neutrality. Palmerston commented privately, "The truth is, the
North are fighting for an Idea chiefly entertained by professional
politicians, while the South are fighting for what they consider rightly
or wrongly vital interests," thus explaining to his own satisfaction why
a Northern army of brave men had _chosen_ to _run_ away[328], but the
Government was careful to refrain from any official utterances likely to
irritate the North. The battle served, in some degree, to bring into the
open the metropolitan British papers which hitherto professing
neutrality and careful not to reveal too openly their leanings, now each
took a definite stand and became an advocate of a cause. The Duke of
Argyll might write reassuringly to Mrs. Motley to have no fear of
British interference[329], and to Gladstone (evidently controverting the
latter's opinion) that slavery was and would continue to be an object in
the war[330], but the press, certainly, was not united either as to
future British policy or on basic causes and objects of the war. The
_Economist_ believed that a second Southern victory like Bull Run, if
coming soon, would "so disgust and dishearten the shouters for the Union
that the contest will be abandoned on the instant.... Some day, with
scarcely any notice, we may receive tidings that an armistice has been
agreed upon and preliminaries of peace have been signed[331]." John
Bright's paper, the _Morning Star_, argued long and feverishly that
Englishmen must not lose sight of the fact that slavery was an issue,
and made appeal for expressions, badly needed at the moment, of
pro-Northern sympathy[332]. To this _John Bull_ retorted:

     "Nothing can be clearer than this, that black slavery has
     nothing whatever to do with this Civil War in America.... The
     people of America have erected a political idol. The
     Northerners have talked and written and boasted so much about
     their Republic that they have now become perfectly furious to
     find that their idol can be overthrown, and that the false
     principles upon which the American Republic is built should
     be exhibited to the world, that their vaunted democracy
     should be exposed as a mere bubble or a piece of rotten
     timber, an abominable and worthless tyranny of the sovereign

Here was an early hint of the future of democracy as at issue[334].
_John Bull_, the "country squire's paper," might venture to voice the
thought, but more important papers were still cautious in expressing it.
W.H. Russell, privately, wrote to Delane: "It is quite obvious, I think,
that the North will succeed in reducing the South[335]." But Delane
permitted no such positive prophecy to appear in the _Times_. Darwin is
good testimony of the all-prevalent British feeling: "I hope to God we
English are utterly wrong in doubting whether the North can conquer the
South." "How curious it is that you seem to think that you can conquer
the South; and I never meet a soul, even those who would most wish it,
who think it possible--that is, to conquer and retain it[336]."

In September, after the first interest in Bull Run had waned, there
appeared several books and articles on the American question which gave
opportunity for renewal of newspaper comment and controversy. A Dr.
Lempriere, "of the Inner Temple, law fellow of St. John's College,
Oxford," published a work, _The American Crisis Considered_, chiefly
declamatory, upholding the right of Southern secession, stating that no
one "who has the slightest acquaintance with the political action of
history would term the present movement rebellion." With this the
_Spectator_ begged leave to differ[337]. The _Saturday Review_
acknowledged that a prolonged war might force slavery and emancipation
to the front, but denied them as vital at present, and offered this view
as a defence against the recrimination of Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe,
who had accused the paper of unfair treatment in a review of her
pamphlet exhibiting emancipation as the object of the North. Under the
caption, "Mrs. Beecher Stowe's Wounded Feelings," the _Saturday Review_
avowed disbelief in the existence of a "Holy War" in America. "The North
does not proclaim abolition and never pretended to fight for
anti-slavery. The North has not hoisted for its oriflamme the Sacred
Symbol of Justice to the Negro; its _cri de guerre_ is not unconditional
emancipation." "The Governmental course of the British nation ... is not
yet directed by small novelists and their small talk[338]." Thomas
Hughes also came in for sarcastic reference in this article, having
promptly taken up the cudgels for Mrs. Stowe. He returned to the attack
through the columns of the _Spectator_, reasserting slavery as an issue
and calling on Englishmen to put themselves in the place of Americans
and realize the anger aroused by "deliberate imputations of mean
motives," and by the cruel spirit of the utterances. A nation engaged in
a life and death struggle should not be treated in a tone of flippant
and contemptuous serenity. The British press had chosen "to impute the
lowest motives, to cull out and exult over all the meanness, and
bragging, and disorder which the contest has brought out, and while we
sit on the bank, to make no allowances for those who are struggling in
the waves[339]."

Besides the _Spectator_, on the Northern side, stood the _Daily News_,
declaring that the South could not hold out, and adding,
"The Confederate States may be ten millions, but they _are_
wrong--notoriously, flagrantly wrong[340]." The _Daily News_, according
to its "Jubilee" historians, stood almost alone in steadfast advocacy of
the Northern cause[341]. This claim of unique service to the North is
not borne out by an examination of newspaper files, but is true if only
metropolitan dailies of large circulation are considered. The
_Spectator_ was a determined and consistent friend of the North. In its
issue of September 28 a speech made by Bulwer Lytton was summarized and
attacked. The speaker had argued that the dissolution of the Union would
be beneficial to all Europe, which had begun to fear the swollen size
and strength of the young nation across the Atlantic. He hoped that the
final outcome would be not two, but at least four separate nations, and
stated his belief that the friendly emulation of these nations would
result for Americans in a rapid advance in art and commerce such as had
been produced in the old commonwealths of Greece. The _Spectator_
answered that such a breaking up of America was much more likely to
result in a situation comparable to that in South America, inquired
caustically whether Bulwer Lytton had heard that slavery was in
question, and asserted that his speech presumably represented the
official view of the Tories, and embodied that of the English governing

In press utterances during the autumn and early fall of 1861 there is
little on British policy toward America. Strict neutrality is approved
by all papers and public speakers. But as the months passed without
further important military engagements attention began to be directed
toward the economic effects on England of the war in America and to the
blockade, now beginning to be made effective by the North. The _Saturday
Review_, though pro-Southern, declared for neutrality, but distinguished
between strict observance of the blockade and a reasonable recognition
of the _de facto_ government of the Confederacy "as soon as the Southern
States had achieved for their independence that amount of security with
which Great Britain had been satisfied in former cases[343]." But
another article in the same issue contained a warning against forcibly
raising the blockade since this must lead to war with the North, and
that would commend itself to no thoughtful Englishman. Two weeks later
appeared a long review of Spence's _American Union_, a work very
influential in confirming British pro-Southern belief in the
constitutional right of the South to secede and in the certainty of
Southern victory. Spence was "likely to succeed with English readers,
because all his views are taken from a thoroughly English
standpoint[344]." The week following compliments are showered upon the
"young professor" Montague Bernard for his "Two Lectures on the Present
American War," in which he distinguished between recognition of
belligerency and recognition of sovereignty, asserting that the former
was inevitable and logical. The _Saturday Review_, without direct
quotation, treated Bernard as an advocate also of the early recognition
of Southern independence on the ground that it was _a fait accompli_,
and expressed approval[345].

These few citations, taken with intent from the more sober and reputable
journals, summarize the prevailing attitude on one side or the other
throughout the months from June to December, 1861. All publications had
much to say of the American struggle and varied in tone from dignified
criticism to extreme vituperation, this last usually being the resort of
lesser journals, whose leader writers had no skill in "vigorous" writing
in a seemingly restrained manner. "Vigorous" leader writing was a
characteristic of the British press of the day, and when combined with a
supercilious British tone of advice, as from a superior nation, gave
great offence to Americans, whether North or South. But the British
press was yet united in proclaiming as correct the governmental policy
of neutrality, and in any event Motley was right in stating "the Press
is not the Government," adding his opinion that "the present English
Government has thus far given us no just cause of offence[346]."
Meanwhile the Government, just at the moment when the Declaration of
Paris negotiation had reached an inglorious conclusion, especially
irritating to Earl Russell, was suddenly plunged into a sharp
controversy with the United States by an incident growing out of
Russell's first instructions to Lyons in regard to that negotiation and
which, though of minor importance in itself, aroused an intensity of
feeling beyond its merits. This was the recall by Seward of the
exequatur of the British consul Bunch, at Charleston, South Carolina.

It will be remembered that in his first instruction to Lyons on the
Declaration of Paris Russell had directed that Bunch, at Charleston, be
commissioned to seek a Southern official acceptance of the binding force
of the second and third articles, but that Lyons and Mercier, fearing
Seward's irritation, had hesitated to proceed in the matter. Later
Russell had recalled his instructions, but before this recall could
reach Lyons the latter had decided to act[347]. On July 5 Lyons gave
explicit directions to Bunch not to approach the Confederate Government
directly, but to go to Governor Pickens of South Carolina and explain
the matter to him verbally, adding "you should act with great caution,
in order to avoid raising the question of the recognition of the new
Confederation by Great Britain." Unfortunately Lyons also wrote, "I am
authorized by Lord John Russell to confide the negotiation on this
matter to you," thus after all implying that a real _negotiation_ with
the South was being undertaken. On the same day Mercier sent similar
instructions to St. André, the French Acting-Consul at Charleston[348].
Bunch received Lyons' official letter on July 19[349], together with a
private one of July 5, emphasizing that Bunch was to put nothing in
writing, and that he and his French colleagues were to keep the names of
Lyons and Mercier out of any talk, even, about the matter. Bunch was to
talk as if his instructions came directly from Russell. Lyons hoped the
South would be wise enough not to indulge in undue publicity, since if
"trumpeted" it might elicit "by such conduct some strong disavowal from
France and England." Both the official and the private letter must,
however, have impressed Bunch with the idea that this was after all a
negotiation and that he had been entrusted with it[350].

Bunch, whose early reports had been far from sympathetic with the
Southern cause, had gradually, and quite naturally from his environment,
become more friendly to it[351]. He now acted with promptness and with
some evident exultation at the importance given him personally. In
place of Governor Pickens an experienced diplomat, William Henry
Trescott, was approached by Bunch and Belligny, who, not St. André, was
then the French agent at Charleston[352]. Trescott went directly to
President Davis, who at once asked why the British proposal had not been
made through the Confederate Commissioners in London, and who somewhat
unwillingly yielded to Trescott's urging. On August 13 the Confederate
Congress resolved approval of the Declaration of Paris except for the
article on privateering[353]. Bunch took great pride in the secrecy
observed. "I do not see how any clue is given to the way in which the
Resolutions have been procured.... We made a positive stipulation that
France and England were not to be alluded to in the event of the
compliance of the Confederate Govt.[354]," he wrote Lyons on August 16.
But he failed to take account either of the penetrating power of
mouth-to-mouth gossip or of the efficacy of Seward's secret agents. On
this same day, August 16, Lyons reported the arrest in New York, on the
fourteenth, of one Robert Mure, just as he was about to take passage for
Liverpool carrying a sealed bag from the Charleston consulate to the
British Foreign Office, as well as some two hundred private letters. The
letters were examined and among them was one which related Bunch's
recent activities and stated that "Mr. B., on oath of secrecy,
communicated to me also that the first step of recognition was
taken[355]." The sealed bag was sent unopened to be handed by Adams to
Russell with an enquiry whether in fact it contained any papers on the
alleged "negotiation" with the South.

Bunch had issued to Mure a paper which the latter regarded as a
passport, as did the United States. This also was made matter of
complaint by Adams, when on September 3 the affair was presented to
Russell. America complained of Bunch on several counts, the three
principal ones being (1) that he had apparently conducted a negotiation
with the Confederacy, (2) that he had issued a passport, not
countersigned by the Secretary of State as required by the United States
rules respecting foreign consuls, (3) that he had permitted the person
to whom this passport was issued to carry letters from the enemies of
the United States to their agents abroad. On these grounds the British
Government was requested to remove Bunch from his office. On first
learning of Mure's arrest Lyons expressed the firm belief that Bunch's
conduct had been perfectly proper and that the sealed bag would be found
to contain nothing supporting the suspicion of the American
Government[356]. The language used by Lyons was such as to provide an
excellent defence in published despatches, and it was later so used. But
privately neither Lyons nor Russell were wholly convinced of the
correctness of Bunch's actions. Bunch had heard of Mure's arrest on
August 18, and at once protested that no passport had been given, but
merely a "Certificate to the effect that he [Mure] was a British
Merchant residing in Charleston" on his way to England, and that he was
carrying official despatches to the Foreign Office[357]. In fact Mure
had long since taken out American citizenship papers, and the
distinction between passport and certificate seems an evasion.
Officially Lyons could report "it is clear that Mr. Robert Mure, in
taking charge of the letters which have been seized, abused Mr. Bunch's
confidence, for Mr. Bunch had positive instructions from me not to
forward himself any letters alluding to military or political events,
excepting letters to or from British officials[358]." This made good
reading when put in the published Parliamentary Papers. But in reality
the sending of private letters by messenger also carrying an official
pouch was no novelty. Bunch had explained to Lyons on June 23 that this
was his practice on the ground that "there is really no way left for the
merchants but through me. If Mr. Seward objects I cannot help it. I must
leave it to your Lordship and H.M.'s Government to support me. My own
despatch to Lord J. Russell I must send in some way, and so I take the
responsibility of aiding British interests by sending the mercantile
letters as well[359]." And in Bunch's printed report to Lyons on Mure's
arrest, his reply as to the private letters was, "I could not consider
him [Mure] as being disqualified from being the bearer of a bag to Earl
Russell, by his doing what everyone who left Charleston was doing

Officially Lyons, on September 2, had reported a conversation with
Belligny, the French Consul at Charleston, now in Washington, writing,
"I am confirmed in the opinion that the negotiation, which was difficult
and delicate, was managed with great tact and good judgment by the two
Consuls[361]." But this referred merely to the use of Trescott and its
results, not to Bunch's use of Mure. The British Government was, indeed,
prepared to defend the action of its agents in securing, _indirectly_,
from the South, an acknowledgment of certain principles of
international law. Russell did not believe that Lincoln was "foolhardy
enough to quarrel with England and France," though Hammond (Under
Secretary of Foreign Affairs) "is persuaded that Seward wishes to pick a
quarrel[362]." Enquiry was promptly made of France, through Cowley, as
to her stand in the matter of the consuls at Charleston, Russell
intimating by an enquiry (later printed in the Parliamentary Papers), as
to the initiation of the Declaration of Paris negotiations, that it was
Thouvenel who had first suggested the approach to the South through the
Consuls[363]. This was an error of memory[364], and Cowley was perturbed
by Thouvenel's reticence in reply to the main question. The latter
stated that if a like American demand were made on France "undoubtedly
he could not give up an Agent who had done no more than execute the
orders entrusted to him[365]." This looked like harmony, but the
situation for the two countries was not the same as no demand had been
made for the recall of Belligny. Cowley was, in reality, anxious and
suspicious, for Thouvenel, in conversation, attributed Seward's anger to
Bunch's alleged indiscretions in talk, and made it clear that France
would not "stand by" unless Seward should protest to France against the
fact of a communication (not a _negotiation_) having been held with the
Confederacy[366]. Before the French reply was secured Russell had
prepared but not sent an answer to Adams, notifying him that the bag
from Bunch, on examination, was found not to contain "correspondence of
the enemies of the Government of the United States" as had been
suspected, and transmitting a copy of Bunch's explanation of the reason
for forwarding private letters[367]. In another letter to Adams of the
same date Russell avowed the Government's responsibility for Bunch's
action on the Declaration of Paris, and declined to recall him, adding:

     "But when it is stated in a letter from some person not
     named, that the first step to the recognition of the Southern
     States by Great Britain has been taken, the Undersigned begs
     to decline all responsibility for such a statement.

     "Her Majesty's Government have already recognized the
     belligerent character of the Southern States, and they will
     continue to recognize them as belligerents. But Her Majesty's
     Government have not recognized and are not prepared to
     recognize the so-called Confederate States as a separate and
     independent State[368]."

Adams received Russell's two notes on September 13[369], and merely
stated that they would be despatched by the next steamer. That Russell
was anxious is shown by a careful letter of caution to Lyons instructing
him if sent away from Washington "to express in the most dignified and
guarded terms that the course taken by the Washington Government must be
the result of a misconception on their part, and that you shall retire
to Canada in the persuasion that the misunderstanding will soon cease,
and the former friendly relations be restored[370]." Meantime Russell
was far from satisfied with Bunch, writing Lyons to inform him
that the "statements made in regard to his proceedings require
explanation[371]." The failure of Seward to demand Belligny's recall
worried Russell. He wrote to Palmerston on September 19, "I cannot
believe that the Americans, having made no demand on the French to
disavow Belligny, or Baligny, will send away Lyons," and he thought that
Seward ought to be satisfied as England had disavowed the offensive part
of Bunch's supposed utterances. He was not in favour of sending
reinforcements to the American stations: "If they do not quarrel about
Bunch, we may rest on our oars for the winter[372]." There was nothing
further to do save to wait Seward's action on receipt of the British
refusal to recall Bunch. At this moment Lyons at Washington was writing
in a hopeful view of "avoiding abstract assertions of principles," but
accustoming the North to the _practice_ of British recognition of
Southern belligerent rights[373]. Lyons believed that Seward would not
go further than to withdraw Bunch's exequatur, but he was anxious for
the return of Mercier (long absent with Prince Napoleon), since "our
position is unluckily not exactly the same with that of France[374]." On
October 12 Lyons conferred at length with Seward on the Bunch matter, as
usual, privately and unofficially. Seward dwelt on a letter just
received from Motley assuring him that Great Britain was not "unfriendly
to the United States," and "appeared anxious not to pick a quarrel, yet
hardly knowing how to retract from his original position." Lyons told
Seward that it would be "impossible to carry on the Diplomatic
business ... on the false hypothesis that the United States Government"
did not _know_ England and France had recognized the belligerent rights
of the South, and he urged Russell to get from France an open
acknowledgment, such as England has made, that she "negotiated" with
the Confederacy. Lyons thought Mercier would try to avoid this, thus
seeking to bring pressure on the British Government to adopt his plan
of an early recognition of Southern independence. Like Cowley, Lyons
was disturbed at the French evasion of direct support in the Bunch

Bunch's formal denial to Lyons of the charges made against him by the
United States was confined to three points; he asserted his disbelief
that Mure carried any despatches from the _de facto_ government at
Richmond; he protested that "there was not one single paper in my bag
which was not entirely and altogether on Her Majesty's service"; and he
explained the alleged "passport" was not intended as such, but was
merely "a certificate stating that Mr. Mure was charged by me with
despatches," but he acknowledged that in the certificate's description
of Mure as a "British merchant" a possible error had been committed,
adding, however, that he had supposed anyone would understand, since the
words "British subject" had not been used, that Mure was in reality a
naturalized citizen of America[376]. This explanation was received by
Russell on October 21. Lyons' comment on Bunch's explanation, made
without knowledge of what would be Seward's final determination, was
that if Bunch had any further excuses to make about the private letters
carried by Mure he should drop two weak points in his argument. "I mean
the distinction between B. merchant and B.S., and the distinction
between a document requesting that the bearer '_may be permitted to pass
freely and receive all proper protection and assistance_' and a
passport[377]." Russell, on receipt of Bunch's explanation was also
dissatisfied, first because Bunch had violated Lyons' instructions
against entrusting despatches to persons carrying private
correspondence, and second, because Bunch "gives no distinct denial" to
the newspaper stories that he had gossiped about his activities and had
stated them to be "a first step toward recognition[378]." These
criticisms were directed entirely to Bunch's conduct subsequent to the
overture to the South; on the propriety of that act Russell supported
Bunch with vigour[379]. October 26, Seward read to Lyons the instruction
to Adams on the revocation of Bunch's exequatur. The ground taken for
this, reported Lyons, was an evasion of that charge of communicating
with the South for which Russell had avowed responsibility, and a
turning to the charge that Bunch was personally unacceptable longer to
the United States because of his partisanship to the South, as evidenced
by various acts and especially as shown by his reported assertion that
Great Britain had taken "a first step to recognition." "Never," wrote
Lyons, "were serious charges brought upon a slighter foundation." "No
one who has read Mr. Bunch's despatches to your Lordship and to me can
consider him as in the least degree a partisan of the Southern cause."
"When Mr. Seward had finished reading the despatch I remained silent.
After a short pause I took leave of him courteously, and

As will have been noted, Lyons had foreseen the American decision
against Bunch on purely personal grounds, had been relieved that this
would be the issue, and had fore-warned Russell. His despatch just
cited may be regarded as a suggestion of the proper British refutation
of charges, but with acceptance of the American decision. Nevertheless
he wrote gloomily on the same day of future relations with the United
States[381]. At the same time Russell, also foreseeing Seward's action,
was not disturbed. He thought it still "not off the cards that the
Southern Confederates may return to the Union.... Our conduct must be
strictly neutral, and it will be[382]." Upon receipt of Lyons' despatch
and letter of October 28 Russell wrote to Palmerston, "I do not attach
much importance to this letter of Lyons. It is the business of Seward to
feed the mob with sacrifices every day, and we happen to be the most
grateful food he can offer[383]." For Russell saw clearly that Great
Britain could not object to the removal of Bunch on the purely personal
grounds alleged by Seward. There followed in due course the formal
notification by Adams on November 21, just six days before he learned of
the _Trent_ affair, which had occurred on November 8. That alarming
incident no doubt coloured the later communications of both parties, for
while both Adams and Russell indulged in several lengthy argumentative
papers, such as are dear to the hearts of lawyers and diplomats, the
only point of possible further dispute was on the claim of Great Britain
that future occasions might arise where, in defence of British
interests, it would be absolutely necessary to communicate with the
Confederacy. Adams acknowledged a British duty to protect its citizens,
but reasserted the American right to dismiss any British agent who
should act as Bunch had done. On December 9, Russell closed the matter
by stating that he did "not perceive that any advantage would be
obtained by the continuance of this correspondence[384]." Bunch was
expected to leave Charleston as soon as a safe conveyance could be
provided for him, but this was not immediately forthcoming. In fact he
remained at Charleston until February, 1863, actively engaged, but
official papers were signed by his vice-consul. In the excitement over
the _Trent_, he seems rapidly to have disappeared from the official as
he did from the public horizon[385].

The Bunch controversy, seemingly of no great importance in so far as the
alleged personal grounds of complaint are concerned, had its real
significance in the effort of Great Britain to make contact with the
Southern Government--an effort incautiously entered upon, and from which
an attempt to withdraw had come too late. The result was British
assertion of a right in case of necessity to make such contact, having
recognized the South as a belligerent, but a discontinuance of the
practice, under the American protest[386]. While this controversy was in
progress the attention of the British Government was directed to a
proposal urged by Mercier upon Lyons in Washington, which appeared to
have the support of the French Government. On September 30, Mercier, so
Lyons reported, had received a private letter from Thouvenel expressing
great concern over the prospective scarcity of cotton from America, due
to the blockade, and asking Mercier's advice. The latter now informed
Lyons that his reply had outlined the following steps: first, complete
harmony of action between England and France; second, recognition of
Southern independence; third, refusal longer to recognize the blockade;
fourth, England and France to be alert to seize the "favourable moment,"
when the North became disheartened, the present moment not being a good
one[387]. This policy Mercier thought so "bold" that the North would be
deterred from declaring war. The two diplomats held long argument over
this suggestion. Lyons acknowledged the general pressure for cotton, but
thought there was no need of great alarm as yet and also advanced the
idea that in the end Europe would benefit by being forced to develop
other sources of supply, thus being freed from such exclusive
dependence on the United States. Mercier answered that France was in
dire need and could not wait and he urged that mere recognition of the
South would not secure cotton--it was necessary also to break the
blockade. In comment to Russell, Lyons agreed that this was true, but
thought the fact in itself an argument against accepting Mercier's
ideas: "The time is far distant when the intervention of England and
France in the quarrel would be welcomed, or, unless under compulsion,
tolerated by the American peoples." The South had not yet "gone far
enough in establishing its independence to render a recognition of it
either proper or desirable for European powers," and he stated with
emphasis that recognition would _not_ end the war unless there was also
an _alliance_ with the South[388].

In the British Cabinet also, at this same time, attention was being
directed to the question of cotton, not, primarily, by any push from the
British manufacturing interest, but because of queries addressed to it
by the French Minister in London. Russell wrote to Palmerston, referring
to the inquiry of Flahault, "I agree with you that the cotton question
may become serious at the end of the year," but he added that Lindsay
had informed him that in any case cotton could not be brought in the
winter-time from the interior to the Southern ports[389]. In truth any
serious thought given at this time to the question of cotton appears to
be the result of the French arguments at London and Washington
advocating a vigorous American policy. October 19, Lyons and Mercier
renewed debate on exactly the same lines as previously, Mercier this
time reading to Lyons an instruction from Thouvenel and his reply. Lyons
insisted that the North would most certainly declare war on any power
that recognized the South and asserted that such a war would cause more
suffering many times than all the suffering now caused by the shortage
of cotton. Yet Lyons felt compelled to use caution and conciliation in
dealing with Mercier, because of the desire to preserve close harmony of
attitude[390]. A few clays later Lyons' comments seemed wholly justified
when Mercier reported to him the tone of a conversation with Seward,
after having left with him a copy of Thouvenel's instruction. Seward
said plainly that the United States would go to war with any foreign
power that tried to interfere and that the only way in which France
could get cotton was by a Northern conquest of the South. He
acknowledged that the United States might be defeated, but he informed
Mercier that France would at least know there had been a war. On his
part Mercier told Seward that in his opinion there was but one possible
outcome in America--separation--and that he had advised Thouvenel that
the true policy of England and France was to recognize the South and
"bring about a peaceful separation." Lyons' comment to Russell is that
Seward had certainly taken a "high" tone--evident justification of
Lyons' previously expressed opinion. Seward had been very eager to learn
whether England knew of Thouvenel's instruction, to which Mercier
replied "no," and was now anxious that Russell should not reveal to
Adams that Lyons had known the contents before delivery to Seward--a
caution with which Lyons was very content[391].

Lyons' first report of Mercier's ideas had been received in London at a
rather critical moment. On October 17, just after Adams' complaint about
Bunch and Russell's answer, while waiting to see whether Seward would
magnify that incident into a cause of rupture, and four days before
Bunch's "unsatisfactory explanation" had been received, Russell wrote to

     "There is much good sense in Mercier's observations.
     But we must wait. I am persuaded that if we do anything,
     it must be on a grand scale. It will not do for England
     and France to break a blockade for the sake of getting
     cotton. But, in Europe, powers have often said to belligerents,
     Make up your quarrels. We propose to give terms
     of pacification which we think fair and equitable. If you
     accept them, well and good. But, if your adversary accepts
     them and you refuse them, our mediation is at an end,
     and you may expect to see us your enemies. France would
     be quite ready to hold this language with us.

     "If such a policy were to be adopted the time for it
     would be the end of the year, or immediately before the
     meeting of Parliament[392]."

Apparently Russell under the irritations of the moment was somewhat
carried away by Mercier's suggestion. That it was but a briefly held
thought has been shown by expressions from him already cited[393]. Nor
was he alone in ministerial uncertainty[394], but Palmerston was not
inclined to alter British policy. October 18, he replied to Russell:

     "As to North America, our best and true policy seems to
     be to go on as we have begun, and to keep quite clear of the
     conflict between North and South.... The only
     excuse [for intervention] would be the danger to the intervening
     parties if the conflict went on; but in the American
     case this can not be pleaded by the Powers of Europe.

     "I quite agree with you that the want of cotton would
     not justify such a proceeding, unless, indeed, the distress
     created by that want was far more serious than it is likely
     to be. The probability is that some cotton will find its way
     to us from America, and that we shall get a greater supply
     than usual from other quarters.

     "The only thing to do seems to be to lie on our oars
     and to give no pretext to the Washingtonians to quarrel
     with us, while, on the other hand, we maintain our rights
     and those of our fellow countrymen[395]."

In Washington the result of Mercier's conversation with Seward,
outlining Thouvenel's suggestions, was a long and carefully prepared
despatch to Dayton, in Paris, which the biographer of Seward thinks was
one of his "great despatches; perhaps it was his greatest, if we
consider his perfect balance and the diplomatic way in which he seemed
to ignore what was menacing, while he adroitly let Thouvenel see what
the result would be if the implied threats should be carried out[396]."
Seward argued with skill the entire matter of cotton, but he was none
the less firm in diplomatic defiance of foreign intervention. Since
Great Britain had taken no part in the French scheme--a point which
Seward was careful to make clear to Dayton--the despatch needs no
expanded treatment here. Its significance is that when reported to Lyons
by Mercier (for Seward had read it to the latter) the British Minister
could pride himself on having already pointed out to both Mercier and
Russell that Seward's line was exactly that which he had prophesied.
Mercier again was very anxious that his confidences to Lyons should not
become known, and Lyons was glad indeed to be wholly free from any share
in the discussion[397].

Two days after thus describing events, Lyons, on November 6, had still
another communication, and apparently a last on this topic, with
Mercier, in which the two men again went over the whole ground of
national policy toward America, and in which their divergent views
became very apparent. The arguments were the same, but expressed with
more vigour. Mercier seems, indeed, to have attempted to "rush" Lyons
into acquiescence in his policy. Lyons finally observed to him that he
"had no reason to suppose that Her Majesty's Government considered the
time was come for entertaining at all the question of recognizing the
South" and asked what good such a step would do anyway. Mercier replied
that he did not believe that the North would declare war, and so it
would be a step toward settlement. To this Lyons took positive
exception[398]. Lyons' report of this conversation was written on
November 8, a date which was soon to stand out as that on which occurred
an event more immediately threatening to British-American relations than
any other during the Civil War.

The battle of Bull Run had left on British minds an impression of
Northern incapacity in war--even a doubt of Northern courage and
determination. On August 19 the Declaration of Paris negotiation, a
favourable result from which was eagerly desired by Russell, had failed,
as he well knew when he attached to the convention that explanatory
statement limiting its action in point of time. In the end Russell felt
that Britain had just escaped a "trap." Two weeks after this Russell
learned of the arrest of Mure, and soon of the demand for Bunch's
recall, finally and formally made by Adams on November 21. Just six days
later, on November 27, London heard of the _Trent_ affair of November 8.
It is small wonder that Russell and his colleagues felt an increasing
uncertainty as to the intent of the United States, and also an
increasing irritation at having to guard their steps with such care in a
situation where they sincerely believed the only possible outcome was
the dissolution of the American Union. But up to the moment when the
news of the _Trent_ affair was received they had pursued a policy, so
they believed, of strict and upright neutrality, and were fixed in the
determination not to permit minor controversies or economic advantage to
divert them from it.


[Footnote 319: _Economist_, May 18, 1861.]

[Footnote 320: _Ibid._, June 29, 1861.]

[Footnote 321: J.L. Motley, _The Causes of the American Civil War_.
Published as a pamphlet. N.Y., 1861.]

[Footnote 322: _Daily News_, July 19, 1861.]

[Footnote 323: Russell, _My Diary, North and South_, p. 159, Boston,
1863. This work is in effect a condensation of Russell's letters to the
_Times_, but contains many intimate descriptions not given in the

[Footnote 324: _Ibid._, p. 315.]

[Footnote 325: The _Times_, August 10, 1861.]

[Footnote 326: Russell, _My Diary_, London, 1863, II, p. 296. This
edition varies somewhat from that published at Boston and previously
cited. The _New York Times_ became Russell's most vicious critic,
labelling him "Bull Run Russell," a name which stuck, and beginning its
first article on his sins "The terrible epistle has been read with quite
as much avidity as an average President's message. We scarcely
exaggerate the fact when we say, the first and foremost thought on the
minds of a very large portion of our people after the repulse at _Bull's
Run_ was, what will Russell say?" _Ibid._, p. 297. As to his recall
Russell afterwards asserted that it was really due to a variance of
opinion with Delane, the former being really pro-Northern in sympathy
and in conviction of ultimate victory. This will be examined later when
Russell's position as an independent editor in London becomes

[Footnote 327: For similar German impressions see G.H. Putnam, _Memories
of My Youth_, N.Y., 1914, p. 187.]

[Footnote 328: Newton, _Lord Lyons_, I, p. 48. In the same view Russell
wrote to Lyons, August 16. "The defeat of Manassas or Bull's Run seems
to me to show a great want of zeal. For I cannot believe the descendants
of the men of 1776 and indeed of 1815 to be totally wanting in courage."
(Lyons Papers.)]

[Footnote 329: Motley, _Correspondence_, II, p. 31. August 20, 1861.]

[Footnote 330: Gladstone Papers, August 29, 1861.]

[Footnote 331: _Economist_, Aug. 17, 1861.]

[Footnote 332: _Morning Star_, Sept. 10, 1861.]

[Footnote 333: _John Bull_, Sept. 14, 1861.]

[Footnote 334: To be discussed fully in Chapter XVIII.]

[Footnote 335: Sept. 13, 1861. Dasent, _Delane_, II, p. 34.]

[Footnote 336: Darwin to Asa Gray, Sept. 17 and Dec. 11, 1861. Cited in
_Rhodes_, III, p. 510.]

[Footnote 337: _Spectator_, Sept. 14, 1861.]

[Footnote 338: _Saturday Review_, Sept. 14, 1861.]

[Footnote 339: _Spectator_, Sept. 21, 1861.]

[Footnote 340: _Daily News_, Sept. 17 and Oct. 10, 1861. The statement
is in reply to an article in the _Times_ of October 9, arguing that even
if the South were regarded as in the wrong, they had ten millions, a
fact that was conclusive.]

[Footnote 341: _The Daily News Jubilee_. By Justin McCarthy and John E.
Robinson, pp. 69-77.]

[Footnote 342: _Spectator_, Sept. 28, 1861.]

[Footnote 343: _Saturday Review_, Nov. 2, 1861.]

[Footnote 344: _Ibid._, Nov. 16. Spence's book rapidly went through many
editions, was widely read, and furnished the argument for many a
pro-Southern editorial. Spence himself soon became the intimate friend
and adviser of Mason, the Confederate envoy to England.]

[Footnote 345: _Ibid._, Nov. 23, 1861. The inference from Bernard's la
guage is perhaps permissible, but not inevitable.]

[Footnote 346: Motley, _Correspondence_, II, p. 37. To his mother, Oct.
18, 1861.]

[Footnote 347: See _ante_, Ch. V.]

[Footnote 348: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting International Maritime Law." No. 21 and
Inclosure. Belligny was in fact the French agent at Charleston who acted
with Bunch.]

[Footnote 349: F.O., Am., Vol. 768. No. 392. Lyons to Russell, Aug. 2,
1861. It is interesting to note that fourteen days were here required to
transmit a letter that in ordinary times would have reached its
destination in two days. Lyons states that he does not intend to inform
Mercier of Russell's attempted recall of instructions.]

[Footnote 350: F.O., Am., Vol. 767. No. 324. Inclosure No. 2. Private.
Lyons to Bunch, July 5, 1861. Bunch in reporting to Lyons, also used the
word "negotiation."]

[Footnote 351: When Davis proclaimed privateering Bunch had thought this
indicated a "low morality" and that Southern privateers would be in
reality pirates. F.O., Am., Vol. 763. Inclosure in No. 162. Bunch to
Russell, April 18, 1861.]

[Footnote 352: Bancroft's account, _Seward_, II, pp. 197-203, states
that Pickens was absent from Charleston. Bunch's account privately was
that he and Belligny thought Pickens "totally unfit to be intrusted with
anything in which judgment and discretion are at all necessary." (Lyons
Papers. Bunch to Lyons, Aug. 16, 1861.)]

[Footnote 353: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 198.]

[Footnote 354: Lyons Papers. Bunch to Lyons.]

[Footnote 355: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Withdrawal of Bunch's Exequatur." No. 4. Adams to
Russell, Sept. 3, 1861.]

[Footnote 356: _Ibid._, No. 2. Lyons to Russell, Aug. 19, 1861.]

[Footnote 357: Russell Papers. Bunch to Lyons, Aug. 18, 1861. Copy in
Lyons to Russell, Aug. 31, 1861.]

[Footnote 358: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on the Withdrawal of Bunch's Exequatur." No. 7. Lyons to
Russell, Aug. 23, 1861.]

[Footnote 359: Lyons Papers. Bunch to Lyons, June 23, 1861.]

[Footnote 360: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on the Withdrawal of Bunch's Exequatur." No. 15.
Inclosures. Bunch to Lyons, Sept. 30, 1861.]

[Footnote 361: _Ibid._, "Correspondence respecting International
Maritime Law." No. 39. Lyons to Russell.]

[Footnote 362: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, Sept. 6, 1861.]

[Footnote 363: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on the Withdrawal of Bunch's Exequatur." No. 6. Russell
to Cowley, Sept. 7, 1861.]

[Footnote 364: Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell. Private. Sept. 17,

[Footnote 365: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Withdrawal of Bunch's Exequatur." No. 10. Cowley to
Russell, Sept. 10, 1861.]

[Footnote 366: F.O., France, Vol. 1396. No. 1112. Cowley to Russell,
Sept. 10, 1861. Also Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell. Private. Sept.
10, 1861.]

[Footnote 367: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on the Withdrawal of Bunch's Exequatur." No. 9. Russell
to Adams, Sept. 9, 1861.]

[Footnote 368: _Ibid._, No. 8. Two days later, September 11, Russell
wrote to Palmerston that Motley was ignorant of Seward's intentions, and
that the Queen wished a modification of the "phrase about not being
prepared to recognize," but that he was against any change.
Palmerston MS.]

[Footnote 369: _Ibid._, No. 12. Adams to Russell.]

[Footnote 370: Russell to Lyons, Sept. 13, 1861. (Cited in Newton,
_Lyons_, I, p. 52.)]

[Footnote 371: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on the Withdrawal of Bunch's Exequatur." No. 11. Russell
to Lyons, Sept. 14, 1861.]

[Footnote 372: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, Sept. 19, 1861.]

[Footnote 373: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell. _Private_. Sept. 24,

[Footnote 374: _Ibid._, Sept. 27, 1861. The facts about Belligny were,
as reported by Lyons and Cowley, that before Bunch's activities became
known, the French Consul had been recalled and replaced by another man,
St. André. It will have been noted that when Lyons and Mercier sent
their instructions to the consuls at Charleston that of Mercier was
addressed to St. André. Apparently he had not reached Charleston. Thus
there was no opportunity to demand the recall of Belligny. Bancroft
(_Seward_, II, p. 203), unaware of this, presumes that Seward "thought
it important not to give them (England and France) a common grievance."]

[Footnote 375: _Ibid._, Lyons to Russell, Oct. 14, 1861.]

[Footnote 376: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on the Withdrawal of Bunch's Exequatur." No. 15.
Inclosure. Bunch to Lyons, Sept. 30, 1861.]

[Footnote 377: Lyons Papers. Copy, Private and Confidential, Lyons to
Bunch, Oct. 24, 1861. Bunch was informed in this letter that Mure had
been set free.]

[Footnote 378: F.O., Am., Vol. 757. No. 381. Russell to Lyons. Draft.
Oct. 26, 1861.]

[Footnote 379: The criticisms of Lyons and Russell were not printed in
the _Parliamentary Papers_. Bunch did later deny specifically that he
had told anyone of his activities. _(Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_,
Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on the Withdrawal of Bunch's Exequatur." No.
22. Inclosure. Bunch to Lyons. Oct. 31, 1861.)]

[Footnote 380: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on the Withdrawal of Bunch's Exequatur." No. 17. Lyons
to Russell, Oct. 28, 1861. There are two interesting unindicated
elisions in the printed text of this letter. Indicating them in brackets
the sentences run: first:--

"It may seem superfluous to make any observations on the charges brought
against Mr. Bunch. [For it is plain that a high-handed proceeding being
deemed advisable with a view to gratify the American Public, Mr. Bunch
has merely been selected as a safer object of attack than the British or
French Government.] I can not help saying that never were more serious
charges, etc.," and second:--

"When Mr. Seward had finished reading the despatch I remained silent. [I
allowed the pain which the contents of it had caused me to be apparent
in my countenance, but I said nothing. From my knowledge of Mr. Seward's
character, I was sure that at the moment nothing which I could say would
make so much impression upon him as my maintaining an absolute silence.]
After a short pause, etc." (F.O., America, Vol. 773. No. 607. Lyons to
Russell, Oct. 28, 1861).]

[Footnote 381: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, Oct. 28, 1861.]

[Footnote 382: Lyons Papers. Russell to Lyons, Nov. 2, 1861.]

[Footnote 383: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, Nov. 12. 1861. He
added, "The dismissal of Bunch seems to me a singular mixture of the
bully and coward."]

[Footnote 384: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on the Withdrawal of Bunch's Exequatur." No. 26. Russell
to Adams, Dec. 9, 1861.]

[Footnote 385: Bonham, _British Consuls in the Confederacy_, p. 45.
Columbia University, _Studies in History, Economics and Public Law_,
XI-III. No. 3. Bonham shows that Bunch was more pro-Southern than Lyons
thought. Lyons had suggested that Bunch be permitted to remain privately
at Charleston. (_Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on the Withdrawal of Bunch's Exequatur." No. 29. Lyons
to Russell, Dec. 31, 1861.) That Bunch was after all regarded by the
United States as a scapegoat may be argued from the "curious
circumstance that in 1875, Mr. Bunch, being then British Minister
resident at Bogota, acted as arbitrator in a case between the United
States and Colombia." (Moore, _Int. Law Digest_, V, p. 22.)]

[Footnote 386: Bancroft, _Seward, II_, p. 203, says that if Great
Britain ever attempted another negotiation "that British representatives
were careful to preserve perfect secrecy." I have found no evidence of
any similar communication with the South.]

[Footnote 387: As early as April, 1861, Stoeckl reported Mercier as
urging Lyons and Stoeckl to secure from their respective Governments
authority to recognize the South whenever they thought "the right time"
had come. Lyons did not wish to have this responsibility, arguing that
the mere fact of such a decision being left to him would embarrass him
in his relations with the North. Stoeckl also opposed Mercier's idea,
and added that Russia could well afford to wait until England and France
had acted. Russia could then also recognize the South without offending
the North. (Russian Archives. Stoeckl to F.O., April 2-14, 1861.
No. 863.)]

[Footnote 388: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, Oct. 4, 1861.]

[Footnote 389: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, Oct. 8, 1861. On
Oct. 7, Lyons wrote to Head, "If we can get through the winter and
spring without American cotton, and keep the peace, we shall attain a
great object." (Lyons Papers.)]

[Footnote 390: F.O., America, 772. No. 585. Lyons to Russell, Oct. 21,

[Footnote 391: _Ibid._, Vol. 773. No. 606. Lyons to Russell.
Confidential. Oct. 28, 1861.]

[Footnote 392: Walpole, _Russell_, II, 344.]

[Footnote 393: See _ante_, p. 194.]

[Footnote 394: "The Americans certainly seem inclined to pick a quarrel
with us; but I doubt their going far enough even to oblige us to
recognize the Southern States. A step further would enable us to open
the Southern ports, but a war would nevertheless be a great calamity."
(Maxwell, _Clarendon_, II, 245. Granville to Clarendon. No exact date is
given but the context shows it to have been in October, 1861.)]

[Footnote 395: Ashley, _Palmerston_, II, 218-19. On October 30, Russell
wrote to Gladstone expressing himself as worried about cotton but
stating that the North was about to try to take New Orleans and thus
release cotton. (Gladstone Papers).]

[Footnote 396: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 219. Bancroft cites also a
letter from Seward to his wife showing that he appreciated thoroughly
the probability of a foreign war if France should press on in the
line taken.]

[Footnote 397: F.O., America, Vol. 773. No. 623. Confidential. Lyons to
Russell, Nov. 4, 1861.]

[Footnote 398: _Ibid._, No. 634. Confidential. Lyons to Russell, Nov. 8,
1861. In truth Lyons felt something of that suspicion of France
indicated by Cowley, and for both men these suspicions date from the
moment when France seemed lukewarm in support of England in the matter
of Bunch.]



The _Trent_ affair seemed to Great Britain like the climax of American
arrogance[399]. The Confederate agents sent to Europe at the outbreak of
the Civil War had accomplished little, and after seven months of waiting
for a more favourable turn in foreign relations, President Davis
determined to replace them by two "Special Commissioners of the
Confederate States of America." These were James M. Mason of Virginia,
for Great Britain, and John Slidell of Louisiana, for France. Their
appointment indicated that the South had at last awakened to the need of
a serious foreign policy. It was publicly and widely commented on by the
Southern press, thereby arousing an excited apprehension in the North,
almost as if the mere sending of two new men with instructions to secure
recognition abroad were tantamount to the actual accomplishment of
their object.

Mason and Slidell succeeded in running the blockade at Charleston on the
night of October 12, 1861, on the Confederate steamer _Theodora_[400],
and arrived at New Providence, Nassau, on the fourteenth, thence
proceeded by the same vessel to Cardenas, Cuba, and from that point
journeyed overland to Havana, arriving October 22. In the party there
were, besides the two envoys, their secretaries, McFarland and Eustis,
and the family of Slidell. On November 7 they sailed for the Danish
island of St. Thomas, expecting thence to take a British steamer for
Southampton. The vessel on which they left Havana was the British
contract mail-packet _Trent_, whose captain had full knowledge of the
diplomatic character of his passengers. About noon on November 8 the
_Trent_ was stopped in the Bahama Channel by the United States sloop of
war, _San Jacinto_, Captain Wilkes commanding, by a shot across the
bows, and a boarding party took from the _Trent_ Mason and Slidell with
their secretaries, transferred them to the _San Jacinto_, and proceeded
to an American port. Protest was made both by the captain of the _Trent_
and by Commander Williams, R.N., admiralty agent in charge of mails on
board the ship[401]. The two envoys also declared that they would yield
only to personal compulsion, whereupon hands were laid upon shoulders
and coat collars, and, accepting this as the application of _force_,
they were transferred to the _San Jacinto's_ boats. The scene on the
_Trent_, as described by all parties, both then and later, partakes of
the nature of comic opera, yet was serious enough to the participants.
In fact, the envoys, especially Slidell, were exultant in the conviction
that the action of Wilkes would inevitably result in the early
realization of the object of their journey--recognition of the South,
at least by Great Britain[402]. Once on board the _San Jacinto_ they
were treated more like guests on a private yacht, having "seats at the
captain's table," than as enemy prisoners on an American war-ship.

Captain Wilkes had acted without orders, and, indeed, even without any
recent official information from Washington. He was returning from a
cruise off the African coast, and had reached St. Thomas on October 10.
A few days later, when off the south coat of Cuba, he had learned of the
Confederate appointment of Mason and Slidell, and on the twenty-eighth,
in Havana harbour, he heard that the Commissioners were to sail on the
_Trent_. At once he conceived the idea of intercepting the _Trent_,
exercising the right of search, and seizing the envoys, in spite of the
alleged objections of his executive officer, Lieutenant Fairfax. The
result was that quite without authority from the United States Navy
Department, and solely upon his own responsibility, a challenge was
addressed to Britain, the "mistress of the seas," certain to be accepted
by that nation as an insult to national prestige and national pride not
quietly to be suffered.

The _San Jacinto_ reached Fortress Monroe on the evening of November 15.
The next day the news was known, but since it was Saturday, few papers
contained more than brief and inaccurate accounts and, there being then
few Sunday papers, it was not until Monday, the eighteenth, that there
broke out a widespread rejoicing and glorification in the Northern
press[403]. America, for a few days, passed through a spasm of
exultation hard to understand, even by those who felt it, once the first
emotion had subsided. This had various causes, but among them is evident
a quite childish fear of the acuteness and abilities of Mason and
Slidell. Both men were indeed persons of distinction in the politics of
the previous decades. Mason had always been open in his expressed
antipathy to the North, especially to New England, had long been a
leader in Virginia, and at the time of the Southern secession, was a
United States Senator from that State. Slidell, a Northerner by birth,
but early removed to Louisiana, had acquired fortune in business there,
and had for nearly twenty years been the political "boss" of one faction
of the Democratic Party in New Orleans and in the State. With much
previous experience in diplomacy, especially that requiring intrigue and
indirect methods (as in the preliminaries of the Mexican War), and
having held his seat in the United States Senate until the withdrawal of
Louisiana from the Union, he was, of the two men, more feared and more
detested, but both were thoroughly obnoxious to the North. Merely on the
personal side their capture was cause for wide rejoicing[404].

Surprise was also an element in the American elation, for until the news
of the capture was received no portion of the public had given serious
thought to any attempt to stop the envoys. Surprise also played its part
when the affair became known in England, though in official circles
there had been some warning. It had already been reported in the British
press that Mason and Slidell had run the blockade at Charleston, were in
Cuba, and were about to set sail for England on the Confederate steamer
_Nashville_, but the British Government, considering that the envoys
might perhaps sail rather on the West India Mail Steamer for
Southampton, became much concerned over a possible American interference
with that vessel. On November 9 Hammond sent an urgent enquiry to the
Advocate-General stating the situation, calling attention to the
presence at Southampton of an American war-vessel, and asking whether
this vessel, or any other American man-of-war, "would be entitled to
interfere with the mail steamer if fallen in with beyond the territorial
limits of the United Kingdom, that is beyond three miles from the
British Coast."

[Illustration: _Photo: Handy, Washington_ JAMES M. MASON]

     "Whether for instance she might cause the West India Mail
     Steamer to bring to, might board her, examine her Papers,
     open the Mail Bags and examine the contents thereof, examine
     the luggage of passengers, seize and carry away Messrs. Mason
     and Slidell in person, or seize their Credentials and
     Instructions and Despatches, or even put a Prize Crew on
     board the West India Steamer and carry her off to a Port of
     the United States; in other words what would be the right of
     the American Cruiser with regard to her passengers and crew
     and lawful papers and correspondence on board our packet on
     the assumption that the said packet was liable to capture and
     confiscation on the ground of carrying enemies' despatches;
     would the Cruiser be entitled to carry the packet and all and
     everything in her back to America or would she be obliged to
     land in this Country or in some near port all the people and
     all the unseizable goods[405]?"

Hammond further stated that Russell was anxious to have an immediate
reply, inasmuch as the mail packet was due to arrive in Southampton on
November 12. The opinion of the law officer consulted is best given in
Palmerston's own words in a letter to Delane, Editor of the _Times_:

     "_94 Piccadilly,
     November 11, 1861_.


     "It may be useful to you to know that the Chancellor, Dr.
     Lushington, the three Law Officers, Sir G. Grey, the Duke of
     Somerset, and myself, met at the Treasury to-day to consider
     what we could properly do about the American cruiser come, no
     doubt, to search the West Indian packet supposed to be
     bringing hither the two Southern envoys; and, much to my
     regret, it appeared that, according to the principles of
     international law laid down in our courts by Lord Stowell,
     and practised and enforced by us, a belligerent has a right
     to stop and search any neutral not being a ship of war, and
     being found on the high seas and being suspected of carrying
     enemy's despatches; and that consequently this American
     cruiser might, by our own principles of international law,
     stop the West Indian packet, search her, and if the Southern
     men and their despatches and credentials were found on board,
     either take them out, or seize the packet and carry her back
     to New York for trial. Such being the opinion of our men
     learned in the law, we have determined to do no more than to
     order the _Phaeton_ frigate to drop down to Yarmouth Roads
     and watch the proceedings of the American within our
     three-mile limit of territorial jurisdiction, and to prevent
     her from exercising within that limit those rights which we
     cannot dispute as belonging to her beyond that limit.

     "In the meanwhile the American captain, having got very drunk
     this morning at Southampton with some excellent brandy, and
     finding it blow heavily at sea, has come to an anchor for the
     night within Calshot Castle, at the entrance of the
     Southampton river.

     "I mention these things for your private information.

     Yours sincerely,


Not completely satisfied with this decision as reported to Delane, and
sincerely anxious to avert what he foresaw would be a difficult
situation, Palmerston took the unusual step of writing to Adams on the
next day, November 12, and asking for an interview. His note took Adams
by surprise, but he promptly waited upon Palmerston, and was told of the
latter's disturbance at the presence of the American ship _James Adger_,
Captain Marchand commanding, in Southampton Harbour, with the alleged
purpose of stopping the British West India steamer and intercepting the
journey of Mason and Slidell. Palmerston stated that he "did not pretend
to judge absolutely of the question whether we had a right to stop a
foreign vessel for such a purpose as was indicated," and he urged on
Adams the unwisdom of such an act in any case. "Neither did the object
to be gained seem commensurate with the risk. For it was surely of no
consequence whether one or two more men were added to the two or three
who had already been so long here. They would scarcely make a difference
in the action of the Government after once having made up its

The interview with Adams, so Palmerston wrote to Delane on the same day,
November 12, was reassuring:


     "I have seen Adams to-day, and he assures me that the
     American paddle-wheel was sent to intercept the _Nashville_
     if found in these seas, but not to meddle with any ship under
     a foreign flag. He said he had seen the commander, and had
     advised him to go straight home; and he believed the steamer
     to be now on her way back to the United States. This is a
     very satisfactory explanation.

     Yours sincerely,


In fact, neither Adams' diary nor his report to Seward recorded quite
the same statement as that here attributed to him by Palmerston, and
this became later, but fortunately after the question of the _Trent_ had
passed off the stage, a matter of minor dispute. Adams' own statement
was that he had told Palmerston the _James Adger_ was seeking to
intercept the _Nashville_ and "had no instruction" to interfere with a
British Packet--which is not the same as saying that she already had
instructions "not to meddle with any ship under a foreign flag[409]."
But in any case, it would appear that the British Government had been
warned by its legal advisers that if that which actually happened in the
case of the _Trent_ should occur, English practice, if followed, would
compel acquiescence in it[410]. This is not to say that a first legal
advice thus given on a problematical case necessarily bound the
Government to a fixed line of action, but that the opinion of the
Government was one of "no help for it" if the case should actually arise
is shown by the instructions to Lyons and by his reaction. On November
16, Hammond wrote to Lyons stating the opinion of the Law Officers that
"we could do nothing to save the Packet being interfered with outside
our three miles; so Lord Palmerston sent for Adams, who assured him that
the American [the _James Adger_] had no instructions to meddle with any
ship under English colours ... that her orders were not to endeavour to
take Mason and Slidell out of any ship under foreign colours[411]." On
receipt of this letter subsequent to the actual seizure of the envoys,
Lyons hardly knew what to expect. He reported Hammond's account to
Admiral Milne, writing that the legal opinion was that "Nothing could be
done to save the Packet's being interfered with outside of the Marine
league from the British Coast"; but he added, "I am not informed that
the Law Officers decided that Mason and Slidell might be taken out of
the Packet, but only that we could not prevent the Packet's being
interfered with," thus previsioning that shift in British legal opinion
which was to come _after_ the event. Meanwhile Lyons was so uncertain as
to what his instructions would be that he thought he "ought to maintain
the greatest reserve here on the matter of the _Trent_[412]."

This British anxiety and the efforts to prevent a dangerous complication
occurred after the envoys had been seized but some two weeks before that
fact was known in London. "Adams," wrote Russell, "says it was all a
false alarm, and wonders at our susceptibility and exaggerated
notions[413]." But Russell was not equally convinced with Adams that the
North, especially Seward, was so eager for continued British
neutrality, and when, on November 27, the news of Captain Wilkes' action
was received, Russell and many others in the Cabinet saw in it a
continuation of unfriendly Northern policy now culminating in a direct
affront. Argyll, the most avowed friend of the North in the Cabinet, was
stirred at first to keen resentment, writing "of this wretched piece of
American folly.... I am all against submitting to any clean breach of
International Law, such as I can hardly doubt this has been[414]." The
Law Officers now held that "Captain Wilkes had undertaken to pass upon
the issue of a violation of neutrality on the spot, instead of sending
the _Trent_ as a prize into port for judicial adjudication[415]." This
was still later further expanded by an opinion that the envoys could not
be considered as contraband, and thus subject to capture nor the _Trent_
as having violated neutrality, since the destination of the vessel was
to a neutral, not to an enemy port[416]. This opinion would have
prohibited even the carrying of the _Trent_ into an American port for
trial by a prize court.

But the British Government did not argue the matter in its demand upon
the United States. The case was one for a quick demand of prompt
reparation. Russell's instruction to Lyons, sent on November 30, was
couched in coldly correct language, showing neither a friendly nor an
unfriendly attitude. The seizure of the envoys was asserted to be a
breach of international law, which, it was hoped, had occurred without
orders, and Lyons was to demand the restoration of the prisoners with an
apology. If Seward had not already offered these terms Lyons was to
propose them, but as a preliminary step in making clear the British
position, he might read the instruction to Seward, leaving him a copy
of it if desired[417]. In another instruction of the same date Russell
authorized a delay of seven days in insisting upon an answer by Seward,
if the latter wished it, and gave Lyons liberty to determine whether
"the requirements of Her Majesty's Government are substantially complied
with[418]." And on December 1, Russell writing privately to Lyons
instructed him, while upholding English dignity, to abstain from
anything like menace[419]. On November 30, also, the Government
hurriedly sent out orders to hold the British Fleet in readiness, began
preparations for the sending of troops to Canada, and initiated
munitions and supply activities. Evidently there was at first but faint
hope that a break in relations, soon to be followed by war, was to be

It has long been known to history, and was known to Adams almost
immediately, that the first draft of the instruction to Lyons was
softened in language by the advice of Prince Albert, the material point
being the expression of a hope that the action of Captain Wilkes was
unauthorized[421]. That instruction had been sent previous to the
receipt of a report from Lyons in which, very fearful of results, he
stated that, waiting instructions, he would preserve a strict
silence[422]. Equally anxious was Cowley at Paris, who feared the
realization of Seward's former "foreign war panacea." "I wish I could
divest myself of the idea that the North and South will not shake hands
over a war with us[423]." Considering the bitterness of the quarrel in
America this was a far-fetched notion. The efforts promptly made by the
Confederate agents in London to make use of the _Trent_ affair showed
how little Cowley understood the American temper. Having remained very
quiet since August when Russell had informed them that Great Britain
intended remaining strictly neutral[424], they now, on November 27 and
30, renewed their argument and application for recognition, but received
in reply a curt letter declining any official communication with them
"in the present state of affairs[425]."

The delay of at least three weeks imposed by methods of transportation
before even the first American reaction to the British demand could be
received in London gave time for a lessening of excitement and a more
careful self-analysis by British statesmen as to what they really felt
and desired. Gladstone wrote: "It is a very sad and heart-sickening
business, and I sincerely trust with you that war may be averted[426]."
Argyll hurried home from the Continent, being much disturbed by the tone
of the British press, and stating that he was against standing on
technical grounds of international law. "War with America is such a
calamity that we must do all we can to avoid it. It involves not only
ourselves, but all our North American colonies[427]." But war seemed to
both men scarcely avoidable, an opinion held also by Cornewall
Lewis[428] and by Clarendon, the latter standing at the moment in a
position midway between the Whig and Tory parties[429]. Yet Russell,
with more cause than others to mistrust Seward's policy, as also
believing that he had more cause, personally, to resent it, was less
pessimistic and was already thinking of at least postponing immediate
hostilities in the event of an American refusal to make just recompense.
On December 16 he wrote to Palmerston: "I incline more and more to the
opinion that if the answer is a reasoning, and not a blunt offensive
answer, we should send once more across the Atlantic to ask
compliance.... I do not think the country would approve an immediate
declaration of war. But I think we must abide by our demand of a
restoration of the prisoners.... Lyons gives a sad account of Canada.
Your foresight of last year is amply justified[430]." And on December 20
he wrote, "Adams' language yesterday was entirely in favour of yielding
to us, if our tone is not too peremptory.... If our demands are
refused, we must, of course, call Parliament together. The sixth
of February will do. In any other case we must decide according to

Thus Russell would not have Great Britain go to war with America without
the sanction of Parliament, and was seeking reasons for delay. He was
reacting, in fact, to a more sobering second thought which was
experienced also by nearly everyone, save the eager British
"Southerner," in public and in newspaper circles. The first explosion of
the Press, on receipt of the news of the _Trent_, had been a terrific
one. The British lion, insulted in its chosen field of supremacy, the
sea, had pawed the air in frenzy though at first preserving a certain
slow dignity of motion. Customary "strong leader-writing" became
vigorous, indeed, in editorial treatment of America and in demand for
the prompt release of the envoys with suitable apology. The close touch
of leading papers with Governmental opinion is well shown, as in the
_Times_, by the day-to-day editorials of the first week. On November 28
there was solemn and anxious consideration of a grave crisis with much
questioning of international law, which was acknowledged to be doubtful.
But even if old British practice seemed to support Captain Wilkes, the
present was not to be controlled by a discarded past, and "essential
differences" were pointed out. This tone of vexed uncertainty changed to
a note of positive assurance and militant patriotism on November 30 when
the Government made its demand. The _Times_ up to December 2, thought it
absolutely certain that Wilkes had acted on authorization, and devoted
much space to Seward as the evil genius of American warlike policy
toward England. The old "Duke of Newcastle story" was revamped. But on
December 2 there reached London the first, very brief, American news of
the arrival of the _San Jacinto_ at Fortress Monroe, and this contained
a positive statement by Wilkes that he had had no orders. The _Times_
was sceptical, but printed the news as having an important bearing, if
true, and, at the same time, printed communications by "Justicia" and
others advising a "go slowly" policy[432]. Yet all British papers
indulged in sharp reflections on American insults, displayed keen
resentment, and demanded a prompt yielding to the Governmental demand.

An intelligent American long resident in London, wrote to Seward on
November 29: "There never was within memory such a burst of feeling as
has been created by the news of the boarding of [the Trent]. The people
are frantic with rage, and were the country polled, I fear 999 men out
of a thousand would declare for immediate war. Lord Palmerston cannot
resist the impulse if he would." And another American, in Edinburgh,
wrote to his uncle in New York: "I have never seen so intense a feeling
of indignation exhibited in my life. It pervades all classes, and may
make itself heard above the wiser theories of the Cabinet
officers[433]." If such were the British temper, it would require
skilful handling by even a pacific-minded Government to avoid war. Even
without belligerent newspaper utterances the tone of arrogance as in
_Punch's_ cartoon, "You do what's right, my son, or I'll blow you out of
the water," portended no happy solution. Yet this cartoon at least
implied a hope of peaceful outcome, and that this was soon a general
hope is shown by the prompt publicity given to a statement from the
American General, Winfield Scott, in Paris, denying that he had said the
action of Captain Wilkes had been decided upon at Washington before he
sailed for Europe, and asserting that no orders were given to seize the
envoys on board any British or foreign vessel[434]. Nevertheless, Adams,
for the moment intensely aroused, and suspicious of the whole purpose of
British policy, could write to his friend Dana in Boston: "The
expression of the past summer might have convinced you that she [Great
Britain] was not indifferent to the disruption of the Union. In May she
drove in the tip of the wedge, and now you can't imagine that a few
spiders' webs of a half a century back will not be strong enough to hold
her from driving it home. Little do you understand of this fast-anchored

There can be no doubt that one cause of a more bitter and sharper tone
in the British press was the reception of the counter-exultation of the
American press on learning of the detention and the exercise of "right
of search" on a British ship. The American public equally went "off its
head" in its expressions. Writing in 1911, the son of the American
Minister to Great Britain, Charles Francis Adams, jun., in 1861, a young
law-student in Boston, stated: "I do not remember in the whole course of
the half-century's retrospect ... any occurrence in which the American
people were so completely swept off their feet, for the moment losing
possession of their senses, as during the weeks which immediately
followed the seizure of Mason and Slidell[436]." There were evident two
principal causes for this elation. The North with much emotion and high
courage entering in April, 1861, upon the task of restoring the Union
and hoping for quick success, had now passed through a wearisome six
months with no evident progress towards its object. Northern failure had
developed a deep mortification when, suddenly and unexpectedly, a bold
naval captain, on his own initiative, appeared to have struck a real
blow at the South. His action seemed to indicate that the fighting
forces of the North, if free from the trammels of Washington red tape,
could, and would, carry on energetic war. Certainly it was but a slight
incident to create such Northern emotion, yet the result was a sudden
lifting from despondency to elation.

But almost equally with this cause of joy there operated on American
minds the notion that the United States had at last given to Great
Britain a dose of her own medicine in a previous era--had exercised upon
a British ship that "right of search" which had been so keenly resented
by America as to have become almost a _permanent_ cause of a sense of
injury once received and never to be forgotten. There was no clear
thinking about this; the obnoxious right of search in times of peace for
vagrant seamen, the belligerent right exercised by Britain while America
was a neutral, the practice of a "right of visit" claimed by Britain as
necessary in suppression of the African Slave Trade--all were confused
by the American public (as they are still in many history textbooks to
this day), and the total result of this mixing of ideas was a general
American jubilation that the United States had now revenged herself for
British offences, in a manner of which Great Britain could not
consistently complain. These two main reasons for exultation were shared
by all classes, not merely by the uninformed mob of newspaper readers.
At a banquet tendered Captain Wilkes in Boston on November 26, Governor
Andrews of Massachusetts called Wilkes' action "one of the most
illustrious services that had made the war memorable," and added "that
there might be nothing left [in the episode] to crown the exultation of
the American heart, Commodore Wilkes fired his shot across the bows of
the ship that bore the British lion at its head[437]."

All America first applauded the act, then plunged into discussion of its
legality as doubts began to arise of its defensibility--and wisdom. It
became a sort of temporarily popular "parlour game" to argue the
international law of the case and decide that Great Britain could have
no cause of complaint[438]. Meanwhile at Washington itself there was
evidenced almost equal excitement and approval--but not, fortunately, by
the Department responsible for the conduct of foreign relations.
Secretary of the Navy Welles congratulated Wilkes on his "great public
service," though criticizing him for not having brought the _Trent_ into
port for adjudication. Congress passed a joint resolution, December 2,
thanking Wilkes for his conduct, and the President was requested to give
him a gold medal commemorative of his act. Indeed, no evidence of
approbation was withheld save the formal approval and avowal of national
responsibility by the Secretary of State, Seward. On him, therefore, and
on the wisdom of men high in the confidence of the Cabinet, like Sumner,
Lyons pinned his faint hope of a peaceful solution. Thoroughly alarmed
and despondent, anxious as to the possible fate of Canada[439], he
advised against any public preparations in Canada for defence, on the
ground that if the _Trent_ affair did blow over it should not appear
that we ever thought it an insult which would endanger peace[440]. This
was very different from the action and attitude of the Government at
home, as yet unknown to Lyons. He wisely waited in silence, advising
like caution to others, until the receipt of instructions. Silence, at
the moment, was also a friendly service to the United States.

