In June, 1859, a short-lived Conservative Government under the leadership of Lord Derby had been replaced by a "coalition" Liberal Government, at the head of which stood Palmerston, but so constituted that almost equal influence was attributed to the Foreign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. Gladstone, formerly a Peelite Tory, and for a time uncertain whether to return to the Tory fold or to join the Liberals, had yielded to Palmerston's promise of a free hand in financial matters, and had joined the Ministry as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Opposed to him in a certain sense, as the rival claimant for political leadership among the younger group, was Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Home Secretary until July, 1861, thereafter until his death in April, 1863, Secretary for War. Acting in some degree as intermediary and conciliator between these divergent interests stood Lord Granville, President of Council, then a "Conservative-Liberal," especially valuable to the Cabinet for the confidence reposed in him by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

In 1861 Palmerston was seventy-seven years old. Long before this he had built his popularity upon a vigorous British "patriotism," assertive of England's honour and jealous for British advantage. Now, however, as head of a Government requiring the most delicate handling to maintain itself, he devoted his energies to details of political management in which he had great skill. His ambition was, primarily, to retain office, and in this purpose he was fortunate because, unknown to his ministerial colleagues, he had received an indirect pledge from Lord Derby, the Opposition leader, that there would be, for a time at least, no determined effort to unseat him so long as his Ministry brought forward no Bill for a further expansion of the franchise. In the unwillingness to make any further adventure toward an expanded democracy Palmerston was wholly at one with Derby. Of like opinion, though less strongly so, was Russell, whose popular nickname, "Finality John," gained by his assertion that the Reform Bill of 1832 was England's last step toward democracy, sufficiently indicates his stand on the franchise question. In fact every member of the Cabinet belonged to the "Conservative-Liberal" group, though with shades of political faith, and none were really Liberals - far less Radicals. The outspoken Radicals in Parliament, like John Bright, and his friend Cobden, who had refused to take office under Palmerston, gave a lukewarm support to the Ministry, but would not pledge themselves to steadfast adherence. They had hopes of Gladstone, believed that he would ultimately come into their group, but meanwhile watched with anxiety his delighted immersion, as indeed Palmerston desired it, in the details of financial management to the exclusion of other questions.

The matter of ministerial and general British attitude toward democracy as affecting British policy during the American Civil War will be considered in a later chapter. In the spring of 1861 it had not become a clear-cut British opinion and did not, so far as historical evidence can determine, affect early governmental policy toward America. The outstanding feature of the British Government in 1861 is that it was made up of various so-called "Liberal" elements, the representatives of each of which carried on the business of his own department much as he pleased. Palmerston's was, of course, the deciding opinion, whenever he cared to express it, but this he did but rarely. His great concern was to keep his all-star associates running smoothly together and thus to give no occasion for parliamentary criticism and attack. It followed that Russell, eight years the junior of Palmerston, was in foreign affairs more powerful and independent than is customary. Indeed the Government was at times spoken of as the "Palmerston-Russell Ministry." These two were the leaders of the team; next came Gladstone and Cornewall Lewis, rivals of the younger generation, and each eager to lead when their elders should retire from harness. Gladstone's great ability was already recognized, but his personal political faith was not yet clear. Lewis, lacking his rival's magnetic and emotional qualities, cold, scholarly, and accurate in performance, was regarded as a statesman of high promise[127]. Other Cabinet members, as is the custom of coalitions, were more free in opinion and action than in a strict party ministry where one dominating personality imposes his will upon his colleagues.

Lord John Russell, then, in foreign policy, was more than the main voice of the Government; rather, save in times of extreme crisis, governmental foreign policy was Russell's policy. This was even more true as regards American than European affairs, for the former were little understood, and dependence was necessarily placed upon the man whose business it was to be familiar with them. Indeed there was little actual parliamentary or governmental interest, before midsummer of 1861, in the American question, attention in foreign affairs being directed toward Italian expansion, to the difficulties related to the control of the Ionian islands, and to the developing Danish troubles in Schleswig-Holstein. Neither did the opposition party venture to express a policy as regards America. Lord Derby, able but indolent, occasionally indulged in caustic criticism, but made no attempt to push his attack home. Malmesbury, his former Foreign Secretary, was active and alert in French affairs, but gave no thought to relations across the Atlantic[128]. Disraeli, Tory leader in the Commons, skilfully led a strong minority in attacks on the Government's policy, but never on the American question, though frequently urged to do so by the friends of the South. In short for the first year of the Civil War, 1861, the policy of Great Britain toward America was the policy of Lord John Russell, unhampered by friend or foe.

This being the case, what did Russell know about the American crisis? Briefly, no more than has already been stated as derived from the reports of British officials in the United States, and from the pages of the public press. The salient facts known to Russell were few. Lincoln's Cabinet had been named. Lincoln himself was absolutely an unknown quantity, but it was unbelievable that a man of his origins and history could be more than a mere figurehead - an opinion then held as widely in America as in England. But someone must determine American policy, and by universal consent, this would be Seward.

The new Secretary of State was at the moment better known in England than any other American statesman, with the possible exception of Charles Sumner, whose visits and personal contacts had established a circle of British friendships. Both men were accepted as champions of anti-slavery, Sumner for his vigorous denunciations and his so-called "martyrdom" under the physical violence of the South Carolinan, Brooks; and Seward for his clever political anti-Southern leadership in the United States Senate. But Seward's reputation in this respect was offset by the belief that he was anti-British in his personal sentiments, or at least that he was very ready to arouse for political ends the customary anti-British sentiment of his Irish constituents in the State of New York. In 1860, on the occasion of the visit to the United States of the Prince of Wales, Seward is alleged to have stated to the Duke of Newcastle that in case he became Secretary of State it would then "become my duty to insult England, and I mean to do so" - a threat, whether jocose or not, that aroused much serious and anxious speculation in British governmental circles[129]. Moreover Seward's reputation was that of a wily, clever politician, rather unscrupulous in methods which British politicians professed to disdain - a reputation serving to dim somewhat, as indeed it did in America also, the sincere idealisms and patriotism of the statesman. Altogether, Seward was regarded in Great Britain as a rather dangerous man, yet as the inevitable guiding power in the new Republican administration.

This estimate was shared by many in the United States also, but not by all. The new American Minister to London, Charles Francis Adams, himself a most stiffly upright politician, both regarded Seward as the only possible leader of Republican party policy and rejoiced that this was so, having great confidence in his chief's integrity and wisdom. Adams himself was well suited to his new post. He was known as having early in 1849 fought the battle of anti-slavery as a "Free Soil Whig," and later as a leading Republican member of Congress from Massachusetts. Principally, however, he was suited to his post by education, family, and character. He had been taken as a boy to Russia during his father's ministry at St. Petersburg, and later had been educated in England. His father and grandfather, John Quincy Adams and John Adams, both Presidents of the United States, had both, also, been American Ministers at London. Intensely patriotic, but having wide acquaintance through training and study with European affairs, especially those of Britain, and equipped with high intellectual gifts, Adams was still further fitted to his new post by his power of cool judgment and careful expression in critical times. His very coolness, sometimes appearing as coldness and stiff dignity, rendered him an especially fit agent to deal with Russell, a man of very similar characteristics. The two men quickly learned to respect and esteem each other, whatever clash arose in national policies.

