A Century of American Diplomacy/Chapter X

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A Century of American Diplomacy by John W. Foster
Chapter X: During the Civil War


AT no time since the foundation of the government have our diplomatic relations been of such an intense and critical nature as during the Civil War. President Lincoln was fortunate in his selection of a Secretary of State in the person of William H. Seward, although his choice had been controlled mainly by considerations of domestic politics, the secretary having been Mr. Lin- coln's chief competitor before the nominating conven- tion. Probably no man in the country was better fitted for the arduous and trying duties of his important post. Besides an honorable standing in his profession of the law, he had filled the place of governor of his State (New York), and senator, had taken an active part in build- ing up the anti-slavery sentiment which brought his party into power and occasioned the war; and, although never in the diplomatic service, he had traveled abroad and served on the Senate Committee on Foreign Rela- tions. His whole soul was absorbed in the terrible con- test upon which his party and the country had entered, and his hopeful temperament stood him in good stead in the dark days of the struggle when the sympathy of the nations of the world appeared to be turned against us.

The contest between the States of the North and the


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South seemed at times evenly balanced and the outcome doubtful, but the result was never in reality uncertain if it should continue a domestic combat. The great danger for the Union was in the unfriendly conduct of European nations and especially of Great Britain, and our diplomacy was steadily taxed to the utmost to prevent intervention. From the beginning the sympa- thy of the government and the ruling and upper classes of England was plainly on the side of the Southern Confederacy. It seemed an inconsistent position for the nation which had led the van in the anti-slavery movement, but there were other and more powerful motives which influenced its conduct. From the date of our independence it had grudgingly yielded our just claims. The marvelous development of the American republic had been regarded with ill-disguised disfavor by the aristocracy. The American spirit was held to be presumptuous and boastful in an offensive degree. The policy of free trade upon which Great Britain had entered, it was thought, would be best subserved by the triumph of the Confederacy; and the breaking up of the great democracy was a welcome anticipation.

There existed a widespread conviction in Europe that a disruption of the United States was inevitable. This conviction was not unnatural in view of the senti- ments expressed by the President then in office and by many of the public men in all sections of our country. President Buchanan, in his annual message of Decem- ber 4, I860, 1 had announced in evasive language that he was resolved to execute the laws and defend and

1 5 Richardson's Messages, 626.


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protect the property of the United States, and that while the right of secession did not exist, there was no power in the federal government to coerce a State. It was a confession before the world of the impotence of the general government in the presence of the greatest danger that had ever threatened the existence of the Union. As epitomized by Mr. Seward, then a senator, the message " shows conclusively that it is the duty of the President to execute the laws unless somebody opposes him; and that no State has a right to go out of the Union unless it wants to." 1 This message was the only official utterance to guide the conduct of the American diplomatic representatives in Europe through the dreary winter of 186061, and during that period a number of these representatives were busy in behalf of the rapidly forming Southern Con- federacy, and at least one of them was using his official influence to procure arms for that cause. 2

It was only four days before the inauguration of President Lincoln that the new Secretary of State, Mr. Black, 3 issued a circular dispatch to our representatives abroad instructing them to exert their influence to pre- vent any recognition of the seceded States. 4 This was followed within ten days by another circular dispatch from Secretary Seward, announcing the advent of the new administration, inclosing a copy of President Lin- coln's inaugural address, and instructing our represent-

1 2 Life of Seward, by F. W. Seward, 480.

2 1 Moore's Rebellion Record; N. Y. Times, Aug. 13, 1861.

8 Jeremiah S. Black succeeded Lewis Cass as Secretary of State, Dec. 17, 1860.

  • Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861, p. 31.


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atives in Europe " to exercise the greatest possible dili- gence and fidelity to counteract and prevent the designs of those who would invoke foreign intervention to em- barrass or overthrow the republic." 1 As rapidly as possible the missions in Europe were filled with new representatives who possessed the confidence of the administration and were inspired by loyalty to the gov- ernment; but an irreparable injury had already been done the cause of the Union by its unfaithful or indif- ferent ministers.

Mr. George M. Dallas, the Buchanan minister in London (whose " loyalty and fidelity, too rare in these times/' was commended by Mr. Seward), as soon as the latter's circular was received, sought an interview with Lord John Russell, the British Secretary for Foreign Affairs, to lay its contents before him and learn the views and intentions of the British government. In this interview he received encouraging assurances from Lord John Russell, but at their next conference the minister was informed by his lordship that the com- missioners from the Southern Confederacy had arrived in London, and that it was his intention to receive them unofficially. 2

The dispatch of Mr. Dallas conveying this intel- ligence awakened in Secretary Seward a feeling of intense indignation, and in this state of mind he wrote an instruction to the newly appointed minister to Great Britain, Charles Francis Adams, which has become cele- brated both for its extraordinary tone and for the trans- formation it underwent at the hands of the President. 1 Diplomatic Correspondence 1861, p. 32. a Ib. 81, 83.


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It was intemperate and menacing in the extreme, threat- ening Great Britain with war if she should recognize the Confederacy; instructing Mr. Adams to break off diplomatic relations if even unofficial intercourse was established with the rebel commissioners; and intimat- ing that the United States would not hesitate to enter into hostilities with, one, two, or even more of the Eu- ropean nations to maintain its dignity and integrity.

As was his custom, Mr. Seward read the draft of the dispatch to President Lincoln before preparing it for transmission. Lincoln at once detected its extraordi- nary and dangerous character, and quietly asked his secretary to leave it with him for examination. When it was returned to the State Department, it had under- gone an important transformation. The President had struck out a number of the most irritating and offen- sive sentences and phrases; with his own pen he had softened and modified others, and had changed its en- tire character. As originally written, Mr. Adams was directed to read it to the British Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and leave with him a copy. Under Lincoln's modification it became only an expression of the views of the government for the confidential guidance of the American minister. The original draft, with the Presi- dent's changes and annotations, is reproduced in the life of Lincoln, by his private secretaries, and furnishes a most interesting study. 1 In its final official form it appears in the Diplomatic Correspondence as No. 10, May 21, 1861. 2

The delivery of the dispatch in its original text at 1 4 Nicolay and Hay's Lincoln, 270. 2 Dip. Cor. 1861, p. 87.


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the British Foreign Office would undoubtedly have occasioned a suspension of diplomatic intercourse, and in all probability would have led to hostilities by Great Britain and France jointly against the United States. For such a suicidal policy some other explanation is required than that which upon its face occasioned the dispatch, the expected unofficial reception by Lord John Russell of the Confederate commissioners. Lin- coln's biographers, many years after the event, made public a paper which throws much light on the May 21st dispatch. On April 1, 1861, Mr. Seward sub- mitted to the President a paper more extraordinary even than the dispatch, entitled by him, u Some thoughts for the President's consideration." l It was divided into two parts, one relating to domestic, and the other to foreign matters. He would change the question agitating the country from slavery to union or disunion. To do this, in foreign matters, he would create a foreign war, and to bring this about would address specific demands against Spain and France, and if these were not conceded Congress should be convoked and war declared against them. In this way a spirit for the maintenance of the nation's existence would be awakened throughout the South as well as the North, which would silence the slavery agitation. As these radical measures would involve something of the qualities of a dictator- ship, he coolly offers the President his services in that capacity, if the latter will transfer the executive func- tions to him.