The earliest American reactions, the national rejoicing, became known to
the British press some six days after its own spasm of anger, and three
days after the Government had despatched its demand for release of the
prisoners and begun its hurried military preparations. On December 3 the
_Times_ contained the first summary of American press outpourings. The
first effect in England was astonishment, followed by renewed and more
intense evidences of a belligerent disposition. Soon, however, there
began to appear a note of caution and more sane judgment of the
situation, though with no lessening of the assertion that Britain had
suffered an injury that must be redressed. The American frenzy of
delight seemingly indicated a deep-seated hostility to Britain that gave
pause to British clamour for revenge. On December 4 John Bright made a
great speech at Rochdale, arguing a possible British precedent for
Wilkes' act, urging caution, lauding American leadership in democracy,
and stating his positive conviction that the United States Government
was as much astonished as was that of Great Britain by the attack on the
_Trent._[441] To this the _Times_ gave a full column of report on
December 5 and the day following printed five close-type columns of the
speech itself. Editorially it attacked Bright's position, belittling the
speech for having been made at the one "inconspicuous" place where the
orator would be sure of a warm welcome, and asking why Manchester or
Liverpool had not been chosen. In fact, however, the _Times_ was
attempting to controvert "our ancient enemy" Bright as an apostle of
democracy rather than to fan the flames of irritation over the _Trent_,
and the prominence given to Bright's speech indicates a greater
readiness to consider as hopeful an escape from the existing crisis.

After December 3 and up to the ninth, the _Times_ was more caustic about
America than previously. The impression of its editorials read to-day is
that more hopeful of a peaceful solution it was more free to snarl. But
with the issue of December 10 there began a series of leaders and
communications, though occasionally with a relapse to the former tone,
distinctly less irritating to Americans, and indicating a real desire
for peace[442]. Other newspapers either followed the _Times_, or were
slightly in advance of it in a change to more considerate and peaceful
expressions. Adams could write to Seward on December 6 that he saw no
change in the universality of the British demand for satisfaction of the
"insult and injury thought to be endured," but he recognized in the next
few days that a slow shift was taking place in the British temper and
regretted the violence of American utterances. December 12, he wrote to
his son in America: "It has given us here an indescribably sad feeling
to witness the exultation in America over an event which bids fair to be
the final calamity in this contest...." Great Britain "is right in
principle and only wrong in point of consistency. Our mistake is that we
are donning ourselves in her cast-off suit, when our own is better worth
wearing[443]." His secretarial son was more vehement: "Angry and hateful
as I am of Great Britain, I still can't help laughing and cursing at the
same time as I see the accounts of the talk of our people. What a bloody
set of fools they are! How in the name of all that's conceivable could
you suppose that England would sit quiet under such an insult. _We_
should have jumped out of our boots at such a one[444]."

The British Cabinet members were divided in sentiments of hope or
pessimism as to the outcome, and were increasingly anxious for an
honourable escape from a possible situation in which, if they trusted
the observations of Lyons, they might find themselves aiding a slave as
against a free State. On November 29, Lyons had written a long account
of the changes taking place in Northern feeling as regards slavery. He
thought it very probable that the issue of emancipation would soon be
forced upon Lincoln, and that the American conflict would then take on a
new and more ideal character[445]. This letter, arriving in the midst of
uncertainty about the _Trent_ solution, was in line with news published
in the British papers calling out editorials from them largely in
disapproval[446]. Certainly Russell was averse to war. If the prisoners
were not given up, what, he asked, ought England then to do? Would it be
wise to delay hostilities or to begin them at once?

"An early resort to hostilities will enable us at once to raise the
blockade of the South, to blockade the North, and to prevent the egress
of numerous ships, commissioned as privateers which will be sent against
our commerce." But then, there was Canada, at present not defensible. He
had been reading Alison on the War of 1812, and found that then the
American army of invasion had numbered but 2,500 men. "We may now expect
40 or 50,000[447]." Two days later he wrote to Gladstone that if America
would only "let the Commissioners free to go where they pleased," he
would be satisfied. He added that in that case, "I should be very glad
to make a treaty with the U.S., giving up our pretensions of 1812 and
securing immunity to persons not in arms on board neutral vessels or to
persons going bona fide from one neutral port to another. This would be
a triumph to the U.S. in principle while the particular case would be
decided in our favour[448]."

On Saturday, December 14, the Prince Consort died. It was well-known
that he had long been a brake upon the wheel of Palmerston's foreign
policy and, to the initiated, his last effort in this direction--the
modification of the instruction to Lyons on the _Trent_--was no secret.
There is no evidence that his death made any change in the British
position, but it was true, as the American Minister wrote, that "Now
they [the British public] are beginning to open their eyes to a sense of
his value. They discover that much of their political quietude has been
due to the judicious exercise of his influence over the Queen and the
Court, and they do not conceal their uneasiness as to the future without
him[449]." The nation was plunged into deep mourning, but not to
distraction from the American crisis, for on the day when all papers
were black with mourning borders, December 16, they printed the news of
the approval of Wilkes by the United States Congress, and gave a summary
of Lincoln's message of December 2, which, to their astonishment, made
no mention of the _Trent_ affair. The Congressional approval caused
"almost a feeling of consternation among ourselves," but Lincoln's
silence, it was argued, might possibly be taken as a good omen, since it
might indicate that he had as yet reached no decision[450]. Evidently
there was more real alarm caused by the applause given Wilkes by one
branch of the government than by the outpourings of the American press.
The next day several papers printed Lincoln's message in full and the
_Times_ gave a long editorial analysis, showing much spleen that he had
ignored the issue with Great Britain[451]. On the eighteenth this
journal also called attention, in a column and a half editorial, to the
report of the American Secretary of War, expressing astonishment, not
unmixed with anxiety, at the energy which had resulted in the increase
of the army to 700,000 men in less than nine months. The _Times_
continued, even increased, its "vigour" of utterance on the _Trent_, but
devoted most of its energy to combating the suggestions, now being made
very generally, advocating a recourse to arbitration. This would be
"weak concession," and less likely to secure redress and peace for the
future, than an insistence on the original demands.

Statesmen also were puzzled by Lincoln's silence. Milner Gibson wrote
that "even though Lyons should come away, I think the dispute may after
all be settled without war[452]." Cornewall Lewis thought the "last mail
from America is decidedly threatening, not encouraging[453]." But on
December 19, Adams was at last able to give Russell official assurance
that Wilkes had acted without authorization. Russell at once informed
Lyons of this communication and that he had now told Adams the exact
terms of his two instructions to Lyons of November 30. He instructed
Lyons to accept in place of an apology an explanation that Wilkes'
action was unauthorized--a very important further British modification,
but one which did not reach Lyons until after the conclusion of the
affair at Washington[454]. Meanwhile a notable change had taken place in
American public expressions. It now regarded "the Wilkes affair
unfavourably, and would much prefer it had not occurred at all[455]," a
reaction without question almost wholly caused by the knowledge of the
British demand and the unanimous support given it by the British
public[456]. On Great Britain the alteration in the American tone
produced less effect than might have been expected, and this because of
the persistent fear and suspicion of Seward. His voice, it was felt,
would in the end be the determining one, and if British belief that he
had long sought an occasion for war was correct, this surely was the
time when he could be confident of popular support. Thurlow Weed,
Seward's most intimate political adviser, was now in London and
attempted to disabuse the British public through the columns of the
_Times_. His communication was printed, but his assertion that Seward's
unfriendly utterances, beginning with the "Newcastle story," were
misunderstood, did not convince the _Times_, which answered him at
length[457], and asserted its belief "... that upon his ability to
involve the United States in a war with England, Mr. Seward has staked
his official, and, most probably, also his political existence." The
Duke of Newcastle's report of Seward's remarks, wrote George Peabody
later, "has strongly influenced the Government in war preparations for
several months past[458]." Adams himself, though convinced that Seward's
supposed animosity "was a mistake founded on a bad joke of his to the
Duke of Newcastle," acknowledged that: "The Duke has, however,
succeeded in making everybody in authority here believe it[459]." Surely
no "joke" to an Englishman ever so plagued an American statesman; but
British Ministers founded their suspicions on far more serious reasons,
as previously related[460].

As time passed without an answer from America, British speculation
turned to estimates of the probable conditions of a war. These were not
reassuring since even though postulating a British victory, it appeared
inevitable that England would not escape without considerable damage
from the American navy and from privateers. Americans were "a powerful
and adventurous people, strong in maritime resources, and participating
in our own national familiarity with the risks and dangers of the
deep[461]." Englishmen must not think that a war would be fought only on
the shores of America and in Canada. The legal question was re-hashed
and intelligent American vexation re-stated in three letters printed in
the _Daily News_ on December 25, 26 and 27, by W. W. Story, an artist
resident in Rome, but known in England as the son of Justice Story,
whose fame as a jurist stood high in Great Britain[462]. By the last
week of the year Adams felt that the Ministry, at least, was eager to
find a way out: "The Government here will not press the thing to an
extreme unless they are driven to it by the impetus of the wave they
have themselves created[463]." He greatly regretted the death of the
Prince Consort who "believed in the policy of conciliating the United
States instead of repelling them." On December 27, Adams wrote Seward:
"I think the signs are clear of a considerable degree of reaction." He
also explained the causes of the nearly unanimous European support of
England in this contention: "Unquestionably the view of all other
countries is that the opportunity is most fortunate for obtaining new
and large modifications of international law which will hereafter
materially restrain the proverbial tendency of this country on the

Adams' estimate was correct. Even the _Morning Post_, generally accepted
as Palmerston's organ[465], and in the _Trent_ crisis the most
'vigorous' of all metropolitan journals, commented upon the general
public hope of a peaceful solution, but asked on December 30, "... can a
Government [the American] elected but a few months since by the popular
choice, depending exclusively for existence on popular support, afford
to disappoint the popular expectation? The answer to this question must,
we fear, be in the negative...." The _Post_ (thereby Palmerston?) did
indeed, as later charged, "prolong the excitement," but not with its
earlier animosity to America. The very fact that the _Post_ was accepted
as Palmerston's organ justified this attitude for it would have been
folly for the Government to announce prematurely a result of which there
was as yet no definite assurance. Yet _within_ the Cabinet there was a
more hopeful feeling. Argyll believed Adams' statement to Russell of
December 19 was practically conclusive[466], and Adams himself now
thought that the prevalent idea was waning of an American plan to
inflict persistent "indignities" on Britain: "at least in this case
nothing of the kind had been intended[467]." Everyone wondered at and
was vexed with the delay of an answer from America, yet hopefully
believed that this indicated ultimate yielding. There could be no
surety until the event. Russell wrote to Palmerston on January 7, "I
still incline to think Lincoln will submit, but not until the clock is
59 minutes past 11. If it is war, I fear we must summon Parliament

The last moment for reply was indeed very nearly taken advantage of at
Washington, but not to the full seven days permitted for consideration
by Russell's November thirtieth instructions to Lyons. These were
received on December 18, and on the next day Lyons unofficially
acquainted Seward with their nature[469]. The latter expressed
gratification with the "friendly and conciliatory manner" of Lyons and
asked for two days' time for consideration. On Saturday, December 21,
therefore, Lyons again appeared to make a formal presentation of demands
but was met with a statement that the press of other business had
prevented sufficient consideration and was asked for a further two days'
postponement until Monday. Hence December 23 became the day from which
the seven days permitted for consideration and reply dated. In the
meantime, Mercier, on December 21, had told Seward of the strong support
given by France to the British position.

The month that had elapsed since the American outburst on first learning
of Wilkes' act had given time for a cooling of patriotic fever and for a
saner judgment. Henry Adams in London had written to his brother that if
the prisoners were not given up, "this nation means to make war." To
this the brother in America replied "this nation doesn't[470]," an
answer that sums up public determination no matter how loud the talk or
deep the feeling. Seward understood the change and had now received
strong warnings from Adams and Weed in London, and from Dayton in
Paris[471], but these were not needed to convince him that America must
yield. Apparently, he had recognized from the first that America was in
an impossible situation and that the prisoners must be released _if the
demand were made_. The comment of those who were "wise after the event"
was that true policy would have dictated an immediate release of the
prisoners as seized in violation of international law, before any
complaint could be received from Great Britain. This leaves out of
consideration the political difficulties at home of an administration
already seriously weakened by a long-continued failure to "press the
war," and it also fails to recognize that in the American Cabinet itself
a proposal by Seward to release, made immediately, would in all
probability have been negatived. Blair, in the Cabinet, and Sumner in
the Senate, were, indeed, in favour of prompt release, but Lincoln seems
to have thought the prisoners must be held, even though he feared they
might become "white elephants." All that Seward could do at first was to
notify Adams that Wilkes had acted without instructions[472].

On Christmas morning the Cabinet met to consider the answer to Great
Britain. Sumner attended and read letters from Bright and Cobden,
earnestly urging a yielding by America and depicting the strength of
British feeling. Bright wrote: "If you are resolved to succeed against
the South, _have no war with England_; make every concession that can be
made; don't even hesitate to tell the world _that you will even concede
what two years ago no Power would have asked of you_, rather than give
another nation a pretence for assisting in the breaking up of your
country[473]." Without doubt Bright's letters had great influence on
Lincoln and on other Cabinet members, greatly aiding Seward, but that
his task was difficult is shown by the fact that an entire morning's
discussion brought no conclusion. Adjournment was taken until the next
day and after another long debate Seward had the fortune to persuade his
associates to a hearty unanimity on December 26. The American reply in
the form of a communication to Lyons was presented to him by Seward on
the 27th, and on that same day Lyons forwarded it to Russell. It did not
contain an apology, but Lyons wrote that since the prisoners were to be
released and acknowledgment was made that reparation was due to Great
Britain, he considered that British demands were "so far substantially
complied with" that he should remain at his post until he received
further orders[474].

Seward's reply was immediately printed in the American papers. Lyons
reported that it was very well received and that the public was calm and
apparently contented with the outcome[475]. He thought that "thus the
preparation for war ... has prevented war." Seward's argument reviewed
at great length all the conditions of the incident, dilated on many
points of international law both relevant and irrelevant, narrated the
past relations of the two nations on "right of search," and finally took
the ground that Mason and Slidell were contraband of war and justly
subject to capture, but that Wilkes had erred in not bringing the
_Trent_, with her passengers, into port for trial by an American prize
court. Therefore the two envoys with their secretaries would be handed
over promptly to such persons as Lyons might designate. It was, says
Seward's biographer, not a great state paper, was defective in argument,
and contained many contradictions[476], but, he adds, that it was
intended primarily for the American public and to meet the situation at
home. Another critic sums up Seward's difficulties: he had to persuade a
President and a reluctant Cabinet, to support the naval idol of the day,
to reconcile a Congress which had passed resolutions highly commending
Wilkes, and to pacify a public earlier worked up to fever pitch[477].
Still more important than ill-founded assertions about the nature of
contraband of war, a term not reconcilable with the _neutral port_
destination of the _Trent_, was the likening of Mason and Slidell to
"ambassadors of independent states." For eight months Seward had
protested to Europe "that the Confederates were not belligerents, but
insurgents," and now "his whole argument rested on the fact that they
were belligerents[478].... But this did not later alter a return to his
old position nor prevent renewed arguments to induce a recall by
European states of their proclamations of neutrality.

On the afternoon of January 8, a telegram from Lyons was received in
London, stating that the envoys would be released and the next day came
his despatch enclosing a copy of Seward's answer. The envoys themselves
did not reach England until January 30, and the delay in their voyage
gave time for an almost complete disappearance of public interest in
them[479]. January 10, Russell instructed Lyons that Great Britain was
well satisfied with the fact and manner of the American answer, and
regarded the incident as closed, but that it could not agree with
portions of Seward's argument and would answer these later. This was
done on January 23, but the reply was mainly a mere formality and is of
interest only as revealing a further shift in the opinion of the legal
advisers, with emphasis on the question of what constitutes
contraband[480]. Possibly the British Government was embarrassed by the
fact that while France had strongly supported England at Washington,
Thouvenel had told Cowley "... that the conduct pursued by Capt. Wilkes,
whether the United States claimed to be considered as Belligerents, _or
as a Government engaged in putting down a rebellion_, was a violation of
all those principles of Maritime international law, which France had
ever supported[481] ..." and had instructed Mercier to so state to
Seward. This implied a reflection on former British practice, especially
as regards the exercise of a right of search to recover its own citizens
and is indicative of the correctness of Adams' judgment that one main
reason for European support of Great Britain in the _Trent_ crisis, was
the general desire to tie her to a limitation of belligerent
maritime power.

In notifying Russell of the release of the prisoners, Lyons had stated
that he would caution the Commander of the ship conveying them that they
were "not to be received with honours or treated otherwise than as
distinguished _private_ gentlemen[482]." Russell was equally cautious,
seeing Mason, shortly after arrival in London, "unofficially at my own
house," on February 10, refusing to read his credentials, and after
listening to a statement of his instructions, replying that "nothing had
hitherto occurred which would justify or induce" Great Britain to depart
from a position of neutrality[483]. Russell had already suggested that
Thouvenel use the same method with Slidell[484]. This procedure does not
necessarily indicate a change in governmental attitude, for it is
exactly in line with that pursued toward the Confederate Commissioners
before the _Trent_; but the _Trent_ controversy might naturally have
been expected to have brought about an _easier_ relation between Russell
and a Southern representative. That it did not do so is evidence of
Russell's care not to give offence to Northern susceptibilities. Also,
in relief at the outcome of the _Trent_, he was convinced, momentarily
at least, that the general British suspicion of Seward was unfounded. "I
do not," he wrote to Gladstone, "believe that Seward has any animosity
to this country. It is all buncom" (_sic_)[485]. Apparently it was
beginning to be realized by British statesmen that Seward's "high tone"
which they had interpreted, with some justification earlier, as
especially inimical to England, now indicated a foreign policy based
upon one object only--the restoration of the Union, and that in pursuit
of this object he was but seeking to make clear to European nations that
the United States was still powerful enough to resent foreign
interference. The final decision in the _Trent_ affair, such was the
situation in the American Cabinet, rested on Seward alone and that
decision was, from the first, for peace.

Nor did Seward later hold any grudge over the outcome. America in
general, however, though breathing freely again as the war cloud passed,
was bitter. "The feeling against Great Britain is of intense hatred and
the conclusion of the whole matter is, that we must give up the
traitors, put down the rebellion, increase our navy, perfect the
discipline of the 600,000 men in the field, and then fight Great
Britain[486]." Lowell, in one of the most emotional of his "Bigelow
Papers," wrote, on January 6, 1862:

     "It don't seem hardly right, John,
     When both my hands was full,
     To stump me to a fight, John--
     Your cousin, tu, John Bull!
          Ole Uncle S., sez he, 'I guess
     We know it now,' sez he,
     'The lion's paw is all the law,
     Accordin' to J.B.,
     Thet's fit for you an' me[487]!'"

It was not the demand itself for the release of Mason and Slidell that
in the end so stirred America as the warlike tone of the British press
and the preparations of the Government. Even after their surrender
America was further incensed by British boasting that America had
yielded to a threat of war, as in the _Punch_ cartoon of a penitent
small boy, Uncle Sam, who "says he is very sorry and that he didn't mean
to do it," and so escapes the birching Britannia was about to
administer. America had, in all truth, yielded to a threat, but disliked
being told so, and regarded the threat itself as evidence of British
ill-will[488]. This was long the attitude of the American public.

In England the knowledge of America's decision caused a great national
sigh of relief, coupled with a determination to turn the cold shoulder
to the released envoys. On January 11, the _Times_ recounted the earlier
careers of Mason and Slidell, and stated that these two "more than any
other men," were responsible for the traditional American "insane
prejudice against England," an assertion for which no facts were offered
in proof, and one much overestimating the influence of Mason and Slidell
on American politics before secession. They were "about the most
worthless booty it would be possible to extract from the jaws of the
American lion ... So we do sincerely hope that our countrymen will not
give these fellows anything in the shape of an ovation." Continuing, the
_Times_ argued:

     "What they and their secretaries are to do here passes our
     conjecture. They are personally nothing to us. They must not
     suppose, because we have gone to the very verge of a great
     war to rescue them, that therefore they are precious in our
     eyes. We should have done just as much to rescue two of their
     own Negroes, and, had that been the object of the rescue, the
     swarthy Pompey and Caesar would have had just the same right
     to triumphal arches and municipal addresses as Messrs. Mason
     and Slidell. So, please, British public, let's have none of
     these things. Let the Commissioners come up quietly to town,
     and have their say with anybody who may have time to listen
     to them. For our part, we cannot see how anything they have
     to tell can turn the scale of British duty and deliberation."

This complete reversal, not to say somersault, by the leading British
newspaper, was in line with public expressions from all sections save
the extreme pro-Southern. Adams was astonished, writing privately: "The
first effect of the surrender ... has been extraordinary. The current
which ran against us with such extreme violence six weeks ago now seems
to be going with equal fury in our favour[489]." Officially on the same
day he explained this to Seward as caused by a late development in the
crisis of a full understanding, especially "among the quiet and
religious citizens of the middle classes," that if Great Britain did
engage in war with the United States she would be forced to become the
ally of a "slave-holding oligarchy[490]."

Here, in truth, lay the greatest cause of British anxiety during the
period of waiting for an answer and of relief when that answer was
received. If England and America became enemies, wrote Argyll, "we
necessarily became virtually the _Allies_ of the _Scoundrelism_ of the
South[491]." Robert Browning, attempting to explain to his friend Story
the British attitude, declared that early in the war Britain was with
the North, expecting "that the pure and simple rights [of anti-slavery]
in the case would be declared and vigorously carried out without one let
or stop," but that Lincoln's denial of emancipation as an object had
largely destroyed this sympathy. Browning thought this an excusable
though a mistaken judgment since at least: "The _spirit_ of all of Mr.
Lincoln's acts is altogether against Slavery in the end[492]." He
assured Story that the latter was in error "as to men's 'fury' here": "I
have not heard one man, woman or child express anything but dismay at
the prospect of being obliged to go to war on any grounds with
America[493]." And after the affair was over he affirmed: "The purpose
of the North is also understood at last; ... there is no longer the
notion that 'Slavery has nothing to do with it[494].'"

A few extreme pro-Northern enthusiasts held public meetings and passed
resolutions commending the "statesmanlike ability and moderation of
Seward," and rejoicing that Great Britain had not taken sides with a
slave power[495]. In general, however, such sentiments were not
_publicly_ expressed. That they were keenly felt, nevertheless, is
certain. During the height of the crisis, Anthony Trollope, then touring
America, even while sharing fully in the intense British indignation
against Captain Wilkes, wrote:

     "These people speak our language, use our prayers, read our
     books, are ruled by our laws, dress themselves in our image,
     are warm with our blood. They have all our virtues; and their
     vices are our own too, loudly as we call out against them.
     They are our sons and our daughters, the source of our
     greatest pride, and as we grow old they should be the staff
     of our age. Such a war as we should now wage with the States
     would be an unloosing of hell upon all that is best upon the
     world's surface[496]."

The expressions of men like Browning and Trollope may not indeed, be
regarded as typical of either governmental or general public reactions.
Much more exactly and with more authority as representing that
thoughtful opinion of which Adams wrote were the conclusions of John
Stuart Mill. In an article in _Fraser's Magazine_, February, 1862,
making a strong plea for the North, he summarized British feeling about
the _Trent_:

     "We had indeed, been wronged. We had suffered an indignity,
     and something more than an indignity, which, not to have
     resented, would have been to invite a constant succession of
     insults and injuries from the same and from every other
     quarter. We could have acted no otherwise than we have done;
     yet it is impossible to think, without something like a
     shudder, from what we have escaped. We, the emancipators of
     the slave--who have wearied every Court and Government in
     Europe and America with our protests and remonstrances, until
     we goaded them into at least ostensibly co-operating with us
     to prevent the enslaving of the negro ... _we_ should have
     lent a hand to setting up, in one of the most commanding
     positions of the world, a powerful republic, devoted not only
     to slavery, but to pro-slavery propagandism...."

No such protestations of relief over escape from a possible alliance
with the South were made officially by the Government, or in a debate
upon the _Trent_, February 6, when Parliament reassembled. In the Lords
the Earl of Shelburne thought that America should have made a frank and
open apology. The Earl of Derby twitted the United States with having
yielded to force alone, but said the time "had not yet come" for
recognizing the Confederacy. Lord Dufferin expressed great friendship
for America and declared that Englishmen ought to make themselves better
informed of the real merits of the Civil War. Earl Granville, speaking
for the Government, laid stress upon the difficulties at home of the
Washington administration in pacifying public opinion and asserted a
personal belief that strict neutrality was England's best policy,
"although circumstances may arise which may call for a different
course." On the same day in the Commons the debate was of a like general
tenor to that in the Lords, but Disraeli differed from his chief (Derby)
in that he thought America had been placed in a very difficult position
in which she had acted very honourably. Palmerston took much credit for
the energetic military preparations, but stated "from that position of
strict neutrality, it is not our intention to depart "--an important
declaration if taken, as apparently it was not, as fixing a policy. In
substance all speakers, whether Whig or Tory, praised the Government's
stand, and expressed gratification with the peaceful outcome[497].

A further debate on the _Trent_ was precipitated by Bright on February
17, in connection with the estimates to cover the cost of the military
contingents sent to Canada. He asserted that England by generously
trusting to American honour, might have won her lasting friendship, and
it is worthy of note that for the first time in any speech made by him
_in Parliament_, Bright declared that the war was one for the abolition
of slavery. Palmerston in reply made no comment on the matter of
slavery, but energetically defended the military preparations as a
necessary precaution. Bright's speech was probably intended for American
consumption with the purpose of easing American ill-will, by showing
that even in Parliament there were those who disapproved of that show of
force to which America so much objected. He foresaw that this would long
be the basis of American bitterness. But Palmerston was undoubtedly
correct in characterizing Bright's opinion as a "solitary one." And
looked at from a distance of time it would seem that a British
Government, impressed as it was with a sense of Seward's unfriendliness,
which had not prepared for war when making so strong a demand for
reparation, would have merited the heaviest condemnation. If Mill was
right in stating that the demand for reparation was a necessity, then so
also were the military preparations.

Upon the Government the _Trent_ acted to bring to a head and make more
clear the British relation to the Civil War in America. By November,
1861, the policy of strict neutrality adopted in May, had begun to be
weakened for various reasons already recited--weakened not to the point
of any Cabinet member's advocacy of change, but in a restlessness at the
slow development of a solution in America. Russell was beginning to
_think_, at least, of recognition of the Confederacy. This was clear to
Lyons who, though against such recognition, had understood the drift, if
Schleiden is to be trusted, of Ministerial opinion. Schleiden reported
on December 31 that Lyons had expressed to him much pleasure at the
peaceful conclusion of the _Trent_ affair, and had added, "England will
be too generous not to postpone the recognition of the independence of
the South as long as possible after this experience[498]." But the
_Trent_ operated like a thunder-storm to clear the atmosphere. It
brought out plainly the practical difficulties and dangers, at least as
regards Canada, of a war with America; it resulted in a weakening of the
conviction that Seward was unfriendly; it produced from the British
public an even greater expression of relief, when the incident was
closed, than of anger when it occurred; and it created in a section of
that public a fixed belief, shared by at least one member of the
Cabinet, that the issue in America was that of slavery, in support of
which England could not possibly take a stand.

This did not mean that the British Government, nor any large section of
the public, believed the North could conquer the South. But it did
indicate a renewed vigour for the policy of neutrality and a
determination not to get into war with America. Adams wrote to Seward,
"I am inclined to believe that the happening of the affair of the
_Trent_ just when it did, with just the issue that it had, was rather
opportune than otherwise[499]." Hotze, the confidential agent of the
Confederacy in London, stated, "the _Trent_ affair has done us
incalculable injury," Russell is now "an avowed enemy of our
nationality[500]." Hotze was over-gloomy, but Russell himself declared
to Lyons: "At all events I am heart and soul a neutral ... what a fuss
we have had about these two men[501]."


[Footnote 399: The _Trent_ was the cause of the outpouring of more
contemporary articles and pamphlets and has been the subject of more
historical writing later, than any other incident of diplomatic
relations between the United States and Great Britain during the Civil
War--possibly more than all other incidents combined. The account given
in this chapter, therefore, is mainly limited to a brief statement of
the facts together with such new sidelights as are brought out by
hitherto unknown letters of British statesman; to a summary of British
public attitude as shown in the press; and to an estimate of the _after
effect_ of the _Trent_ on British policy. It would be of no service to
list all of the writings. The incident is thoroughly discussed in all
histories, whether British or American and in works devoted to
international law. The contemporary American view is well stated, though
from a strongly anti-British point of view, in Harris, T.L., _The Trent
Affair_, but this monograph is lacking in exact reference for its many
citations and can not be accepted as authoritative. The latest review is
that of C.F. Adams in the _Proceedings_ of the Massachusetts Historical
Society for November, 1911, which called out a reply from R.H. Dana, and
a rejoinder by Mr. Adams in the _Proceedings_ for March, 1912.]

[Footnote 400: C.F. Adams, _The Trent Affair_. (_Proceedings_, Mass.
Hist. Soc., XLV, pp. 41-2.)]

[Footnote 401: _Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting the _Trent_." No. 1. Inclosure. Williams to
Patey, Nov. 9, 1861.]

[Footnote 402: Harris, _The Trent Affair_, pp. 103-109, describes the
exact _force_ used.]

[Footnote 403: Dana, _The Trent Affair_. (_Proceedings_, Mass. Hist.
Soc., XLV, pp. 509-22.)]

[Footnote 404: C.F. Adams, _The Trent Affair_. (_Proceedings_, Mass.
Hist. Soc., XLV, pp. 39-40.)]

[Footnote 405: F.O., America, Vol. 805. Copy, E. Hammond to
Advocate-General, Nov. 9, 1861.]

[Footnote 406: C.F. Adams, _The Trent Affair_. (_Proceedings_, Mass.
Hist. Soc., XLV, p. 54.)]

[Footnote 407: _Ibid._, pp. 53-4. Adams' Diary MS. Nov. 12, 1861.]

[Footnote 408: _Ibid._, p. 55.]

[Footnote 409: A full year later, after the publication of the American
volume of despatches for the year 1862, Russell took up this matter with
Adams and as a result of an interview wrote to Lyons, November 28, 1862:

"Lord Palmerston stated to Mr. Adams on the occasion in question that
Her Majesty's Government could not permit any interference with any
vessel, British or Foreign, within British waters; that with regard to
vessels met with at sea, Her Majesty's Government did not mean to
dispute the Belligerent right of the United States Ships of War to
search them; but that the exercise of that right and the right of
detention in certain conditions must in each case be dealt with
according to the circumstances of the case, and that it was not
necessary for him to discuss such matters then because they were not in
point; but that it would not do for the United States Ships of War to
harass British Commerce on the High Seas under the pretence of
preventing the Confederates from receiving things that are Contraband
of War.

"I took an opportunity of mentioning to Mr. Adams, the account which
Lord Palmerston had given me of the language which he had thus held, and
Mr. Adams agreed in its accuracy.

"Nothing must be said on this Subject unless the false statements as to
Lord Palmerston's language should be renewed, when you will state the
real facts to Mr. Seward." (F.O., Am., Vol. 822. No. 295. _Draft_.)

This résumé by Russell contained still other variations from the
original reports of both Palmerston and Adams, but the latter did not
think it worth while to call attention to them.]

[Footnote 410: Walpole, _Russell_, II, p. 357, is evidently in error in
stating that the law officers, while admitting the right of an American
war vessel to carry the British Packet into an American port for
adjudication, added, "she would have no right to remove Messrs. Mason
and Slidell and carry them off as prisoners, leaving the ship to pursue
her voyage." Certainly Palmerston did not so understand the
advice given.]

[Footnote 411: Lyons Papers. Hammond to Lyons. F. O., Private. Nov. 16,
1861. This statement about explicit orders to Captain Marchand "not to
endeavour, etc.," is in line with Palmerston's understanding of the
conversation with Adams. But that there was carelessness in reporting
Adams is evident from Hammond's own language for "no instructions to
meddle," which Adams did state, is not the same thing as "instructions
not to meddle." Adams had no intent to deceive, but was misunderstood.
He was himself very anxious over the presence of the _James Adger_ at
Southampton, and hurried her Captain away. Adams informed Russell that
Palmerston had not understood him correctly. He had told Palmerston, "I
had seen the Captain's [Marchand's] instructions, which directed him to
intercept the _Nashville_ if he could, and in case of inability to do
so, to return at once to New York, keeping his eye on such British ships
as might be going to the United States with contraband of war. Lord
Palmerston's recollections and mine differed mainly in this last
particular. Lord Russell then remarked that this statement was exactly
that which he had recollected my making to him. Nothing had been said in
the instructions about other British ships." (State Dept., Eng., Vol.
78. No. 80. Adams to Seward. Nov. 29. 1861.) Hammond's letter mentions
also the excitement of "the Southerners" in England and that they had
"sent out Pilot Boats to intercept and warn the Packet...."]

[Footnote 412: Lyons Papers. Lyons to Milne, Dec. 1, 1861.]

[Footnote 413: _Ibid._, Russell to Lyons, Nov. 16, 1861.]

[Footnote 414: Gladstone Papers. Argyll to Gladstone, Nov. 29, 1861.]

[Footnote 415: C.F. Adams, _The Trent Affair_. (_Proceedings_, Mass.
Hist. Soc., XLV, p. 58.)]

[Footnote 416: Moore, _Int. Law Digest_, VII, p. 772. The much argued
international law points in the case of the _Trent_ are given _in
extenso_ by Moore.]

[Footnote 417: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting the _Trent_." No. 2.]

[Footnote 418: _Ibid._, No. 4.]

[Footnote 419: _Ibid._, No. 29. Inclosure.]

[Footnote 420: Troops were in fact shipped for Canada. This resulted,
after the _Trent_ affair had blown over, in a circumstance which
permitted Seward, with keen delight, to extend a courtesy to Great
Britain. Bancroft (II, 245) states that these troops "finding the St.
Lawrence river full of ice, had entered Portland harbour. When
permission was asked for them to cross Maine, Seward promptly ordered
that all facilities should be granted for 'landing and transporting to
Canada or elsewhere troops, stores, and munitions of war of every kind
without exception or reservation.'" It is true that the American press
made much of this, and in tones of derision. The facts, as reported by
Lyons, were that the request was merely "a superfluous application from
a private firm at Montreal for permission to land some Officers' Baggage
at Portland." (Russell Papers, Lyons to Russell, Jan. 20, 1862.) Lyons
was much vexed with this "trick" of Seward's. He wrote to the
Governor-General of Canada and the Lieutenant-Governors of Nova Scotia
and New Brunswick, protesting against an acceptance of Seward's
permission, and finally informed Russell that no English troops were
marched across the State of Maine. (Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell,
Feb. 14, 1862. Also Lyons Papers. Lyons to Monck, Feb. 1, 1862.)]

[Footnote 421: Martin, _Life of the Prince Consort_, V, pp. 418-26.]

[Footnote 422: Still another letter from Russell to Lyons on November
30, but not intended for Seward, outlined the points of complaint and
argument, (1) The _San Jacinto_ did not happen to fall in with the
_Trent_, but laid in wait for her. (2) "Unnecessary and dangerous Acts
of violence" were used. (3) The _Trent_, when stopped was not "searched"
in the "ordinary way," but "certain Passengers" were demanded and taken
by force. (4) No charge was made that the _Trent_ was violating
neutrality, and no authority for his act was offered by Captain Wilkes.
(5) No force ought to be used against an "_unresisting_ Neutral Ship"
except just so much as is necessary to bring her before a prize court.
(6) In the present case the British vessel had done nothing, and
intended nothing, warranting even an inquiry by a prize court. (7) "It
is essential for British Interests, that consistently with the
obligations of neutrality, and of observing any _legal_ and _effective_
blockade, there should be communication between the Dominions of Her
Majesty and the Countries forming the Confederate States." These seven
points were for Lyons' eye alone. They certainly add no strength to the
British position and reflect the uncertainty and confusion of the
Cabinet. The fifth and sixth points contain the essence of what, on more
mature reflection, was to be the British argument. (F.O., Am., Vol. 758.
No. 447. Draft. Russell to Lyons Nov. 30, 1861).]

[Footnote 423: Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell, Dec. 2, 1861.]

[Footnote 424: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 78. Russell to
Yancey, Rost and Mann, Aug. 24, 1861.]

[Footnote 425: _Ibid._, No. 124. Russell to Yancey, Rost and Mann, Dec.
7, 1861.]

[Footnote 426: Gladstone Papers. Gladstone to Robertson Gladstone, Dec.
7, 1861.]

[Footnote 427: _Ibid._, Argyll to Gladstone, Mentone. Dec. 10, 1861.]

[Footnote 428: Maxwell, _Clarendon_, II, p. 255. Lewis to Clarendon,
Dec. 18, 1861.]

[Footnote 429: _Ibid._, p. 254. Clarendon to Duchess of Manchester, Dec.
17, 1861.]

[Footnote 430: Palmerston MS.]

[Footnote 431: _Ibid._, Russell to Palmerston, Dec. 20, 1861.]

[Footnote 432: Many citations from the _Times_ are given in Harris, _The
Trent Affair_, to show a violent, not to say scurrilous,
anti-Americanism. Unfortunately dates are not cited, and an examination
of the files of the paper shows that Harris' references are frequently
to communications, not to editorials. Also his citations give but one
side of these communications even, for as many argued caution and fair
treatment as expressed violence. Harris apparently did not consult the
_Times_ itself, but used quotations appearing in American papers.
Naturally these would print, in the height of American anti-British
feeling, the bits exhibiting a peevish and unjust British temper. The
British press made exactly similar quotations from the American

[Footnote 433: C.F. Adams, _The Trent Affair (Proceedings_, Mass. Hist.
Soc. XLV, p. 43, note.) John Bigelow, at Paris, reported that the London
Press, especially the Tory, was eager to make trouble, and that there
were but two British papers of importance that did not join the hue and
cry--these being controlled by friends of Bright, one in London and one
in Manchester (Bigelow, _Retrospections of An Active Life_, I, p. 384.)
This is not exactly true, but seems to me more nearly so than the
picture presented by Rhodes (III, 526) of England as united in a "calm,
sorrowful, astonished determination."]

[Footnote 434: Cowley sent to Russell on December 3, a letter from Percy
Doyle recounting an interview with Scott in which these statements were
made. (F.O., France, Vol. 1399. No. 1404. Inclosure.)]

[Footnote 435: Dec. 13, 1861. C.F. Adams, _The Trent Affair.
(Proceedings_, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, p. 95.)]

[Footnote 436: _Ibid._, p. 37.]

[Footnote 437: _Ibid._, p. 49. The _New York Times_, November 19,
stated, "We do not believe the American heart ever thrilled with more
genuine delight than it did yesterday, at the intelligence of the
capture of Messrs. Slidell and Mason.... We have not the slightest idea
that England will even remonstrate. On the contrary, she will applaud
the gallant act of Lieut. Wilkes, so full of spirit and good sense, and
such an exact imitation of the policy she has always stoutly defended
and invariably pursued ... as for Commodore Wilkes and his command, let
the handsome thing be done, consecrate another _Fourth_ of July to him.
Load him down with services of plate and swords of the cunningest and
costliest art. Let us encourage the happy inspiration that achieved such
a victory." Note the "_Fourth_ of July."]

[Footnote 438: Lyons Papers. Lousada to Lyons. Boston, Nov. 17, 1861.
"Every other man is walking about with a Law Book under his arm and
proving the _right_ of the Ss. Jacintho to stop H.M.'s mail boat."]

[Footnote 439: "Mr. Galt, Canadian Minister, is here. He has frightened
me by his account of the defencelessness of the Province at this
moment." (Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell. Private. Dec. 3, 1861.)]

[Footnote 440: Lyons Papers. Lyons to Monck, Dec. 9, 1861.]

[Footnote 441: Rogers, _Speeches by John Bright_, I, p. 189 _seq_.]

[Footnote 442: Among the communications were several on international
law points by "Historicus," answering and belittling American legal
argument. W.V. Harcourt, under this pseudonym, frequently contributed
very acute and very readable articles to the _Times_ on the American
civil war. The _Times_ was berated by English friends of the North.
Cobden wrote Sumner, December 12, "The _Times_ and its yelping imitators
are still doing their worst." (Morley, _Cobden_, II, 392.) Cobden was
himself at one with the _Times_ in suspicion of Seward. "I confess I
have not much opinion of Seward. He is a kind of American Thiers or
Palmerston or Russell--and talks Bunkum. Fortunately, my friend Mr.
Charles Sumner, who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations, and has really a kind of veto on the acts of Seward, is a
very peaceable and safe man." _(ibid._, p. 386, to Lieut.-Col.
Fitzmayer, Dec. 3, 1861.) It is interesting that Canadian opinion
regarded the _Times_ as the great cause of American ill-will toward
Britain. A letter to Gait asserted that the "war talk" was all a "farce"
(J.H. Pope to Gait, Dec. 26, 1861) and the Toronto _Globe_ attacked the
_Times_ for the creation of bad feeling. The general attitude was that
if _British_ policy resulted in an American blow at Canada, it was a
British, not a Canadian duty, to maintain her defence (Skelton, _Life of
Sir Alexander Tilloch Gait_, pp. 340, 348.) Yet the author states that
in the beginning Canada went through the same phases of feeling on the
_Trent_ as did Great Britain.]

[Footnote 443: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, pp. 81-2.]

[Footnote 444: _Ibid._, I, p. 83. Henry Adams to Charles Francis Adams,
Jr., Dec. 13, 1861.]

[Footnote 445: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell. Private. Nov. 29,

[Footnote 446: See the _Times_, Dec. 14, 1861. Here for the first time
the _Times_ used the expression "the last card" as applied to

[Footnote 447: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, Dec. 11, 1861.]

[Footnote 448: Gladstone Papers. Russell to Gladstone, Dec. 13, 1861. On
the same day Lady Russell wrote Lady Dumfermline: "There can be no doubt
that we have done deeds very like that of Captain Wilkes.... but I wish
we had not done them.... It is all terrible and awful, and I hope and
pray war may be averted--and whatever may have been the first natural
burst of indignation in this country, I believe it would be ready to
execrate the Ministry if all right and honourable means were not taken
to prevent so fearful a calamity." (Dana, _The Trent Affair.
(Proceedings_, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, p. 528.))]

[Footnote 449: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, p. 87. Charles Francis
Adams to his son, Dec. 20, 1861. ]

[Footnote 450: The _Times_, Dec. 16, 1861.]

[Footnote 451: The _Times_ twice printed the full text of the message,
on December 16 and 17.]

[Footnote 452: Gladstone Papers. Milner-Gibson to Gladstone, Dec. 18,

[Footnote 453: Maxwell, _Clarendon_, II, p. 225. Lewis to Clarendon,
Dec. 18, 1861.]

[Footnote 454: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting the _Trent_." No 14. Russell to Lyons, Dec.
19, 1861. The Government did not make public Adams' confirmation of "no
authorization of Wilkes." Possibly it saw no reason for doing so, since
this had been established already by Wilkes' own statements. The point
was later a matter of complaint by Americans, who regarded it as
indicating a peevish and unfriendly attitude. (Willard, _Letter to an
English Friend on the Rebellion in the United States_, p. 23. Boston,
1862.) Also by English friends; Cobden thought Palmerston had
intentionally prolonged British feeling for political purposes.
"Seward's despatch to Adams on the 19th December [_communicated to
Russell_ on the 19th]... virtually settled the matter. To keep alive the
wicked passions in this country as Palmerston and his _Post_ did, was
like the man, and that is the worst that can be said of it." (Morley,
_Cobden_, II, p. 389. To Mr. Paulton, Jan., 1862.)]

[Footnote 455: Davis to Adams. New York. Dec. 21, 1861. C.F. Adams, _The
Trent Affair, (Proceedings_, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, p. 107.)]

[Footnote 456: There has crept into American historical writing of
lesser authenticity a story that just at this juncture there appeared,
in the harbours of New York and San Francisco, Russian fleets whose
commanders let it be understood that they had come under "sealed orders"
not to be opened except in a certain grave event and that their presence
was, at least, not an unfriendly indication of Russian sentiment in the
_Trent_ crisis. This is asserted to have bolstered American courage and
to give warrant for the argument that America finally yielded to Great
Britain from no fear of consequences, but merely on a clearer
recognition of the justice of the case. In fact the story is wholly a
myth. The Russian fleets appeared two years later in the fall of 1863,
not in 1861. Harris, _The Trent Affair, _ pp. 208-10, is mainly
responsible for this story, quoting the inaccurate memory of Thurlow
Weed. (_Autobiography_, II, pp. 346-7.) Reliable historians like Rhodes
make no mention of such an incident. The whole story of the Russian
fleets with their exact instructions is told by F. A. Colder, "The
Russian Fleet and the Civil War," _Am. Hist. Rev_., July, 1915.]

[Footnote 457: Weed, _Autobiography_, II, pp. 354-61.]

[Footnote 458: _Ibid._, p. 365. Peabody to Weed, Jan, 17, 1862.]

[Footnote 459: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, p. 91. Charles Francis
Adams to his son, Dec. 27, 1861.]

[Footnote 460: See _ante_. Ch. IV.]

[Footnote 461: The _Times_, Dec. 25, 1861.]

[Footnote 462: James, _William Wetmore Story and his Friends_, II, pp.
108-9. The letters were sent to Robert Browning, who secured their
publication through Dicey.]

[Footnote 463: C.F. Adams, _The Trent Affair_. Adams to Motley, Dec. 26,
1861. (_Proceedings_, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, p. 109).]

[Footnote 464: _Ibid._, p. 110.]

[Footnote 465: Palmerston had very close relations with Delane, of the
_Times_, but that paper carefully maintained its independence of any
party or faction.]

[Footnote 466: Gladstone Papers. Argyll to Gladstone, Dec. 30, 1861.]

[Footnote 467: State Dept., Eng., Vol. 78. No. 97. Adams to Seward, Jan.
2, 1862.]

[Footnote 468: Palmerston MS.]

[Footnote 469: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 233. Lyons officially reported
that he carried no papers with him _(Parliamentary Papers_, 1862,
_Lords_, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence respecting the _Trent_." No. 19.
Lyons to Russell, Dec. 19, 1861). Newton (_Lyons_, I, pp. 55-78) shows
that Seward was, in fact, permitted to read the instructions on the

[Footnote 470: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, p. 86. C.F. Adams, Jr.,
to Henry Adams, Dec. 19, 1861.]

[Footnote 471: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 234. Adams' letter of December
3 was received on December 21; Dayton's of December 3, on the 24th.]

[Footnote 472: Much ink has flowed to prove that Lincoln's was the wise
view, seeing from the first the necessity of giving up Mason and
Slidell, and that he overrode Seward, e.g., Welles, _Lincoln and
Seward_, and Harris, _The Trent Affair_. Rhodes, III, pp. 522-24, and
Bancroft, _Seward_, II, pp. 232-37, disprove this. Yet the general
contemporary suspicion of Seward's "anti-British policy," even in
Washington, is shown by a despatch sent by Schleiden to the Senate of
Bremen. On December 23 he wrote that letters from Cobden and Lyndhurst
had been seen by Lincoln.

"Both letters have been submitted to the President. He returned them
with the remark that 'peace will not be broken if England is not bent on
war.' At the same time the President has assured my informant that he
would examine the answer of his Secretary of State, word for word, in
order that no expression should remain which could create bad blood
anew, because the strong language which Mr. Seward had used in some of
his former despatches seems to have irritated and insulted England"
(Schleiden Papers). No doubt Sumner was Schleiden's informant. At first
glance Lincoln's reported language would seem to imply that he was
putting pressure on Seward to release the prisoners and Schleiden
apparently so interpreted them. But the fact was that at the date when
this was written Lincoln had not yet committed himself to accepting
Seward's view. He told Seward, "You will go on, of course, preparing
your answer, which, as I understood it, will state the reasons why they
ought to be given up. Now, I have a mind to try my hand at stating the
reasons why they ought _not_ to be given up. We will compare the points
on each side." Lincoln's idea was, in short, to return an answer to
Great Britain, proposing arbitration (Bancroft, _Seward_, II, 234).]

[Footnote 473: Mass. Hist. Soc. _Proceedings_, XLV, 155. Bright to
Sumner, Dec. 14, 1861. The letters to Sumner on the _Trent_ are all
printed in this volume of the _Proceedings_. The originals are in the
_Sumner Papers_ in the library of Harvard University.]

[Footnote 474: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting the _Trent_." No. 24. Lyons to Russell, Dec.
27, 1861.]

[Footnote 475: F.O., Am., Vol. 777. No. 807. Lyons to Russell, Dec. 31,
1861. But he transmitted a few days later, a "shocking prayer" in the
Senate on December 30, by the Rev. Dr. Sutherland, which showed a bitter
feeling. "O Thou, just Ruler of the world ... we ask help of Thee for
our rulers and our people, that we may patiently, resolutely, and with
one heart abide our time; for it is indeed a day of darkness and
reproach--a day when the high principle of human equity constrained by
the remorseless sweep of physical and armed force, must for the moment,
succumb under the plastic forms of soft diplomacy" (Russell Papers.
Lyons to Russell, Jan. 3, 1862).]

[Footnote 476: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, 249-53.]

[Footnote 477: C.F. Adams, _The Trent Affair. (Proceedings_, Mass. Hist.
Soc., XLV. p. 75).]

[Footnote 478: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, 250.]

[Footnote 479: Mason, Slidell, Eustis and McFarland were delivered to
the British ship _Rinaldo_, January 1, 1862. _En route_ to Halifax the
ship encountered a storm that drove her south and finally brought her to
St. Thomas, where the passengers embarked on a packet for Southampton.]

[Footnote 480: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence respecting the _Trent_." Nos. 27 and 35. February 3,
Lyons reported that Sumner, in a fireside talk, had revealed that he was
in possession of copies of the Law Officers' opinions given on November
12 and 28 respectively. Lyons was astounded and commented that the Law
Officers, before giving any more opinions, ought to know this fact
(F.O., Am., Vol. 824. No. 76. Lyons to Russell).]

[Footnote 481: F.O., France, Vol. 1399. No. 1397. Cowley to Russell,
Dec. 3, 1861. The italics are mine.]

[Footnote 482: Newton, _Lyons_, I, 73.]

[Footnote 483: F.O., Am., Vol. 817. No. 57. Draft. Russell to Lyons,
Feb. 11, 1861.]

[Footnote 484: F.O., France, Vol. 1419. No. 73. Draft. Russell to
Cowley, Jan. 20, 1862.]

[Footnote 485: Gladstone Papers. Russell to Gladstone, Jan. 26, 1862.]

[Footnote 486: Bigelow, _Retrospections_, I, 424. Bowen to Bigelow, Dec.
27, 1861.]

[Footnote 487: _Poems. Bigelow Papers_. "Jonathan to John." After the
release of the envoys there was much correspondence between friends
across the water as to the merits of the case. British friends attempted
to explain and to soothe, usually to their astonished discomfiture on
receiving angry American replies. An excellent illustration of this is
in a pamphlet published in Boston in the fall of 1862, entitled, Field
and Loring, _Correspondence on the Present Relations between Great
Britain and the United States of America_. The American, Loring, wrote,
"The conviction is nearly if not quite universal that we have foes where
we thought we had friends," p. 7.]

[Footnote 488: Dana, _The Trent Affair. (Proceedings_, Mass. Hist. Soc.,
XLV, pp. 508-22).]

[Footnote 489: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, 99. To his son, Jan. 10,

[Footnote 490: State Dept., Eng., Vol. 78. No. 99. Adams to Seward, Jan.
10, 1862.]

[Footnote 491: Gladstone Papers. Argyll to Gladstone, Dec. 7, 1861, Also
expressed again to Gladstone. _Ibid._, Jan. 1, 1862.]

[Footnote 492: James, _William Wetmore Story and His Friends_, II, 105.
Browning to Story, Dec. 17, 1861.]

[Footnote 493: _Ibid._, p. 109. To Story, Dec. 31, 1861.]

[Footnote 494: _Ibid._, p. 110. To Story, Jan. 21, 1862.]

[Footnote 495: _Liberator_, Feb. 7, 1862. Giving an account of a meeting
at Bromley-by-Bow.]

[Footnote 496: Trollope, _North America_ (Chapman & Hall, London, 1862),
I, p. 446. Trollope left England in August, 1861, and returned in the
spring of 1862. He toured the North and the West, was a close observer,
and his work, published in midsummer 1862, was very serviceable to the
North, since he both stated the justice of the Northern cause and
prophesied its victory.]

[Footnote 497: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXV, p. 12 _seq_., though not
consecutive as the speeches were made in the course of the debate on the
Address to the Throne.]

[Footnote 498: Schleiden Papers. Schleiden to the Senate of Bremen.]

[Footnote 499: State Dept., Eng., Vol. 78. No. 114. Adams to Seward,
Feb. 13, 1862.]

[Footnote 500: Pickett Papers. Hotze to Hunter, March 11, 1862.]

[Footnote 501: Lyons Papers. Russell to Lyons, Feb. 8, 1862.]



The six months following the affair of the _Trent_ constituted a period
of comparative calm in the relations of Great Britain and America, but
throughout that period there was steadily coming to the front a Northern
belligerent effort increasingly effective, increasingly a cause for
disturbance to British trade, and therefore more and more a matter for
anxious governmental consideration. This was the blockade of Southern
ports and coast line, which Lincoln had declared _in intention_ in his
proclamation of April 19, 1861.

As early as December, 1860, Lyons had raised the question of the
relation of British ships and merchants to the secession port of
Charleston, South Carolina, and had received from Judge Black an evasive
reply[502]. In March, 1861, Russell had foreseen the possibility of a
blockade, writing to Lyons that American precedent would at least
require it to be an effective one, while Lyons made great efforts to
convince Seward that _any_ interference with British trade would be
disastrous to the Northern cause in England. He even went so far as to
hint at British intervention to preserve trade[503]. But on April 15,
Lyons, while believing that no effective blockade was possible, thought
that the attempt to institute one was less objectionable than
legislation "closing the Southern Ports as Ports of Entry," in reality a
mere paper blockade and one which would "justify Great Britain and
France in recognizing the Southern Confederacy...." Thus he began to
weaken in opposition to _any_ interference[504]. His earlier expressions
to Seward were but arguments, without committing his Government to a
line of policy, and were intended to make Seward step cautiously.

Possibly Lyons thought he could frighten the North out of a blockade
campaign. But when the Civil War actually began and Lincoln, on April
19, declared he had "deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade," and
that when a "competent force" had been posted "so as to prevent entrance
and exit of vessels," warning would be given to any vessel attempting to
enter or to leave a blockaded port, with endorsement on her register of
such warning, followed by seizure if she again attempted to pass the
blockade, Lyons felt that: "If it be carried on, with reasonable
consideration for Foreign Flags, and in strict conformity with the Law
of Nations, I suppose it must be recognized[505]." The Proclamation
named the original seven seceding states, and on April 27 Virginia was
added. The blockade was actually begun at certain Virginia ports on
April 30, and by the end of May there were a few war-ships off all the
more important Southern harbours[506]. This method of putting a blockade
into effect by warning at the port rather than by a general notification
communicated to European governments and setting a date, involved a
hardship on British merchants since they were thereby made uncertain
whether goods started for a Southern port would be permitted to enter.
In practice vessels on their first departure from a blockaded harbour
were warned and permitted to go out, but those seeking to enter were
warned and turned back. In _effect_, while the blockade was being
established, Lincoln's Proclamation had something of the nature for the
timid British merchant, though not for the bold one, of a paper
blockade. This was not clearly understood by Lyons, who thought neutrals
must acquiesce, having "exhausted every possible means of opposition,"
but who consoled himself with the idea that "for some time yet" British
trade could be carried on[507].

Lyons was in fact sceptical, as he told Seward in a long conversation on
April 29 of the possibility of blockading a 3,000 mile coast line, but
Seward assured him it would be done and effectively[508]. The British
press was equally sceptical, and in any case believed that the war would
be of short duration, so that there need be no anxiety over next year's
supply of cotton[509]. In Parliament Russell took the stand that the
blockade, if carried on in accordance with international law and made
effective, required British recognition and respect. He also defended
Lincoln's "notification at the port" method, stating that it might seem
a hardship, but was perfectly legal[510]. Thus there was early and easy
acquiescence in the American effort, but when, in June, there was
revived a Northern plan to close Southern ports by legislative action,
Britain was stirred to quick and vigorous opposition. Lyons learned that
a Bill would be introduced in Congress giving the President authority,
among other powers, to "proclaim" the ports closed, thus notifying
foreign nations not to attempt to use them. He saw in it an unexpected
application of the Northern theory that the South was not a belligerent
and had no rights as such, and he regarded it as in effect a paper

The fourth section of the Bill as introduced in Congress did not direct
the President to issue a proclamation closing Southern ports--it merely
gave him the power to do so. Almost from the first Lyons thought that
Lincoln and Seward were too wise to issue such a proclamation[512].
Nevertheless it was his duty to be on guard and to oppose the plan. For
six weeks there was much communication in regard to the "Southern Ports
Bill," as all parties called it, from Russell to Lyons, and also with
Cowley in France. The British Foreign Office interest in the matter,
almost rising to excitement, is somewhat astonishing in view of the
small importance evidently attached to the plan at Washington and the
reluctance of France to be as vigorous as Great Britain in protest.
Vigorous Russell certainly was, using a "high tone" in official
remonstrance to America not unlike that taken by Seward on British
recognition of Southern belligerency.

Immediately on learning of the introduction of the Bill Russell
addressed enquiries to Cowley asking what France intended and urged a
stiff protest. Thouvenel had not heard of the Bill and was seemingly
indifferent. At first he acquiesced in Russell's protest, then drew back
and on three separate occasions promised support only to withdraw such
promise. He was disinclined, said Cowley, to join in a "friendly hint"
to America because of the touchy sensibilities lately shown by Seward,
and feared a direct protest might result in an American declaration of
war. In any case why not wait until the President _did_ act, and even
then the proper method would be a protest rather than "reprisals." "I
wish," wrote Cowley, on July 28, "that the French were inclined to be
more _bumptious_, as they seemed to be at first. I would at all times
rather have the task of calming them, than of urging them on[513]...."
Nevertheless Russell on July 19 notified Lyons that England would not
observe a "legislative closing" of Southern ports[514]. On July 12 Lyons
telegraphed that the Bill had passed both Houses of Congress, and on the
sixteenth he wrote privately to Russell that he was much disturbed over
its possible consequences since "even Sumner was for it[515]," as this
indicated a real intention to carry it into effect[516]. On August 8,
Russell sent formal instructions of protest, a copy of which was to be
handed to Seward, but the next day authorized Lyons to exercise
discretion as to communicating the despatch[517].

The original form of this instruction, dated in June and revised in
July, concluded with language that might well draw out Thouvenel's
objection to a threat of "reprisals." It read that "H.M.G. ...
reserve ... the right of acting in concert with other Nations in
opposition to so violent an attack on the rights of Commercial Countries
and so manifest a violation of International Law[518]." This high tone
had been modified possibly by French opposition, possibly by Lyons'
early opinion that the Bill would not be made operative. Indeed on July
24 Russell told Lyons that no final instruction of protest would be sent
him until the President actually issued a proclamation[519]. Yet in
spite of being fairly well assured that there was no danger in the
"Southern Ports Bill," Russell did send the instruction of August 8,
still distinctly "vigorous" in tone, though with no threat of
"reprisals." His reason for doing so is difficult to understand.
Certainly he was hardly serious in arguing to Thouvenel that a stiff
instruction would strengthen the hands of the "moderate section" of the
American Cabinet[520], or else he strangely misjudged American
temperament. Probably a greater reason was his wish to be able to print
a Parliamentary Paper indicating the watchful care he was exercising in
guarding British interests.

Before Russell's instruction could reach America Seward had voluntarily
reassured Lyons as to American intentions. Lyons reported this,
privately, on July 20[521], but on the same day also reported,
officially, that two days earlier, that is on the eighteenth, he and
Mercier had discussed the "Southern Ports" Bill and that as a result
Mercier had then gone, that same day, to Seward to state that France
must regard such a measure as merely a paper blockade[522]. "We were not
very sanguine of success," wrote Lyons, but Seward "had listened to him
[Mercier] with calmness," and personally seemed disinclined to issue the
required Proclamation. This despatch, making it appear that England and
France were in close harmony and that Lyons and Mercier were having a
difficult time at Washington was printed, later, in the Parliamentary
Papers. It was received by Russell on August 5, and in spite of the
reassurances of Lyons' private letter (naturally not for printing)
presumably received in the same mail with the official despatch, it
furnished the basis of his "strong" instruction of August 8.

At Washington also there were indications of an effort to prepare a good
case for the British public and Parliament. July 23, so Lyons wrote
privately, Seward had prevented the issue of the "Southern Ports"
Proclamation[523], and on the next day he was shown by Seward,
confidentially, an instruction to Adams and other Ministers abroad in
which was maintained the right to close the ports by proclamation, but
stating the Government's decision not to exercise the right. Lyons
believed this was the end of the matter[524]. Yet on August 12, he
presented himself formally at the Department of State and stated that he
had instructions to declare that "Her Majesty's Government would
consider a decree closing the ports of the South actually in possession
of the insurgent or Confederate States as null and void, and that they
would not submit to measures taken on the high seas in pursuance of such
decree."... "Mr. Seward thanked me for the consideration I had shown;
and begged me to confine myself for the present to the verbal
announcement I had just made. He said it would be difficult for me to
draw up a written communication which would not have the air of a
threat." To this Lyons agreed[525].

This permitted a warmth-creating impression to Englishmen of the
"forthright yet friendly" tone of British diplomats when dealing with
Seward. So also did Russell's instruction of August 8, not yet received
by Lyons when he took the stage at Washington. Yet there is a
possibility that Lyons was in fact merely playing his part as Seward had
asked him to play it. On the next day, August 13, he acknowledged the
receipt of Russell's communication of July 24, in which it was stated
that while Great Britain could not acquiesce in the "Southern Ports"
Bill _no final instructions_ would be sent until Lincoln issued a
Proclamation. Lyons now explained, "As Mr. Seward is undoubtedly at this
moment opposed to closing the Ports, I have thought it wiser to be
guided by him for the present as to the mode of communicating your
decision about the matter[526]." Is it possible that Seward really
wished to have a "strong," yet not "too strong" statement from Lyons in
order to combat the advocates of the "Ports" Bill? There are many
ramifications of diplomatic policy--especially in a popular government.
At any rate on August 16 Lyons could assure Russell that there "was no
question now of issuing the Proclamation[527]." And on the nineteenth
could write officially that a Proclamation based on the Bill had indeed
been issued, but without the objectionable fourth section[528].

The whole affair of the "Southern Ports" Bill occupies more space in the
British Parliamentary Papers, and excited more attention from the
British Government than it would seem to have merited from the
Washington attitude toward it. The Bill had been drawn by the Secretary
of the Treasury, and its other sections related to methods of meeting a
situation where former customs houses and places for the collection of
import duties were now in the hands of the Confederacy. The fourth
section alone implied a purpose to declare a paper blockade. The idea
of proclaiming closed the Southern ports may have at first received the
sanction of Seward as consistent with his denial of the existence of a
war; or it may have been a part of his "high tone" foreign policy[529],
but the more reasonable supposition is that the Bill was merely one of
many ill-considered measures put forth in the first months of the war by
the North in its spasm of energy seeking to use every and any public
means to attack the South. But the interest attached to the measure in
this work is the British attitude. There can be no doubt that Russell,
in presenting papers to Parliament was desirous of making clear two
points: first, the close harmony with France--which in fact was not so
close as was made to appear; second, the care and vigour of the Foreign
Secretary in guarding British interests. Now in fact British trade was
destined to be badly hurt by the blockade, but as yet had not been
greatly hampered. Nor did Russell yet think an effective blockade
feasible. Writing to Lyons a week after his official protest on the
"Southern Ports" Bill, he expressed the opinion that a "_regular_
blockade" could not possibly prevent trade with the South:

     "If our ships can go in ballast for cotton to the Southern
     Ports it will be well, but if this cannot be done by
     agreement there will be surely, in the extent of 3,000 miles,
     creeks and bays out of which small vessels may come, and run
     for Jamaica or the Bahamas where the cargoes might be
     transhipped. But it is not for Downing Street to suggest such
     plans to Cheapside and Tooley Street[530]."

A better knowledge of American geography would have made clear to
Russell that if but seven Southern ports were effectively blockaded the
remaining 2,550 miles of coast line would be useless for the export of
cotton in any considerable amount. His bays and creeks did indeed long
provide access to small vessels, but these were not adequate for the
transport of a bulky export like cotton[531]. To Russell, however, the
blockade appearing negligible in probable effect and also not open to
objection by neutrals if regularly established, it seemed that any
immediate danger to British trade was averted by the final American
action on the "Southern Ports" Bill. It was not until the blockade did
begin to be thoroughly effective that either the British public or
Government gave it serious consideration.

Not again until late November did Russell return with any interest to
the subject of the blockade and then it was again on an American effort
which seemed to indicate the ineffectiveness of blockading squadrons and
a plan to remedy this by unusual, even "uncivilized," if not illegal,
methods. This was the "Stone Boat Fleet" plan of blocking Charleston
harbour by sinking vessels across the entrance bar[532]. The plan was
reported by Lyons and the news received in England at the most uncertain
moment as to the outcome of the _Trent_ controversy[533]. British press
and Government at first placed no stress on it, presumably because of
the feeling that in view of the existing crisis it was a minor matter.
In the same week Lyons, having been asked by Russell for an opinion on
the blockade, answered:

     "I am a good deal puzzled as to how I ought to answer your
     question whether I consider the Blockade effective. It is
     certainly by no means strict or vigorous along the immense
     extent of coast to which it is supposed to apply. I suppose
     the ships which run it successfully both in and out are more
     numerous than those which are intercepted. On the other hand
     it is very far from being a mere Paper Blockade. A great many
     vessels are captured; it is a most serious interruption to
     Trade; and if it were as ineffective as Mr. Jefferson Davis
     says in his Message, he would not be so very anxious to get
     rid of it[534]."