But meanwhile Adams, in April, 1861, was not yet arrived in London. The Southern Government organized at Montgomery, Alabama, but soon transferred to Richmond, Virginia, was headed by Jefferson Davis as President and Alexander Stephens as Vice-President. Neither man was well known in England, though both had long been prominent in American politics. The little British information on Davis, that he had served in the United States Senate and as a Cabinet member, seemed to indicate that he was better fitted to executive duties than his rival, Lincoln. But Davis' foreign policy was wholly a matter for speculation, and his Cabinet consisted of men absolutely unknown to British statesmen. In truth it was not a Cabinet of distinction, for it was the misfortune of the South that everywhere, as the Civil War developed, Southern gentlemen sought reputation and glory in the army rather than in political position. Nor did President Davis himself ever fully grasp the importance to the South of a well-considered and energetic foreign policy. At first, indeed, home controversy compelled anxious attention to the exclusion of other matters. Until war cemented Southern patriotism, Davis, himself regarded as an extremist, felt it necessary in denial of an asserted unreasonableness of personal attitude, to appoint to office men known for their earlier moderate opinions on both slavery and secession[130]. "The single exception to this general policy[131]" was the appointment as agents to Europe of Yancey, Rost and Mann, all of them extreme pro-slavery men and eager secessionists. Of these Mann was the only one with any previous diplomatic experience. Yancey's choice was particularly inappropriate, for he at least was known abroad as the extreme fire-eating Southern orator, demanding for ten years past, that Southern action in defence of states rights and Southern "interests," which now, at last, the South was attempting[132].

Yancey and Rost, starting on their journey on March 16, reached London on April 29[133]. Meanwhile in this same month of April, conditions in America, so long confused and uncertain, were being rapidly clarified. The South, earlier than the North, had come to a determined policy, for while during January and February, at the Montgomery convention, there had been uncertainty as to actively applying the doctrinaire right of secession, by March the party of action had triumphed, and though there was still talk of conferences with the North, and commissioners actually appointed, no real expectation existed of a favourable result. In the North, the determination of policy was more slowly developed. Lincoln was not inaugurated until March 4, and no positive pronouncement was earlier possible. Even after that date uncertainty still prevailed. European correspondents were reporting men like Sumner as willing to let the South go in peace. The Mayor of New York City was discussing the advisability of a separate secession by that financial centre from Nation and State alike - and of setting up as a "free town." Seward, just appointed Secretary of State, was repudiating in both official and private talk any intention to coerce the South by force of arms[134]. It is no wonder that British statesmen were largely at sea over the American situation.

But on April 13, 1861, the Stars and Stripes floating over Fort Sumter in Charleston harbour was lowered in surrender of a Federal fortress under the armed attack of the newly-born Confederacy. That event drove away as by magic the uncertainty of the North, and removed the last vestiges of Southern doubt. A great wave of militant patriotism swept over both sections[135]. Hurriedly both North and South prepared for war, issuing calls for volunteers and organizing in all accustomed warlike preparations. The news of Sumter reached London on April 27, and that civil war seemed certain was known on April 29. On April 17, Davis, since the South lacked a navy, approved a proclamation offering to issue letters of marque and reprisal. On April 19 Lincoln proclaimed a Northern intention to treat as pirates any privateers acting under such letters, and also gave notice of a blockade of Southern ports, to be instituted later. Thus suddenly, so it seemed to British officials and public after the long delay and uncertainty of months, events in America had precipitated a state of war, though in fact there were still to elapse other months in which both North and South laboured to transform a peaceful society into one capable of waging effective battle.

The result of this sudden change in the American horizon was to alter, almost as quickly, the previous delay in outlining a British policy, though, presumably, the British Government, while waiting the turn of events, had given careful consideration to the steps required of it in just such a situation as had now arisen. Certainly both Lyons and Russell had been deeply anxious for some time, and had visualized a proper British policy. The movement in Great Britain now became rapid. On April 29, Malmesbury, in the Lords, spoke of the news of civil war which had arrived "this morning," and asked if the Government had tried to prevent it, or had set on foot negotiations with other powers to check it. Wodehouse, replying for the Government, stated that the United States as an independent State would have resented any suggestions from Great Britain, and that Lyons had been instructed to be extremely careful about offering advice unless "asked for by the contending parties themselves." Both speakers commented on the "ties of blood" rendering Britain especially anxious in this American quarrel, and regretted the conflict[136]. Malmesbury's query as to the approach to another government, meaning France, was evaded. That some such approach, in accordance with the earlier advice of Lyons[137], had already been made, is evident from the fact that three days later, on May 1, Dallas learned from Russell of the plan of joint action with France, though what that action would be was not made clear[138]. As Dallas' report was soon the basis of an American complaint shortly to be considered, the paragraph referring to this matter is important:

     "The solicitude felt by Lord John Russell as to the effect of 
     certain measures represented as likely to be adopted by the 
     President induced him to request me to call at his private 
     residence yesterday. I did so. He told me that the three 
     representatives of the Southern confederacy were here[139]; 
     that he had not seen them, but was not unwilling to do so, 
     unofficially; that there existed an understanding between 
     this government and that of France which would lead both to 
     take the same course as to recognition, whatever that course 
     might be; and he then referred to the rumour of a meditated 
     blockade of Southern ports and their discontinuance as ports 
     of entry - topics on which I had heard nothing. But as I 
     informed him that Mr. Adams had apprised me of his intention 
     to be on his way hither, in the steamship 'Niagara,' which 
     left Boston on the 1st May, and that he would probably arrive 
     in less than two weeks, by the 12th or 15th instant, his 
     lordship acquiesced in the expediency of disregarding mere 
     rumour, and waiting the full knowledge to be brought by my 
     successor. The motion, therefore, of Mr. Gregory may be 
     further postponed, at his lordship's suggestion."

May 3rd, Russell held an unofficial interview with the two Southern commissioners in fact arrived, Yancey and Rost. As reported by them[140], Russell listened with attention to their representation, but made no informing comment. They argued the constitutional right of secession, depicted the firm determination of the South, were confident of early acquiescence by the North, and especially laid stress on the Southern desire for free trade. Russell's own report to Lyons on this interview and on one held six days later, May 9, is in substantial agreement, but much more is made by him than by the Commissioners of a question put by Russell as to a Southern plan of reviving the African slave-trade[141]. Yancey and Rost denied this and asserted "that they had prohibited the slave-trade, and did not mean to revive it." Their report to Richmond does not depict this matter as of special significance in the interview; Russell's report to Lyons lays stress upon it. The general result of the interview was that Russell listened, but refused, as to Dallas, to make any pledge on recognition. But the Southern Commissioners came away with a feeling of confidence and were content to wait on British action[142].

On this same day, May 3, Russell received from the Attorney-General a memorandum in reply to a query as to recognizing the belligerency of the South and as to the right of the South to issue letters of marque and reprisal. The memorandum notes that Southern privateering would be dangerous to British commerce with the North, but sees no help for it. "The best solution," wrote the Attorney-General, "would be for the European nations to determine that the war between the two Confederacies shall be carried on on the principles of 'Justum Bellum,' and shall be conducted according to the rules of the Treaty of Paris. Recognize the Southern States as a Belligerent on this condition only[143]." The next day, referring to this memorandum, Russell wrote Lyons that the law officers "are of opinion that we must consider the Civil War in America as regular war[144]," but he does not comment on the legal advice to press the South to abandon privateering before recognizing her belligerent rights, for this is the only meaning that can be attached to the last sentence quoted from the Attorney-General's memorandum. This advice, however, in view of the opinion that there was "no help for it," was presumably but a suggestion as to a possible diplomatic manoeuvre with little confidence that it would succeed. The "best solution" was not the probable one, for the South, without a navy, would not readily yield its only naval weapon.

In these few days British policy was rapidly matured and announced. The letter of May 4 to Lyons, stating the Civil War to be a "regular war" was followed on May 6 by a formal instruction giving Lyons advance notice of the determination reached by the Cabinet to recognize the belligerent rights of the South. Russell indulged in many expressions of regret and sympathy, but Lyons was not to conceal that this British action represented the Government's view of the actualities of the American situation. Yet while Lyons was not to conceal this opinion he was not instructed to notify Seward, officially, of the recognition of Southern belligerency[145]. Here was a correct understanding of the difficulty of the diplomatic position at Washington, and a permitted avoidance by Lyons of dangerous ground[146]. Russell was not then aware of the tenacity with which Seward was to cling to a theory, not yet clearly formulated for foreign governments, that the Civil War was a rebellion of peoples rather than a conflict of governments, but he does appear to have understood the delicacy of formal notification to the constituted government at Washington[147]. Moreover his instructions were in line with the British policy of refusing, at present, a recognition of Southern sovereignty.

On the same day, May 6, a copy of the instructions to Lyons was sent to Cowley, British Ambassador at Paris, directing him to request France to join, promptly, in recognizing Southern belligerent rights. Cowley was also instructed that the blockade and privateering required precautions by European governments, and it was suggested that France and England unite in requesting both belligerents to accede to the second and third articles of the Declaration of Paris[148]. These articles refer to the exemption from capture, except contraband, of enemy's goods under a neutral flag, and of neutral goods under an enemy's flag[149]. This day, also, Russell stated in Parliament that England was about to recognize the belligerent rights of the South, and spoke of the measure as a necessary and inevitable one. May 7, Cowley notified Russell that Thouvenel, the French Foreign Minister, was in complete agreement with England's policy[150], and on May 9, in a more extended communication, Cowley sent word of Thouvenel's suggestion that both powers issue a declaration that they "intended to abstain from all interference," and that M. de Flahault, French Ambassador at London, had been given instructions to act in close harmony with Russell[151].

The rapidity of movement in formulating policy in the six days from May 1 to May 6, seems to have taken the British public and press somewhat by surprise, for there is a lack of newspaper comment even after Russell's parliamentary announcement of policy on the last-named date. But on May 9 the Times set the fashion of general approval in an editorial stating that Great Britain was now coming to see the American conflict in a new light - as a conflict where there were in fact no such ideals involved as had been earlier attributed to it. Southern rights were now more clearly understood, and in any case since war, though greatly to be regretted, was now at hand, it was England's business to keep strictly out of it and to maintain neutrality[152]. This generalization was no doubt satisfactory to the public, but in the Government and in Parliament men who were thinking seriously of specific difficulties realized that the two main problems immediately confronting a British neutral policy were privateering and blockade. The South had declared its intention to use privateers. The North had declared its intention, first to hang those who engaged in privateering, and second to establish a blockade. Neither declaration had as yet been put into effect.

The first action of the British Government was directed toward privateering. On May 1, Russell sent a note to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty calling attention to the Southern plan to issue letters of marque and reprisal and directing that reinforcements be sent to the British fleet in American waters. This was prompt action on unofficial information, for Davis' proclamation bore date of April 17, and Lyons' despatch containing copies of it, sent on April 22, was not received by Russell until May 10[153]. Ordinary news from the United States required ten days to get into print in London[154], but official messages might be sent more rapidly by way of telegraph to Halifax, thence by steamer to Liverpool and by telegraph again to London. In case the telegram to Halifax coincided with the departure of a fast vessel the time was occasionally reduced to seven days, but never less. At the best the exact information as to the contents of the Davis and Lincoln proclamations of April 17 and 19 respectively, could have been received only a few days before the order was issued to reinforce the British fleet.

The next day, May 2, Ewart, in the Commons, asked "if Privateers sailing under the flag of an unrecognized Power will be dealt with as Pirates," thus showing the immediate parliamentary concern at the Davis and Lincoln proclamations. Russell stated in reply that a British fleet had been sent to protect British interests and took occasion to indicate British policy by adding, "we have not been involved in any way in that contest by any act or giving any advice in the matter, and, for God's sake, let us if possible keep out of it[155]." May 6, Gregory, a friend of the South, who had already given notice of a motion for the recognition of the Confederacy as an independent State, asked whether the United States had been informed that a blockade of Southern ports would not be recognized unless effective, and whether there would be acquiescence in the belligerent right of the South to issue letters of marque and reprisal[156]. Russell replied that Lincoln had not been informed that a blockade must be effective to be respected since the Washington Government did not need to be told of an international rule which it had itself long proclaimed. As to the second point, he now announced what heretofore had not been clearly stated, that Southern privateers could not be regarded by Great Britain as pirates, for if so regarded Britain would herself have to treat them as pirates and would thus be unneutral. This was in fact, in spite of Northern bitter accusations that Britain was exhibiting governmental sympathy with the South by her tolerance of the plan of Southern privateering, an inescapable conclusion. Russell added, however, that the matter of privateering involved some new questions under the Declaration of Paris upon which the Government had not yet decided what stand to take[157]. It was on this same day, in fact, that Russell had instructed Cowley to take up with France the question of the Declaration of Paris[158], Privateering and blockade, declared in America months before there was any possibility of putting them into effect, and months before there were any military operations in the field, forced this rapid European action, especially the action of Great Britain, which, more than any other European nation, feared belligerent interference with her carrying and export trade. How was the British Government to know that Davis would not bend every energy in sending out privateers, and Lincoln to establish a blockade? The respective declarations of Davis and Lincoln were the first evidences offered of belligerent status. It was reasonable to assume that here would come the first energetic efforts of the belligerents. Nor was British governmental intelligence sufficiently informed to be aware that Davis, in fact, controlled few ships that could be fitted out as privateers, or that two-thirds of the Northern navy was at the moment widely scattered in foreign seas, making impossible a prompt blockade.

To the British view the immediate danger to its commercial interests lay in this announced maritime war, and it felt the necessity of defining its neutral position with speed. The underlying fact of the fixity of Southern determination to maintain secession had in the last few weeks become clearly recognized.

Moreover the latest information sent by British officials in America, some of it received just before the issue of the Proclamation of Neutrality, some just after, was all confirmative of the rapid approach of a great war. A letter from Bunch, at Charleston, was received on May 10, depicting the united Southern will to resist Northern attack, and asserting that the South had no purpose save to conduct a strictly defensive war. Bunch was no longer caustic; he now felt that a new nation was in process of birth[159]. May 4, Monson, writing from Washington, and just returned from a trip through the South, in the course of which he had visited Montgomery, stated "no reconstruction of the Union is possible," and added that there was no danger of a servile insurrection, a matter that now somewhat began to disturb the British Government and public[160]. A few days later on, May 12, Lyons expressed his strong sympathy with the North for reasons of anti-slavery, law, and race, but added that he shrank from expressions of sympathy for fear of thus encouraging the Northern Cabinet in its plan of prosecuting civil war since such a war would be frightful in its consequences both to America and to England[161].

Such reports if received before the issue of the Proclamation of Neutrality must have strengthened the feeling that prompt action was necessary; if received later, they gave confidence that that action had been wise. May 9, Forster asked in the Commons a series of questions as to the application of the British Foreign Enlistment Act in the American crisis. What would be the status of British citizens serving on Confederate privateers? How would the Government treat citizens who aided in equipping such privateers? Did not the Government intend to take measures to prevent the infringement of law in British ports? Here was pressure by a friend of the North to hasten an official announcement of the policy already notified to Parliament. Sir George Lewis replied stating that the Government was about to issue a general proclamation warning British subjects not to take any part in the war[162]. Similar questions were asked by Derby in the Lords on May 10, and received a similar answer[163]. The few days' delay following Russell's statement of May 6 was due to consideration given by the Law Officers to the exact form required. The Proclamation as issued was dated May 13, and was officially printed in the London Gazetteon May 14.

In form and in substance the Proclamation of Neutrality did not differ from customary usage[164]. It spoke of the Confederacy as "states styling themselves the Confederate States of America," prohibited to Englishmen enlistment on either side, or efforts to enlist others, or equipment of ships of war, or delivery of commissions to such ships. War vessels being equipped in British ports would be seized and forfeited to the British Government. If a belligerent war-ship came into a British port, no change or increase of equipment was to be permitted. If a subject violated the Proclamation he was both punishable in British courts and forfeited any claim to British protection. The Parliamentary discussion on May 16 brought out more clearly and in general unanimity of opinion the policy of the Government in application of the Proclamation; the South was definitely recognized as a belligerent, but recognition of independence was for the future to determine; the right of the South to send out privateers was regretfully recognized; such privateers could not be regarded as pirates and the North would have no right to treat them as such, but if the North in defiance of international opinion did so treat them, Great Britain had at least warned its subjects that they, if engaged in service on a Southern privateer, had no claim to British protection; a blockade of the South to be respected must be effective at least to the point where a vessel attempting to pass through was likely to be captured; the plan of blockading the entire Southern coast, with its three thousand miles of coast line, was on the face of it ridiculous - evidence that Members of Parliament were profoundly ignorant of the physical geography of the Southern seaboard[165].

The Parliamentary discussion did not reveal any partiality for one side in the American quarrel above the other. It turned wholly on legal questions and their probable application. On May 15 Russell sent to Lyons the official text of the Proclamation, but did not instruct him to communicate it officially to Seward, leaving this rather to Lyons' discretion. This was discretionary in diplomatic usage since in strict fact the Proclamation was addressed to British subjects and need not be communicated officially to the belligerents. In the result the discretion permitted to Lyons had, an important bearing, for recognition of Southern belligerency was opposed to the theory upon which the Northern Government was attempting to proceed. Lyons did not then, or later, make official communication to Seward of the Proclamation[166]. The fact soon appeared that the United States seriously objected to the Proclamation of Neutrality, protesting first, its having been issued at all, and, in the second place, resenting what was considered its "premature" announcement by a friendly nation. This matter developed so serious a criticism by both American Government and public, both during and after the Civil War, that it requires a close examination. Did the British Government exhibit an unfriendly attitude toward the North by a "premature" Proclamation of Neutrality?

On May 13 the new American Minister landed at Liverpool, and on the morning of the fourteenth he was "ready for business" in London[167], but the interview with Russell arranged for that day by Dallas was prevented by the illness of Russell's brother, the Duke of Bedford[168]. All that was immediately possible was to make official notification of arrival and to secure the customary audience with the Queen. This was promptly arranged, and on May 16 Adams was presented, Palmerston attending in the enforced absence of Russell. Adams' first report to Seward was therefore brief, merely noting that public opinion was "not exactly what we would wish." In this he referred to the utterances of the press, particularly those of the Times, which from day to day and with increasing vigour sounded the note of strict neutrality in a "non-idealistic" war. On May 30 the Times, asserting that both parties in America were bidding for English support, summed up public opinion as follows:

     "We have been told, in fact, by Northern politicians, that it 
     does not become us to be indifferent, and by Southern leaders 
     that they are half inclined to become British once more. Both 
     sides are bidding for us, and both sides have their partisans 
     over here. On such perilous ground we cannot walk too warily.

     "For our own part, we are free to confess that the march of 
     events has induced us to regard the dispute as a more 
     commonplace kind of quarrel than it at first appeared to be. 
     The real motives of the belligerents, as the truth 
     transpires; appear to be exactly such motives as have caused 
     wars in all times and countries. They are essentially selfish 
     motives - that is to say, they are based upon speculations of 
     national power, territorial aggrandizement, political 
     advantage, and commercial gain. Neither side can claim any 
     superiority of principle, or any peculiar purity of 

     "We certainly cannot discover in these arguments anything to 
     remove the case from the common category of national or 
     monarchical quarrels. The representations of the North might 
     be made word for word by any autocrat or conqueror desirous 
     of 'rectifying' his frontier, consolidating his empire, or 
     retaining a disaffected province in subjection. The 
     manifestos of the South might be put forth by any State 
     desirous of terminating an unpleasant connexion or exchanging 
     union for independence....

     "It is just such a question as has been left times out of 
     mind in this Old World to the decision of the sword. The 
     sword will be the arbitrator in the New World too; but the 
     event teaches us plainly enough that Republics and 
     Democracies enjoy no exemption from the passions and follies 
     of humanity."

Under these impressions Adams presented himself on May 18 for his first interview with Russell[169]. He stated that he had come with the idea that there was

     ".... little to do beyond the duty of preserving the 
     relations actually existing between the two nations from the 
     risk of being unfavourably affected by the unfortunate 
     domestic disturbances prevailing in my own country. It was 
     not without pain that I was compelled to admit that from the 
     day of my arrival I had felt in the proceedings of both 
     houses of Parliament, in the language of Her Majesty's 
     ministers, and in the tone of opinion prevailing in private 
     circles, more of uncertainty about this than I had before 
     thought possible,"

Adams then inquired whether the replies given by Russell to Dallas refusing to indicate a policy as to recognition of the South implied a British purpose "to adopt a policy which would have the effect to widen, if not to make irreparable, a breach [between North and South] which we believed yet to be entirely manageable by ourselves."

Russell here replied that "there was no such intention"; he had simply meant to say to Dallas that the British Government "were not disposed in any way to interfere." To this Adams answered that:

     ".... it was deserving of grave consideration whether great 
     caution was not to be used in adopting any course that might, 
     even in the most indirect way, have an effect to encourage 
     the hopes of the disaffected in America.... It was in this 
     view that I must be permitted to express the great regret I 
     had felt on learning the decision to issue the Queen's 
     proclamation, which at once raised the insurgents to the 
     level of a belligerent State, and still more the language 
     used in regard to it by Her Majesty's ministers in both 
     houses of Parliament before and since. Whatever might be the 
     design, there could be no shadow of doubt that the effect of 
     these events had been to encourage the friends of the 
     disaffected here. The tone of the press and of private 
     opinion indicated it strongly."

Russell's answer was that Adams was placing more stress on recent events than they deserved. The Government had taken the advice of the Law Officers and as a result had concluded that "as a question merely of fact, a war existed.... Under such circumstances

     it seemed scarcely possible to avoid speaking of this in the 
     technical sense as justum bellum, that is, a war of two 
     sides, without in any way implying an opinion of its justice, 
     as well as to withhold an endeavour, so far as possible, to 
     bring the management of it within the rules of modern 
     civilized warfare. This was all that was contemplated by the 
     Queen's proclamation. It was designed to show the purport of 
     existing laws, and to explain to British subjects their 
     liabilities in case they should engage in the war."

To this Adams answered "... that under other circumstances

     I should be very ready to give my cheerful assent to this 
     view of his lordship's. But I must be permitted frankly to 
     remark that the action taken seemed, at least to my mind, a 
     little more rapid than was absolutely called for by the 
     occasion.... And furthermore, it pronounced the insurgents to 
     be a belligerent State before they had ever shown their 
     capacity to maintain any kind of warfare whatever, except 
     within one of their own harbours, and under every possible 
     advantage. It considered them a marine power before they had 
     ever exhibited a single privateer on the ocean.... The rule 
     was very clear, that whenever it became apparent that any 
     organized form of society had advanced so far as to prove its 
     power to defend and protect itself against the assaults of 
     enemies, and at the same time to manifest a capacity to 
     maintain binding relations with foreign nations, then a 
     measure of recognition could not be justly objected to on any 
     side. The case was very different when such an interference 
     should take place, prior to the establishment of the proof 
     required, as to bring about a result which would not probably 
     have happened but for that external agency."

