CHAPTER XV. THE SOUTHERN INDEPENDENCE ASSOCIATION

Northern friends in England were early active in organizing public meetings and after the second emancipation proclamation of January 1, 1863, these became both numerous and notable. Southern friends, confident in the ultimate success of the Confederacy and equally confident that they had with them the great bulk of upper-class opinion in England, at first thought it unnecessary to be active in public expressions aside from such as were made through the newspapers. Up to November, 1862, The Index records no Southern public meeting. But by the summer of 1863, the indefatigable Spence had come to the conclusion that something must be done to offset the efforts of Bright and others, especially in the manufacturing districts where a strong Northern sympathy had been created. On June 16, he wrote to Mason that on his initiative a Southern Club had been organized in Manchester and that others were now forming in Oldham, Blackburn and Stockport. In Manchester the Club members had "smashed up the last Abolitionist meeting in the Free Trade Hall":

     "These parties are not the rich spinners but young men of 
     energy with a taste for agitation but little money. It 
     appears to my judgment that it would be wise not to stint 
     money in aiding this effort to expose cant and diffuse the 
     truth. Manchester is naturally the centre of such a move and 
     you will see there are here the germs of important work - but 
     they need to be tended and fostered. I have supplied a good 
     deal of money individually but I see room for the use of L30 
     or L40 a month or more[1129]."

The appeal for funds (though Spence wrote that he would advance the required amounts on the chance of reimbursement from the Confederate secret service fund) is interesting in comparison with the contributions willingly made by Bright's friends. "Young men of energy with a taste for agitation but little money" reveals a source of support somewhat dubious in persistent zeal and requiring more than a heavy list of patrons' names to keep up a public interest. Nevertheless, Spence succeeded, for a short time, in arousing a show of energy. November 24, 1863, Mason wrote to Mann that measures were "in progress and in course of execution" to hold public meetings, memorialize Parliament, and form an association for the promotion of Southern independence "under the auspices of such men as the Marquis of Lothian, Lord Robert Cecil, M.P., Lord Wharncliffe, Lord Eustace Cecil, Messrs. Haliburton, Lindsay, Peacocke, Van Stittart, M.P., Beresford Hope, Robert Bourke, and others[1130]...." A fortnight later, Spence reported his efforts and postulated that in them, leading to European intervention, lay the principal, if not the only hope, of Southern independence - a view never publicly acknowledged by any devoted friend of the South: