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. Their appointment indicated that the South had at last awakened to the need of a serious foreign policy. It was publicly and widely commented on by the Southern press, thereby arousing an excited apprehension in the North, almost as if the mere sending of two new men with instructions to secure recognition abroad were tantamount to the actual accomplishment of their object.

Mason and Slidell succeeded in running the blockade at Charleston on the night of October 12, 1861, on the Confederate steamer Theodora [400], and arrived at New Providence, Nassau, on the fourteenth, thence proceeded by the same vessel to Cardenas, Cuba, and from that point journeyed overland to Havana, arriving October 22. In the party there were, besides the two envoys, their secretaries, McFarland and Eustis, and the family of Slidell. On November 7 they sailed for the Danish island of St. Thomas, expecting thence to take a British steamer for Southampton. The vessel on which they left Havana was the British contract mail-packet Trent, whose captain had full knowledge of the diplomatic character of his passengers. About noon on November 8 the Trent was stopped in the Bahama Channel by the United States sloop of war, San Jacinto, Captain Wilkes commanding, by a shot across the bows, and a boarding party took from the Trent Mason and Slidell with their secretaries, transferred them to the San Jacinto, and proceeded to an American port. Protest was made both by the captain of the Trent and by Commander Williams, R.N., admiralty agent in charge of mails on board the ship[401]. The two envoys also declared that they would yield only to personal compulsion, whereupon hands were laid upon shoulders and coat collars, and, accepting this as the application of force, they were transferred to the San Jacinto's boats. The scene on the Trent, as described by all parties, both then and later, partakes of the nature of comic opera, yet was serious enough to the participants. In fact, the envoys, especially Slidell, were exultant in the conviction that the action of Wilkes would inevitably result in the early realization of the object of their journey - recognition of the South, at least by Great Britain[402]. Once on board the San Jacinto they were treated more like guests on a private yacht, having "seats at the captain's table," than as enemy prisoners on an American war-ship.

Captain Wilkes had acted without orders, and, indeed, even without any recent official information from Washington. He was returning from a cruise off the African coast, and had reached St. Thomas on October 10. A few days later, when off the south coat of Cuba, he had learned of the Confederate appointment of Mason and Slidell, and on the twenty-eighth, in Havana harbour, he heard that the Commissioners were to sail on the Trent. At once he conceived the idea of intercepting the Trent, exercising the right of search, and seizing the envoys, in spite of the alleged objections of his executive officer, Lieutenant Fairfax. The result was that quite without authority from the United States Navy Department, and solely upon his own responsibility, a challenge was addressed to Britain, the "mistress of the seas," certain to be accepted by that nation as an insult to national prestige and national pride not quietly to be suffered.

The San Jacinto reached Fortress Monroe on the evening of November 15. The next day the news was known, but since it was Saturday, few papers contained more than brief and inaccurate accounts and, there being then few Sunday papers, it was not until Monday, the eighteenth, that there broke out a widespread rejoicing and glorification in the Northern press[403]. America, for a few days, passed through a spasm of exultation hard to understand, even by those who felt it, once the first emotion had subsided. This had various causes, but among them is evident a quite childish fear of the acuteness and abilities of Mason and Slidell. Both men were indeed persons of distinction in the politics of the previous decades. Mason had always been open in his expressed antipathy to the North, especially to New England, had long been a leader in Virginia, and at the time of the Southern secession, was a United States Senator from that State. Slidell, a Northerner by birth, but early removed to Louisiana, had acquired fortune in business there, and had for nearly twenty years been the political "boss" of one faction of the Democratic Party in New Orleans and in the State. With much previous experience in diplomacy, especially that requiring intrigue and indirect methods (as in the preliminaries of the Mexican War), and having held his seat in the United States Senate until the withdrawal of Louisiana from the Union, he was, of the two men, more feared and more detested, but both were thoroughly obnoxious to the North. Merely on the personal side their capture was cause for wide rejoicing[404].

Surprise was also an element in the American elation, for until the news of the capture was received no portion of the public had given serious thought to any attempt to stop the envoys. Surprise also played its part when the affair became known in England, though in official circles there had been some warning. It had already been reported in the British press that Mason and Slidell had run the blockade at Charleston, were in Cuba, and were about to set sail for England on the Confederate steamer Nashville, but the British Government, considering that the envoys might perhaps sail rather on the West India Mail Steamer for Southampton, became much concerned over a possible American interference with that vessel. On November 9 Hammond sent an urgent enquiry to the Advocate-General stating the situation, calling attention to the presence at Southampton of an American war-vessel, and asking whether this vessel, or any other American man-of-war, "would be entitled to interfere with the mail steamer if fallen in with beyond the territorial limits of the United Kingdom, that is beyond three miles from the British Coast."

     "Whether for instance she might cause the West India Mail 
     Steamer to bring to, might board her, examine her Papers, 
     open the Mail Bags and examine the contents thereof, examine 
     the luggage of passengers, seize and carry away Messrs. Mason 
     and Slidell in person, or seize their Credentials and 
     Instructions and Despatches, or even put a Prize Crew on 
     board the West India Steamer and carry her off to a Port of 
     the United States; in other words what would be the right of 
     the American Cruiser with regard to her passengers and crew 
     and lawful papers and correspondence on board our packet on 
     the assumption that the said packet was liable to capture and 
     confiscation on the ground of carrying enemies' despatches; 
     would the Cruiser be entitled to carry the packet and all and 
     everything in her back to America or would she be obliged to 
     land in this Country or in some near port all the people and 
     all the unseizable goods[405]?"

Hammond further stated that Russell was anxious to have an immediate reply, inasmuch as the mail packet was due to arrive in Southampton on November 12. The opinion of the law officer consulted is best given in Palmerston's own words in a letter to Delane, Editor of the Times :

     "94 Piccadilly, 
     November 11, 1861


     "It may be useful to you to know that the Chancellor, Dr. 
     Lushington, the three Law Officers, Sir G. Grey, the Duke of 
     Somerset, and myself, met at the Treasury to-day to consider 
     what we could properly do about the American cruiser come, no 
     doubt, to search the West Indian packet supposed to be 
     bringing hither the two Southern envoys; and, much to my 
     regret, it appeared that, according to the principles of 
     international law laid down in our courts by Lord Stowell, 
     and practised and enforced by us, a belligerent has a right 
     to stop and search any neutral not being a ship of war, and 
     being found on the high seas and being suspected of carrying 
     enemy's despatches; and that consequently this American 
     cruiser might, by our own principles of international law, 
     stop the West Indian packet, search her, and if the Southern 
     men and their despatches and credentials were found on board, 
     either take them out, or seize the packet and carry her back 
     to New York for trial. Such being the opinion of our men 
     learned in the law, we have determined to do no more than to 
     order the Phaeton frigate to drop down to Yarmouth Roads 
     and watch the proceedings of the American within our 
     three-mile limit of territorial jurisdiction, and to prevent 
     her from exercising within that limit those rights which we 
     cannot dispute as belonging to her beyond that limit.

     "In the meanwhile the American captain, having got very drunk 
     this morning at Southampton with some excellent brandy, and 
     finding it blow heavily at sea, has come to an anchor for the 
     night within Calshot Castle, at the entrance of the 
     Southampton river.

     "I mention these things for your private information.