This representation by the American Minister, thus early made, contains the whole argument advanced against the British Proclamation of Neutrality, though there were many similar representations made at greater length both by Adams later, and by Seward at Washington. They are all well summarized by Bernard as "a rejection ... of the proposition that the existence of war is a simple matter of fact, to be ascertained as other facts are - and an assertion ... of the dogma that there can be no war, so far as foreign nations are concerned, and, therefore, no neutrality, so long as there is a sovereignty de jure [170]." But in this first representation Adams, in the main, laid stress upon the haste with which the Proclamation of Neutrality had been issued, and, by inference, upon the evidence that British sympathies were with the South.

One British journal was, indeed, at this very moment voicing exactly those opinions advanced by Adams. The Spectator declared that while the Proclamation, on the face of it, appeared to be one of strict neutrality, it in reality tended "directly to the benefit of the South[171]." A fortnight later this paper asserted, "The quarrel, cover it with cotton as we may, is between freedom and slavery, right and wrong, the dominion of God and the dominion of the Devil, and the duty of England, we submit, is clear." She should, even though forced to declare her neutrality, refuse for all time to recognize the slave-holding Confederacy[172]. But the Spectator stood nearly alone in this view. The Saturday Review defended in every respect the issue of the Proclamation and added, "In a short time, it will be necessary further to recognize the legitimacy of the Southern Government; but the United States have a right to require that the acknowledgment shall be postponed until the failure of the effort which they assert or believe that they are about to make has resulted in an experimental proof that subjugation is impossible[173]." A few provincial papers supported the view of the Spectator, but they were of minor importance, and generally the press heartily approved the Proclamation.

At the time of Adams' interview with Russell on May 18 he has just received an instruction from Seward written under the impression aroused by Dallas' report of Russell's refusal on April 8 to make any pledge as to British policy on the recognition of Southern independence. Seward was very much disturbed by what Russell had said to Dallas. In this instruction, dated April 27[174], he wrote:

     "When you shall have read the instructions at large which 
     have been sent to you, you will hardly need to be told that 
     these last remarks of his lordship are by no means 
     satisfactory to this government. Her Britannic Majesty's 
     government is at liberty to choose whether it will retain the 
     friendship of this government by refusing all aid and comfort 
     to its enemies, now in flagrant rebellion against it, as we 
     think the treaties existing between the two countries 
     require, or whether the government of Her Majesty will take 
     the precarious benefits of a different course.

     "You will lose no time in making known to Her Britannic 
     Majesty's Government that the President regards the answer of 
     his lordship as possibly indicating a policy that this 
     government would be obliged to deem injurious to its rights 
     and derogating from its dignity."

Having promptly carried out these instructions, as he understood them, Adams soon began to report an improved British attitude, and especially in the Government, stating that this improvement was due, in part, to the vigour now being shown by the Northern Government, in part "to a sense that the preceding action of Her Majesty's ministers has been construed to mean more than they intended by it[175]." But at Washington the American irritation was not so easily allayed. Lyons was reporting Seward and, indeed, the whole North, as very angry with the Proclamation of Neutrality[176]. On June 14, Lyons had a long conversation with Seward in which the latter stubbornly denied that the South could possess any belligerent rights. Lyons left the conference feeling that Seward was trying to divide France and England on this point, and Lyons was himself somewhat anxious because France was so long delaying her own Proclamation[177]. To meet the situation, he and Mercier, the French Minister, went the next day, June 15, on an official visit to Seward with the intention of formally presenting the British Proclamation and Thouvenel's instructions to Mercier to support it[178]. But Seward "said at once that he could not receive from us a communication founded on the assumption that

     the Southern Rebels were to be regarded as Belligerents; that 
     this was a determination to which the Cabinet had come 
     deliberately; that he could not admit that recent events had 
     in any respect altered the relations between Foreign Powers 
     and the Southern States; that he would not discuss the 
     question with us, but that he should give instructions to the 
     United States Ministers in London and Paris who would thus be 
     enabled to state the reasons for the course taken by their 
     Government to Your Lordship and to M. Thouvenel, if you 
     should be desirous to hear them.... He should not take 
     Official cognizance of the recognition of the Belligerent 
     Rights of Southern Rebels by Great Britain and France, unless 
     he should be forced to do so by an Official communication 
     addressed to the Government of the United States itself."

In the result the two Ministers submitted their papers to Seward "for his own use only." They did not regard the moment well chosen "to be punctilious." Lyons reported that Seward's language and demeanour throughout the interview were "calm, friendly, and good humoured," but the fact remained that the United States had not been officially notified of the Proclamation of Neutrality, and that the American Government, sensitive to popular excitement in the matter and committed to the theory of a rebellion of peoples, was thus left free to continue argument in London without any necessity of making formal protest and of taking active steps to support such protest[179]. The official relation was eased by the conciliatory acquiescence of Lyons. The public anger of America, expressed in her newspapers, astonished the British press and, temporarily, made them more careful in comment on American affairs. The Times told its readers to keep cool. "It is plain that the utmost care and circumspection must be used by every man or party in England to avoid giving offence to either of the two incensed belligerents[180]." In answer to the Northern outcry at the lack of British sympathy, it declared "Neutrality - strict neutrality - is all that the United States Government can claim[181]."

While the burden of American criticism was thus directed toward the British recognition of Southern belligerency, there were two other matters of great moment to the American view - the attitude of the British Government toward Southern privateers, and the hearing given by Russell to the Confederate envoys. On the former, Seward, on May 21, wrote to Adams: "As to the treatment of privateers in the insurgent service, you will say that this is a question exclusively our own. We treat them as pirates. They are our own citizens, or persons employed by our own citizens, preying on the commerce of our country. If Great Britain shall choose to recognize them as lawful belligerents and give them shelter from our pursuit and punishment, the law of nations affords an adequate and proper remedy[182]." This was threatening language, but was for Adams' own eye, and in the next sentence of his letter Seward stated that avoidance of friction on this point was easy, since in 1856 Great Britain had invited the United States to adhere to the Declaration of Paris everywhere abolishing privateering, and to this the United States was now ready to accede.

What Seward really meant to accomplish by this was not made clear for the question of privateering did not constitute the main point of his belligerent letter of May 21. In fact the proposed treatment of privateers as pirates might have resulted in very serious complications, for though the Proclamation of Neutrality had warned British subjects that they would forfeit any claim to protection if they engaged in the conflict, it is obvious that the hanging as a pirate of a British seaman would have aroused a national outcry almost certain to have forced the Government into protest and action against America. Fortunately the cooler judgment of the United States soon led to quiet abandonment of the plan of treating privateers as pirates, while on the other point of giving "shelter" to Confederate privateers Seward himself received from Lyons assurance, even before Adams had made a protest, that no such shelter would be available in British ports[183].