This was a very fair description of the blockade situation. Lyons,
unaffected by irritations resulting from the _Trent_, showed the frame
of mind of a "determined neutral," as he was fond of describing himself.
His answer was the first given to Russell indicating a possibility that
the blockade might, after all, become strictly effective and thus
exceedingly harmful to British trade. There is no direct _proof_ that
this influenced Russell to denounce the plan of blocking Southern
harbours with stone-laden boats sunk in the channel, but the existence
of such a motive seems probable. Moreover his protest was not made until
December 20, the _day after_ he had learned officially from Adams that
Wilkes was unauthorized in searching the _Trent_--a day on which strain
and uncertainty regarding American intentions were greatly lessened.
Russell then wrote to Lyons that he observed it to be stated,
"apparently on good authority," that the declared purpose of the stone
boat fleet was "of destroying these harbours for ever." He
characterized this as implying "utter despair of the restoration of the
Union," and as being only "a measure of revenge and irremediable injury
against an enemy."

"But even in this view, as a scheme of embittered and sanguinary war,
such a measure is not justifiable. It is a plot against the commerce of
nations and the free intercourse of the Southern States of America with
the civilized world. It is a project worthy only of times of barbarism."

Lyons was instructed to speak in this sense to Seward, who, it was
hoped, would disavow the project[535].

There was nothing in Lyons' despatches, nor in the American newspaper
extracts accompanying them, to warrant such accusation and
expostulation. Lyons had merely commented that by some in America the
project had been characterized as "odious and barbarous," adding, "The
question seems to depend on the extent to which the harbours will be
permanently injured[536]." It will be noted that Russell did not refer
to information received from Lyons (though it was already in hand), but
to "apparently good authority" in justification of his vigorous
denunciation. But like vigour, and like characterization of American
"barbarism" did not appear in the British press until after the news
arrived of the release of Mason and Slidell. Then the storm broke, well
summed up in the Punch cartoon entitled "Retrogression. (A Very Sad
Picture.) War Dance of the I.O.U. Indian," and showing Uncle Sam in
war-feathers and with war-club, in his hand a flag made of the _New York
Herald_, dancing in glee on the shores of a deserted harbour across
which stretched a row of sunken ships[537].

On January 13 the Liverpool Shipowners' Association called the attention
of the Foreign Office to the news that Charleston harbour had been
closed by stone boats and urged governmental remonstrance[538]. Hammond
at once replied quoting the language of Russell's letter of December 20
and stating that further representations would be made[539]. On the
sixteenth Russell again instructed Lyons to speak to Seward, but now was
much less rasping in language, arguing, rather, the injury in the future
to the United States itself in case the harbours were permanently
destroyed since "... the object of war is peace, and the purposes of
peace are mutual goodwill and advantageous commercial intercourse[540]."
To-day it seems absurd that any save the most ignorant observer should
have thought the North contemplated a permanent and revengeful
destruction of Southern port facilities. Nor was there any just ground
for such an extreme British view of the Northern plan. Yet even Robert
Browning was affected by the popular outcry. "For what will you do," he
wrote Story, "if Charleston becomes loyal again[541]?" a query
expressive of the increasing English concern, even alarm, at the intense
bitterness, indicating a long war, of the American belligerents. How
absurd, not to say ridiculous, was this British concern at an American
"lapse toward barbarism" was soon made evident. On January II Lyons,
acting on the instructions of December 20, brought up the matter with
Seward and was promptly assured that there was no plan whatever "to
injure the harbours permanently." Seward stated that there had never
been any plan, even, to sink boats in the main entrance channels, but
merely the lesser channels, because the Secretary of the Navy had
reported that with the blockading fleet he could "stop up the 'large
holes,'" but "could not stop up the 'small ones.'" Seward assured Lyons
that just as soon as the Union was restored all obstructions would be
removed, and he added that the best proof that the entrance to
Charleston harbour had not been destroyed was the fact that in spite of
blockading vessels and stone boats "a British steamer laden with
contraband of war had just succeeded in getting in[542]." Again, on
February 10, this time following Russell's instruction of January 16,
Lyons approached Seward and was told that he might inform Russell that
"all the vessels laden with stone, which had been prepared for
obstructing the harbours, had been already sunk, and that it is not
likely that any others will be used for that purpose[543]." This was no
yielding to Great Britain, nor even an answer to Russell's accusation of
barbarity. The fact was that the plan of obstruction of harbours,
extending even to placing a complete barrier, had been undertaken by the
Navy with little expectation of success, and, on the first appearance of
new channels made by the wash of waters, was soon abandoned[544].

The British outcry, Russell's assumption in protest that America was
conducting war with barbarity, and the protest itself, may seem at first
glance to have been merely manifestations of a British tendency to
meddle, as a "superior nation" in the affairs of other states and to
give unasked-for advice. A hectoring of peoples whose civilization was
presumably less advanced than that which stamped the Englishman was,
according to Matthew Arnold, traditional--was a characteristic of
British public and Government alike[545]. But this is scarcely a
satisfactory explanation in the present case. For in the first place it
is to be remarked that the sinking of obstructions in an enemy's
harbours in order to render more effective a blockade was no novelty in
maritime warfare, as Russell must have well known, and that there was no
modern record of such obstructions having permanently destroyed a
harbour. A far more reasonable explanation is that which connects the
energy of the British Government in opposing a proposed American closing
of Southern harbours by Presidential proclamation, with a like energy
against the stone boat project. The first method was indeed rightly
regarded as a violation of accustomed maritime belligerency, but both
methods were primarily objectionable in British eyes because they were
very evidently the result of efforts to find a way in which an as yet
ineffective blockade could be made more rigorous. On the impossibility
of an effective blockade, if conducted on customary lines, the British
people and Foreign Secretary had pinned their faith that there would be
no serious interruption of trade. This was still the view in January,
1862, though doubts were arising, and the "stone boat" protest must be
regarded as another evidence of watchful guardianship of commerce with
the South. The very thought that the blockade might become effective, in
which case all precedent would demand respect for it, possibly caused
Russell to use a tone not customary with him in upbraiding the North for
a planned "barbarity."

Within three months the blockade and its effectiveness was to be made
the subject of the first serious parliamentary discussion on the Civil
War in America. In another three months the Government began to feel a
pressure from its associate in "joint attitude," France, to examine
again with much care its asserted policy of strict neutrality, and this
because of the increased effectiveness of the blockade. Meanwhile
another "American question" was serving to cool somewhat British
eagerness to go hand in hand with France. For nearly forty years since
independence from Spain the Mexican Republic had offered a thorny
problem to European nations since it was difficult, in the face of the
American Monroe Doctrine, to put sufficient pressure upon her for the
satisfaction of the just claims of foreign creditors. In 1860 measures
were being prepared by France, Great Britain and Spain to act jointly in
the matter of Mexican debts. Commenting on these measures, President
Buchanan in his annual message to Congress of December 3, 1860, had
sounded a note of warning to Europe indicating that American principles
would compel the use of force in aid of Mexico if debt-collecting
efforts were made the excuse for a plan "to deprive our neighbouring
Republic of portions of her territory." But this was at the moment of
the break-up of the Union and attracted little attention in the United
States. For the same reason, no longer fearing an American block to
these plans, the three European Governments, after their invitation to
the United States to join them had been refused, signed a convention,
October 31, 1861, to force a payment of debts by Mexico. They pledged
themselves, however, to seek no accession of territory and not to
interfere in the internal affairs of Mexico.

In this pledge Great Britain and Spain were sincere. Napoleon III was
not--was indeed pursuing a policy not at first understood even by his
Ministers[546]. A joint expedition under the leadership of the Spanish
General Prim was despatched, and once in Mexico took possession of
customs houses and began to collect duties. It soon became evident to
the British and Spanish agents on the spot that France had far other
objects than the mere satisfaction of debts. The result was a clash of
interests, followed by separate agreements with Mexico and the
withdrawal of forces by Great Britain and Spain. This difference of view
on Mexican policy had become clear to Cowley, British Ambassador at
Paris, by January, 1862, and from that month until the end of March his
private letters to Russell referring to American affairs in general are
almost wholly concerned with French designs on Mexico. Cowley learned
that earlier rumours of Napoleon's purpose to place the Archduke
Maximilian of Austria upon the _Throne_ of Mexico, far from being
unfounded, were but faint indications of a great French "colonial
Empire" scheme, and he thought that there was "some ill-will to the
United States at the bottom of all this[547]...." He feared that the
Mexican question would "give us a deal of trouble yet[548]," and by
March was writing of the "monstrous claims on the Mexican Govt." made by

These reactions of Cowley were fully shared by Russell, and he hastened,
in March, to withdraw British forces in Mexico, as also did Spain. Great
Britain believed that she had been tricked into a false position in
Mexico, hastened to escape from it, but in view of the close relation of
joint policy with France toward the Civil War in America, undertook no
direct opposition though prophesying an evil result. This situation
required France to refrain, for a time, from criticism of British policy
and action toward the North--to pursue, in brief, a "follow on" policy,
rather than one based on its own initiative. On the British side the
French Mexican policy created a suspicion of Napoleon's hidden purposes
and objects in the Civil War and made the British Government slow to
accept French suggestions. The result was that in relation to that war
Great Britain set the pace and France had to keep step--a very
advantageous situation for the North, as the event was to prove. On the
purely Mexican question Lyons early took opportunity to assure Seward
that Great Britain was "entirely averse to any interference in the
internal affairs of Mexico, and that nothing could be further from their
wishes than to impose upon the Mexican Nation any Government not of its
own choice[550]."

British dislike of France's Mexican venture served to swell the breeze
of amity toward America that had sprung up once the _Trent_ was beyond
the horizon, and made, temporarily, for smooth sailing in the relations
of Great Britain and the North. Lyons wrote on February 7 that the
"present notion appears to be to overwhelm us with demonstrations of
friendship and confidence[551]." Adams' son in London thought "our work
here is past its crisis," and that, "Our victory is won on this side the
water[552]," while the American Minister himself believed that "the
prospect of interference with us is growing more and more remote[553]."
Russell also was optimistic, writing to Lyons, "Our relations have now
got into a very smooth groove.... There is no longer any excitement here
upon the question of America. I fear Europe is going to supplant the
affairs of America as an exciting topic[554]," meaning, presumably,
disturbances arising in Italy. On April 4 Adams described his diplomatic
duties as "almost in a state of profound calm[555]."

This quiet in relation to America is evidence that no matter what
anxiety was felt by British statesmen over the effects of the blockade
there was as yet no inclination seriously to question its legality. That
there was, nevertheless, real anxiety is shown by an urgent letter from
Westbury to Palmerston upon the blockade, asserting that if cotton
brought but four pence at Charleston and thirteen pence at Liverpool
there must be some truth in its alleged effectiveness:

     "I am greatly opposed to any violent interference. Do not let
     us give the Federal States any pretence for saying that they
     failed thro' our interference.... Patience for a few more
     weeks is I am satisfied the wiser and the more expedient

[Illustration: KING COTTON BOUND: Or, The Modern Prometheus. _Reproduced
by permission of the Proprietors of "Punch"_]

This would indicate some Cabinet discussion, at least, on the blockade
and on British trade interests. But Westbury's "few more weeks" had no
place in Russell's thought, for on February 15 he wrote to Lyons in
regard to assertions being made that the blockade was ineffective
because certain vessels had eluded it:

     "Her Majesty's Government, however, are of opinion that,
     assuming that the blockade is duly notified, and also that a
     number of ships is stationed and remains at the entrance of a
     port, sufficient really to prevent access to it or to create
     an evident danger of entering or leaving it, and that these
     ships do not voluntarily permit ingress or egress, the fact
     that various ships may have successfully escaped through it
     (as in the particular instances here referred to) will not of
     itself prevent the blockade from being an effective one by
     international law[557]."

From this view Russell never departed in official instructions[558].
England's position as the leading maritime Power made it inevitable that
she should promptly approve the Northern blockade effort and be cautious
in criticizing its legitimate operation. Both her own history and
probable future interests when a belligerent, required such a policy far
more important in the eyes of statesmen than any temporary injury to
British commerce. English merchants, if determined to trade with the
South, must take their own risks, and that Russell believed they would
do so is evidenced by his comment to Adams that it was a tradition of
the sea that Englishmen "would, if money were to be made by it, send
supplies even to hell at the risk of burning their sails."

But trade problems with the South soon brought real pressure on the
Government. In January, while marking time until Mason should arrive at
his post, the Confederate commissioners already in London very nearly
took a step that might have prejudiced the new envoy's position. They
had now learned through public documents that Russell had informed Adams
he "had no intention of seeing them again." Very angry they planned a
formal protest to the British Government, but in the end Mann and Rost
counselled silence, outvoting Yancey[559]. On his arrival Mason ignored
this situation and with cause for, warmly received socially in
pro-Southern circles, he felt confident that at least a private
reception would soon be given him by Russell. He became, indeed,
somewhat of a social lion, and mistaking this personal popularity for
evidence of parliamentary, if not governmental, attitude, was confident
of quick advantages for the South. On the day after his arrival he wrote
unofficially to Hunter, Confederate Secretary of State "... although the
Ministry may hang back in regard to the blockade and recognition through
the Queen's speech, at the opening of Parliament next week the popular
voice through the House of Commons will demand both."... "I shall be
disappointed if the Parliament does not insist on definite action by the

Carefully considering the situation and taking the advice of many
English friends, Mason and Slidell agreed that the best line to take was
to lay aside for the moment the claim to recognition and to urge
European repudiation of the blockade. Slidell, arrived in Paris, wrote
Mason that in his coming interview with Thouvenel he should "make only a
passing allusion to the question of recognition, intimating that on that
point I am not disposed at present to press consideration. But I shall
insist upon the inefficiency of the blockade, the 'vandalism of the
stone fleet,' etc[561]." Mason was urged to take a like course with
Russell. Both men were much excited by a document a copy of which had
been secured by Mann purporting to be a "confidential memorandum"
addressed by England to the Continental Powers, asking whether the time
had not come to raise the blockade. No such memorandum existed, but
Slidell and Mason believed it genuine[562]. They had great hopes of the
opening of Parliament, but when that event took place, February 6, and
the only references in debate were to the _Trent_ and its fortunate
outcome, Mason was puzzled and chagrined. He wrote: "It is thought that
silence as to the blockade was intended to leave that question
open[563]." This, no doubt, was the consolatory explanation of his
friends, but the unofficial interview with Russell, at his home, on
February 10, chilled Mason's hopes.

As agreed with Slidell, emphasis in this interview was laid by Mason on
the blockade, though recognition was asked. His report to Richmond shows
that he proceeded with great caution, omitting portions of his
instructions on cotton for fear of arousing antagonism, and venturing
only a slight departure by expressing the hope that if Great Britain
wished to renew communication with the Confederacy it might be made
through him, rather than through the British consuls at the South.
Russell's "only reply was, he hoped I might find my residence in London
agreeable." He refused to see Mason's credentials, stating this to be
"unnecessary, our relations being unofficial." He listened with
courtesy, asked a few questions, but "seemed utterly disinclined to
enter into conversation at all as to the policy of his Government, and
only said, in substance, they must await events." Certainly it was a
cool reception, and Mason departed with the conviction that Russell's
"personal sympathies were not with us, and his policy inaction[564]."
But Mason still counted on parliamentary pressure on the Government, and
he was further encouraged in this view by a letter from Spence, at
Liverpool, stating that he had just received a request to come to London
"from a government quarter, of all the _most important_[565]."

The summons of Spence to London shows that the Government itself feared
somewhat a pro-Southern move in Parliament. He reported to Mason that
interviews had taken place with Palmerston and with Russell, that he had
unfortunately missed one with Gladstone, and, while not citing these men
directly, declared the general "London idea" to be that of
"postponement"; since it was inevitable that "the North will break down
in a few months on the score of money," and that "We have only to wait
three months." Evidently Spence believed he was being used as an
intermediary and influential adviser in pro-Southern circles to persuade
them to a period of quiet. This, he thought, was unwise since delay
would be injurious[566]. Of like opinion were the two Members of
Parliament who were, throughout Mason's career in England, to be his
closest advisers. These were Gregory and Lindsay, the former possessing
somewhat of a following in the "gentleman-ruler" class, the latter the
largest shipowner in Great Britain. Their advice also was to press on
the blockade question[567], as a matter of primary British commercial
interest, and they believed that France was eager to follow a British
lead. This was contrary to Slidell's notion at the moment, but of this
Mason was unaware[568].

The Government did indeed feel compelled to lay before Parliament the
papers on the blockade. This was a bulky document of one hundred and
twenty-six pages and covered the period from May 3, 1861, to February
17, 1862. In it were the details of the institution of the blockade,
reports from British consuls on its effectiveness, lists of vessels
captured and of vessels evading it, all together furnishing a very
complete view of this, the principal maritime belligerent effort of the
North[569]. The Blockade Papers gave opportunity for debate, if desired,
and especially so as almost at the end of this document appeared that
instruction of February 15 by Russell to Lyons, which clearly stated
British acceptance of the blockade as effective. Mason's interview with
Russell occurred on the tenth. Five days later, after Spence had been
urged vainly to use his influence for "postponement," Russell, so it
must appear, gave challenge to pro-Southern sentiment by asserting the
effectiveness of the blockade, a challenge almost immediately made known
to Parliament by the presentation of papers.

Unless Southern sympathizers were meekly to acquiesce, without further
protest, in governmental policy they must now make some decided effort.
This came in the shape of a debate in the Commons, on March 7, of a
motion by Gregory urging the Government to declare the blockade
ineffective[570], and of a similar debate on March 10 in the Lords. As
is inevitable where many speakers participate in a debate the arguments
advanced were repeated and reiterated. In the Commons important speeches
for the motion were made by Gregory, Bentinck, Sir James Ferguson, Lord
Robert Cecil and Lindsay, while against it appeared Forster and Monckton
Milnes. The Solicitor-General, Roundell Palmer, presented the Government
view. Gregory opened the debate by seeking to make clear that while
himself favourable to recognition of the South the present motion had no
essential bearing on that question and was directed wholly to a
_fact_--that the blockade was not in reality effective and should not be
recognized as such. He presented and analysed statistics to prove the
frequency with which vessels passed through the blockade, using the
summaries given by Mason to Russell in their interview of February 10,
which were now before Parliament in the document on the blockade just
presented, and he cited the reports of Bunch at Charleston as further
evidence. This was the burden of Gregory's argument[571], but he glanced
in passing at many other points favourable to the South, commenting on
its free trade principles, depicting the "Stone Fleet" as a barbarity,
asserting the right of the South to secede, declaring that France
regarded British attitude as determined by a selfish policy looking to
future wars, and attacking Seward on the ground of American
inconsistency, falsely paraphrasing him as stating that "as for all
those principles of international law, which we have ever upheld, they
are as but dust in the balance compared with the exigencies of the
moment[572]." Gregory concluded with the statement that the United
States should be treated "with justice and nothing more."

When presenting a cause in Parliament its advocates should agree on a
line of argument. The whole theory of this movement on the blockade was
that it was wise to minimize the question of recognition, and Gregory
had laboured to prove that this was not related to a refusal longer to
recognize the blockade. But Bentinck, the second speaker for the motion,
promptly undid him for he unhappily admitted that recognition and
blockade questions were so closely interwoven that they could not be
considered separately. This was promptly seized upon by Forster, who led
in opposition. Forster's main argument, however, was a very able tearing
to pieces of Gregory's figures, showing that nearly all the alleged
blockade runners were in reality merely small coasting steamers, which,
by use of shallow inner channels, could creep along the shore and then
make a dash for the West Indies. The effectiveness of the blockade of
main ports for ocean-going vessels carrying bulky cargoes was proved, he
declared, by the price of raw cotton in England, where it was 100 per
cent. greater than in the South, and of salt in Charleston, where the
importer could make a profit of 1,000 per cent. To raise the blockade,
he argued, would be a direct violation by Britain of her neutrality. The
real reason for this motion was not the _ineffectiveness_ of the
blockade, but the effectiveness, and the real object an English object,
not a Southern one. Gregory was taunted for changing a motion to
recognize the Confederacy into the present one because he knew the
former would fail while the present motion was deceitfully intended to
secure the same end. Forster strongly approved the conduct of the
Government in preserving strict neutrality, alleging that any other
conduct would have meant "a war in which she [England] would have had to
fight for slavery against her kinsmen."

Gregory's speech was cautious and attempted to preserve a judicial tone
of argument on fact. Forster's reads like that of one who knows his
cause already won. Gregory's had no fire in it and was characterized by
Henry Adams, an interested auditor, as "listened to as you would listen
to a funeral eulogy."... "The blockade is now universally acknowledged
to be unobjectionable[573]." This estimate is borne out by the speech
for the Government by the Solicitor-General, who maintained the
effectiveness of the blockade and who answered Gregory's argument that
recognition was not in question by stating that to refuse longer to
recognize the blockade would result in a situation of "armed
neutrality"--that is of "unproclaimed war." He pictured the disgust of
Europe if England should enter upon such a war in alliance "with a
country ... which is still one of the last strongholds of slavery"--an
admission made in the fervour of debate that was dangerous as tending to
tie the Government's hands in the future, but which was, no doubt,
merely a personal and carelessly ventured view, not a governmentally
authorized one. In general the most interesting feature of this debate
is the hearty approval given by friends of the North to the Government's
entire line of policy and conduct in relation to America. Their play at
the moment, feeling insecure as to the fixity of governmental policy,
was to approve heartily the neutrality now existing, and to make no
criticisms. Later, when more confident of the permanency of British
neutrality, they in turn became critics on the score of failure, in
specific cases, in neutral duty.

The Solicitor-General's speech showed that there was no hope for the
motion unless it could be made a party question. Of that there was no
indication, and the motion was withdrawn. Three days later a similar
debate in the Lords was of importance only as offering Russell, since he
was now a member of the upper chamber, an opportunity to speak for
himself. Lord Campbell had disavowed any intention to attack the
blockade since Russell, on February 15, had officially approved it, but
criticized the sending to Lyons of the despatch itself. Russell upheld
the strict legality and effectiveness of the blockade, stated that if
England sided with the South in any way the North would appeal to a
slave insurrection--the first reference to an idea which was to play a
very important rôle with Russell and others later--and concluded by
expressing the opinion that three months would see the end of the
struggle on lines of separation, but with some form of union between the
two sovereignties[574]. Russell's speech was an unneeded but emphatic
negative of the pro-Southern effort.

Clearly Southern sympathizers had committed an error in tactics by
pressing for a change of British policy. The rosy hopes of Mason were
dashed and the effect of the efforts of his friends was to force the
Government to a decided stand when they preferred, as the summons of
Spence to conference makes evident, to leave in abeyance for a time any
further declaration on the blockade. The refusal of Mason and his
Southern friends to wait compelled a governmental decision and the
result was Russell's instruction to Lyons of February 15. The effect of
the debate on Mason was not to cause distrust of his English advisers,
but to convince him that the existing Government was more determined in
unfriendliness than he had supposed. Of the blockade he wrote: "... no
step will be taken by this Government to interfere with it[575]." He
thought the military news from America in part responsible as: "The late
reverses at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson have had an unfortunate effect
upon the minds of our friends here[576]...." Spence was opposed to any
further move in Parliament until some more definite push on the
Government from France should occur[577]. Slidell, anxiously watching
from Paris the effort in England, had now altered his view of policy and
was convinced there was no hope in France until England gave the signal.
Referring to his previous idea that the Continent could be put in
opposition to Great Britain on the blockade he wrote:

     "I then supposed that the influence of the Emperor was such
     that any view of the question which he might urge on the
     British Cabinet would be adopted. I have since had reason to
     change entirely this opinion. I am now satisfied that in all
     that concerns us the initiative must be taken by England;
     that the Emperor sets such value on her good will that he
     will make any sacrifice of his own opinions and policy to
     retain it[578]."

On March 28 he repeated this conviction to Mason[579]. It was a correct
judgment. Mason was thereby exalted with the knowledge that his was to
be the first place in importance in any and all operations intended to
secure European support for the Confederacy, but he could not conceal
from himself that the first steps undertaken in that direction had been
premature. From this first failure dated his fixed belief, no matter
what hopes were sometimes expressed later, that only a change of
Government in England would help the Southern cause.


[Footnote 502: See _ante_, p. 52.]

[Footnote 503: See _ante_, pp. 61 and 65-66.]

[Footnote 504: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, April 15, 1861.]

[Footnote 505: _Ibid._, Lyons to Russell. Private. April 23, 1861.]

[Footnote 506: Bernard, _Neutrality of Great Britain_, pp. 80-1.]

[Footnote 507: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, April 27, 1861.]

[Footnote 508: Bernard, p. 229.]

[Footnote 509: _Saturday Review_, May 18, 1861.]

[Footnote 510: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXIII, pp. 188-195.]

[Footnote 511: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, June 24, 1861.]

[Footnote 512: _Ibid._, Lyons to Russell, July 2, 1861.]

[Footnote 513: Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell. The important
correspondence on this subject is found in: F.O., France, Vol. 1393. No.
796. Cowley to Russell, July 2, 1861. _Ibid._, No. 804. Cowley to
Russell, July 4, 1861. _Ibid._, Vol. 1377. No. 704. Russell to Cowley,
July 10, 1861. _Ibid._, Vol. 1394. No. 874. Cowley to Russell, July 17,
1861. _Ibid._, No. 922. Cowley to Russell, July 28, 1861. _Ibid._, No.
923. Confidential Cowley to Russell, July 29, 1861. Russell Papers.
Cowley to Russell, July 19, 1861. _Ibid._, Cowley to Russell, July 28,
1861. It is interesting that the promise of France to support England in
remonstrance against the "Southern Ports Bill" appears, through Cowley's
communications, in the printed Parliamentary Papers. A study of these
alone would lead to the judgment that France _had been the first_ to
raise the question with England and had heartily supported England. The
facts were otherwise, though Mercier, without exact instructions from
Thouvenel, aided Lyons in argument with Seward (_Parliamentary Papers_,
1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United
States." No. 68. Lyons to Russell, July 20, 1861).]

[Footnote 514: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 61.]

[Footnote 515: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, July 16, 1861.]

[Footnote 516: Schleiden reported Seward as objecting to the Bill and
Sumner as "vainly opposing" it. Sumner had in fact spoken publicly in
favour of the measure. Probably he told Schleiden that privately he was
against it. Schleiden reported Sumner as active in urging the Cabinet
not to issue a Proclamation closing the ports (Schleiden Papers.
Schleiden to Senate of Bremen, July 10 and 19, 1861). Mercier later
informed Thouvenel that Sumner declared the Bill intended for the
Northern public only, to show administration "energy," and that there
was never any intention of putting it into effect. F.O., France, 1394.
No. 931. Cowley to Russell, Aug. 1, 1861.]

[Footnote 517: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." Nos. 70 and 71.
Thouvenel did finally consent to support Russell's protest.]

[Footnote 518: F.O., Am., Vol. 755. No. 168.]

[Footnote 519: F.O., Am., Vol. 756.]

[Footnote 520: F.O., France, Vol. 1395. No. 967. Cowley to Russell, Aug.
8, 1861.]

[Footnote 521: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell.]

[Footnote 522: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 68. Lyons to
Russell, July 20, 1861. Enclosed was a copy of the six lines of
Thouvenel's "instruction" to Mercier, dated July 4, the very brevity of
which shows that this was in fact no instruction at all, but merely a
comment by Thouvenel to Mercier.]

[Footnote 523: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, July 30, 1861.]

[Footnote 524: _Ibid._, Lyons to Russell, August 1, 1861.]

[Footnote 525: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 81. Lyons to
Russell, Aug. 12, 1861.]

[Footnote 526: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell. Private. Aug. 13,

[Footnote 527: _Ibid._, Russell Papers.]

[Footnote 528: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 83.]

[Footnote 529: Lyons thought this possible. Russell Papers. Lyons to
Russell. Private. July 20, 1861.]

[Footnote 530: Lyons Papers. Russell to Lyons. Private. Aug. 16, 1861.
And again he wrote the next day, "To prevent smuggling over 3,000 miles
of coast and 1,500 miles of land frontier seems to me impossible"
(_Ibid._, Aug. 17, 1861). Russell had received some two weeks earlier, a
letter from Bunch at Charleston, urging that England make no objection
to the blockade in order that the South might be taught the lesson that
"King Cotton," was not, after all, powerful enough to compel British
recognition and support. He stated that Southerners, angry at the
failure to secure recognition, were loudly proclaiming that they both
could and would humble and embarrass Great Britain (F.O., Am., Vol. 781.
No. 82. Bunch to Russell, July 8, 1861). Bunch wrote on July 23 that the
South planned to hold back its cotton until Great Britain and France
raised the blockade (_Ibid._, No. 87). Bunch was now impressed with
Southern determination.]

[Footnote 531: The seven ports were Norfolk (Virginia), Wilmington
(North Carolina), Charleston (South Carolina), Savannah (Georgia),
Mobile (Alabama), New Orleans (Louisiana), and Galveston (Texas).]

[Footnote 532: The first important reference to the blockade after
mid-August, 1861, is in an order to Bunch, conveyed through Lyons, not
to give advice to British merchants in Charleston as to blockade runners
that had gotten into port having any "right" to go out again (F.O., Am.,
Vol. 757. No. 402. Russell to Lyons, Nov. 8, 1861).]

[Footnote 533: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 125. Lyons to
Russell, Nov. 25, 1861. Received Dec. 9.]

[Footnote 534: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, Nov. 29, 1861.]

[Footnote 535: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 127.]

[Footnote 536: _Ibid._, No. 126. Lyons to Russell, Nov. 29, 1861.
Received Dec. 12.]

[Footnote 537: _Punch_, Feb. 1, 1862.]

[Footnote 538: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 141.]

[Footnote 539: _Ibid._, No. 142. Jan. 15, 1861.]

[Footnote 540: _Ibid._, No. 143.]

[Footnote 541: James, _W. W. Story_, II, p. 111, Jan. 21, 1862.]

[Footnote 542: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV.
"Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 153. Lyons to
Russell, Jan. 14, 1862. Received Jan. 27.]

[Footnote 543: _Ibid., Lords_, Vol. XXV. "Despatch from Lord Lyons
respecting the Obstruction of the Southern Harbours." Lyons to Russell,
Feb. 11, 1862. Received Feb. 24.]

[Footnote 544: Thompson and Wainwright, _Confidential Correspondence of
G.V. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy_, 1861-65, I, p. 79. Du Pont
to Fox, Dec. 16, 1861. Hereafter cited as _Fox, Confid. Corresp_. This
letter shows clearly also that the Navy had no thought of a _permanent_

[Footnote 545: _Vide_ Arnold, _Friendship's Garland_.]

[Footnote 546: Thouvenel, _Le Secret de l'Empereur_, II, 249. Thouvenel
could mistakenly write to Mercier on March 13, 1862. "Nous ne voulons
pas cependant imposer une forme de gouvernement aux Mexicains..."]

[Footnote 547: Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell. Private. Jan. 17,
1862. On this same date Thouvenel, writing to Flahault in London, hoped
England would feel that she had a common interest with France in
preventing Mexico from falling under the yoke of Americans either "unis
ou secedes." (Thouvenel, _Le Secret de l'Empereur_, II, 226).]

[Footnote 548: _Ibid._, Jan. 24, 1862.]

[Footnote 549: _Ibid._, March 6, 1862.]

[Footnote 550: F.O., Am., Vol. 825. No. 146. Lyons to Russell, Feb. 28,
1862. The fact that Slidell arrived in France just as Napoleon's plans
for Mexico took clearer form has been made the ground for assumptions
that he immediately gave assurance of Southern acquiescence and
encouraged Napoleon to go forward. I have found no good evidence of
this--rather the contrary. The whole plan was clear to Cowley by
mid-January before Slidell reached Paris, and Slidell's own
correspondence shows no early push on Mexico. The Confederate agents'
correspondence, both official and private, will be much used later in
this work and here requires explanation. But four historical works of
importance deal with it extensively, (1) Richardson, _Messages and
Papers of the Confederacy_, 2 vols., 1905, purports to include the
despatches of Mason and Slidell to Richmond, but is very unsatisfactory.
Important despatches are missing, and elisions sometimes occur without
indication. (2) Virginia Mason, _The Public Life and Diplomatic
Correspondence of James M. Mason_, 1906, contains most of Mason's
despatches, including some not given by Richardson. The author also used
the _Mason Papers_ (see below). (3) Callahan, _The Diplomatic History of
the Southern Confederacy_, 1901, is the most complete and authoritative
work on Southern diplomacy yet published. He used the collection known
as the "Pickett Papers," for official despatches, supplementing these
when gaps occurred by a study of the _Mason Papers_, but his work,
narrative in form, permits no extended printing of documents. (4) L.M.
Sears, _A Confederate Diplomat at the Court of Napoleon III_. (Am. Hist.
Rev. Jan., 1921), is a study drawn from Slidell's private letters in the
_Mason Papers_. The Mason Papers exist in eight folios or packages in
the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, and in addition
there is one bound volume of Mason's despatches to Richmond. These
contain the private correspondence of Mason and Slidell while in Europe.
Slidell's letters are originals. Mason's letters are copies in Slidell's
hand-writing, made apparently at Mason's request and sent to him in May,
1865. A complete typed copy of this correspondence was taken by me in
1913, but this has not hitherto been used save in a manuscript Master's
degree thesis by Walter M. Case, "James M. Mason, Confederate Diplomat,"
Stanford University, 1915, and for a few citations by C. F. Adams, _A
Crisis in Downing Street_ (Mass. Hist. Soc. _Proceedings_, May, 1914).
The Mason Papers also contain many letters from Mason's English friends,
Spence, Lindsay, Gregory and others.]

[Footnote 551: Russell Papers. To Russell. Lyons thought France also
included in these demonstrations.]

[Footnote 552: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, 113. Henry Adams to
Charles Francis Adams, Jr., Feb. 14, 1862.]

[Footnote 553: _Ibid._, p. 115. To his son, Feb. 21, 1862.]

[Footnote 554: Lyons Papers. March 1, 1862.]

[Footnote 555: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, 123. To his son.]

[Footnote 556: Palmerston MS. Feb. 9, 1862.]

[Footnote 557: Bernard, p. 245. The author agrees with Russell but adds
that Great Britain, in the early stages of the blockade, was indulgent
to the North, and rightly so considering the difficulties of
instituting it.]

[Footnote 558: He wrote to Mason on February 10, 1863, that he saw "no
reason to qualify the language employed in my despatch to Lord Lyons of
the 15th of February last." (Bernard, p. 293).]

[Footnote 559: Richardson, _Messages and Papers of the Confederacy_, II,
p. 155. Yancey and Mann to Hunter, Jan. 27, 1862.]

[Footnote 560: Mason, _Mason_, pp. 257-8, Jan. 30, 1862.]

[Footnote 561: Mason Papers. Feb. 5, 1862.]

[Footnote 562: Mann sent this "confidential memorandum" to Jefferson
Davis, Feb. 1, 1862 (Richardson, II, 160). There is no indication of how
he obtained it. It was a fake pure and simple. To his astonishment
Slidell soon learned from Thouvenel that France knew nothing of such a
memorandum. It was probably sold to Mann by some enterprising "Southern
friend" in need of money.]

[Footnote 563: Mason, _Mason_, p. 258. Mason to Hunter, Feb. 7, 1862.]

[Footnote 564: _Ibid._, pp. 260-62. Mason's despatch No. 4. Feb. 22,
1862. (This despatch is not given by Richardson.) Slidell was more
warmly received by Thouvenel. He followed the same line of argument and
apparently made a favourable impression. Cowley reported Thouvenel,
after the interview, as expressing himself as "hoping that in two or
three months matters would have reached such a crisis in America that
both parties would be willing to accept a Mediation...."

(F.O., France., Vol. 1432. No. 132. Confidential. Cowley to Russell,
Feb. 10, 1862.)]

[Footnote 565: Mason Papers. Spence to Mason, Feb. 13, 1862. This was
that James Spence, author of _The American Union_, a work strongly
espousing the Southern cause. This book was not only widely read in
England but portions of it were translated into other languages for use
on the Continent. Spence was a manufacturer and trader and also operated
in the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. He made a strong impression on Mason,
was early active in planning and administering Southern cotton loans in
England, and was in constant touch with Mason. By Slidell he was much
less favourably regarded and the impression created by his frequent
letters to Mason is that of a man of second-rate calibre elated by the
prominent part he seemed to be playing in what he took to be the birth
of a new State.]

[Footnote 566: _Ibid._, Spence to Mason, Feb. 20, 1862.]

[Footnote 567: Mason, _Mason p_. 258.]

[Footnote 568: Slidell in France at first took the tack of urging that
Continental interests and British interests in the blockade were
"directly antagonistic," basing his argument on England's forward look
as a sea power (Slidell to Hunter, Feb. 26, 1862. Richardson, II,
p. 186).]

[Footnote 569: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV. "Papers
relating to the Blockade."]

[Footnote 570: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXV, pp. 1158-1230, and pp.

[Footnote 571: Mason's authenticated statistics, unfortunately for his
cause, only came down to Oct. 31, 1861, a fact which might imply that
after that date the blockade was rapidly becoming effective and which
certainly did indicate that it was at least sufficiently effective to
prevent regular and frequent communications between the government at
Richmond and its agents abroad. Did Russell have this in mind when he
promptly incorporated Mason's figures in the papers presented to
Parliament? These figures showed that according to reports from four
Southern ports, sixty vessels had entered and cleared between April 29
and October 31, 1861; unauthenticated statistics extending to the date
December 31, presented by Mason of vessels arrived at and departing from
Cuban ports showed forty-eight vessels, each way engaged in blockade
running. Seven of these were listed as "captured." Those reaching Cuba
were described as twenty-six British, 14 Confederate, 3 Spanish, 3
American and 2 Mexican, but in none of these statistics were the names
of the vessels given, for obvious reasons, in the printed paper though
apparently included in the list submitted by Mason. These figures did in
fact but reveal a situation existing even after 1861. The American
blockading fleets had to be created from all sorts of available material
and were slow in getting under way. Regular ships of the old Navy could
not enforce it being too few in number, and also, at first, directing
their efforts to the capture of shore positions which would render a
large blockading squadron unnecessary. This proved an abortive effort
and it was not until 1862 that the development of a large fleet of
blockaders was seriously undertaken. (See _Fox, Confid. Corresp._, I,
pp. 110, 115, 119 and especially 122, which, May 31, 1862, pays tribute
to the energy with which the South for "thirteen long months" had
defended its important port shore lines.) If Gregory had been able to
quote a report by Bunch from Charleston of April 5, 1862, he would have
had a strong argument. "The blockade runners are doing a great
business.... Everything is brought in in abundance. Not a day passes
without an arrival or a departure. The Richmond Government sent about a
month ago an order to Nassau for Medicines, Quinine, etc. It went from
Nassau to New York, was executed there, came back to Nassau, thence
here, and was on its way to Richmond in 21 days from the date of the
order. Nearly all the trade is under the British flag. The vessels are
all changed in Nassau and Havana. Passengers come and go freely and no
one seems to think that there is the slightest risk--which, indeed,
there is not." (Lyons Papers. Bunch to Lyons, April 5, 1862).]

[Footnote 572: I have nowhere found any such statement by Seward.
Gregory's reference is to a note from Seward to Lyons of May 27, 1861,
printed in the Blockade Papers. This merely holds that temporary absence
of blockading ships does not impair the blockade nor render "necessary a
new notice of its existence."]

[Footnote 573: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, pp. 119-20. Henry Adams
to Charles Francis Adams, Jr., March 15, 1862.]

[Footnote 574: This "three months" statement returned to plague Russell
later, British merchants complaining that upon it they had based plans
in the belief that the Government had something definite in view.
Spence's reference to this "three months" idea, after his conferences in
London, would indicate that Russell was merely indulging in a
generalization due to the expected financial collapse of the North. The
Russian Ambassador in London gave a different interpretation. He wrote
that the Northern victories in the West had caused Great Britain to
think the time near when the "border states," now tied to the Union by
these victories, would lead in a pacification on lines of separation
from the Southern slave states. "It is in this sense, and no other that
Russell's 'three months' speech in the Lords is to be taken." (Brunow to
F.O., March 3-15, 1862. No. 33). Brunow does not so state, but his
despatch sounds as if this were the result of a talk with Russell. If
so, it would indicate an attempt to interpret Lincoln's "border state
policy" in a sense that would appear reasonable in the British view that
there could be no real hope at Washington of restoring the Union.]

[Footnote 575: Mason, _Mason_, p. 264. Despatch No. 6. March 11, 1862.]

[Footnote 576: _Ibid._, p. 266. Fort Henry was taken by Grant on
February 6 and Fort Donelson on the 15th. The capture of these two
places gave an opening for the advance of the Western army southwards
into Tennessee and Mississippi.]

[Footnote 577: Mason Papers. Spence to Mason, March 18, 1862.]

[Footnote 578: Richardson, II, 207. Slidell to Hunter, March 26, 1862.]

[Footnote 579: Mason Papers.]



The friendly atmosphere created by the lifting of the threatening
_Trent_ episode, appears to have made Secretary Seward believe that the
moment was opportune for a renewal of pressure on Great Britain and
France for the recall of their Proclamations of Neutrality. Seizing upon
the victories of Grant at Forts Henry and Donelson, he wrote to Adams on
February 28 explaining that as a result the United States, now having
access to the interior districts of Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas,
"had determined to permit the restoration of trade upon our inland ways
and waters" under certain limitations, and that if this experiment
succeeded similar measures would be applied "to the country on the
sea-coast, which would be some alleviation of the rigour of the
blockade." He added that these "concessions" to foreign nations would
"go much further and faster" if those nations would withdraw their
"belligerent privileges heretofore so unnecessarily conceded, as we
conceive, to the insurgents[580]." This was large talk for a relatively
unchanged military situation. Grant had as yet but forced open the door
in the West and was still far from having "access to the interior
districts" of the states named. Lyons, being shown a copy of this
despatch to Adams, commented to Russell that while it might be said the
position and the spirit of the Northern armies were greatly improved and
notable successes probable, it could not be maintained that hostilities
were "so near their conclusion or are carried on upon so small a scale
as to disqualify either party for the title of Belligerents[581]." Lyons
and Mercier were agreed that this was no time for the withdrawal of
belligerent rights to the South, and when the hint was received that the
purpose of making such a request was in Seward's mind, the news quite
took Thouvenel's breath away[582]. As yet, however, Seward did no more
than hint and Adams was quick to advise that the moment had not yet come
"when such a proceeding might seem to me likely to be of use[583]."

Just at this time Seward was engaged in forwarding a measure no doubt
intended to secure British anti-slavery sympathy for the North, yet also
truly indicative of a Northern temper toward the South and its "domestic
institution." This was the negotiation of a Slave-Trade treaty with
Great Britain, by which America joined, at last, the nations agreeing to
unite their efforts in suppression of the African Slave Trade. The
treaty was signed by Seward and Lyons at Washington on April 7. On the
next day Seward wrote to Adams that had such a treaty been ratified "in
1808, there would now have been no sedition here, and no disagreement
between the United States and foreign nations[584]," a melancholy
reflection intended to suggest that the South alone had been responsible
for the long delay of American participation in a world humanitarian
movement. But the real purpose of the treaty, Lyons thought, was "to
save the credit of the President with the Party which elected him if he
should make concessions to the South, with a view of reconstructing the
Union[585]"--an erroneous view evincing a misconception of the
intensity of both Northern and Southern feeling if regarded from our
present knowledge, but a view natural enough to the foreign observer at
the moment. Lyons, in this letter, correctly stated the rising
determination of the North to restore the Union, but underestimated the
rapid growth of an equal determination against a restoration with
slavery. The real motive for Seward's eagerness to sign the Slave Trade
treaty was the thought of its influence on foreign, not domestic,
affairs. Lyons, being confident that Russell would approve, had taken
"the risk of going a little faster" than his instructions had

In this same letter Lyons dwelt upon the Northern elation over recent
military successes. The campaign in the West had been followed in the
East by a great effort under McClellan to advance on Richmond up the
peninsula of the James river and using Chesapeake Bay as a means of
water transportation and supply. This campaign had been threatened by
the appearance of the iron-clad ram _Merrimac_ and her attack on the
wooden naval vessels operating in support of McClellan, but on March 9
the _Monitor_, a slow-moving floating iron-clad fortress, drove the
_Merrimac_ from her helpless prey, and removed the Southern threat to
McClellan's communications. More than any other one battle of the Civil
War the duel between the _Merrimac_ and the _Monitor_ struck the
imagination of the British people, and justly so because of its
significance in relation to the power of the British Navy. It "has been
the main talk of the town," wrote Adams, "ever since the news came, in
Parliament, in the clubs, in the city, among the military and naval
people. The impression is that it dates the commencement of a new era in
warfare, and that Great Britain must consent to begin over again[587]."
The victory of the _Monitor_ was relatively unimportant in British
eyes, but a fight between two completely armoured ships, and especially
the ease with which the _Merrimac_ had vanquished wooden ships on the
day previous, were cause of anxious consideration for the future.
Russell was more concerned over the immediate lessons of the battle.
"Only think," he wrote, "of our position if in case of the Yankees
turning upon us they should by means of iron ships renew the triumphs
they achieved in 1812-13 by means of superior size and weight of

This, however, was but early and hasty speculation, and while American
ingenuity and experiment in naval warfare had, indeed, sounded the
death-knell of wooden ships of war, no great change in the character of
navies was immediately possible. Moreover British shipbuilders could
surely keep pace in iron-clad construction with America or any other
nation. The success of the _Monitor_ was soon regarded by the British
Government as important mainly as indicative of a new energy in the
North promising further and more important successes on land. The
Government hoped for such Northern success not because of any belief
that these would go to the extent of forcing the South into submission,
for they were still, and for a long time to come, obsessed with the
conviction that Southern independence must ultimately be achieved. The
idea was, rather, that the North, having vindicated its fighting ability
and realizing that the South, even though losing battle after battle,
was stubborn in the will to independence, would reach the conclusion
that the game was not worth the price and would consent to separation.
Russell wrote in this vein to Lyons, even though he thought that the
"morale of the Southern army seems to be ruined for the time[589]." He
believed that the end of the war would be hastened by Northern
victories, and he therefore rejoiced in them.

Of somewhat like opinion up to the end of March, 1862, Lyons, in April,
began to doubt his previous analysis of Northern temper and to write
warnings that the end was not near. Grant's hard-won victory in the West
at Shiloh, April 6-7, the first great pitched battle of the war, called
out such a flood of Northern expressions of determination to drive the
war to the bitter end as to startle Lyons and cause him, in a remarkably
clear letter of survey, to recast his opinions. He wrote:

     "The general opinion is that the Campaign of this Spring will
     clear up most of the doubts as to the result of the War. If
     the Military successes of the North continue, the
     determination of the South, will (it is asserted) be at last
     really put to the test. If notwithstanding great Military
     reverses, the loss of the Border States, and the occupation
     of the most important points on the Coast, the Southern men
     hold out, if they destroy as they threaten to do, their
     cotton, tobacco and all other property which cannot be
     removed and then retire into the interior with their families
     and slaves, the Northern Conquests may prove to be but
     barren. The climate may be a fatal enemy to the Federal
     Armies. The Northern people may be unable or unwilling to
     continue the enormous expenditure. They may prefer Separation
     to protracting the War indefinitely. I confess, however, that
     I fear that a protraction of the War during another year or
     longer, is a not less probable result of the present posture
     of affairs, than either the immediate subjugation of the
     South or the immediate recognition of its independence[590]."

This itemization of Southern methods of resistance was in line with
Confederate threats at a moment when the sky looked black. There was
indeed much Southern talk of "retiring" into a hypothetical defensible
interior which impressed Englishmen, but had no foundation in
geographical fact. Meanwhile British attention was eagerly fixed on the
Northern advance, and it was at least generally hoped that the
projected attack on New Orleans and McClellan's advance up the peninsula
toward Richmond would bring to a more definite status the conflict in
America. Extreme Southern sympathizers scouted the possibility of any
conclusive Northern success, ignoring, because ignorant, the importance
of Grant's western campaign. They "were quite struck aback" by the news
of the capture of New Orleans, April 25. "It took them three days to
make up their minds to believe it[591]," but even the capture of this
the most important commercial city of the South was not regarded as of
great importance in view of the eastern effort toward Richmond.

News of the operations in the peninsula was as slow in reaching England
as was McClellan's slow and cautious advance. It was during this advance
and previous to the capture of New Orleans that two remarkable
adventures toward a solution in America were made, apparently wholly on
individual initiative, by a Frenchman in America and an Englishman in
France. Mercier at Washington and Lindsay at Paris conceived, quite
independently, that the time had come for projects of foreign mediation.

French opinion, like that expressed in England, appears to have been
that the Northern successes in the spring of 1862 might result in such a
rehabilitation of Northern self-esteem that suggestions of now
recognizing the _facts_ of the situation and acknowledging the
independence of the South would not be unfavourably received. In this
sense Thouvenel wrote to Mercier, privately, on March 13, but was
careful to state that the word "mediation" ought not to be uttered. His
letter dilated, also, on French manufacturing difficulties at home due
to the lack of cotton[592]. This was in no way an instruction to
Mercier, but the ideas expressed were broached by him in a conversation
with Seward, only to be met with such positive assertions of intention
and ability soon to recover the South as somewhat to stagger the French
Minister. He remarked, according to his report to Thouvenel, that he
wished it were possible to visit Richmond and assure himself that there
also they recognized the truth of Seward's statements, upon which the
latter at once offered to further such a trip. Mercier asserted to
Thouvenel that he was taken by surprise, having foreseen no such eager
acquiescence in a suggestion made _without previous thought_, but that
on consideration he returned to Seward and accepted the proposal,
outlining the substance of what he intended to say at Richmond. He
should there make clear that the anxiety of France was above all
directed toward peace as essential to French commercial interests; that
France had always regarded the separation of North and South with
regret; that the North was evidently determined in its will to restore
the Union; and, in repetition, that France wished to aid in any way
possible the early cessation of war. Seward, wrote Mercier, told him to
add that he, personally, would welcome "the presence in the Senate" of
any persons whom the South wished to elect[593].

Mercier, writes Bancroft, "from the first had been an impatient
sympathizer with the Confederacy, and he was quite devoid of the balance
and good judgment that characterized Lord Lyons." "Quite unnecessarily,
Seward helped him to make the trip[594]." A circumstance apparently not
known to Bancroft was Mercier's consultation with Lyons, before
departure, in which were revealed an initiative of the adventure, and a
proposed representation to the authorities in Richmond materially
different from the report made by Mercier to Thouvenel. These merit
expanded treatment as new light on a curious episode and especially as
revealing the British policy of the moment, represented in the person of
the British Minister in Washington[595].

On April 10 Mercier came to Lyons, told him that he was about to set out
for Richmond and that he had "been for some little time thinking of
making this journey." He told of _making the suggestion to Seward_, and
that this "rather to his surprise" had been "eagerly" taken up.

     "Monsieur Mercier observed that the object of vital
     importance to France, and to England also, as he supposed,
     was to put an end, as soon as possible, to the blockade, and
     generally to a state of things which caused so grievous an
     interruption of the trade between Europe and this country. It
     was, he said, possible that he might hasten the attainment of
     this object by conferring personally with the Secession
     leaders. He should frankly tell them that to all appearances
     their cause was desperate; that their Armies were beaten in
     all quarters; and that the time had arrived when they ought
     to come to some arrangement, which would put an end to a
     state of affairs ruinous to themselves and intolerable to
     Europe. It was useless to expect any countenance from the
     European Powers. Those Powers could but act on their avowed
     principles. They would recognize any people which
     established its independence, but they could not encourage
     the prolongation of a fruitless struggle.

     "Monsieur Mercier thought that if the Confederates were very
     much discouraged by their recent reverses, such language from
     the Minister of a great European Power might be a knock-down
     blow ('Coup d'assommoir' was the expression he used) to them.
     It might induce them to come to terms with the North. At all
     events it might lead to an Armistice, under which trade might
     be immediately resumed. He had (he told me) mentioned to Mr.
     Seward his notion of using this language, and had added that
     of course as a Minister accredited to the United States, and
     visiting Richmond with the consent of the United States
     Government, he could not speak to the Southern men of any
     other terms for ending the War than a return to the Union.

     "Monsieur Mercier proceeded to say that Mr. Seward entirely
     approved of the language he thus proposed to hold, and had
     authorized him to say to the Southern leaders, not of course
     from the United States Government, but from him Mr. Seward,
     personally, that they had no spirit of vengeance to
     apprehend, that they would be cordially welcomed back to
     their Seats in the Senate, and to their due share of
     political influence. Mr. Seward added that he had not said so
     much to any other person, but that he would tell Monsieur
     Mercier that he was willing to risk his own political station
     and reputation in pursuing a conciliatory course towards the
     South, that he was ready to make this his policy and to stand
     or fall by it."

This was certainly sufficiently strong language to have pleased the
American Secretary of State, and if actually used at Richmond to have
constituted Mercier a valuable Northern agent. It cannot be regarded as
at all in harmony with Mercier's previous opinions, nor as expressive of
Thouvenel's views. Lyons was careful to refrain from much comment on the
matter of Mercier's proposed representations at Richmond. He was more
concerned that the trip was to be made at all; was in fact much opposed
to it, fearing that it would appear like a break in that unity of
French-British attitude which was so desirable. Nor was he without
suspicion of a hidden French purpose to secure some special and separate
advantages in the way of prospective commercial relations with the
South. Mercier told Lyons that he knew he could not ask Lyons to
accompany him because of American "extreme susceptibility" to any
interference by Great Britain, but he thought of taking Stoeckl, the
Russian Minister, and that Stoeckl was "pleased with the idea." Lyons
frankly replied that he was glad to be relieved of the necessity of
declining to go and was sorry Mercier was determined to proceed since
this certainly looked like a break in "joint policy," and he objected
positively on the same ground to Stoeckl's going[596]. Mercier yielded
the latter point, but argued that by informing Seward of his
consultation with Lyons, which he proposed doing, the former objection
would be obviated. Finding that Mercier "was bent on going," Lyons
thought it best not to object too much and confined his efforts to
driving home the idea that no opening should be given for a "separate
agreement" with the South.

     "I therefore entered with him into the details of his plans,
     and made some suggestions as to his language and conduct. I
     said that one delusion which he might find it desirable to
     remove from the minds of men in the South, was that it would
     be possible to inveigle France or any other great European
     Power into an exclusive Alliance with them. I had reason to
     believe that some of them imagine that this might be effected
     by an offer of great commercial privileges to one Power, to
     the exclusion of others. I hardly supposed that Mr. Jefferson
     Davis himself, or men of his stamp could entertain so foolish
     a notion, but still it might be well to eradicate it from any
     mind in which it had found place[597]."

Lyons saw Mercier "two or three times" between the tenth and fourteenth
and on the twelfth spoke to Seward about the trip, "without saying
anything to lead him to suppose that I had any objection to it." This
was intended to preserve the impression of close harmony with France,
and Lyons wrote, "I consider that the result of my communications with
M. Mercier entitles him to say that he makes his journey to Richmond
with my acquiescence[598]." Nevertheless he both believed, and declared
to Mercier, that the views expressed on Southern weakening of
determination were wholly erroneous, and that neither North nor South
was ready for any efforts, still less mediation, looking toward peace.
He prophesied failure of Mercier's avowed hopes. His prophecy proved
well founded. On April 28 Lyons reported Mercier's account to him of the
results of the journey. Mercier returned to Washington on April 24,
reported at once to Seward the results of his trip, and on the same day
called on Lyons. Having conversed with Benjamin, the new Confederate
Secretary of State, he was now wholly convinced of the settled
determination of the South to maintain its independence, even under
extreme reverses. Upon enquiry by Lyons whether the South expected
European assistance, Mercier "replied that the Confederate leaders
professed to have abandoned all hope of succour from Europe," and that
confident in their own power they "desired no aid." Cautiously adverting
to his suspicion that Mercier's trip might have had in view French
commercial advantage, Lyons asked whether France had received any
proposals of benefit in return for recognition. Mercier answered with a
simple negative. He then further developed the interview with

     "He said that he had spoken while at Richmond as a friend of
     the Union, and a friend of all parties, but that the
     particular language which he had intended to hold was
     entirely inapplicable to the state of mind in which he found
     the Confederates one and all. It was idle to tell them that
     they were worsted on all sides; that the time was come for
     making terms with the North. What he had said to them about
     the recognition of their Independence was that the principal
     inducement to France to recognize it would be a hope that her
     doing so would have a great moral effect towards hastening
     peace; that at this moment it would certainly not have any
     such effect; that it would embroil France with the United
     States, and that would be all[600]."

Thus none of the strong representations intended to be made by Mercier
to convince the South of the uselessness of further resistance had, in
fact, been made. In his report to Thouvenel, Mercier stated that he had
approached Benjamin with the simple declaration "that the purpose of my
journey was merely to assure myself, for myself, of the true condition
of things; and that I called to beg him to aid me in attaining it."
Since the proposed strong representations were not reported to
Thouvenel, either, in the explanation given of the initiation of the
trip, the doubt must be entertained that Mercier ever intended to make
them. They bear the appearance of arguments to Seward--and in some
degree also to Lyons--made to secure acquiescence in his plan. The
report to Thouvenel omits also any reference to expressions, as narrated
to Lyons, about recognition of the Confederacy, or a "principal
inducement" thereto[601]. Mercier now declared to Lyons his own views on

     "He was himself more than ever convinced that the restoration
     of the old Union was impossible. He believed that, if the
     Powers of Europe exercised no influence, the War would last
     for years. He conceived that the Independence of the South
     must be recognized sooner or later; and in his opinion the
     Governments of Europe should be on the watch for a favourable
     opportunity of doing this in such a manner as to end the War.
     The present opportunity would however, he thought, be
     particularly unfavourable."

Lyons writes:

     "I did not express any opinion as to the policy to be
     eventually pursued by France or England, but I told Monsieur
     Mercier that I entirely agreed with him in thinking that
     there was nothing to do at the present moment but to watch

On the day following this interview, Lyons spoke to Seward of Mercier's
trip and was given a very different view of the situation at Richmond.
Seward said:

     "He himself was quite convinced, from Monsieur Mercier's
     account of what had passed, that the Confederates were about
     to make a last effort, that their last resources were brought
     into play; that their last Armies were in the field. If they
     were now defeated, they would accept the terms which would be
     offered them. Their talking of retiring into the interior was
     idle. If the United States were undisputed masters of the
     Border States and the Sea Coast, there would be no occasion
     for any more fighting. Those who chose to retire into the
     interior were welcome to do so, and to stay there till they
     were tired."

"The truth," wrote Lyons, "as to the state of feeling in the South
probably lies somewhere between Mr. Seward's views and those of Monsieur
Mercier." Lyons concluded his report of the whole matter:

     "The result of Monsieur Mercier's journey has been to bring
     him back precisely to the point at which he was three months
     ago. The Federal successes which occurred afterwards had
     somewhat shaken his conviction in the ultimate success of the
     South, and consequently his opinions as to the policy to be
     adopted by France. The sentiments he now expresses are
     exactly those which he expressed at the beginning of the

In other words, Mercier was now again pressing for early recognition of
the South at the first favourable moment. On Lyons the effect of the
adventure to Richmond was just the reverse of this; and on Russell also
its influence was to cause some doubt of Southern success. Appended to
Lyons' report stands Russell's initialled comment:

     "It is desirable to know what is the Interior to which the
     Southern Confederates propose if beaten to retire. If in Arms
     they will be pursued, if not in Arms their discontent will
     cause but little embarrassment to their Conquerors. But can
     the country be held permanently by the U.S. Armies if the
     Confederates have small bodies in Arms resisting the
     authority of the U.S. Congress?

     Any facts shewing the strength or weakness of the Union
     feeling in the South will be of great value in forming a
     judgment on the final issue."

Seward, in conversation with Lyons, had said that to avoid public
misconceptions a newspaper statement would be prepared on Mercier's
trip. This appeared May 6, in the New York _Times_, the paper more
closely Seward's "organ" than any other throughout the war, representing
Mercier as having gone to Richmond by order of Napoleon and with
Lincoln's approval to urge the Confederates to surrender and to
encourage them to expect favourable terms. Lyons commented on this
article that the language attributed to Mercier was "not very unlike
that which he intended to hold," but that in fact he had not used
it[603]. Nor had Napoleon ordered the move. Indeed everyone in London
and Paris was much astonished, and many were the speculations as to the
meaning of Mercier's unusual procedure. Russell was puzzled, writing
"Que diable allait il faire dans cette galére[604]?" and Cowley, at
Paris, could give no light, being assured by Thouvenel on first rumours
of Mercier's trip to Richmond that "he had not a notion that this could
be true[605]." May 1, Cowley wrote, "The whole thing is inexplicable
unless the Emperor is at the bottom of it, which Thouvenel thinks is not
the case[606]." The next day Thouvenel, having consulted Napoleon, was
assured by the latter that "he could not account for Monsieur Mercier's
conduct, and that he greatly regretted it," being especially disturbed
by a seeming break in the previous "complete harmony with the British
Representative" at Washington[607]. This was reassuring to Russell, yet
there is no question that Mercier's conduct long left a certain
suspicion in British official circles. On May 2, also, Thouvenel wrote
to Flahault in London of the Emperor's displeasure, evidently with the
intention that this should be conveyed to Russell[608].

Naturally the persons most excited were the two Confederate agents in
Europe. At first they believed Mercier must have had secret orders from
Napoleon, and were delighted; then on denials made to Slidell by
Thouvenel they feared Mercier was acting in an unfavourable sense as
Seward's agent. Later they returned to the theory of Napoleon's private
manipulation, and being confident of his friendship were content to wait
events[609]. Slidell had just received assurance from M. Billault,
through whom most of his information came, "that the Emperor and all
the Ministers are favourable to our cause, have been so for the last
year, and are now quite as warmly so as they have ever been. M.
Thouvenel is of course excepted, but then he has no hostility[610]." But
a greater source of Southern hope at this juncture was another
"diplomatic adventure," though by no accredited diplomat, which
antedated Mercier's trip to Richmond and which still agitated not only
the Confederate agents, but the British Ministry as well.

This was the appearance of the British Member of Parliament, Lindsay, in
the rôle of self-constituted Southern emissary to Napoleon. Lindsay, as
one of the principal ship-owners in England, had long been an earnest
advocate of more free commercial intercourse between nations, supporting
in general the principles of Cobden and Bright, and being a warm
personal friend of the latter, though disagreeing with him on the
American Civil War. He had been in some sense a minor expert consulted
by both French and British Governments in the preparation of the
commercial treaty of 1860, so that when on April 9 he presented himself
to Cowley asking that an audience with the Emperor be procured for him
to talk over some needed alterations in the Navigation Laws, the request
seemed reasonable, and the interview was arranged for April 11. On the
twelfth Lindsay reported to Cowley that the burden of Napoleon's
conversation, much to his surprise, was on American affairs[611].

The Emperor, said Lindsay, expressed the conviction that re-union
between North and South was an impossibility, and declared that he was
ready to recognize the South "if Great Britain would set him the
example." More than once he had expressed these ideas to England, but
"they had not been attended to" and he should not try again. He

     "... that France ought not to interfere in the internal
     affairs of the United States, but that the United States
     ought equally to abstain from all interference in the
     internal concerns of France; and that His Majesty considered
     that the hindrance placed by the Northern States upon the
     exportation of cotton from the South was not justifiable, and
     was tantamount to interference with the legal commerce of

He also "denied the efficiency of the blockade so established. He had
made observations in this sense to Her Majesty's Government, but they
had not been replied to." Then "His Majesty asked what were the opinions
of Her Majesty's Govt.; adding that if Her Majesty's Govt. agreed with
him as to the inefficiency of the blockade, he was ready to send ships
of war to co-operate with others of Her Majesty to keep the Southern
ports open." Finally Napoleon requested Lindsay to see Cowley and find
out what he thought of these ideas.

Cowley told Lindsay he did not know of any "offer" whatever having been
made by France to England, that his (Cowley's) opinion was "that it
might be true that the North and the South would never re-unite, but
that it was not yet proved; that the efficiency of the blockade was a
legal and international question, and that upon the whole it had been
considered by Her Majesty's Govt. as efficient, though doubtless many
ships had been enabled to run it"; and "that at all events there could
not be a more inopportune moment for mooting the question both of the
recognition of the South and of the efficiency of the blockade. The
time was gone by when such measures could, if ever, have been taken--for
every mail brought news of expeditions from the North acting with
success upon the South; and every day added to the efficiency of the
blockade"; and "that I did not think therefore that Her Majesty's Govt.
would consent to send a squadron to act as the Emperor had indicated,
but that I could only give a personal opinion, which might be corrected
if I was in error by Mr. Lindsay himself seeing Lord Russell."

On April 13th a second interview took place between Lindsay and
Napoleon, of which Lindsay reported that having conveyed to Napoleon
Cowley's denial of any offer made to England, as well as a contrary view
of the situation, Napoleon:

     "... repeated the statement that two long despatches with his
     opinion had been written to M. de Flahault, which had not
     been attended to by Her Majesty's Government, and he
     expressed a desire that Mr. Lindsay should return to London,
     lay His Majesty's views before Lord Palmerston and Lord
     Russell, and bring their answers direct to him as quickly as
     possible, His Majesty observing that these matters were
     better arranged by private than official hands.... Mr.
     Lindsay said that he had promised the Emperor to be back in
     Paris on Thursday morning."