     Yours sincerely,


Not completely satisfied with this decision as reported to Delane, and sincerely anxious to avert what he foresaw would be a difficult situation, Palmerston took the unusual step of writing to Adams on the next day, November 12, and asking for an interview. His note took Adams by surprise, but he promptly waited upon Palmerston, and was told of the latter's disturbance at the presence of the American shipJames Adger, Captain Marchand commanding, in Southampton Harbour, with the alleged purpose of stopping the British West India steamer and intercepting the journey of Mason and Slidell. Palmerston stated that he "did not pretend to judge absolutely of the question whether we had a right to stop a foreign vessel for such a purpose as was indicated," and he urged on Adams the unwisdom of such an act in any case. "Neither did the object to be gained seem commensurate with the risk. For it was surely of no consequence whether one or two more men were added to the two or three who had already been so long here. They would scarcely make a difference in the action of the Government after once having made up its mind[407]."

The interview with Adams, so Palmerston wrote to Delane on the same day, November 12, was reassuring:


     "I have seen Adams to-day, and he assures me that the 
     American paddle-wheel was sent to intercept the Nashville 
     if found in these seas, but not to meddle with any ship under 
     a foreign flag. He said he had seen the commander, and had 
     advised him to go straight home; and he believed the steamer 
     to be now on her way back to the United States. This is a 
     very satisfactory explanation.

     Yours sincerely,


In fact, neither Adams' diary nor his report to Seward recorded quite the same statement as that here attributed to him by Palmerston, and this became later, but fortunately after the question of the Trent had passed off the stage, a matter of minor dispute. Adams' own statement was that he had told Palmerston the James Adger was seeking to intercept the Nashville and "had no instruction" to interfere with a British Packet - which is not the same as saying that she already had instructions "not to meddle with any ship under a foreign flag[409]." But in any case, it would appear that the British Government had been warned by its legal advisers that if that which actually happened in the case of the Trent should occur, English practice, if followed, would compel acquiescence in it[410]. This is not to say that a first legal advice thus given on a problematical case necessarily bound the Government to a fixed line of action, but that the opinion of the Government was one of "no help for it" if the case should actually arise is shown by the instructions to Lyons and by his reaction. On November 16, Hammond wrote to Lyons stating the opinion of the Law Officers that "we could do nothing to save the Packet being interfered with outside our three miles; so Lord Palmerston sent for Adams, who assured him that the American [the James Adger] had no instructions to meddle with any ship under English colours ... that her orders were not to endeavour to take Mason and Slidell out of any ship under foreign colours[411]." On receipt of this letter subsequent to the actual seizure of the envoys, Lyons hardly knew what to expect. He reported Hammond's account to Admiral Milne, writing that the legal opinion was that "Nothing could be done to save the Packet's being interfered with outside of the Marine league from the British Coast"; but he added, "I am not informed that the Law Officers decided that Mason and Slidell might be taken out of the Packet, but only that we could not prevent the Packet's being interfered with," thus previsioning that shift in British legal opinion which was to come after the event. Meanwhile Lyons was so uncertain as to what his instructions would be that he thought he "ought to maintain the greatest reserve here on the matter of the Trent[412]."

This British anxiety and the efforts to prevent a dangerous complication occurred after the envoys had been seized but some two weeks before that fact was known in London. "Adams," wrote Russell, "says it was all a false alarm, and wonders at our susceptibility and exaggerated notions[413]." But Russell was not equally convinced with Adams that the North, especially Seward, was so eager for continued British neutrality, and when, on November 27, the news of Captain Wilkes' action was received, Russell and many others in the Cabinet saw in it a continuation of unfriendly Northern policy now culminating in a direct affront. Argyll, the most avowed friend of the North in the Cabinet, was stirred at first to keen resentment, writing "of this wretched piece of American folly.... I am all against submitting to any clean breach of International Law, such as I can hardly doubt this has been[414]." The Law Officers now held that "Captain Wilkes had undertaken to pass upon the issue of a violation of neutrality on the spot, instead of sending the Trent as a prize into port for judicial adjudication[415]." This was still later further expanded by an opinion that the envoys could not be considered as contraband, and thus subject to capture nor the Trent as having violated neutrality, since the destination of the vessel was to a neutral, not to an enemy port[416]. This opinion would have prohibited even the carrying of the Trent into an American port for trial by a prize court.

But the British Government did not argue the matter in its demand upon the United States. The case was one for a quick demand of prompt reparation. Russell's instruction to Lyons, sent on November 30, was couched in coldly correct language, showing neither a friendly nor an unfriendly attitude. The seizure of the envoys was asserted to be a breach of international law, which, it was hoped, had occurred without orders, and Lyons was to demand the restoration of the prisoners with an apology. If Seward had not already offered these terms Lyons was to propose them, but as a preliminary step in making clear the British position, he might read the instruction to Seward, leaving him a copy of it if desired[417]. In another instruction of the same date Russell authorized a delay of seven days in insisting upon an answer by Seward, if the latter wished it, and gave Lyons liberty to determine whether "the requirements of Her Majesty's Government are substantially complied with[418]." And on December 1, Russell writing privately to Lyons instructed him, while upholding English dignity, to abstain from anything like menace[419]. On November 30, also, the Government hurriedly sent out orders to hold the British Fleet in readiness, began preparations for the sending of troops to Canada, and initiated munitions and supply activities. Evidently there was at first but faint hope that a break in relations, soon to be followed by war, was to be avoided[420].

It has long been known to history, and was known to Adams almost immediately, that the first draft of the instruction to Lyons was softened in language by the advice of Prince Albert, the material point being the expression of a hope that the action of Captain Wilkes was unauthorized[421]. That instruction had been sent previous to the receipt of a report from Lyons in which, very fearful of results, he stated that, waiting instructions, he would preserve a strict silence[422]. Equally anxious was Cowley at Paris, who feared the realization of Seward's former "foreign war panacea." "I wish I could divest myself of the idea that the North and South will not shake hands over a war with us[423]." Considering the bitterness of the quarrel in America this was a far-fetched notion. The efforts promptly made by the Confederate agents in London to make use of the Trent affair showed how little Cowley understood the American temper. Having remained very quiet since August when Russell had informed them that Great Britain intended remaining strictly neutral[424], they now, on November 27 and 30, renewed their argument and application for recognition, but received in reply a curt letter declining any official communication with them "in the present state of affairs[425]."

The delay of at least three weeks imposed by methods of transportation before even the first American reaction to the British demand could be received in London gave time for a lessening of excitement and a more careful self-analysis by British statesmen as to what they really felt and desired. Gladstone wrote: "It is a very sad and heart-sickening business, and I sincerely trust with you that war may be averted[426]." Argyll hurried home from the Continent, being much disturbed by the tone of the British press, and stating that he was against standing on technical grounds of international law. "War with America is such a calamity that we must do all we can to avoid it. It involves not only ourselves, but all our North American colonies[427]." But war seemed to both men scarcely avoidable, an opinion held also by Cornewall Lewis[428] and by Clarendon, the latter standing at the moment in a position midway between the Whig and Tory parties[429]. Yet Russell, with more cause than others to mistrust Seward's policy, as also believing that he had more cause, personally, to resent it, was less pessimistic and was already thinking of at least postponing immediate hostilities in the event of an American refusal to make just recompense. On December 16 he wrote to Palmerston: "I incline more and more to the opinion that if the answer is a reasoning, and not a blunt offensive answer, we should send once more across the Atlantic to ask compliance.... I do not think the country would approve an immediate declaration of war. But I think we must abide by our demand of a restoration of the prisoners.... Lyons gives a sad account of Canada. Your foresight of last year is amply justified[430]." And on December 20 he wrote, "Adams' language yesterday was entirely in favour of yielding to us, if our tone is not too peremptory.... If our demands are refused, we must, of course, call Parliament together. The sixth of February will do. In any other case we must decide according to circumstances[431]."