In this same letter of May 21 Seward, writing of the rumour that the Southern envoys were to be received by Russell "unofficially," instructed Adams that he must use efforts to stop this and that: "You will, in any event, desist from all intercourse whatever, unofficial as well as official, with the British Government, so long as it shall continue intercourse of either kind with the domestic enemies of this country." Here was a positive instruction as to the American Minister's conduct in a given situation, and a very serious instruction, nearly equivalent to "taking leave" after a rupture of diplomatic relations, but the method to be used in avoiding if possible the necessity of the serious step was left to Adams' discretion. Well might Adams' comment, when reporting the outcome, that this was the "most delicate portion of my task[184]." Adams again went over with Russell the suspicion as to British intentions aroused in America by the Queen's Proclamation, but added that he had not been able to convince himself of the existence of an unfriendly design. "But it was not to be disguised that the fact of the continued stay of the pseudo-commissioners in this city, and still more the knowledge that they had been admitted to more or less interviews with his lordship, was calculated to excite uneasiness. Indeed, it had already given great dissatisfaction to my Government. I added, as moderately as I could, that in all frankness any further protraction of this relation could scarcely fail to be viewed by us as hostile in spirit, and to require some corresponding action accordingly." Russell replied that both France and England had long been accustomed to receive such persons unofficially, as in the case of "Poles, Hungarians, Italians, etc.," to hear what they had to say. "But this did not imply recognition in their case any more than in ours. He added that he had seen the gentlemen once some time ago, and once more some time since; he had no expectation of seeing them any more[185]."

For the moment, then, a matter which under Seward's instructions might have brought on a serious crisis was averted by the tact of Adams and the acquiescence of Russell. Yet no pledge had been given; Russell merely stated that he had "no expectation" of further interviews with the Southern commissioners; he was still ready to hear from them in writing. This caused a division of opinion between the commissioners; Yancey argued that Russell's concession to Adams was itself a violation of the neutrality the British Government had announced, and that it should be met by a formal protest. But the other members insisted on a reference to Richmond for instructions[186]. On the same day that Adams reported the result to Seward he wrote privately to his son in Boston:

     "My position here thus far has not been difficult or painful. 
     If I had followed the course of some of my colleagues in the 
     diplomatic line, this country might have been on the high 
     road to the confederate camp before now. It did not seem to 
     me to be expedient so to play into the hands of our 
     opponents. Although there has been and is more or less of 
     sympathy with the slave-holders in certain circles, they are 
     not so powerful as to overbear the general sentiment of the 
     people. The ministry has been placed in rather delicate 
     circumstances, when a small loss of power on either extreme 
     would have thrown them out[187]."

In Adams' opinion the Liberals were on the whole more friendly, at least, to the North than were the Conservatives, and he therefore considered it best not to press too harshly upon the Government.

But the concluding sentence of this same letter was significant: "I wait with patience - but as yet I have not gone so far as to engage a house for more than a month at a time...." He might himself be inclined to view more leniently the Proclamation of Neutrality and be able to find excuses for the alleged haste with which it had been issued, but his instructions required strong representations, especially on the latter point. Adams' report to Seward of June 14, just noted, on the interview with Russell of June 12, after treating of privateering and the Southern commissioners, turns in greater length to the alleged pledge of delay given by Russell to Dallas, and to the violation of that pledge in a hasty issue of the Proclamation. He renews attack on the line already taken on May 18[188]. From this time on, throughout and after the war, this criticism was repeatedly made and with increasing bitterness. British friends of the North joined in the American outcry. By mere reiteration it became in the popular mind on both sides of the Atlantic an accepted and well-founded evidence of British governmental unfriendliness in May, 1861. At the conclusion of the Civil War, John Bright in Parliament, commenting on the causes of American ill-will, declared that the Government of 1861, knowing that Adams was on his way, should in mere courtesy, have waited his arrival. Then, said Bright, the Proclamation, entirely justifiable in itself, might have been issued without offence and without embittering the United States[189].

Had in fact a "pledge to wait" been given to Dallas; and was the Proclamation hasty and premature? Russell always denied he had given any such pledge, and the text of Dallas' report of the interview of May 1 would seem to support that denial[190]. On that day Russell for the second time told Dallas that England would not commit herself, as yet, as regards Southern recognition, clearly meaning a recognition ofsovereignty, not of belligerency, and immediately asked Dallas what the rumours of a blockade meant. Dallas replied that he had no information on this point, and Russell "acquiesced in the expediency of disregarding mere rumour, and waiting the full knowledge to be brought by my successor. The motion, therefore, of Mr. Gregory may be further postponed, at his lordship's suggestion."

The unprejudiced interpretation of this report is merely that Russell refrained from pressing Dallas about a matter - blockade - of which Dallas knew nothing, agreeing that this would be explained by Adams, and especially that he let Dallas understand that Gregory's motion, which was one for recognizing the independence and sovereignty of the South, would be postponed. If there was a pledge here it was a pledge not to recognize Southern sovereignty until after Adams' arrival.

But even if there was no promise of delay "there can be no question," writes the son of Adams in a brief biography of his father, "that the proclamation of the 13th was issued with unseemly haste.... The purpose was manifest. It was to have the status of the Confederacy as a belligerent an accomplished fact before the arrival of the newly accredited minister. This precipitate action was chiefly significant as indicating an animus; that animus being really based on ... the belief, already matured into a conviction, that the full recognition of the Confederacy as an independent power was merely a question of time, and probably of a very short time[191]." The author does not, however, support the contemporary American contention that any Proclamation was contrary to international custom and that no recognition of belligerent status was permissible to neutrals until the "insurgents" had forced the mother country itself to recognize the division as fully accomplished, even while war still continued. Indeed American practice was flatly contradictory of the argument, as in the very pertinent example of the petty Canadian rebellion of 1837, when President Van Buren had promptly issued a proclamation of neutrality. It is curious that in his several replies to Seward's complaints Russell did not quote a letter from Stevenson, the American Minister to London, addressed to Palmerston, May 22, 1838. Stevenson was demanding disavowal and disapproval of the "Caroline" affair, and incidentally he asserted as an incontrovertible principle "that civil wars are not distinguished from other wars, as to belligerent and neutral rights; that they stand upon the same ground, and are governed by the same principles; that whenever a portion of a State seek by force of arms to overthrow the Government, and maintain independence, the contest becomes one de facto of war[192]." This was as exact, and correct, a statement of the British view as could have been desired[193].

The American Minister, whatever his official representation, did not then hold, privately, the view of "unfriendly animus." On July 2, 1861, his secretary son wrote: "The English are really on our side; of that I have no doubt whatever. [Later he was less sure of this.] But they thought that as a dissolution seemed inevitable and as we seemed to have made up our minds to it, that their Proclamation was just the thing to keep them straight with both sides, and when it turned out otherwise they did their best to correct their mistake[194]." The modern historical judgment of the best American writers likewise exonerates the British Government of "unfriendly animus[195]," but is still apt to refer to the "premature" issue of the Proclamation.

This was also John Bright's view. But can Russell and the Government be criticized even as exercising an unwise (not unfriendly) haste? Henry Adams wrote that the British thought the "dissolution seemed inevitable" and "we seemed to have made up our minds to it." Certainly this was a justifiable conclusion from the events in America from Lincoln's election in November, 1860, to his inauguration in March, 1861 - and even to a later date, almost in fact to the first week in April. During this period the British Ministry preserved a strictly "hands off" policy. Then, suddenly, actual conflict begins and at once each side in America issues declarations, Davis on privateering, Lincoln on blockade and piracy, indicative that maritime war, the form of war at once most dangerous to British interests and most likely to draw in British citizens, was the method first to be tried by the contestants. Unless these declarations were mere bluff and bluster England could not dare wait their application. She must at once warn her citizens and make clear her position as a neutral. The Proclamation was no effort "to keep straight with both sides"; it was simply the natural, direct, and prompt notification to British subjects required in the presence of ade facto war.