In his letter to Russell, Cowley called all this a "nasty intrigue."
Cowley had asked Thouvenel for enlightenment, and Thouvenel had denied
all knowledge and declared that certainly no such proposals as Lindsay
reported the Emperor to have mentioned had ever been sent to England.
Cowley wrote:

     "My own conviction is, from Lindsay's conversations with me,
     which are full of hesitations, and I fear much falsehood
     hidden under apparent candour, that he has told the Emperor
     his own views, and that those views are supported by the
     majority of the people of England, and by the present
     Opposition in Parliament, who would denounce the blockade if
     in power; that he has found a willing listener in the
     Emperor, who would gladly obtain cotton by any means; and I
     am much mistaken if Lindsay will not attempt to make
     political capital of his interviews with the Emperor with the
     Opposition, and that you may hear of it in Parliament. I lose
     no time therefore, in writing to you as Lindsay goes over
     to-night, and will probably endeavour to see you and Lord
     Palmerston as soon as possible[612]."

The close touch between Lindsay and the Southern agents is shown by his
conveyance to Slidell of the good news. Slidell was jubilant, writing
to Mason:

     "Mr. Lindsay has had a long interview with the Emperor who is
     prepared to act at once decidedly in our favour; he has
     always been ready to do so and has twice made representations
     to England, but has received evasive responses. He has now
     for the third time given them but in a more decided tone. Mr.
     Lindsay will give you all the particulars. This is entirely
     confidential but you can say to Lord Campbell, Mr. Gregory,
     etc., that I now have positive and _authoritative_ evidence
     that France now waits the assent of England for recognition
     and other more cogent measures[613]."

Two days later Slidell made a report to Benjamin, which was in substance
very similar to that given by Lindsay to Cowley, though more highly
coloured as favourable to the South, but he added an important feature
which, as has been seen, was suspected by Cowley, but which had not been
stated to him. Napoleon had asked Lindsay to see Derby and Disraeli, the
leaders of the parliamentary opposition, and inform them of his views--a
suggestion which if known to the British Ministry as coming from
Napoleon could not fail to arouse resentment. Slidell even believed
that, failing British participation, the Emperor might act separately in
recognition of the South[614].

April 15, Cowley, having received, privately, Russell's approval of the
language used to Lindsay and believing that Thouvenel was about to write
to Flahault on the interviews, felt it "necessary to bring them also on
my part officially to your [Russell's] notice[615]." This official
report does not differ materially from that in Cowley's private letter
of the thirteenth, but omitted, naturally, aspersions on Lindsay and
suspicions of the use to which he might put his information[616]. Cowley
had held a long conversation with Thouvenel, in which it was developed
that the source of the Emperor's views was Rouher, Minister of Commerce,
who was very anxious over the future of cotton supply. It appeared that
Lindsay in conversation with Thouvenel had affirmed that "_I_ [Cowley]
_coincided in his views_." This exasperated Cowley, and he resented
Lindsay's "unofficial diplomacy," telling Thouvenel that he "was placed
in a false position by Mr. Lindsay's interference. M. Thouvenel
exclaimed that his own position was still more false, and that he should
make a point of seeing the Emperor, on the following morning, and of
ascertaining the extent of His Majesty's participation in the
proceeding." This was done, with the result that Napoleon acknowledged
that on Lindsay's request he had authorized him to recount to Russell
and Palmerston the views expressed, but asserted that "he had not
charged him to convey those opinions." Cowley concluded his despatch:

     "Monsieur Thouvenel said that the Emperor did not understand
     the intricacies of this question--that His Majesty had
     confounded remarks conveyed in despatches with deliberate
     proposals--that no doubt the French Government was more
     preoccupied with the Cotton question than Her Majesty's
     Government seemed to be, and this he (Thouvenel) had shewn in
     his communications with M. de Flahault, but that he knew too
     well the general opinions prevailing in England to have made
     proposals. Nor, indeed, did he see what proposals could have
     been made. He had endeavoured to shew both the Emperor and M.
     Rouher, that to recognize the independence of the South would
     not bring Cotton into the markets, while any interference
     with the blockade would probably have produced a collision.
     At the same time he could not conceal from me the just
     anxiety he experienced to reopen the Cotton trade. Might not
     the Northern States be induced to declare some one port
     Neutral, at which the trade could be carried on?

     I said that the events which were now passing in America
     demonstrated the prudence of the policy pursued by the two
     Governments. The recognition of the South would not have
     prevented the North from continuing its armaments and
     undertaking the expedition now in progress, and a refusal to
     acknowledge the blockade as efficient must have been followed
     by the employment of force, on a question of extreme

Formal approval was given Cowley by Russell on April 16. In this Russell
stated that he agreed with Thouvenel the cotton situation was alarming,
but he added: "The evil is evident--not equally so the remedy." He
assured Cowley that "Her Majesty's Government wish to take no step in
respect to the Civil War in America except in concert with France and
upon full deliberation[618]." Meanwhile Lindsay's diplomatic career had
received a severe jolt in London. Confidently addressing to Russell a
request for an interview, he received the reply "that I thought the best
way for two Govts. to communicate with each other was through their
respective Embassies.... He [Lindsay] rejoined that he feared you
[Cowley] had not stated the reason why the Emperor wished to make the
proposal through him rather than the usual channel, and again asked to
see me, but I declined to give any other answer, adding that you and the
French Ambassr. could make the most Confidential as well as Official
Communications[619]." This rebuff was not regarded as final, though
exasperating, by Lindsay, nor by the Confederate agents, all being
agreed that Napoleon was about to take an active hand in their favour.
Lindsay returned to Paris accompanied by Mason, and on April 18 had
still another conversation with Napoleon. He reported Russell's refusal
of an interview, and that he had seen Disraeli, but not Derby, who was
ill. Disraeli had declared that he believed Russell and Seward to have a
"secret understanding" on the blockade, but that if France should make a
definite proposal it would probably be supported by a majority in
Parliament, and that Russell would be compelled to assent in order to
avoid a change of Ministry. In this third interview with Lindsay
expressions of vexation with British policy were used by Napoleon
(according to Slidell), but he now intimated that he was waiting to
learn the result of the Northern effort to capture New Orleans, an event
which "he did not anticipate," but which, if it occurred, "might render
it inexpedient to act[620]."

Evidently the wedge was losing its force. Mason, returning to London,
found that the "pulsations" in Paris had no English repetition. He wrote
that Lindsay, failing to reach Russell, had attempted to get at
Palmerston, but with no success. Thereupon Lindsay turning to the
Opposition had visited Disraeli a second time and submitted to him
Palmerston's rebuff. The strongest expression that fell from Disraeli
was--"if it is found that the Emperor and Russell are at issue on the
question the session of Parliament would not be as quiet as had been
anticipated." This was scant encouragement, for Disraeli's "if" was all
important. Yet "on the whole Lindsay is hopeful," wrote Mason in
conclusion[621]. Within a fortnight following arrived the news of the
capture of New Orleans, an event upon which Seward had postulated the
relief of a European scarcity of cotton and to Southern sympathizers a
serious blow. May 13, Cowley reported that the Emperor had told him,
personally, that "he quite agreed that nothing was to be done for the
moment but to watch events[622]." Thouvenel asked Slidell as to the
effect of the loss of New Orleans, and received the frank answer, "that
it would be most disastrous, as it would give the enemy the control of
the Mississippi and its tributaries, [but] that it would not in any way
modify the fixed purpose of our people to carry on the war even to an
extermination[623]." Mason, a Virginian, and like nearly all from his
section, never fully realizing the importance of the Confederate
South-West, his eyes fixed on the campaigns about Richmond, was telling
the "nervous amongst our friends" that New Orleans would "form a barren
acquisition to the enemy, and will on our side serve only as a

If the South needed such stimulants she was certainly getting repeated
doses in the three months from February to May, 1862. In England,
Lindsay might be hopeful of a movement by the Tory opposition, but
thought it wiser to postpone for a time further pressure in that
direction. May 8, Henry Adams could write to his brother of British
public opinion, "there is no doubt that the idea here is as strong as
ever that we must ultimately fail[625]," but on May 16, that "the effect
of the news here [of New Orleans] has been greater than anything yet ...
the _Times_ came out and gave fairly in that it had been mistaken; it
had believed Southern accounts and was deceived by them. This morning it
has an article still more remarkable and intimates for the first time
that it sees little more chance for the South. There is, we think, a
preparation for withdrawing their belligerent declaration and
acknowledging again the authority of the Federal Government over all the
national territory to be absolute and undisputed. One more victory will
bring us up to this, I am confident[626]."

This was mistaken confidence. Nor did governmental reaction keep pace
with Southern depression or Northern elation; the British Ministry was
simply made more determined to preserve strict neutrality and to
restrain its French partner in a "wait for events" policy. The "one more
victory" so eagerly desired by Henry Adams was not forthcoming, and the
attention, now all focused on McClellan's slow-moving campaign, waited
in vain for the demonstration of another and more striking evidence of
Northern power--the capture of the Confederate Capital, Richmond.
McClellan's delays coincided with a bruiting of the news at Washington
that foreign Powers were about to offer mediation. This was treated at
some length in the semi-official _National Intelligencer_ of May 16 in
an article which Lyons thought inspired by Seward, stating that
mediation would be welcome if offered for the purpose of re-union, but
would otherwise be resented, a view which Lyons thought fairly
represented the situation[627].

There can be little doubt that this Washington rumour was largely the
result of the very positive opinion held by Mercier of ultimate Southern
success and his somewhat free private communications. He may, indeed,
have been talking more freely than usual exactly because of anxiety at
Northern success, for McClellan, so far as was then known, was steadily,
if slowly, progressing toward a victory. Mercier's most recent
instruction from Thouvenel gave him no authority to urge mediation, yet
he thought the moment opportune for it and strongly urged this plan on
Lyons. The latter's summary of this and his own analysis of the
situation were as follows:

     "M. Mercier thinks it quite within the range of possibility
     that the South may be victorious both in the battle in
     Virginia and in that in Tennessee. He is at all events quite
     confident that whether victorious or defeated, they will not
     give in, and he is certainly disposed to advise his
     Government to endeavour to put an end to the war by
     intervening on the first opportunity. He is, however, very
     much puzzled to devise any mode of intervention, which would
     have the effect of reviving French trade and obtaining
     cotton. I should suppose he would think it desirable to go to
     great lengths to stop the war; because he believes that the
     South will not give in until the whole country is made
     desolate and that the North will very soon be led to proclaim
     immediate emancipation, which would stop the cultivation of
     cotton for an indefinite time.

     I listen and say little when he talks of intervention. It
     appears to me to be a dangerous subject of conversation.
     There is a good deal of truth in M. Mercier's anticipations
     of evil, but I do not see my way to doing any good.

     If one is to conjecture what the state of things will be a
     month or six weeks hence, one may "guess" that McClellan will
     be at Richmond, having very probably got there without much
     real fighting. I doubt his getting farther this summer, if
     so far....

     The campaign will not be pushed with any vigour during the
     summer. It may be begun again in the Autumn. Thus, so far as
     Trade and Cotton are concerned, we may be next Autumn, just
     in the situation we are now. If the South really defeated
     either or both the Armies opposed to them I think it would
     disgust the North with the war, rather than excite them to
     fresh efforts. If the armies suffer much from disease,
     recruiting will become difficult. The credit of the
     Government has hitherto been wonderfully kept up, but it
     would not stand a considerable reverse in the field. It is
     possible, under such circumstances that a Peace Party might
     arise; and perhaps just _possible_ that England and France
     might give weight to such a Party[628]."

In brief, Lyons was all against either intervention or mediation unless
a strong reaction toward peace should come in the North, and even then
regarded the wisdom of such a policy as only "just _possible_." Nor was
Russell inclined to depart from established policy. He wrote to Lyons at
nearly the same time:

     "The news from York Town, New Orleans, and Corinth seems to
     portend the conquest of the South. We have now to see
     therefore, whether a few leaders or the whole population
     entertain those sentiments of alienation and abhorrence which
     were so freely expressed to M. Mercier by the Confederate
     Statesmen at Richmond. I know not how to answer this
     question. But there are other questions not less important to
     be solved in the North. Will the Abolitionists succeed in
     proclaiming freedom to the Slaves of all those who have
     resisted? I guess not.

     But then the Union will be restored with its old disgrace and
     its old danger. I confess I do not see any way to any fair
     solution except separation--but that the North will not hear
     of--nor in the moment of success would it be of any use to
     give them unpalatable advice[629]."

Two days preceding this letter, Thouvenel, at last fully informed of
Mercier's trip to Richmond, instructed him that France had no intention
to depart from her attitude of strict neutrality and that it was more
than ever necessary to wait events[630].

Mercier's renewed efforts to start a movement toward mediation were then
wholly personal. Neither France nor Great Britain had as yet taken up
this plan, nor were they likely to so long as Northern successes were
continued. In London, Mason, suffering a reaction from his former high
hopes, summed up the situation in a few words: "This Government passive
and ignorant, France alert and mysterious. The Emperor alone knows what
is to come out of it, and he keeps his own secret[631]." The Southern
play, following the ministerial rebuff to Lindsay, was now to keep quiet
and extended even to discouraging public demonstrations against
governmental inaction. Spence had prevented such a demonstration by
cotton operators in Liverpool. "I have kept them from moving as a matter
of judgment. If either of the Southern armies obtain such a victory as I
think probable, then a move of this kind may be made with success and
power, whilst at the wrong time for it havoc only would have
resulted[632]." The wrong time for Southern pressure on Russell was
conceived by Seward to be the right time for the North. Immediately
following the capture of New Orleans he gave positive instructions to
Dayton in Paris and Adams in London to propose the withdrawal of the
declaration admitting Southern belligerent rights. Thouvenel replied
with some asperity on the folly of Seward's demand, and made a strong
representation of the necessity of France to obtain cotton and
tobacco[633]. Adams, with evident reluctance, writing, "I had little
expectation of success, but I felt it my duty at once to execute the
orders," advanced with Russell the now threadbare and customary
arguments on the Proclamation of Neutrality, and received the usual
refusal to alter British policy[634]. If Seward was sincere in asking
for a retraction of belligerent rights to the South he much mistook
European attitude; if he was but making use of Northern victories to
return to a high tone of warning to Europe--a tone serviceable in
causing foreign governments to step warily--his time was well chosen.
Certainly at Washington Lyons did not regard very seriously Seward's
renewal of demand on belligerency. Satisfied that there was no immediate
reason to require his presence in America, ill and fearing the heat of
summer, he had asked on May 9 for permission to take leave of absence
for a trip home. On June 6 he received this permission, evidence that
Russell also saw no cause for anxiety, and on June 13 he took leave
of Lincoln.

     "I had quite an affectionate parting with the President this
     morning. He told me, as is his wont, a number of stories more
     or less decorous, but all he said having any bearing on
     political matters was: 'I suppose my position makes people in
     England think a great deal more of me than I deserve, pray
     tell 'em I mean 'em no harm[635].'"

Fully a month had now elapsed in London since the arrival of news on any
striking military event in America. New Orleans was an old story, and
while in general it was believed that Richmond must fall before
McClellan's army, the persistence of Southern fervid declarations that
they would never submit gave renewed courage to their British friends.
Lindsay was now of the opinion that it might be wise, after all, to make
some effort in Parliament, and since the Washington mediation rumours
were becoming current in London also, notice was given of a motion
demanding of the Government that, associating itself with France, an
offer of mediation be made to the contending parties in America.
Motions on recognition and on the blockade had been tried and had
failed. Now the cry was to be "peaceful mediation" to put an end to a
terrible war. Friends of the South were not united in this adventure.
Spence advised Lindsay to postpone it, but the latter seemed determined
to make the effort[636]. Probably he was still smarting under his
reverse of April. Possibly also he was aware of a sudden sharp personal
clash between Palmerston and Adams that might not be without influence
on governmental attitude--perhaps might even indicate a governmental
purpose to alter its policy.

This clash was caused by a personal letter written by Palmerston to
Adams on the publication in the _Times_ of General Butler's famous order
in New Orleans authorizing Federal soldiers to treat as "women of the
town" those women who publicly insulted Northern troops. The British
press indulged in an ecstasy of vicious writing about this order similar
to that on the Northern "barbarity" of the Stone Fleet episode.
Palmerston's letters to Adams and the replies received need no further
notice here, since they did not in fact affect British policy, than to
explain that Palmerston wrote in extreme anger, apparently, and with
great violence of language, and that Adams replied with equal anger, but
in very dignified if irritating terms[637]. In British opinion Butler's
order was an incitement to his soldiers to commit atrocities; Americans
understood it as merely an authorization to return insult for insult. In
fact the order promptly put a stop to attacks on Northern soldiers,
whether by act or word, and all disorder ceased. Palmerston was quick to
accept the British view, writing to Adams, "it is difficult if not
impossible to express adequately the disgust which must be excited in
the mind of every honourable man by the general order of General
Butler...." "If the Federal government chooses to be served by men
capable of such revolting outrages, they must submit to abide by the
deserved opinion which mankind will form of their conduct[638]." This
extraordinary letter was written on June 11. Adams was both angry and
perturbed, since he thought the letter might indicate an intention to
change British policy and that Palmerston was but laying the ground for
some "vigorous" utterance in Parliament, after his wont when striking
out on a new line. He was further confirmed in this view by an editorial
in the _Times_ on June 12, hinting at a coming mediation, and by news
from France that Persigny was on his way to London to arrange such a
step. But however much personally aggrieved, Adams was cool as a
diplomat. His first step was to write a brief note to Palmerston
enquiring whether he was to consider the letter as addressed to him
"officially ... or purely as a private expression of sentiment between

There is no evidence that Palmerston and Russell were contemplating a
change of policy--rather the reverse. But it does appear that Palmerston
wished to be able to state in Parliament that he had taken Adams to task
for Butler's order, so that he might meet an enquiry already placed on
the question paper as to the Ministry's intentions in the matter. This
question was due for the sitting of June 13, and on that day Russell
wrote to Palmerston that he should call Butler's order "brutal" and that
Palmerston might use the term "infamous" if preferred, adding, "I do not
see why we should not represent in a friendly way that the usages of war
do not sanction such conduct[640]." This was very different from the
tone used by Palmerston. His letter was certainly no "friendly way."
Again on the same day Russell wrote to Palmerston:

     "Adams has been here in a dreadful state about the letter you
     have written him about Butler.

     I declined to give him any opinion and asked him to do
     nothing more till I had seen or written to you.

     What you say of Butler is true enough, tho' he denies your
     interpretation of the order.

     But it is not clear that the President approves of the order,
     and I think if you could add something to the effect that you
     respect the Government of President Lincoln, and do not wish
     to impute to them the fault of Butler it might soothe him.

     If you could withdraw the letter altogether it would be the
     best. But this you may not like to do[641]."

It is apparent that Russell did not approve of Palmerston's move against
Adams nor of any "vigorous" language in Parliament, and as to the last,
he had his way, for the Government, while disapproving Butler's order,
was decidedly mild in comment. As to the letter, Adams, the suspicion
proving unfounded that an immediate change of policy was intended,
returned to the attack as a matter of personal prestige. It was not
until June 15 that Palmerston replied to Adams and then in far different
language seeking to smooth the Minister's ruffled feathers, yet making
no apology and not answering Adams' question. Adams promptly responded
with vigour, June 16, again asking his question as to the letter being
official or personal, and characterizing Palmerston's previous
assertions as "offensive imputations." He also again approached Russell,
who stated that he too had written to Palmerston about his letter, but
had received no reply, and he acknowledged that Palmerston's proceeding
was "altogether irregular[642]." In the end Palmerston was brought, June
19, to write a long and somewhat rambling reply to Adams, in effect
still evading the question put him, though acknowledging that the
"Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is the regular official organ
for communications...." In conclusion he expressed gratification that
reports from Lord Lyons showed Butler's authority at New Orleans had
been curtailed by Lincoln. The next day Adams answered interpreting
Palmerston as withdrawing his "imputations" but stating plainly that he
would not again submit "to entertain any similar correspondence[643]."

Adams had been cautious in pushing for an answer until he knew there was
to be no change in British policy. Indeed Palmerston's whole move may
even have been intended to ease the pressure for a change in that
policy. On the very day of Adams' first talk with Russell, friends of
the South thought the _Times_ editorial indicated "that some movement is
to be made at last, and I doubt not we are to thank the Emperor for
it[644]." But on this day also Russell was advising Palmerston to state
in Parliament that "We have not received at present any proposal from
France to offer mediation and no intention at present exists to offer it
on our part[645]." This was the exact language used by Palmerston in
reply to Hopwood[646]. Mason again saw his hopes dwindling, but was
assured by Lindsay that all was not yet lost, and that he would "still
hold his motion under consideration[647]." Lindsay, according to his own
account, had talked very large in a letter to Russell, but knew
privately, and so informed Mason, that the Commons would not vote for
his motion if opposed by the Government, and so intended to postpone
it[648]. The proposed motion was now one for recognition instead of
mediation, a temporary change of plan due to Palmerston's answer to
Hopwood on June 13. But whatever the terms of the motion favourable to
the South, it was evident the Government did not wish discussion at the
moment, and hesitancy came over pro-Southern friends. Slidell, in
despair, declared that for his part he intended, no matter with what
prospect of success, to _demand_ recognition from France[649]. This
alarmed Mason's English advisers, and he wrote at once strongly urging
against such a step, for if the demand were presented and refused there
would be no recourse but to depart for home[650]. He thought Lindsay's
motion dying away for on consultation with "different parties, including
Disraeli, Seymour Fitzgerald and Roebuck," it "has been so far reduced
and diluted ... as to make it only expressive of the opinion of the
House that the present posture of affairs in America made the question
of the recognition of the Confederate States worth the serious
consideration of the Government. It was so modified to prevent the
Ministry making an issue upon it...." There was "no assurance that it
would be sustained ... even in that form." Lindsay had determined to
postpone his motion "for a fortnight, so that all expectation from this
quarter for the present is dished, and we must wait for 'King Cotton' to
turn the screw still further[651]." On June, 20 Lindsay gave this notice
of postponement, and no parliamentary comment was made[652]. It was a
moment of extreme depression for the Confederate agents in Europe.
Slidell, yielding to Mason's pleas, gave up his idea of demanding
recognition and wrote:

     "The position of our representatives in Europe is painful and
     almost humiliating; it might be tolerated if they could be
     consoled by the reflection that their presence was in any way
     advantageous to their cause but I am disposed to believe that
     we would have done better to withdraw after our first
     interview with Russell and Thouvenel[653]."

[Illustration: PROFESSOR GOLDWIN SMITH (_From a photograph by Elliott &
Fry, Ltd._)]


[Footnote 580: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1862-63_, Pt. I, p. 41.]

[Footnote 581: F.O., Am., Vol. 826. Nos. 154 and 155. March 3, 1862.]

[Footnote 582: F.O., France, Vol. 1435. No. 362. Cowley to Russell,
March 18, 1862.]

[Footnote 583: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1862-63_, Pt. I, p. 54.
Adams to Seward, March 27, 1862.]

[Footnote 584: _Ibid._, p. 65.]

[Footnote 585: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell. Private. April 8,

[Footnote 586: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 587: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, 123. To his son, April 4,

[Footnote 588: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, March 31, 1862.]

[Footnote 589: Lyons Papers. March 22, 1862.]

[Footnote 590: F.O., Am., Vol. 827. No. 244. Extract. Lyons to Russell,
April 11, 1802.]

[Footnote 591: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, 143. Adams to his son,
May 16, 1862.]

[Footnote 592: Thouvenel, _Le Secret de l'Empereur_, II, p. 247.]

[Footnote 593: _Documents Diplomatiques_, 1862, pp. 120-122. Mercicr to
Thouvenel, April 13, 1862. A translation of this despatch was printed,
with some minor inaccuracies, in the New York _Tribune_, Feb. 5, 1863,
and of Mercier's report, April 28, on his return from Richmond, on Feb.
9, under the caption "The Yellow Book." It is interesting that the
concluding paragraphs of this report of April 28, as printed in the
_Tribune_, are not given in the printed volume of _Documents
Diplomatiques_, 1862. These refer to difficulties about cotton and to
certain pledges given by Seward as to cessation of illegal interferences
with French vessels. How the _Tribune_ secured these paragraphs, if
authentic, is not clear. The whole purpose of the publication was an
attack by Horace Greeley, editor, on Seward in an effort to cause his
removal from the Cabinet. See Bancroft, _Seward_, II, 371-2.]

[Footnote 594: Bancroft, _Seward_. II, 298-99. Bancroft's account is
based on the _Tribune_ translation and on Seward's own comments to Weed
and Bigelow. _Ibid._, 371-72.]

[Footnote 595: Newton. _Lord Lyons_, I, pp. 82-85, gives an account of
the initiation of Mercier's trip and prints Lyons' private letter to
Russell of April 25, describing the results, but does not bring out
sufficiently Lyons' objections and misgivings. Newton thinks that
Mercier "whether instructed from home or not ... after the manner of
French diplomatists of the period ... was probably unable to resist the
temptation of trying to effect a striking _coup_...."]

[Footnote 596: Stoeckl's report does not agree with Mercier's statement.
He wrote that he had been asked to accompany Mercier but had refused and
reported a conversation with Seward in which the latter declared the
time had not yet come for mediation, that in any case France would not
be accepted in that rôle, and that if ever mediation should become
acceptable, Russia would be asked to act (Russian Archives, Stoeckl to
F.O., April 23-May 5, 1862. No. 927).]

[Footnote 597: F.O., Am., Vol. 828. No. 250. Confidential. Lyons to
Russell, April 14, 1862.]

[Footnote 598: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 599: This suspicion was a natural one but that it was
unfounded is indicated by Benjamin's report to Slidell of Mercier's
visit, describing the language used in almost exactly the same terms
that Lyons reported to Russell. That little importance was attached by
Benjamin to Mercier's visit is also indicated by the fact that he did
not write to Slidell about it until July. Richardson, II, 260. Benjamin
to Slidell, July 19, 1862.]

[Footnote 600: F.O., Am., Vol. 828. No. 284. Confidential. Lyons to
Russell, April 24, 1862.]

[Footnote 601: _Documents Diplomatiques, 1862_, pp. 122-124.]

[Footnote 602: F.O., Am., Vol. 828. No. 284. Confidential. Lyons to
Russell, April 28, 1862.]

[Footnote 603: F.O., Am., Vol. 829. No. 315. Confidential. Lyons to
Russell, May 9, 1862.]

[Footnote 604: Lyons Papers. Russell to Lyons, May 10, 1862.]

[Footnote 605: F.O., France, Vol. 1427. No. 544. Cowley to Russell,
April 28, 1862.]

[Footnote 606: _Ibid._, Vol. 1438. No. 563. To Russell. Mercier's
conduct appeared to Cowley as "want of courtesy" and "tardy confidence"
to Lyons. _Ibid._, No. 566. May 1, 1862. To Russell.]

[Footnote 607: _Ibid._, No. 574. Cowley to Russell, May 2, 1862.]

[Footnote 608: Thouvenel, _Le Secret de l'Empereur_, II, p. 299.]

[Footnote 609: Mason Papers. Slidell to Mason, May 3, 14 and 16, 1862.
Mason to Slidell, May 5, 14 and 16, 1862.]

[Footnote 610: _Ibid._, Slidell to Mason, May 16, 1862. Billault was a
member of the French Ministry, but without portfolio.]

[Footnote 611: Several accounts have been given of this episode. The two
known to me treating it at greatest length are (1) Callahan, _Diplomatic
History of the Southern Confederacy_ and (2) Sears, _A Confederate
Diplomat at the Court of Napoleon III_. Am. Hist. Rev., Jan., 1921. Both
writers drew their information wholly from Confederate documents, using,
especially, the private correspondence of Mason and Slidell, and neither
treats the matter from the English view point. I have therefore based my
account on the unused letters of British officials, citing other
materials only where they offer a side light. The principal new sources
are Cowley's private and official letters to Russell.]

[Footnote 612: Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell. Private. April 13,

[Footnote 613: Mason Papers. April 12, 1862.]

[Footnote 614: Richardson, II, 239. April 14, 1862.]

[Footnote 615: Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell. Private.]

[Footnote 616: F.O., France, Vol. 1437. No. 497. _Confidential_. Cowley
to Russell April 15, 1862.]

[Footnote 617: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 618: F.O., France, Vol. 1422. No. 403. Russell to Cowley,
April 16, 1862.]

[Footnote 619: _Ibid._, No. 415. Russell to Cowley, April 16, 1862.
Whether Napoleon had in fact "charged" Lindsay with a mission must
remain in doubt. Cowley believed Lindsay to have prevaricated--or at
least so officially reported. He had

     "Le 20 Avril, 1862.

     Mon cher Lord Cowley:

     Je vous remercie de votre billet. J'espère comme vous que
     bientôt nos manufactures auront du coton. Je n'ai pas de tout
     été choqué de ce que Lord Russell n'ait pas reçu Mr. Lindsay.
     Celui-ci m'avait demandé l'autorisation de rapporter au
     principal secretaire d'Etat notre conversation et j'y avais
     consenti et voilà tout.

     Croyez à mes sentiments d'amitié.


[Footnote 620: Richardson, II, 239. Slidell to Benjamin, April 18, 1862.
New Orleans was captured on April 25.]

[Footnote 621: Mason Papers. Mason to Slidell, April 30, 1862.]

[Footnote 622: Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell.]

[Footnote 623: Mason Papers. Slidell to Mason, May 14, 1862.]

[Footnote 624: _Ibid._, Mason to Slidell, May 14, 1862.]

[Footnote 625: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, 139.]

[Footnote 626: _Ibid._, p. 146.]

[Footnote 627: F.O., Am., Vol. 830. No. 338. Lyons to Russell, May 16,

[Footnote 628: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell. Private. May 16, 1862.]

[Footnote 629: Lyons Papers. Russell to Lyons. Private. May 17, 1862.]

[Footnote 630: _Documents Diplomatiques_, 1862, p. 124. May 15.]

[Footnote 631: Mason Papers. Mason to Slidell, May 21, 1862.]

[Footnote 632: Mason Papers. Spence to Mason, June 3, 1862.]

[Footnote 633: F.O., France, Vol. 1439. No. 668. Cowley to Russell, May
23, 1862, and _Documents Diplomatiques, 1862_, p. 127. Thouvenel to
Mercier, May 21, 1862.]

[Footnote 634: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1862_, pp. 97-99. Adams to
Seward, May 22, 1862.]

[Footnote 635: Newton, _Lord Lyons_, I, 88.]

[Footnote 636: Mason Papers. Spence to Mason, June 11, 1862.]

[Footnote 637: All the letters are given in Adams, _C.F. Adams_, Ch.

[Footnote 638: _Ibid._, pp. 248-9.]

[Footnote 639: _Ibid._, p. 251.]

[Footnote 640: Palmerston MS.]

[Footnote 641: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 642: Adams, _C.F. Adams_, pp. 253-55.]

[Footnote 643: _Ibid._, pp. 256-60.]

[Footnote 644: Mason Papers. Mason to Slidell, June 13, 1862.]

[Footnote 645: Palmerston MS.]

[Footnote 646: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXVII, p. 543. June 13, 1862.]

[Footnote 647: Mason Papers. Mason to Slidell, June 14, 1862.]

[Footnote 648: _Ibid._, Lindsay to Mason, June 18, 1862. Lindsay wrote:

     "Lord Russell sent to me last night to get the words of my
     motion. I have sent them to him to-night, and I have embraced
     the opportunity of opening my mind to his Lordship. I have
     told him that I have postponed my motion in courtesy to
     him--that the sympathy of nine-tenths of the members of the
     House was in favour of immediate recognition, and that even
     if the Government was not prepared to accept my motion, a
     majority of votes might have been obtained in its
     favour--that a majority of votes _would_ be obtained within
     the next fortnight, and I expressed the most earnest hope
     that the Government would move (as the country, and France,
     are most anxious for them to do so) and thus prevent the
     necessity of any private member undertaking a duty which
     belonged to the Executive.

     "I further told his Lordship that recognition was a _right_
     which no one would deny us the form of exercising, that the
     fear of war if we exercised it was a delusion. That the
     majority of the leading men in the Northern States would
     thank us for exercising it, and that even Seward himself
     might be glad to see it exercised so as to give him an excuse
     for getting out of the terrible war into which he had dragged
     his people. I further said, that if the question is settled
     _without_ our recognition of the South, he might _rest
     certain_ that the Northern Armies _would_ be marched into
     Canada. I hope my note may produce the desired results, and
     thus get the Government to take the matter in hand, for _sub
     rosa_, I saw that the House was not _yet_ prepared to vote,
     and the question is far too grave to waste time upon it in
     idle talk, even if talk, without action, did no harm."

[Footnote 649: _Ibid._, Slidell to Mason, June 17, 1862.]

[Footnote 650: _Ibid._, Mason to Slidell, June 19, 1862.]

[Footnote 651: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 652: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXVII, p. 810.]

[Footnote 653: Mason Papers. Slidell to Mason, June 21, 1862.]


CHAPTER                                         PAGE
    X. KING COTTON  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   1
   XI. RUSSELL'S MEDIATION PLAN .  .  .  .  .  .  33
 XIII. THE LAIRD RAMS  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 116
  XIV. ROEBUCK'S MOTION   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 152
 XVII. THE END OF THE WAR .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 247
       INDEX  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 307



PROFESSOR GOLDWIN SMITH  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . _Frontispiece_
_From a photograph by Elliott & Fry, Ltd_.

JOHN SLIDELL  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  _facing p. 24_
_From Nicolay and Hay's "Life of Abraham
Lincoln," by permission of the Century Co., New

"ABE LINCOLN'S LAST CARD"  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     "    102
_Reproduced by permission of the Proprietors of

WILLIAM EDWARD FORSTER (1851) .  .  .  .  .  .     "    134
_From Reid's "Life of Forster" (Chapman & Hall,

"THE AMERICAN GLADIATORS--HABET!"   .  .  .  .     "    248
_Reproduced by permission of the Proprietors of

_Reproduced by permission of the Proprietors of

JOHN BRIGHT .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     "    294
_From Trevelyan's  "Life  of John  Bright"
(Constable & Co., Ltd_.)




For two weeks there was no lightening of Southern depression in England.
But on June 28 McClellan had been turned back from his advance on
Richmond by Lee, the new commander of the Army of Virginia, and the much
heralded Peninsular campaign was recognized to have been a disastrous
failure. Earlier Northern victories were forgotten and the campaigns in
the West, still progressing favourably for the North, were ignored or
their significance not understood. Again, to English eyes, the war in
America approached a stalemate. The time had come with the near
adjournment of Parliament when, if ever, a strong Southern effort must
be made, and the time seemed propitious. Moreover by July, 1862, it was
hoped that soon, in the cotton districts, the depression steadily
increasing since the beginning of the war, would bring an ally to the
Southern cause. Before continuing the story of Parliamentary and private
efforts by the friends of the South it is here necessary to review the
cotton situation--now rapidly becoming a matter of anxious concern to
both friend and foe of the North and in less degree to the
Ministry itself.

"King Cotton" had long been a boast with the South. "Perhaps no great
revolution," says Bancroft, "was ever begun with such convenient and
soothing theories as those that were expounded and believed at the time
of the organization of the Confederacy.... In any case, hostilities
could not last long, for France and Great Britain must have what the
Confederacy alone could supply, and therefore they could be forced to
aid the South, as a condition precedent to relief from the terrible
distress that was sure to follow a blockade[654]." This confidence was
no new development. For ten years past whenever Southern threats of
secession had been indulged in, the writers and politicians of that
section had expanded upon cotton as the one great wealth-producing
industry of America and as the one product which would compel European
acquiescence in American policy, whether of the Union, before 1860, or
of the South if she should secede. In the financial depression that
swept the Northern States in 1857 _De Bow's Review_, the leading
financial journal of the South, declared: "The wealth of the South is
permanent and real, that of the North fugitive and fictitious. Events
now transpiring expose the fiction, as humbug after humbug
explodes[655]." On March 4, 1858, Senator Hammond of South Carolina,
asked in a speech, "What would happen if no cotton was furnished for
three years? I will not stop to depict what everyone can imagine, but
this is certain: England would topple headlong and carry the whole
civilized world with her save the South. No, you dare not make war on
cotton. No power on earth dares make war upon it. Cotton _is_
King[656]." Two years later, writing before the elections of 1860 in
which the main question was that of the territorial expansion of
slavery, this same Southern statesman expressed himself as believing
that "the slave-holding South is now the controlling power of the
world.... Cotton, rice, tobacco and naval stores command the world; and
we have sense enough to know it, and are sufficiently Teutonic to carry
it out successfully[657]."

These quotations indicative of Southern faith in cotton might be
amplified and repeated from a hundred sources.

Moreover this faith in the possession of ultimate power went hand in
hand with the conviction that the South, more than any other quarter of
the world, produced to the benefit of mankind. "In the three million
bags of cotton," said a writer in _De Bow's Review_, "the slave-labour
annually throws upon the world for the poor and naked, we are doing more
to advance civilization ... than all the canting philanthropists of New
England and Old England will do in centuries. Slavery is the backbone of
the Northern commercial as it is of the British manufacturing
system[658]...." Nor was this idea unfamiliar to Englishmen. Before the
Civil War was under way Charles Greville wrote to Clarendon:

     "Any war will be almost sure to interfere with the cotton
     crops, and this is really what affects us and what we care
     about. With all our virulent abuse of slavery and
     slave-owners, and our continual self-laudation on that
     subject, we are just as anxious for, and as much interested
     in, the prosperity of the slavery interest in the Southern
     States as the Carolinan and Georgian planters themselves, and
     all Lancashire would deplore a successful insurrection of the
     slaves, if such a thing were possible[659]."

On December 20, 1860, South Carolina led the march in secession.
Fifteen days earlier the British consul at Charleston, Bunch, reported a
conversation with Rhett, long a leader of the Southern cause and now a
consistent advocate of secession, in which Rhett developed a plan of
close commercial alliance with England as the most favoured nation,
postulating the dependence of Great Britain on the South for
cotton--"upon which supposed axiom, I would remark," wrote Bunch, "all
their calculations are based[660]." Such was, indeed, Southern
calculation. In January, 1861, _De Bow's Review_ contained an article
declaring that "the first demonstration of blockade of the Southern
ports would be swept away by the English fleets of observation hovering
on the Southern coasts, to protect English commerce, and especially the
free flow of cotton to English and French factories.... A stoppage of
the raw material ... would produce the most disastrous political
results--if not a revolution in England. This is the language of English
statesmen, manufacturers, and merchants, in Parliament and at cotton
associations' debates, and it discloses the truth[661]."

The historical student will find but few such British utterances at the
moment, and these few not by men of great weight either in politics or
in commerce. The South was labouring under an obsession and prophesied
results accordingly. So strong was this obsession that governmental
foreign policy neglected all other considerations and the first
Commission to Europe had no initial instructions save to demand
recognition[662]. The failure of that Commission, the prompt British
acquiescence in the blockade, were harsh blows to Southern confidence
but did not for a long time destroy the faith in the power of cotton. In
June, 1861, Bunch wrote that there was still a firm belief that "Great
Britain will make any sacrifice, even of principle or of honour, to
prevent the stoppage of the supply of cotton," and he enclosed a copy of
an article in the _Charleston Mercury_ of June 4, proclaiming: "The
cards are in our hands, and we intend to play them out to _the
bankruptcy of every cotton factory in Great Britain and France, or the
acknowledgment of our independence_[663]." As late as March, 1862, Bunch
was still writing of this Southern faith in cotton and described the
newly-made appointment of Benjamin as Secretary of State as partly due
to the fact that he was the leader of the "King Cotton" theory of
diplomacy[664]. It was not until the war was well nigh over that British
persistence in neutrality, in spite of undoubted hardships caused by the
lack of cotton, opened Southern eyes. Pollard, editor of a leading
Richmond newspaper, and soon unfriendly to the administration of
Jefferson Davis, summed up in _The Lost Cause_ his earlier criticisms of
Confederate foreign policy:

     "'Cotton,' said the Charleston _Mercury_, 'would bring
     England to her knees.' The idea was ludicrous enough that
     England and France would instinctively or readily fling
     themselves into a convulsion, which their great politicians
     saw was the most tremendous one of modern times. But the
     puerile argument, which even President Davis did not hesitate
     to adopt, about the power of 'King Cotton,' amounted to this
     absurdity: that the great and illustrious power of England
     would submit to the ineffable humiliation of acknowledging
     its dependency on the infant Confederacy of the South, and
     the subserviency of its empire, its political interests and
     its pride, to a single article of trade that was grown in

But irrespective of the extremes to which Southern confidence in cotton
extended the actual hardships of England were in all truth serious
enough to cause grave anxiety and to supply an argument to Southern
sympathizers. The facts of the "Lancashire Cotton Famine" have
frequently been treated by historians at much length[666] and need here
but a general review. More needed is an examination of some of the
erroneous deductions drawn from the facts and especially an examination
of the extent to which the question of cotton supply affected or
determined British governmental policy toward America.

English cotton manufacturing in 1861 held a position of importance
equalled by no other one industry. Estimates based on varying statistics
diverge as to exact proportions, but all agree in emphasizing the
pre-eminent place of Lancashire in determining the general prosperity of
the nation. Surveying the English, not the whole British, situation it
is estimated that there were 2,650 factories of which 2,195 were in
Lancashire and two adjacent counties. These employed 500,000 operatives
and consumed a thousand million pounds of cotton each year[667]. An
editorial in the _Times_, September 19, 1861, stated that one-fifth of
the entire English population was held to be dependent, either directly
or indirectly, on the prosperity of the cotton districts[668], and
therefore also dependent on the source of supply, the Confederate South,
since statistics, though varying, showed that the raw cotton supplied
from America constituted anywhere from 78 to 84 per cent. of the total
English importation[669].

The American crop of 1860 was the largest on record, nearly 4,000,000
bales, and the foreign shipments, without question hurried because of
the storm-cloud rising at home, had been practically completed by April,
1861. Of the 3,500,000 bales sent abroad, Liverpool, as usual, received
the larger portion[670]. There was, then, no immediate shortage of
supply when war came in America, rather an unusual accumulation of raw
stocks, even permitting some reshipment to the Northern manufacturing
centres of America where the scarcity then brought high prices. In
addition, from December, 1860, to at least April, 1861, there had been
somewhat of a slump in demand for raw cotton by British manufacturers
due to an over-production of goods in the two previous years. There had
been a temporary depression in 1856-57 caused by a general financial
crisis, but early in 1858 restored confidence and a tremendous demand
from the Far East--India especially--set the mills running again on full
time, while many new mills were brought into operation. But by May,
1860, the mills had caught up with the heavy demands and the rest of the
year saw uncertainty of operations and brought expressions of fear that
the "plunge" to produce had been overdone. Manufactured stocks began to
accumulate, and money was not easy since 1860 brought also a combination
of events--deficient grain harvest at home, withdrawal of gold from
England to France for investment in French public works, demand of
America for gold in place of goods, due to political uncertainties
there--which rapidly raised the discount rate from two and one half per
cent. in January, 1860, to six in December. By the end of April, 1861,
the Board of Trade Returns indicated that the cotton trade was in a
dangerous situation, with large imports of raw cotton and decreased
exports of goods[671]. The news of war actually begun in America came as
a temporary relief to the English cotton trade and in the prospect of
decreased supply prices rose, saving many manufacturers from impending
difficulties. A few mills had already begun to work on part-time because
of trade depression. The _immediate_ effect of Lincoln's blockade
proclamation was to check this movement, but by October it had again
begun and this time because of the rapid increase in the price of raw
cotton as compared with the slower advance of the price of goods[672].

In substance the principal effect of the War on the English cotton trade
for the first seven or eight months was felt, not in the manufacturing
districts but in the Liverpool speculative and importing markets of raw
cotton. Prices rose steadily to over a shilling a pound in October,
1861. On November 23 there was a near panic caused by rumours of British
intervention. These were denounced as false and in five days the price
was back above its previous figure. Then on November 27 came the news
of the _Trent_ and the market was thrown into confusion, not because of
hopes that cotton would come more freely but in fear that war with
America would cause it to do so. The Liverpool speculators breathed
freely again only when peace was assured. This speculative British
interest was no cause for serious governmental concern and could not
affect policy. But the manufacturing trade was, presumably, a more
serious anxiety and if cotton became hard, or even impossible to obtain,
a serious situation would demand consideration.

In the generally accepted view of a "short war," there was at first no
great anticipation of real danger. But beginning with December, 1861,
there was almost complete stoppage of supply from America. In the six
months to the end of May, 1862, but 11,500 bales were received, less
than one per cent. of the amount for the same six months of the previous
year[673]. The blockade was making itself felt and not merely in
shipments from the South but in prospects of Southern production, for
the news came that the negroes were being withdrawn by their masters
from the rich sea islands along the coast in fear of their capture by
the Northern blockading squadrons[674]. Such a situation seemed bound in
the end to result in pressure by the manufacturers for governmental
action to secure cotton. That it did not immediately do so is explained
by Arnold, whose dictum has been quite generally accepted, as follows:

     "The immediate result of the American war was, at this time,
     to relieve the English cotton trade, including the dealers in
     the raw material and the producers and dealers in
     manufactures, from a serious and impending difficulty. They
     had in hand a stock of goods sufficient for the consumption
     of two-thirds of a year, therefore a rise in the price of the
     raw material and the partial closing of their establishments,
     with a curtailment of their working expenses, was obviously
     to their advantage. But to make their success complete, this
     rise in the price of cotton was upon the largest stock ever
     collected in the country at this season. To the cotton trade
     there came in these days an unlooked for accession of wealth,
     such as even it had never known before. In place of the hard
     times which had been anticipated, and perhaps deserved, there
     came a shower of riches[675]."

This was written of the situation in December, 1861. A similar analysis,
no doubt on the explanations offered by his English friends, of "the
question of cotton supply, which we had supposed would speedily have
disturbed the level of their neutral policy" was made by Mason in March,
1862. "Thus," he concluded, "it is that even in Lancashire and other
manufacturing districts no open demonstration has been made against the
blockade[676]." Manufactures other than cotton were greatly prospering,
in particular those of woollen, flax, and iron. And the theory that the
cotton lords were not, in reality, hit by the blockade--perhaps profited
by it--was bruited even during the war. _Blackwood's Magazine_, October,
1864, held this view, while the _Morning Post_ of May 16, 1864, went to
the extent of describing the "glut" of goods in 1861, relieved just in
the nick of time by the War, preventing a financial crash, "which must
sooner or later have caused great suffering in Lancashire."

Arnold's generalization has been taken to prove that the _immediate_
effect of the Civil War was to save the cotton industry from great
disaster and that there _immediately_ resulted large profits to the
manufacturers from the increased price of stocks on hand. In fact his
description of the situation in December, 1861, as his own later pages
show, was not applicable, so far as manufacturers' profits are
concerned, until the later months of 1862 and the first of 1863. For
though prices might be put up, as they were, goods were not sold in any
large quantities before the fall of 1862. There were almost no
transactions for shipments to America, China, or the Indies[677].
Foreign purchasers as always, and especially when their needs had just
been abundantly supplied by the great output of 1858-60, were not keen
to place new orders in a rising and uncertain market. The English
producers raised their prices, but they held their goods, lacking an
effective market. The importance of this in British foreign policy is
that at no time, until the accumulated goods were disposed of, was there
likely to be any trade eagerness for a British intervention in America.
Their only fear, says Arnold, was the sudden opening of Southern ports
and a rush of raw cotton[678], a sneer called out by the alleged great
losses incurred and patriotically borne in silence. Certainly in
Parliament the members from Lancashire gave no sign of discontent with
the Government policy of neutrality for in the various debates on
blockade, mediation, and cotton supply but one Member from Lancashire,
Hopwood, ever spoke in favour of a departure from neutrality, or
referred to the distress in the manufacturing districts as due to any
other cause than the shortage in cotton caused by the war[679].

But it was far otherwise with the operatives of Lancashire. Whatever the
causes of short-time operation in the mills or of total cessation of
work the situation was such that from October, 1861, more and more
operatives were thrown out of employment. As their little savings
disappeared they were put upon public poor relief or upon private
charity for subsistence. The governmental statistics do not cover,
accurately, the relief offered by private charity, but those of public
aid well indicate the loss of wage-earning opportunity. In the so-called
"Distressed Districts" of Lancashire and the adjoining counties it
appears that poor relief was given to 48,000 persons in normal times,
out of a total population of 2,300,000. In the first week of November,
1861, it was 61,207, and for the first week of December, 71,593;
thereafter mounting steadily until March, 1862, when a temporary peak of
113,000 was reached. From March until the first week in June there was a
slight decrease; but from the second week of June poor relief resumed an
upward trend, increasing rapidly until December, 1862, when it reached
its highest point of 284,418. In this same first week of December
private relief, now thoroughly organized in a great national effort, was
extended to 236,000 people, making a grand total at high tide of
distress of over 550,000 persons, if private relief was not extended to
those receiving public funds. But of this differentiation there is no
surety--indeed there are evidences of much duplication of effort in
certain districts. In general, however, these statistics do exhibit the
great lack of employment in a one-industry district heretofore enjoying
unusual prosperity[680].

The manufacturing operative population of the district was estimated at
between 500,000 and 600,000. At the time of greatest distress some
412,000 of these were receiving either public or private aid, though
many were working part-time in the mills or were engaged on public
enterprises set on foot to ease the crisis. But there was no starvation
and it is absurd to compare the crisis to the Irish famine of the
'forties. This was a _cotton_ famine in the shortage of that commodity,
but it was not a _human_ famine. The country, wrote John Bright, was
passing through a terrible crisis, but "our people will be kept alive by
the contributions of the country[681]." Nevertheless a rapid change from
a condition of adequate wage-earning to one of dependence on charity--a
change ultimately felt by the great bulk of those either directly or
indirectly dependent upon the cotton industry--might have been expected
to arouse popular demonstrations to force governmental action directed
to securing cotton that trade might revive. That no such popular effect
was made demands careful analysis--to be offered in a later chapter--but
here the _fact_ is alone important, and the fact was that the operatives
sympathized with the North and put no pressure on the Cabinet. Thus at
no time during the war was there any attempt from Lancashire, whether of
manufacturers or operatives, to force a change of governmental

As the lack of employment developed in Lancashire public discussion and
consideration were inevitably aroused. But there was little talk of
governmental interference and such as did appear was promptly met with
opposition by the leading trade journals. July 13, 1861, the _Economist_
viewed the cotton shortage as "a _temporary_ and an _immediate_ one....
We have--on our hypothesis--to provide against the stoppage of our
supply for _one_ year, and that the very _next_ year." Would it _pay_,
asked Bright, to break the blockade? "I don't think myself it would be
cheap ... at the cost of a war with the United States[683]." This was
also the notion of the London _Shipping Gazette_ which, while
acknowledging that the mill-owners of England and France were about to
be greatly embarrassed, continued: "_But we are not going to add to the
difficulty by involving ourselves in a naval war with the Northern
States_[684]...." The _Times_ commented in substance in several issues
in September, 1861, on the "wise policy of working short-time as a
precaution against the contingencies of the cotton supply, and of the
glutted state of distant markets for manufactured goods[685]." October
12, the _Economist_ acknowledged that the impatience of some mill-owners
was quite understandable as was talk of a European compulsion on America
to stop an "objectless and hopeless" quarrel, but then entered upon an
elaborate discussion of the principles involved and demonstrated why
England ought not to intervene. In November Bright could write: "The
notion of getting cotton by interfering with the blockade is abandoned
apparently by the simpletons who once entertained it, and it is accepted
now as a fixed policy that we are to take no part in your
difficulties[686]." Throughout the fall of 1861 the _Economist_ was
doing its best to quiet apprehensions, urging that due to the "glut" of
manufactured goods short-time must have ensued anyway, pointing out that
now an advanced price was possible, and arguing that here was a
situation likely to result in the development of other sources of supply
with an escape from the former dependence on America. In view of the
actual conditions of the trade, already recounted, these were appealing
arguments to the larger manufacturers, but the small mills, running on
short order supplies and with few stocks of goods on hand were less
easily convinced. They were, however, without parliamentary influence
and hence negligible as affecting public policy. At the opening of the
new year, 1862, Bright declared that "with the spinners and
manufacturers and merchants, I think generally there is no wish for any
_immediate_ change[687]."

Bright's letter of November, 1861, was written before news of the
_Trent_ reached England: that of January, 1862, just after that
controversy had been amicably settled. The _Trent_ had both diverted
attention from cotton and in its immediate result created a general
determination to preserve neutrality. It is evident that even without
this threat of war there was no real cotton pressure upon the
Government. With Northern successes in the spring of 1862 hopes were
aroused that the war would soon end or that at least some cotton
districts would be captured to the relief of England. Seward held out
big promises based on the capture of New Orleans, and these for a time
calmed governmental apprehensions, though by midsummer it was clear that
the inability to secure the country back of the city, together with the
Southern determination to burn their cotton rather than see it fall into
the hands of the enemy, would prevent any great supply from the
Mississippi valley[688]. This was still not a matter of _immediate_
concern, for the Government and the manufacturers both held the opinion
that it was not lack of cotton alone that was responsible for the
distress and the manufacturers were just beginning to unload their
stocks[689]. But in considering and judging the attitude of the British
public on this question of cotton it should always be remembered that
the great mass of the people sincerely believed that America was
responsible for the distress in Lancashire. The error in understanding
was more important than the truth.

In judging governmental policy, however, the truth as regards the causes
of distress in England is the more important element. The "Cotton Lords"
did not choose to reveal it. One must believe that they intentionally
dwelt upon the war as the sole responsible cause. In the first important
parliamentary debate on cotton, May 9, 1862, not a word was said of any
other element in the situation, and, it is to be noted, not a word
advocating a change in British neutral policy[690]. It is to be noted
also that this debate occurred when for two months past, the numbers on
poor relief in Lancashire were temporarily decreasing[691], and the
general tone of the speakers was that while the distress was serious it
was not beyond the power of the local communities to meet it. There was
not, then, in May, any reason for grave concern and Russell expressed
governmental conviction when he wrote to Gladstone, May 18, "We must, I
believe, get thro' the cotton crisis as we can, and promote inland works
and railroads in India[692]." Moreover the Southern orders to destroy
cotton rather than permit its capture and export by the North
disagreeably affected British officials[693]. Up to the end of August,
1862, Russell, while writing much to Lyons on England's necessity for
cotton, did not do so in a vein indicative of criticism of Northern
policy nor in the sense that British distress demanded special official
consideration. Such demands on America as were made up to this time came
wholly from France[694].

It was not then cotton, primarily, which brought a revival in July of
the Southern attack on the Government through Parliament[695]. June had
seen the collapse of Lindsay's initial move, and Palmerston's answer to
Hopwood, June 13, that there was no intention, at present, to offer
mediation, appeared final. It was not cotton, but McClellan's defeat,
that produced a quick renewal of Lindsay's activities. June 30, Hopwood
had withdrawn his motion favouring recognition but in doing so asked
whether, "considering the great and increasing distress in the country,
the patient manner in which it has hitherto been borne, and the
hopelessness of the termination of hostilities, the Government intend to
take any steps whatever, either as parties to intervention or otherwise,
to endeavour to put an end to the Civil War in America?" This was
differently worded, yet contained little variation from his former
question of June 13, and this time Palmerston replied briefly that the
Government certainly would like to mediate if it saw any hope of success
but that at present "both parties would probably reject it. If a
different situation should arise the Government would be glad to
act[696]." This admission was now seized upon by Lindsay who, on July
11, introduced a motion demanding consideration of "the propriety of
offering mediation with the view of terminating hostilities," and
insisted upon a debate.

Thus while the first week of June seemed to have quieted rumours of
British mediation, the end of the month saw them revived. Adams was
keenly aware of the changing temper of opinion and on June 20 presented
to Russell a strong representation by Seward who wrote "under the
President's instructions" that such recurrent rumours were highly
injurious to the North since upon hopes of foreign aid the South has
been encouraged and sustained from the first day of secession. Having
developed this complaint at some length Seward went on to a brief
threat, containing the real meat of the despatch, that if foreign
nations did venture to intervene or mediate in favour of the South, the
North would be forced to have recourse to a weapon hitherto not used,
namely to aid in a rising of the slaves against their masters. This was
clearly a threat of a "servile war" if Great Britain aided the South--a
war which would place Britain in a very uncomfortable position in view
of her anti-slavery sentiments in the past. It is evidence of Adams'
discretion that this despatch, written May 28, was held back from
presentation to Russell until revived rumours of mediation made the
American Minister anxious[697]. No answer was given by Russell for over
a month, a fact in itself indicative of some hesitancy on policy. Soon
the indirect diplomacy of Napoleon III was renewed in the hope of
British concurrence. July 11, Slidell informed Mason that Persigny in
conversation had assured him "that this Government is now more anxious
than ever to take prompt and decided action in our favour." Slidell
asked if it was impossible to stir Parliament but acknowledged that
everything depended on Palmerston: "that august body seems to be as
afraid of him as the urchins of a village school of the birch of their

Unquestionably Persigny here gave Slidell a hint of private instructions
now being sent by Napoleon to Thouvenel who was on a visit to London.
The Emperor telegraphed "Demandez au gouvernement anglais s'il ne croit
pas le moment venu de reconnaître le Sud[699]." Palmerston had already
answered this question in Parliament and Thouvenel was personally very
much opposed to the Emperor's suggestion. There were press rumours that
he was in London to bring the matter to a head, but his report to
Mercier was that interference in America was a very dangerous matter and
that he would have been "badly received" by Palmerston and Russell if he
had suggested any change in neutral policy[700].

In spite of this decided opposition by the French Minister of Foreign
Affairs it is evident that one ground for renewed Southern hopes was the
knowledge of the Emperor's private desires. Lindsay chose his time well
for on July 16 the first thorough report on Lancashire was laid before
Parliament[701], revealing an extremity of distress not previously
officially authenticated, and during this week the papers were full of
an impending disaster to McClellan's army. Lyons, now in London, on his
vacation trip, was concerned for the future mainly because of cotton,
but did not believe there was much danger of an immediate clash with
America[702]. But the great Southern argument of the moment was the
Northern military failure, the ability of the South to resist
indefinitely and the hopelessness of the war. On the morning of July 18
all London was in excitement over press statements that the latest news
from America was not of McClellan's retreat but of the capture of his
entire army.

Lindsay's motion was set for debate on this same July 18. Adams thought
the story of McClellan's surrender had been set afloat "to carry the
House of Commons off their feet in its debate to-night[703]." The
debate itself may be regarded as a serious attempt to push the Ministry
into a position more favourable to the South, and the arguments advanced
surveyed the entire ground of the causes of secession and the
inevitability of the final separation of North and South. They need but
brief summary. Lindsay, refusing to accede to appeals for postponement
because "the South was winning anyway," argued that slavery was no
element in the conflict, that the Southern cause was just, and that
England, because of her own difficulties, should mediate and bring to a
conclusion a hopeless war. He claimed the time was opportune since
mediation would be welcomed by a great majority in the North, and he
quoted from a letter by a labouring man in Lancashire, stating, "We
think it high time to give the Southern States the recognition they so
richly deserve."

Other pro-Southern speakers emphasized Lancashire distress. Gregory
said: "We should remember what is impending over Lancashire--what want,
what woe, what humiliation--and that not caused by the decree of God,
but by the perversity of man. I leave the statistics of the pauperism
that is, and that is to be, to my honourable friends, the
representatives of manufacturing England." No statistics were
forthcoming from this quarter for not a representative from Lancashire
participated in the debate save Hopwood who at the very end upbraided
his fellow members from the district for their silence and was
interrupted by cries of "Divide, Divide." Lindsay's quoted letter was
met by opponents of mediation with the assertion that the operatives
were well known to be united against any action and that they could be
sustained "in luxury" from the public purse for far less a cost than
that of a war with America.

But cotton did not play the part expected of it in this debate. Forster
in a very able speech cleverly keeping close to a consideration of the
effect of mediation on _England_, advanced the idea that such a step
would not end the war but would merely intensify it and so prolong
English commercial distress. He did state, however, that intervention
(as distinct from mediation) would bring on a "servile war" in America,
thus giving evidence of his close touch with Adams and his knowledge of
Seward's despatch of May 28. In the main the friends of the North were
content to be silent and leave it to the Government to answer Lindsay.
This was good tactics and they were no doubt encouraged to silence by
evidence early given in the debate that there would be no positive
result from the motion. Gregory showed that this was a real _attack_ on
the Government by his bitter criticisms of Russell's "three months"

At the conclusion of Gregory's speech Lindsay and his friends, their
immediate purpose accomplished and fearing a vote, wished to adjourn the
debate indefinitely. Palmerston objected. He agreed that everyone
earnestly wished the war in America to end, but he declared that such
debates were a great mistake unless something definite was to follow
since they only served to create irritation in America, both North and
South. He concluded with a vigorous assertion that if the Ministry were
to administer the affairs of the nation it ought to be trusted in
foreign affairs and not have its hands tied by parliamentary expressions
of opinion at inopportune moments. Finally, the South had not yet
securely established its independence and hence could not be recognized.
This motion, if carried, would place England on a definite side and thus
be fatal to any hope of successful mediation or intervention in the
future. Having now made clear the policy of the Government Palmerston
did not insist upon a division and the motion was withdrawn[705].

On the surface Lindsay's effort of July 18 had resulted in ignominious
failure. Lyons called it "ill-timed.... I do not think we know here
sufficiently the extent of the disaster [to McClellan] to be able to
come to any conclusion as to what the European Powers should do." But
the impression left by the debate that there was a strong parliamentary
opinion in favour of mediation made Lyons add: "I suppose Mercier will
open full cry on the scent, and be all for mediation. I am still afraid
of any attempt of the kind[706]." Very much the same opinion was held by
Henry Adams who wrote, "the pinch has again passed by for the moment and
we breathe more freely. But I think I wrote to you some time ago that if
July found us still in Virginia, we could no longer escape interference.
I think now that it is inevitable." A definite stand taken by the North
on slavery would bring "the greatest strength in this running

In spite of surface appearances that the debate was "ill-timed" the
"pinch" was not in fact passed as the activities of Slidell and Mason
and their friends soon indicated. For a fortnight the Cabinet, reacting
to the repeated suggestions of Napoleon, the Northern defeats, and the
distress in Lancashire, was seriously considering the possibility of
taking some step toward mediation. On July 16, two days before the
debate in the Commons, Slidell at last had his first personal contact
with Napoleon, and came away from the interview with the conviction that
"if England long persists in her inaction he [Napoleon] would be
disposed to act without her." This was communicated to Mason on July
20[708], but Slidell did _not_ as yet see fit to reveal to Mason that in
the interview with Napoleon he had made a definite push for separate
action by France, offering inducements on cotton, a special commercial
treaty, and "alliances, defensive, and offensive, for Mexican affairs,"
this last without any authority from Benjamin, the Confederate Secretary
of State. On July 23 Slidell made a similar offer to Thouvenel and left
with him a full memorandum of the Southern proposal[709]. He was
cautioned that it was undesirable his special offer to France should
reach the ears of the British Government--a caution which he transmitted
to Mason on July 30, when sending copies of Benjamin's instructions, but
still without revealing the full extent of his own overtures
to Napoleon.

[Illustration: JOHN SLIDELL (_From Nicolay and Hay's "Life of Abraham
Lincoln": The Century Co. New York_)]

In all this Slidell was still exhibiting that hankering to pull off a
special diplomatic achievement, characteristic of the man, and in line,
also, with a persistent theory that the policy most likely to secure
results was that of inducing France to act alone. But he was repeatedly
running against advice that France must follow Great Britain, and the
burden of his July 20 letter to Mason was an urging that a demand for
recognition be now made simultaneously in Paris and London. Thouvenel,
not at all enthusiastic over Slidell's proposals, told him that this was
at least a prerequisite, and on July 23, Slidell wrote Mason the demand
should be made at once[710]. Mason, on the advice of Lindsay,
Fitzgerald, and Lord Malmesbury, had already prepared a request for
recognition, but had deferred making it after listening to the debate of
July 18[711]. Now, on July 24, he addressed Russell referring to their
interview of February, 1862, in which he had urged the claims of the
Confederacy to recognition and again presented them, asserting that the
subsequent failure of Northern campaigns had demonstrated the power of
the South to maintain its independence. The South, he wrote, asked
neither aid nor intervention; it merely desired recognition and
continuation of British neutrality[712]. On the same day Mason also
asked for an interview[713], but received no reply until July 31, when
Russell wrote that no definite answer could be sent until "after a
Cabinet" and that an interview did not seem necessary[714].

This answer clearly indicates that the Government was in uncertainty. It
is significant that Russell took this moment to reply at last to
Seward's protestations of May 28[715], which had been presented to him
by Adams on June 20. He instructed Stuart at Washington that his delay
had been due to a "waiting for military events," but that these had
been indecisive. He gave a résumé of all the sins of the North as a
belligerent and wrote in a distinctly captious spirit. Yet these sins
had not "induced Her Majesty's Government to swerve an inch from an
impartial neutrality[716]." Here was no promise of a continuance of
neutrality--rather a hint of some coming change. At least one member of
the Cabinet was very ready for it. Gladstone wrote privately:

     "It is indeed much to be desired that this bloody and
     purposeless conflict should cease. From the first it has been
     plain enough that the whole question was whether the South
     was earnest and united. That has now for some months been
     demonstrated; and the fact thus established at once places
     the question beyond the region even of the most brilliant
     military successes[717]...."

Gladstone was primarily influenced by the British commercial situation.
Lyons, still in England, and a consistent opponent of a change of
policy, feared this commercial influence. He wrote to Stuart:

     "...I can hardly anticipate any circumstances under which I
     should think the intervention of England in the quarrel
     between the North and South advisable....

     "But it is very unfortunate that no result whatever is
     apparent from the nominal re-opening of New Orleans and other
     ports. And the distress in the manufacturing districts
     threatens to be so great that a pressure may be put upon the
     Government which they will find it difficult to resist[718]."

In Parliament sneers were indulged in by Palmerston at the expense of
the silent cotton manufacturers of Lancashire, much to the fury of
Cobden[719]. Of this period Arnold later sarcastically remarked that,
"The representatives of Lancashire in the Houses of Parliament did not
permit the gaieties of the Exhibition season wholly to divert their
attention from the distress which prevailed in the home county[720]."

Being refused an interview, Mason transmitted to Russell on August 1 a
long appeal, rather than a demand, for recognition, using exactly those
arguments advanced by Lindsay in debate[721]. The answer, evidently
given after that "Cabinet" for whose decision Russell had been waiting,
was dated August 2. In it Russell, as in his reply to Seward on July 28,
called attention to the wholly contradictory statements of North and
South on the status of the war, which, in British opinion, had not yet
reached a stage positively indicative of the permanence of Southern
independence. Great Britain, therefore, still "waited," but the time
might come when Southern firmness in resistance would bring
recognition[722]. The tone was more friendly than any expressions
hitherto used by Russell to Southern representatives. The reply does not
reveal the decision actually arrived at by the Ministry. Gladstone wrote
to Argyll on August 3 that "yesterday" a Cabinet had been held on the
question "to move or not to move, in the matter of the American Civil
War...." He had come away before a decision when it became evident the
prevailing sentiment would be "nothing shall be done until both parties
are desirous of it." Gladstone thought this very foolish; he would have
England approach France and Russia, but if they were not ready, wait
until they were. "Something, I trust, will be done before the hot
weather is over to stop these frightful horrors[723]."

All parties had been waiting since the debate of July 18 for the
Cabinet decision. It was at once generally known as "no step at present"
and wisdom would have decreed quiet acquiescence. Apparently one
Southern friend, on his own initiative, felt the need to splutter. On
the next day, August 4, Lord Campbell in the Lords moved for the
production of Russell's correspondence with Mason, making a very
confused speech. "Society and Parliament" were convinced the war ought
to end in separation. At one time Campbell argued that reconquest of the
South was impossible; at another that England should interfere to
prevent such reconquest. Again he urged that the North was in a
situation where she could not stop the war without aid from Europe in
extricating her. Probably the motion was made merely to draw from
Russell an official statement. Production of the papers was refused.
Russell stated that the Government still maintained its policy of strict
neutrality, that if any action was to be taken it should be by all the
maritime powers and that if, in the parliamentary recess, any new policy
seemed advisable he would first communicate with those powers. He also
declared very positively that as yet no proposal had been received from
any foreign power in regard to America, laying stress upon the "perfect
accord" between Great Britain and France[724].

Mason commented on this speech that someone was evidently lying and
naturally believed that someone to be Russell. He hoped that France
would promptly make this clear[725]. But France gave no sign of lack of
"perfect accord." On the contrary Thouvenel even discouraged Slidell
from following Mason's example of demanding recognition and the formal
communication was withheld, Mason acquiescing[726]. Slidell thought new
disturbances in Italy responsible for this sudden lessening of French
interest in the South, but he was gloomy, seeing again the frustration
of high hopes. August 24 he wrote Benjamin:

     "You will find by my official correspondence that we are
     still hard and fast aground here. Nothing will float us off
     but a strong and continued current of important successes in
     the field.

     I have no hope from England, because I am satisfied that she
     desires an indefinite prolongation of the war, until the
     North shall be entirely exhausted and broken down.

     Nothing can exceed the selfishness of English statesmen
     except their wretched hypocrisy. They are continually casting
     about their disinterested magnaminity and objection of all
     other considerations than those dictated by a high-toned
     morality, while their entire policy is marked by egotism and
     duplicity. I am getting to be heartily tired of Paris[727]."

On August 7 Parliament adjourned, having passed on the last day of the
session an Act for the relief of the distress in Lancashire by
authorizing an extension of powers to the Poor Law Guardians. Like
Slidell and Mason pro-Northern circles in London thought that in August
there had come to a disastrous end the Southern push for a change in
British policy, and were jubilant. To be sure, Russell had merely
declared that the time for action was "not yet" come, but this was
regarded as a sop thrown to the South. Neither in informed Southern nor
Northern circles outside the Cabinet was there any suspicion, _except by
Adams_, that in the six months elapsed since Lindsay had begun his
movement the Ministry had been slowly progressing in thoughts of

In fact the sentiment of the Cabinet as stated by Gladstone had been
_favourable_ to mediation when "both parties were ready for it" and that
such readiness would come soon most Members were convinced. This was a
convenient and reasonable ground for postponing action but did not
imply that if the conviction were unrealized no mediation would be
attempted. McClellan, driven out of the Peninsula, had been removed, and
August saw the Northern army pressed back from Virginia soil. It was now
Washington and not Richmond that seemed in danger of capture. Surely the
North must soon realize the futility of further effort, and the reports
early in July from Washington dilated upon the rapid emergence of a
strong peace party.

But the first panic of dismay once past Stuart sent word of enormous new
Northern levies of men and of renewed courage[728]. By mid-August,
writing of cotton, he thought the prospect of obtaining any quantity of
it "seems hopeless," and at the same time reported the peace
party fast losing ground in the face of the great energy of the
Administration[729]. As to recognition, Stuart believed: "There is
nothing to be done in the presence of these enormous fresh levies, but
to wait and see what the next two months will bring forth[730]." The
hopes of the British Ministry based on a supposed Northern weariness of
the war were being shattered. Argyll, having received from Sumner a
letter describing the enthusiasm and determination of the North, wrote
to Gladstone:

     "It is evident, whatever may be our opinion of the prospects
     of 'the North' that they do not yet, at least, feel any
     approach to such exhaustion as will lead them to admit of

To this Gladstone replied:

     "I agree that this is not a state of mind favourable to
     mediation; and I admit it to be a matter of great difficulty
     to determine when the first step ought to be taken; but I
     cannot subscribe to the opinion of those who think that
     Europe is to stand silent without limit of time and witness
     these horrors and absurdities, which will soon have consumed
     more men, and done ten times more mischief than the Crimean
     War; but with the difference that there the end was
     uncertain, here it is certain in the opinion of the whole
     world except one of the parties. I should be puzzled to point
     out a single case of dismemberment which has been settled by
     the voluntary concession of the stronger party without any
     interference or warning from third powers, and as far as
     principle goes there never was a case in which warning was so
     proper and becoming, because of the frightful misery which
     this civil conflict has brought upon other countries, and
     because of the unanimity with which it is condemned by the
     civilized world[732]."

The renewal of Northern energy, first reports of which were known to
Russell early in August, came as a surprise to the British Ministry.
Their progress toward mediation had been slow but steady. Lindsay's
initial steps, resented as an effort in indirect diplomacy and not
supported by France officially, had received prompt rejection
accompanied by no indication of a desire to depart from strict
neutrality. With the cessation in late June of the Northern victorious
progress in arms and in the face of increasing distress in Lancashire,
the second answer to Lindsay was less dogmatic. As given by Palmerston
the Government desired to offer mediation, but saw no present hope of
doing so successfully. Finally the Government asked for a free hand,
making no pledges. Mason might be gloomy, Adams exultant, but when
August dawned plans were already on foot for a decided change. The
secret was well kept. Four days after the Cabinet decision to wait on
events, two days after Russell's refusal to produce the correspondence
with Mason, Russell, on the eve of departure for the Continent, was
writing to Palmerston:

     "Mercier's notion that we should make some move in October
     agrees very well with yours. I shall be back in England
     before October, and we could then have a Cabinet upon it. Of
     course the war may flag before that.

     "I quite agree with you that a proposal for an armistice
     should be the first step; but we must be prepared to answer
     the question on what basis are we to negotiate[733]?"

The next movement to put an end to the war in America was to come, not
from Napoleon III, nor from the British friends of the South, but from
the British Ministry itself.


[Footnote 654: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 204.]

[Footnote 655: _De Bow's Review_, Dec., 1857, p. 592.]

[Footnote 656: Cited in Adams, _Trans-Atlantic Historical Solidarity_,
p. 66.]

[Footnote 657: _Ibid._, p. 64.]

[Footnote 658: Cited in Smith, _Parties and Slavery_, 68. A remarkable
exposition of the "power of cotton" and the righteousness of slavery was
published in Augusta, Georgia, in 1860, in the shape of a volume of nine
hundred pages, entitled _Cotton is King, and Pro-Slavery Arguments_.
This reproduced seven separate works by distinguished Southern writers
analysing Slavery from the point of view of political economy, moral and
political philosophy, social ethics, political science, ethnology,
international law, and the Bible. The purpose of this united publication
was to prove the rightfulness, in every aspect, of slavery, the
prosperity of America as based on cotton, and the power of the United
States as dependent on its control of the cotton supply. The editor was
E.N. Elliot, President of Planters' College, Mississippi.]

[Footnote 659: Jan. 26, 1861. Cited in Maxwell, _Clarendon_, II, p.

[Footnote 660: _Am. Hist. Rev._, XVIII, p. 785. Bunch to Russell. No.
51. Confidential. Dec. 5, 1860. As here printed this letter shows two
dates, Dec. 5 and Dec. 15, but the original in the Public Record Office
is dated Dec. 5.]

[Footnote 661: pp. 94-5. Article by W.H. Chase of Florida.]

[Footnote 662: Rhett, who advocated commercial treaties, learned from
Toombs that this was the case. "Rhett hastened to Yancey. Had he been
instructed to negotiate commercial treaties with European powers? Mr.
Yancey had received no intimation from any source that authority to
negotiate commercial treaties would devolve upon the Commission. 'What
then' exclaimed Rhett, 'can be your instructions?' The President, Mr.
Yancey said, seemed to be impressed with the importance of the cotton
crop. A considerable part of the crop of last year was yet on hand and a
full crop will soon be planted. The justice of the cause and the cotton,
so far as he knew, he regretted to say, would be the basis of diplomacy
expected of the Commission" (Du Bose, _Life and Times of Yancey_, 599).]

[Footnote 663: F.O., Am., Vol. 780. No. 69. Bunch to Russell, June 5,
1861. Italics by Bunch. The complete lack of the South in industries
other than its staple products is well illustrated by a request from
Col. Gorgas, Chief of Ordnance to the Confederacy, to Mason, urging him
to secure _three_ ironworkers in England and send them over. He wrote,
"The reduction of ores with coke seems not to be understood here" (Mason
Papers. Gorgas to Mason, Oct. 13, 1861).]

[Footnote 664: F.O., Am., Vol. 843. No. 48. Confidential. Bunch to
Russell, March 19, 1862.]

[Footnote 665: p. 130]

[Footnote 666: The two principal British works are: Arnold, _The History
of the Cotton Famine_, London, 1864; and Watts, _The Facts of the Cotton
Famine_, Manchester, 1866. A remarkable statistical analysis of the
world cotton trade was printed in London in 1863, by a Southerner
seeking to use his study as an argument for British mediation. George
McHenry, _The Cotton Trade_.]

[Footnote 667: Scherer, _Cotton as a World Power_, pp. 263-4.]

[Footnote 668: Lack of authentic statistics on indirect interests make
this a guess by the _Times_. Other estimates run from one-seventh to

[Footnote 669: Schmidt, "Wheat and Cotton During the Civil War," p. 408
(in _Iowa Journal of History and Politics_, Vol. 16), 78.8 per cent.
(Hereafter cited as Schmidt, _Wheat and Cotton_.) Scherer, _Cotton as a
World Power_, p. 264, states 84 per cent, for 1860. Arnold, _Cotton
Famine_, pp. 36-39, estimates 83 per cent.]

[Footnote 670: Great Britain ordinarily ran more than twice as many
spindles as all the other European nations combined. Schmidt, _Wheat and
Cotton_, p. 407, _note_.]

[Footnote 671: This Return for April is noteworthy as the first
differentiating commerce with the North and the South.]

[Footnote 672: These facts are drawn from Board of Trade Reports, and
from the files of the _Economist_, London, and _Hunt's Merchants
Magazine_, New York. I am also indebted to a manuscript thesis by T.P.
Martin, "The Effects of the Civil War Blockade on the Cotton Trade of
the United Kingdom," Stanford University. Mr. Martin in 1921 presented
at Harvard University a thesis for the Ph.D degree, entitled "The
Influence of Trade (in Cotton and Wheat) on Anglo-American Relations,
1829-1846," but has not yet carried his more matured study to the Civil
War period.]

[Footnote 673: Adams, _Trans-Atlantic Historical Solidarity_, p. 89.]

[Footnote 674: F.O., Am., Vol. 843. No. 10. Bunch to Russell, Jan. 8,
1862. Bunch also reported that inland fields were being transformed to
corn production and that even the cotton on hand was deteriorating
because of the lack of bagging, shut off by the blockade.]

[Footnote 675: Arnold, _Cotton Famine_, p. 81.]

[Footnote 676: Richardson, II, 198. Mason to Hunter, March 11, 1862.]

[Footnote 677: Parliamentary Returns, 1861 and 1862. _Monthly Accounts
of Trade and Navigation_ (in _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Commons_.
Vol. LV, and 1863, _Commons_, Vol. LXV).]

[Footnote 678: Arnold, _Cotton Famine_, pp. 174 and 215.]

[Footnote 679: In 1861 there were 26 Members from Lancashire in the
Commons, representing 14 boroughs and 2 counties. The suffrage was such
that only 1 in every 27 of the population had the vote. For all England
the proportion was 1 in 23 (Rhodes, IV, 359). _Parliamentary Papers_,
1867-8, _Lords_, Vol. XXXII, "Report on Boundaries of Boroughs and
Counties of England."]

[Footnote 680: The figures are drawn from (1) Farnall's "Reports on
Distress in the Manufacturing Districts," 1862. _Parliamentary Papers,
Commons_, Vol. XLIX, Pt. I, 1863. _Ibid._, Vol. LII, 1864; and (2) from
"Summary of the Number of Paupers in the Distressed Districts," from
November, 1861, to December, 1863. _Commons_, Vol. LII. Farnall's
reports are less exact than the _Summary_ since at times Liverpool is
included, at times not, as also six small poor-law unions which do not
appear in his reports until 1864. The _Summary_ consistently includes
Liverpool, and fluctuates violently for that city whenever weather
conditions interfered with the ordinary business of the port. It is a
striking illustration of the narrow margin of living wages among the
dockers of Liverpool that an annotation at the foot of a column of
statistics should explain an increase in one week of 21,000 persons
thrown on poor relief to the "prevalence of a strong east wind" which
prevented vessels from getting up to the docks.]

[Footnote 681: Trevelyan, _Bright_, p. 309. To Sumner, Dec. 6, 1862.]

[Footnote 682: The historians who see only economic causes have
misinterpreted the effects on policy of the "cotton famine." Recently,
also, there has been advanced an argument that "wheat defeated
cotton"--an idea put forward indeed in England itself during the war by
pro-Northern friends who pointed to the great flow of wheat from the
North as essential in a short-crop situation in Great Britain. Mr.
Schmidt in "The Influence of Wheat and Cotton on Anglo-American
Relations during the Civil War," a paper read before the American
Historical Association, Dec. 1917, and since published in the _Iowa
Journal of History and Politics_, July, 1918, presents with much care
all the important statistics for both commodities, but his conclusions
seem to me wholly erroneous. He states that "Great Britain's dependence
on Northern wheat ... operated as a contributing influence in keeping
the British government officially neutral ..." (p. 423), a cautious
statement soon transformed to the positive one that "this fact did not
escape the attention of the English government," since leading journals
referred to it (p. 431). Progressively, it is asserted: "But it was
Northern wheat that may well be regarded as the decisive factor,
counterbalancing the influence of cotton, in keeping the British
government from recognizing the Confederacy" (p. 437). "That the wheat
situation must have exerted a profound influence on the government ..."
(p. 438). And finally: "In this contest wheat won, demonstrating its
importance as a world power of greater significance than cotton" (p.
439). This interesting thesis has been accepted by William Trimble in
"Historical Aspects of the Surplus Food Production of the United States,
1862-1902" (_Am. Hist. Assoc. Reports_, 1918, Vol. I, p. 224). I think
Mr. Schmidt's errors are: (1) a mistake as to the time when recognition
of the South was in governmental consideration. He places it in
midsummer, 1863, when in fact the danger had passed by January of that
year. (2) A mistake in placing cotton and wheat supply on a parity,
since the former could not be obtained in quantity from _any_ source
before 1864, while wheat, though coming from the United States, could
have been obtained from interior Russia, as well as from the maritime
provinces, in increased supply if Britain had been willing to pay the
added price of inland transport. There was a real "famine" of cotton;
there would have been none of wheat, merely a higher cost. (This fact, a
vital one in determining influence, was brought out by George McHenry in
the columns of _The Index_, Sept. 18, 1862.) (3) The fact, in spite of
all Mr. Schmidt's suppositions, that while cotton was frequently a
subject of governmental concern in _memoranda_ and in private notes
between members of the Cabinet, I have failed to find one single case of
the mention of wheat. This last seems conclusive in negation of Mr.
Schmidt's thesis.]

[Footnote 683: Speech at Rochdale, Sept. 1, 1861. Cited in _Hunt's
Merchants Magazine_, Vol. 45, pp. 326-7.]

[Footnote 684: _Ibid._, p. 442.]

[Footnote 685: e.g., The _Times_, Sept. 19, 1861.]

[Footnote 686: To Sumner, Nov. 20, 1861. Mass Hist. Soc. _Proceedings_,
XLVI, p. 97.]

[Footnote 687: _Ibid._, Jan. 11, 1862. Vol. XLV, p. 157.]

[Footnote 688: F.O., Am., Vol. 843. No. 85. Bunch to Russell, June 25,
1862. He reported a general burning of cotton estimating the amount so
destroyed as nearly one million bales.]

[Footnote 689: Rhodes, III, p. 503, leaves the impression that England
was at first unanimous in attributing the cotton disaster to the War.
Also, IV, p. 77. I think this an error. It was the general public belief
but not that of the well informed. Rhodes, Vol. IV, p. 364, says that it
was not until January, 1863, that it was "begun to be understood" that
famine was not wholly caused by the War, but partly by glut.]

[Footnote 690: Hansard, 3d. Ser., CLXVI, pp. 1490-1520. Debate on "The
Distress in the Manufacturing Districts." The principal speakers were
Egerton, Potter, Villiers and Bright. Another debate on "The Cotton
Supply" took place June 19, 1862, with no criticism of America. _Ibid._,
CLXVII, pp. 754-93.]

[Footnote 691: See _ante_, p. 12.]

[Footnote 692: Gladstone Papers.]

[Footnote 693: F.O., Am., Vol. 843. No. 73. Bunch to Russell, May 12,
1862. A description of these orders as inclusive of "foreign owned"
cotton of which Bunch asserted a great stock had been purchased and
stored, waiting export, by British citizens. Molyneaux at Savannah made
a similar report. _Ibid._, Vol. 849. No. 16. To Russell, May 10, 1862.]

[Footnote 694: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, pp. 214-18.]

[Footnote 695: Arnold, _Cotton Famine_, p. 228, quotes a song in the
"improvised schoolrooms" of Ashton where operatives were being given a
leisure-time education. One verse was:

     "Our mules and looms have now ceased work, the Yankees are
     the cause. But we will let them fight it out and stand by
     English laws; No recognizing shall take place, until the war
     is o'er; Our wants are now attended to, we cannot ask for

[Footnote 696: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXVII, p. 1213.]

[Footnote 697: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV. "Further
Correspondence relating to the Civil War in the United States." No. 1.
Reed. June 21, 1862.]

[Footnote 698: Mason Papers.]

[Footnote 699: Thouvenel, _Le Secret de l'Empereur_, II, 352. The exact
length of Thouvenel's stay in London is uncertain, but he had arrived by
July 10 and was back in Paris by July 21. The text of the telegram is in
a letter to Flahault of July 26, in which Thouvenel shows himself very
averse to any move which may lead to war with America, "an adventure
more serious than that of Mexico" (_Ibid._, p. 353).]

[Footnote 700: _Ibid._, p. 349. July 24, 1862. See also résumé in
Walpole, _History of Twenty-five Years_, II, 55.]

[Footnote 701: Farnall's First Report. _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862,
_Commons_, Vol. XLIX.]

[Footnote 702: Lyons Papers. Lyons to Stuart, July 5, 1862.

     "Public opinion will not allow the Government to do more for
     the North than maintain a strict neutrality, and it may not
     be easy to do that if there comes any strong provocation from
     the U.S. ..."

     "However, the real question of the day is cotton...."

     "The problem is of how to get over _this next_ winter. The
     prospects of the manufacturing districts are very gloomy."

     "...If you can manage in any way to get a supply of cotton
     for England before the winter, you will have done a greater
     service than has been effected by Diplomacy for a century;
     but nobody expects it."

[Footnote 703: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, 166. To his son, July 18,
1862. He noted that the news had come by the _Glasgow_ which had sailed
for England on July 5, whereas the papers contained also a telegram from
McClellan's head-quarters, dated July 7, but "the people here are fully
ready to credit anything that is not favourable." Newspaper headings
were "Capitulation of McClellan's Army. Flight of McClellan on a
steamer." _Ibid._, 167. Henry Adams to C.F. Adams, Jr., July 19.]

[Footnote 704: Gregory introduced a ridiculous extract from the _Dubuque
Sun_, an Iowa paper, humorously advocating a repudiation of all debts to
England, and solemnly held this up as evidence of the lack of financial
morality in America. If he knew of this the editor of the small-town
American paper must have been tickled at the reverberations of
his humour.]

[Footnote 705: Hansard, 3rd. Ser. CLXVIII, pp. 511-549, for the entire

[Footnote 706: Lyons Papers. Lyons to Stuart, July 19, 1862.]

[Footnote 707: _A Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, pp. 168-9. To Charles
Francis Adams, Jr., July 19, 1862.]

[Footnote 708: Mason Papers. The larger part of Slidell's letter to
Mason is printed in Sears, "A Confederate Diplomat at the Court of
Napoleon III," _Am. Hist. Rev._, Jan., 1921, p. 263. C.F. Adams, "A
Crisis in Downing Street," Mass. Hist. Soc. _Proceedings_, May, 1914, p.
379, is in error in dating this letter April 21, an error for which the
present writer is responsible, having misread Slidell's difficult

[Footnote 709: Richardson, II, pp. 268-289. Slidell to Benjamin, July
25, 1862. It is uncertain just when Mason learned the details of
Slidell's offer to France. Slidell, in his letter of July 20, wrote:
"There is an important part of our conversation that I will give you
through Mr. Mann," who, apparently, was to proceed at once to London to
enlighten Mason. But the Mason Papers show that Mann did not go to
London, and that Mason was left in the dark except in so far as he could
guess at what Slidell had done by reading Benjamin's instructions, sent
to him by Slidell, on July 30. These did _not_ include anything on
Mexico, but made clear the plan of a "special commercial advantage" to
France. In C.F. Adams, "A Crisis in Downing Street," p. 381, it is
stated that Benjamin's instructions were written "at the time of
Mercier's visit to Richmond"--with the inference that they were a result
of Mercier's conversation at that time. This is an error. Benjamin's
instructions were written on April 12, and were sent on April 14, while
it was not until April 16 that Mercier reached Richmond. To some it will
no doubt seem inconceivable that Benjamin should not have informed
Mercier of his plans for France, just formulated. But here, as in
Chapter IX, I prefer to accept Mercier's positive assurances to Lyons at
their face value. Lyons certainly so accepted them and there is nothing
in French documents yet published to cast doubt on Mercier's honour,
while the chronology of the Confederate documents supports it.]

[Footnote 710: Mason Papers.]

[Footnote 711: _Ibid._, Mason to Slidell, July 18 and 19.]

[Footnote 712: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1863, _Lords_, Vol. XXIX.
"Correspondence with Mr. Mason respecting Blockade and Recognition."
No. 7.]

[Footnote 713: _Ibid._, No. 8.]

[Footnote 714: _Ibid._, No. 9.]

[Footnote 715: See _ante_, p. 18.]

[Footnote 716: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1862, _Lords_, Vol. XXV. "Further
Correspondence relating to the Civil War in the United States." No. 2.
Russell to Stuart, July 28, 1862.]

[Footnote 717: Gladstone Papers. To Col. Neville, July 26, 1862.]

[Footnote 718: Lyons Papers. July 29, 1862.]

[Footnote 719: Malmesbury, _Memoirs of an Ex-Minister_, II, p. 276. July
31, 1862.]

[Footnote 720: Arnold, _Cotton Famine_, p. 175.]

[Footnote 721: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1863, _Lords_, Vol. XXIX.
"Correspondence with Mr. Mason respecting Blockade and Recognition."
No. 10.]

[Footnote 722: _Ibid._, No. 11.]

[Footnote 723: Gladstone Papers. Also Argyll, _Autobiography_, II, p.

[Footnote 724: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXVIII, p. 1177 _seq_.]

[Footnote 725: Mason Papers. Mason to Slidell, Aug. 5, 1862.]

[Footnote 726: F.O., France, Vol. 1443. No. 964. Cowley to Russell, Aug.
8, 1862. Mason Papers. Slidell to Mason, Aug. 20, 1862. Mason to
Slidell, Aug. 21.]

[Footnote 727: Richardson, II, p. 315.]

[Footnote 728: Russell Papers. Stuart to Russell, July 7, 1862.]

[Footnote 729: _Ibid._, To Russell, Aug. 18, 1862.]

[Footnote 730: _Ibid._, Aug. 26. Stuart's "nothing to be done" refers,
not to mediation, but to his idea in June-July that the time was ripe
for recognition. He was wholly at variance with Lyons on
British policy.]

[Footnote 731: Gladstone Papers. Aug. 26, 1862.]

[Footnote 732: _Ibid._, Aug. 29, 1862.]

[Footnote 733: Palmerston MS. Aug. 6, 1862.]



The adjournment of Parliament on August 7 without hint of governmental
inclination to act in the American Civil War was accepted by most of the
British public as evidence that the Ministry had no intentions in that
direction. But keen observers were not so confident. Motley, at Vienna,
was keeping close touch with the situation in England through private
correspondence. In March, 1862, he thought that "France and England have
made their minds up to await the issue of the present campaign"--meaning
McClellan's advance on Richmond[734]. With the failure of that campaign
he wrote: "Thus far the English Government have resisted his
[Napoleon's] importunities. But their resistance will not last
long[735]." Meanwhile the recently established pro-Southern weekly, _The
Index_, from its first issue, steadily insisted on the wisdom and
necessity of British action to end the war[736]. France was declared
rapidly to be winning the goodwill of the South at the expense of
England; the British aristocracy were appealed to on grounds of close
sympathy with a "Southern Aristocracy"; mediation, at first objected to,
in view of the more reasonable demand for recognition, was in the end
the chief object of _The Index_, after mid-July, when simple recognition
seemed impossible of attainment[737]. Especially British humiliation
because of the timidity of her statesmen, was harped upon and any public
manifestation of Southern sympathy was printed in great detail[738].

The speculations of Motley, the persistent agitation of _The Index_ are,
however, no indication that either Northern fears or Southern hopes were
based on authoritative information as to governmental purpose. The plan
now in the minds of Palmerston and Russell and their steps in furthering
it have been the subject of much historical study and writing. It is
here proposed to review them in the light of all available important
materials, both old and new, using a chronological order and with more
citation than is customary, in the belief that such citations best tell
the story of this, the most critical period in the entire course of
British attitude toward the Civil War. Here, and here only, Great
Britain voluntarily approached the danger of becoming involved in the
American conflict[739].

Among the few who thought the withdrawal of Lindsay's motion, July 18,
and the Prime Minister's comments did _not_ indicate safety for the
North stood Adams, the American Minister. Of Palmerston's speech he
wrote the next day in his diary: "It was cautious and wise, but enough
could be gathered from it to show that mischief to us in some shape will
only be averted by the favour of Divine Providence or our own efforts.
The anxiety attending my responsibility is only postponed[740]." At this
very moment Adams was much disturbed by his failure to secure
governmental seizure of a war vessel being built at Liverpool for the
South--the famous _Alabama_--which was soon completed and put to sea but
ten days later, July 29. Russell's delay in enforcing British
neutrality, as Adams saw it, in this matter, reinforcing the latter's
fears of a change in policy, had led him to explain his alarm to Seward.
On August 16 Adams received an instruction, written August 2, outlining
the exact steps to be taken in case the feared change in British policy
should occur. As printed in the diplomatic documents later presented to
Congress this despatch is merely a very interesting if somewhat
discursive essay on the inevitability of European ruminations on the
possibility of interference to end the war and argues the unwisdom of
such interference, especially for Great Britain's own interests. It does
not read as if Seward were alarmed or, indeed, as if he had given
serious consideration to the supposed danger[741]. But this conveys a
very erroneous impression. An unprinted portion of the despatch very
specifically and in a very serious tone, instructs Adams that if
approached by the British Government with propositions implying
a purpose:

     "To dictate, or to mediate, or to advise, or even to solicit
     or persuade, you will answer that you are forbidden to
     debate, to hear, or in any way receive, entertain or
     transmit, any communication of the kind.... If you are asked
     an opinion what reception the President would give to such a
     proposition, if made here, you will reply that you are not
     instructed, but you have no reason for supposing that it
     would be entertained."

This was to apply either to Great Britain alone or acting in conjunction
with other Powers. Further, if the South should be "acknowledged" Adams
was immediately to suspend his functions. "You will perceive," wrote
Seward, "that we have approached the contemplation of that crisis with
the caution which great reluctance has inspired. But I trust that you
will also have perceived that the crisis has not appalled us[742]."

This serious and definite determination by the North to resent any
intervention by Europe makes evident that Seward and Lincoln were fully
committed to forcible resistance of foreign meddling. Briefly, if the
need arose, the North would go to war with Europe. Adams at least now
knew where he stood and could but await the result. The instruction he
held in reserve, nor was it ever officially communicated to Russell. He
did, however, state its tenor to Forster who had contacts with the
Cabinet through Milner-Gibson and though no proof has been found that
the American determination was communicated to the Ministry, the
presumption is that this occurred[743]. Such communication could not
have taken place before the end of August and possibly was not then made
owing to the fact that the Cabinet was scattered in the long vacation
and that, apparently, the plan to move _soon_ in the American War was as
yet unknown save to Palmerston and to Russell.

Russell's letter to Palmerston of August 6, sets the date of their
determination[744]. Meanwhile they were depending much upon advices from
Washington for the exact moment. Stuart was suggesting, with Mercier,
that October should be selected[745], and continued his urgings even
though his immediate chief, Lyons, was writing to him from London strong
personal objections to any European intervention whatever and especially
any by Great Britain[746]. Lyons explained his objections to Russell as
well, but Stuart, having gone to the extent of consulting also with
Stoeckl, the Russian Minister at Washington, was now in favour of
straight-out recognition of the Confederacy as the better measure. This,
thought Stoeckl, was less likely to bring on war with the North than an
attempt at mediation[747]. Soon Stuart was able to give notice, a full
month in advance of the event, of Lincoln's plan to issue an
emancipation proclamation, postponed temporarily on the insistence of
Seward[748], but he attached no importance to this, regarding it as at
best a measure of pretence intended to frighten the South and to
influence foreign governments[749]. Russell was not impressed with
Stuart's shift from mediation to recognition. "I think," he wrote, "we
must allow the President to spend his second batch of 600,000 men before
we can hope that he and his democracy will listen to reason[750]." But
this did not imply that Russell was wavering in the idea that October
would be a "ripe time." Soon he was journeying to the Continent in
attendance on the Queen and using his leisure to perfect his great

Russell's first positive step was taken on September 13. On that date
he wrote to Cowley in Paris instructing him to sound Thouvenel,
_privately_[752], and the day following he wrote to Palmerston
commenting on the news just received of the exploits of Stonewall
Jackson in Virginia, "it really looks as if he might end the war. In
October the hour will be ripe for the Cabinet[753]." Similar reactions
were expressed by Palmerston at the same moment and for the same
reasons. Palmerston also wrote on September 14:

     "The Federals ... got a very complete smashing ... even
     Washington or Baltimore may fall into the hands of the

     "If this should happen, would it not be time for us to
     consider whether in such a state of things England and France
     might not address the contending parties and recommend an
     arrangement upon the basis of separation[754]?"

Russell replied:

     "... I agree with you that the time is come for offering
     mediation to the United States Government, with a view to the
     recognition of the independence of the Confederates. I agree
     further that, in case of failure, we ought ourselves to
     recognize the Southern States as an independent State. For
     the purpose of taking so important a step, I think we must
     have a meeting, of the Cabinet. The 23rd or 30th would suit
     me for the meeting[755]."

The two elder statesmen being in such complete accord the result of the
unofficial overture to France was now awaited with interest. This,
considering the similar unofficial suggestions previously made by
Napoleon, was surprisingly lukewarm. Cowley reported that he had held a
long and serious conversation with Thouvenel on the subject of mediation
as instructed by Russell on the thirteenth and found a disposition "to
wait to see the result of the elections" in the North. Mercier
apparently had been writing that Southern successes would strengthen the
Northern peace party. Thouvenel's idea was that "if the peace party
gains the ascendant," Lincoln and Seward, both of whom were too far
committed to listen to foreign suggestions, would "probably be set
aside." He also emphasized the "serious consequences" England and France
might expect if they recognized the South.

     "I said that we might propose an armistice without mediation,
     and that if the other Powers joined with us in doing so, and
     let it be seen that a refusal would be followed by the
     recognition of the Southern States, the certainty of such
     recognition by all Europe must carry weight with it."

     Thouvenel saw some difficulties, especially Russia.

     "...the French Government had some time back sounded that of
     Russia as to her joining France and England in an offer of
     mediation and had been met by an almost scornful refusal...."

     "It appears also that there is less public pressure here for
     the recognition of the South than there is in England[756]."

Thouvenel's lack of enthusiasm might have operated as a check to Russell
had he not been aware of two circumstances causing less weight than
formerly to be attached to the opinions of the French Secretary for
Foreign Affairs. The first was the well-known difference on American
policy between Thouvenel and Napoleon III and the well-grounded
conviction that the Emperor was at any moment ready to impose his will,
if only England would give the signal. The second circumstance was still
more important. It was already known through the French press that a
sharp conflict had arisen in the Government as to Italian policy and all
signs pointed to a reorganization of the Ministry which would exclude
Thouvenel. Under these circumstances Russell could well afford to
discount Thouvenel's opinion. The extent to which he was ready to
go--much beyond either the offer of mediation, or of armistice evidently
in Cowley's mind--is shown by a letter to Gladstone, September 26.

     "I am inclined to think that October 16 may be soon enough
     for a Cabinet, if I am free to communicate the views which
     Palmerston and I entertain to France and Russia in the
     interval between this time and the middle of next month.
     These views had the offer of mediation to both parties in the
     first place, and in the case of refusal by the North, to
     recognition of the South. Mediation on the basis of
     separation and recognition accompanied by a declaration of

The perfected plan, thus outlined, had resulted from a communication to
Palmerston of Cowley's report together with a memorandum, proposed to be
sent to Cowley, but again _privately_[758], addressed to France alone.
Russell here also stated that he had explained his ideas to the Queen.
"She only wishes Austria, Prussia and Russia to be consulted. I said
that should be done, but we must consult France first." Also enclosed
was a letter from Stuart of September 9, reporting Mercier as just
returned from New York and convinced that if advantage were not taken of
the present time to do exactly that which was in Russell's mind, Europe
would have to wait for the "complete exhaustion" of the North[759].
Russell was now at home again and the next day Palmerston approved the
plans as "excellent"; but he asked whether it would not be well to
include Russia in the invitation as a compliment, even though "she might
probably decline." As to the other European powers the matter could wait
for an "after communication." Yet that Palmerston still wished to go
slowly is shown by a comment on the military situation in America:

     "It is evident that a great conflict is taking place to the
     north-west of Washington, and its issue must have a great
     effect on the state of affairs. If the Federals sustain a
     great defeat, they may be at once ready for mediation, and
     the iron should be struck while it is hot. If, on the other
     hand, they should have the best of it, we may wait awhile and
     see what may follow[760]...."

Thus through Palmerston's caution Russia had been added to France in
Russell's proposed memorandum and the communication to Cowley had not
been sent off immediately--as the letter to Gladstone of September 26
indicates. But the plan was regarded as so far determined upon that on
September 24 Russell requested Lyons not to fix, as yet, upon a date for
his departure for America, writing, "M. Mercier is again looking out for
an opportunity to offer mediation, and this time he is not so much out
in his reckoning[761]." Curiously Mercier had again changed his mind and
now thought a proposal of an armistice was the best move, being
"particularly anxious that there should be no mention of the word
_separation_," but of this Russell had, as yet, no inkling[762]. With
full approval of the plan as now outlined, Palmerston wrote to
Gladstone, September 24, that he and Russell were in complete agreement
that an offer of mediation should be made by the three maritime powers,
but that "no actual step would be taken without the sanction of the
Cabinet[763]." Two days later Russell explained to Gladstone the exact
nature of the proposal[764], but that there was even now no thoroughly
worked out agreement on the sequence of steps necessary is shown by
Palmerston's letter to Gladstone of the twenty-fourth, in which is
outlined a preliminary proposal of an armistice, cessation of blockade,
and negotiation on the basis of separation[765].

Other members of the Cabinet were likewise informed of the proposed
overture to France and Russia and soon it was clear that there would be
opposition. Granville had replaced Russell in attendance upon the Queen
at Gotha. He now addressed a long and careful argument to Russell
opposing the adventure, as he thought it, summing up his opinion in
this wise:

     "...I doubt, if the war continues long after our recognition
     of the South, whether it will be possible for us to avoid
     drifting into it."

     "...I have come to the conclusion that it is premature to
     depart from the policy which has hitherto been adopted by you
     and Lord Palmerston, and which, notwithstanding the strong
     antipathy to the North, the strong sympathy with the South,
     and the passionate wish to have cotton, has met with such
     general approval from Parliament, the press, and the

But Granville had little hope his views would prevail. A few days later
he wrote to Lord Stanley of Alderley:

     "I have written to Johnny my reasons for thinking it
     decidedly premature. I, however, suspect you will settle to
     do so! Pam, Johnny, and Gladstone would be in favour of it;
     and probably Newcastle. I do not know about the others. It
     appears to me a great mistake[767]."

Opportunely giving added effect to Granville's letter there now arrived
confused accounts from America of the battles about Washington and of a
check to the Southern advance. On September 17 there had been fought the
battle of Antietam and two days later Lee, giving up his Maryland
campaign, began a retreat through the Shenandoah valley toward the old
defensive Southern lines before Richmond. There was no pursuit, for
McClellan, again briefly in command, thought his army too shattered for
an advance. Palmerston had been counting on a great Southern victory and
was now doubtful whether the time had come after all for European
overtures to the contestants. October 2 he wrote Russell:


     "I return you Granville's letter which contains much
     deserving of serious consideration. There is no doubt that
     the offer of Mediation upon the basis of Separation would be
     accepted by the South. Why should it not be accepted? It
     would give the South in principle the points for which they
     are fighting. The refusal, if refusal there was, would come
     from the North, who would be unwilling to give up the
     principle for which they have been fighting so long as they
     had a reasonable expectation that by going on fighting they
     could carry their point. The condition of things therefore
     which would be favourable to an offer of mediation would be
     great success of the South against the North. That state of
     things seemed ten days ago to be approaching. Its advance has
     been lately checked, but we do not yet know the real course
     of recent events, and still less can we foresee what is about
     to follow. Ten days or a fortnight more may throw a clearer
     light upon future prospects.

     "As regards possible resentment on the part of the Northerns
     following upon an acknowledgment of the Independence of the
     South, it is quite true that we should have less to care
     about that resentment in the spring when communication with
     Canada was open, and when our naval force could more easily
     operate upon the American coast, than in winter when we are
     cut off from Canada and the American coast is not so safe.

     "But if the acknowledgment were made at one and the same time
     by England, France and some other Powers, the Yankees would
     probably not seek a quarrel with us alone, and would not like
     one against a European Confederation. Such a quarrel would
     render certain and permanent that Southern Independence the
     acknowledgment of which would have caused it.

     "The first communication to be made by England and France to
     the contending parties might be, not an absolute offer of
     mediation but a friendly suggestion whether the time was not
     come when it might be well for the two parties to consider
     whether the war, however long continued, could lead to any
     other result than separation; and whether it might not
     therefore be best to avoid the great evils which must
     necessarily flow from a prolongation of hostilities by at
     once coming to an agreement to treat upon that principle of
     separation which must apparently be the inevitable result of
     the contest, however long it may last.

     "The best thing would be that the two parties should settle
     details by direct negotiation with each other, though perhaps
     with the rancorous hatred now existing between them this
     might be difficult. But their quarrels in negotiation would
     do us no harm if they did not lead to a renewal of war. An
     armistice, if not accompanied by a cessation of blockades,
     would be all in favour of the North, especially if New
     Orleans remained in the hands of the North.

     "The whole matter is full of difficulty, and can only be
     cleared up by some more decided events between the contending


Very evidently Palmerston was experiencing doubts and was all in favour
of cautious delay. American military events more than Granville's
arguments influenced him, but almost immediately there appeared a much
more vigorous and determined opponent within the Cabinet. Cornewall
Lewis was prompt to express objections. October 2, Russell transmitted
to Palmerston a letter of disapproval from Lewis. Russell also,
momentarily, was hesitating. He wrote:

     "This American question must be well sifted. I send you a
     letter of G. Lewis who is against moving ..."

     "My only doubt is whether we and France should stir if Russia
     holds back. Her separation from our move would ensure the
     rejection of our proposals. But we shall know more by the
     16th. I have desired a cabinet to be summoned for that day,
     but the summons will not go out till Saturday. So if you wish
     to stop it, write to Hammond[769]."

From this it would appear that Russia had been approached[770] but that
Russell's chief concern was the attitude of France, that his proposed
private communication to Cowley had been despatched and that he was
waiting an answer which might be expected before the sixteenth. If so
his expectations were negatived by that crisis now on in the French
Ministry over the Italian question prohibiting consideration of any
other matter. On October 15 Thouvenel was dismissed, but his formal
retirement from office did not take place until October 24. Several
Ministers abroad, among them Flahault, at London, followed him into
retirement and foreign affairs were temporarily in confusion[771]. The
Emperor was away from Paris and all that Cowley reported was that the
last time he had seen Thouvenel the latter had merely remarked that "as
soon as the Emperor came back the two Governments ought to enter into a
serious consideration of the whole question[772]...." Cowley himself was
more concerned that it was now becoming clear France, in spite of
previous protestations, was planning "colonizing" Mexico[773].

Up to the end of September, therefore, the British Government, while
wholly confident that France would agree in any effort whatsoever that
England might wish to make, had no recent assurances, either official or
private, to this effect. This did not disturb Russell, who took for
granted French approval, and soon he cast aside the hesitation caused by
the doubts of Granville, the opposition of Lewis, and the caution of
Palmerston. Public opinion was certainly turning toward a demand for
Ministerial action[774]. Two days of further consideration caused him to
return to the attack; October 4 he wrote Palmerston:

     "I think unless some miracle takes place this will be the
     very time for offering mediation, or as you suggest,
     proposing to North and South to come to terms.

     "Two things however must be made clear:

     (i) That we propose separation,

     (ii) That we shall take no part in the war unless attacked

How Russell proposed to evade a war with an angry North was not made
clear, but in this same letter notice was given that he was preparing a
memorandum for the Cabinet. Russell was still for a mediation on lines
of separation, but his uncertainty, even confusion, of mind became
evident but another two days later on receipt of a letter from Stuart,
written September 23, in which he and Mercier were now all for a
suggestion of armistice, with no mention of separation[776]. Russell
now thought:

     "If no fresh battles occur, I think the suggestion might be
     adopted, tho' I am far from thinking with Mercier that the
     North would accept it. But it would be a fair and defensible
     course, leaving it open to us to hasten or defer recognition
     if the proposal is declined. Lord Lyons might carry it over
     on the 25th[777]."

British policy, as represented by the inclinations of the Foreign
Secretary, having started out on a course portending positive and
vigorous action, was now evidently in danger of veering far to one side,
if not turning completely about. But the day after Russell seemed to be
considering such an attenuation of the earlier plan as to be content
with a mere suggestion of armistice, a bomb was thrown into the already
troubled waters further and violently disturbing them. This was
Gladstone's speech at Newcastle, October 7, a good third of which was
devoted to the Civil War and in which he asserted that Jefferson Davis
had made an army, was making a navy, and had created something still
greater--a nation[778]. The chronology of shifts in opinion would, at
first glance, indicate that Gladstone made this speech with the
intention of forcing Palmerston and Russell to continue in the line
earlier adopted, thus hoping to bolster up a cause now losing ground.
His declaration, coming from a leading member of of the Cabinet, was
certain to be accepted by the public as a foreshadowing of governmental
action. If Jefferson Davis had in truth created a nation then early
recognition must be given it. But this surmise of intentional pressure
is not borne out by any discovered evidence. On the contrary, the truth
is, seemingly, that Gladstone, in the north and out of touch, was in
complete ignorance that the two weeks elapsed since his letters from
Palmerston and Russell had produced any alteration of plan or even any
hesitation. Himself long convinced of the wisdom of British intervention
in some form Gladstone evidently could not resist the temptation to make
the good news known. His declaration, foreshadowing a policy that did
not pertain to his own department, and, more especially, that had not
yet received Cabinet approval was in itself an offence against the
traditions of British Cabinet organization. He had spoken without
authorization and "off his own bat."

The speculative market, sensitive barometer of governmental policy,
immediately underwent such violent fluctuations as to indicate a general
belief that Gladstone's speech meant action in the war. The price of raw
cotton dropped so abruptly as to alarm Southern friends and cause them
to give assurances that even if the blockade were broken there would be
no immediate outpouring of cotton from Southern ports[779]. On the other
hand, Bright, staunch friend of the North, _hoped_ that Gladstone was
merely seeking to overcome a half-hearted reluctance of Palmerston and
Russell to move. He was sore at heart over the "vile speech" of "your
old acquaintance and friend[780]." The leading newspapers while at first
accepting the Newcastle speech as an authoritative statement and
generally, though mildly, approving, were quick to feel that there was
still uncertainty of policy and became silent until it should be made
clear just what was in the wind[781]. Within the Cabinet it is to be
supposed that Gladstone had caused no small stir, both by reason of his
unusual procedure and by his sentiments. On Russell, however much
disliked was the incursion into his own province, the effect was
reinvigoration of a desire to carry through at least some portion of the
plan and he determined to go on with the proposal of an armistice. Six
days after Gladstone's speech Russell circulated, October 13, a
memorandum on America[782].

This memorandum asserted that the South had shown, conclusively, its
power to resist--had maintained a successful defensive; that the notion
of a strong pro-Northern element in the South had been shown to be
wholly delusive; that the emancipation proclamation, promising a freeing
of the slaves in the sections still in rebellion on January 1, 1863, was
no humanitarian or idealistic measure (since it left slavery in the
loyal or recognized districts) and was but an incitement to servile
war--a most "terrible" plan. For these reasons Russell urged that the
Great Powers ought seriously to consider whether it was not their duty
to propose a "suspension of arms" for the purpose of "weighing calmly
the advantages of peace[783]." This was a far cry from mediation and
recognition, nor did Russell indicate either the proposed terms of an
armistice or the exact steps to be taken by Europe in bringing it about
and making it of value. But the memorandum of October 13 does clearly
negative what has been the accepted British political tradition which is
to the effect that Palmerston, angered at Gladstone's presumption and
now determined against action, had "put up" Cornewall Lewis to reply in
a public speech, thereby permitting public information that no Cabinet
decision had as yet been reached. Lewis' speech was made at Hereford on
October 14. Such were the relations between Palmerston and Russell that
it is impossible the former would have so used Lewis without notifying
Russell, in which case there would have been no Foreign Office
memorandum of the thirteenth[784]. Lewis was, in fact, vigorously
maintaining his objections, already made known to Russell, to _any_ plan
of departure from the hitherto accepted policy of neutrality and his
speech at Hereford was the opening gun of active opposition.

Lewis did not in any sense pose as a friend of the North. Rather he
treated the whole matter, in his speech at Hereford and later in the
Cabinet as one requiring cool judgment and decision on the sole ground
of British interests. This was the line best suited to sustain his
arguments, but does not prove, as some have thought, that his Cabinet
acknowledgment of the impossibility of Northern complete victory, was
his private conviction[785]. At Hereford Lewis argued that everyone must
acknowledge a great war was in progress and must admit it "to be
undecided. Under such circumstances, the time had not yet arrived when
it could be asserted in accordance with the established doctrines of
international law that the independence of the Southern States had been
established[786]." In effect Lewis gave public notice that no Cabinet
decision had yet been reached, a step equally opposed to Cabinet
traditions with Gladstone's speech, since equally unauthorized, but
excusable in the view that the first offence against tradition had
forced a rejoinder[787]. For the public Lewis accomplished his purpose
and the press refrained from comment, awaiting results[788]. Meanwhile
Palmerston, who must finally determine policy, was remaining in
uncertainty and in this situation thought it wise to consult,
indirectly, Derby, the leader of the opposition in Parliament. This was
done through Clarendon, who wrote to Palmerston on October 16 that Derby
was averse to action.

     "He said that he had been constantly urged to _go in for_
     recognition and mediation, but had always refused on the
     ground that recognition would merely irritate the North
     without advancing the cause of the South or procuring a
     single bale of cotton, and that mediation in the present
     temper of the Belligerents _must_ be rejected even if the
     mediating Powers themselves knew what to propose as a fair
     basis of compromise; for as each party insisted upon having
     that which the other declared was vitally essential to its
     existence, it was clear that the war had not yet marked out
     the stipulations of a treaty of peace.... The recognition of
     the South could be of no benefit to England unless we meant
     to sweep away the blockade, which would be an act of
     hostility towards the North[789]."

More than any other member of the Cabinet Lewis was able to guess,
fairly accurately, what was in the Premier's mind for Lewis was
Clarendon's brother-in-law, and "the most intimate and esteemed of his
male friends[790]." They were in constant communication as the Cabinet
crisis developed, and Lewis' next step was taken immediately after
Palmerston's consultation of Derby through Clarendon. October 17, Lewis
circulated a memorandum in reply to that of Russell's of October 13. He
agreed with Russell's statement of the facts of the situation in
America, but added with sarcasm:

     "A dispassionate bystander might be expected to concur in the
     historical view of Lord Russell, and to desire that the war
     should be speedily terminated by a pacific agreement between
     the contending parties. But, unhappily, the decision upon any
     proposal of the English Government will be made, not by
     dispassionate bystanders, but by heated and violent
     partisans; and we have to consider, not how the proposal
     indicated in the Memorandum ought to be received, or how it
     would be received by a conclave of philosophers, but how it
     is likely to be received by the persons to whom it would be

Lincoln's emancipation proclamation, Lewis admitted, presumably was
intended to incite servile war, but that very fact was an argument
against, not for, British action, since it revealed an intensity of
bitterness prohibitory of any "calm consideration" of issues by the
belligerents. And suppose the North did acquiesce in an armistice the
only peaceful solution would be an independent slave-holding South for
the establishment of which Great Britain would have become intermediary
and sponsor. Any policy except that of the continuance of strict
neutrality was full of dangers, some evident, some but dimly visible as
yet. Statesmanship required great caution; "... looking to the probable
consequences," Lewis concluded, "of this philanthropic proposition, we
may doubt whether the chances of evil do not preponderate over the
chances of good, and whether it is not--

     'Better to endure the ills we have
     Than fly to others which we know not of[791].'"

At the exact time when Lewis thus voiced his objections, basing them on
the lack of any sentiment toward peace in America, there were received
at the Foreign Office and read with interest the reports of a British
special agent sent out from Washington on a tour of the Western States.
Anderson's reports emphasized three points:

(1) Emancipation was purely a war measure with no thought of
ameliorating the condition of the slaves once freed;

(2) Even if the war should stop there was no likelihood of securing
cotton for a long time to come;

(3) The Western States, even more then the Eastern, were in favour of
vigorous prosecution of the war and the new call for men was being met
with enthusiasm[792].

This was unpromising either for relief to a distressed England or for
Northern acceptance of an armistice, yet Russell, commenting on
Clarendon's letter to Palmerston, containing Derby's advice, still
argued that even if declined a suggestion of armistice could do no harm
and might open the way for a later move, but he agreed that recognition
"would certainly be premature at present[793]." Russell himself now
heard from Clarendon and learned that Derby "had been constantly urged
to press for recognition and mediation but he had always refused on the
ground that the neutral policy hitherto pursued by the Government was
the right one and that if we departed from it we should only meet with
an insolent rejection of our offer[794]." A long conference with Lyons
gave cause for further thought and Russell committed himself to the
extent that he acknowledged "we ought not to move _at present_ without
Russia[795]...." Finally, October 22, Palmerston reached a decision for
the immediate present, writing to Russell:

     "Your description of the state of things between the two
     parties is most comprehensive and just. I am, however, much
     inclined to agree with Lewis that at present we could take no
     step nor make any communication of a distinct proposition
     with any advantage."

       *       *       *       *       *

     "All that we could possibly do without injury to our position
     would be to ask the two Parties not whether they would agree
     to an armistice but whether they might not turn their
     thoughts towards an arrangement between themselves. But the
     answer of each might be written by us beforehand. The
     Northerners would say that the only condition of arrangement
     would be the restoration of the Union; the South would say
     their only condition would be an acknowledgment by the North
     of Southern Independence--we should not be more advanced and
     should only have pledged each party more strongly to the
     object for which they are fighting. I am therefore inclined
     to change the opinion on which I wrote to you when the
     Confederates seemed to be carrying all before them, and I am
     very much come back to our original view of the matter, that
     we must continue merely to be lookers-on till the war shall
     have taken a more decided turn[796]."

By previous arrangement the date October 23 had been set for a Cabinet
to consider the American question but Russell now postponed it, though a
few members appeared and held an informal discussion in which Russell
still justified his "armistice" policy and was opposed by Lewis and the
majority of those present. Palmerston did not attend, no action was
possible and technically no Cabinet was held[797]. It soon appeared that
Russell, vexed at the turn matters had taken, was reluctant in yielding
and did not regard the question as finally settled. Yet on the afternoon
of this same day Adams, much disturbed by the rumours attendant upon the
speeches of Gladstone and Lewis, sought an explanation from Russell and
was informed that the Government was not inclined at present to change
its policy but could make no promises for the future[798]. This appeared
to Adams to be an assurance against _any_ effort by Great Britain and
has been interpreted as disingenuous on Russell's part. Certainly Adams'
confidence was restored by the interview. But Russell was apparently
unconvinced as yet that a suggestion of armistice would necessarily lead
to the evil consequences prophesied by Lewis, or would, indeed, require
any departure from a policy of strict neutrality. On the one side
Russell was being berated by pro-Southerners as weakly continuing an
outworn policy and as having "made himself the laughing-stock of Europe
and of America[799];" on the other he was regarded, for the moment, as
insisting, through pique, on a line of action highly dangerous to the
preservation of peace with the North. October 23 Palmerston wrote his
approval of the Cabinet postponement, but declared Lewis' doctrine of
"no recognition of Southern independence until the North had admitted
it" was unsound[800]. The next day he again wrote: "... to talk to the
belligerents about peace at present would be as useless as asking the
winds during the last week to let the waters remain calm[801]."

This expression by Palmerston on the day after the question apparently
had come to a conclusion was the result of the unexpected persistence of
Russell and Gladstone. Replying to Palmerston's letter of the
twenty-third, Russell wrote: "As no good could come of a Cabinet, I put
it off. But tho' I am quite ready to agree to your conclusions for the
present, I cannot do so for G. Lewis' reasons...."

     "G. Lewis besides has made a proposition for me which I never
     thought of making. He says I propose that England and France
     and perhaps some one Continental power should ask America to
     suspend the war. I never thought of making such a proposal.

     "I think if Russia agreed Prussia would. And if France and
     England agreed Austria would. Less than the whole five would
     not do. I thought it right towards the Cabinet to reserve any
     specific proposition. I am not at all inclined to adopt G.
     Lewis' invention.

     "I have sent off Lyons without instructions, at which he is
     much pleased[802]."

Russell was shifting ground; first the proposal was to have been made by
England and France; then Russia was necessary; now "less than five
powers would not do." But whatever the number required he still desired
a proposal of armistice. On October 23, presumably subsequent to the
informal meeting of Cabinet members, he drew up a brief memorandum in
answer to that of Lewis on October 17, denying that Lewis had correctly
interpreted his plan, and declaring that he had always had "in
contemplation" a step by the five great powers of Europe. The
advisability of trying to secure such joint action, Russell asserted,
was all he had had in mind. _If_ the Cabinet had approved this
advisability, and the powers were acquiescent, _then_ (in answer to
Lewis' accusation of "no look ahead") he would be ready with definite
plans for the negotiation of peace between North and South[803]. Thus by
letter to Palmerston and by circulation of a new memorandum Russell gave
notice that all was not yet decided. On October 24, Gladstone also
circulated a memorandum in reply to Lewis, urging action by England,
France and Russia[804].

Russell's second memorandum was not at first taken seriously by his
Cabinet opponents. They believed the issue closed and Russell merely
putting out a denial of alleged purposes. Clarendon, though not a member
of the Cabinet, was keeping close touch with the situation and on
October 24 wrote to Lewis:

     "Thanks for sending me your memorandum on the American
     question, which I have read with great satisfaction. Johnny
     [Russell] always loves to do something when to do nothing is
     prudent, and I have no doubt that he hoped to get support in
     his meddling proclivities when he called a Cabinet for
     yesterday; but its postponement _sine die_ is probably due to
     your memorandum. You have made so clear the idiotic position
     we should occupy, either in having presented our face
     gratuitously to the Yankee slap we should receive, or in
     being asked what practical solution we had to propose after
     an armistice had been agreed to at our suggestion, that no
     discussion on the subject would have been possible, and the
     Foreign Secretary probably thought it would be pleasanter to
     draw in his horns at Woburn than in Downing Street[805]."

On October 26, having received from Lewis a copy of Russell's
newly-circulated paper, Clarendon wrote again:

     "The Foreign Secretary's _blatt_ exhibits considerable
     soreness, for which you are specially bound to make
     allowance, as it was you who procured abortion for him. He
     had thought to make a great deal of his colt by Meddler out
     of Vanity, and you have shown his backers that the animal was
     not fit to start and would not run a yard if he did. He is
     therefore taken back to the country, where he must have a
     deal more training before he can appear in public again."

       *       *       *       *       *

     "I should say that your speech at Hereford was nearly as
     effective in checking the alarm and speculation caused by
     Gladstone's speech, as your memorandum was in smashing the
     Foreign Secretary's proposed intervention, and that you did
     so without in the smallest degree committing either the
     Government or yourself with respect to the future[806]."

In effect Clarendon was advising Lewis to pay no attention to Russell's
complaining rejoinder since the object desired had been secured, but
there was still one element of strength for Russell and Gladstone which,
if obtained, might easily cause a re-opening of the whole question.
This was the desire of France, still unexpressed in spite of indirect
overtures, a silence in part responsible for the expression of an
opinion by Palmerston that Napoleon's words could not be depended upon
as an indication of what he intended to do[807]. On the day this was
written the French ministerial crisis--the real cause of Napoleon's
silence--came to an end with the retirement of Thouvenel and the
succession of Drouyn de Lhuys. Russell's reply to Palmerston's assertion
of the folly of appealing now to the belligerents was that "recognition"
was certainly out of the question for the present and that "it should
not take place till May Or June next year, when circumstances may show
pretty clearly whether Gladstone was right[808]." But this yielding to
the Premier's decision was quickly withdrawn when, at last, Napoleon and
his new Minister could turn their attention to the American question.

On October 27 Cowley reported a conversation with the Emperor in which
American affairs were discussed. Napoleon hoped that England, France and
Russia would join in an offer of mediation. Cowley replied that he had
no instructions and Napoleon then modified his ideas by suggesting a
proposal of armistice for six months "in order to give time for the
present excitement to calm down[809]...." The next day Cowley reported
that Drouyn de Lhuys stated the Emperor to be very anxious to "put an
end to the War," but that he was himself doubtful whether it would not
be better to "wait a little longer," and in any case if overtures to
America were rejected Russia probably would not join Great Britain and
France in going on to a recognition of the South[810]. All this was
exactly in line with that plan to which Russell had finally come and if
officially notified to the British Government would require a renewed
consideration by the Cabinet. Presumably Napoleon knew what had been
going on in London and he now hastened to give the needed French push.
October 28, Slidell was summoned to an audience and told of the
Emperor's purpose, acting with England, to bring about an
armistice[811]. Three days later, October 31, Cowley wrote that he had
now been officially informed by Drouyn de Lhuys, "by the Emperor's
orders" that a despatch was about to be sent to the French Ministers in
England and Russia instructing them to request joint action by the three
powers in suggesting an armistice of six months _including a suspension
of the blockade_, thus throwing open Southern ports to European

Napoleon's proposal evidently took Palmerston by surprise and was not
regarded with favour. He wrote to Russell:

     "As to the French scheme of proposals to the United States,
     we had better keep that question till the Cabinet meets,
     which would be either on Monday 11th, or Wednesday 12th, as
     would be most convenient to you and our colleagues. But is
     it likely that the Federals would consent to an armistice to
     be accompanied by a cessation of Blockades, and which would
     give the Confederates means of getting all the supplies they
     may want?"

       *       *       *       *       *

     "Then comes the difficulty about slavery and the giving up of
     runaway slaves, about which we could hardly frame a proposal
     which the Southerns would agree to, and people of England
     would approve of. The French Government are more free from
     the shackles of principle and of right and wrong on these
     matters, as on all others than we are. At all events it would
     be wiser to wait till the elections in North America are over
     before any proposal is made. As the Emperor is so anxious to
     put a stop to bloodshed he might try his hand as a beginning
     by putting down the stream of ruffians which rolls out from
     that never-failing fountain at Rome[813]."

But Russell was more optimistic, or at least in favour of some sort of
proposal to America. He replied to Palmerston:

     "My notion is that as there is little chance of our good
     offices being accepted in America we should make them such as
     would be creditable to us in Europe. I should propose to
     answer the French proposal therefore by saying,

     "That in offering our good offices we ought to require both
     parties to consent to examine, first, whether there are any
     terms upon which North and South would consent to restore the
     Union; and secondly, failing any such terms, whether there
     are any terms upon which both would consent to separate.

     "We should also say that if the Union is to be restored it
     would be essential in our view, that after what has taken
     place all the slaves should be emancipated, compensation
     being granted by Congress at the rate at which Great Britain
     emancipated her slaves in 1833.

     "If separation takes place we must be silent on the trend of
     slavery, as we are with regard to Spain and Brazil.

     "This is a rough sketch, but I will expand it for the

     "It will be an honourable proposal to make, but the North and
     probably the South will refuse it[814]."

Here were several ideas quite impossible of acceptance by North and
South in their then frame of mind and Russell himself believed them
certain to be refused by the North in any case. But he was eager to
present the question for Cabinet discussion hoping for a reversal of the
previous decision. Whether from pique or from conviction of the wisdom
of a change in British policy, he proposed to press for acceptance of
the French plan, with modifications. The news of Napoleon's offer and of
Russell's attitude, with some uncertainty as to that of Palmerston,
again brought Lewis into action and on November 7 he circulated another
memorandum, this time a very long one of some fifteen thousand words.
This was in the main an historical résumé of past British policy in
relation to revolted peoples, stating the international law of such
cases, and pointing out that Great Britain had never recognized a
revolted people so long as a _bona fide_ struggle was still going on.
Peace was no doubt greatly to be desired. "If England could, by
legitimate means, and without unduly sacrificing or imperilling her own
interests, accelerate this consummation, she would, in my opinion, earn
the just gratitude of the civilized world." But the question, as he had
previously asserted, was full of grave dangers. The very suggestion of a
concert of Powers was itself one to be avoided. "A conference of the
five great Powers is an imposing force, but it is a dangerous body to
set in motion. A single intervening Power may possibly contrive to
satisfy both the adverse parties; but five intervening Powers have first
to satisfy one another." Who could tell what divergence might arise on
the question of slavery, or on boundaries, or how far England might
find her ideals or her vital interests compromised[815]?

Here was vigorous resistance to Russell, especially effective for its
appeal to past British policy, and to correct practice in international
law. On the same day that Lewis' memorandum was circulated, there
appeared a communication in the _Times_ by "Historicus," on "The
International Doctrine of Recognition," outlining in briefer form
exactly those international law arguments presented by Lewis, and
advocating a continuation of the policy of strict neutrality.
"Historicus" was William Vernon Harcourt, husband of Lewis' stepdaughter
who was also the niece of Clarendon. Evidently the family guns were all
trained on Russell[816]. "Historicus" drove home the fact that premature
action by a neutral was a "hostile act" and ought to be resented by the
"Sovereign State" as a "breach of neutrality and friendship[817]."

Thus on receipt of the news of Napoleon's proposal the Cabinet crisis
was renewed and even more sharply than on October 23. The French offer
was not actually presented until November 10[818]. On the next two days
the answer to be made received long discussion in the Cabinet. Lewis
described this to Clarendon, prefacing his account by stating that
Russell had heard by telegram from Napier at St. Petersburg to the
effect that Russia would not join but would support English-French
proposals through her Minister at Washington, "provided it would not
cause irritation[819]."

     "Having made this statement, Lord John proceeded to explain
     his views on the question. These were, briefly, that the
     recent successes of the Democrats afforded a most favourable
     opportunity of intervention, because we should strengthen
     their hands, and that if we refused the invitation of France,
     Russia would reconsider her decision, act directly with
     France, and thus accomplish her favourite purpose of
     separating France and England. He therefore advised that the
     proposal of France should be accepted. Palmerston followed
     Lord John, and supported him, but did not say a great deal.
     His principal argument was the necessity for showing sympathy
     with Lancashire, and of not throwing away any chance of
     mitigating it [_sic_].