Thus Russell would not have Great Britain go to war with America without the sanction of Parliament, and was seeking reasons for delay. He was reacting, in fact, to a more sobering second thought which was experienced also by nearly everyone, save the eager British "Southerner," in public and in newspaper circles. The first explosion of the Press, on receipt of the news of the Trent, had been a terrific one. The British lion, insulted in its chosen field of supremacy, the sea, had pawed the air in frenzy though at first preserving a certain slow dignity of motion. Customary "strong leader-writing" became vigorous, indeed, in editorial treatment of America and in demand for the prompt release of the envoys with suitable apology. The close touch of leading papers with Governmental opinion is well shown, as in the Times, by the day-to-day editorials of the first week. On November 28 there was solemn and anxious consideration of a grave crisis with much questioning of international law, which was acknowledged to be doubtful. But even if old British practice seemed to support Captain Wilkes, the present was not to be controlled by a discarded past, and "essential differences" were pointed out. This tone of vexed uncertainty changed to a note of positive assurance and militant patriotism on November 30 when the Government made its demand. The Times up to December 2, thought it absolutely certain that Wilkes had acted on authorization, and devoted much space to Seward as the evil genius of American warlike policy toward England. The old "Duke of Newcastle story" was revamped. But on December 2 there reached London the first, very brief, American news of the arrival of the San Jacinto at Fortress Monroe, and this contained a positive statement by Wilkes that he had had no orders. The Times was sceptical, but printed the news as having an important bearing, if true, and, at the same time, printed communications by "Justicia" and others advising a "go slowly" policy[432]. Yet all British papers indulged in sharp reflections on American insults, displayed keen resentment, and demanded a prompt yielding to the Governmental demand.

An intelligent American long resident in London, wrote to Seward on November 29: "There never was within memory such a burst of feeling as has been created by the news of the boarding of [the Trent]. The people are frantic with rage, and were the country polled, I fear 999 men out of a thousand would declare for immediate war. Lord Palmerston cannot resist the impulse if he would." And another American, in Edinburgh, wrote to his uncle in New York: "I have never seen so intense a feeling of indignation exhibited in my life. It pervades all classes, and may make itself heard above the wiser theories of the Cabinet officers[433]." If such were the British temper, it would require skilful handling by even a pacific-minded Government to avoid war. Even without belligerent newspaper utterances the tone of arrogance as in Punch's cartoon, "You do what's right, my son, or I'll blow you out of the water," portended no happy solution. Yet this cartoon at least implied a hope of peaceful outcome, and that this was soon a general hope is shown by the prompt publicity given to a statement from the American General, Winfield Scott, in Paris, denying that he had said the action of Captain Wilkes had been decided upon at Washington before he sailed for Europe, and asserting that no orders were given to seize the envoys on board any British or foreign vessel[434]. Nevertheless, Adams, for the moment intensely aroused, and suspicious of the whole purpose of British policy, could write to his friend Dana in Boston: "The expression of the past summer might have convinced you that she [Great Britain] was not indifferent to the disruption of the Union. In May she drove in the tip of the wedge, and now you can't imagine that a few spiders' webs of a half a century back will not be strong enough to hold her from driving it home. Little do you understand of this fast-anchored isle[435]."

There can be no doubt that one cause of a more bitter and sharper tone in the British press was the reception of the counter-exultation of the American press on learning of the detention and the exercise of "right of search" on a British ship. The American public equally went "off its head" in its expressions. Writing in 1911, the son of the American Minister to Great Britain, Charles Francis Adams, jun., in 1861, a young law-student in Boston, stated: "I do not remember in the whole course of the half-century's retrospect ... any occurrence in which the American people were so completely swept off their feet, for the moment losing possession of their senses, as during the weeks which immediately followed the seizure of Mason and Slidell[436]." There were evident two principal causes for this elation. The North with much emotion and high courage entering in April, 1861, upon the task of restoring the Union and hoping for quick success, had now passed through a wearisome six months with no evident progress towards its object. Northern failure had developed a deep mortification when, suddenly and unexpectedly, a bold naval captain, on his own initiative, appeared to have struck a real blow at the South. His action seemed to indicate that the fighting forces of the North, if free from the trammels of Washington red tape, could, and would, carry on energetic war. Certainly it was but a slight incident to create such Northern emotion, yet the result was a sudden lifting from despondency to elation.

But almost equally with this cause of joy there operated on American minds the notion that the United States had at last given to Great Britain a dose of her own medicine in a previous era - had exercised upon a British ship that "right of search" which had been so keenly resented by America as to have become almost a permanent cause of a sense of injury once received and never to be forgotten. There was no clear thinking about this; the obnoxious right of search in times of peace for vagrant seamen, the belligerent right exercised by Britain while America was a neutral, the practice of a "right of visit" claimed by Britain as necessary in suppression of the African Slave Trade - all were confused by the American public (as they are still in many history textbooks to this day), and the total result of this mixing of ideas was a general American jubilation that the United States had now revenged herself for British offences, in a manner of which Great Britain could not consistently complain. These two main reasons for exultation were shared by all classes, not merely by the uninformed mob of newspaper readers. At a banquet tendered Captain Wilkes in Boston on November 26, Governor Andrews of Massachusetts called Wilkes' action "one of the most illustrious services that had made the war memorable," and added "that there might be nothing left [in the episode] to crown the exultation of the American heart, Commodore Wilkes fired his shot across the bows of the ship that bore the British lion at its head[437]."

All America first applauded the act, then plunged into discussion of its legality as doubts began to arise of its defensibility - and wisdom. It became a sort of temporarily popular "parlour game" to argue the international law of the case and decide that Great Britain could have no cause of complaint[438]. Meanwhile at Washington itself there was evidenced almost equal excitement and approval - but not, fortunately, by the Department responsible for the conduct of foreign relations. Secretary of the Navy Welles congratulated Wilkes on his "great public service," though criticizing him for not having brought theTrent into port for adjudication. Congress passed a joint resolution, December 2, thanking Wilkes for his conduct, and the President was requested to give him a gold medal commemorative of his act. Indeed, no evidence of approbation was withheld save the formal approval and avowal of national responsibility by the Secretary of State, Seward. On him, therefore, and on the wisdom of men high in the confidence of the Cabinet, like Sumner, Lyons pinned his faint hope of a peaceful solution. Thoroughly alarmed and despondent, anxious as to the possible fate of Canada[439], he advised against any public preparations in Canada for defence, on the ground that if the Trent affair did blow over it should not appear that we ever thought it an insult which would endanger peace[440]. This was very different from the action and attitude of the Government at home, as yet unknown to Lyons. He wisely waited in silence, advising like caution to others, until the receipt of instructions. Silence, at the moment, was also a friendly service to the United States.

The earliest American reactions, the national rejoicing, became known to the British press some six days after its own spasm of anger, and three days after the Government had despatched its demand for release of the prisoners and begun its hurried military preparations. On December 3 the Times contained the first summary of American press outpourings. The first effect in England was astonishment, followed by renewed and more intense evidences of a belligerent disposition. Soon, however, there began to appear a note of caution and more sane judgment of the situation, though with no lessening of the assertion that Britain had suffered an injury that must be redressed. The American frenzy of delight seemingly indicated a deep-seated hostility to Britain that gave pause to British clamour for revenge. On December 4 John Bright made a great speech at Rochdale, arguing a possible British precedent for Wilkes' act, urging caution, lauding American leadership in democracy, and stating his positive conviction that the United States Government was as much astonished as was that of Great Britain by the attack on the Trent.[441] To this the Times gave a full column of report on December 5 and the day following printed five close-type columns of the speech itself. Editorially it attacked Bright's position, belittling the speech for having been made at the one "inconspicuous" place where the orator would be sure of a warm welcome, and asking why Manchester or Liverpool had not been chosen. In fact, however, the Times was attempting to controvert "our ancient enemy" Bright as an apostle of democracy rather than to fan the flames of irritation over the Trent, and the prominence given to Bright's speech indicates a greater readiness to consider as hopeful an escape from the existing crisis.

