CHAPTER XII. THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION

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.