It did not require the practical, matter-of-fact Lincoln

1 3 Nicolay and Hay's Lincoln, 445.


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much study to see the utterly visionary and dangerous character of this paper, and he sent Seward on the same day an answer which must have convinced him that a master mind was in control of the administration. 1 In this reply he reviews some of the points of his secre- tary's paper, and in reply to the closing proposition, that he abdicate his functions, he adds as to the measures recommended : " If this must be done, I must do it." This ended the discussion. The secretary's " Thoughts" and the President's reply were privately filed away, and it does not appear that any other member of the Cabi- net had knowledge of them.

The paper of April 1 enables us to better understand the dispatch to Mr. Adams of May 21. Mr. Seward was laboring under the hallucination that a foreign war was a remedy for disunion, and he saw in the unofficial reception of the Confederate commissioners the desired opportunity of forcing Great Britain into a conflict. Further indications exist that such intent was in his mind. Russell, the war correspondent of the London Times, reported an interview with Mr. Seward as late as July 4, 1861, in which the latter spoke freely of the probability of a European war, and he said, " a contest between Great Britain and the United States would wrap the world in fire, and at the end it would not be the United States which would have to lament the re- sult of the conflict." 2 Cobden wrote Senator Sumner, in 1861 : " There is an impression, I know, in high quarters here that Mr. Seward wishes to quarrel with this country." 3

  • Ib. 448. 2 Russell's Diary, 381.

8 Morley's Cobden, 573; 4 Pierce's Sumner, 60.


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This impression in England had its origin in a story told by the Duke of Newcastle, a member of the British cabinet. The duke accompanied the Prince of Wales on his visit to the United States in I860, and he relates that at a dinner party in honor of the prince at Albany, New York, Mr. Seward told him that in the next administration he should probably occupy high office, and that "it would become his duty to insult England, and that he should insult her accordingly." 1 Mr. Seward, when his attention was called to it, pro- nounced the story a silly falsehood. 2 Whatever foun- dation there was for the statement must have been some after-dinner pleasantry on the part of Mr. Seward, possibly not sufficiently refined to be appreciated by his grace. But its damaging effect upon the Ameri- can secretary's reputation and influence was not only recognized by such friends as Cobden and Bright, but by Mr. Adams and Thurlow Weed, then in London.

Mr. Seward, in common with many other loyal and experienced public men of the North, was bewildered by the extent of the secession movement. He tena- ciously clung to two delusions : first, that there would be no serious or protracted civil war; and, second, that even after the States had seceded, the Union men were in a majority in those States. He became impressed that a foreign war would afford an opportunity for this Union sentiment to assert itself and force aside the secession movement. He was not cured of his error till after the first great disaster of Bull Run. He then

1 London Times, Dec. 14, 1861; 3 Life of Seward, 29, 30.

2 Ib. 37.


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saw that the questions at issue between the North and the South could only be settled by the arbitrament of war; and, once convinced, he thenceforward lent all the resources of his mind to so shape the policy of the government as to prevent complications or conflict with foreign nations.

In the interview which Mr. Dallas had with Lord John Russell, already noticed, the latter referred to the question of the recognition of the Southern Confed- eracy, the rumored intention of the United States to establish a blockade of the Southern ports, and other matters which were pressing upon the attention of the British cabinet; but he gave Mr. Dallas the assurance that as the new minister, Mr. Adams, was soon expected to arrive, his coming " would doubtless be regarded as the appropriate and natural occasion for finally discuss- ing and determining " these questions. 1 But in strange contrast with this assurance, within five days his lord- ship announced in Parliament that it had been deter- mined to concede belligerent rights to the Confederacy, and in his remarks he referred to the United States as "the late Union." On the 13th of May, the day of the arrival of Mr. Adams in Liverpool, the queen's proclamation of neutrality, conceding belligerent rights to the insurgent government, was published officially. 2

This first public act of the British government was received with surprise and resentment in the United States, as it was regarded as a hasty and unfriendly step taken by a power to which we looked for sympathy and

1 Dip. Cor. 1861, pp. 82-84.

2 For copy of proclamation, 1 Moore's Reb. Record, 245.


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favor. Mr. Seward characterized it as " remarkable " in the circumstances under which it was issued, and for several succeeding months sought from the British gov- ernment a retraction of what he termed " its original error in granting to the rebels the rights of a belliger- ent." l Mr. Adams, in his first interview with Lord John Russell, expressed his great regret at its issuance, and still more at the language used by her Majesty's ministers in both Houses of Parliament respecting it. But after hearing Russell's explanations he gave his assent to his view, but felt constrained to add that it was " a little more rapid than was absolutely called for by the occasion." 2

The conduct of Great Britain in recognizing the Confederates as belligerents was followed in quick suc- cession by France, Spain, and the other governments of Europe, and this action on their part greatly tended to prolong the contest. Mr. Motley, en route to his post as minister to Austria, wrote that had the queen's proclamation been delayed a few weeks, or even a few days, it would never have been issued. 3 But I think he was mistaken. The British government could not have been turned from its purpose by the representations of Mr. Adams, and the blockade of the Southern ports and the early military events justified its course. The judgment of American writers on international law, and the Supreme Court of the United States, confirm the propriety of the proclamation. 4

1 Dip. Cor. 1862, p. 54. 2 Dip. Cor. 1861, pp. 92, 97, 100.

8 1 Motley's Letters, 380.

  • Dana's Wheaton, sect. 23, note; Wolsey's International Law, sect.


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Our ministers to Great Britain and France were early instructed to secure the assent of those governments for the adhesion of the United States to the four rules of the Declaration of Paris of 1856, without the condi- tion or amendment before proposed by Secretary Marcy; but these governments, acting in concert, declined to agree to this unless it should be held to be " prospec- tive " and to have no " bearing, direct or indirect, on the internal difficulties prevailing in the United States." l In other words, they would not deprive the Confederacy of the benefit of privateering.

It afterwards became known that the British and French governments jointly proposed to the Confed- erate government, through the secret agency of the British consul at Charleston, the acceptance of the sec- ond, third, and fourth rules, omitting the first relating to privateering, which was readily approved by the Con- federate Congress. The conduct of the consul, Mr. Bunch, was so objectionable that his exequatur was withdrawn by the President, and a British vessel was sent to Charleston to convey him away. 2

The next important event which, in the progress of the war, put to the test Mr. Seward's diplomatic know- ledge and skill, was the Trent affair. Two commis- sioners of the Confederacy, Mason and Slidell, accred-

180. The Supreme Court, at the December term, 1862, decided that the President's proclamation of blockade of April 19, 1861, was " itself offi- cial and conclusive evidence to the court that a state of war existed." The queen's proclamation was not issued till May 13, 1861. 2 Black Sup. Ct. Rep. 665.

1 For negotiations, Dip. Cor. 1861, pp. 34-157; 1 Papers relating to the Treaty of Washington, pp. 31-38.

a Dip. Cor. 1862, p. 3; 4 Nicolay and Hay's Lincoln, 279.


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ited to Great Britain and France, eluded the blockade at Charleston, reached Havana, and there took passage in the British mail steamer Trent, en route for Eng- land. The day after leaving Havana, November 8, 1861, the steamer was stopped on the high sea by Captain Wilkes, commanding the United States naval vessel San Jacinto, and the Confederate commissioners and their secretaries taken off by force. The Trent was allowed to pursue her voyage, and the commission- ers were carried to Boston and held as prisoners. 1

The news of Captain Wilkes's act was received by the people of the North with the greatest enthusiasm, and everywhere he was hailed as a hero. The press without dissent approved his conduct. The Secretary of the Navy, on receiving his report, congratulated him on his "great public service," and assured him of "the emphatic approval of this department." 2 The Secre- tary of War was also outspoken in his praise. The lower House of Congress, which convened December 1, passed a vote of thanks to the captain for his " brave, adroit, and patriotic conduct." 3

When the news reached England the excitement was equally as great, but of an entirely different character. The act of Captain Wilkes was denounced as a national affront and outrage, and created great indignation throughout the kingdom. The demand was for the instant release of the commissioners and an apology, or war. The government gave orders for the navy, the

1 For Captain Wilkes's report, 3 Moore's Reb. Rec. 321.

2 Secretary Welles in Galaxy, May, 1873, p. 649. 8 Cong. Globe, Dec. 2, 1861, p. 5.


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arsenals, and dockyards to be placed on a war footing; and troops were hurried off to Halifax, and as the first of the transports sailed the band played " Dixie," to the delight of the people. The British cabinet, heartily sympathizing with the public sentiment, resolved to pre- sent its immediate demand upon the United States in the most imperative terms, and its decision was sub- mitted to the queen for her approval. The prince- consort, Albert, was then sick unto death, but he was able to counsel the queen, and his advice was in such a friendly temper towards the United States that she gave direction to the ministry to materially soften the tone and spirit of the demand; l and when it was de- livered by the British minister in Washington to Secre- tary Seward, it enabled our government to comply with it without any loss of national self-respect.

It is a happy coincidence that in two important di- plomatic crises of the Civil War, the President and the Queen interposed with their ministers to correct their indiscretion and save the two nations from breaking off their friendly relations.

Six weeks passed between the detention and search of the Trent and the written demand of the British minister for the release of the commissioners and their delivery to the. British authorities, and in this time the Secretary of State had been afforded an opportunity to study the precedents, and the President and Cabinet to consider the consequences of Captain Wilkes's act. It became apparent that he could not, without reversing the attitude of the government from its origin, main-

1 5 Martin's Life of the Prince Consort, 420-22.


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tain the legality and propriety of that act. We fought the War of 1812 mainly upon the contention that American vessels were free from search and impress- ment on the high sea, and we had consistently adhered to that position. It did not matter that Great Britain should reverse its past policy and adopt our view of the question.

Mr. Seward's note in reply to Lord Lyons' s demand was an exhaustive and temperate review of the subject, and its conclusion was that Captain Wilkes would have been justified in international law in seizing the Trent and bringing her into an American port, for carrying contraband of war, and have her status determined in a prize court; but that he had no right to stop the vessel, take from her by force persons under the pro- tection of the British flag, and allow the vessel to pro- ceed on her voyage. When the note was submitted to the President and Cabinet it was at once accepted as a correct statement of the law and our obligations under it, and the British minister was notified that the com- missioners would be returned to the British authorities; and they were accordingly delivered to the commander of a naval vessel outside of Boston harbor, and the exciting incident was closed. 1 It is highly creditable to the good sense of the American people that, notwith- standing the high pitch of enthusiasm to which they had been brought by Captain Wilkes' s bold act, they quietly accepted the conclusion of their government as a wise solution of the matter.

1 For correspondence, S. Ex. Doc. No. 8, 37th Cong. 2d Sess. vol. 4; Dip. Cor. 1862, pp. 245, 248.


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The biographers of Lincoln and Seward have re- spectively claimed that each of them was the only per- son in the government who, from the beginning, was satisfied of the illegality of Wilkes's act, but it is most probable that each of them, as well as the other mem- bers of the Cabinet, at first participated in the general sentiment of the country that it was justifiable. 1 Mr. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, doubtless expressed the general sentiment when he wrote in his diary : " It is gall and wormwood to me ... but I am consoled by the reflection that . . . the surrender under exist- ing circumstances is but simply doing right simply proving faithful to our own ideas and traditions under strong temptation to violate them." 2

A peculiar incident attended the dispatch of British troops to Canada consequent on the Trent excitement, already noticed. One of the belated vessels bearing a detachment, on arriving found the St. Lawrence River closed by ice, and was compelled to put in at the har- bor of Portland, Maine. In order to reach their desti- nation, the British minister had to apply, under inter- national practice, to our government for permission to cross over American territory to Canada. Secretary Seward granted the permission with prompt courtesy, and the troops sent with hostile intent proceeded by rail through the United States. 3

The federal government and people had recovered from the disappointment over the recognition of bel-

1 Welles's Lincoln and Seward, 184; 5 Nicolay and Hay's Lincoln, 26, 32. a Warden's Life of Chase, 394. * 3 Life of Seward, 35.


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ligerent rights extended the Confederacy by the Euro- pean nations, and had safely passed the threatened collision with Great Britain on account of the Trent affair; but for more than two years the danger of European intervention was a constant menace. Of all these nations the only stanch friend of the Union cause was Russia, all the others being openly unfriendly or in- different to the result. 1 It was Russia that gave us the first notice, early in 1861, of the efforts of the French Emperor to effect a coalition against us of the then three great powers. 2 She not only declined the coalition, but again, in 1862, when the formal proposition for Euro- pean intervention was proposed, it also was declined. 3 In the darkest days of the struggle, her fleet appeared in American ports, as an earnest of her friendship. 4

Failing in support from Russia, the French Emperor turned with better success to Great Britain. He had fully committed himself to his scheme of a Latin em- pire in Mexico, and he well knew it was impossible of realization without a dismembered Union. To execute his hostile designs against the United States, the co- operation or neutrality of England was a necessity, and he early secured a pledge of joint action. In the inter- view which Mr. Dallas had with the British Secretary for Foreign Affairs, May 2, 1861, eleven days before the proclamation of belligerency was issued, Mr. Dallas was informed " that there existed an understanding between this government [Great Britain] and that of France

1 2 Motley's Letters, 119; Dip. Cor. 1861, p. 308; 1862, p. 447, 463; 1863, p. 763. *

2 Ib. 1861, p. 225. 8 Ib. 1863, p. 767.

  • 3 Life of Seward, 202.


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which would lead both to take the same course as to recognition, whatever course that might be." As Rus- sia had declined the coalition, upon the course pursued by Great Britain hung the fate of the American Union. Hence the importance of its conduct leads me to a brief review of the situation in that kingdom.

When the Civil War broke out a coalition Liberal Ministry was in power, with Lord Palmerston at its head. He was in his seventy-seventh year, and had acted an important part in English government, as one of its most able statesmen. An insight into his character and the state of his mind on the American question may be had from a declaration made to August Bel- mont, of New York, agent of the Rothschilds. After an hour's interview, in which Mr. Belmont had sought to lay before him in a favorable light the claims of the Union to his support, the Prime Minister summed up the attitude of his government in this remark : " We do not like slavery, but we want cotton, and we dislike very much your Morrill tariff." 2 Lord John Russell, the

1 Dip. Cor. 1861, p. 84.

2 Belmont's Letters and Speeches, July 30, 1861.

Punch expressed the prevailing sentiment in the following lines :

" Though with the North we sympathize,

It must not be forgotten That with the South we Ve stronger ties,

Which are composed of cotton, Whereof our imports mount unto

A sum of many figures; And where would be our calico

Without the toil of niggers.

" The South enslaves those fellow-men,

Whom we love all so dearly; The North keeps commerce bound again, Which touches us more nearly."


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Secretary for Foreign Affairs, from his training and temperament should naturally have been inclined to the North, but he was a thorough politician, and during the entire contest was governed by expediency rather than principle. Mr. Gladstone was Chancellor of the Exchequer. The course of no public man in England was a greater disappointment in America. Early in the war, in a public speech, he declared that "Jefferson Davis had . . . made a nation. . . . We may antici- pate with certainty the success of the Southern States." * After the war was over and the Union restored, he wrote r " I confess that I was wrong. . . . Yet the motive was not bad; " 2 but during the trying times when inter- vention was imminent he was understood to be on the side of the South. With the three first men of the cabinet not friendly to the Union, it may well be in- ferred that a decided majority of the ministry were of like sentiments. There was, however, a minority strong in its influence, if deficient in numbers, who were steadily in favor of the Union cause, among whom were the Duke of Argyll, Sir George Lewis, and Mr. Milner Gibson.

Of the House of Lords, Mr. Adams wrote Mr. Seward, " not less than four fifths of whom may be fairly re- garded as no well-wishers of anything American." 3 The same month, Mr. Mason, the Confederate commis- sioner, wrote Benjamin, the secretary at Eichmond : " It is perfectly understood in the House of Commons that the war professedly waged to restore the Union is

1 London Times, Oct. 8, 9, 1862. 2 Smith's Gladstone, 297.

Dip. Cor. 1863, p. 157.


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hopeless, and the sympathies of four fifths of its mem- bers are with the South." l Among these overwhelm- ing majorities were found Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli, the Conservative leaders, Lord Brougham, Mr. Roebuck, and a considerable Radical following; and an Ameri- can visitor in London records : " I regret to say that Lord Robert Cecil, now the Marquis of Salisbury, was very prominent among the friends of the Confeder- ates." 2

The supporters of the North in Parliament were few in numbers, but they were men of strong convictions, and by their zeal and devotion to the cause of freedom and democratic institutions they greatly multiplied their influence, and in the end triumphed over the immense majority opposed to them. The most distin- guished of these was John Bright, but not less efficient was William E. Forster, and, the more influential at that day, Richard Cobden. To these were added in the important field of literature such names as John Stuart Mill, Thomas Hughes, Goldwin Smith, and the poet Tennyson. But on the side of the South were arrayed Carlyle, Dickens, and the historian Grote. Fi- nancial and business circles and " society " were very largely in sympathy with the Confederacy; but, on the other hand, a considerable part of the middle and espe- cially of the laboring classes were friends of the Union.

An important factor entering into the American question in England was the cotton supply, which was drawn almost entirely from the Southern States. With the blockade of their ports and the policy of the Con-

1 MS. Confed. Dip. Cor. a YarnalTs Reminiscences, 256.


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federacy to restrain its exportation, British manufac- turers were suddenly threatened with a cotton famine, destined to paralyze the immense industry and throw hundreds of thousands of operatives out of employment. The Confederate leaders boasted that within six months the cotton famine would compel the forcible raising of the blockade of the Southern ports and precipitate a conflict between Great Britain and the United States. Goldwin Smith described in strong language " the awful peril, not only commercial but social, with which the cotton famine threatened us, and the thrill of alarm and horror which upon the dawning of that peril ran through the whole land." 1 The sentiment quoted from Gladstone, that the establishment of the Confederacy as a nation was an accomplished fact, and that the block- ade of the Southern ports should be broken and the -cotton trade reestablished, was accepted by the great body of the English people. John Stuart Mill refers to " the rush of nearly the whole upper and middle classes, even those who passed for Liberals, into a furi- ous pro-Southern partisanship; the working classes and some of the literary and scientific men being almost the sole exceptions to the general frenzy." 2

The pinch came in the summer and autumn of 1862. The supply of cotton largely diminished. In May the price had advanced to twenty-six cents per pound, and by September it had reached sixty cents. Many mills were stopped, and all the others were running on short time. Want and starvation prevailed throughout all

1 Macmillan's Magazine, Dec. 1865.

  • Mill's Autobiography, 268.


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the manufacturing districts. It was estimated that a half a million of working people were dependent upon public charity. The cry of distress reached to all parts of the British Empire, and from Canada, India, and Australia came relief contributions. At a hint from Bright that a little aid from America would have a favorable effect, three ships were dispatched from New York laden with provisions. It is estimated that twelve millions of dollars were distributed among the cotton workmen to avert starvation. Relief began to come in 1863 from the increased production of cotton in other countries; but we must confess it was natural that the British public cried out for the end of a war which brought them so much distress and so disorgan- ized their trade.

There was, however, a noble and gratifying feature >of this famine. The working classes, the operatives, who were most affected by the Civil War in America, were the best friends of the Union even during this trying time. They understood, what the ruling classes refused to believe, that our Civil War was to decide the fate of slavery. They also understood, what the aris- tocracy clearly saw, that the fate of democratic institu- tions was involved in the deadly contest. Their great advocate, John Bright, at an immense meeting in Lon- don of the trades unions, in March, 1863, called to send a message of sympathy to Abraham Lincoln, voiced these sentiments : " Privilege has shuddered at what might happen to old Europe if this grand experiment [of democracy in America] should succeed. But you, the workman, you striving after a better time, you


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struggling upwards towards the light with slow and painful steps, you have no cause to look with jeal- ousy upon a country, which, menaced by the great nations of the globe, is that one where labor has met with the highest honor, and where it has reaped its greatest reward. . . . Impartial history will tell that, when your statesmen were hostile, when many of your rich men were corrupt, when your press was mainly written to betray, the fate of a continent and its vast population being in peril, you clung to freedom with an unfaltering trust that God in his infinite mercy will yet make it the heritage of all his children." 1

The foregoing review shows that the prevailing sen- timent in Great Britain was friendly to the Southern cause. It is also plain that from the beginning the British government was prepared to recognize the Con- federacy, whenever it could assure itself that its rela- tions to the American continent would not thereby be more seriously embarrassed. With a knowledge of the resolution of the British and French governments to act in concert, and after the recognition by them of belligerent rights in the insurgents, Secretary Seward realized that the greatest danger which threatened the Union was from this unfriendly coalition, and he bent

1 1 Bright's Speeches, 248, 253. For details of cotton famine, Charles Francis Adams, by his son, C. F. A., chap. 14; Dip. Cor. 1862, pp. 118, 122, 189.

A great change has occurred since our Civil War in the influence of the working classes of Great Britain. In the general election preced- ing the war the votes cast amounted to 370,000. In the general election of 1895 the number cast was 4,200,000. In 1863 about one person in twenty-three of the population had a vote; and in 1895 about one in six.