After December 3 and up to the ninth, the Times was more caustic about America than previously. The impression of its editorials read to-day is that more hopeful of a peaceful solution it was more free to snarl. But with the issue of December 10 there began a series of leaders and communications, though occasionally with a relapse to the former tone, distinctly less irritating to Americans, and indicating a real desire for peace[442]. Other newspapers either followed the Times, or were slightly in advance of it in a change to more considerate and peaceful expressions. Adams could write to Seward on December 6 that he saw no change in the universality of the British demand for satisfaction of the "insult and injury thought to be endured," but he recognized in the next few days that a slow shift was taking place in the British temper and regretted the violence of American utterances. December 12, he wrote to his son in America: "It has given us here an indescribably sad feeling to witness the exultation in America over an event which bids fair to be the final calamity in this contest...." Great Britain "is right in principle and only wrong in point of consistency. Our mistake is that we are donning ourselves in her cast-off suit, when our own is better worth wearing[443]." His secretarial son was more vehement: "Angry and hateful as I am of Great Britain, I still can't help laughing and cursing at the same time as I see the accounts of the talk of our people. What a bloody set of fools they are! How in the name of all that's conceivable could you suppose that England would sit quiet under such an insult. We should have jumped out of our boots at such a one[444]."

The British Cabinet members were divided in sentiments of hope or pessimism as to the outcome, and were increasingly anxious for an honourable escape from a possible situation in which, if they trusted the observations of Lyons, they might find themselves aiding a slave as against a free State. On November 29, Lyons had written a long account of the changes taking place in Northern feeling as regards slavery. He thought it very probable that the issue of emancipation would soon be forced upon Lincoln, and that the American conflict would then take on a new and more ideal character[445]. This letter, arriving in the midst of uncertainty about the Trent solution, was in line with news published in the British papers calling out editorials from them largely in disapproval[446]. Certainly Russell was averse to war. If the prisoners were not given up, what, he asked, ought England then to do? Would it be wise to delay hostilities or to begin them at once?

"An early resort to hostilities will enable us at once to raise the blockade of the South, to blockade the North, and to prevent the egress of numerous ships, commissioned as privateers which will be sent against our commerce." But then, there was Canada, at present not defensible. He had been reading Alison on the War of 1812, and found that then the American army of invasion had numbered but 2,500 men. "We may now expect 40 or 50,000[447]." Two days later he wrote to Gladstone that if America would only "let the Commissioners free to go where they pleased," he would be satisfied. He added that in that case, "I should be very glad to make a treaty with the U.S., giving up our pretensions of 1812 and securing immunity to persons not in arms on board neutral vessels or to persons going bona fide from one neutral port to another. This would be a triumph to the U.S. in principle while the particular case would be decided in our favour[448]."

On Saturday, December 14, the Prince Consort died. It was well-known that he had long been a brake upon the wheel of Palmerston's foreign policy and, to the initiated, his last effort in this direction - the modification of the instruction to Lyons on the Trent - was no secret. There is no evidence that his death made any change in the British position, but it was true, as the American Minister wrote, that "Now they [the British public] are beginning to open their eyes to a sense of his value. They discover that much of their political quietude has been due to the judicious exercise of his influence over the Queen and the Court, and they do not conceal their uneasiness as to the future without him[449]." The nation was plunged into deep mourning, but not to distraction from the American crisis, for on the day when all papers were black with mourning borders, December 16, they printed the news of the approval of Wilkes by the United States Congress, and gave a summary of Lincoln's message of December 2, which, to their astonishment, made no mention of the Trent affair. The Congressional approval caused "almost a feeling of consternation among ourselves," but Lincoln's silence, it was argued, might possibly be taken as a good omen, since it might indicate that he had as yet reached no decision[450]. Evidently there was more real alarm caused by the applause given Wilkes by one branch of the government than by the outpourings of the American press. The next day several papers printed Lincoln's message in full and the Times gave a long editorial analysis, showing much spleen that he had ignored the issue with Great Britain[451]. On the eighteenth this journal also called attention, in a column and a half editorial, to the report of the American Secretary of War, expressing astonishment, not unmixed with anxiety, at the energy which had resulted in the increase of the army to 700,000 men in less than nine months. The Times continued, even increased, its "vigour" of utterance on the Trent, but devoted most of its energy to combating the suggestions, now being made very generally, advocating a recourse to arbitration. This would be "weak concession," and less likely to secure redress and peace for the future, than an insistence on the original demands.

Statesmen also were puzzled by Lincoln's silence. Milner Gibson wrote that "even though Lyons should come away, I think the dispute may after all be settled without war[452]." Cornewall Lewis thought the "last mail from America is decidedly threatening, not encouraging[453]." But on December 19, Adams was at last able to give Russell official assurance that Wilkes had acted without authorization. Russell at once informed Lyons of this communication and that he had now told Adams the exact terms of his two instructions to Lyons of November 30. He instructed Lyons to accept in place of an apology an explanation that Wilkes' action was unauthorized - a very important further British modification, but one which did not reach Lyons until after the conclusion of the affair at Washington[454]. Meanwhile a notable change had taken place in American public expressions. It now regarded "the Wilkes affair unfavourably, and would much prefer it had not occurred at all[455]," a reaction without question almost wholly caused by the knowledge of the British demand and the unanimous support given it by the British public[456]. On Great Britain the alteration in the American tone produced less effect than might have been expected, and this because of the persistent fear and suspicion of Seward. His voice, it was felt, would in the end be the determining one, and if British belief that he had long sought an occasion for war was correct, this surely was the time when he could be confident of popular support. Thurlow Weed, Seward's most intimate political adviser, was now in London and attempted to disabuse the British public through the columns of the Times. His communication was printed, but his assertion that Seward's unfriendly utterances, beginning with the "Newcastle story," were misunderstood, did not convince the Times, which answered him at length[457], and asserted its belief "... that upon his ability to involve the United States in a war with England, Mr. Seward has staked his official, and, most probably, also his political existence." The Duke of Newcastle's report of Seward's remarks, wrote George Peabody later, "has strongly influenced the Government in war preparations for several months past[458]." Adams himself, though convinced that Seward's supposed animosity "was a mistake founded on a bad joke of his to the Duke of Newcastle," acknowledged that: "The Duke has, however, succeeded in making everybody in authority here believe it[459]." Surely no "joke" to an Englishman ever so plagued an American statesman; but British Ministers founded their suspicions on far more serious reasons, as previously related[460].

As time passed without an answer from America, British speculation turned to estimates of the probable conditions of a war. These were not reassuring since even though postulating a British victory, it appeared inevitable that England would not escape without considerable damage from the American navy and from privateers. Americans were "a powerful and adventurous people, strong in maritime resources, and participating in our own national familiarity with the risks and dangers of the deep[461]." Englishmen must not think that a war would be fought only on the shores of America and in Canada. The legal question was re-hashed and intelligent American vexation re-stated in three letters printed in the Daily News on December 25, 26 and 27, by W. W. Story, an artist resident in Rome, but known in England as the son of Justice Story, whose fame as a jurist stood high in Great Britain[462]. By the last week of the year Adams felt that the Ministry, at least, was eager to find a way out: "The Government here will not press the thing to an extreme unless they are driven to it by the impetus of the wave they have themselves created[463]." He greatly regretted the death of the Prince Consort who "believed in the policy of conciliating the United States instead of repelling them." On December 27, Adams wrote Seward: "I think the signs are clear of a considerable degree of reaction." He also explained the causes of the nearly unanimous European support of England in this contention: "Unquestionably the view of all other countries is that the opportunity is most fortunate for obtaining new and large modifications of international law which will hereafter materially restrain the proverbial tendency of this country on the ocean[464]."