     "The proposal was now thrown before the Cabinet, who
     proceeded to pick it to pieces. Everybody present threw a
     stone at it of greater or less size, except Gladstone, who
     supported it, and the Chancellor [Westbury] and Cardwell, who
     expressed no opinion. The principal objection was that the
     proposed armistice of six months by sea and land, involving a
     suspension of the commercial blockade, was so grossly
     unequal--so decidedly in favour of the South, that there was
     no chance of the North agreeing to it. After a time,
     Palmerston saw that the general feeling of the Cabinet was
     against being a party to the representation, and he
     capitulated. I do not think his support was very sincere: it
     certainly was not hearty ... I ought to add that, after the
     Cabinet had come to a decision and the outline of a draft had
     been discussed, the Chancellor uttered a few oracular
     sentences on the danger of refusing the French invitation,
     and gave a strong support to Lord John. His support came
     rather late ... I proposed that we should _tater le terrain_
     at Washington and ascertain whether there was any chance of
     the proposal being accepted. Lord John refused this. He
     admitted there was no chance of an affirmative answer from
     Washington. I think his principal motive was a fear of
     displeasing France, and that Palmerston's principal motive
     was a wish to seem to support him. There is a useful article
     in to-day's _Times_ throwing cold water on the invitation. I
     take for granted that Delane was informed of the result of
     the Cabinet[820]."

Gladstone, writing to his wife, gave a similar though more brief

     "Nov. 11. We have had our Cabinet to-day and meet again
     to-morrow. I am afraid we shall do little or nothing in the
     business of America. But I will send you definite
     intelligence. Both Lords Palmerston and Russell are _right._
     Nov. 12. The United States affair has ended and not well.
     Lord Russell rather turned tail. He gave way without
     resolutely fighting out his battle. However, though we
     decline for the moment, the answer is put upon grounds and in
     terms which leave the matter very open for the future. Nov.
     13. I think the French will make our answer about America
     public; at least it is very possible. But I hope they may not
     take it as a positive refusal, or at any rate that they may
     themselves act in the matter. It will be clear that we concur
     with them, that the war should cease. Palmerston gave to
     Russell's proposal a feeble and half-hearted support[821]."

The reply to France was in fact immediately made public both in France
and in England. It was complimentary to the Emperor's "benevolent views
and humane intentions," agreed that "if the steps proposed were to be
taken, the concurrence of Russia would be extremely desirable" but
remarked that as yet Great Britain had not been informed that Russia
wished to co-operate, and concluded that since there was no ground to
hope the North was ready for the proposal it seemed best to postpone any
overture until there was a "greater prospect than now exists of its
being accepted by the two contending parties[822]." The argument of
Russell in the Cabinet had been for acceptance without Russia though
earlier he had stipulated her assistance as essential. This was due to
the knowledge already at hand through a telegram from Napier at St.
Petersburg, November 8, that Russia would refuse[823]. But in the answer
to France it is the attitude of Russia that becomes an important reason
for British refusal as, indeed, it was the basis for harmonious decision
within the British Cabinet. This is not to say that had Russia acceded
England also would have done so, for the weight of Cabinet opinion,
adroitly encouraged by Palmerston, was against Russell and the result
reached was that which the Premier wished. More important in his view
than any other matter was the preservation of a united Ministry and at
the conclusion of the American debate even Gladstone could write: "As to
the state of matters generally in the Cabinet, I have never seen it

Public opinion in England in the main heartily supported the Cabinet
decision. Hammond described it as "almost universal in this country
against interference[825]," an estimate justified if the more important
journals are taken into account but not true of all. The _Times_ of
November 13 declared:

     "We are convinced that the present is not the moment for
     these strong measures. There is now great reason to hope that
     by means of their own internal action the Americans may
     themselves settle their own affairs even sooner than Europe
     could settle them for them. We have waited so long that it
     would be unpardonable in us to lose the merit of our
     self-denial at such a moment as this.... We quite agree with
     Mr. Cobden that it would be cheaper to keep all Lancashire on
     turtle and venison than to plunge into a desperate war with
     the Northern States of America, even with all Europe at our
     back. In a good cause, and as a necessity forced upon us in
     defence of our honour, or of our rightful interests, we are
     as ready to fight as we ever were; but we do not see our duty
     or our interest in going blindfold into an adventure such as
     this. We very much doubt, more over, whether, if Virginia
     belonged to France as Canada belongs to England, the Emperor
     of the French would be so active in beating up for recruits
     in this American mediation league."

This was followed up two days later by an assertion that no English
statesman had at any time contemplated an offer of mediation made in
such a way as to lead to actual conflict with the United States[826]. On
the other hand the _Herald_, always intense in its pro-Southern
utterances, and strongly anti-Palmerston in politics, professed itself
unable to credit the rumoured Cabinet decision. "Until we are positively
informed that our Ministers are guilty of the great crime attributed to
them," the _Herald_ declared, "we must hope against hope that they are
innocent." If guilty they were responsible for the misery of Lancashire
(depicted in lurid colours):

     "A clear, a sacred, an all-important duty was imposed upon
     them; to perform that duty would have been the pride and
     delight of almost any other Englishmen; and they, with the
     task before them and the power to perform it in their
     hands--can it be that they have shrunk back in craven
     cowardice, deserted their ally, betrayed their country,
     dishonoured their own names to all eternity, that they might
     do the bidding of John Bright, and sustain for a while the
     infamous tyranny of a Butler, a Seward, and a Lincoln[827]?"

In the non-political _Army and Navy Gazette_ the returned editor, W.H.
Russell, but lately the _Times_ correspondent in America, jeered at the
American uproar that might now be expected against France instead of
England: "Let the Emperor beware. The scarred veteran of the New York
Scarrons of Plum Gut has set his sinister or dexter eye upon him, and
threatens him with the loss of his throne," but the British public must
expect no lasting change of Northern attitude toward England and must be
ready for a war if the North were victorious[828]. _Blackwood's_ for
November, 1862, strongly censured the Government for its failure to act.
The _Edinburgh_ for January, 1863, as strongly supported the Ministry
and expanded on the fixed determination of Great Britain to keep out of
the war. _The Index_ naturally frothed in angry disappointment,
continuing its attacks, as if in hopes of a reversal of Ministerial
decision, even into the next year. "Has it come to this? Is England, or
the English Cabinet, afraid of the Northern States? Lord Russell might
contrive so to choose his excuses as not to insult at once both his
country and her ally[829]." An editorial from the _Richmond_ (Virginia)
_Whig_ was quoted with approval characterizing Russell and Palmerston as
"two old painted mummies," who secretly were rejoiced at the war in
America as "threatening the complete annihilation" of both sides, and
expressing the conviction that if the old Union were restored both North
and South would eagerly turn on Great Britain[830]. The explanation,
said _The Index_, of British supineness was simply the pusillanimous
fear of war--and of a war that would not take place in spite of the
bluster of Lincoln's "hangers-on[831]." Even as late as May of the year
following, this explanation was still harped upon and Russell "a
statesman" who belonged "rather to the past than to the present" was
primarily responsible for British inaction. "The nominal conduct of
Foreign Affairs is in the hands of a diplomatic Malaprop, who has never
shown vigour, activity, or determination, except where the display of
these qualities was singularly unneeded, or even worse than

_The Index_ never wavered from its assumption that in the Cabinet
Russell was the chief enemy of the South. Slidell, better informed,
wrote: "Who would have believed that Earl Russell would have been the
only member of the Cabinet besides Gladstone in favour of accepting the
Emperor's proposition[833]?" He had information that Napoleon had been
led to expect his proposal would be accepted and was much irritated--so
much so that France would now probably act alone[834]. Gladstone's
attitude was a sorrow to many of his friends. Bright believed he was at
last weaned from desires for mediation and sympathetic with the answer
to France[835], but Goldwin Smith in correspondence with Gladstone on
American affairs knew that the wild idea now in the statesman's mind was
of offering Canada to the North if she would let the South go[836]--a
plan unknown, fortunately for Gladstone's reputation for good judgment,
save to his correspondent.

In general, as the weeks passed, the satisfaction grew both with the
public and in the Government that England had made no adventure of new
policy towards America. This satisfaction was strongly reinforced when
the first reports were received from Lyons on his arrival in America.
Reaching New York on November 8 he found that even the "Conservatives"
were much opposed to an offer of mediation at present and thought it
would only do harm until there was a change of Government in
Washington--an event still remote. Lyons himself believed mediation
useless unless intended to be followed by recognition of the South and
that such recognition was likewise of no value without a raising of the
blockade for which he thought the British Cabinet not prepared[837].
Lyons flatly contradicted Stuart's reports, his cool judgment of
conditions nowhere more clearly manifested than at this juncture in
comparison with his subordinate's excited and eager pro-Southern
arguments. Again on November 28 Lyons wrote that he could not find a
single Northern paper that did not repudiate foreign intervention[838].
In the South, when it was learned that France had offered to act and
England had refused, there was an outburst of bitter anti-British

The Northern press, as Lyons had reported, was unanimous in rejection of
European offers of aid, however friendly, in settling the war. It
expressed no gratitude to England, devoting its energy rather to
animadversions on Napoleon III who was held to be personally
responsible. Since there had been no European offer made there was no
cause for governmental action. Seward had given Adams specific
instructions in case the emergency arose but there had been no reason to
present these or to act upon them and the crisis once past Seward
believed all danger of European meddling was over and permanently. He
wrote to Bigelow: "We are no longer to be disturbed by Secession
intrigues in Europe. They have had their day. We propose to forget
them[840]." This was a wise and statesmanlike attitude and was shared by
Adams in London. Whatever either man knew or guessed of the prelude to
the answer to France, November 13, they were careful to accept that
answer as fulfilment of Russell's declaration to Adams, October 23, that
Great Britain intended no change of policy[841].

So far removed was Seward's attitude toward England from that ascribed
to him in 1861, so calm was his treatment of questions now up for
immediate consideration, so friendly was he personally toward Lyons,
that the British Minister became greatly alarmed when, shortly after his
return to Washington, there developed a Cabinet controversy threatening
the retirement of the Secretary of State. This was a quarrel brought on
by the personal sensibilities of Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, and
directed at Seward's conduct of foreign affairs. It was quieted by the
tact and authority of Lincoln, who, when Seward handed in his
resignation, secured from Chase a similar offer of resignation, refused
both and in the result read to Chase that lesson of Presidential control
which Seward had learned in May, 1861. Lyons wrote of this controversy
"I shall be sorry if it ends in the removal of Mr. Seward. We are much
more likely to have a man less disposed to keep the peace than a man
more disposed to do so. I should hardly have said this two years
ago[842]." After the event of Seward's retention of office Russell
wrote: "I see Seward stays in. I am very glad of it[843]." This is a
remarkable reversal of former opinion. A better understanding of Seward
had come, somewhat slowly, to British diplomats, but since his action in
the _Trent_ affair former suspicion had steadily waned; his "high tone"
being regarded as for home consumption, until now there was both belief
in Seward's basic friendliness and respect for his abilities.

Thus Russell's ambitious mediation projects having finally dwindled to a
polite refusal of the French offer to join in a mere suggestion of
armistice left no open sores in the British relations with America. The
projects were unknown; the refusal seemed final to Seward and was indeed
destined to prove so. But of this there was no clear conception in the
British Cabinet. Hardly anyone yet believed that reconquest of the South
was even a remote possibility and this foretold that the day must some
time come when European recognition would have to be given the
Confederacy. It is this unanimity of opinion on the ultimate result of
the war in America that should always be kept in mind in judging the
attitude of British Government and people in the fall of 1862. Their
sympathies were of minor concern at the moment, nor were they much in
evidence during the Cabinet crisis. All argument was based upon the
expediency and wisdom of the present proposal. Could European nations
_now_ act in such a way as to bring to an early end a war whose result
in separation was inevitable? It was the hope that such action promised
good results which led Russell to enter upon his policy even though
personally his sympathies were unquestionably with the North. It was, in
the end, the conviction that _now_ was not a favourable time which
determined Palmerston, though sympathetic with the South, to withdraw
his support when Russell, through pique, insisted on going on. Moreover
both statesmen were determined not to become involved in the war and as
the possible consequences of even the "most friendly" offers were
brought out in discussion it became clear that Great Britain's true
policy was to await a return of sanity in the contestants[844].

For America Russell's mediation plan constitutes the most dangerous
crisis in the war for the restoration of the Union. Had that plan been
adopted, no matter how friendly in intent, there is little question that
Lewis' forebodings would have been realized and war would have ensued
between England and the North. But also whatever its results in other
respects the independence of the South would have been established.
Slavery, hated of Great Britain, would have received a new lease of
life--and by British action. In the Cabinet argument all parties agreed
that Lincoln's emancipation proclamation was but an incitement to
servile war and it played no part in the final decision. Soon that
proclamation was to erect a positive barrier of public opinion against
any future efforts to secure British intervention. Never again was there
serious governmental consideration of meddling in the American Civil


[Footnote 734: Motley, _Correspondence_, II, 71. To his mother, March
16, 1862.]

[Footnote 735: _Ibid._, p. 81. Aug. 18, 1862.]

[Footnote 736: _The Index_ first appeared on May 1, 1862. Nominally a
purely British weekly it was soon recognized as the mouthpiece of the

[Footnote 737: _The Index_, May 15, 29, June 19 and July 31, 1862.]

[Footnote 738: e.g., the issue of Aug. 14, 1862, contained a long report
of a banquet in Sheffield attended by Palmerston and Roebuck. In his
speech Roebuck asserted: "A divided America will be a benefit to
England." He appealed to Palmerston to consider whether the time had not
come to recognize the South. "The North will never be our friends.
(Cheers.) Of the South you can make friends. They are Englishmen; they
are not the scum and refuse of Europe. (The Mayor of Manchester: 'Don't
say that; don't say that.') (Cheers and disapprobation.) I know what I
am saying. They are Englishmen, and we must make them our friends."]

[Footnote 739: All American histories treat this incident at much
length. The historian who has most thoroughly discussed it is C.F.
Adams, with changing interpretation as new facts came to light. See his
_Life of C.F. Adams_, Ch. XV; _Studies, Military and Diplomatic_, pp.
400-412; _Trans-Atlantic Historical Solidarity_, pp. 97-106; _A Crisis
in Downing Street_, Mass. Hist. Soc. _Proceedings_, May, 1914, pp.
372-424. It will be made clear in a later chapter why Roebuck's motion
of midsummer, 1863, was unimportant in considering Ministerial policy.]

[Footnote 740: Adams, _A Crisis in Downing Street_, p. 388.]

[Footnote 741: _U.S. Messages and Documents_, 1862-3. Pt. I, pp.

[Footnote 742: Adams, _A Crisis in Downing Street_, p. 389. First
printed in Rhodes, VI, pp. 342-3, in 1899.]

[Footnote 743: _Ibid._, p. 390.]

[Footnote 744: See _ante_, p. 32.]

[Footnote 745: Russell Papers. Stuart to Russell, July 21, 1862.]

[Footnote 746: Lyons Papers. Lyons to Stuart, July 25, 1862.]

[Footnote 747: Russell Papers. Stuart to Russell, Aug. 8, 1862.
Stoeckl's own report hardly agrees with this. He wrote that the
newspapers were full of rumours of European mediation but, on
consultation with Seward, advised that any offer at present would only
make matters worse. It would be best to wait and see what the next
spring would bring forth (Russian Archives, Stoeckl to F.O., Aug. 9-21,
1862. No. 1566). Three weeks later Stoeckl was more emphatic; an offer
of mediation would accomplish nothing unless backed up by force to open
the Southern ports; this had always been Lyons' opinion also; before
leaving for England, Lyons had told him "we ought not to venture on
mediation unless we are ready to go to war." Mercier, however, was eager
for action and believed that if France came forward, supported by the
other Powers, especially Russia, the United States would be compelled to
yield. To this Stoeckl did not agree. He believed Lyons was right
(_Ibid._, Sept. 16-28, 1862. No. 1776).]

[Footnote 748: _Ibid._, Aug. 22, 1862. Sumner was Stuart's informant.]

[Footnote 749: _Ibid._, Sept. 26, 1862. When issued on September 22,
Stuart found no "humanity" in it. "It is cold, vindictive and entirely

[Footnote 750: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, Aug. 24, 1862.]

[Footnote 751: The ignorance of other Cabinet members is shown by a
letter from Argyll to Gladstone, September 2, 1862, stating as if an
accepted conclusion, that there should be no interference and that the
war should be allowed to reach its "natural issue" (Gladstone Papers).]

[Footnote 752: Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell. Sept. 18, 1862, fixes
the date of Russell's letter.]

[Footnote 753: Palmerston MS.]

[Footnote 754: Walpole, _Russell_, II, p. 360.]

[Footnote 755: _Ibid._, p. 361. Sept. 17, 1862.]

[Footnote 756: Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell, Sept. 18, 1862. This
is the first reference by Cowley in over three months to
mediation--evidence that Russell's instructions took him by surprise.]

[Footnote 757: Gladstone Papers.]

[Footnote 758: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, Sept. 22, 1862.]

[Footnote 759: Russell Papers.]

[Footnote 760: Walpole, _Russell_, II, p. 362. Sept. 23, 1862.]

[Footnote 761: Lyons Papers.]

[Footnote 762: Lyons Papers. Stuart to Lyons, Sept. 23, 1862.]

[Footnote 763: Morley, _Gladstone_, II, p. 76.]

[Footnote 764: See _ante_, p. 40.]

[Footnote 765: Adams, _A Crisis in Dooming Street_, p. 393, giving the
exact text paraphrased by Morley.]

[Footnote 766: Fitzmaurice, _Granville_, I, pp. 442-44, gives the entire
letter. Sept. 27, 1862.]

[Footnote 767: _Ibid._, p. 442. Oct. 1, 1862. Fitzmaurice attributes
much influence to Granville in the final decision and presumes that the
Queen, also, was opposed to the plan. There is no evidence to show that
she otherwise expressed herself than as in the acquiescent suggestion to
Russell. As for Granville, his opposition, standing alone, would have
counted for little.]

[Footnote 768: Russell Papers. A brief extract from this letter is
printed in Walpole, _Russell_, II, p. 362.]

[Footnote 769: Palmerston MS.]

[Footnote 770: Brunow reported Russell's plan October 1, as, summarized,
(1) an invitation to France and Russia to join with England in offering
good services to the United States looking towards peace. (2) Much
importance attached to the adhesion of Russia. (3) Excellent chance of
success. (4) Nevertheless a possible refusal by the United States, in
which case, (5) recognition by Great Britain of the South if it seemed
likely that this could be done without giving the United States a just
ground of quarrel. Brunow commented that this would be "eventually" the
action of Great Britain, but that meanwhile circumstances might delay
it. Especially he was impressed that the Cabinet felt the political
necessity of "doing something" before Parliament reassembled (Russian
Archives, Brunow to F.O., London, Oct. 1, 1862 (N.S.). No. 1698.)
Gortchakoff promptly transmitted this to Stoeckl, together with a letter
from Brunow, dated Bristol, Oct. 1, 1862 (N.S.), in which Brunow
expressed the opinion that one object of the British Government was to
introduce at Washington a topic which would serve to accentuate the
differences that were understood to exist in Lincoln's Cabinet. (This
seems very far-fetched.) Gortchakoff's comment in sending all this to
Stoeckl was that Russia had no intention of changing her policy of
extreme friendship to the United States (_Ibid._, F.O. to Stoeckl, Oct.
3, 1862 (O.S.).)]

[Footnote 771: Thouvenel, _Le Secret de l'Empereur_, II, pp. 438-9.]

[Footnote 772: Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell, Sept. 30, 1862.]

[Footnote 773: _Ibid._, Cowley to Russell, Oct. 3, 1862.]

[Footnote 774: Even the _Edinburgh Review_ for October, 1862, discussed
recognition of the South as possibly near, though on the whole against
such action.]

[Footnote 775: Palmerston MS. Walpole makes Palmerston responsible for
the original plan and Russell acquiescent and readily agreeing to
postpone. This study reverses the roles.]

[Footnote 776: Russell Papers. Also see _ante_ p. 41. Stuart to Lyons.
The letter to Russell was of exactly the same tenor.]

[Footnote 777: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, Oct. 6, 1862.
Lyons' departure had been altered from October n to October 25.]

[Footnote 778: Morley, _Gladstone_, II, p. 79. Morley calls this
utterance a great error which was long to embarrass Gladstone, who
himself later so characterized it.]

[Footnote 779: Adams, _A Crisis in Downing Street_, p. 402.]

[Footnote 780: Bright to Sumner, October 10, 1862. Mass. Hist. Soc.
_Proceedings_, XLVI, p. 108. Bright was wholly in the dark as to a
Ministerial project. Much of this letter is devoted to the emancipation
proclamation which did not at first greatly appeal to Bright as a
wise measure.]

[Footnote 781: The _Times_, October 9 and 10, while surprised that
Gladstone and not Palmerston, was the spokesman, accepted the speech as
equivalent to a governmental pronouncement. Then the _Times_ makes no
further comment of moment until November 13. The _Morning Post_
(regarded as Palmerston's organ) reported the speech in full on October
9, but did not comment editorially until October 13, and then with much
laudation of Gladstone's northern tour but _with no mention whatever_ of
his utterances on America.]

[Footnote 782: Gladstone wrote to Russell, October 17, explaining that
he had intended no "official utterance," and pleaded that Spence, whom
he had seen in Liverpool, did not put that construction on his words
(Gladstone Papers). Russell replied, October 20. "... Still you must
allow me to say that I think you went beyond the latitude which all
speakers must be allowed when you said that Jeff Davis had made a
nation. Negotiations would seem to follow, and for that step I think the
Cabinet is not prepared. However we shall soon meet to discuss this very
topic" _(Ibid.)_]

[Footnote 783: Palmerston MS. Appended to the Memorandum were the texts
of the emancipation proclamation, Seward's circular letter of September
22, and an extract from the _National Intelligencer_ of September 26,
giving Lincoln's answer to Chicago abolitionists.]

[Footnote 784: Morley, _Gladstone_, II, 80, narrates the "tradition."
Walpole, _Twenty-five Years_, II, 57, states it as a fact. Also
_Education of Henry Adams_, pp. 136, 140. Over forty years later an
anonymous writer in the _Daily Telegraph_, Oct. 24, 1908, gave exact
details of the "instruction" to Lewis, and of those present. (Cited in
Adams, _A Crisis in Downing Street_, pp. 404-5.) C.F. Adams,
_Trans-Atlantic Historical Solidarity_, Ch. III, repeats the tradition,
but in _A Crisis in Downing Street_ he completely refutes his earlier
opinion and the entire tradition. The further narrative in this chapter,
especially the letters of Clarendon to Lewis, show that Lewis acted
solely on his own initiative.]

[Footnote 785: Anonymously, in the _Edinburgh_, for April, 1861, Lewis
had written of the Civil War in a pro-Northern sense, and appears never
to have accepted fully the theory that it was impossible to reconquer
the South.]

[Footnote 786: Cited in Adams, _A Crisis in Downing Street_, p. 407.]

[Footnote 787: Derby, in conversation with Clarendon, had characterized
Gladstone's speech as an offence against tradition and best practice.
Palmerston agreed, but added that the same objection could be made to
Lewis' speech. Maxwell, _Clarendon_, II, 267. Palmerston to Clarendon,
Oct. 20, 1862. Clarendon wrote Lewis, Oct. 24, that he did not think
this called for any explanation by Lewis to Palmerston, further proof of
the falsity of Palmerston's initiative. _Ibid._, p. 267.]

[Footnote 788: _The Index_, Oct. 16, 1862, warned against acceptance of
Gladstone's Newcastle utterances as indicating Government policy,
asserted that the bulk of English opinion was with him, but ignorantly
interpreted Cabinet hesitation to the "favour of the North and bitter
enmity to the South, which has animated the diplomatic career of Lord
Russell...." Throughout the war, Russell, to _The Index_, was the evil
genius of the Government.]

[Footnote 789: Palmerston MS.]

[Footnote 790: Maxwell, _Clarendon_, II, 279.]

[Footnote 791: Palmerston MS.]

[Footnote 792: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1863. _Commons_, Vol. I XII.
"Correspondence relating to the Civil War in the United States of North
America." Nos. 33 and 37. Two reports received Oct. 13 and 18, 1862.
Anderson's mission was to report on the alleged drafting of British
subjects into the Northern Army.]

[Footnote 793: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, Oct. 18, 1862.]

[Footnote 794: Russell Papers. Clarendon to Russell, Oct. 19, 1862.]

[Footnote 795: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, Oct. 20, 1862.]

[Footnote 796: Russell Papers. It is significant that Palmerston's
organ, the _Morning Post_, after a long silence came out on Oct. 21 with
a sharp attack on Gladstone for his presumption. Lewis was also
reflected upon, but less severely.]

[Footnote 797: Maxwell, _Clarendon_, II, 265.]

[Footnote 798: _U.S. Messages and Documents_, 1862-3, Pt. I, p. 223.
Adams to Seward, Oct. 24, 1862. C. F. Adams in _A Crisis in Downing
Street_, p. 417, makes Russell state that the Government's intention was
"to adhere to the rule of perfect neutrality"--seemingly a more positive
assurance, and so understood by the American Minister.]

[Footnote 799: _The Index_, Oct. 23, 1862. "... while our people are
starving, our commerce interrupted, our industry paralysed, our Ministry
have no plan, no idea, no intention to do anything but fold their hands,
talk of strict neutrality, spare the excited feelings of the North, and
wait, like Mr. Micawber, for something to turn up."]

[Footnote 800: Russell Papers. To Russell.]

[Footnote 801: _Ibid._, To Russell, Oct. 24, 1862.]

[Footnote 802: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, Oct. 24, 1862.]

[Footnote 803: Palmerston MS. Marked: "Printed Oct. 24, 1862."]

[Footnote 804: Morley, _Gladstone_, II, 84. Morley was the first to make
clear that no final decision was reached on October 23, a date hitherto
accepted as the end of the Cabinet crisis. Rhodes, IV, 337-348, gives a
résumé of talk and correspondence on mediation, etc., and places October
23 as the date when "the policy of non-intervention was informally
agreed upon" (p. 343), Russell's "change of opinion" being also
"complete" (p. 342). Curiously the dictum of Rhodes and others depends
in some degree on a mistake in copying a date. Slidell had an important
interview with Napoleon on October 28 bearing on an armistice, but this
was copied as October 22 in Bigelow's _France and the Confederate Navy_,
p. 126, and so came to be written into narratives of mediation
proposals. Richardson, II, 345, gives the correct date. Rhodes'
supposition that Seward's instructions of August 2 became known to
Russell and were the determining factor in altering his intentions is
evidently erroneous.]

[Footnote 805: Maxwell, _Clarendon_, II, 265.]

[Footnote 806: _Ibid._, p. 266.]

[Footnote 807: Russell Papers. Palmerston to Russell, Oct. 24, 1862.
Palmerston was here writing of Italian and American affairs.]

[Footnote 808: Palmerston MS. Oct. 25, 1862.]

[Footnote 809: Russell Papers. To Russell.]

[Footnote 810: F.O., France, Vol. 1446. Cowley to Russell, Oct. 28,
1862. Cowley, like Lyons, was against action. He approved Drouyn de
Lhuys' "hesitation." It appears from the Russian archives that France
approached Russia. On October 31, D'Oubril, at Paris, was instructed
that while Russia had always been anxious to forward peace in America,
she stood in peculiarly friendly relations with the United States, and
was against any appearance of pressure. It would have the contrary
effect from that hoped for. If England and France should offer mediation
Russia, "being too far away," would not join, but might give her moral
support. (Russian Archives, F.O. to D'Oubril, Oct. 27, 1862 (O.S.). No.
320.) On the same date Stoeckl was informed of the French overtures, and
was instructed not to take a stand with France and Great Britain, but to
limit his efforts to approval of any _agreement_ by the North and South
to end the war. Yet Stoeckl was given liberty of action if (as
Gortchakoff did not believe) the time had assuredly come when both North
and South were ready for peace, and it needed but the influence of some
friendly hand to soothe raging passions and to lead the contending
parties themselves to begin direct negotiations (_Ibid._, F.O. to
Stoeckl, Oct. 27, 1862 (O.S.).)]

[Footnote 811: Mason Papers. Slidell to Mason, Oct. 29, 1862. Slidell's
full report to Benjamin is in Richardson, II, 345.]

[Footnote 812: F.O., France, Vol. 1446, No. 1236. Cowley thought neither
party would consent unless it saw some military advantage. (Russell
Papers. Cowley to Russell, Oct. 31, 1862.) Morley, _Gladstone_, II,
84-5, speaks of the French offer as "renewed proposals of mediation."
There was no renewal for this was the _first_ proposal, and it was not
one of mediation though that was an implied result.]

[Footnote 813: Russell Papers, Nov. 2, 1862. Monday, November 1862, was
the 10th not the 11th as Palmerston wrote.]

[Footnote 814: Palmerston MS. Nov. 3, 1862.]

[Footnote 815: Gladstone Papers. The memorandum here preserved has the
additional interest of frequent marginal comments by Gladstone.]

[Footnote 816: The letters of "Historicus" early attracted, in the case
of the _Trent_, favourable attention and respect. As early as 1863 they
were put out in book form to satisfy a public demand: _Letters by
Historicus on some questions of International Law_, London, 1863.]

[Footnote 817: The _Times_, Nov. 7, 1862. The letter was dated Nov. 4.]

[Footnote 818: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1863, Lords, Vol. XXIX. "Despatch
respecting the Civil War in North America." Russell to Cowley, Nov.
13, 1862.]

[Footnote 819: For substance of the Russian answer to France see _ante_,
p. 59, _note_ 4. D'Oubril reported Drouyn de Lhuys as unconvinced that
the time was inopportune but as stating he had not expected Russia to
join. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs was irritated at an article
on his overtures that had appeared in the _Journal de Petersbourg_, and
thought himself unfairly treated by the Russian Government. (Russian
Archives. D'Oubril to F.O., Nov. 15, 1862 (N.S.), Nos. 1908 and 1912.)]

[Footnote 820: Maxwell, _Clarendon_, II, 268. The letter, as printed, is
dated Nov. 11, and speaks of the Cabinet of "yesterday." This appears to
be an error. Gladstone's account is of a two-days' discussion on Nov. 11
and 12, with the decision reached and draft of reply to France outlined
on the latter date. The article in the _Times_, referred to by Lewis,
appeared on Nov. 13.]

[Footnote 821: Morley, _Gladstone_, II, 85.]

[Footnote 822: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1863, _Lords_, Vol. XXIX.
"Despatch respecting the Civil War in North America." Russell to Cowley,
Nov. 13, 1862.]

[Footnote 823: F.O., Russia, Vol. 609, No. 407. Napier to Russell. The
same day Napier wrote giving an account of an interview between the
French Minister and Prince Gortchakoff in which the latter stated Russia
would take no chances of offending the North. _Ibid._, No. 408.]

[Footnote 824: Morley, _Gladstone_, II ,85. To his wife, Nov. 13, 1862.
Even after the answer to France there was some agitation in the Ministry
due to the receipt from Stuart of a letter dated Oct. 31, in which it
was urged that this was the most opportune moment for mediation because
of Democratic successes in the elections. He enclosed also an account of
a "horrible military reprisal" by the Federals in Missouri alleging that
_ten_ Southerners had been executed because of _one_ Northerner seized
by Southern guerillas. (Russell Papers.) The Russell Papers contain a
series of signed or initialled notes in comment, all dated Nov. 14. "W."
(Westbury?) refers to the "horrible atrocities," and urges that, if
Russia will join, the French offer should be accepted. Gladstone wrote,
"I had supposed the question to be closed." "C.W." (Charles Wood), "This
is horrible; but does not change my opinion of the course to be
pursued." "C.P.V." (C.P. Villiers) wrote against accepting the French
proposal, and commented that Stuart had always been a strong partisan of
the South.]

[Footnote 825: Lyons Papers. Hammond to Lyons, Nov. 15, 1862.]

[Footnote 826: The _Times_, Nov. 15, 1862.]

[Footnote 827: The _Herald_, Nov. 14, 1862. This paper was listed by
Hotze of _The Index_, as on his "pay roll." Someone evidently was trying
to earn his salary.]

[Footnote 828: Nov. 15, 1862. It is difficult to reconcile Russell's
editorials either with his later protestations of early conviction that
the North would win or with the belief expressed by Americans that he
was _constantly_ pro-Northern in sentiment, e.g., Henry Adams, in _A
Cycle of Adams' Letters_, I, 14l.]

[Footnote 829: _The Index_, Nov. 20, 1862, p. 56.]

[Footnote 830: _Ibid._, Jan. 15, 1863, p. 191.]

[Footnote 831: _Ibid._, Jan. 22, 1863, p. 201.]

[Footnote 832: _Ibid._, May 28, 1863, p. 72.]

[Footnote 833: Mason Papers. To Mason, Nov. 28, 1862.]

[Footnote 834: Pickett Papers. Slidell to Benjamin, Nov. 29, 1862. This
despatch is not in Richardson, _Messages and Papers of the Confederacy_,
and illustrates the gaps in that publication.]

[Footnote 835: Rhodes, IV, 347. Bright to Sumner, Dec. 6, 1862.]

[Footnote 836: Goldwin Smith told of this plan in 1904, in a speech at a
banquet in Ottawa. He had destroyed Gladstone's letter outlining it.
_The Ottawa Sun_, Nov. 16, 1904.]

[Footnote 837: Almost immediately after Lyons' return to Washington,
Stoeckl learned from him, and from Mercier, also, that England and
France planned to offer mediation and that if this were refused the
South would be recognized. Stoeckl commented to the Foreign Office:
"What good will this do?" It would not procure cotton unless the ports
were forced open and a clear rupture made with the North. He thought
England understood this, and still hesitated. Stoeckl went on to urge
that if all European Powers joined England and France they would be
merely tails to the kite and that Russia would be one of the tails. This
would weaken the Russian position in Europe as well as forfeit her
special relationship with the United States. He was against any _joint_
European action. (Russian Archives, Stoeckl to F.O., Nov. 5-17, 1862,
No. 2002.) Gortchakoff wrote on the margin of this despatch: "Je trouve
son opinion très sage." If Stoeckl understood Lyons correctly then the
latter had left England still believing that his arguments with Russell
had been of no effect. When the news reached Washington of England's
refusal of the French offer, Stoeckl reported Lyons as much surprised
(_Ibid._, to F.O., Nov. 19-Dec. 1, 1862, No. 2170).]

[Footnote 838: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1832, _Commons_, Vol. LXXII,
"Correspondence relating to the Civil War in the United States of North
America." Nos. 47 and 50. Received Nov. 30 and Dec. 11. Mercier, who had
been Stuart's informant about political conditions in New York, felt
that he had been deceived by the Democrats. F.O., Am., Vol. 784, No. 38.
Confidential, Lyons to Russell, Jan. 13, 1863.]

[Footnote 839: F.O., Am., Vol. 840, No. 518. Moore (Richmond) to Lyons,
Dec. 4, 1862. Also F.O., Am., Vol. 844, No. 135. Bunch (Charleston) to
Russell, Dec. 13, 1862. Bunch wrote of the "Constitutional hatred and
jealousy of England, which are as strongly developed here as at the
North. Indeed, our known antipathy to Slavery adds another element to
Southern dislike."]

[Footnote 840: Bigelow, _Retrospections_, I, 579, Dec. 2, 1862. Bigelow
was Consul-General at Paris, and was the most active of the Northern
confidential agents abroad. A journalist himself, he had close contacts
with the foreign press. It is interesting that he reported the
Continental press as largely dependent for its American news and
judgments upon the British press which specialized in that field, so
that Continental tone was but a reflection of the British tone. _Ibid._,
p. 443. Bigelow to Seward, Jan. 7, 1862.]

[Footnote 841: Lyons placed a high estimate on Adams' abilities. He
wrote: "Mr. Adams shows more calmness and good sense than any of the
American Ministers abroad." (Russell Papers. To Russell, Dec.
12, 1862.)]

[Footnote 842: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, Dec. 22. 1862.]

[Footnote 843: Lyons Papers. Russell to Lyons, Jan. 3, 1863.]

[Footnote 844: December 1, Brunow related an interview in which Russell
expressed his "satisfaction" that England and Russia were in agreement
that the moment was not opportune for a joint offer to the United
States. Russell also stated that it was unfortunate France had pressed
her proposal without a preliminary confidential sounding and
understanding between the Powers; the British Government saw no reason
for changing its attitude. (Russian Archives. Brunow to F.O., Dec. 1,
1862 (N.S.), No. 1998.) There is no evidence in the despatch that Brunow
knew of Russell's preliminary "soundings" of France.]

[Footnote 845: Various writers have treated Roebuck's motion in 1863 as
the "crisis" of intervention. In Chapter XIV the error of this will
be shown.]



The finality of the British Cabinet decision in November, 1862, relative
to proposals of mediation or intervention was not accepted at the moment
though time was to prove its permanence. The British press was full of
suggestions that the first trial might more gracefully come from France
since that country was presumed to be on more friendly terms with the
United States[846]. Others, notably Slidell at Paris, held the same
view, and on January 8, 1863, Slidell addressed a memorandum to Napoleon
III, asking separate recognition of the South. The next day, Napoleon
dictated an instruction to Mercier offering friendly mediation in
courteous terms but with no hint of an armistice or of an intended
recognition of the South[847]. Meanwhile, Mercier had again approached
Lyons alleging that he had been urged by Greeley, editor of the _New
York Tribune_, to make an isolated French offer, but that he felt this
would be contrary to the close harmony hitherto maintained in
French-British relations. But Mercier added that if Lyons was
disinclined to a proposal of mediation, he intended to advise his
Government to give him authority to act alone[848]. Lyons made no
comment to Mercier but wrote to Russell, "I certainly desire that the
Settlement of the Contest should be made without the intervention
of England."

A week later the Russian Minister, Stoeckl, also came to Lyons desiring
to discover what would be England's attitude if Russia should act alone,
or perhaps with France, leaving England out of a proposal to the
North[849]. This was based on the supposition that the North, weary of
war, might ask the good offices of Russia. Lyons replied that he did not
think that contingency near and otherwise evaded Stoeckl's questions;
but he was somewhat suspicious, concluding his report, "I cannot quite
forget that Monsieur Mercier and Monsieur de Stoeckl had agreed to go to
Richmond together last Spring[850]." The day after this despatch was
written Mercier presented, February 3, the isolated French offer and on
February 6 received Seward's reply couched in argumentative, yet polite
language, but positively declining the proposal[851]. Evidently Lyons
was a bit disquieted by the incident; but in London, Napoleon's overture
to America was officially stated to be unobjectionable, as indeed was
required by the implications of the reply of November 13, to France.
Russell, on February 14, answered Lyons' communications in a letter
marked "Seen by Lord Palmerston and the Queen":

     "Her Majesty's Government have no wish to interfere at
     present in any way in the Civil War. If France were to offer
     good offices or mediation, Her Majesty's Government would
     feel no jealousy or repugnance to such a course on the part
     of France alone[852]."

The writing of this despatch antedated the knowledge that France had
already acted at Washington, and does not necessarily indicate any
governmental feeling of a break in previous close relations with France
on the American question. Yet this was indubitably the case and became
increasingly evident as time passed. Russell's despatch to Lyons of
February 14 appears rather to be evidence of the effect of the debates
in Parliament when its sessions were resumed on February 5, for in both
Lords and Commons there was given a hearty and nearly unanimous support
of the Government's decision to make no overture for a cessation of the
conflict in America. Derby clearly outlined the two possible conditions
of mediation; first, when efforts by the North to subdue the South had
practically ceased; and second, if humane interests required action by
neutral states, in which case the intervening parties must be fully
prepared to use force. Neither condition had arrived and strict
neutrality was the wise course. Disraeli also approved strict neutrality
but caustically referred to Gladstone's Newcastle speech and sharply
attacked the Cabinet's uncertain and changeable policy--merely a party
speech. Russell upheld the Government's decision but went out of his way
to assert that the entire subjugation of the South would be a calamity
to the United States itself, since it would require an unending use of
force to hold the South in submission[853]. Later, when news of the
French offer at Washington had been received, the Government was
attacked in the Lords by an undaunted friend of the South, Lord
Campbell, on the ground of a British divergence from close relations
with France. Russell, in a brief reply, reasserted old arguments that
the time had "not yet" come, but now declared that events seemed to show
the possibility of a complete Northern victory and added with emphasis
that recognition of the South could justly be regarded by the North as
an "unfriendly act[854]."

Thus Parliament and Cabinet were united against meddling in America,
basing this attitude on neutral duty and national interests, and with
barely a reference to the new policy of the North toward slavery,
declared in the emancipation proclamations of September 22, 1862, and
January 1, 1863, Had these great documents then no favourable influence
on British opinion and action? Was the Northern determination to root
out the institution of slavery, now clearly announced, of no effect in
winning the favour of a people and Government long committed to a world
policy against that institution? It is here necessary to review early
British opinion, the facts preceding the first emancipation
proclamation, and to examine its purpose in the mind of Lincoln.

Before the opening of actual military operations, while there was still
hope of some peaceful solution, British opinion had been with the North
on the alleged ground of sympathy with a free as against a slave-owning
society. But war once begun the disturbance to British trade interests
and Lincoln's repeated declarations that the North had no intention of
destroying slavery combined to offer an excuse and a reason for an
almost complete shift of British opinion. The abolitionists of the North
and the extreme anti-slavery friends in England, relatively few in
number in both countries, still sounded the note of "slavery the cause
of the war," but got little hearing. Nevertheless it was seen by
thoughtful minds that slavery was certain to have a distinct bearing on
the position of Great Britain when the war was concluded. In May, 1861,
Palmerston declared that it would be a happy day when "we could succeed
in putting an end to this unnatural war between the two sections of our
North American cousins," but added that the difficulty for England was
that "_We_ could not well mix ourselves up with the acknowledgment of

Great Britain's long-asserted abhorrence of slavery caused, indeed, a
perplexity in governmental attitude. But this looked to the final
outcome of an independent South--an outcome long taken for granted.
Debate on the existing moralities of the war very soon largely
disappeared from British discussion and in its place there cropped out,
here and there, expressions indicative of anxiety as to whether the war
could long continue without a "servile insurrection," with all its
attendant horrors.

On July 6, 1861, the _Economist_, reviewing the progress of the war
preparations to date, asserted that it was universally agreed no
restoration of the Union was possible and answered British fears by
declaring it was impossible to believe that even the American madness
could contemplate a servile insurrection. The friendly _Spectator_ also
discussed the matter and repeatedly. It was a mistaken idea, said this
journal, that there could be no enfranchisement without a slave rising,
but should this occur, "the right of the slave to regain his freedom,
even if the effort involve slaughter, is as clear as any other
application of the right of self-defence[856]." Yet English
abolitionists should not urge the slave to act for himself, since "as
war goes on and all compromise fails the American mind will harden under
the white heat and determine that the _cause_ of all conflict must
cease." That slavery, in spite of any declaration by Lincoln or Northern
denial of a purpose to attack it--denials which disgusted Harriet
Martineau--was in real fact the basic cause of the war, seemed to her as
clear as anything in reason[857]. She had no patience with English
anti-slavery people who believed Northern protestations, and she did
not express concern over the horrors of a possible servile insurrection.
Nevertheless this spectre was constantly appearing. Again the
_Spectator_ sought to allay such fears; but yet again also proclaimed
that even such a contingency was less fearful than the consolidation of
the slave-power in the South[858].

Thus a servile insurrection was early and frequently an argument which
pro-Northern friends were compelled to meet. In truth the bulk of the
British press was constant in holding up this bogie to its readers, even
going to the point of weakening its argument of the impossibility of a
Northern conquest of the South by appealing to history to show that
England in her two wars with America had had a comparatively easy time
in the South, thus postulating the real danger of some "negro Garibaldi
calling his countrymen to arms[859]." Nor was this fear merely a
pretended one. It affected all classes and partisans of both sides. Even
official England shared in it; January 20, 1862, Lyons wrote, "The
question is rapidly tending towards the issue either of peace and a
recognition of the separation, or a Proclamation of Emancipation and the
raising of a servile insurrection[860]." At nearly the same time
Russell, returning to Gladstone a letter from Sumner to Cobden,
expressed his sorrow "that the President intends a war of emancipation,
meaning thereby, I fear, a war of greater desolation than has been since
the revival of letters[861]." John Stuart Mill, with that clear logic
which appealed to the more intelligent reader, in an able examination of
the underlying causes and probable results of the American conflict,
excused the Northern leaders for early denial of a purpose to attack
slavery, but expressed complete confidence that even these leaders by
now understood the "almost certain results of success in the present
conflict" (the extinction of slavery) and prophesied that "if the
writers who so severely criticize the present moderation of the
Free-soilers are desirous to see the war become an abolition war, it is
probable that if the war lasts long enough they will be gratified[862]."
John Bright, reaching a wider public, in speech after speech, expressed
faith that the people of the North were "marching on, as I believe, to
its [slavery's] entire abolition[863]."

Pro-Southern Englishmen pictured the horrors of an "abolition war," and
believed the picture true; strict neutrals, like Lyons, feared the same
development; friends of the North pushed aside the thought of a "negro
terror," yet even while hoping and declaring that the war would destroy
slavery, could not escape from apprehensions of an event that appeared
inevitable. Everywhere, to the British mind, it seemed that emancipation
was necessarily a provocative to servile insurrection, and this belief
largely affected the reception of the emancipation proclamation--a fact
almost wholly lost sight of in historical writing.

Nor did the steps taken in America leading up to emancipation weaken
this belief--rather they appeared to justify it. The great advocate of
abolition as a weapon in the war and for its own sake was Charles
Sumner, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He early
took the ground that a proclamation everywhere emancipating the slaves
would give to the Northern cause a moral support hitherto denied it in
Europe and would at the same time strike a blow at Southern resistance.
This idea was presented in a public speech at Worcester, Massachusetts,
in October, 1861, but even Sumner's free-soil friends thought him
mistaken and his expressions "unfortunate." By December, however, he
found at Washington a change in governmental temper and from that date
Sumner was constant, through frequent private conversations with
Lincoln, in pressing for action. These ideas and his personal activities
for their realization were well known to English friends, as in his
letters to Cobden and Bright, and to the English public in general
through Sumner's speeches, for Sumner had long been a well-known figure
in the British press[864].

Lincoln, never an "Abolitionist," in spite of his famous utterance in
the 'fifties that the United States could not indefinitely continue to
exist "half-slave and half-free," had, in 1861, disapproved and recalled
the orders of some of the military leaders, like Fremont, who without
authority had sought to extend emancipation to slaves within the lines
of their command. But as early as anyone he had foreseen the gradual
emergence of emancipation as a war problem, at first dangerous to that
wise "border state policy" which had prevented the more northern of the
slave states from seceding. His first duty was to restore the Union and
to that he gave all his energy, yet that emancipation, when the time was
ripe, was also in Lincoln's mind is evident from the gradual approach
through legislation and administrative act. In February, 1862, a Bill
was under discussion in Congress, called the "Confiscation Bill," which,
among other clauses, provided that all slaves of persons engaged in
rebellion against the United States, who should by escape, or capture,
come into the possession of the military forces of the United States,
should be for ever free; but that this provision should not be operative
until the expiration of sixty days, thus giving slave-owners opportunity
to cease their rebellion and retain their slaves[865]. This measure did
not at first have Lincoln's approval for he feared its effect on the
loyalists of the border states. Nevertheless he realized the growing
strength of anti-slavery sentiment in the war and fully sympathized with
it where actual realization did not conflict with the one great object
of his administration. Hence in March, 1862, he heartily concurred in a
measure passed rapidly to Presidential approval, April 16, freeing the
slaves in the District of Columbia, a territory where there was no
question of the constitutional power of the national Government.

From February, 1862, until the issue of the first emancipation
proclamation in September, there was, in truth, a genuine conflict
between Congress and President as to methods and extent of emancipation.
Congress was in a mood to punish the South; Lincoln, looking steadily
toward re-union, yet realizing the rising strength of anti-slavery in
the North, advocated a gradual, voluntary, and compensated emancipation.
Neither party spoke the word "servile insurrection," yet both realized
its possibility, and Seward, in foreign affairs, was quick to see and
use it as a threat. A brief summary of measures will indicate the
contest. March 6, Lincoln sent a message to Congress recommending that a
joint resolution be passed pledging the pecuniary aid of the national
Government to any state voluntarily emancipating its slaves, his avowed
purpose being to secure early action by the loyal border states in the
hope that this might influence the Southern states[866]. Neither the
House of Representatives nor the Senate were really favourable to this
resolution and the border states bitterly opposed it in debate, but it
passed by substantial majorities in both branches and was approved by
Lincoln on April 10. In effect the extreme radical element in Congress
had yielded, momentarily, to the President's insistence on an
olive-branch offering of compensated emancipation. Both as regards the
border states and looking to the restoration of the Union, Lincoln was
determined to give this line of policy a trial. The prevailing
sentiment of Congress, however, preferred the punitive Confiscation

At this juncture General Hunter, in command of the "Department of the
South," which theoretically included also the States of South Carolina,
Georgia and Florida, issued an order declaring the slaves in these
states free. This was May 9, 1862. Lincoln immediately countermanded
Hunter's order, stating that such action "under my responsibility, I
reserve to myself[867]." He renewed, in this same proclamation, earnest
appeals to the border states, to embrace the opportunity offered by the
Congressional resolution of April 10. In truth, border state attitude
was the test of the feasibility of Lincoln's hoped-for voluntary
emancipation, but these states were unwilling to accept the plan.
Meanwhile pressure was being exerted for action on the Confiscation
Bill; it was pushed through Congress and presented to Lincoln for his
signature or veto. He signed it on July 12, _but did not notify that
fact to Congress until July 17._ On this same day of signature, July 12,
Lincoln sent to Congress a proposal of an Act to give pecuniary aid in
voluntary state emancipation and held a conference with the
congressional representatives of the border states seeking their
definite approval of his policy. A minority agreed but the majority were
emphatically against him. The Confiscation Bill would not affect the
border states; they were not in rebellion. And they did not desire to
free the slaves even if compensated[868].

Thus Lincoln, by the stubbornness of the border states, was forced
toward the Congressional point of view as expressed in the Confiscation
Bill. On the day following his failure to win the border state
representatives he told Seward and Welles who were driving with him,
that he had come to the conclusion that the time was near for the issue
of a proclamation of emancipation as a military measure fully within the
competence of the President. This was on July 13[869]. Seward offered a
few objections but apparently neither Cabinet official did more than
listen to Lincoln's argument of military necessity. Congress adjourned
on July 17. On July 22, the President read to the Cabinet a draft of an
emancipation proclamation the text of the first paragraph of which
referred to the Confiscation Act and declared that this would be
rigorously executed unless rebellious subjects returned to their
allegiance. But the remainder of the draft reasserted the ideal of a
gradual and compensated emancipation and concluded with the warning that
for states still in rebellion on January 1, 1863, a general emancipation
of slaves would be proclaimed[870]. All of the Cabinet approved except
Blair who expressed fears of the effect on the approaching November
elections, and Seward who, while professing sympathy with the indicated
purpose, argued that the time was badly chosen in view of recent
military disasters and the approach of Lee's army toward Washington. The
measure, Seward said, might "be viewed as the last measure of an
exhausted government, a cry for help; the government stretching forth
its hands to Ethiopia, instead of Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to
the government. It will be considered our last _shriek_ on the retreat."
He therefore urged postponement until after a Northern victory. This
appealed to Lincoln and he "put the draft of the proclamation aside,
waiting for victory[871]."

Victory came in September, with McClellan's defeat of Lee at Antietam,
and the retreat of the Southern army toward Richmond. Five days later,
September 22, Lincoln issued the proclamation, expanded and altered in
text from the draft of July 22, but in substance the same[872]. The
loyal border states were not to be affected, but the proclamation
renewed the promise of steps to be taken to persuade them to voluntary
action. On January 1, 1863, a second proclamation, referring to that of
September 22, was issued by Lincoln "by virtue of the power in me vested
as commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States in time
of actual armed rebellion against the authority and Government of the
United States...." The states affected were designated by name and all
persons held as slaves within them "are, and henceforward shall be,
free...." "I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to
abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence...." "And
upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by
the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate
judgment of mankind, and the gracious favour of Almighty God[873]."

Such were the steps, from December, 1861, when the radical Sumner began
his pressure for action, to September, 1862, when Lincoln's pledge of
emancipation was made. Did these steps indicate, as British opinion
unquestionably held, an intention to rouse a servile insurrection? Was
the Confiscation Bill passed with that purpose in view and had Lincoln
decided to carry it into effect? The failure of the slaves to rise is,
indeed, the great marvel of the Civil War and was so regarded not in
England only, but in America also. It was the expectation of the North
and the constant fear of the South. But was this, in truth, the
_purpose_ of the emancipation proclamation?

This purpose has been somewhat summarily treated by American
historians, largely because of lack of specific evidence as to motives
at the time of issue. Two words "military necessity" are made to cover
nearly the entire argument for emancipation in September, 1862, but in
just what manner the military prowess of the North was to be increased
was not at first indicated. In 1864, Lincoln declared that after the
failure of successive efforts to persuade the border states to accept
compensated emancipation he had believed there had arrived the
"indispensable necessity for military emancipation and arming the
blacks[874]." Repeatedly in later defence of the proclamation he urged
the benefits that had come from his act and asserted that commanders in
the field "believe the emancipation policy and the use of coloured
troops constitute the heaviest blow yet dealt to the rebellion[875]." He
added: "negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do
anything for us, if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their
lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive, even the
promise of freedom."

There is no note here of stirring a servile insurrection; nor did
Lincoln ever acknowledge that such a purpose had been in his mind,
though the thought of such possible result must have been present--was,
indeed, present to most minds even without a proclamation of
emancipation. Lincoln's alleged purpose was simply to draw away slaves,
wherever possible, from their rebellious masters, thus reducing the
economic powers of resistance of the South, and then to make these
ex-slaves directly useful in winning the war. But after the war, even
here and there during it, a theory was advanced that an impelling motive
with the President had been the hope of influencing favourably foreign
governments and peoples by stamping the Northern cause with a high moral
purpose. In popular opinion, Lincoln came to be regarded as a
far-visioned statesman in anticipating that which ultimately came to
pass. This has important bearing on the relations of the United States
and Great Britain.

There is no doubt that nearly every Northern American had believed in
1860, that anti-slavery England would sympathize strongly with the
North. The event did not prove this to be the case, nor could the North
justly complain in the face of administration denials of an anti-slavery
purpose. The English Government therefore was widely upheld by British
opinion in regarding the struggle from the point of view of British
interests. Yet any Northern step antagonistic to the institution of
slavery compelled British governmental consideration. As early as
December, 1860, before the war began, Bunch, at Charleston, had reported
a conversation with Rhett, in which the latter frankly declared that the
South would expect to revive the African Slave Trade[876]. This was
limited in the constitution later adopted by the Confederacy which in
substance left the matter to the individual states--a condition that
Southern agents in England found it hard to explain[877]. As already
noted, the ardent friends of the North continued to insist, even after
Lincoln's denial, that slavery was the real cause of the American
rupture[878]. By September, 1861, John Bright was writing to his friend
Sumner that, all indications to the contrary, England would warmly
support the North if only it could be shown that emancipation was an
object[879]. Again and again he urged, it is interesting to note, just
those ideals of gradual and compensated emancipation which were so
strongly held by Lincoln. In this same month the _Spectator_ thought it
was "idle to strive to ignore the very centre and spring of all
disunion," and advised a "prudent audacity in striking at the cause
rather than at the effect[880]." Three weeks later the _Spectator_,
reviewing general British press comments, summed them up as follows:

     "If you make it a war of emancipation we shall think you
     madmen, and tell you so, though the ignorant instincts of
     Englishmen will support you. And if you follow our counsel in
     holding a tight rein on the Abolitionists, we shall applaud
     your worldly wisdom so far; but shall deem it our duty to set
     forth continually that you have forfeited all claim to the
     _popular_ sympathy of England."

This, said the _Spectator_, had been stated in the most objectionable
style by the _Times_ in particular, which, editorially, had alleged that
"the North has now lost the chance of establishing a high moral
superiority by a declaration against slavery." To all this the
_Spectator_ declared that the North must adopt the bold course and make
clear that restoration of the Union was not intended with the old canker
at its roots[881].

Official England held a different view. Russell believed that the
separation of North and South would conduce to the extinction of slavery
since the South, left to itself and fronted by a great and prosperous
free North, with a population united in ideals, would be forced,
ultimately, to abandon its "special system." He professed that he could
not understand Mrs. Stowe's support of the war and thought she and
Sumner "animated by a spirit of vengeance[882]." If the South did yield
and the Union were restored _with_ slavery, Russell thought that
"Slavery would prevail all over the New World. For that reason I wish
for separation[883]." These views were repeated frequently by Russell.
He long had a fixed idea on the moral value of separation, but was
careful to state, "I give you these views merely as speculations," and
it is worthy of note that after midsummer of 1862 he rarely indulged in
them. Against such speculations, whether by Russell or by others, Mill
protested in his famous article in _Fraser's_, February, 1862[884].

On one aspect of slavery the North was free to act and early did so.
Seward proposed to Lyons a treaty giving mutual right of search off the
African Coast and on the coasts of Cuba for the suppression of the
African Slave Trade. Such a treaty had long been urged by Great Britain
but persistently refused by the United States. It could not well be
declined now by the British Government and was signed by Seward, April
8, 1862[885], but if he expected any change in British attitude as a
result he was disappointed. The renewal by the South of that trade might
be a barrier to British goodwill, but the action of the North was viewed
as but a weak attempt to secure British sympathy, and to mark the limits
of Northern anti-slavery efforts. Indeed, the Government was not eager
for the treaty on other grounds, since the Admiralty had never "felt any
interest in the suppression of the slave trade ... whatever they have
done ... they have done grudgingly and imperfectly[886]."

This was written at the exact period when Palmerston and Russell were
initiating those steps which were to result in the Cabinet crisis on
mediation in October-November, 1862. Certainly the Slave Trade treaty
with America had not influenced governmental attitude. At this juncture
there was founded, November, 1862, the London Emancipation Society, with
the avowed object of stirring anti-slavery Englishmen in protest against
"favouring the South." But George Thompson, its organizer, had been
engaged in the preliminary work of organization for some months and the
Society is therefore to be regarded as an expression of that small group
who were persistent and determined in assertion of slavery as the cause
and object of the Civil War, before the issue of Lincoln's
proclamation[887]. Thus for England as a whole and for official England
the declarations of these few voices were regarded as expressive of a
wish rather than as consistent with the facts. The moral uplift of an
anti-slavery object was denied to the North.

This being so did Lincoln seek to correct the foreign view by the
emancipation proclamation? There is some, but scant ground for so
believing. It is true that this aspect had at various times, though
rarely, been presented to the President. Carl Schurz, American Minister
at Madrid, wrote to Seward as early as September 14, 1861, strongly
urging the declaration of an anti-slavery purpose in the war and
asserting that public opinion in Europe would then be such in favour of
the North that no government would "dare to place itself, by declaration
or act, upon the side of a universally condemned institution[888]."
There is no evidence that Seward showed this despatch to Lincoln, but in
January, 1862, Schurz returned to America and in conversation with the
President urged the "moral issue" to prevent foreign intervention. The
President replied: "You may be right. Probably you are. I have been
thinking so myself. I cannot imagine that any European power would dare
to recognize and aid the Southern Confederacy if it became clear that
the Confederacy stands for slavery and the Union for freedom[889]." No
doubt others urged upon him the same view. Indeed, one sincere foreign
friend, Count Gasparin, who had early written in favour of the
North[890], and whose opinions were widely read, produced a second work
in the spring of 1862, in which the main theme was "slavery the issue."
The author believed emancipation inevitable and urged an instant
proclamation of Northern _intention_ to free the slaves[891].
Presumably, Lincoln was familiar with this work. Meanwhile Sumner
pressed the same idea though adding the prevalent abolition arguments
which did not, necessarily, involve thought of foreign effect. On the
general question of emancipation Lincoln listened, even telling Sumner
that he "was ahead of himself only a month or six weeks[892]."

Yet after the enactment of the "confiscation bill" in July, 1862, when
strong abolitionist pressure was brought on the President to issue a
general proclamation of emancipation, he reasserted in the famous reply
to Greeley, August 22, 1862, his one single purpose to restore the Union
"with or without slavery."

     "If there be those who would not save the Union unless they
     could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree
     with them.

     "If there be those who would not save the Union unless they
     could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree
     with them.

     "_My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to
     save or to destroy slavery_[893]."

Here seemed to be specific denial of raising a moral issue; yet unknown
to the public at the moment there had already been drafted and discussed
in Cabinet the emancipation proclamation. Greeley had presented
abolitionist demands essential to cement the North. A month later,
September 13, a delegation of Chicago clergymen came to Washington, had
an audience with Lincoln, presented similar arguments, but also laid
stress on the necessity of securing the sympathy of Europe. This was but
nine days before the first proclamation was issued, but Lincoln replied
much as to Greeley, though he stated, "I will also concede that
Emancipation would help us in Europe, and convince them that we are
incited by something more than ambition[894]." Immediately after the
event, September 24, making a short speech to a serenading party,
Lincoln said, "I can only trust in God I have made no mistake.... It is
now for the country and the world to pass judgment and, maybe, take
action upon it[895]." Over a year later, December 8, 1863, in his annual
message to Congress, he noted a "much improved" tone in foreign
countries as resulting from the emancipation proclamation, but dwelt
mainly on the beneficial effects at home[896].

Evidently there is slight ground for believing Lincoln to have been
convinced that foreign relations would be improved by the proclamation.
On the contrary, if he trusted Seward's judgment he may have _feared_
the effect on Europe, for such was Seward's prophecy. Here may have lain
the true meaning of Lincoln's speech of September 24--that it was now
for "the world to pass judgment and, maybe, take action upon it." After
all foreign policy, though its main lines were subject to the
President's control, was in the hands of Seward and throughout this
entire period of six months since the introduction of the Confiscation
Bill up to Lincoln's presentation of his draft proclamation to the
Cabinet in July, Seward had been using the threat of a servile
insurrection as a deterrent upon French-British talk of intervention. At
times Seward connected servile insurrection with emancipation--at
times not.

Seward had begun his career as Secretary of State with an appeal to
Europe on lines of old friendship and had implied, though he could not
state explicitly, the "noble" cause of the North. He had been met with
what he considered a "cold" and premature as well as unjustifiable
declaration of neutrality. From the first day of the conflict Lyons and
Mercier had been constant in representing the hardships inflicted by the
American war upon the economic interests of their respective countries.
Both men bore down upon the interruption of the cotton trade and Seward
kept repeating that Northern victories would soon release the raw
cotton. He expected and promised much from the capture of New Orleans,
but the results were disappointing. As time went on Seward became
convinced that material interests alone would determine the attitude and
action of Great Britain and France. But the stored supplies were on hand
in the South, locked in by the blockade and would be available when the
war was over _provided_ the war did not take on an uncivilized and
sanguinary character through a rising of the slaves. If that occurred
cotton would be burned and destroyed and cotton supply to Europe would
be not merely a matter of temporary interruption, but one of
long-continued dearth with no certainty of early resumption. Fearing the
growth in England, especially, of an intention to intervene, Seward
threatened a Northern appeal to the slaves, thinking of the threat not
so much in terms of an uncivilized and horrible war as in terms of the
material interests of Great Britain. In brief, considering foreign
attitude and action in its relation to Northern advantage--to the
winning of the war--he would use emancipation as a threat of servile
insurrection, but did not desire emancipation itself for fear it would
cause that very intervention which it was his object to prevent.

His instructions are wholly in line with this policy. In February, 1862,
the Confiscation Bill had been introduced in Congress. In April,
Mercier's trip to Richmond[897] had caused much speculation and started
many rumours in London of plans of mediation[898]. On May 28, Seward
wrote to Adams at great length and especially emphasized two points:
first that while diplomats abroad had hitherto been interdicted from
discussing slavery as an issue in the war, they were now authorized to
state that the war was, in part at least, intended for the suppression
of slavery, and secondly, that the North if interfered with by foreign
nations would be forced to have recourse to a servile war. Such a war,
Seward argued, would be "completely destructive of all European
interests[899]...." A copy of this instruction Adams gave to Russell on
June 20. Eight days later Adams told Cobden in reply to a query about
mediation that it would result in a servile war[900]. Evidently Adams
perfectly understood Seward's policy.

On July 13, Lincoln told Seward and Welles of the planned emancipation
proclamation and that this was his first mention of it to anyone. Seward
commented favourably but wished to consider the proposal in all its
bearings before committing himself[901]. The day following he
transmitted to agents abroad a copy of the Bill that day introduced into
Congress embodying Lincoln's plan for gradual and compensated
emancipation. This was prompt transmittal--and was unusual. Seward sent
the Bill without material comment[902], but it is apparent that this
method and measure of emancipation would much better fit in with his
theory of the slavery question in relation to foreign powers, than would
an outright proclamation of emancipation.

Meanwhile American anxiety as to a possible alteration in British
neutral policy was increasing. July 11, Adams reported that he had
learned "from a credible source" that the British Cabinet might soon
"take new ground[903]." This despatch if it reached Seward previous to
the Cabinet of July 22, presumably added strength to his conviction of
the inadvisability of now issuing the proclamation. In that Cabinet,
Seward in fact went much beyond the customary historical statement that
he advised postponement of the proclamation until the occurrence of a
Northern victory; he argued, according to Secretary of War Stanton's
notes of the meeting, "That foreign nations will intervene to prevent
the abolition of slavery for the sake of cotton.... We break up our
relations with foreign nations and the production of cotton for sixty
years[904]." These views did not prevail; Lincoln merely postponed
action. Ten days later Seward sent that long instruction to Adams
covering the whole ground of feared European intervention, which,
fortunately, Adams was never called upon to carry out[905]. In it there
was renewed the threat of a servile war if Europe attempted to aid the
South, and again it is the materialistic view that is emphasized. Seward
was clinging to his theory of correct policy.