DURING THE CIVIL WAR. 379

all his energies to frustrate its designs! As soon as he received notice of this intended concert, he notified our ministers at the European capitals that he would not recognize any combination or understanding of the powers having relation to our domestic contest, and that he should insist upon dealing with each govern- ment separately. 1

He soon had occasion to put this resolution into practice. On April 15, 1861, the French and British ministers came together to the department to make a joint representation on some subject connected with the war. It afterwards developed that their purpose was to offer their mediation to bring about peace. An interesting account of this event is given by Assistant Secretary F. W. Seward, which he justly characterizes as more influential on the fortunes of the Union than even an important battle. 2 As the Secretary of State was sitting at his table reading dispatches, a messenger announced the arrival of the British and French minis- ters, and that they jointly desired to see him, an un- usual diplomatic proceeding. He directed them to be shown into the room of the assistant secretary, where he found them seated together. Smiling and shaking his head he said : " No, no, no ! This will never do. I cannot see you in that way." The ministers rose to greet him. " True," said the one, " it is unusual, but we are obeying our instructions." " At least," said the other, "you will allow us to state the object of our visit ? " " No," said Mr. Seward, " we must start right about it." " If you refuse to see us together," began

i Dip. Cor. 1861, p. 225. ' 2 Life of Seward, 580-582.


380 .

the French minister, with a courteous smile and shrug. " Certainly I do refuse to see you together, though I will see either of you separately with pleasure, here or elsewhere." So the interviews were held severally, not jointly, and the papers they were instructed to jointly present were handed to him for his examination. A brief inspection enabled him to say courteously, but decidedly, that he declined to hear them read or to offi- cially receive them.

Writing to the United States ministers in London and Paris, he said : " We shall insist in this case, as in all others, on dealing with each of these powers alone, and their agreement to act together will not at all affect the course we shall pursue. . . . This government is sensible of the importance of the step it takes in de- clining to receive the communication in question." l

The courteous but positive treatment by Mr. Seward of the two envoys put an end to further joint action on the part of the British and French representatives in Washington, but the efforts for concerted intervention did not cease in London and Paris. Russell, the Brit- ish Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in a public speech delivered in October, 1861, doubtless expressed the views of the ministry, when he said the war in America was not about slavery, but the two parties were con- tending, " the one for empire and the other for inde- pendence; " and he announced that the separation of the two sections was the only logical and permanent set- tlement of the controversy. 2 No positive step was

1 Dip. Cor. 1861 (to Adams), p. 106; (to Dayton), p. 224.

2 London Times, Oct. 16, 1861. The almost universal sentiment of


DURING THE CIVIL WAR. 381

taken, however, until a year later, when the cotton famine was at its worst. On September 14, 1862, when the news of Lee's invasion of Maryland and the immi- nent fall of the federal capital was received, Palmerston wrote Russell, asking if the time had not arrived for England and France to " address the contending par- ties and recommend an arrangement upon the basis of separation." Russell replied : " I agree with you that the time has come for offering mediation to the United States, with a view to the recognition of the independ- ence of the Confederates. I agree, further, that, in case of failure, we ought ourselves to recognize the Southern States as an independent state." 1 Arrange- ments were made for a meeting of the cabinet, with a view to proposing to France and other powers a joint intervention.

But two important events occurred to modify the views of the Prime Minister and his Secretary for For- eign Affairs. While Russell was writing his letter just cited the battle of Antietam was being fought, and soon thereafter news came of the retreat of Lee's army ]back into Virginia. Mr. Adams's vigilant eye had detected that the plot for intervention was rapidly ripening, and he wrote to Mr. Seward for instructions

the English people at that time was that the Union was permanently divided. Cobden did not believe the North and the South could " ever lie in the same bed again." Morley's Cobden, Am. ed. 572. Darwin, who was friendly to the North, wrote Professor Gray : " How curious it is that you seem to think that you can conquer the South. I never meet a soul, even those who would wish it, who think it possible." 2 Life and Letters, 174. 1 2 Walpole's Life of RusseU, 349, 350.


382 .

as to the course he should pursue in case it was at- tempted to be carried into effect. The reply was dis- tinct and emphatic. Our minister in London was " forbidden to debate, to hear, or in any way receive, entertain, or transmit any communication " relating to mediation or intervention in American affairs; and in case of recognition of the insurgents, he was instructed to immediately break off relations. 1

These instructions could not be made known to the British government until he had some notice of action on its part; but Mr. Adams felt that the situation was, as he expressed it, " the very crisis of our fate," and that it was his duty in some way to impress upon the ministry the grave consequences which would result from its contemplated action. He accordingly made known in confidence to Mr. William E. Forster, a prudent and influential member of Parliament, an ardent friend of the United States, and on good terms with the ministry, the substance of Secretary Seward's instructions. Adams never communicated them to the British government, but there can be no doubt that it became aware of their purport. 2 The proposed cabinet meeting was never held, and the Prime Minister decided it best to do nothing further to add to the resentment of the United States.

Meanwhile the Confederate commissioners had been active in their efforts at the French court, and Louis

1 Seward to Adams, Aug. 2, 1862, in Life of Adams, by his son, 285. See, also, circular instructions to American ministers in Europe, Dip* Cor. 1862, p. 176.

8 4Rhodes'sU. S. 343.


DURING THE CIVIL WAR. 383

Napoleon had lent a willing ear to their schemes. 1 On the 30th of October, 1862, his Minister of Foreign Affairs addressed a proposition to the Russian and British governments that the three powers unite in a formal mediation in the American war, asking for a cessation of all hostilities, with a view to some arrangement of the differences, although one week afterwards he denied to the American minister, Mr. Dayton, that any such step had been taken. 2 The Russian government, following its uniform policy, discouraged the movement and declined to join in it. 3 The subject, as we have seen, had already been fully considered by the British ministry during the previous two months and decided adversely to mediation, and it also declined to unite with France in the proposed joint action.

Napoleon was not to be diverted, however, from his purpose, and he instructed his minister in Washington to present the offer of mediation, in much the same terms as proposed to the Russian and British governments. This was done by a note through M. Mercier, on February 3, 1863, in the darkest period of the war, between the disasters of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Secretary Seward's reply, sent within three days, was a dignified but firm declination of the offer. At considerable length he reviewed the situation of affairs between the contending parties, and their relation to and effect upon European nations, and it constitutes one of the most notable and able of Mr.

1 See extracts from Confederate Archives, quoted in 6 Nicolay and Hay's Lincoln, 76 et seq.

2 Dip. Cor. 1862, p. 404. Ib. 1863, p. 769.


384 .

Se ward's state papers. 1 The correspondence was communicated to Congress, and a concurrent resolution was passed by that body of a very comprehensive character, as expressive of the sentiments of the people of the United States respecting the war, and the attitude of foreign nations to it, and it announced that intervention was not desired, and would not be entertained. 2 This closed the efforts at combined action by the European powers, but the troubles growing out of our foreign relations were by no means at an end.