Adams' estimate was correct. Even the Morning Post, generally accepted as Palmerston's organ[465], and in the Trent crisis the most 'vigorous' of all metropolitan journals, commented upon the general public hope of a peaceful solution, but asked on December 30, "... can a Government [the American] elected but a few months since by the popular choice, depending exclusively for existence on popular support, afford to disappoint the popular expectation? The answer to this question must, we fear, be in the negative...." The Post (thereby Palmerston?) did indeed, as later charged, "prolong the excitement," but not with its earlier animosity to America. The very fact that the Post was accepted as Palmerston's organ justified this attitude for it would have been folly for the Government to announce prematurely a result of which there was as yet no definite assurance. Yet within the Cabinet there was a more hopeful feeling. Argyll believed Adams' statement to Russell of December 19 was practically conclusive[466], and Adams himself now thought that the prevalent idea was waning of an American plan to inflict persistent "indignities" on Britain: "at least in this case nothing of the kind had been intended[467]." Everyone wondered at and was vexed with the delay of an answer from America, yet hopefully believed that this indicated ultimate yielding. There could be no surety until the event. Russell wrote to Palmerston on January 7, "I still incline to think Lincoln will submit, but not until the clock is 59 minutes past 11. If it is war, I fear we must summon Parliament forthwith[468]."

The last moment for reply was indeed very nearly taken advantage of at Washington, but not to the full seven days permitted for consideration by Russell's November thirtieth instructions to Lyons. These were received on December 18, and on the next day Lyons unofficially acquainted Seward with their nature[469]. The latter expressed gratification with the "friendly and conciliatory manner" of Lyons and asked for two days' time for consideration. On Saturday, December 21, therefore, Lyons again appeared to make a formal presentation of demands but was met with a statement that the press of other business had prevented sufficient consideration and was asked for a further two days' postponement until Monday. Hence December 23 became the day from which the seven days permitted for consideration and reply dated. In the meantime, Mercier, on December 21, had told Seward of the strong support given by France to the British position.

The month that had elapsed since the American outburst on first learning of Wilkes' act had given time for a cooling of patriotic fever and for a saner judgment. Henry Adams in London had written to his brother that if the prisoners were not given up, "this nation means to make war." To this the brother in America replied "this nation doesn't[470]," an answer that sums up public determination no matter how loud the talk or deep the feeling. Seward understood the change and had now received strong warnings from Adams and Weed in London, and from Dayton in Paris[471], but these were not needed to convince him that America must yield. Apparently, he had recognized from the first that America was in an impossible situation and that the prisoners must be released if the demand were made. The comment of those who were "wise after the event" was that true policy would have dictated an immediate release of the prisoners as seized in violation of international law, before any complaint could be received from Great Britain. This leaves out of consideration the political difficulties at home of an administration already seriously weakened by a long-continued failure to "press the war," and it also fails to recognize that in the American Cabinet itself a proposal by Seward to release, made immediately, would in all probability have been negatived. Blair, in the Cabinet, and Sumner in the Senate, were, indeed, in favour of prompt release, but Lincoln seems to have thought the prisoners must be held, even though he feared they might become "white elephants." All that Seward could do at first was to notify Adams that Wilkes had acted without instructions[472].

On Christmas morning the Cabinet met to consider the answer to Great Britain. Sumner attended and read letters from Bright and Cobden, earnestly urging a yielding by America and depicting the strength of British feeling. Bright wrote: "If you are resolved to succeed against the South, have no war with England; make every concession that can be made; don't even hesitate to tell the world that you will even concede what two years ago no Power would have asked of you, rather than give another nation a pretence for assisting in the breaking up of your country[473]." Without doubt Bright's letters had great influence on Lincoln and on other Cabinet members, greatly aiding Seward, but that his task was difficult is shown by the fact that an entire morning's discussion brought no conclusion. Adjournment was taken until the next day and after another long debate Seward had the fortune to persuade his associates to a hearty unanimity on December 26. The American reply in the form of a communication to Lyons was presented to him by Seward on the 27th, and on that same day Lyons forwarded it to Russell. It did not contain an apology, but Lyons wrote that since the prisoners were to be released and acknowledgment was made that reparation was due to Great Britain, he considered that British demands were "so far substantially complied with" that he should remain at his post until he received further orders[474].

Seward's reply was immediately printed in the American papers. Lyons reported that it was very well received and that the public was calm and apparently contented with the outcome[475]. He thought that "thus the preparation for war ... has prevented war." Seward's argument reviewed at great length all the conditions of the incident, dilated on many points of international law both relevant and irrelevant, narrated the past relations of the two nations on "right of search," and finally took the ground that Mason and Slidell were contraband of war and justly subject to capture, but that Wilkes had erred in not bringing the Trent, with her passengers, into port for trial by an American prize court. Therefore the two envoys with their secretaries would be handed over promptly to such persons as Lyons might designate. It was, says Seward's biographer, not a great state paper, was defective in argument, and contained many contradictions[476], but, he adds, that it was intended primarily for the American public and to meet the situation at home. Another critic sums up Seward's difficulties: he had to persuade a President and a reluctant Cabinet, to support the naval idol of the day, to reconcile a Congress which had passed resolutions highly commending Wilkes, and to pacify a public earlier worked up to fever pitch[477]. Still more important than ill-founded assertions about the nature of contraband of war, a term not reconcilable with the neutral port destination of the Trent, was the likening of Mason and Slidell to "ambassadors of independent states." For eight months Seward had protested to Europe "that the Confederates were not belligerents, but insurgents," and now "his whole argument rested on the fact that they were belligerents[478].... But this did not later alter a return to his old position nor prevent renewed arguments to induce a recall by European states of their proclamations of neutrality.

On the afternoon of January 8, a telegram from Lyons was received in London, stating that the envoys would be released and the next day came his despatch enclosing a copy of Seward's answer. The envoys themselves did not reach England until January 30, and the delay in their voyage gave time for an almost complete disappearance of public interest in them[479]. January 10, Russell instructed Lyons that Great Britain was well satisfied with the fact and manner of the American answer, and regarded the incident as closed, but that it could not agree with portions of Seward's argument and would answer these later. This was done on January 23, but the reply was mainly a mere formality and is of interest only as revealing a further shift in the opinion of the legal advisers, with emphasis on the question of what constitutes contraband[480]. Possibly the British Government was embarrassed by the fact that while France had strongly supported England at Washington, Thouvenel had told Cowley "... that the conduct pursued by Capt. Wilkes, whether the United States claimed to be considered as Belligerents, or as a Government engaged in putting down a rebellion, was a violation of all those principles of Maritime international law, which France had ever supported[481] ..." and had instructed Mercier to so state to Seward. This implied a reflection on former British practice, especially as regards the exercise of a right of search to recover its own citizens and is indicative of the correctness of Adams' judgment that one main reason for European support of Great Britain in the Trent crisis, was the general desire to tie her to a limitation of belligerent maritime power.