Nor was he mistaken in his view of first reactions in governmental
circles abroad--at least in England. On July 21, the day before
Lincoln's proposal of emancipation in the Cabinet, Stuart in reviewing
military prospects wrote: "Amongst the means relied upon for weakening
the South is included a servile war[906]." To this Russell replied: "...
I have to observe that the prospect of a servile war will only make
other nations more desirous to see an end of this desolating and
destructive conflict[907]." This was but brief reiteration of a more
exact statement by Russell made in comment on Seward's first hint of
servile war in his despatch to Adams of May 28, a copy of which had been
given to Russell on June 20. On July 28, Russell reviewing Seward's
arguments, commented on the fast increasing bitterness of the American
conflict, disturbing and unsettling to European Governments, and wrote:

     "The approach of a servile war, so much insisted upon by Mr.
     Seward in his despatch, only forewarns us that another
     element of destruction may be added to the slaughter, loss of
     property, and waste of industry, which already afflict a
     country so lately prosperous and tranquil[908]."

In this same despatch unfavourable comment was made also on the
Confiscation Bill with its punitive emancipation clauses. Stuart
presented a copy of the despatch to Seward on August 16[909]. On August
22, Stuart learned of Lincoln's plan and reported it as purely a
manoeuvre to affect home politics and to frighten foreign
governments[910]. Where did Stuart get the news if not from Seward,
since he also reported the latter's success in postponing the

In brief both Seward and Russell were regarding emancipation in the
light of an incitement to servile insurrection, and both believed such
an event would add to the argument for foreign intervention. The
_threat_ Seward had regarded as useful; the _event_ would be highly
dangerous to the North. Not so, however, did emancipation appear in
prospect to American diplomats abroad. Adams was a faithful servant in
attempting to carry out the ideas and plans of his chief, but as early
as February, 1862, he had urged a Northern declaration in regard to
slavery in order to meet in England Southern private representations
that, independence won, the South would enter upon a plan of gradual
emancipation to be applied "to all persons born after some specific
date[911]." Motley, at Vienna, frequently after February, 1862, in
private letters to his friends in America, urged some forward step on
slavery[912], but no such advice in despatches found its way into the
selected correspondence annually sent to print by Seward. Far more
important was the determination taken by Adams, less than a month after
he had presented to Russell the "servile war" threat policy of Seward,
to give advice to his chief that the chances of foreign intervention
would be best met by the distinct avowal of an anti-slavery object in
the war and that the North should be prepared to meet an European offer
of mediation by declaring that if made to extinguish slavery such
mediation would be welcome. This Adams thought would probably put an end
to the mediation itself, but it would also greatly strengthen the
Northern position abroad[913].

This was no prevision of an emancipation proclamation; but it was
assertion of the value of a higher "moral issue." Meanwhile, on July 24,
Seward still fearful of the effects abroad of emancipation, wrote to
Motley, asking whether he was "sure" that European powers would not be
encouraged in interference, because of material interests, by a Northern
attempt to free the slaves[914]. Motley's answer began, "A thousand
times No," and Adams repeated his plea for a moral issue[915]. September
25, Adams met Seward's "material interests" argument by declaring that
for Great Britain the chief difficulty in the cotton situation was not
scarcity, but uncertainty, and that if English manufacturers could but
know what to expect there would be little "cotton pressure" on the
Government[916]. Thus leading diplomats abroad did not agree with
Seward, but the later advices of Adams were not yet received when the
day, September 22, arrived on which Lincoln issued the proclamation. On
that day in sending the text to Adams the comment of Seward was brief.
The proclamation, he said, put into effect a policy the approach of
which he had "heretofore indicated to our representatives abroad," and
he laid emphasis on the idea that the main purpose of the proclamation
was to convince the South that its true interests were in the
preservation of the Union--which is to say that the hoped-for result was
the return of the South _with its slaves_[917]. Certainly this was far
from a truthful representation, but its purpose is evident. Seward's
first thought was that having held up the threat of servile insurrection
he must now remove that bogie. Four days later his judgment was
improved, for he began, and thereafter maintained with vigour, the "high
moral purpose" argument as evinced in the emancipation proclamation.
"The interests of humanity," he wrote to Adams, "have now become
identified with the cause of our country[918]...."

That the material interests of Great Britain were still in Seward's
thought is shown by the celerity with which under Lincoln's orders he
grasped at an unexpected opening in relation to liberated slaves. Stuart
wrote in mid-September that Mr. Walker, secretary of the colony of
British Guiana, was coming from Demerara to Washington to secure
additional labour for the British colony by offering to carry away
ex-slaves[919]. This scheme was no secret and five days after the issue
of the proclamation Seward proposed to Stuart a convention by which the
British Government would be permitted to transport to the West Indies,
or to any of its colonies, the negroes about to be emancipated. On
September 30, Adams was instructed to take up the matter at London[920].
Russell was at first disinclined to consider such a convention and
discussion dragged until the spring of 1864, when it was again proposed,
this time by Russell, but now declined by Seward. In its immediate
influence in the fall of 1862, Seward's offer had no effect on the
attitude of the British Government[921].

To Englishmen and Americans alike it has been in later years a matter
for astonishment that the emancipation proclamation did not at once
convince Great Britain of the high purposes of the North. But if it be
remembered that in the North itself the proclamation was greeted, save
by a small abolitionist faction, with doubt extending even to bitter
opposition and that British governmental and public opinion had long
dreaded a servile insurrection--even of late taking its cue from
Seward's own prophecies--the cool reception given by the Government, the
vehement and vituperative explosions of the press do not seem so
surprising. "This Emancipation Proclamation," wrote Stuart on September
23, "seems a brutum fulmen[922]." One of the President's motives, he
thought, was to affect public opinion in England. "But there is no
pretext of humanity about the Proclamation.... It is merely a
Confiscation Act, or perhaps worse, for it offers direct encouragement
to servile insurrections[923]." Received in England during the Cabinet
struggle over mediation the proclamation appears not to have affected
that controversy, though Russell sought to use it as an argument for
British action. In his memorandum, circulated October 13, Russell strove
to show that the purpose and result would be servile war. He dwelt both
on the horrors of such a war, and on its destruction of industry:

     "What will be the practical effect of declaring emancipation,
     not as an act of justice and beneficence, dispensed by the
     Supreme Power of the State, but as an act of punishment and
     retaliation inflicted by a belligerent upon a hostile
     community, it is not difficult to foresee. Wherever the arms
     of the United States penetrate, a premium will be given to
     acts of plunder, of incendiarism, and of revenge. The
     military and naval authorities of the United States will be
     bound by their orders to maintain and protect the
     perpetrators of such acts. Wherever the invasion of the
     Southern States is crowned by victory, society will be
     disorganized, industry suspended, large and small proprietors
     of land alike reduced to beggary[924]."

The London newspaper press was very nearly a unit in treating the
proclamation with derision and contempt and no other one situation in
the Civil War came in for such vigorous denunciation. Citations setting
forth such comment have frequently been gathered together illustrative
of the extent of press condemnation and of its unity in vicious
editorials[925]. There is no need to repeat many of them here, but a few
will indicate their tone. The _Times_ greeted the news with an assertion
that this was a final desperate play by Lincoln, as hope of victory
waned. It was his "last card[926]," a phrase that caught the fancy of
lesser papers and was repeated by them. October 21, appeared the
"strongest" of the _Times_ editorials:

[Illustration: ABE LINCOLN'S LAST CARD; OR, ROUGE-ET-NOIR. _Reproduced
by permission of the Proprietors of "Punch"_]

     "... We have here the history of the beginning of the end,
     but who can tell how the pages will be written which are yet
     to be filled before the inevitable separation is
     accomplished? Are scenes like those which we a short time
     since described from Dahomey yet to interpose, and is the
     reign of the last PRESIDENT to go out amid horrible massacres
     of white women and children, to be followed by the
     extermination of the black race in the South? Is LINCOLN yet
     a name not known to us as it will be known to posterity, and
     is it ultimately to be classed among that catalogue of
     monsters, the wholesale assassins and butchers of their kind?

     "... We will attempt at present to predict nothing as to
     what the consequence of Mr. Lincoln's new policy may be,
     except that it certainly will not have the effect of
     restoring the Union. It will not deprive Mr. Lincoln of the
     distinctive affix which he will share with many, for the most
     part foolish and incompetent, Kings and Emperors, Caliphs and
     Doges, that of being LINCOLN--'the Last.'"

The _Times_ led the way; other papers followed on. The _Liverpool Post_
thought a slave rising inevitable[927], as did also nearly every paper
acknowledging anti-Northern sentiments, or professedly neutral, while
even pro-Northern journals at first feared the same results[928].
Another striking phrase, "Brutum Fulmen," ran through many editorials.
The _Edinburgh Review_ talked of Lincoln's "cry of despair[929]," which
was little different from Seward's feared "last shriek." _Blackwood's_
thought the proclamation "monstrous, reckless, devilish." It "justifies
the South in raising the black flag, and proclaiming a war without
quarter[930]." But there is no need to expand the citation of the
well-nigh universal British press pouring out of the wrath of heaven
upon Lincoln, and his emancipation proclamation[931].

Even though there can be no doubt that the bulk of England at first
expected servile war to follow the proclamation it is apparent that here
and there a part of this British wrath was due to a fear that, in spite
of denials of such influence, the proclamation was intended to arouse
public opinion against projects of intervention and _might so arouse
it_. The New York correspondent of the _Times_ wrote that it was
"promulgated evidently as a sop to keep England and France quiet[932],"
and on October 9, an editorial asserted that Lincoln had "a very
important object. There is a presentiment in the North that recognition
cannot be delayed, and this proclamation is aimed, not at the negro or
the South, but at Europe." _Bell's Weekly Messenger_ believed that it
was now "the imperative duty of England and France to do what they can
in order to prevent the possible occurrence of a crime which, if carried
out, would surpass in atrocity any similar horror the world has ever
seen[933]." "Historicus," on the other hand, asked: "What is that
solution of the negro question to which an English Government is
prepared to affix the seal of English approbation[934]?" Mason, the
Confederate Agent in London, wrote home that it was generally believed
the proclamation was issued "as the means of warding off recognition....
It was seen through at once and condemned accordingly[935]."

This interpretation of Northern purpose in no sense negatives the dictum
that the proclamation exercised little influence on immediate British
governmental policy, but does offer some ground for the belief that
strong pro-Southern sympathizers at once saw the need of combating an
argument dangerous to the carrying out of projects of mediation. Yet the
new "moral purpose" of Lincoln did not immediately appeal even to his
friends. The _Spectator_ deplored the lack of a clean-cut declaration in
favour of the principle of human freedom: "The principle asserted is
not that a human being cannot justly own another, but that he cannot own
him unless he is loyal to the United States." ... "There is no morality
whatever in such a decree, and if approved at all it must be upon its
merits as a political measure[936]." Two weeks later, reporting a public
speech at Liverpool by ex-governor Morehead of Kentucky, in which
Lincoln was accused of treachery to the border states, the _Spectator_,
while taking issue with the speaker's statements, commented that it was
not to be understood as fully defending a system of government which
chose its executive "from the ranks of half-educated mechanics[937]."

Similarly in America the emancipation proclamation, though loudly
applauded by the abolitionists, was received with misgivings. Lincoln
was disappointed at the public reaction and became very despondent,
though this was due, in part, to the failure of McClellan to follow up
the victory of Antietam. The elections of October and November went
heavily against the administration and largely on the alleged ground of
the President's surrender to the radicals[938]. The army as a whole was
not favourably stirred by the proclamation; it was considered at best as
but a useless bit of "waste paper[939]." In England, John Bright, the
most ardent public advocate of the Northern cause, was slow to applaud
heartily; not until December did he give distinct approval, and even
then in but half-hearted fashion, though he thought public interest was
much aroused and that attention was now fixed on January 1, the date set
by Lincoln for actual enforcement of emancipation[940]. In a speech at
Birmingham, December 18, Bright had little to say of emancipation;
rather he continued to use previous arguments against the South for
admitting, as Vice-President Stephens had declared, that slavery was the
very "corner-stone" of Southern institutions and society[941]. A few
public meetings at points where favour to the North had been shown were
tried in October and November with some success but with no great show
of enthusiasm. It was not until late December that the wind of public
opinion, finding that no faintest slave-rising had been created by the
proclamation began to veer in favour of the emancipation edict[942]. By
the end of the year it appeared that the Press, in holding up horrified
hands and prophesying a servile war had "overshot the mark[943]."

Soon the changing wind became a gale of public favour for the cause of
emancipation, nor was this lessened--rather increased--by Jefferson
Davis' proclamation of December 23, 1862, in which he declared that
Lincoln had approved "of the effort to excite a servile insurrection,"
and that therefore it was now ordered "all negro slaves captured in arms
be at once delivered over to the executive authorities of the respective
States to which they belong, to be dealt with according to the laws of
said State." This by state laws meant death to the slave fighting for
his freedom, even as a regular soldier in the Northern armies, and gave
a good handle for accusations of Southern ferocity[944].

Official opinion was not readily altered, Lyons writing in December that
the promised January proclamation might still mean servile war. He hoped
that neither Lincoln's proclamation nor Davis' threat of retaliation
would be carried into effect[945]. Russell regarded the January 1
proclamation as "a measure of war of a very questionable kind[946]."

But the British anti-slavery public, now recovered from its fears of an
"abolition war" was of another temper. Beginning with the last week of
December, 1862, and increasing in volume in each succeeding month, there
took place meeting after meeting at which strong resolutions were passed
enthusiastically endorsing the issue of the emancipation proclamation
and pledging sympathy to the cause of the North. The _Liberator_ from
week to week, listed and commented on these public meetings, noting
fifty-six held between December 30, 1862, and March 20, 1863. The
American Minister reported even more, many of which sent to him engraved
resolutions or presented them in person through selected delegations.
The resolutions were much of the type of that adopted at Sheffield,
January 10:

     "_Resolved_: that this meeting being convinced that slavery
     is the cause of the tremendous struggle now going on in the
     American States, and that the object of the leaders of the
     rebellion is the perpetuation of the unchristian and inhuman
     system of chattel slavery, earnestly prays that the rebellion
     may be crushed, and its wicked object defeated, and that the
     Federal Government may be strengthened to pursue its
     emancipation policy till not a slave be left on the American

Adams quoted the _Times_ as referring to these meetings as made up of
"nobodies." Adams commented:

     "They do not indeed belong to the high and noble class, but
     they are just those nobodies who formerly forced their most
     exalted countrymen to denounce the prosecution of the Slave
     Trade by the commercial adventurers at Liverpool and Bristol,
     and who at a later period overcame all their resistance to
     the complete emancipation of the negro slaves in the British
     dependencies. If they become once fully aroused to a sense of
     the importance of this struggle as a purely moral question, I
     feel safe in saying there will be an end of all effective
     sympathy in Great Britain with the rebellion[948]."

Adams had no doubt "that these manifestations are the genuine expression
of the feelings of the religious dissenting and of the working classes,"
and was confident the Government would be much influenced by them[949].
The newspapers, though still editorially unfavourable to the
emancipation proclamation, accepted and printed communications with
increasing frequency in which were expressed the same ideas as in the
public meetings. This was even more noticeable in the provincial press.
Samuel A. Goddard, a merchant of Birmingham, was a prolific letter
writer to the _Birmingham Post_, consistently upholding the Northern
cause and he now reiterated the phrase, "Mr. Lincoln's cause is just and
holy[950]." In answer to Southern sneers at the failure of the
proclamation to touch slavery in the border states, Goddard made clear
the fact that Lincoln had no constitutional "right" to apply his edict
to states not in rebellion[951]. On the public platform no one equalled
the old anti-slavery orator, George Thompson, in the number of meetings
attended and addresses made. In less than a month he had spoken
twenty-one times and often in places where opposition was in evidence.
Everywhere Thompson found an aroused and encouraged anti-slavery
feeling, now strongly for the North[952].

Eight years earlier five hundred thousand English women had united in an
address to America on behalf of the slaves. Harriet Beecher Stowe now
replied to this and asked the renewed sympathy of her English sisters. A
largely signed "round robin" letter assured her that English women were
still the foes of slavery and were indignantly united against
suggestions of British recognition of the South[953]. Working class
Britain was making its voice heard in support of the North. To those of
Manchester, Lincoln, on January 19, 1863, addressed a special letter of
thanks for their earnest support while undergoing personal hardships
resulting from the disruption of industry caused by the war. "I cannot"
he wrote, "but regard your decisive utterances upon the question [of
human slavery] as an instance of sublime Christian heroism which has not
been surpassed in any age or in any country[954]." Nonconformist England
now came vigorously to the support of the North. Spurgeon, in London,
made his great congregation pray with him: "God bless and strengthen
the North; give victory to their arms[955]." Further and more general
expression of Nonconformist church sympathy came as a result of a letter
received February 12, 1863, from a number of French pastors and laymen,
urging all the Evangelical churches to unite in an address to Lincoln.
The London and Manchester Emancipation Societies combined in drawing up
a document for signature by pastors and this was presented for adoption
at a meeting in Manchester on June 3, 1863. In final form it was "An
Address to Ministers and Pastors of All Christian Denominations
throughout the States of America." There was a "noisy opposition" but
the address was carried by a large majority and two representatives,
Massie and Roylance, were selected to bear the message in person to the
brethren across the ocean[956]. Discussion arose over the Biblical
sanction of slavery. In the _Times_ appeared an editorial pleading this
sanction and arguing the _duty_ of slaves to refuse liberty[957].
Goldwin Smith, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford, replied in
a pamphlet, "Does the Bible sanction American Slavery[958]?" His
position and his skill in presentation made him a valuable ally to
the North.

Thus British anti-slavery circles, previously on the defensive, became
aroused and enthusiastic when Lincoln's January 1, 1863, proclamation
made good his pledge of the previous September: other elements of
opinion, and in all classes, were strengthened in like measure, and
everywhere the first expression of fear of a servile insurrection
largely disappeared. In truth, pro-Northern England went to such
lengths in its support of emancipation as to astound and alarm the
_Saturday Review_, which called these demonstrations a "carnival of
cant[959]." More neutral minds were perplexed over the practical
difficulties and might well agree with Schleiden who wrote in January,
1863, quoting Machiavelli: "What is more difficult, to make free men
slaves, or slaves free[960]?" But by the end of January the popular
approval of emancipation was in full swing. On the evening of the
twenty-ninth there took place in London at Exeter Hall, a great mass
meeting unprecedented in attendance and enthusiasm. The meeting had been
advertised for seven o'clock, but long before the hour arrived the hall
was jammed and the corridors filled. A second meeting was promptly
organized for the lower hall, but even so the people seeking admission
crowded Exeter Street and seriously impeded traffic in the Strand.
Outdoor meetings listened to reports of what was going on in the Hall
and cheered the speakers. The main address was made by the Rev. Newman
Hall, of Surrey Chapel. A few Southern sympathizers who attempted to
heckle the speakers were quickly shouted down[961].

The "carnival of cant," as the _Saturday Review_ termed it, was truly a
popular demonstration, stirred by anti-slavery leaders, but supported by
the working and non-enfranchised classes. Its first effect was to
restore courage and confidence to Northern supporters in the upper
classes. Bright had welcomed emancipation, yet with some misgivings. He
now joined in the movement and in a speech at Rochdale, February 3, on
"Slavery and Secession," gave full approval of Lincoln's efforts.

In 1862, shortly after the appearance of Spence's _American Union_,
which had been greeted with great interest in England and had influenced
largely upper-class attitude in favour of the South, Cairnes had
published his pamphlet, "Slave Power." This was a reasoned analysis of
the basis of slavery and a direct challenge to the thesis of
Spence[962]. England's "unnatural infatuation" for a slave power,
Cairnes prophesied, would be short-lived. His pamphlet began to be read
with more conviction by that class which until now had been coldly
neutral and which wished a more reassured faith in the Northern cause
than that stirred by the emotional reception given the emancipation
proclamation. Yet at bottom it was emancipation that brought this
reasoning public to seek in such works as that of Cairnes a logical
basis for a change of heart. Even in official circles, utterances
previously made in private correspondence, or in governmental
conversations only, were now ventured in public by friends of the North.
On April 1, 1863, at a banquet given to Palmerston in Edinburgh, the
Duke of Argyll ventured to answer a reference made by Palmerston in a
speech of the evening previous in which had been depicted the horrors of
Civil War, by asking if Scotland were historically in a position to
object to civil wars having high moral purpose. "I, for one," Argyll
said, "have not learned to be ashamed of that ancient combination of the
Bible and the sword. Let it be enough for us to pray and hope that the
contest, whenever it may be brought to an end, shall bring with it that
great blessing to the white race which shall consist in the final
freedom of the black[963]."

The public meetings in England raised high the hope in America that
governmental England would show some evidence of a more friendly
attitude. Lincoln himself drafted a resolution embodying the ideas he
thought it would be wise for the public meetings to adopt. It read:

     "Whereas, while _heretofore_ States, and Nations, have
     tolerated slavery, _recently_, for the first time in the
     world, an attempt has been made to construct a new Nation,
     upon the basis of, and with the primary, and fundamental
     object to maintain, enlarge, and perpetuate human slavery,

     _Resolved_: that no such embryo State should ever be
     recognized by, or admitted into, the family of Christian and
     civilized nations; and that all Christian and civilized men
     everywhere should, by all lawful means, resist to the utmost,
     such recognition or admission[964]."

This American hope much disturbed Lyons. On his return to Washington, in
November, 1862, he had regarded the emancipation proclamation as a
political manoeuvre purely and an unsuccessful one. The administration
he thought was losing ground and the people tired of the war. This was
the burden of his private letters to Russell up to March, 1863, but does
not appear in his official despatches in which there was nothing to give
offence to Northern statesmen. But in March, Lyons began to doubt the
correctness of these judgments. He notes a renewed Northern enthusiasm
leading to the conferring of extreme powers--the so-called "dictatorship
measures"--upon Lincoln. Wise as Lyons ordinarily was he was bound by
the social and educational traditions of his class, and had at first not
the slightest conception of the force or effect of emancipation upon the
public in middle-class England. He feared an American reaction against
England when it was understood that popular meetings would have no
influence on the British Government.

     "Mr. Seward and the whole Party calculate immensely on the
     effects of the anti-slavery meetings in England, and seem to
     fancy that public feeling in England is coming so completely
     round to the North that the Government will be obliged to
     favour the North in all ways, even if it be disinclined to do
     so. This notion is unlucky, as it makes those who hold it,
     unreasonable and presumptuous in dealing with us[965]."

       *       *       *       *       *

Lincoln's plan of emancipation and his first proclamation had little
relation to American foreign policy. Seward's attitude toward
emancipation was that the _threat_ of it and of a possible servile war
might be useful in deterring foreign nations, especially Great Britain,
from intervening. But he objected to the carrying of emancipation into
effect because he feared it would _induce_ intervention. Servile war, in
part by Seward's own efforts, in part because of earlier British
newspaper speculations, was strongly associated with emancipation, in
the English view. Hence the Government received the September, 1862,
proclamation with disfavour, the press with contempt, and the public
with apprehension--even the friends of the North. But no servile war
ensued. In January, 1863, Lincoln kept his promise of wide emancipation
and the North stood committed to a high moral object. A great wave of
relief and exultation swept over anti-slavery England, but did not so
quickly extend to governmental circles. It was largely that England
which was as yet without direct influence on Parliament which so exulted
and now upheld the North. Could this England of the people affect
governmental policy and influence its action toward America? Lyons
correctly interpreted the North and Seward as now more inclined to press
the British Government on points previously glossed over, and in the
same month in which Lyons wrote this opinion there was coming to a head
a controversy over Britain's duty as a neutral, which both during the
war and afterwards long seemed to Americans a serious and distinctly
unfriendly breach of British neutrality. This was the building in
British ports of Confederate naval vessels of war.


[Footnote 846: _Punch_, Nov. 22, 1862, has a cartoon picturing
Palmerston as presenting this view to Napoleon III.]

[Footnote 847: Rhodes, IV, p. 348.]

[Footnote 848: F.O., Am., Vol. 875. No. 80. Confidential. Lyons to
Russell, Jan. 27, 1863. This date would have permitted Mercier to be
already in receipt of Napoleon's instructions, though he gave no hint of
it in the interview with Lyons.]

[Footnote 849: Mercier had in fact approached Stoeckl on a joint offer
of mediation without England. Evidently Stoeckl had asked instructions
and those received made clear that Russia did not wish to be compelled
to face such a question. She did not wish to offend France, and an offer
without England had no chance of acceptance (Russian Archives, F.O. to
Stoeckl, Feb. 16, 1863 (O.S.)).]

[Footnote 850: F.O. Am., Vol. 876. No. 108. Confidential. Lyons to
Russell, Feb. 2, 1863.]

[Footnote 851: Rhodes, IV, p. 348.]

[Footnote 852: F.O., Am., Vol. 868, No. 86.]

[Footnote 853: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXIX, pp. 5-53, and 69-152.]

[Footnote 854: _Ibid._, pp. 1714-41. March 23, 1863.]

[Footnote 855: Ashley, _Palmerston_, II, 208-9. To Ellice, May 5, 1861.]

[Footnote 856: July 13, 1861.]

[Footnote 857: Harriet Martineau, _Autobiography_, p. 508, To Mrs.
Chapman, Aug. 8, 1861.]

[Footnote 858: Sept. 21, 1861.]

[Footnote 859: _Saturday Review_, Nov. 17, 1860.]

[Footnote 860: Russell Papers. To Russell.]

[Footnote 861: Gladstone Papers. Russell to Gladstone, Jan. 26, 1862.]

[Footnote 862: Article in _Fraser's Magazine_, Feb. 1862, "The Contest
in America."]

[Footnote 863: Hansard, 3rd Ser., CXLV, p. 387, Feb. 17, 1862.]

[Footnote 864: Pierce, _Sumner_, IV, pp. 41-48, and 63-69.]

[Footnote 865: Raymond, _Life, Public Services and State Papers of
Abraham Lincoln_, p. 243.]

[Footnote 866: _Ibid._, pp. 229-32.]

[Footnote 867: _Ibid._, p. 233, May 19, 1862.]

[Footnote 868: A Bill was in fact introduced July 16, 1862, on the lines
of Lincoln's "pecuniary aid" proposal of July 12, but no action was
taken on it.]

[Footnote 869: Welles, _Diary_, I, pp. 70-71.]

[Footnote 870: Abraham Lincoln, _Complete Works_, II, p. 213.]

[Footnote 871: Rhodes, IV, pp. 71-2.]

[Footnote 872: As issued September 22, the first paragraph refers to his
plan of securing legislation to aid compensated voluntary emancipation,
the next sets the date January 1, 1863, for completed emancipation of
slaves in states still in rebellion and the remaining paragraphs concern
the carrying out of the confiscation law. Lincoln, _Complete Works_, II,
pp. 237-8.]

[Footnote 873: Raymond, _State Papers of Lincoln_, 260-61.]

[Footnote 874: Rhodes, IV, p. 214.]

[Footnote 875: _Ibid._, p. 410. In letter, August 26, 1863, addressed to
a Springfield mass meeting of "unconditional Union men."]

[Footnote 876: American Hist. Rev., XVIII, pp. 784-7. Bunch to Russell,
Dec. 5, 1860.]

[Footnote 877: Southern Commissioners abroad early reported that
recognition of independence and commercial treaties could not be secured
unless the South would agree to "mutual right of search" treaties for
the suppression of the African Slave Trade. Davis' answer was that the
Confederate constitution gave him no authority to negotiate such a
treaty; indeed, denied him that authority since the constitution itself
prohibited the importation of negroes from Africa. For Benjamin's
instructions see Bigelow, _Retrospections_, I, pp. 591-96.]

[Footnote 878: _Spectator_, May 4, 1861.]

[Footnote 879: Sept. 6, 1861. In Mass. Hist. Soc. _Proceedings_, Vol.
XLVI, p. 95.]

[Footnote 880: Sept. 14, 1861.]

[Footnote 881: October 5, 1861.]

[Footnote 882: Lyons Papers. To Lyons, Oct. 26, 1861.]

[Footnote 883: _Ibid._, To Lyons, Nov. 2, 1861. The same ideas are
officially expressed by Russell to Lyons, March 7, 1861, and May 1,
1862. (F.O., Am., Vol. 818, No. 104, Draft; and _Ibid._, Vol. 819, No.
197, Draft.).]

[Footnote 884: See ante, p. 81.]

[Footnote 885: _U.S. Messages and Documents_, 1862-3, Pt. I, p. 65.]

[Footnote 886: Ashley, _Palmerston_, II, p. 227. Palmerston to Russell,
Aug. 13, 1862.]

[Footnote 887: Garrison, _Garrison_, IV, p. 66. Many distinguished names
were on the roster of the Society--Mill, Bright, Cobden, Lord Houghton,
Samuel Lucas, Forster, Goldwin Smith, Justin McCarthy, Thomas Hughes,
Cairns, Herbert Spencer, Francis Newman, the Rev. Newman Hall, and
others. Frederick W. Chesson was secretary, and very active in
the work.]

[Footnote 888: Schurz, _Speeches and Correspondence_, I, 190.]

[Footnote 889: Schurz, _Reminiscences_, II, 309.]

[Footnote 890: Gasparin, _The Uprising of a Great People_, 1861.]

[Footnote 891: Gasparin, _America before Europe_, Pt. V, Ch. III. The
preface is dated March 4, 1862, and the work went through three American
editions in 1862.]

[Footnote 892: Pierce, _Sumner_, IV, p. 63. No exact date, but Spring of

[Footnote 893: Raymond, _State Papers of Lincoln_, p. 253.]

[Footnote 894: _Ibid._, p. 256.]

[Footnote 895: Rhodes, IV, p. 162.]

[Footnote 896: Lincoln's _Complete Works_, II, p. 454. But the
_after-comment_ by Lincoln as to purpose was nearly always in line with
an unfinished draft of a letter to Charles D. Robinson, Aug. 17, 1864,
when the specific object was said to be "inducing the coloured people to
come bodily over from the rebel side to ours." _Ibid._, p. 564.]

[Footnote 897: See _ante_, Ch. IX.]

[Footnote 898: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1862-3_, Pt. I, p. 83.
Adams to Seward, May 8, 1862.]

[Footnote 899: _Ibid._, pp. 101-105.]

[Footnote 900: _Ibid._, p. 122. Adams to Seward, July 3, 1862. In his
despatch Adams states the conversation to have occurred "last Saturday,"
and with an "unofficial person," who was sounding him on mediation. This
was Cobden.]

[Footnote 901: Welles, _Diary_, I, p. 70.]

[Footnote 902: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1862-3_, Pt. I, p. 135.]

[Footnote 903: _Ibid._, p. 133. To Seward. His informant was Baring.]

[Footnote 904: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 333.]

[Footnote 905: See _ante_, p. 35.]

[Footnote 906: _Parliamentary Papers, 1863. Lords_, Vol. XXIX.
"Correspondence relating to the Civil War in the United States of North
America." No. 8. To Russell.]

[Footnote 907: _Ibid._, No. 10. Russell to Stuart, Aug. 7, 1862.]

[Footnote 908: _Ibid._, 1863, _Lords_, Vol. XXV. "Further correspondence
relating to the Civil War in the United States of North America." No. 2.
To Stuart.]

[Footnote 909: _Ibid._, 1863, _Lords_, Vol. XXIX. "Correspondence
relating to the Civil War in the United States of North America," No.
20. Stuart to Russell, Aug. 16, 1862.]

[Footnote 910: See _ante_, p. 37.]

[Footnote 911: State Department, Eng., Vol. 78, No. 119. Adams to
Seward, Feb. 21, 1862. This supplemented a similar representation made
on Jan. 17, 1862. (_U.S. Messages and Documents, 1862-3_, Pt. I,
p. 16.)]

[Footnote 912: e.g., Motley, _Correspondence_, II, pp. 64-5. To O.W.
Holmes, Feb. 26, 1862.]

[Footnote 913: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1862-3_, Pt. I, p. 140.
Adams to Seward, July 17, 1862.]

[Footnote 914: Bancroft, _Seward_, II, p. 336.]

[Footnote 915: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1862-3_, Pt. I, p. 191.
Adams to Seward, Sept. 12, 1862.]

[Footnote 916: _Ibid._, p. 199.]

[Footnote 917: _Ibid._, p. 195.]

[Footnote 918: _Ibid._, p. 202. Seward to Adams, Sept. 26, 1862. Lyons,
on his return to Washington, wrote that he found Seward's influence much
lessened, and that he had fallen in public estimation by his "signing
the Abolition Proclamation, which was imposed upon him, in opposition to
all his own views, by the Radical Party in the Cabinet." (Russell
Papers. Lyons to Russell, Nov. 14, 1862.)]

[Footnote 919: Russell Papers. Stuart to Russell, Sept. 19, 1862.]

[Footnote 920: _U.S. Messages and Documents, 1862-3_, Pt. I, p. 202. The
instruction went into great detail as to conditions and means. A similar
instruction was sent to Paris, The Hague, and Copenhagen.]

[Footnote 921: There was much talk and correspondence on this project
from Sept., 1862, to March, 1864. Stuart was suspicious of some "trap."
Russell at one time thought the United States was secretly planning to
colonize ex-slaves in Central America. Some of the Colonies were in
favour of the plan. (Russell Papers. Stuart to Russell, Sept. 29, 1862.
F.O., Am., Vol. 878, No. 177. Lyons to Russell, Feb. 24, 1863.)]

[Footnote 922: Lyons Papers. To Lyons.]

[Footnote 923: Russell Papers. Stuart to Russell, Sept. 26, 1862.]

[Footnote 924: Gladstone Papers. British agents still residing in the
South believed the proclamation would have little practical effect, but
added that if actually carried out the cultivation of cotton "would be
as completely arrested as if an edict were pronounced against its future
growth," and pictured the unfortunate results for the world at large.
(F.O., Am., Vol. 846, No. 34. Cridland to Russell, Oct. 29, 1862.)]

[Footnote 925: See Rhodes, IV, 344, _notes_.]

[Footnote 926: October 6, 1862. The _Times_ had used the "last card"
phrase as early as Dec. 14, 1861, in speculations on the effect of
Sumner's agitation for emancipation.]

[Footnote 927: Oct. 6, 1862.]

[Footnote 928: e.g., _Dublin Nation_, Oct. 11, 1862. _Manchester
Guardian_, Oct. 7. _London Morning Advertiser_, Oct. 9. _North British
Review_, Oct., 1862. _London Press_, Oct. 11. _London Globe_, Oct. 6.
_London Examiner_, Oct. 11, editorial: "The Black Flag," and Oct. 18:
"The Instigation to Servile War." _Bell's Weekly Messenger_, Oct. 11.]

[Footnote 929: October, 1862.]

[Footnote 930: November, 1862.]

[Footnote 931: It is worthy of note that the French offer of joint
mediation made to Britain in October specified the danger of servile war
resulting from the proclamation as a reason for European action.
(France, _Documents Diplomatiques, 1862_, p. 142.)]

[Footnote 932: The _Times_, Oct. 7, 1862.]

[Footnote 933: Oct. 18, 1862.]

[Footnote 934: Communication in the _Times_, Nov. 7, 1862.]

[Footnote 935: Richardson, II, 360. Mason to Benjamin, Nov. 6, 1862.]

[Footnote 936: _Spectator_, Oct. 11, 1862.]

[Footnote 937: _Ibid._, Oct. 25, 1862.]

[Footnote 938: Rhodes, IV, 162-64.]

[Footnote 939: Perry, _Henry Lee Higginson_, p. 175.]

[Footnote 940: Rhodes, IV, p. 349, _note_. Bright to Sumner, Dec. 6,

[Footnote 941: Rogers, _Speeches by John Bright_, I, pp. 216 ff.]

[Footnote 942: _Liberator_, Nov. 28, 1862, reports a meeting at Leigh,
Oct. 27, expressing sympathy with the North. At Sheffield, Dec. 31,
1862, an amended resolution calling for recognition of the South was
voted down and the original pro-Northern resolutions passed. There were
speakers on both sides. _Liberator_, Jan. 23, 1863.]

[Footnote 943: Motley, _Correspondence_, II, p. 113. J.S. Mill to
Motley, Jan. 26, 1863.]

[Footnote 944: Richardson, I, p. 273. Davis' order applied also to all
Northern white officers commanding negro troops. It proved an
idle threat.]

[Footnote 945: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, Dec. 30, 1862. And
again, Jan. 2, 1863. "If it do not succeed in raising a servile
insurrection, it will be a very unsuccessful political move for its
authors." Stoeckl in conference with Seward, expressed regret that the
emancipation proclamation had been issued, since it set up a further
barrier to the reconciliation of North and South--always the hope of
Russia. Seward replied that in executing the proclamation, there would
be, no doubt, many modifications. Stoeckl answered that then the
proclamation must be regarded as but a futile menace. (Russian Archives.
Stoeckl to F.O., Nov. 19-Dec. 1, 1862, No. 2171.)]

[Footnote 946: Rhodes, IV, p. 357.]

[Footnote 947: _U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence, 1863_, Pt. I, p. 55.
Adams to Seward, Jan. 16, 1863, transmitting this and other resolutions
presented to him. Adams by March 20 had reported meetings which sent
resolutions to him, from Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Crophills,
Salford, Cobham, Ersham, Weybridge, Bradford, Stroud, Bristol, Glasgow,
Liverpool, South London, Bath, Leeds, Bromley, Middleton, Edinburgh,
Birmingham, Aberdare, Oldham, Merthyr Tydfil, Paisley, Carlisle, Bury,
Manchester, Pendleton, Bolton, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Huddersfield, Ashford,
Ashton-under-Lyme, Mossley, Southampton, Newark, and York. See also
Rhodes, IV, 348-58, for résumé of meetings and opinions expressed.]

[Footnote 948: State Department, Eng., Vol. 81, No. 300. Adams to
Seward, Jan. 22, 1863.]

[Footnote 949: _U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence, 1863_, Pt. I, p. 100.
Adams to Seward, Feb. 5, 1863.]

[Footnote 950: Goddard, _Letters on the American Rebellion_, p. 287.
Goddard contributed seventy letters before 1863.]

[Footnote 951: _Ibid._, p. 307. Letter to _Daily Gazette_, May 2, 1863.]

[Footnote 952: _The Liberator_, Feb. 27, 1863. At Bristol the opposition
element introduced a resolution expressing abhorrence of slavery and the
hope that the war in America might end in total emancipation, but adding
that "at the same time [this meeting] cannot but regard the policy of
President Lincoln in relation to slavery, as partial, insincere,
inhuman, revengeful and altogether opposed to those high and noble
principles of State policy which alone should guide the counsels of a
great people." The resolution was voted down, and one passed applauding
Lincoln. The proposer of the resolution was also compelled to apologize
for slurring remarks on Thompson.]

[Footnote 953: _Atlantic Monthly_, XI, p. 525.]

[Footnote 954: Lincoln, _Complete Works_, II, p. 302.]

[Footnote 955: Trevelyan, _John Bright_, p. 306. Also Rhodes, IV, p.

[Footnote 956: Massie, _America: the Origin of Her Present Conflict_,
London, 1864. This action and the tour of the two delegates in America
did much to soothe wounded feelings which had been excited by a
correspondence in 1862-3 between English, French and American branches
of similar church organizations. See _New Englander_, April, 1863,
p. 288.]

[Footnote 957: Jan. 6, 1863.]

[Footnote 958: Published Oxford and London, 1863.]

[Footnote 959: Rhodes, IV, p. 355.]

[Footnote 960: Lutz, _Notes_. Schleiden's despatch, No. 1, 1863. German
opinion on the Civil War was divided; Liberal Germany sympathized
strongly with the North; while the aristocratic and the landowning class
stood for the South. The historian Karl Friedrich Neumann wrote a
three-volume history of the United States wholly lacking in historical
impartiality and strongly condemnatory of the South. (Geschichte der
Vereinigten Staaten, Berlin, 1863-66.) This work had much influence on
German public opinion. (Lutz, _Notes_.)]

[Footnote 961: _Liberator_, Feb. 20, 1863. Letter of J.P. Jewett to W.L.
Garrison, Jan. 30, 1863. "The few oligarchs in England who may still
sympathize with slavery and the Southern rebels, will be rendered
absolutely powerless by these grand and powerful uprisings of

[Footnote 962: Duffus, _English Opinion_, p. 51.]

[Footnote 963: Argyll, _Autobiography_, II, pp. 196-7.]

[Footnote 964: Trevelyan, _John Bright_. Facsimile, opp. p. 303. Copy
sent by Sunmer to Bright, April, 1863.]

[Footnote 965: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, March 10, 1863. Lyons
was slow to favour the emancipation proclamation. The first favourable
mention I have found was on July 26, 1864. (Russell Papers. To Russell.)
In this view his diplomatic colleagues coincided. Stoeckl, in December,
1863, wrote that slavery was dead in the Central and Border States, and
that even in the South its form must be altered if it survived. (Russian
Archives, Stoeckl to F.O., Nov. 22-Dec. 4, 1863, No. 3358.) But
immediately after the second proclamation of January, 1863, Stoeckl
could see no possible good in such measures. If they had been made of
universal application it would have been a "great triumph for the
principle of individual liberty," but as issued they could only mean
"the hope of stirring a servile war in the South." _(Ibid._, Dec. 24,
1863-Jan. 5, 1864, No. 70.)]



The building in British ports of Confederate war vessels like the
_Alabama_ and the subsequent controversy and arbitration in relation
thereto have been exhaustively studied and discussed from every aspect
of legal responsibility, diplomatic relations, and principles of
international law. There is no need and no purpose here to review in
detail these matters. The purpose is, rather, to consider the
development and effect at the time of their occurrence of the principal
incidents related to Southern ship-building in British yards. The
_intention_ of the British Government is of greater importance in this
study than the correctness of its action.

Yet it must first be understood that the whole question of a
belligerent's right to procure ships of war or to build them in the
ports of neutral nations was, in 1860, still lacking definite
application in international law. There were general principles already
established that the neutral must not do, nor permit its subjects to do,
anything directly in aid of belligerents. The British Foreign Enlistment
Act, notification of which had been given in May, 1861, forbade subjects
to "be concerned in the equipping, furnishing, fitting out, or arming,
of any ship or vessel, with intent or in order that such ship or vessel
shall be employed in the service ..." of a belligerent, and provided for
punishment of individuals and forfeiture of vessels if this prohibition
were disobeyed. But the Act also declared that such punishment, or
seizure, would follow on due proof of the offence. Here was the weak
point of the Act, for in effect if secrecy were maintained by offenders
the proof was available only after the offence had been committed and
one of the belligerents injured by the violation of the law. Over twenty
years earlier the American Government, seeking to prevent its subjects
from committing unneutral acts in connection with the Canadian rebellion
of 1837, had realized the weakness of its neutrality laws as they then
stood, and by a new law of March 10, 1838, hastily passed and therefore
limited to two years' duration, in the expectation of a more perfect
law, but intended as a clearer exposition of neutral duty, had given
federal officials power to act and seize _on suspicion_, leaving the
proof of guilt or innocence to be determined later. But the British
interpretation of her own neutrality laws was that proof was required in
advance of seizure--an interpretation wholly in line with the basic
principle that a man was innocent until proved guilty, but fatal to that
preservation of strict neutrality which Great Britain had so promptly
asserted at the beginning of the Civil War[966].

The South wholly lacking a navy or the means to create one, early
conceived the idea of using neutral ports for the construction of war
vessels. Advice secured from able British lawyers was to the effect that
if care were taken to observe the strict letter of the Foreign
Enlistment Act, by avoiding warlike equipment, a ship, even though her
construction were such as to indicate that she was destined to become a
ship of war, might be built by private parties in British yards. The
three main points requiring careful observance by the South were
concealment of government ownership and destination, no war equipment
and no enlistment of crew in British waters.

The principal agent selected by the South to operate on these lines was
Captain J.D. Bullock, who asserts in his book descriptive of his work
that he never violated British neutrality law and that prevailing legal
opinion in England supported him in this view[967]. In March, 1862, the
steamer _Oreto_ cleared from Liverpool with a declared destination of
"Palermo, the Mediterranean, and Jamaica." She was not heard of until
three months later when she was reported to be at Nassau completing her
equipment as a Southern war vessel. In June, Adams notified Russell
"that a new and still more powerful war-steamer was nearly ready for
departure from the port of Liverpool on the same errand[968]." He
protested that such ships violated the neutrality of Great Britain and
demanded their stoppage and seizure. From June 23 to July 28, when this
second ship, "No. 290" (later christened the _Alabama_) left Liverpool,
Adams and the United States consul at Liverpool, Dudley, were busy in
securing evidence and in renewing protests to the Government. To each
protest Russell replied in but a few lines that the matter had been
referred to the proper departments, and it was not until July 26, when
there was received from Adams an opinion by an eminent Queen's Counsel,
Collier, that the affidavits submitted were conclusive against the
"290," that Russell appears to have been seriously concerned. On July
28, the law officers of the Crown were asked for an immediate opinion,
and on the thirty-first telegrams were sent to Liverpool and to other
ports to stop and further examine the vessel. But the "290" was well
away and outside of British waters[969].

The _Alabama_, having received guns and munitions by a ship, the
_Bahama_, sent out from England to that end, and having enlisted in the
Confederate Navy most of the British crews of the two vessels, now
entered upon a career of destruction of Northern commerce. She was not a
privateer, as she was commonly called at the time, but a Government
vessel of war specially intended to capture and destroy merchant ships.
In short her true character, in terms of modern naval usage, was that of
a "commerce destroyer." Under an able commander, Captain Semmes, she
traversed all oceans, captured merchant ships and after taking coal and
stores from them, sank or burnt the captures; for two years she evaded
battle with Northern war vessels and spread so wide a fear that an
almost wholesale transfer of the flag from American to British or other
foreign register took place, in the mercantile marine. The career of the
_Alabama_ was followed with increasing anger and chagrin by the North;
this, said the public, was a British ship, manned by a British crew,
using British guns and ammunition, whose escape from Liverpool had been
winked at by the British Government. What further evidence was necessary
of bad faith in a professed strict neutrality?

Nor were American officials far behind the public in suspicion and
anger. At the last moment it had appeared as if the Government were
inclined to stop the "290." Was the hurried departure of the vessel due
to a warning received from official sources? On November 21, Adams
reported that Russell complained in an interview of remarks made
privately by Bright, to the effect that warning had come from Russell
himself, and "seemed to me a little as if he suspected that Mr. Bright
had heard this from me[970]." Adams disavowed, and sincerely, any such
imputation, but at the same time expressed to Russell his conviction
that there must have been from some source a "leak" of the Government's
intention[971]. The question of advance warning to Bullock, or to the
Lairds who built the _Alabama_, was not one which was likely to be
officially put forward in any case; the real issue was whether an
offence to British neutrality law had been committed, whether it would
be acknowledged as such, and still more important, whether repetitions
of the offence would be permitted. The _Alabama_, even though she might,
as the American assistant-secretary of the Navy wrote, be "giving us a
sick turn[972]," could not by herself greatly affect the issue of the
war; but many _Alabamas_ would be a serious matter. The belated
governmental order to stop the vessel was no assurance for the future
since in reply to Adams' protests after her escape, and to a prospective
claim for damages, Russell replied that in fact the orders to stop had
been given merely for the purpose of further investigation, and that in
strict law there had been no neglect of governmental duty[973]. If this
were so similar precautions and secrecy would prohibit official
interference in the issue from British ports of a whole fleet of
Southern war-vessels. Russell might himself feel that a real offence to
the North had taken place. He might write, "I confess the proceedings of
that vessel [the _Alabama_] are enough to _rile_ a more temperate
nation, and I owe a grudge to the Liverpool people on that
account[974]," but this was of no value to the North if the governmental
decision was against interference without complete and absolute proof.

It was therefore the concern of the North to find some means of bringing
home to the British Ministry the enormity of the offence in American
eyes and the serious danger to good relations if such offences were to
be continued. An immediate downright threat of war would have been
impolitic and would have stirred British pride to the point of
resentment. Yet American pride was aroused also and it was required of
Seward that he gain the Northern object and yet make no such threat as
would involve the two nations in war--a result that would have marked
the success of Southern secession. That Seward was able to find the way
in which to do this is evidence of that fertility of imagination and
gift in expedient which marked his whole career in the diplomacy of the
Civil War[975].

In that same month when Adams was beginning his protests on the "290,"
June, 1862, there had already been drawn the plans, and the contracts
made with the Laird Brothers at Liverpool, for the building of two
vessels far more dangerous than the _Alabama_ to the Northern cause.
These were the so-called Laird Rams. They were to be two hundred and
thirty feet long, have a beam of forty feet, be armoured with four and
one-half inch iron plate and be provided with a "piercer" at the prow,
about seven feet long and of great strength. This "piercer" caused the
ships to be spoken of as rams, and when the vessels were fully equipped
it was expected the "piercer" would be three feet under the surface of
the water. This was the distinguishing feature of the two ships; it was
unusual construction, nearly impossible of use in an ordinary battle at
sea, but highly dangerous to wooden ships maintaining a close blockade
at some Southern port. While there was much newspaper comment in England
that the vessels were "new _Alabamas_," and in America that they were
"floating fortresses," suitable for attack upon defenceless Northern
cities, their primary purpose was to break up the blockading

Shortly before the escape of the _Alabama_ and at a time when there was
but little hope the British Government would seize her and shortly after
the news was received in Washington that still other vessels were
planned for building in the Lairds' yards, a Bill was introduced in
Congress authorizing the President to issue letters of marque and
privateering. This was in July, 1862, and on the twelfth, Seward wrote
to Adams of the proposed measure specifying that the purpose was to
permit privateers to seek for and capture or destroy the _Alabama_ or
other vessels of a like type. He characterized this as a plan "to
organize the militia of the seas by issuing letters of marque and
reprisal[977]." Neither here nor at any time did Seward or Adams allege
in diplomatic correspondence any other purpose than the pursuit of
_Alabamas_, nor is it presumable that in July, 1862, the construction
plans of the Rams were sufficiently well known to the North to warrant a
conclusion that the later purpose of the proposed privateering fleet was
_at first_ quite other than the alleged purpose. Probably the Bill
introduced in July, 1862, was but a hasty reaction to the sailing of the
_Oreto_ (or _Florida_) and to the failure of early protests in the case
of the _Alabama_. Moreover there had been an earlier newspaper agitation
for an increase of naval power by the creation of a "militia of the
seas," though with no clear conception of definite objects to be
attained. This agitation was now renewed and reinforced and many public
speeches made by a General Hiram Wallbridge, who had long advocated an
organization of the mercantile marine as an asset in times of war[978].
But though introduced in the summer of 1862, the "privateering bill" was
not seriously taken up until February, 1863.

In the Senate discussion of the Bill at the time of introduction,
Senator Grimes, its sponsor, declared that the object was to encourage
privateers to pursue British ships when, as was expected, they should
"turn Confederate." Sumner objected that the true business of privateers
was to destroy enemy commerce and that the South had no such _bona fide_
commerce. Grimes agreed that this was his opinion also, but explained
that the administration wanted the measure passed so that it might have
in its hands a power to be used if the need arose. The general opinion
of the Senate was opposed and the matter was permitted to lapse, but
without definite action, so that it could at any time be called up
again[979]. Six months later the progress of construction and the
purpose of the rams at Liverpool were common knowledge. On January 7,
1863, the privateering bill again came before the Senate, was referred
to the committee on naval affairs, reported out, and on February 17 was
passed and sent to the House of Representatives, where on March 2 it was
given a third reading and passed without debate[980]. In the Senate,
Grimes now clearly stated that the Bill was needed because the
Confederates "are now building in England a fleet of vessels designed to
break our blockade of their coast," and that the privateers were to
"assist in maintaining blockades." There was no thorough debate but a
few perfunctory objections were raised to placing so great a power in
the hands of the President, while Sumner alone appears as a consistent
opponent arguing that the issue of privateers would be dangerous to the
North since it might lead to an unwarranted interference with neutral
commerce. No speaker outlined the exact method by which privateers were
to be used in "maintaining blockades"; the bill was passed as an
"administration measure."

Coincidently, but as yet unknown in Washington, the chagrin of Russell
at the escape of the _Alabama_ had somewhat lost its edge. At first he
had been impressed with the necessity of amending the Foreign Enlistment
Act so as to prevent similar offences and had gained the approval of the
law officers of the Crown. Russell had even offered to take up with
America an agreement by which both countries were to amend their
neutrality laws at the same moment. This was in December, 1862, but now
on February 14, 1863, he wrote to Lyons that the project of amendment
had been abandoned as the Cabinet saw no way of improving the law[981].
While this letter to Lyons was on its way to America, a letter from
Seward was _en route_, explaining to Adams the meaning of the
privateering bill.

"The Senate has prepared a Bill which confers upon the President of the
United States the power to grant letters of marque and reprisal in any
war in which the country may at any time be engaged, and it is expected
that the Bill will become a law. Lord Lyons suggests that the
transaction may possibly be misapprehended abroad, if it come upon
foreign powers suddenly and without any explanations. You will be at
liberty to say that, as the Bill stands, the executive Government will
be set at liberty to put the law in force in its discretion, and that
thus far the proper policy in regard to the exercise of that discretion
has not engaged the President's attention. I have had little hesitation
in saying to Lord Lyons that if no extreme circumstances occur, there
will be entire frankness on the part of the Government in communicating
to him upon the subject, so far as to avoid any surprise on the part of
friendly nations, whose commerce or navigation it might be feared would
be incidentally and indirectly affected, if it shall be found expedient
to put the Act in force against the insurgents of the United

Certainly this was vague explanation, yet though the main object might
be asserted "to put the act in force against the insurgents," the hint
was given that the commerce of friendly neutrals might be "incidentally
and indirectly affected." And so both Lyons and Seward understood the
matter, for on February 24, Lyons reported a long conversation with
Seward in which after pointing out the probable "bad effect" on Europe,
Lyons received the reply that some remedy must be found for the fact
that "the law did not appear to enable the British Government to
prevent" the issue of Confederate "privateers[983]." On March 8, Seward
followed this up by sending to Lyons an autograph letter:

     "I am receiving daily such representations from our sea-ports
     concerning the depredations on our commerce committed by the
     vessels built and practically fitted out in England, that I
     do most sincerely apprehend a new element is entering into
     the unhappy condition of affairs, which, with all the best
     dispositions of your Government and my own, cannot long be
     controlled to the preservation of peace.

     "If you think well of it, I should like that you should
     confidentially inform Earl Russell that the departure of more
     armed vessels under insurgent-rebel command from English
     ports is a thing to be deprecated above all things."

On March 9th, Lyons had a long talk with Seward about this, and it
appears that Lincoln had seen the letter and approved it. Seward stated
that the New York Chamber of Commerce had protested about the _Alabama_,

     "That no American merchant vessels would get freights--that
     even war with England was preferable to this--that in that
     case the maritime enterprise of the country would at least
     find a profitable employment in cruising against British

Seward went on to show the necessity of letters of marque, and Lyons
protested vigorously and implied that war must result.

     "Mr. Seward said that he was well aware of the inconvenience
     not to say the danger of issuing Letters of Marque: that he
     should be glad to delay doing so, or to escape the necessity
     altogether; but that really unless some intelligence came
     from England to allay the public exasperation, the measure
     would be unavoidable[984]."

Lyons was much alarmed, writing that the feeling in the North must not
be underestimated and pointing out that the newspapers were dwelling on
the notion that under British interpretation of her duty as a neutral
Mexico, if she had money, could build ships in British ports to cruise
in destruction of French commerce, adding that "one might almost
suppose" some rich American would give the funds to Mexico for the
purpose and so seek to involve England in trouble with France[985].
Lyons had also been told by Seward in their conversation of March 9,
that on that day an instruction had been sent to Adams to present to
Russell the delicacy of the situation and to ask for some assurance that
no further Southern vessels of war should escape from British ports.
This instruction presented the situation in more diplomatic language but
in no uncertain tone, yet still confined explanation of the privateering
bill as required to prevent the "destruction of our national navigating
interest, unless that calamity can be prevented by ... the enforcement
of the neutrality law of Great Britain[986]...."

Lyons' reports reached Russell before Seward's instruction was read to
him. Russell had already commented to Adams that American privateers
would find no Confederate merchant ships and that if they interfered
with neutral commerce the United States Government would be put in an
awkward position. To this Adams replied that the privateers would seek
and capture, if possible, vessels like the _Alabama_, but Russell asked
Lyons to find out "whether in any case they [privateers] will be
authorized to interfere with neutral commerce, and if in any case in
what case, and to what extent[987]." Three days later, on March 26,
Adams presented his instructions and these Russell regarded as "not
unfriendly in tone," but in the long conversation that ensued the old
result was reached that Adams declared Great Britain negligent in
performance of neutral duty, while Russell professed eagerness to stop
Southern shipbuilding if full evidence was "forthcoming." Adams
concluded that "he had worked to the best of his power for peace, but it
had become a most difficult task." Upon this Russell commented to Lyons,
"Mr. Adams fully deserves the character of having always laboured for
peace between our two Nations. Nor I trust will his efforts, and those
of the two Governments fail of success[988]."

In these last days of March matters were in fact rapidly drawing to a
head both in America and England. At Washington, from March seventh to
the thirty-first, the question of issuing letters of marque and reprisal
had been prominently before the Cabinet and even Welles who had opposed
them was affected by unfavourable reports received from Adams as to the
intentions of Great Britain. The final decision was to wait later news
from England[989]. This was Seward's idea as he had not as yet received
reports of the British reaction to his communications through Lyons and
Adams. March 27 was the critical day of decision in London, as it was
also the day upon which public and parliamentary opinion was most
vigorously debated in regard to Great Britain's neutral duty. Preceding
this other factors of influence were coming to the front. In the first
days of March, Slidell, at Paris, had received semi-official assurances
that if the South wished to build ships in French yards "we should be
permitted to arm and equip them and proceed to sea[990]." This
suggestion was permitted to percolate in England with the intention, no
doubt, of strengthening Bullock's position there. In the winter of
1862-3, orders had been sent to the Russian Baltic fleet to cruise in
western waters and there was first a suspicion in America, later a
conviction, that the purpose of this cruise was distinctly friendly to
the North--that the orders might even extend to actual naval aid in case
war should arise with England and France. In March, 1863, this
was but vague rumour, by midsummer it was a confident hope, by
September-October, when Russian fleets had entered the harbours of New
York and San Francisco, the rumour had become a conviction and the
silence of Russian naval officers when banqueted and toasted was
regarded as discreet confirmation. There was no truth in the rumour, but
already in March curious surmises were being made even in England, as to
Russian intentions, though there is no evidence that the Government was
at all concerned. The truth was that the Russian fleet had been ordered
to sea as a precaution against easy destruction in Baltic waters, in
case the difficulties developing in relation to Poland should lead to
war with France and England[991].

In England, among the people rather than in governmental England, a
feeling was beginning to manifest itself that the Ministry had been lax
in regard to the _Alabama_, and as news of her successes was received
this feeling was given voice. Liverpool, at first almost wholly on the
side of the Lairds and of Southern ship-building, became doubtful by
the very ease with which the _Alabama_ destroyed Northern ships.
Liverpool merchants looked ahead and saw that their interests might,
after all, be directly opposed to those of the ship-builders. Meetings
were held and the matter discussed. In February, 1863, such a meeting at
Plaistow, attended by the gentry of the neighbourhood, but chiefly by
working men, especially by dock labourers and by men from the
ship-building yards at Blackwall, resolved that "the Chairman be
requested to write to the Prime Minister of our Queen, earnestly
entreating him to put in force, with utmost vigilance, the law of
England against such ships as the _Alabama_[992]." Such expressions were
not as yet widespread, nor did the leading papers, up to April, indulge
in much discussion, but British _doubt_ was developing[993].

Unquestionably, Russell himself was experiencing a renewed doubt as to
Britain's neutral duty. On March 23, he made a speech in Parliament
which Adams reported as "the most satisfactory of all the speeches he
has made since I have been at this post[994]." On March 26, came the
presentation by Adams of Seward's instruction of which Russell wrote to
Lyons as made in no unfriendly tone and as a result of which Adams
wrote: "The conclusion which I draw ... is, that the Government is
really better disposed to exertion, and feels itself better sustained
for action by the popular sentiment than ever before[995]." Russell told
Adams that he had received a note from Palmerston "expressing his
approbation of every word" of his speech three days before. In a portion
of the despatch to Seward, not printed in the Diplomatic Correspondence,
Adams advised against the issue of privateers, writing, "In the present
favourable state of popular mind, it scarcely seems advisable to run the
risk of changing the current in Great Britain by the presentation of a
new issue which might rally all national pride against us as was done in
the _Trent_ case[996]." That Russell was indeed thinking of definite
action is foreshadowed by the advice he gave to Palmerston on March 27,
as to the latter's language in the debate scheduled for that day on the
Foreign Enlistment Act. Russell wrote, referring to the interview
with Adams:

     "The only thing which Adams could think of when I asked him
     what he had to propose in reference to the _Alabama_ was that
     the Government should declare their disapproval of the
     fitting out of such ships of war to prey on
     American commerce.

     "Now, as the fitting out and escape of the _Alabama_ and
     _Oreto_ was clearly an evasion of our law, I think you can
     have no difficulty in declaring this evening that the
     Government disapprove of all such attempts to elude our law
     with a view to assist one of the belligerents[997]."

But the tone of parliamentary debate did not bear out the hopeful view
of the American Minister. It was, as Bright wrote to Sumner, "badly
managed and told against us[998]," and Bright himself participated in
this "bad management." For over a year he had been advocating the cause
of the North in public speeches and everywhere pointing out to
unenfranchised England that the victory of the North was essential to
democracy in all Europe. Always an orator of power he used freely
vigorous language and nowhere more so than in a great public meeting of
the Trades Unions of London in St. James' Hall, on March 26, the evening
before the parliamentary debate. The purpose of this meeting was to
bring public pressure on the Government in favour of the North, and the
pith of Bright's speech was to contrast the democratic instincts of
working men with the aristocratic inclinations of the Government[999].
Reviewing "aristocratic" attitude toward the Civil War, Bright said:

     "Privilege thinks it has a great interest in this contest,
     and every morning, with blatant voice, it comes into your
     streets and curses the American Republic. Privilege has
     beheld an afflicting spectacle for many years past. It has
     beheld thirty millions of men, happy and prosperous, without
     emperor, without king, without the surroundings of a court,
     without nobles, except such as are made by eminence in
     intellect and virtue, without State bishops and
     State priests.

     "'Sole venders of the lore which works salvation,' without
     great armies and great navies, without great debt and without
     great taxes.

       *       *       *       *       *

     "You wish the freedom of your country. You wish it for
     yourselves.... Do not then give the hand of fellowship to the
     worst foes of freedom that the world has ever seen.... You
     will not do this. I have faith in you. Impartial history
     will tell that, when your statesmen were hostile or coldly
     neutral, when many of your rich men were corrupt, when your
     press--which ought to have instructed and defended--was
     mainly written to betray, the fate of a Continent and of its
     vast population being in peril, you clung to freedom with an
     unfailing trust that God in his infinite mercy will yet make
     it the heritage of all His children[1000]."

The public meeting of March 26 was the most notable one in support of
the North held throughout the whole course of the war, and it was also
the most notable one as indicating the rising tide of popular demand for
more democratic institutions. That it irritated the Government and gave
a handle to Southern sympathizers in the parliamentary debate of March
27 is unquestioned. In addition, if that debate was intended to secure
from the Government an intimation of future policy against Southern
shipbuilding it was conducted on wrong lines for _immediate_
effect--though friends of the North may have thought the method used was
wise for _future_ effect. This method was vigorous attack. Forster,
leading in the debate[1001], called on Ministers to explain the
"flagrant" violation of the Foreign Enlistment Act, and to offer some
pledge for the future; he asserted that the Government should have been
active on its own initiative in seeking evidence instead of waiting to
be urged to enforce the law, and he even hinted at a certain degree of
complicity in the escape of the _Alabama_. The Solicitor-General
answered in a legal defence of the Government, complained of the offence
of America in arousing its citizens against Great Britain upon
unjustifiable grounds, but did not make so vigorous a reply as might,
perhaps, have been expected. Still he stood firmly on the ground that
the Government could not act without evidence to convict--in itself a
statement that might well preclude interference with the Rams. Bright
accused the Government of a "cold and unfriendly neutrality," and
referred at length to the public meeting of the previous evening:

     "If you had last night looked in the faces of three thousand
     of the most intelligent of the artisan classes in London, as
     I did, and heard their cheers, and seen their sympathy for
     that country for which you appear to care so little, you
     would imagine that the more forbearing, the more generous,
     and the more just the conduct of the Government to the United
     States, the more it would recommend itself to the magnanimous
     feelings of the people of this country."

This assumption of direct opposition between Parliament and the people
was not likely to win or to convince men, whether pro-Southern or not,
who were opponents of the speaker's long-avowed advocacy of more
democratic institutions in England. It is no wonder then that Laird, who
had been castigated in the speeches of the evening, rising in defence of
the conduct of his firm, should seek applause by declaring, "I would
rather be handed down to posterity as the builder of a dozen _Alabamas_
than as a man who applies himself deliberately to set class against
class, and to cry up the institutions of another country which, when
they come to be tested, are of no value whatever, and which reduce the
very name of liberty to an utter absurdity." This utterance was greeted
with great cheering--shouted not so much in approval of the _Alabama_ as
in approval of the speaker's defiance of Bright.

[Illustration: WILLIAM EDWARD FORSTER (1851)]

In short, the friends of the North, if they sought some immediate pledge
by the Government, had gone the wrong way about to secure it. Vigour in
attack was no way to secure a favourable response from Palmerston.
Always a fighting politician in public it was inevitable that he should
now fight back. Far from making the statement recommended to him by
Russell, he concluded the debate by reasserting the correctness of
governmental procedure in the case of the _Alabama_, and himself with
vigour accused Forster and Bright of speaking in such a way as to
increase rather than allay American irritation. Yet a careful reading of
the speeches of both the Solicitor-General and of Palmerston, shows that
while vindicating the Government's conduct in the past, they were
avoiding _any_ pledge of whatever nature, for the future.

Adams was clearly disappointed and thought that the result of the debate
was "rather to undo in the popular mind the effect of Lord Russell's
speech than to confirm it[1002]." He and his English advisers were very
uneasy, not knowing whether to trust to Russell's intimations of more
active governmental efforts, or to accept the conclusion that his advice
had been rejected by Palmerston[1003]. Possibly if less anxious and
alarmed they would have read more clearly between the lines of
parliamentary utterances and have understood that their failure to hurry
the Government into public announcement of a new policy was no proof
that old policy would be continued. Disappointed at the result in
Parliament, they forgot that the real pressure on Government was coming
from an American declaration of an intention to issue privateers unless
something were done to satisfy that country. Certainly Russell was
unmoved by the debate for on April 3 he wrote to Palmerston:

     "The conduct of the gentlemen who have contracted for the
     ironclads at Birkenhead is so very suspicious that I have
     thought it necessary to direct that they should be detained.
     The Attorney-General has been consulted and concurs in the
     measure, as one of policy, though not of strict law.

     "We shall thus test the law, and if we have to pay damages we
     have satisfied the opinion which prevails here as well as in
     America that this kind of neutral hostility should not be
     allowed to go on without some attempt to stop it[1004]."

Two days later, on April 5, the _Alexandra_, a vessel being equipped to
join the _Alabama_ as a commerce destroyer, was seized on the ground
that she was about to violate the Enlistment Act and a new policy, at
least to make a test case in law, was thereby made public. In fact, on
March 30, but three days after the debate of March 27, the case of the
_Alexandra_ had been taken up by Russell, referred to the law officers
on March 31, and approved by them for seizure on April 4[1005]. Public
meetings were quickly organized in support of the Government's action,
as that in Manchester on April 6, when six thousand people applauded the
seizure of the _Alexandra_, demanded vigorous prosecution of the Lairds
and others, and urged governmental activity to prevent any further
ship-building for the South[1006].

On April 7, Russell wrote to Lyons:

     "The orders given to watch, and stop when evidence can be
     procured, vessels apparently intended for the Confederate
     service will, it is to be hoped, allay the strong feelings
     which have been raised in Northern America by the escape from
     justice of the _Oreto_ and _Alabama_[1007]."

It thus appears that orders had been issued to stop, on _evidence_ to be
sure, but on evidence of the vessels being "_apparently_ intended" for
the South. This was far from being the same thing as the previous
assertion that conclusive evidence was required. What, then, was the
basic consideration in Russell's mind leading to such a face-about on
declared policy? Chagrin at the very evident failure of existing
neutrality law to operate, recognition that there was just cause for the
rising ill-will of the North, no doubt influenced him, but more powerful
than these elements was the anxiety as to the real purpose and intent in
application of the American "privateering" Bill. How did Russell, and
Lyons, interpret that Bill and what complications did they foresee
and fear?

As previously stated in this chapter, the privateering Bill had been
introduced as an "administration measure" and for that reason passed
without serious debate. In the Cabinet it was opposed by Welles,
Secretary of the Navy, until he was overborne by the feeling that
"something must be done" because vessels were building in England
intended to destroy the blockade. The Rams under construction were
clearly understood to have that purpose. If privateers were to offset
the action of the Rams there must be some definite plan for their use.
Seward and Adams repeatedly complained of British inaction yet in the
same breath asserted that the privateers were intended to chase and
destroy _Alabamas_--a plan so foolish, so it seemed to British
diplomats, as to be impossible of acceptance as the full purpose of
Seward. How, in short, _could_ privateers make good an injury to
blockade about to be done by the Rams? If added to the blockading
squadrons on station off the Southern ports they would but become so
much more fodder for the dreaded Rams. If sent to sea in pursuit of
_Alabamas_ the chances were that they would be the vanquished rather
than the victors in battle. There was no Southern mercantile marine for
them to attack and privateering against "enemy's commerce" was thus out
of the question since there was no such commerce.

There remained but one reasonable supposition as to the intended use of
privateers. If the Rams compelled the relaxation of the close blockade
the only recourse of the North would be to establish a "cruising
squadron" blockade remote from the shores of the enemy. If conducted by
government war-ships such a blockade was not in contravention to British
interpretation of international law[1008]. But the Northern navy,
conducting a cruising squadron blockade was far too small to interfere
seriously with neutral vessels bringing supplies to the Confederacy or
carrying cotton from Southern ports. A "flood of privateers," scouring
the ocean from pole to pole might, conceivably, still render effective
that closing in of the South which was so important a weapon in the
Northern war programme.

This was Russell's interpretation of the American plan and he saw in it
a very great danger to British commerce and an inevitable ultimate clash
leading to war. Such, no doubt, it was Seward's desire should be
Russell's reaction, though never specifically explaining the exact
purpose of the privateers. Moreover, nine-tenths of the actual
blockade-running still going on was by British ships, and this being so
it was to be presumed that "privateers" searching for possible blockade
runners would commit all sorts of indignities and interferences with
British merchant ships whether on a blockade-running trip or engaged in
ordinary trade between non-belligerent ports.

Immediately on learning from Lyons details of the privateering bill,
Russell had instructed the British Minister at Washington to raise
objections though not formally making official protest, and had asked
for explanation of the exact nature of the proposed activities of such
vessels. Also he had prepared instructions to be issued by the
Admiralty to British naval commanders as to their duty of preventing
unwarranted interference with legitimate British commerce by
privateers[1009]. The alteration of governmental policy as indicated in
the arrest of the _Alexandra_, it might be hoped, would at least cause a
suspension of the American plan, but assurances were strongly desired.
Presumably Russell knew that Adams as a result of their conversations,
had recommended such suspension, but at Washington, Lyons, as yet
uninformed of the _Alexandra_ action, was still much alarmed. On April
13 he reported that Seward had read to him a despatch to Adams, relative
to the ships building in England, indicating that this was "a last
effort to avert the evils which the present state of things had made
imminent[1010]." Lyons had argued with Seward the inadvisability of
sending such a despatch, since it was now known that Russell had "spoken
in a satisfactory manner" about Confederate vessels, but Seward was
insistent. Lyons believed there was real cause for anxiety, writing:

     "A good deal of allowance must be made for the evident design
     of the Government and indeed of the people to intimidate
     England, but still there can be little doubt that the
     exasperation has reached such a point as to constitute a
     serious danger. It is fully shared by many important members
     of the Cabinet--nor are the men in high office exempt from
     the overweening idea of the naval power of the United States,
     which reconciles the people to the notion of a war with
     England. Mr. Seward for a certain time fanned the flame in
     order to recover his lost popularity. He is now, I believe,
     seriously anxious to avoid going farther. But if strong
     measures against England were taken up as a Party cry by the
     Republicans, Mr. Seward would oppose very feeble resistance
     to them. If no military success be obtained within a short
     time, it may become a Party necessity to resort to some means
     of producing an excitement in the country sufficient to
     enable the Government to enforce the Conscription Act, and to
     exercise the extra-legal powers conferred by the late
     Congress, To produce such an excitement the more ardent of
     the party would not hesitate to go, to the verge of a war
     with England. Nay there are not a few who already declare
     that if the South must be lost, the best mode to conceal the
     discomfiture of the party and of the nation, would be to go
     to war with England and attribute the loss of the South to
     English interference[1011]."

On the same day Lyons wrote, privately:

     "I would rather the quarrel came, if come it must, upon some
     better ground for us than this question of the ships fitted
     out for the Confederates. The great point to be gained in my
     opinion, would be to prevent the ships sailing, without
     leading the people here to think that they had gained their
     point by threats[1012]."

So great was Lyons' alarm that the next day, April 14, he
cipher-telegraphed Monck in Canada that trouble was brewing[1013], but
soon his fears were somewhat allayed. On the seventeenth he could report
that Seward's "strong" despatch to Adams was not intended for
communication to Russell[1014], and on the twenty-fourth when
presenting, under instructions, Russell's protest against the
privateering plan he was pleased, if not surprised, to find that the
"latest advices" from England and the news of the seizure of the
_Alexandra_, had caused Seward to become very conciliatory. Lyons was
assured that the plan "was for the present at rest[1015]." Apparently
Seward now felt more security than did Lyons as to future British action
for three days later the British Minister wrote to Vice-Admiral Milne
that an American issue of letters of marque would surely come if
England did not stop Southern ship-building, and he wrote in such a way
as to indicate his own opinion that effective steps _must_ be taken to
prevent their escape[1016].

The whole tone and matter of Lyons' despatches to Russell show that he
regarded the crisis of relations in regard to Southern ship-building in
British yards as occurring in March-April, 1863. Seward became unusually
friendly, even embarrassingly so, for in August he virtually forced
Lyons to go on tour with him through the State of New York, thus making
public demonstration of the good relations of the two Governments. This
sweet harmony and mutual confidence is wholly contrary to the usual
historical treatment of the Laird Rams incident, which neglects the
threat of the privateering bill, regards American protests as steadily
increasing in vigour, and concludes with the "threat of war" note by
Adams to Russell just previous to the seizure of the Rams, in September.
Previously, however, American historians have been able to use only
American sources and have been at a loss to understand the privateering
plan, since Seward never went beyond a vague generalization of its
object in official utterances. It is the British reaction to that plan
which reveals the real "threat" made and the actual crisis of
the incident.

It follows therefore that the later story of the Rams requires less
extended treatment than is customarily given to it. The correct
understanding of this later story is the recognition that Great Britain
had in April given, a pledge and performed an act which satisfied Seward
and Adams that the Rams would not be permitted to escape. It was their
duty nevertheless to be on guard against a British relaxation of the
promise made, and the delay, up to the very last moment, in seizing the
Rams, caused American anxiety and ultimately created a doubt of the
sincerity of British actions.

Public opinion in England was steadily increasing against Southern
ship-building. On June 9, a memorial was sent to the Foreign Office by a
group of ship-owners in Liverpool, suggesting an alteration in the
Foreign Enlistment Act if this were needed to prevent the issue of
Southern ships, and pointing out that the "present policy" of the
Government would entail a serious danger to British commerce in the
future if, when England herself became a belligerent, neutral ports
could be used by the enemy to build commerce destroyers[1017]. The
memorial concluded that in any case it was a disgrace that British law
should be so publicly infringed. To this, Hammond, under-secretary, gave
the old answer that the law was adequate "provided proof can be obtained
of any act done with the intent to violate it[1018]." Evidently
ship-owners, as distinguished from ship-builders, were now acutely
alarmed. Meanwhile attention was fixed on the trial of the _Alexandra_,
and on June 22, a decision was rendered against the Government, but was
promptly appealed.

This decision made both Northern and Southern agents anxious and the
latter took steps further to becloud the status of the Rams. Rumours
were spread that the vessels were in fact intended for France, and when
this was disproved that they were being built for the Viceroy of Egypt.
This also proved to be untrue. Finally it was declared that the real
owners were certain French merchants whose purpose in contracting for
such clearly warlike vessels was left in mystery, but with the
intimation that Egypt was to be the ultimate purchaser. Captain Bullock
had indeed made such a contract of sale to French merchants but with the
proviso of resale to him, after delivery. On his part, Russell was
seeking _proof_ fully adequate to seizure, but this was difficult to
obtain and such as was submitted was regarded by the law officers as
inadequate. They reported that there was "no evidence capable of being
presented to a court of justice." He informed Adams of this legal
opinion at the moment when the latter, knowing the Rams to be nearing
completion, and fearing that Russell was weakening in his earlier
determination, began that series of diplomatic protests which very
nearly approached a threat of war.

At Washington also anxiety was again aroused by the court's decision in
the _Alexandra_ case, and shortly after the great Northern victories at
Vicksburg and Gettysburg, Seward wrote a despatch to Adams, July 11,
which has been interpreted as a definite threat of war. In substance
Seward wrote that he still felt confident the Government of Great
Britain would find a way to nullify the _Alexandra_ decision, but
renewed, in case this did not prove true, his assertion of Northern
intention to issue letters of marque, adding a phrase about the right to
"pursue" Southern vessels even into neutral ports[1019]. But there are
two considerations in respect to this despatch that largely negative the
belligerent intent attributed to it: Seward did not read or communicate
it to Lyons, as was his wont when anything serious was in mind; and he
did not instruct Adams to communicate it to Russell. The latter never
heard of it until the publication, in 1864, of the United States
diplomatic correspondence[1020].

In London, on July 11, Adams began to present to Russell evidence
secured by Consul Dudley at Liverpool, relative to the Rams and to urge
their immediate seizure. Adams here but performed his duty and was in
fact acting in accordance with Russell's own request[1021]. On July 16
he reported to Seward that the Roebuck motion for recognition of the
South[1022] had died ingloriously, but expressed a renewal of anxiety
because of the slowness of the government; if the Rams were to escape,
Adams wrote to Russell, on July 11, Britain would herself become a
participant in the war[1023]. Further affidavits were sent to Russell on
August 14, and on September 3, having heard from Russell that the
Government was legally advised "they cannot interfere in any way with
these vessels," Adams sent still more affidavits and expressed his
regret that his previous notes had not sufficiently emphasized the grave
nature of the crisis pending between the United States and Great
Britain. To this Russell replied that the matter was "under serious and
anxious consideration," to which, on September 5, in a long
communication, Adams wrote that if the Rams escaped: "It would be
superfluous in me to point out to your Lordship that this is war."

The phrase was carefully chosen to permit a denial of a threat of war on
the explanation that Great Britain would herself be participating in the
war. There is no question that at the moment Adams thought Russell's
"change of policy" of April was now thrown overboard, but the fact was
that on September 1, Russell had already given directions to take steps
for the detention of the Rams and that on September 3, positive
instructions were given to that effect[1024], though not carried out
until some days later. There had been no alteration in the "new policy"
of April; the whole point of the delay was governmental anxiety to
secure evidence sufficient to convict and thus to avoid attack for
acting in contradiction to those principles which had been declared to
be the compelling principles of non-interference in the case of the
_Alabama_. But so perfect were the arrangements of Captain Bullock that
complete evidence was not procurable and Russell was forced, finally, to
act without it[1025].

It would appear from a letter written by Russell to Palmerston, on
September 3, the day on which he gave the order to stop, that no Cabinet
approval for this step had yet formally been given, since Russell
notified Palmerston of his purpose and asked the latter, if he
disapproved, to call a Cabinet at once[1026]. The _plan_ to stop the
Rams must have long been understood for Palmerston called no Cabinet.
Moreover it is to be presumed that he was preparing the public for the
seizure, for on this same September 3, the _Times_, in a long editorial,
argued that the law as it stood (or was interpreted), was not in harmony
with true neutrality, and pointed out future dangers to British
commerce, as had the Liverpool ship-owners. Delane of the _Times_ was at
this period especially close to Palmerston, and it is at least
inferential that the editorial was an advance notice of governmental
intention to apply a policy known in intimate circles to have been for
some time matured. Four days later, while governmental action was still
unknown to the public another editorial advocated seizure of the
Rams[1027]. Russell had acted under the fear that one of the Rams might
slip away as had the _Alabama_; he had sent orders to stop and
investigate, but he delayed final seizure in the hope that better
evidence might yet be secured, conducting a rapid exchange of letters
with Lairds (the builders), seeking to get admissions from them. It was
only on September 9 that Lairds was officially ordered not to send the
vessels on a "trial trip," and it was not until September 16 that public
announcement was made of the Government's action[1028].

Russell has been regarded as careless and thoughtless in that it was not
until September 8 he relieved Adams' mind by assuring him the Rams would
be seized, even though three days before, on September 5, this
information had been sent to Washington. The explanation is Russell's
eager search for evidence to _convict_, and his correspondence with
Lairds which did not come to a head until the eighth, when the builders
refused to give information. To the builders Russell was writing as if a
governmental decision had not yet been reached. He could take no chance
of a "leak" through the American Minister. Once informed, Adams was well
satisfied though his immediate reaction was to criticize, not Russell,
but the general "timidity and vacillation" of the law officers of the
Crown[1029]. Two days later, having learned from Russell himself just
what was taking place, Adams described the "firm stand" taken by the
Foreign Secretary, noted the general approval by the public press and
expressed the opinion that there was now a better prospect of being able
to preserve friendly relations with England than at any time since his
arrival in London[1030]. Across the water British officials were
delighted with the seizure of the Rams. Monck in Canada expressed his
approval[1031]. Lyons reported a "great improvement" in the feeling
toward England and that Seward especially was highly pleased with
Russell's expressions, conveyed privately, of esteem for Seward together
with the hope that he would remain in office[1032].

The actual governmental seizure of the Rams did not occur until
mid-October, though they had been placed under official surveillance on
September 9. Both sides were jockeying for position in the expected
legal battle when the case should be taken up by the courts[1033]. At
first Russell even thought of making official protest to Mason in London
and a draft of such protest was prepared, approved by the Law Officers
and subsequently revised by Palmerston, but finally was not sent[1034].
Possibly it was thought that such a communication to Mason approached
too nearly a recognition of him in his desired official capacity, for in
December the protest ultimately directed to be made through
Consul-General Crawford at Havana, instructed him to go to Richmond and
after stating very plainly that he was in no way recognizing the
Confederacy to present the following:

     "It appears from various correspondence the authenticity of
     which cannot be doubted, that the Confederate Government
     having no good ports free from the blockade of the Federals
     have conceived the design of using the ports of the United
     Kingdom for the purpose of constructing ships of war to be
     equipped and armed to serve as cruisers against the commerce
     of the United States of America, a State with which Her
     Majesty is at peace...."

     "These acts are inconsistent with the respect and comity
     which ought to be shewn by a belligerent towards a
     Neutral Power.

     "Her Majesty has declared her Neutrality and means strictly
     to observe it.

     "You will therefore call upon Mr. Benjamin to induce his
     Government to forbear from all acts tending to affect
     injuriously Her Majesty's position[1035]."

To carry out this instruction there was required permission for Crawford
to pass through the blockade but Seward refused this when Lyons made the

Not everyone in Britain, however, approved the Government's course in
seizing the Rams. Legal opinion especially was very generally against
the act. Adams now pressed either for an alteration of the British law
or for a convention with America establishing mutual similar
interpretation of neutral duty. Russell replied that "until the trials
of the _Alexandra_ and the steam rams had taken place, we could hardly
be said to know what our law was, and therefore not tell whether it
required alteration. I said, however, that he might assure Mr. Seward
that the wish and intention of Government were to make our neutrality an
honest and bona-fide one[1037]." But save from extreme and avowed
Southern sympathizers criticism of the Government was directed less to
the stoppage of the Rams than to attacks of a political character,
attempting to depict the weakness of the Foreign Minister and his
humiliation of Great Britain in having "yielded to American threats."
Thus, February II, 1864, after the reassembling of Parliament, a party
attack was made on Russell and the Government by Derby in the House of
Lords. Derby approved the stopping of the Rams but sought to prove that
the Government had dishonoured England by failing to act of its own
volition until threatened by America. He cited Seward's despatch of July
II with much unction, that despatch now having appeared in the printed
American diplomatic correspondence with no indication that it was not an
instruction at once communicated to Russell. The attack fell flat for
Russell simply replied that Adams had never presented such an
instruction. This forced Derby to seek other ground and on February 15
he returned to the matter, now seeking to show by the dates of various
documents that "at the last moment" Adams made a threat of war and
Russell had yielded. Again Russell's reply was brief and to the effect
that orders to stop the Rams had been given before the communications
from Adams were received. Finally, on February 23, a motion in the
Commons called for all correspondence with Adams and with Lairds, The
Government consented to the first but refused that with Lairds and was
supported by a vote of 187 to 153.[1038]

Beginning with an incautious personal and petty criticism of Russell the
Tories had been driven to an attempt to pass what was virtually a vote
of censure on the Ministry yet they were as loud as was the Government
in praise of Adams and in approval of the seizure of the Rams. Naturally
their cause was weakened, and the Ministry, referring to expressions
made and intentions indicated as far back as March, 1863, thus hinting
without directly so stating that the real decision had then been made,
was easily the victor in the vote[1038]. Derby had committed an error as
a party leader and the fault rankled for again in April, 1864, he
attempted to draw Russell into still further discussion on dates of
documents. Russell's reply ignored that point altogether[1039]. It did
not suit his purpose to declare, flatly, the fact that in April
assurances had been given both to Adams and through Lyons to Seward,
that measures would be taken to prevent the departure of Southern
vessels from British ports. To have made this disclosure would have
required an explanation _why_ such assurance had been given and this
would have revealed the effect on both Russell and Lyons of the Northern
plan to create a _cruising squadron blockade by privateers_. _There_ was
the real threat. The later delays and seeming uncertainties of British
action made Adams anxious but there is no evidence that Russell ever
changed his purpose. He sought stronger evidence before acting and he
hoped for stronger support from legal advisers, but he kept an eye on
the Rams and when they had reached the stage where there was danger of
escape, he seized them even though the desired evidence was still
lacking[1040]. Seward's "privateering bill" plan possibly entered upon
in a moment of desperation and with no clear statement from him of its
exact application had, as the anxiety of British diplomats became
pronounced, been used with skill to permit, if not to state, the
interpretation they placed upon it, and the result had been the
cessation of that inadequate neutrality of which America complained.


[Footnote 966: In other respects, also, this question of belligerent
ship-building and equipping in neutral ports was, in practice, vaguely
defined. As late as 1843 in the then existing Texan war of independence
against Mexico, the British Foreign Secretary, Aberdeen, had been all at
sea. Mexico made a contract for two ships of war with the English firm
of Lizardi & Company. The crews were to be recruited in England, the
ships were to be commanded by British naval officers on leave, and the
guns were to be purchased from firms customarily supplying the British
Navy. Aberdeen advised the Admiralty to give the necessary authority to
purchase guns. When Texas protested he at first seemed to think strict
neutrality was secured if the same privileges were offered that country.
Later he prohibited naval officers to go in command. One Mexican vessel,
the _Guadaloupe_, left England with full equipment as originally
planned; the other, the _Montezuma_, was forced to strip her equipment.
But both vessels sailed under British naval officers for these were
permitted to resign their commissions. They were later reinstated. In
all this there was in part a temporary British policy to aid Mexico, but
it is also clear that British governmental opinion was much in confusion
as to neutral duty in the case of such ships. See my book, _British
Interests and Activities in Texas_, Ch. IV.]

[Footnote 967: Bullock, _Secret Service under the Confederacy_.]

[Footnote 968: Bernard, _Neutrality of Great Britain during the American
Civil War_, p. 338-9.]

[Footnote 969: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1863, _Commons_, LXXII.
"Correspondence respecting the 'Alabama.'" Also _ibid._, "Correspondence
between Commissioner of Customs and Custom House Authorities at
Liverpool relating to the 'Alabama.'" The last-minute delay was due to
the illness of a Crown adviser.]

[Footnote 970: State Department, Eng., Vol. 81, No. 264. Adams to
Seward, Nov. 21, 1862.]

[Footnote 971: Selborne, in his _Memorials: Family and Personal_, II, p.
430, declared that in frequent official communication with all members
of the Cabinet at the time, "I never heard a word fall from any one of
them expressive of anything but regret that the orders for the detention
of the _Alabama_ were sent too late." Of quite different opinion is
Brooks Adams, in his "The Seizure of the Laird Rams" (_Proceedings_,
Mass. Hist. Soc., Vol. XLV, pp. 243-333). In 1865 his father, the
American Minister, made a diary entry that he had been shown what
purported to be a copy of a note from one V. Buckley to Caleb Huse,
Southern agent in England, warning him of danger to his "protegé." "This
Victor Buckley is a young clerk in the Foreign Office." (_Ibid._, p.
260, _note_.)]

[Footnote 972: Fox, _Confidential Correspondence_, I, p. 165. Fox to
Dupont, Nov. 7, 1862.]

[Footnote 973: It is interesting that the opinion of many Continental
writers on international law was immediately expressed in favour of the
American and against the British contention. This was especially true of
German opinion. (Lutz, _Notes_.)]

[Footnote 974: Lyons Papers. To Lyons, Dec. 20, 1862.]

[Footnote 975: I am aware that Seward's use of the "Privateering Bill,"
now to be recounted is largely a new interpretation of the play of
diplomacy in regard to the question of Southern ship-building in
England. Its significance became evident only when British
correspondence was available; but that correspondence and a careful
comparison of dates permits, and, as I think, requires a revised
statement of the incident of the Laird Rams.]

[Footnote 976: Bullock dreamed also of ascending rivers and laying
Northern cities under contribution. According to a statement made in
1898 by Captain Page, assigned to command the rams, no instructions as
to their use had been given him by the Confederate Government, but his
plans were solely to break the blockade with no thought of attacking
Northern cities. (Rhodes, IV. 385, _note_.)]

[Footnote 977: _U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence_, 1862, p. 134.]

[Footnote 978: Wallbridge, _Addresses and Resolutions_. Pamphlet. New
York, n.d. He began his agitation in 1856, and now received much popular
applause. His pamphlet quotes in support many newspapers from June,
1862, to September, 1863. Wallbridge apparently thought himself better
qualified than Welles to be Secretary of the Navy. Welles regarded his
agitation as instigated by Seward to get Welles out of the Cabinet.
Welles professes that the "Privateering Bill" slipped through Congress
unknown to him and "surreptitiously" (Diary, I, 245-50), a statement
difficult to accept in view of the Senate debates upon it.]

[Footnote 979: Cong. Globe, 37th Congress, 2nd Session, Pt. IV, pp.
3271, 3325 and 3336.]

[Footnote 980: _Ibid._, 3rd Session, Pt. I, pp. 220, 393, and Part II,
pp. 960, 1028, 1489.]

[Footnote 981: Brooks Adams, "The Seizure of the Laird Rams." (Mass.
Hist. Soc. _Proceedings_, Vol. XLV, pp. 265-6.)]

[Footnote 982: _U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence_, 1863, Pt. I, p. 116,
Feb. 19, 1863.]

[Footnote 983: F.O., Am., Vol. 878, No. 180. Lyons to Russell.]

[Footnote 984: _Ibid._, Vol. 879, No. 227. Lyons to Russell, March 10,

[Footnote 985: _Ibid._, No. 235. Lyons to Russell, March 13, 1863.
Privately Lyons also emphasized American anger. (Russell Papers. To
Russell, March 24, 1863.)]

[Footnote 986: _U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence_, 1863, Pt. I, p. 141.
Seward to Adams, March 9, 1863.]

[Footnote 987: F.O., Am., Vol. 869, No. 147. Russell to Lyons, March 24,

[Footnote 988: _Ibid._, Vol. 869, No. 155. Russell to Lyons, March 27,

[Footnote 989: Welles, _Diary_, I, pp. 245-50.]

[Footnote 990: Bigelow, _Retrospections_, I, 634, Slidell to Benjamin,
March 4, 1863.]

[Footnote 991: For example of American contemporary belief and later
"historical tradition," see Balch, _The Alabama Arbitration_, pp. 24-38.
Also for a curious story that a large part of the price paid for Alaska
was in reality a repayment of expenses incurred by Russia in sending her
fleet to America, see _Letters of Franklin K. Lane_, p. 260. The facts
as stated above are given by F.A. Golder, _The Russian Fleet and the
Civil War_ (_Am. Hist. Rev_., July, 1915, pp. 801 _seq_.). The plan was
to have the fleet attack enemy commerce. The idea of aid to the North
was "born on American soil," and Russian officers naturally did nothing
to contradict its spread. In one case, however, a Russian commander was
ready to help the North. Rear-Admiral Papov with six vessels in the
harbour of San Francisco was appealed to by excited citizens on rumours
of the approach of the _Alabama_ and gave orders to protect the city. He
acted without instructions and was later reproved for the order by his
superiors at home.]

[Footnote 992: _The Liberator_, March 6, 1863.]

[Footnote 993: American opinion knew little of this change. An
interesting, if somewhat irrational and irregular plan to thwart
Southern ship-building operations, had been taken up by the United
States Navy Department. This was to buy the Rams outright by the offer
of such a price as, it was thought, would be so tempting to the Lairds
as to make refusal unlikely. Two men, Forbes and Aspinwall, were sent to
England with funds and much embarrassed Adams to whom they discreetly
refrained from stating details, but yet permitted him to guess their
object. The plan of buying ran wholly counter to Adams' diplomatic
protests on England's duty in international law and the agents
themselves soon saw the folly of it. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the
Navy, wrote to Dupont, March 26, 1863: "The Confederate ironclads in
England, I think, will be taken care of." (Correspondence, I, 196.)
Thurlow Weed wrote to Bigelow, April 16, of the purpose of the visit of
Forbes and Aspinwall. (Bigelow, _Retrospections_, I, 632.) Forbes
reported as early as April 18 virtually against going on with the plan.
"We must keep cool here, and prepare the way; we have put new fire into
Mr. Dudley by furnishing _fuel_, and he is hard at it getting
evidence.... My opinion _to-day_ is that we can and shall stop by legal
process and by the British Government the sailing of ironclads and other
war-ships." (Forbes MS. To Fox.) That this was wholly a Navy Department
plan and was disliked by State Department representatives is shown by
Dudley's complaints (Forbes MS.). The whole incident has been adequately
discussed by C.F. Adams, though without reference to the preceding
citations, in his _Studies Military and Diplomatic_, Ch. IX. "An
Historical Residuum," in effect a refutation of an article by Chittenden
written in 1890, in which bad memory and misunderstanding played sad
havoc with historical truth.]

[Footnote 994: _U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence_, 1863, Pt. I, p. 157. To
Seward, March 24, 1863.]

[Footnote 995: _Ibid._, p. 160. To Seward, March 27, 1863.]

[Footnote 996: State Department, Eng., Vol. 82, No. 356. Adams to
Seward, March 27, 1863.]

[Footnote 997: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, March 27, 1863.]

[Footnote 998: Rhodes, IV, p. 369, _notes_, April 4, 1863. Bright was
made very anxious as to Government intentions by this debate.]

[Footnote 999: This topic will be treated at length in Chapter XVIII. It
is here cited merely in relation to its effect on the Government at
the moment.]

[Footnote 1000: Trevelyan, _John Bright_, 307-8.]

[Footnote 1001: Hansard, 3rd Series, CLXX, 33-71, for entire debate.]

[Footnote 1002: _U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence_, 1863, Pt. I, p. 164.
Adams to Seward, March 28, 1863.]

[Footnote 1003: Rhodes, IV, 369-72.]

[Footnote 1004: Palmerston MS.]

[Footnote 1005: Bernard, p. 353. The case was heard in June, and the
seizure held unwarranted. Appealed by the Government this decision was
upheld by the Court of Exchequer in November. It was again appealed, and
the Government defeated in the House of Lords in April, 1864.]

[Footnote 1006: _Manchester Examiner and Times_, April 7, 1863. Goldwin
Smith was one of the principal speakers. Letters were read from Bright,
Forster, R.A. Taylor, and others.]

[Footnote 1007: F.O., Am., Vol. 869, No. 183.]

[Footnote 1008: "Historicus," in articles in the _Times_, was at this
very moment, from December, 1862, on, discussing international law
problems, and in one such article specifically defended the belligerent
right to conduct a cruising squadron blockade. See _Historicus on
International Law_, pp. 99-118. He stated the established principle to
be that search and seizure could be used "not only" for "vessels
actually intercepted in the attempt to enter the blockaded port, but
those also which shall be elsewhere met with and shall be found to have
been destined to such port, with knowledge of the fact and notice of the
blockade." (_Ibid._, p. 108.)]

[Footnote 1009: F.O., Am., Vol. 869, No. 158. Russell to Lyons, March
28, 1863.]

[Footnote 1010: F.O., Am., Vol. 881, No. 309. To Russell.]

[Footnote 1011: _Ibid._, No. 310. To Russell, April 13, 1863.]

[Footnote 1012: Russell Papers. To Russell, April 13, 1863.]

[Footnote 1013: F.O., Am., Vol. 882, No. 324. Copy enclosed in Lyons to
Russell, April 17, 1863.]

[Footnote 1014: Russell Papers. To Russell.]

[Footnote 1015: F.O., Am., Vol. 882, No. 341. Lyons to Russell, April
24, 1863.]

[Footnote 1016: Lyons Papers, April 27, 1863. Lyons wrote: "The stories
in the newspapers about an ultimatum having been sent to England are
untrue. But it is true that it had been determined (or very nearly
determined) to issue letters of marque, if the answers to the despatches
sent were not satisfactory. It is very easy to see that if U.S.
privateers were allowed to capture British merchant vessels on charges
of breach of blockade or carrying contraband of war, the vexations would
have soon become intolerable to our commerce, and a quarrel must
have ensued."]

[Footnote 1017: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1863, _Commons_, LXXII.
"Memorial from Shipowners of Liverpool on Foreign Enlistment Act."]

[Footnote 1018: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 1019: _U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence_, 1863, Pt. I, pp.

[Footnote 1020: The despatch taken in its entirety save for a few
vigorous sentences quite typical of Seward's phrase-making, is not at
all warlike. Bancroft, II, 385 _seq_., makes Seward increasingly anxious
from March to September, and concludes with a truly warlike despatch to
Adams, September 5. This last was the result of Adams' misgivings
reported in mid-August, and it is not until these were received (in my
interpretation) that Seward really began to fear the "pledge" made in
April would not be carried out. Adams himself, in 1864, read to Russell
a communication from Seward denying that his July 11 despatch was
intended as a threat or as in any sense unfriendly to Great Britain.
(F.O., Am., Vol. 939, No. 159. Russell to Lyons, April 3, 1864.)]

[Footnote 1021: _Parliamentary Papers_, 1864, _Commons_, LXII.
"Correspondence respecting iron-clad vessels building at Birkenhead."]

[Footnote 1022: See next chapter.]

[Footnote 1023: State Department, Eng., Vol. 83, No. 452, and No. 453
with enclosure. Adams to Seward, July 16, 1863.]

[Footnote 1024: Rhodes, IV, 381.]

[Footnote 1025: Many of these details were unknown at the time so that
on the face of the documents then available, and for long afterwards,
there appeared ground for believing that Adams' final protests of
September 3 and 5 had forced Russell to yield. Dudley, as late as 1893,
thought that "at the crisis" in September, Palmerston, in the absence of
Russell, had given the orders to stop the rams. (In _Penn. Magazine of
History_, Vol. 17, pp. 34-54. "Diplomatic Relations with England during
the Late War.")]

[Footnote 1026: Rhodes, IV, p. 382.]

[Footnote 1027: The _Times_, Sept. 7, 1863.]

[Footnote 1028: _Ibid._, Editorial, Sept. 16, 1863. The Governmental
correspondence with Lairds was demanded by a motion in Parliament, Feb.
23, 1864, but the Government was supported in refusing it. A printed
copy of this correspondence, issued privately, was placed in Adams'
hands by persons unnamed and sent to Seward on March 29, 1864. Seward
thereupon had this printed in the _Diplomatic Correspondence_, 1864-5,
Pt. I, No. 633.]

[Footnote 1029: State Department, Eng., Vol. 84, No. 492. Adams to
Seward, Sept. 8, 1863.]

[Footnote 1030: _U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence_, 1863, Pt. I, p. 370.
To Seward, Sept. 10, 1863. Adams, looking at the whole matter of the
Rams and the alleged "threat of war" of Sept. 5, from the point of view
of his own anxiety at the time, was naturally inclined to magnify the
effects of his own efforts and to regard the _crisis_ as occurring in
September. His notes to Russell and his diary records were early the
main basis of historical treatment. Rhodes, IV, 381-84, has disproved
the accusation of Russell's yielding to a threat. Brooks Adams (Mass.
Hist. Soc. _Proceedings_, Vol. XLV, p. 293, _seq._) ignores Rhodes,
harks back to the old argument and amplifies it with much new and
interesting citation, but not to conviction. My interpretation is that
the real crisis of Governmental decision to act came in April, and that
events in September were but final applications of that decision.]

[Footnote 1031: Russell Papers. Monck to Stuart, Sept. 26, 1863. Copy in
Stuart to Russell, Oct. 6, 1863.]

[Footnote 1032: _Ibid._, Lyons to Russell, Oct. 16, 1863.]

[Footnote 1033: Hammond wrote to Lyons, Oct. 17: "You will learn by the
papers that we have at last seized the Iron Clads. Whether we shall be
able to bring home to them legally that they were Confederate property
is another matter. I think we can, but at all events no moral doubt can
be entertained of the fact, and, therefore, we are under no anxiety
whether as to the public or Parliamentary view of our proceeding. They
would have played the devil with the American ships, for they are most
formidable ships. I suppose the Yankees will sleep more comfortably in
consequence." (Lyons Papers.) The Foreign Office thought that it had
thwarted plans to seize violently the vessels and get them to sea.
(F.O., Am., Vol. 930. Inglefield to Grey, Oct. 25, and Romaine to
Hammond, Oct. 26, 1863.).]

[Footnote 1034: F.O., Am., Vol. 929. Marked "September, 1863." The draft
summarized the activities of Confederate ship-building and threatened
Southern agents in England with "the penalities of the law...."]

[Footnote 1035: F.O., Am., Vol. 932, No. 1. F.O. to Consul-General
Crawford, Dec. 16, 1863. The South, on October 7, 1863, had already
"expelled" the British consuls. Crawford was to protest against this
also. (_Ibid._, No. 4.)]

[Footnote 1036: Bonham. _British Consuls in the South_, p. 254.
(Columbia Univ. Studies, Vol. 43.)]

[Footnote 1037: Lyons Papers. Russell to Lyons, Dec. 5, 1863. Bullock,
_Secret Service_, declares the British Government to have been neutral
but with strong leaning toward the North.]

[Footnote 1038: Hansard, 3rd Ser., CLXXIII, pp. 430-41, 544-50,
955-1021. The Tory point of view is argued at length by Brooks Adams,
_The Seizure of the Laird Rams_, pp. 312-324.]

[Footnote 1039: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXXIV, pp. 1862-1913. _The Index_,
naturally vicious in comment on the question of the Rams, summed up its
approval of Derby's contentions: "Europe and America alike will
inevitably believe that it was the threat of Mr. Adams, and nothing
else, which induced the Foreign Secretary to retract his letter of the
1st September, and they will draw the necessary conclusion that the way
to extort concessions from England is by bluster and menace." (Feb. 18,
1864, p. 106.)]

[Footnote 1040: Lairds brought suit for damages, but the case never
reached a decision, for the vessels were purchased by the Government.
This has been regarded as acknowledgment by the Government that it had
no case. In my view the failure to push the case to a conclusion was due
to the desire not to commit Great Britain on legal questions, in view of
the claim for damages certain to be set up by the United States on
account of the depredations of the _Alabama_.]



In the mid-period during which the British Government was seeking to
fulfil its promise of an altered policy as regards ship-building and
while the public was unaware that such a promise had been given, certain
extreme friends of the South thought the time had come for renewed
pressure upon the Government, looking toward recognition of the
Confederacy. The _Alexandra_ had been seized in April, but the first
trial, though appealed, had gone against the Government in June, and
there was no knowledge that the Ministry was determined in its stand.
From January to the end of March, 1863, the public demonstrations in
approval of the emancipation proclamation had somewhat checked
expressions of Southern sympathy, but by the month of June old friends
had recovered their courage and a new champion of the South came forward
in the person of Roebuck.

Meanwhile the activities of Southern agents and Southern friends had not
ceased even if they had, for a time, adopted a less vigorous tone. For
four months after the British refusal of Napoleon's overtures on
mediation, in November, 1862, the friends of the South were against
"acting now," but this did not imply that they thought the cause lost or
in any sense hopeless. Publicists either neutral in attitude or even
professedly sympathetic with the North could see no outcome of the Civil
War save separation of North and South. Thus the historian Freeman in
the preface to the first volume of his uncompleted _History of Federal
Government_, published in 1863, carefully explained that his book did
not have its origin in the struggle in America, and argued that the
breaking up of the Union in no way proved any inherent weakness in a
federal system, but took it for granted that American reunion was
impossible. The novelist, Anthony Trollope, after a long tour of the
North, beginning in September, 1861, published late in 1862 a two-volume
work, _North America_, descriptive of a nation engaged in the business
of war and wholly sympathetic with the Northern cause. Yet he, also,
could see no hope of forcing the South back into the Union. "The North
and South are virtually separated, and the day will come in which the
West also will secede[1041]."

Such interpretations of conditions in America were not unusual; they
were, rather, generally accepted. The Cabinet decision in November,
1862, was not regarded as final, though events were to prove it to be so
for never again was there so near an approach to British intervention.
Mason's friend, Spence, early began to think that true Southern policy
was now to make an appeal to the Tories against the Government. In
January, 1863, he was planning a new move:

     "I have written to urge Mr. Gregory to be here in time for a
     thorough organization so as to push the matter this time to a
     vote. I think the Conservatives may be got to move as a body
     and if so the result of a vote seems to me very certain. I
     have seen Mr. Horsfall and Mr. Laird here and will put myself
     in communication with Mr. Disraeli as the time approaches for
     action for this seems to me now our best card[1042]."

That some such effort was being thought of is evidenced by the attitude
of the _Index_ which all through the months from November, 1862, to the
middle of January, 1863, had continued to harp on the subject of
mediation as if still believing that something yet might be done by the
existing Ministry, but which then apparently gave up hope of the
Palmerstonian administration:

     "But what the Government means is evident enough. It does not
     mean to intervene or to interfere. It will not mediate, if it
     can help it; it will not recognize the Confederate States,
     unless there should occur some of those 'circumstances over
     which they have no control,' which leave weak men and weak
     ministers no choice. They will not, if they are not forced to
     it, quarrel with Mr. Seward, or with Mr. Bright. They will
     let Lancashire starve; they will let British merchantmen be
     plundered off Nassau and burnt off Cuba; they will submit to
     a blockade of Bermuda or of Liverpool; but they will do
     nothing which may tend to bring a supply of cotton from the
     South, or to cut off the supply of eggs and bacon from the

But this plan of 'turning to the Tories' received scant encouragement
and was of no immediate promise, as soon appeared by the debate in
Parliament on reassembling, February 5, 1863. Derby gave explicit
approval of the Government's refusal to listen to Napoleon[1044]. By
February, Russell, having recovered from the smart of defeat within the
Cabinet, declared himself weary of the perpetual talk about mediation
and wrote to Lyons, "... till both parties are heartily tired and sick
of the business, I see no use in talking of good offices. When that time
comes Mercier will probably have a hint; let him have all the honour and
glory of being the first[1045]." For the time being Spence's idea was
laid aside, Gregory writing in response to an inquiry from Mason:

     "The House of Commons is opposed to taking any step at
     present, feeling rightly or wrongly that to do so would be
     useless to the South, and possibly embroil us with the North.
     Any motion on the subject will be received with disfavour,
     consequently the way in which it will be treated will only
     make the North more elated, and will irritate the South
     against us. If I saw the slightest chance of a motion being
     received with any favour I would not let it go into other
     hands, but I find the most influential men of all Parties
     opposed to it[1046]."

Of like opinion was Slidell who, writing of the situation in France,
reported that he had been informed by his "friend at the Foreign Office"
that "It is believed that every possible thing has been done here in
your behalf--we must now await the action of England, and it is through
that you must aim all your efforts in that direction[1047]."

With the failure, at least temporary, of Southern efforts to move the
British Government or to stir Parliament, energies were now directed
toward using financial methods of winning support for the Southern
cause. The "Confederate Cotton Loan" was undertaken with the double
object of providing funds for Southern agents in Europe and of creating
an interested support of the South, which might, it was hoped,
ultimately influence the British Government.

By 1863 it had become exceedingly difficult, owing to the blockade, for
the Government at Richmond to transmit funds to its agents abroad.
Bullock, especially, required large amounts in furtherance of his
ship-building contracts and was embarrassed by the lack of business
methods and the delays of the Government at home. The incompetence of
the Confederacy in finance was a weakness that characterized all of its
many operations whether at home or abroad[1048] and was made evident in
England by the confusion in its efforts to establish credits there. At
first the Confederate Government supplied its agents abroad with drafts
upon the house of Fraser, Trenholm & Company, of Liverpool, a branch of
the firm long established at Charleston, South Carolina, purchasing its
bills of exchange with its own "home made" money. But as Confederate
currency rapidly depreciated this method of transmitting funds became
increasingly difficult and costly. The next step was to send to Spence,
nominated by Mason as financial adviser in England, Confederate money
bonds for sale on the British market, with authority to dispose of them
as low as fifty cents on the dollar, but these found no takers[1049]. By
September, 1862, Bullock's funds for ship-building were exhausted and
some new method of supply was required. Temporary relief was found in
adopting a suggestion from Lindsay whereby cotton was made the basis for
an advance of £60,000, a form of cotton bond being devised which fixed
the price of cotton at eightpence the pound. These bonds were not put on
the market but were privately placed by Lindsay & Company with a few
buyers for the entire sum, the transaction remaining secret[1050].

In the meantime this same recourse to cotton had occurred to the
authorities at Richmond and a plan formulated by which cotton should be
purchased by the Government, stored, and certificates issued to be sold
abroad, the purchaser being assured of "all facilities of shipment."
Spence was to be the authorized agent for the sale of these "cotton
certificates," but before any reached him various special agents of the
Confederacy had arrived in England by December, 1862, with such
certificates in their possession and had disposed of some of them,
calling them "cotton warrants." The difficulties which might arise from
separate action in the market were at once perceived and following a
conference with Mason all cotton obligations were turned to Fraser,
Trenholm & Company. Spence now had in his hands the "money bonds" but no
further attempt was made to dispose of these since the "cotton warrants"
were considered a better means of raising funds.

It is no doubt true that since all of these efforts involved a
governmental guarantee the various "certificates" or "warrants" partook
of the nature of a government bond. Yet up to this point the Richmond
authorities, after the first failure to sell "money bonds" abroad were
not keen to attempt anything that could be stamped as a foreign
"government loan." Their idea was rather that a certain part of the
produce of the South was being set aside as the property of those who in
England should extend credit to the South. The sole purpose of these
earlier operations was to provide funds for Southern agents. By July,
1862, Bullock had exhausted his earlier credit of a million dollars. The
£60,000 loan secured through Lindsay then tided over an emergency demand
and this had been followed by a development on similar lines of the
"cotton certificates" and "warrants" which by December, 1862, had
secured, through Spence's agency, an additional million dollars or
thereabouts. Mason was strongly recommending further expansion of this
method and had the utmost confidence in Spence. Now, however, there was
broached to the authorities in Richmond a proposal for the definite
floating in Europe of a specified "cotton loan."

This proposal came through Slidell at Paris and was made by the
well-established firm of Erlanger & Company. First approached by this
company in September, 1862, Slidell consulted Mason but found the latter
strongly committed to his own plans with Spence[1051]. But Slidell
persisted and Mason gave way[1052]. Representatives of Erlanger
proceeded to Richmond and proposed a loan of twenty-five million
dollars; they were surprised to find the Confederate Government
disinclined to the idea of a foreign loan, and the final agreement, cut
to fifteen millions, was largely made because of the argument advanced
that as a result powerful influences would thus be brought to the
support of the South[1053]. The contract was signed at Richmond, January
28, 1863, and legalized by a secret act of Congress on the day
following[1054]. But there was no Southern enthusiasm for the project.
Benjamin wrote to Mason that the Confederacy disclaimed the "desire or
intention on our part to effect a loan in Europe ... during the war we
want only such very moderate sums as are required abroad for the
purchase of warlike supplies and for vessels, and even that is not
required because of our want of funds, but because of the difficulties
of remittance"; as for the Erlanger contract the Confederacy "would have
declined it altogether but for the political considerations indicated by
Mr. Slidell[1055]...."

From Mason's view-point the prime need was to secure money; from
Slidell's (at least so asserted) it was to place a loan with the purpose
of establishing strong friends. It had been agreed to suspend the
operations of Spence until the result of Erlanger's offer was learned,
but pressure brought by Caleb Huse, purchasing agent of the Confederacy,
caused a further sale of "cotton warrants[1056]." Spence, fearing he was
about to be shelved, became vexed and made protest to Mason, while
Slidell regarded Spence[1057] as a weak and meddlesome agent[1058]. But
on February 14, 1863, Erlanger's agents returned to Paris and
uncertainty was at an end. Spence went to Paris, saw Erlanger, and
agreed to co-operate in floating the loan[1059]. Then followed a
remarkable bond market operation, interesting, not so much as regards
the financial returns to the South, for these were negligible, as in
relation to the declared object of Slidell and the Richmond
Government--namely, the "strong influences" that would accompany the
successful flotation of a loan.

Delay in beginning operations was caused by the failure to receive
promptly the authenticated copy of the Act of Congress authorizing the
loan, which did not arrive until March 18. By this contract Erlanger &
Company, sole managers of the loan, had guaranteed flotation of the
entire $15,000,000 at not less than 77, the profit of the Company to be
five per cent., plus the difference between 77 and the actual price
received, but the first $300,000 taken was to be placed at once at the
disposal of the Government. The bonds were put on the market March 19,
in London, Liverpool, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt, but practically
all operations were confined to England. The bid for the loan was
entitled "_Seven per Cent. Cotton Loan of the Confederate States of
America for_ 3 _Millions Sterling at_ 90 _per Cent_." The bonds were to
bear interest at seven per cent. and were to be exchangeable for cotton
at the option of the holder at the price of sixpence "for each pound of
cotton, at any time not later than six months after the ratification of
a treaty of peace between the present belligerents." There were
provisions for the gradual redemption of the bonds in gold for those who
did not desire cotton. Subscribers were to pay 5 per cent. on
application. 10 per cent. on allotment, 10 per cent. on each of the
days, the first of May, June and July, 1863, and 15 per cent. on the
first of August, September and October.

Since the price of cotton in England was then 21 pence per pound it was
thought here was a sufficiently wide margin to offer at least a good
chance of enormous profits to the buyer of the bonds. True "the loan was
looked upon as a wild cotton speculation[1060]," but odds were so large
as to induce a heavy gamblers' plunge, for it seemed hardly conceivable
that cotton could for some years go below sevenpence per pound, and even
that figure would have meant profit, _if_ the Confederacy were
established. Moreover, even though the loan was not given official
recognition by the London stock exchange, the financial columns of the
_Times_ and the _Economist_ favoured it and the subscriptions were so
prompt and so heavy that in two days the loan was reported as
over-subscribed three times in London alone[1061]. With the closing of
the subscription the bonds went up to 95-1/2. Slidell wrote: "It is a
financial recognition of our independence, emanating from a class
proverbially cautious, and little given to be influenced by sentiment or
sympathy[1062]." On Friday, March 27, the allotment took place and three
days later Mason wrote, "I think I may congratulate you, therefore, on
the triumphant success of our infant credit--it shows, _malgré_ all
detraction and calumny, that cotton is king at last[1063]."

"Alas for the King! Two days later his throne began to tremble and it
took all the King's horses and all the King's men to keep him in
state[1064]." On April 1, the flurry of speculation had begun to falter
and the loan was below par; on the second it dropped to 3-1/2 discount,
and by the third the promoters and the Southern diplomats were very
anxious. They agreed that someone must be "bearing" the bonds and
suspected Adams of supplying Northern funds for that purpose[1065].
Spence wrote from Liverpool in great alarm and coincidently Erlanger &
Company urged that Mason should authorize the use of the receipts
already secured to hold up the price of the bonds. Mason was very
reluctant to do this[1066], but finally yielded when informed of the
result of an interview between Spence, Erlanger, and the latter's chief
London agent, Schroeder. Spence had proposed a withdrawal of a part of
the loan from the market as likely to have a stabilizing effect, and
opposed the Erlanger plan of using the funds already in hand. But
Schroeder coolly informed him that if the Confederate representative
refused to authorize the use of these funds to sustain the market,
then Erlanger would regard his Company as having "completed their
contract ... which was simply to issue the Loan." "Having issued it,
they did not and do not guarantee that the public would pay up their
instalments. If the public abandon the loan, the 15 per cent sacrificed
is, in point of fact, not the property of the Government at all, but the
profits of Messrs. Erlanger & Co., actually in their hands, and they
cannot be expected to take a worse position. At any rate they will not
do so, and unless the compact can be made on the basis we name, matters
must take their course[1067]."

In the face of this ultimatum, Spence advised yielding as he "could not
hesitate ... seeing that nothing could be so disastrous politically, as
well as financially, as the public break-down of the Loan[1068]." Mason
gave the required authorization and this was later approved from
Richmond. For a time the "bulling" of the loan was successful, but again
and again required the use of funds received from actual sales of bonds
and in the end the loan netted very little to the Confederacy. Some
$6,000,000 was squandered in supporting the market and from the entire
operation it is estimated that less than $7,000,000 was realized by the
Confederacy, although, as stated by the _Economist_, over $12,000,000 of
the bonds were outstanding and largely in the hands of British investors
at the end of the war[1069].

The loan soon became, not as had been hoped and prophesied by Slidell,
a source of valuable public support, but rather a mere barometer of
Southern fortunes[1070]. From first to last the Confederate Cotton Loan
bore to subscribers the aspect of a speculative venture and lacked the
regard attached to sound investment. This fact in itself denied to the
loan any such favourable influence, or "financial recognition of the
Confederacy," as Mason and Slidell, in the first flush of success,
attributed to it. The rapid fluctuations in price further discredited it
and tended to emphasize the uncertainty of Southern victory. Thus
"confidence in the South" was, if anything, lessened instead of
increased by this turning from political to financial methods of
bringing pressure upon the Government[1071].

Southern political and parliamentary pressure had indeed been reserved
from January to June, 1863. Public attention was distracted from the war
in America by the Polish question, which for a time, particularly during
the months of March and April, 1863, disturbed the good relations
existing between England and France since the Emperor seemed bent on
going beyond British "meddling," even to pursuing a policy that easily
might lead to war with Russia. Europe diverted interest from America,
and Napoleon himself was for the moment more concerned over the Polish
question than with American affairs, even though the Mexican venture was
still a worry to him. It was no time for a British parliamentary "push"
and when a question was raised on the cotton famine in Lancashire
little attention was given it, though ordinarily it would have been
seized upon as an opportunity for a pro-Southern demonstration. This was
a bitter attack by one Ferrand in the Commons, on April 27, directed
against the cotton manufacturers as lukewarm over employees' sufferings.
Potter, a leading cotton manufacturer, replied to the attack. Potter and
his brother were already prominent as strong partisans of the North, yet
no effort was made to use the debate to the advantage of the

In late May both necessity and fortuitous circumstance seemed to make
advisable another Southern effort in Parliament. The cotton loan, though
fairly strong again because of Confederate governmental aid, was in fact
a failure in its expected result of public support for the South;
something must be done to offset that failure. In Polish affairs France
had drawn back; presumably Napoleon was again eager for some active
effort. Best of all, the military situation in America was thought to
indicate Southern success; Grant's western campaign had come to a halt
with the stubborn resistance of the great Mississippi stronghold at
Vicksburg, while in Virginia, Lee, on May 2-3, had overwhelmingly
defeated Hooker at Chancellorsville and was preparing, at last, a
definite offensive campaign into Northern territory. Lee's advance north
did not begin until June 10, but his plan was early known in a select
circle in England and much was expected of it. The time seemed ripe,
therefore, and the result was notification by Roebuck of a motion for
the recognition of the Confederacy--first step the real purpose of which
was to attempt that 'turning to the Tories' which had been advocated by
Spence in January, but postponed on the advice of Gregory[1073]. _The
Index_ clearly indicated where lay the wind: "No one," it declared "now
asks what will be the policy of Great Britain towards America; but
everybody anxiously waits on what the Emperor of the French will do."

     "... England to-day pays one of the inevitable penalties of
     free government and of material prosperity, that of having at
     times at the head of national affairs statesmen who belong
     rather to the past than to the present, and whose skill and
     merit are rather the business tact and knowledge of details,
     acquired by long experience, than the quick and prescient
     comprehension of the requirements of sudden emergencies....

     "The nominal conduct of Foreign Affairs is in the hands of a
     diplomatic Malaprop, who has never shown vigour, activity, or
     determination, except where the display of these qualities
     was singularly unneeded, or even worse than useless.... From
     Great Britain, then, under her actual Government, the Cabinet
     at Washington has nothing to fear, and the Confederate States
     nothing to expect[1074]."

Of main interest to the public was the military situation. The _Times_
minimized the western campaigns, regarding them as required for
political effect to hold the north-western states loyal to the Union,
and while indulging in no prophecies as to the fate of Vicksburg,
expressing the opinion that, if forced to surrender it, the South could
easily establish "a new Vicksburg" at some other point[1075]. Naturally
_The Index_ was pleased with and supported this view[1076]. Such
ignorance of the geographic importance of Vicksburg may seem like wilful
misleading of the public; but professed British military experts were
equally ignorant. Captain Chesney, Professor of Military History at
Sandhurst College, published in 1863, an analysis of American campaigns,
centering all attention on the battles in Maryland and Virginia and
reaching the conclusion that the South could resist, indefinitely, any
Northern attack[1077]. He dismissed the western campaigns as of no real
significance. W.H. Russell, now editor of the _Army and Navy Gazette_,
better understood Grant's objectives on the Mississippi but believed
Northern reconquest of the South to the point of restoration of the
Union to be impossible. If, however, newspaper comments on the success
of Southern armies were to be regarded as favourable to Roebuck's motion
for recognition, W.H. Russell was against it.

     "If we could perceive the smallest prospect of awaking the
     North to the truth, or of saving the South from the loss and
     trials of the contest by recognition, we would vote for it
     to-morrow. But next to the delusion of the North that it can
     breathe the breath of life into the corpse of the murdered
     Union again, is the delusion of some people in England who
     imagine that by recognition we would give life to the South,
     divide the nations on each side of the black and white line
     for ever, and bring this war to the end. There is probably
     not one of these clamourers for recognition who could define
     the limits of the State to be recognized.... And, over and
     above all, recognition, unless it meant 'war,' would be an
     aggravation of the horrors of the contest; it would not aid
     the South one whit, and it would add immensely to the unity
     and the fury of the North[1078]."

The British Foreign Secretary was at first little concerned at Roebuck's
motion, writing to Lyons, "You will see that Roebuck has given notice of
a motion to recognize the South. But I think it certain that neither
Lord Derby nor Cobden will support it, and I should think no great
number of the Liberal party. Offshoots from all parties will compose the
minority[1079]." Russell was correct in this view but not so did it
appear to Southern agents who now became active at the request of
Roebuck and Lindsay in securing from the Emperor renewed expressions of
willingness to act, and promptly, if England would but give the word.
There was no real hope that Russell would change his policy, but there
seemed at least a chance of replacing the Whig Ministry with a Tory one.
The date for the discussion of the motion had been set for June 30. On
June 13, Lindsay, writing to Slidell, enclosed a letter from Roebuck
asking for an interview with Napoleon[1080], and on June 16, Mason wrote
that if Slidell saw the Emperor it was of the greatest importance that
he, Mason, should be at once informed of the results and how far he
might communicate them to "our friends in the House[1081]." Slidell saw
the Emperor on June 18, talked of the possibility of "forcing the
English Cabinet to act or to give way to a new ministry," asked that an
interview be given Lindsay and Roebuck, and hinted that Lord Malmesbury,
a warm friend of the Emperor, would probably be the Foreign Secretary in
a Tory cabinet. Napoleon made no comment indicating any purpose to aid
in upsetting the Palmerston Government; but consented to the requested
interview and declared he would go to the length of officially informing
the British Ministry that France was very ready to discuss the
advisability of recognizing the South[1082].

This was good news. June 22, Slidell received a note from Mocquard
stating that Baron Gros, the French Ambassador at London, had been
instructed to sound Russell. Meanwhile, Roebuck and Lindsay had hurried
to Paris, June 20, saw Napoleon and on the twenty-fifth, Slidell
reported that they were authorized to state in the House of Commons that
France was "not only willing but anxious to recognize the Confederate
States with the co-operation of England[1083]." Slidell added, however,
that Napoleon had not promised Roebuck and Lindsay to make a formal
proposal to Great Britain. This rested on the assurances received by
Slidell from Mocquard, and when Mason, who had let the assurance be
known to his friends, wrote that Russell, replying to Clanricarde, on
June 26, had denied any official communication from France, and asked
for authority from Slidell to back up his statements by being permitted
to give Roebuck a copy of the supposed instruction[1084], he received a
reply indicating confusion somewhere:

     "I called yesterday on my friend at the Affaires Etrangeres
     on the subject of your note of Saturday: he has just left me.
     M.D. de Lh. will not give a copy of his instructions to Baron
     Gros--but this is the substance of it. On the 19th he
     directed Baron Gros to take occasion to say to leading
     Members of Parliament that the Emperor's opinions on the
     subject of American affairs were unchanged. That he was
     disposed with the co-operation of England immediately to
     recognize the Confederate States; this was in the form of a
     draft letter, not a despatch. On the 22nd, he officially
     instructed the Baron to sound _Palmerston_ on the subject and
     to inform him of the Emperor's views and wishes. This was
     done in consequence of a note from the Emperor, to the
     Minister, in which he said, 'Je me demande, s'il ne serait
     bien d'avertir Lord Palmerston, que je suis décidé à
     reconnaître le Sud.' This is by far the most significant
     thing that the Emperor has said, either to me or to the
     others. It renders me comparatively indifferent what England
     may do or omit doing. At all events, let Mr. Roebuck press
     his motion and make his statement of the Emperor's
     declaration. Lord Palmerston will not dare to dispute it and
     the responsibility of the continuance of the war will rest
     entirely upon him. M. Drouyn de Lhuys has not heard from
     Baron Gros the result of his interview with Palmerston. I
     see that the latter has been unwell and it is probable that
     the former had not been able to see him. There can be no
     impropriety in Mr. Roebuck's seeing Baron Gros, who will
     doubtless give him information which he will use to
     advantage. I write in great haste; will you do me the favour
     to let Lord Campbell know the substance of this note,
     omitting that portion of it which relates to the Emperor's
     inclination to act alone. Pray excuse me to Lord Campbell for
     not writing to him, time not permitting me to do so[1085]."

This did not satisfy Mason; he telegraphed on the twenty-ninth, "Can I
put in hands of Roebuck copy of Mocquard's note brought by
Corcoran[1086]." To which Slidell replied by letter:

     "For fear the telegraph may commit some blunder I write to
     say that M. Mocquard's note, being confidential, cannot be
     _used in any way_. I showed it to Messrs. Roebuck and Lindsay
     when they were here and have no objection that they should
     again see it confidentially[1087]."

On June 29, Roebuck went to Baron Gros and received the information that
no formal communication had been made to Russell. The next day in an
effort in some way to secure an admission of what Mason and his friends
believed to be the truth, Lord Campbell asked Russell in the House of
Lords if he had received either a document or a verbal communication
outlining Napoleon's desires. Russell replied that Baron Gros had told
him "an hour ago" that he had not even received any instruction to
deliver such a communication[1088]. This was in the hours preceding the
debate, now finally to occur in the Commons. Evidently there had been an
error in the understanding of Napoleon by Slidell, Roebuck and Lindsay,
or else there was a question of veracity between Russell, Baron Gros
and Napoleon.

Roebuck's motion was couched in the form of a request to the Queen to
enter into negotiations with foreign powers for co-operation in
recognition of the Confederacy. Roebuck argued that the South had in
fact established its independence and that this was greatly to England's
advantage since it put an end to the "threatening great power" in the
West. He repeated old arguments based on suffering in Lancashire--a
point his opponents brushed aside as no longer of dangerous
concern--attacked British anti-slavery sentiment as mere hypocrisy and
minimized the dangers of a war with the North, prophesying an easy
victory for Great Britain. Then, warmed to the real attack on the
Government Roebuck related at length his interview with Napoleon,
claiming to have been commissioned by the Emperor to urge England to
action and asserting that since Baron Gros had been instructed to apply
again to the British Cabinet it must be evident that the Ministry was
concealing something from Parliament. Almost immediately, however, he
added that Napoleon had told him no formal French application could be
renewed to Great Britain since Russell had revealed to Seward, through
Lyons, the contents of a former application.

Thus following the usual pro-Southern arguments, now somewhat
perfunctorily given, the bolt against the Government had been shot with
all of Roebuck's accustomed "vigour" of utterance[1089]. Here was direct
attack; that it was a futile one early became evident in the debate.
Lord Robert Montagu, while professing himself a friend of the South, was
sarcastic at the expense of Roebuck's entrance into the field of
diplomacy, enlarged upon the real dangers of becoming involved in the
war, and moved an amendment in favour of continued British neutrality.
Palmerston was absent, being ill, but Gladstone, for the Government,
while carefully avoiding expressions of sympathy for either North or
South, yet going out of his way to pass a moral judgment on the disaster
to political liberty if the North should wholly crush the South, was
positive in assertion that it would be unwise to adopt either Roebuck's
motion or Montagu's amendment. Great Britain should not _commit_ herself
to any line of policy, especially as military events were "now
occurring" which might greatly alter the whole situation, though "the
main result of the contest was not doubtful." Here spoke that element of
the Ministry still convinced of ultimate Southern success.

If Gladstone's had been the only reply to Roebuck he and his friends
might well have thought they were about to secure a ministerial change
of front. But it soon appeared that Gladstone spoke more for himself
than for the Government. Roebuck had made a direct accusation and in
meeting this, Layard, for the Foreign Office, entered a positive and
emphatical denial, in which he was supported by Sir George Grey, Home
Secretary, who added sharp criticism of Roebuck for permitting himself
to be made the channel of a French complaint against England. It early
became evident to the friends of the South that an error in tactics had
been committed and in two directions; first, in the assertion that a new
French offer had been made when it was impossible to present proof of
it; and second, in bringing forward what amounted to an attempt to
unseat the Ministry without previously committing the Tories to a
support of the motion. Apparently Disraeli was simply letting Roebuck
"feel out" the House. The only member of the Tory party strongly
supporting him was Lord Robert Cecil, in a speech so clearly a mere
party one that it served to increase the strength of ministerial
resistance. Friends of the North quickly appreciated the situation and
in strong speeches supported the neutrality policy of the Government.
Forster laid stress upon the danger of war and the strength of British
emancipation sentiment as did Bright in what was, read to-day, the most
powerful of all his parliamentary utterances on the American war. In
particular Bright voiced a general disbelief in the accuracy of
Roebuck's report of his interview with Napoleon, called upon his
"friend" Lindsay for his version[1090]