England was the scene of other events during the year 1862 which embittered the people of the United States far more strongly against that country than these attempts at intervention. As they were disastrous and lasting in their effects, the conduct of the British government in allowing the Confederate cruisers to be built in and depart from its ports to prey upon American commerce is still cherished in the memories of our people as a wrong of so flagrant a character as to be hardly atoned for by the heavy damages paid after the war and the many words and acts of sympathy of the British nation in later years. From the beginning of the war the Confederates had made England a most important base of military operations.

Mr. Adams was kept busy calling the attention of the Foreign Office to violations of the neutrality pro- clamation, but usually to no purpose, as the eyes of the officials were deliberately closed to any infringement of the laws. Although he had informed the government

1 For correspondence, S. Ex. Doc. No. 38, 37th Cong. 3d Sess.

2 Congressional Globe, March 3, 1863, pp. 1497, 1541.


DURING THE CIVIL WAR. 385

of the construction and fitting out of the Florida as a rebel cruiser, she was permitted to sail in March, 1862, on her errand of destruction. Early in the year notice was also given by our minister of the construction of a vessel at Liverpool, known as No. 290, designed for the Confederate service. The fact was announced in Parliament, and it became a matter of public notoriety. And yet the authorities at Liverpool reported to the ministry that there was not sufficient evidence of a legal character to justify their interference.

On June 23, Mr. Adams gave to Lord John Kussell, in writing, such notification of the character of the vessel and its destination as should have led to positive action on the part of the British authorities, but no such action was taken. Not discouraged, the diligent American consul at Liverpool collected further legal evidence required by the neutrality laws, and Mr. Adams submitted it to an eminent lawyer, Sir Robert Collier, a queen's counsel, who gave the opinion that upon these papers the authorities at Liverpool were in duty bound to detain the vessel, and said : " It appears difficult to make out a stronger case of infringement of the foreign enlistment act, which, if not enforced on this occasion, is little better than a dead letter." (Dip. Cor. 1862, p. 152. 2 Recollections, etc., by Earl Russell, 235.) Mr. Adams laid this legal opinion and accompanying papers before Russell on July 22, as they had previously been submitted to the authorities at Liverpool. Years afterwards Earl Russell wrote : " I ought to have been satisfied with the opinion of Sir Robert Collier, and to have given orders to detain the Alabama," 2 but in place of discharging his plain duty, he referred the papers to the law officers of the crown.

Meanwhile, No. 290, christened the Alabama, was being as rapidly as possible prepared for sea. Six days elapsed before the law officers gave their opinion, on July 29, that without loss of time the vessel should be seized. On that very morning the Alabama left her dock and went down the Mersey, under the pretense of a trial trip, with a party of Confederate sympathizers on board. The party returned on a tug, but the Alabama went to sea flying the British flag, and after taking on board in the Azores her armament, she entered upon her career of devastation. (For official correspondence, Dip. Cor. 1862, pp. 128, 149, 162)

She was built with British money, under a Confederate loan, in a British port, armed with British guns, manned by British seamen, frequently displayed the British flag, and was given a hearty welcome in British ports throughout the world. At a meeting in Oxford, England, a few months later, Professor Goldwin Smith said: " No nation ever inflicted upon another a more flagrant or more maddening wrong. No nation with English blood in its veins had ever borne such a wrong without resentment." (London News, April 8, 1863. 3 12 Sunmer's Works, 77)

Within a year it and its sister cruisers had swept the American shipping from the seas. 3 At the opening of the Civil War, this shipping was second in the world's commerce, and was pressing the British mercantile marine with a sharp competition. It was a source of great national wealth, furnished employment to many thousands of hardy seamen, and it was the proud boast of every American that the national flag floated on every sea and was displayed in almost every port of the globe. When we reflect that this great industry has never recovered from that destructive blow, and that it was brought about by the criminal failure of the British authorities to observe the principles of international law and their own domestic statutes, it is little wonder that resentment at the wrong has not become wholly extinct.

While the news of the devastating work in all waters of the British-built Confederate cruisers was being received in England and America, authentic intelligence was brought to Mr. Adams that the British sympathizers with the rebellion, not satisfied with the severe blow they had already inflicted upon the Union cause, were preparing a still more deadly measure of attack. Contracts had been entered upon with the builders of the Alabama for the construction of two powerful ironclad rams, designed to raise the blockade of the Southern ports and put in peril the Northern seaboard cities. Bulloch, the intelligent agent having the construction of these vessels in charge, wrote the secretary of the navy at Richmond that with them he expected to " sweep the blockading fleet from the sea-front of every harbor," ascend the Potomac, render Washington untenable, and lay the Northern cities under contribution. (1 Bulloch's Secret Service of the Confederate States, 411*) Captain Page, who had been detailed by the Confederate government to command the vessels, has recently stated that it was his purpose to sail at once to Wilmington, to raise the blockade there and at Charleston, thence proceed to the gulf ports, and cut off all water communications with New Orleans. He adds : " I had at the time perfect confidence in my ability to accomplish my purpose, and I now [1898] believe, in the light of what I have since learned, that if the rams had been permitted to leave England I would have been successful."

In the light of these declarations, it is seen that a great danger menaced the Union cause, and our indefatigable minister in London might well be concerned for the result of his efforts to avert it. In order to secure the funds for the construction of the rams a Confederate loan for 3,000,000 was openly put upon the London market, secured by a pledge of cotton, and was readily and largely oversubscribed at better figures than United States government bonds could command. A noble peer boasted in the House of Lords: "Is the issue doubtful? The capitalists of London, Frankfort, Paris, Amsterdam, are not of that opinion. Within the last few days the Southern loan has reached the highest place in our market. 3,000,000 were required; 9,000,000 were subscribed f or. J> This loan was made the subject of a remonstrance by Mr. Adams to Earl Russell, but to no purpose. 2

A debate which occurred in the House of Commons, March 27, 1863, had an ominous aspect for the North. Forster called attention to the construction and depar- ture of the Alabama, and the solicitor-general contended that the government was without blame. John Bright 1 4 Rhodes's U. S. 385, note. 2 Dip. Cor. 1863, p. 239.


DURING THE CIVIL WAR. 389

charged that a Confederate cruiser had just been launched at Liverpool, and that the two ironclad rams were intended for the same purpose. The Prime Minister closed the debate and treated the American grievances with indifference, as will be seen from this statement in reply to Forster and Bright : " Whenever any political party, whether in or out of office in the United States, finds itself in difficulties, it raises a cry against England as a means of creating what in Ameri- can language is called political capital. . . . The solici- tor-general has demonstrated, indisputably, that the Americans have no cause of complaint against us." 1 Mason, the Confederate commissioner, wrote to Rich- mond : " It was felt on all hands that the debate was a most damaging one to the arrogance of the Yankee pretensions." 2 The feeling of the friends of the North in England was that the debate meant war. 3

The summer of 1863 was filled with anxiety for Mr. Adams. The work on the Confederate ironclads went on apace, and as fast and as often as he could obtain evidence as to their purpose and destination, he ad- dressed the Foreign Office on the subject. The pub- lished correspondence of the Department of State shows how industrious he was in this respect. 4 So pressing and embarrassing were the efforts of Mr. Adams, that the Confederate agents found it necessary to take mea- sures to disguise their purpose, and the services of a French firm were enlisted to this end. A contract was

1 For report of debate, Dip. Cor. 1863, p. 164.

2 March 30, 1863, Confederate Dip. Cor. MS.

3 4 Rhodes's U. S. 369. * Dip. Cor. 1865, pp. 82-341.