In notifying Russell of the release of the prisoners, Lyons had stated that he would caution the Commander of the ship conveying them that they were "not to be received with honours or treated otherwise than as distinguished private gentlemen[482]." Russell was equally cautious, seeing Mason, shortly after arrival in London, "unofficially at my own house," on February 10, refusing to read his credentials, and after listening to a statement of his instructions, replying that "nothing had hitherto occurred which would justify or induce" Great Britain to depart from a position of neutrality[483]. Russell had already suggested that Thouvenel use the same method with Slidell[484]. This procedure does not necessarily indicate a change in governmental attitude, for it is exactly in line with that pursued toward the Confederate Commissioners before the Trent; but the Trent controversy might naturally have been expected to have brought about an easier relation between Russell and a Southern representative. That it did not do so is evidence of Russell's care not to give offence to Northern susceptibilities. Also, in relief at the outcome of the Trent, he was convinced, momentarily at least, that the general British suspicion of Seward was unfounded. "I do not," he wrote to Gladstone, "believe that Seward has any animosity to this country. It is all buncom" (sic)[485]. Apparently it was beginning to be realized by British statesmen that Seward's "high tone" which they had interpreted, with some justification earlier, as especially inimical to England, now indicated a foreign policy based upon one object only - the restoration of the Union, and that in pursuit of this object he was but seeking to make clear to European nations that the United States was still powerful enough to resent foreign interference. The final decision in the Trent affair, such was the situation in the American Cabinet, rested on Seward alone and that decision was, from the first, for peace.

Nor did Seward later hold any grudge over the outcome. America in general, however, though breathing freely again as the war cloud passed, was bitter. "The feeling against Great Britain is of intense hatred and the conclusion of the whole matter is, that we must give up the traitors, put down the rebellion, increase our navy, perfect the discipline of the 600,000 men in the field, and then fight Great Britain[486]." Lowell, in one of the most emotional of his "Bigelow Papers," wrote, on January 6, 1862:

     "It don't seem hardly right, John, 
     When both my hands was full, 
     To stump me to a fight, John - 
     Your cousin, tu, John Bull! 
          Ole Uncle S., sez he, 'I guess 
     We know it now,' sez he, 
     'The lion's paw is all the law, 
     Accordin' to J.B., 
     Thet's fit for you an' me[487]!'"

It was not the demand itself for the release of Mason and Slidell that in the end so stirred America as the warlike tone of the British press and the preparations of the Government. Even after their surrender America was further incensed by British boasting that America had yielded to a threat of war, as in the Punch cartoon of a penitent small boy, Uncle Sam, who "says he is very sorry and that he didn't mean to do it," and so escapes the birching Britannia was about to administer. America had, in all truth, yielded to a threat, but disliked being told so, and regarded the threat itself as evidence of British ill-will[488]. This was long the attitude of the American public.

In England the knowledge of America's decision caused a great national sigh of relief, coupled with a determination to turn the cold shoulder to the released envoys. On January 11, the Times recounted the earlier careers of Mason and Slidell, and stated that these two "more than any other men," were responsible for the traditional American "insane prejudice against England," an assertion for which no facts were offered in proof, and one much overestimating the influence of Mason and Slidell on American politics before secession. They were "about the most worthless booty it would be possible to extract from the jaws of the American lion ... So we do sincerely hope that our countrymen will not give these fellows anything in the shape of an ovation." Continuing, the Times argued:

     "What they and their secretaries are to do here passes our 
     conjecture. They are personally nothing to us. They must not 
     suppose, because we have gone to the very verge of a great 
     war to rescue them, that therefore they are precious in our 
     eyes. We should have done just as much to rescue two of their 
     own Negroes, and, had that been the object of the rescue, the 
     swarthy Pompey and Caesar would have had just the same right 
     to triumphal arches and municipal addresses as Messrs. Mason 
     and Slidell. So, please, British public, let's have none of 
     these things. Let the Commissioners come up quietly to town, 
     and have their say with anybody who may have time to listen 
     to them. For our part, we cannot see how anything they have 
     to tell can turn the scale of British duty and deliberation."

This complete reversal, not to say somersault, by the leading British newspaper, was in line with public expressions from all sections save the extreme pro-Southern. Adams was astonished, writing privately: "The first effect of the surrender ... has been extraordinary. The current which ran against us with such extreme violence six weeks ago now seems to be going with equal fury in our favour[489]." Officially on the same day he explained this to Seward as caused by a late development in the crisis of a full understanding, especially "among the quiet and religious citizens of the middle classes," that if Great Britain did engage in war with the United States she would be forced to become the ally of a "slave-holding oligarchy[490]."

Here, in truth, lay the greatest cause of British anxiety during the period of waiting for an answer and of relief when that answer was received. If England and America became enemies, wrote Argyll, "we necessarily became virtually the Allies of the Scoundrelism of the South[491]." Robert Browning, attempting to explain to his friend Story the British attitude, declared that early in the war Britain was with the North, expecting "that the pure and simple rights [of anti-slavery] in the case would be declared and vigorously carried out without one let or stop," but that Lincoln's denial of emancipation as an object had largely destroyed this sympathy. Browning thought this an excusable though a mistaken judgment since at least: "The spirit of all of Mr. Lincoln's acts is altogether against Slavery in the end[492]." He assured Story that the latter was in error "as to men's 'fury' here": "I have not heard one man, woman or child express anything but dismay at the prospect of being obliged to go to war on any grounds with America[493]." And after the affair was over he affirmed: "The purpose of the North is also understood at last; ... there is no longer the notion that 'Slavery has nothing to do with it[494].'"

A few extreme pro-Northern enthusiasts held public meetings and passed resolutions commending the "statesmanlike ability and moderation of Seward," and rejoicing that Great Britain had not taken sides with a slave power[495]. In general, however, such sentiments were not publicly expressed. That they were keenly felt, nevertheless, is certain. During the height of the crisis, Anthony Trollope, then touring America, even while sharing fully in the intense British indignation against Captain Wilkes, wrote:

     "These people speak our language, use our prayers, read our 
     books, are ruled by our laws, dress themselves in our image, 
     are warm with our blood. They have all our virtues; and their 
     vices are our own too, loudly as we call out against them. 
     They are our sons and our daughters, the source of our 
     greatest pride, and as we grow old they should be the staff 
     of our age. Such a war as we should now wage with the States 
     would be an unloosing of hell upon all that is best upon the 
     world's surface[496]."

The expressions of men like Browning and Trollope may not indeed, be regarded as typical of either governmental or general public reactions. Much more exactly and with more authority as representing that thoughtful opinion of which Adams wrote were the conclusions of John Stuart Mill. In an article in Fraser's Magazine, February, 1862, making a strong plea for the North, he summarized British feeling about the Trent:

     "We had indeed, been wronged. We had suffered an indignity, 
     and something more than an indignity, which, not to have 
     resented, would have been to invite a constant succession of 
     insults and injuries from the same and from every other 
     quarter. We could have acted no otherwise than we have done; 
     yet it is impossible to think, without something like a 
     shudder, from what we have escaped. We, the emancipators of 
     the slave - who have wearied every Court and Government in 
     Europe and America with our protests and remonstrances, until 
     we goaded them into at least ostensibly co-operating with us 
     to prevent the enslaving of the negro ... we should have 
     lent a hand to setting up, in one of the most commanding 
     positions of the world, a powerful republic, devoted not only 
     to slavery, but to pro-slavery propagandism...."

