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Ephraim Douglass Adams

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.

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.

After three years of great Northern efforts to subdue the South and of Southern campaigns aimed, first, merely toward resistance, but later involving offensive battles, the Civil War, to European eyes, had reached a stalemate where neither side could conquer the other. To the European neutral the situation was much as in the Great War it appeared to the American neutral in December, 1916, at the end of two years of fighting. In both wars the neutral had expected and had prophesied a short conflict.

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

     "I think you need not trouble yourself about England. At this 
     moment opinion seems to have undergone a complete change, and 
     our people and indeed our Government is more moderately 
     disposed than I have ever before known it to be. I hear from 

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].

On May 8, 1865, the news was received in London of Johnston's surrender to Sherman. On that same day there occurred in the Commons the first serious debate in thirty-three years on a proposed expansion of the electoral franchise. It was a dramatic coincidence and no mere fortuitous one in the minds of thoughtful Englishmen who had seen in the Civil War a struggle as fateful in British domestic policy as in that of America herself.

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.

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.

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