390 .

entered into by the latter with the builders, by the terms of which the rams were to be completed and delivered to them in France. Bulloch, the Confederate agent, had at the same time made a secret arrangement with the firm to sell them to him as soon as they had left British waters. 1 The British government affected to give credence to the genuineness of the French con- tract, and Mr. Adams almost despaired of preventing their departure.

But favorable news for the Union cause came across the Atlantic. The battle of Gettysburg had been fought, Vicksburg had surrendered, and the friends of America in England took courage. Adams renewed his representations to the Foreign Office, and finally on September 3, being advised by Consul Dudley at Liver- pool that one of the rams was ready for sea and was likely to leave at any time, he addressed a note to Earl Russell, inclosing further testimony showing that the departure of the ironclad was imminent, and begged to record, in the name of his government, "this last solemn protest against the commission of such an act of hostility against a friendly nation. 2 He had hardly dispatched this note when he received one from Russell replying to his previous representations, in which he stated that her Majesty's government " cannot inter- fere in any way with these vessels." 3

We may be sure this note gave our minister great anxiety. He felt that the fate of his country hung on the outcome of the next few hours. That night he

1 1 Bulloch's Secret Service, 400.

2 Dip. Cor. 1863, p. 361. Ib. 363.


DURING THE CIVIL WAR. 391

records in his diary : " I clearly foresee that a collision must now come out of it. ... The prospect is dark for poor America." The conclusion reached after a sleep- less night was that another note must be sent at once to Russell. It began : " At the moment when one of the ironclads is on the point of departure from this king- dom, on its hostile errand against the United States, I am honored with the reply of your lordship to my notes," enumerating them. He says, as to the decision of the British government, announced in the reply : " I can but regard it as otherwise than as practically opening to the insurgents free liberty in this kingdom to exe- cute a policy of attacking all the seaboard cities of the North, and raising the blockade." Then follows this celebrated sentence : " It would be superfluous in me to point out to your lordship that this is war." l

But meanwhile Mr. Adams's note of September 3 had reached Russell, and he replied to it on the 4th that " the matter is under the serious and anxious consider- ation of her Majesty's government." 2 On the 5th the previous decision was reversed; Russell, after consulting with the solicitor-general over the papers Adams had sent, issued orders to detain the ironclads; and he re- quested Palmerston, if he did not approve his action, to call a cabinet meeting at once. 3 No cabinet meeting was called, the vessels were permanently detained, and eventually sold by the builders to the British govern- ment.

The crisis was passed. No more cruisers were built

1 Ib. 367. 2 Ib. 364.

8 2 Walpole's Russell, 359.


394 .

of the proclamation, and meetings of sympathy were called by them. The working classes and the trades- unions likewise felt that it was an appeal to them. Within a few months, everywhere throughout the king- dom meetings of congratulation to Mr. Lincoln and sympathy for the Union cause were held, and the whole land was swept by a wave of humanity and justice.

These demonstrations had a culmination in a great meeting in Exeter Hall, London, which is described as one of the most extraordinary manifestations ever made in that city. In transmitting an account of it to the Department of State, Mr. Adams terms it " a most sig- nificant indication of the popular sentiment of the mid- dle classes. Gentlemen tell me there has been nothing like it here since the time of the anti-corn-law gather- ings." l In forwarding reports of other meetings the next month, our minister writes : " There can be no doubt that these manifestations are the genuine expres- sion of the feelings of the religious dissenting and of the working classes of Great Britain. The political effect of them is not unimportant." 2

A unique indication of this dissenting feeling is found in Mr. Adams's account of a regular Sunday morning service in Mr. Spurgeon's great tabernacle in London, at which were present many thousand people. In the course of his prayer he said: "Now, God, we turn our thoughts across the sea to the dreadful conflict of which we know not what to say; but now

1 Dip. Cor. 1863, p. 97. For correspondence of Mr. Adams on the proclamation meetings, Ib. pp. 52-350. 3 Ib. 100.


DURING THE CIVIL WAR. 393

The Conservative organ, the Standard, pronounced it " a sham/' intended " to deceive England and Europe. . . . the wretched makeshift of a pettifogging law- yer." John Stuart Mill wrote : " In England the pro- clamation has only increased the reason of those who, after taunting you so long with caring nothing for abolition, now reproach you for your abolitionism as the worst of your crimes." l Earl Russell, in a dis- patch to Lord Lyons, the British minister in Washing- ton, discussed the proclamation in most disparaging terms. " It is a measure of war of a very question- able kind," he said, and intimated that its object was not " total and impartial freedom for the slaves, . . . but vengeance on the slave owner." Of this dispatch, Adams's unpublished diary says : " The most flagrant case of all is the construction put by Lord Russell on the President's proclamation of emancipation. Such is English manliness ! Such is English honesty ! " 2 Mason was greatly encouraged by these expressions of the ruling classes, and wrote to Richmond of the pro- clamation : " It will have an effect exactly opposite to that which was intended, if the object was to conciliate the public opinion of Europe." 3

But these friends of the Confederacy failed to real- ize the immense moral force contained in Lincoln's great paper, and they had misjudged the character of the English people and the effect which that moral force was destined to have upon them. Soon the anti- slavery societies began to comprehend the significance

1 2 Motley's Letters, 95. 2 4 Rhodes's U. S. 359.

8 Confederate Dip. Cor. MS.


394 .

of the proclamation, and meetings of sympathy were called by them. The working classes and the trades- unions likewise felt that it was an appeal to them. Within a few months, everywhere throughout the king- dom meetings of congratulation to Mr. Lincoln and sympathy for the Union cause were held, and the whole land was swept by a wave of humanity and justice.

These demonstrations had a culmination in a great meeting in Exeter Hall, London, which is described as one of the most extraordinary manifestations ever made in that city. In transmitting an account of it to the Department of State, Mr. Adams terms it " a most sig- nificant indication of the popular sentiment of the mid- dle classes. Gentlemen tell me there has been nothing like it here since the time of the anti-corn-law gather- ings." l In forwarding reports of other meetings the next month, our minister writes : " There can be no doubt that these manifestations are the genuine expres- sion of the feelings of the religious dissenting and of the working classes of Great Britain. The political effect of them is not unimportant." 2

A unique indication of this dissenting feeling is found in Mr. Adams's account of a regular Sunday morning service in Mr. Spurgeon's great tabernacle in London, at which were present many thousand people. In the course of his prayer he said: "Now, God, we turn our thoughts across the sea to the dreadful conflict of which we know not what to say; but now

1 Dip. Cor. 1863, p. 97. For correspondence of Mr. Adams on the proclamation meetings, Ib. pp. 52-350. 3 Ib. 100.


DURING THE CIVIL WAR. 395

the voice of freedom shows where is right. We pray Thee give success to this glorious proclamation of lib- erty, which comes to us from across the waters. We had feared our brethren were not in earnest, and would not come to this. Bondage and the lash can claim no sympathy from us. God bless and strengthen the North. Give victory to their arms, and a speedy end to the fearful strife. As lovers of freedom, let us not belie our calling. Now that we know their cause, we can but exclaim, God speed them." Mr. Adams reports that the immense audience, interposing in the prayer, responded to this paragraph by a general Amen. 1

These demonstrations, indicating the underlying spirit of the English people to range themselves on the side of freedom and humanity, doubtless had a marked influence on the conduct of the government. The friends of America in the cabinet gained fresh cour- age, and the Duke of Argyll and Milner Gibson made public speeches, indicating their greater confidence in the treatment of the American question and its rela- tions to slavery. A dissolution of Parliament was ex- pected, and the Liberal ministry, then in power, knew that it could not go to the country with any hope of success with the dissenting churches and the working classes arrayed against them. Neither were these de- monstrations without their influence on the Conservative leaders. Adams's diary records : " The most marked indication respecting American affairs was the course of Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli. On their minds the

i Ib. 80.


896 .

effect of the President's proclamation on public senti- ment had not boon lost."

That the effort to carry the people of Great Britain into the support of a slaveholders' rebellion would prove abortive in the end was early foreseen by a Southerner. When the first Confederate agent, W. L. Yancey, was about proceeding to Europe, his brother, B. C. Yancey,

who had spent some years in Midland, \vroie liim ilia!

"unless the [Confederate] government should send a commission authorized to offer commercial advantages so liheral that tint Kxcter Hall inlluence could not with- stand thorn, the British government, however well dis- posed, would not venture to run counter to the anti- slavery feeling by the recognition of the Confederate States;" and he warned him that Cobden and Brio-ht, as the leaders of the laboring classes, would be found to bar the way to recognition. 1

The proclamation of emancipation, issued primarily as a war measure, and to affect the Union cause at homo, probably had a slill greater inlluence abroad in achieving ihe triumph of the North. All over Kuropo it had an inspiriting cIVeci upon the I'riends of free- dom. Hut in Kn<i'lan<l it was decisive. The hattlo of (leltyshur^ and ihe fall of Yickslmrt;- had llu-ir weight, Imt the silent working of the jnvat moral principle in

the decree of emancipation did move to restrain the

British o-ovornment in relation io recognition and in nrrcstin^ the ironclads than all other influences. Amer-

ica owes its deliverance from the untold calamities of disunion in great measure to the anti-slavery sentiment

  • Life and Timei of W. L, Yanoey, 588.


DURING THE CIVIL WAR. 397

of Great Britain, as represented mainly in the dissent- ing churches and the laboring classes, led by Bright, Forster, and Cobden, and a small band of literary men.

A curious incident connected with the building of the Confederate ironclads ought not to be omitted. In the report of the proceedings of the House of Com- mons already noticed, 1 the Prime Minister excused the failure of the government to prevent the sailing of the Alabama, on the ground that if she had been detained without legal cause, the government would have been exposed to heavy damages. It had also been suggested that the ironclads under construction at Liverpool could not be detained without the execution of an indemnifying bond to the government. This situation having been brought to the attention of Secretary Seward and Mr. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, a scheme was conceived to circumvent the plans of the Confederates. Two citizens of the highest standing, Messrs. John M. Forbes, of Boston, and W. H. Aspin- wall, of New York, were dispatched to England, with instructions to purchase outright, if possible, the iron- clads from the builders by outbidding the Confeder- ates; or to provide a way of furnishing an indemnity bond, in case it became necessary for the detention of the vessels. To effect this purpose they were provided with $10,000,000 in five-twenty United States bonds. The two gentlemen went to London, spent some time in fruitless negotiations, and returned to the United States, bringing back with them the five trunks full of

1 Dip. Cor. 1863, pp. 164-182.


398 .

government bonds, doubtless feeling they had been sent on " a fool's errand." 1

In October, 1861, Secretary Seward, with the ap- proval of the President and Cabinet, dispatched to Europe Archbishop Hughes of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Mcllvaine of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and Thurlow Weed, a prominent politician and journalist, on a confidential and secret mission, for the purpose of influencing, as far as possible, public senti- ment in respect to the war. They were not to have or assume any diplomatic functions, were not to deal dis- tinctively with any foreign government, although they bore private letters from Secretary Seward to various persons holding important posts in the governments of Europe, and were to receive no compensation beyond their expenses. The services rendered by these citi- zens were of great value to the country, but no record exists in the Department of State of their appointment, and no reports from them are to be found in its archives. 2

As the war progressed quite a number of other pri- vate agents were sent to Europe by the different de- partments. William M. Evarts went to London under employment of the Secretary of State, to aid the lega- tion on legal questions concerning the Confederate cruisers and other violations of neutrality. 3 During the Alabama controversy in 1862, Mr. Adams, as we have seen, availed himself of the services of an eminent

1 The story of this visionary scheme is told by Charles Francis Adams, son of the minister, in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, October, 1899; also noticed in 2 Forbes's Letters and Recollec- tions.

8 3 Life of Seward, 17-20. 8 Dip. Cor. 1863, p. 212.


DURING THE CIVIL WAR. 399

English lawyer. Sir Eobert Collier, 1 but he was sub- jected to such severe criticism that he was compelled to decline further employment; and Adams records in his diary : " No lawyer of eminence will have the courage to repeat Mr. Collier's experiment." Robert J. Walker, Secretary of the Treasury under Polk, was sent to Europe by the Treasury Department in connection with government finances. The mission of Messrs. Forbes and Aspinwall for the Navy Department has just been noticed. Quite a number of other agents of the depart- ments were in England, and on the continent from time to time, besides various self -constituted agents. Some of these occasioned our ministers in Europe much anxiety and no little annoyance. Mr. Adams writes : " It cannot be denied that ever since I have been here, the almost constant interference of govern- ment agents of all kinds has had its effect, however intended, of weakening the position of the minister. . . . I doubt whether any minister has ever had so much of this kind of thing to contend with." 2

Our relations with Great Britain during the war can- not be dismissed without a recognition of the invaluable services rendered by our minister, Mr. Adams. He re- mained at his post throughout the entire period of the war, and was untiring in devotion to his duties. No other minister of the United States has ever passed through so long a period of intense excitement and critical responsibility. He displayed diplomatic skill of the highest order, and a patriotic spirit unsurpassed by his fathers. Mr. Lowell, who afterwards occupied the

1 Supra, p. 385. 2 Charles Francis Adams, by his son, 356.


400 .

same post, has well said : " None of our generals in the field, not Grant himself, did us better or more trying service than he in his forlorn outpost in London."

The end of the Civil War, which happily terminated our anxiety over foreign intervention, was also marked by the tragic death of President Lincoln, which not only plunged the country into mourning in the hour of victory and rejoicing over a restored Union, but sent a thrill of horror throughout the world and brought forth a manifestation of sympathy from all nations and peoples such as had never before been witnessed in the annals of time. These testimonials of sympathy from all quarters of the globe were compiled by the Depart- ment of State, and published by special resolution of Congress in a large quarto volume of over nine hundred pages, entitled " Tributes of the Nations to Abraham Lincoln." 1 It constitutes a unique work, and graphically illustrates how strongly this simple but majestic Ameri- can has impressed his personality on the world a per- sonality which is destined to be the central figure of our country's history in the estimation of mankind.

1 This volume has been republished as Part 4 of the Diplomatic Cor- respondence of 1865.

\ klfei