No such protestations of relief over escape from a possible alliance with the South were made officially by the Government, or in a debate upon the Trent, February 6, when Parliament reassembled. In the Lords the Earl of Shelburne thought that America should have made a frank and open apology. The Earl of Derby twitted the United States with having yielded to force alone, but said the time "had not yet come" for recognizing the Confederacy. Lord Dufferin expressed great friendship for America and declared that Englishmen ought to make themselves better informed of the real merits of the Civil War. Earl Granville, speaking for the Government, laid stress upon the difficulties at home of the Washington administration in pacifying public opinion and asserted a personal belief that strict neutrality was England's best policy, "although circumstances may arise which may call for a different course." On the same day in the Commons the debate was of a like general tenor to that in the Lords, but Disraeli differed from his chief (Derby) in that he thought America had been placed in a very difficult position in which she had acted very honourably. Palmerston took much credit for the energetic military preparations, but stated "from that position of strict neutrality, it is not our intention to depart " - an important declaration if taken, as apparently it was not, as fixing a policy. In substance all speakers, whether Whig or Tory, praised the Government's stand, and expressed gratification with the peaceful outcome[497].

A further debate on the Trent was precipitated by Bright on February 17, in connection with the estimates to cover the cost of the military contingents sent to Canada. He asserted that England by generously trusting to American honour, might have won her lasting friendship, and it is worthy of note that for the first time in any speech made by him in Parliament, Bright declared that the war was one for the abolition of slavery. Palmerston in reply made no comment on the matter of slavery, but energetically defended the military preparations as a necessary precaution. Bright's speech was probably intended for American consumption with the purpose of easing American ill-will, by showing that even in Parliament there were those who disapproved of that show of force to which America so much objected. He foresaw that this would long be the basis of American bitterness. But Palmerston was undoubtedly correct in characterizing Bright's opinion as a "solitary one." And looked at from a distance of time it would seem that a British Government, impressed as it was with a sense of Seward's unfriendliness, which had not prepared for war when making so strong a demand for reparation, would have merited the heaviest condemnation. If Mill was right in stating that the demand for reparation was a necessity, then so also were the military preparations.

Upon the Government the Trent acted to bring to a head and make more clear the British relation to the Civil War in America. By November, 1861, the policy of strict neutrality adopted in May, had begun to be weakened for various reasons already recited - weakened not to the point of any Cabinet member's advocacy of change, but in a restlessness at the slow development of a solution in America. Russell was beginning to think, at least, of recognition of the Confederacy. This was clear to Lyons who, though against such recognition, had understood the drift, if Schleiden is to be trusted, of Ministerial opinion. Schleiden reported on December 31 that Lyons had expressed to him much pleasure at the peaceful conclusion of the Trent affair, and had added, "England will be too generous not to postpone the recognition of the independence of the South as long as possible after this experience[498]." But the Trent operated like a thunder-storm to clear the atmosphere. It brought out plainly the practical difficulties and dangers, at least as regards Canada, of a war with America; it resulted in a weakening of the conviction that Seward was unfriendly; it produced from the British public an even greater expression of relief, when the incident was closed, than of anger when it occurred; and it created in a section of that public a fixed belief, shared by at least one member of the Cabinet, that the issue in America was that of slavery, in support of which England could not possibly take a stand.

This did not mean that the British Government, nor any large section of the public, believed the North could conquer the South. But it did indicate a renewed vigour for the policy of neutrality and a determination not to get into war with America. Adams wrote to Seward, "I am inclined to believe that the happening of the affair of the Trent just when it did, with just the issue that it had, was rather opportune than otherwise[499]." Hotze, the confidential agent of the Confederacy in London, stated, "the Trent affair has done us incalculable injury," Russell is now "an avowed enemy of our nationality[500]." Hotze was over-gloomy, but Russell himself declared to Lyons: "At all events I am heart and soul a neutral ... what a fuss we have had about these two men[501]."


[Footnote 399: The Trent was the cause of the outpouring of more contemporary articles and pamphlets and has been the subject of more historical writing later, than any other incident of diplomatic relations between the United States and Great Britain during the Civil War - possibly more than all other incidents combined. The account given in this chapter, therefore, is mainly limited to a brief statement of the facts together with such new sidelights as are brought out by hitherto unknown letters of British statesman; to a summary of British public attitude as shown in the press; and to an estimate of the after effect of theTrent on British policy. It would be of no service to list all of the writings. The incident is thoroughly discussed in all histories, whether British or American and in works devoted to international law. The contemporary American view is well stated, though from a strongly anti-British point of view, in Harris, T.L., The Trent Affair, but this monograph is lacking in exact reference for its many citations and can not be accepted as authoritative. The latest review is that of C.F. Adams in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society for November, 1911, which called out a reply from R.H. Dana, and a rejoinder by Mr. Adams in the Proceedings for March, 1912.]

[Footnote 400: C.F. Adams, The Trent Affair. (Proceedings, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, pp. 41-2.)]

[Footnote 401: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence respecting the Trent." No. 1. Inclosure. Williams to Patey, Nov. 9, 1861.]

[Footnote 402: Harris, The Trent Affair, pp. 103-109, describes the exact force used.]

[Footnote 403: Dana, The Trent Affair. (Proceedings, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, pp. 509-22.)]

[Footnote 404: C.F. Adams, The Trent Affair. (Proceedings, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, pp. 39-40.)]

[Footnote 405: F.O., America, Vol. 805. Copy, E. Hammond to Advocate-General, Nov. 9, 1861.]

[Footnote 406: C.F. Adams, The Trent Affair. (Proceedings, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, p. 54.)]

[Footnote 407: Ibid., pp. 53-4. Adams' Diary MS. Nov. 12, 1861.]

[Footnote 408: Ibid., p. 55.]

[Footnote 409: A full year later, after the publication of the American volume of despatches for the year 1862, Russell took up this matter with Adams and as a result of an interview wrote to Lyons, November 28, 1862:

"Lord Palmerston stated to Mr. Adams on the occasion in question that Her Majesty's Government could not permit any interference with any vessel, British or Foreign, within British waters; that with regard to vessels met with at sea, Her Majesty's Government did not mean to dispute the Belligerent right of the United States Ships of War to search them; but that the exercise of that right and the right of detention in certain conditions must in each case be dealt with according to the circumstances of the case, and that it was not necessary for him to discuss such matters then because they were not in point; but that it would not do for the United States Ships of War to harass British Commerce on the High Seas under the pretence of preventing the Confederates from receiving things that are Contraband of War.

"I took an opportunity of mentioning to Mr. Adams, the account which Lord Palmerston had given me of the language which he had thus held, and Mr. Adams agreed in its accuracy.

"Nothing must be said on this Subject unless the false statements as to Lord Palmerston's language should be renewed, when you will state the real facts to Mr. Seward." (F.O., Am., Vol. 822. No. 295.Draft.)

This resume by Russell contained still other variations from the original reports of both Palmerston and Adams, but the latter did not think it worth while to call attention to them.]

[Footnote 410: Walpole, Russell, II, p. 357, is evidently in error in stating that the law officers, while admitting the right of an American war vessel to carry the British Packet into an American port for adjudication, added, "she would have no right to remove Messrs. Mason and Slidell and carry them off as prisoners, leaving the ship to pursue her voyage." Certainly Palmerston did not so understand the advice given.]

[Footnote 411: Lyons Papers. Hammond to Lyons. F. O., Private. Nov. 16, 1861. This statement about explicit orders to Captain Marchand "not to endeavour, etc.," is in line with Palmerston's understanding of the conversation with Adams. But that there was carelessness in reporting Adams is evident from Hammond's own language for "no instructions to meddle," which Adams did state, is not the same thing as "instructions not to meddle." Adams had no intent to deceive, but was misunderstood. He was himself very anxious over the presence of the James Adger at Southampton, and hurried her Captain away. Adams informed Russell that Palmerston had not understood him correctly. He had told Palmerston, "I had seen the Captain's [Marchand's] instructions, which directed him to intercept the Nashville if he could, and in case of inability to do so, to return at once to New York, keeping his eye on such British ships as might be going to the United States with contraband of war. Lord Palmerston's recollections and mine differed mainly in this last particular. Lord Russell then remarked that this statement was exactly that which he had recollected my making to him. Nothing had been said in the instructions about other British ships." (State Dept., Eng., Vol. 78. No. 80. Adams to Seward. Nov. 29. 1861.) Hammond's letter mentions also the excitement of "the Southerners" in England and that they had "sent out Pilot Boats to intercept and warn the Packet...."]