Moreover, merely as a matter of historical speculation, it was fortunate that the Proclamation antedated the arrival of Adams. The theory of the Northern administration under which the Civil War was begun and concluded was that a portion of the people of the United States were striving as "insurgents" to throw off their allegiance, and that there could be no recognition of any Southern Government in the conflict. In actual practice in war, the exchange of prisoners and like matters, this theory had soon to be discarded. Yet it was a far-seeing and wise theory nevertheless in looking forward to the purely domestic and constitutional problem of the return to the Union, when conquered, of the sections in rebellion. This, unfortunately, was not clear to foreign nations, and it necessarily complicated relations with them. Yet under that theory Adams had to act. Had he arrived before the Proclamation of Neutrality it is difficult to see how he could have proceeded otherwise than to protest, officially, against any British declaration of neutrality, declaring that his Government did not acknowledge a state of war as existing, and threatening to take his leave. It would have been his duty to prevent, if possible, the issue of the Proclamation. Dallas, fortunately, had been left uninformed and uninstructed. Adams, fortunately, arrived too late to prevent and had, therefore, merely to complain. The "premature" issue of the Proclamation averted an inevitable rupture of relations on a clash between the American theory of "no state of war" and the international fact that war existed. Had that rupture occurred, how long would the British Government and people have remained neutral, and what would have been the ultimate fate of the United States[196]?


[Footnote 127: Sir George Cornewall Lewis was better informed in the early stages of the American conflict than any of his ministerial colleagues. He was an occasional contributor to the reviews and his unsigned article in the Edinburgh, April, 1861, on "The Election of President Lincoln and its Consequences," was the first analysis of real merit in any of the reviews.]

[Footnote 128: In his Memoirs of an Ex-Minister, Malmesbury makes but three important references to the Civil War in America.]

[Footnote 129: Adams, Charles Francis Adams, p. 165.]

[Footnote 130: Dodd, Jefferson Davis, pp. 227-8.]

[Footnote 131: Ibid.]

[Footnote 132: It was generally whispered in Southern political circles that Davis sent Yancey abroad to get rid of him, fearing his interference at home. If true, this is further evidence of Davis' neglect of foreign policy.]

[Footnote 133: Du Bose, Yancey, p. 604.]

[Footnote 134: Adams, Charles Francis Adams, pp. 149-51.]

[Footnote 135: Possibly the best concise statement of the effect on the North is given in Carl Schurz, Reminiscences, Vol. II, p. 223. Or see my citation of this in The Power of Ideals in American History, ch. I, "Nationality."]

[Footnote 136: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., Vol. CLXII, pp. 1207-9.]

[Footnote 137: See ante, p. 60.]

[Footnote 138: U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-62, pp. 83-4. Dallas to Seward, May 2, 1862.]

[Footnote 139: An error. Mann did not arrive in London until May 15. Du Bose, Yancey, p. 604.]

[Footnote 140: Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Vol. II, p. 34. This report also shows that Mann was not present at the first interview with Russell.]

[Footnote 141: F.O., America, Vol. 755, No. 128, Russell to Lyons, May 11, 1861. This document is marked "Seen by Lord Palmerston and the Queen." The greater and essential part has been printed inParliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in United States." No. 33.]

[Footnote 142: Du Bose, Yancey, p. 604.]

[Footnote 143: Lyons Papers. The copy of the Memorandum sent to Lyons is undated, but from Russell's letter to Lyons of May 4, in which it was enclosed, it is presumable that the date of May 3 for the Memorandum is correct.]

[Footnote 144: Ibid., Russell to Lyons, May 4, 1861.]

[Footnote 145: F.O., Am., Vol. 755, No. 121, Russell to Lyons, May 6, 1861.]

[Footnote 146: It is to be remembered that the United States had given no notice of the existence of a state of war.]

[Footnote 147: In diplomatic usage official notification of neutrality to a belligerent has varied, but Russell's letters show him to have appreciated a peculiar delicacy here.]

[Footnote 148: F.O., France, Vol. 1376, No. 553. Draft. Printed in Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on International Maritime Law." No. 1.]

[Footnote 149: It is interesting that on this same day Lyons was writing from Washington advocating, regretfully, because of his sympathy with the North, a strict British neutrality:

     "The sympathies of an Englishman are naturally inclined 
     towards the North - but I am afraid we should find that 
     anything like a quasi alliance with the men in office here 
     would place us in a position which would soon become 
     untenable. There would be no end to the exactions which they 
     would make upon us, there would be no end to the disregard of 
     our neutral rights, which they would show if they once felt 
     sure of us. If I had the least hope of their being able to 
     reconstruct the Union, or even of their being able to reduce 
     the South to the condition of a tolerably contented or at all 
     events obedient dependency, my feeling against Slavery might 
     lead me to desire to co-operate with them. But I conceive all 
     chance of this to be gone for ever."

Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, May 6, 1861.]

[Footnote 150: F.O., France, Vol. 1390. No. 677.]

[Footnote 151: Ibid., No. 684. Printed in part in Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on International Maritime Law." No. 3.]

[Footnote 152: Times, May 9, 1861.]

[Footnote 153: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 31.]

[Footnote 154: So stated by the Times, May 9, 1861.]

[Footnote 155: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., Vol. CLXII, pp. 1378-9. This blunt expression of Great Britain's Foreign Secretary offers an interesting comparison with the words of the American President Wilson, in a parallel statement at the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. Wilson on August 3, 1914, gave a special audience to newspaper correspondents, begging them to maintain an attitude of calm impartiality. On August 4 he issued the first of several neutrality proclamations in which, following the customary language of such documents, the people were notified that neutrality did not restrict the "full and free expression of sympathies in public and in private." But on August 18 in an address to the people of the United States, this legal phraseology, required by traditional usage was negatived by Wilson's appeal that "we must be impartial in thought as well as in action, must put a curb upon our sentiments as well as upon every transaction that might be construed as a preference of one party to the struggle before another." And three weeks later, on September 8, came the proclamation setting aside October 4 "as a day of prayer to Almighty God," informing Him that war existed and asking His intervention. Possibly Russell's more blunt and pithy expression was better suited to the forthrightness of the British public.]

[Footnote 156: Hansard, ibid., pp. 1564-7. Gregory, a "Liberal-Conservative," though never a "good party man" was then supporting Palmerston's ministry. He was very popular in Parliament, representing by his prominence in sport and society alike, the "gentleman ruling class" of the House of Commons, and was a valuable influence for the South.]

[Footnote 157: This subject is developed at length in Chapter V on "The Declaration of Paris Negotiation."]

[Footnote 158: See ante, p. 88. The chronology of these rapidly succeeding events is interesting:

  April 29 - Malmesbury states in the Lords that "news was received 
    this day." 
  May 1 - Naval reinforcements sent to American waters. 
  May 1 - Russell's interview with Dallas. 
  May 2 - Russell's plea in Parliament, "For God's sake keep out of 
  May 3 - Russell's first interview with Yancey and Rost. 
  May 3 - Attorney-General's memorandum. 
  May 4 - Russell's note to Lyons that this is a "regular war." 
  May 6 - Cowley instructed to ask France to recognize Southern 
  May 6 - Lyons notified that England will recognize Southern belligerency. 
  May 6 - Russell states in Parliament that privateers can not be 
    treated as pirates. 
    [Presumably, since parliamentary sittings begin in the late 
      afternoons, the instructions to diplomats were drawn before 
      the statement in Parliament.] 
  May 9 - Russell's second interview with Yancey and Rost. 
  May 9 - Sir George Lewis announces that a Proclamation of Neutrality 
    will be issued soon. 
  May 13 - The Proclamation authorized. 
  May 13 - Adams reaches Liverpool. 
  May 14 - The Proclamation officially published in the London Gazette. 
  May 14 - Adams in London "ready for business."

It would appear that Russell's expressions in Parliament on May 2 indicated clearly the purpose of the Government. This was notified to Lyons on May 4, which may be taken as the date when the governmental position had become definitely fixed, even though official instructions were not sent Lyons until the 6th.]

[Footnote 159: F.O., Am., Vol. 780, No. 50. Bunch to Russell, April 19, 1861.]

[Footnote 160: F.O., Am., 789, Monson to Alston, received May 21.]

[Footnote 161: F.O., Am., 763, No. 197, Lyons to Russell, received May 26. The full statement is:

     "To an Englishman, sincerely interested in the welfare of 
     this country, the present state of things is peculiarly 
     painful. Abhorrence of slavery, respect for law, more 
     complete community of race and language, enlist his 
     sympathies on the side of the North. On the other hand, he 
     cannot but reflect that any encouragement to the predominant 
     war feeling in the North cannot but be injurious to both 
     sections of the country. The prosecution of the war can lead 
     only to the exhaustion of the North by an expenditure of life 
     and money on an enterprise in which success and failure would 
     be alike disastrous. It must tend to the utter devastation of 
     the South. It would at all events occasion a suspension of 
     Southern cultivation which would be calamitous even more to 
     England than to the Northern States themselves."

[Footnote 162: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXII, p. 1763.]

[Footnote 163: Ibid., pp. 1830-34. In the general discussion in the Lords there appeared disagreement as to the status of privateering. Granville, Derby, and Brougham, spoke of it as piracy. Earl Hardwicke thought privateering justifiable. The general tone of the debate, though only on this matter of international practice, was favourable to the North.]

[Footnote 164: For example see Hertslet, Map of Europe by Treaty, Vol. I, p. 698, for the Proclamation issued in 1813 during the Spanish-American colonial revolutions.]

[Footnote 165: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXII, pp. 2077-2088.]

[Footnote 166: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV, "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 35. Russell to Lyons, May 15, 1861. Another reason for Lyons' precaution was that while his French colleague, Mercier, had been instructed to support the British Proclamation, no official French Proclamation was issued until June 10, and Lyons, while he trusted Mercier, felt that this French delay needed some explanation. Mercier told Seward, unofficially, of his instructions and even left a copy of them, but at Seward's request made no official communication. Lyons, later, followed the same procedure. This method of dealing with Seward came to be a not unusual one, though it irritated both the British and French Ministers.]

[Footnote 167: U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2, p. 85. Adams to Seward, May 17, 1861.]

[Footnote 168: Bedford died that day.]

[Footnote 169: U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2, pp. 90-96. Adams to Seward, May 21, 1861.]

[Footnote 170: Bernard, The Neutrality of Great Britain during the American Civil War, p. 161. The author cites at length despatches and documents of the period.]

[Footnote 171: Spectator, May 18, 1861.]

[Footnote 172: Spectator, June 1, 1861.]

[Footnote 173: Saturday Review, June 1, 1861.]

[Footnote 174: U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2, p. 82.]

[Footnote 175: Ibid., p. 98. Adams to Seward, June 7, 1861. See also p. 96, Adams to Seward, May 31, 1861.]

[Footnote 176: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, June 10, 1861.]

[Footnote 177: Ibid., Lyons to Russell, June 14, 1861.]

[Footnote 178: F.O., Am., Vol. 766, No. 282. Lyons to Russell, June 17, 1861. Seward's account, in close agreement with that of Lyons, is in U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2, p. 106. Seward to Adams, June 19, 1861.]

[Footnote 179: Bancroft in his Seward (II, p. 183) prints a portion of an unpublished despatch of Seward to Dayton in Paris, July 1, 1861, as "his clearest and most characteristic explanation of what the attitude of the government must be in regard to the action of the foreign nations that have recognized the belligerency of the 'insurgents.'"

     "Neither Great Britain nor France, separately nor both 
     together, can, by any declaration they can make, impair the 
     sovereignty of the United States over the insurgents, nor 
     confer upon them any public rights whatever. From first to 
     last we have acted, and we shall continue to act, for the 
     whole people of the United States, and to make treaties for 
     disloyal as well as loyal citizens with foreign nations, and 
     shall expect, when the public welfare requires it, foreign 
     nations to respect and observe the treaties.

     "We do not admit, and we never shall admit, even the 
     fundamental statement you assume - namely, that Great Britain 
     and France have recognized the insurgents as a belligerent 
     party. True, you say they have so declared. We reply: Yes, 
     but they have not declared so to us. You may rejoin: Their 
     public declaration concludes the fact. We, nevertheless, 
     reply: It must be not their declaration, but the fact, that 
     concludes the fact."

[Footnote 180: The Times, June 3, 1861.]

[Footnote 181: Ibid., June 11, 1861.]

[Footnote 182: U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-2, p. 87.]

[Footnote 183: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 56. Lyons to Russell, June 17, 1861, reporting conference with Seward on June 15.]

[Footnote 184: U.S. Messages and Documents, 1861-62, p. 104. Adams to Seward, June 14, 1861.]

[Footnote 185: Bancroft, the biographer of Seward, takes the view that the protests against the Queen's Proclamation, in regard to privateering and against interviews with the Southern commissioners were all unjustifiable. The first, he says, was based on "unsound reasoning" (II, 177). On the second he quotes with approval a letter from Russell to Edward Everett, July 12, 1861, showing the British dilemma: "Unless we meant to treat them as pirates and to hang them we could not deny them belligerent rights" (II, 178). And as to the Southern commissioners he asserts that Seward, later, ceased protest and writes: "Perhaps he remembered that he himself had recently communicated, through three different intermediaries, with the Confederate commissioners to Washington, and would have met them if the President had not forbidden it." Bancroft, Seward, II, 179.]

[Footnote 186: Du Bose, Yancey, p. 606.]

[Footnote 187: A Cycle of Adams' Letters, 1861-1865, Vol. I, p. 11. Adams to C.F. Adams, Jnr., June 14, 1861.]

[Footnote 188: See ante, p. 98. Russell's report to Lyons of this interview of June 12, lays special emphasis on Adams' complaint of haste. Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV, "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States," No. 52. Russell to Lyons, June 21, 1861.]

[Footnote 189: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXXVII, pp. 1620-21, March 13, 1865.]

[Footnote 190: See ante, p. 85.]

[Footnote 191: C.F. Adams, Charles Francis Adams, p. 172. In preparing a larger life of his father, never printed, the son later came to a different opinion, crediting Russell with foresight in hastening the Proclamation to avoid possible embarrassment with Adams on his arrival. The quotation from the printed "Life" well summarizes, however, current American opinion.]

[Footnote 192: U.S. Documents, Ser. No. 347, Doc. 183, p. 6.]

[Footnote 193: The United States Supreme Court in 1862, decided that Lincoln's blockade proclamation of April 19, 1861, was "itself official and conclusive evidence ... that a state of war existed." (Moore, Int. Law Digest, I, p. 190.)]

[Footnote 194: A Cycle of Adams' Letters, I, p. 16. Henry Adams to C.F. Adams, Jnr.]

[Footnote 195: Rhodes, History of the United States, III, p. 420 (note) summarizes arguments on this point, but thinks that the Proclamation might have been delayed without harm to British interests. This is perhaps true as a matter of historical fact, but such fact in no way alters the compulsion to quick action felt by the Ministry in the presence of probable immediate fact.]

[Footnote 196: This was the later view of C.F. Adams, Jnr. He came to regard the delay in his father's journey to England as the most fortunate single incident in American foreign relations during the Civil War.]