warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/iovannet/public_html/historion/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

Ephraim Douglass Adams

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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].

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 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.

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.

Syndicate content