[Footnote 412: Lyons Papers. Lyons to Milne, Dec. 1, 1861.]

[Footnote 413: Ibid., Russell to Lyons, Nov. 16, 1861.]

[Footnote 414: Gladstone Papers. Argyll to Gladstone, Nov. 29, 1861.]

[Footnote 415: C.F. Adams, The Trent Affair. (Proceedings, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, p. 58.)]

[Footnote 416: Moore, Int. Law Digest, VII, p. 772. The much argued international law points in the case of the Trent are given in extenso by Moore.]

[Footnote 417: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence respecting the Trent." No. 2.]

[Footnote 418: Ibid., No. 4.]

[Footnote 419: Ibid., No. 29. Inclosure.]

[Footnote 420: Troops were in fact shipped for Canada. This resulted, after the Trent affair had blown over, in a circumstance which permitted Seward, with keen delight, to extend a courtesy to Great Britain. Bancroft (II, 245) states that these troops "finding the St. Lawrence river full of ice, had entered Portland harbour. When permission was asked for them to cross Maine, Seward promptly ordered that all facilities should be granted for 'landing and transporting to Canada or elsewhere troops, stores, and munitions of war of every kind without exception or reservation.'" It is true that the American press made much of this, and in tones of derision. The facts, as reported by Lyons, were that the request was merely "a superfluous application from a private firm at Montreal for permission to land some Officers' Baggage at Portland." (Russell Papers, Lyons to Russell, Jan. 20, 1862.) Lyons was much vexed with this "trick" of Seward's. He wrote to the Governor-General of Canada and the Lieutenant-Governors of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, protesting against an acceptance of Seward's permission, and finally informed Russell that no English troops were marched across the State of Maine. (Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, Feb. 14, 1862. Also Lyons Papers. Lyons to Monck, Feb. 1, 1862.)]

[Footnote 421: Martin, Life of the Prince Consort, V, pp. 418-26.]

[Footnote 422: Still another letter from Russell to Lyons on November 30, but not intended for Seward, outlined the points of complaint and argument, (1) The San Jacinto did not happen to fall in with theTrent, but laid in wait for her. (2) "Unnecessary and dangerous Acts of violence" were used. (3) The Trent, when stopped was not "searched" in the "ordinary way," but "certain Passengers" were demanded and taken by force. (4) No charge was made that the Trent was violating neutrality, and no authority for his act was offered by Captain Wilkes. (5) No force ought to be used against an "unresisting Neutral Ship" except just so much as is necessary to bring her before a prize court. (6) In the present case the British vessel had done nothing, and intended nothing, warranting even an inquiry by a prize court. (7) "It is essential for British Interests, that consistently with the obligations of neutrality, and of observing any legal and effective blockade, there should be communication between the Dominions of Her Majesty and the Countries forming the Confederate States." These seven points were for Lyons' eye alone. They certainly add no strength to the British position and reflect the uncertainty and confusion of the Cabinet. The fifth and sixth points contain the essence of what, on more mature reflection, was to be the British argument. (F.O., Am., Vol. 758. No. 447. Draft. Russell to Lyons Nov. 30, 1861).]

[Footnote 423: Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell, Dec. 2, 1861.]

[Footnote 424: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 78. Russell to Yancey, Rost and Mann, Aug. 24, 1861.]

[Footnote 425: Ibid., No. 124. Russell to Yancey, Rost and Mann, Dec. 7, 1861.]

[Footnote 426: Gladstone Papers. Gladstone to Robertson Gladstone, Dec. 7, 1861.]

[Footnote 427: Ibid., Argyll to Gladstone, Mentone. Dec. 10, 1861.]

[Footnote 428: Maxwell, Clarendon, II, p. 255. Lewis to Clarendon, Dec. 18, 1861.]

[Footnote 429: Ibid., p. 254. Clarendon to Duchess of Manchester, Dec. 17, 1861.]

[Footnote 430: Palmerston MS.]

[Footnote 431: Ibid., Russell to Palmerston, Dec. 20, 1861.]

[Footnote 432: Many citations from the Times are given in Harris, The Trent Affair, to show a violent, not to say scurrilous, anti-Americanism. Unfortunately dates are not cited, and an examination of the files of the paper shows that Harris' references are frequently to communications, not to editorials. Also his citations give but one side of these communications even, for as many argued caution and fair treatment as expressed violence. Harris apparently did not consult the Times itself, but used quotations appearing in American papers. Naturally these would print, in the height of American anti-British feeling, the bits exhibiting a peevish and unjust British temper. The British press made exactly similar quotations from the American newspapers.]

[Footnote 433: C.F. Adams, The Trent Affair (Proceedings, Mass. Hist. Soc. XLV, p. 43, note.) John Bigelow, at Paris, reported that the London Press, especially the Tory, was eager to make trouble, and that there were but two British papers of importance that did not join the hue and cry - these being controlled by friends of Bright, one in London and one in Manchester (Bigelow, Retrospections of An Active Life, I, p. 384.) This is not exactly true, but seems to me more nearly so than the picture presented by Rhodes (III, 526) of England as united in a "calm, sorrowful, astonished determination."]

[Footnote 434: Cowley sent to Russell on December 3, a letter from Percy Doyle recounting an interview with Scott in which these statements were made. (F.O., France, Vol. 1399. No. 1404. Inclosure.)]

[Footnote 435: Dec. 13, 1861. C.F. Adams, The Trent Affair. (Proceedings, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, p. 95.)]

[Footnote 436: Ibid., p. 37.]

[Footnote 437: Ibid., p. 49. The New York Times, November 19, stated, "We do not believe the American heart ever thrilled with more genuine delight than it did yesterday, at the intelligence of the capture of Messrs. Slidell and Mason.... We have not the slightest idea that England will even remonstrate. On the contrary, she will applaud the gallant act of Lieut. Wilkes, so full of spirit and good sense, and such an exact imitation of the policy she has always stoutly defended and invariably pursued ... as for Commodore Wilkes and his command, let the handsome thing be done, consecrate another Fourth of July to him. Load him down with services of plate and swords of the cunningest and costliest art. Let us encourage the happy inspiration that achieved such a victory." Note the " Fourth of July."]

[Footnote 438: Lyons Papers. Lousada to Lyons. Boston, Nov. 17, 1861. "Every other man is walking about with a Law Book under his arm and proving the right of the Ss. Jacintho to stop H.M.'s mail boat."]

[Footnote 439: "Mr. Galt, Canadian Minister, is here. He has frightened me by his account of the defencelessness of the Province at this moment." (Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell. Private. Dec. 3, 1861.)]

[Footnote 440: Lyons Papers. Lyons to Monck, Dec. 9, 1861.]

[Footnote 441: Rogers, Speeches by John Bright, I, p. 189 seq.]

[Footnote 442: Among the communications were several on international law points by "Historicus," answering and belittling American legal argument. W.V. Harcourt, under this pseudonym, frequently contributed very acute and very readable articles to the Times on the American civil war. The Times was berated by English friends of the North. Cobden wrote Sumner, December 12, "The Times and its yelping imitators are still doing their worst." (Morley, Cobden, II, 392.) Cobden was himself at one with the Times in suspicion of Seward. "I confess I have not much opinion of Seward. He is a kind of American Thiers or Palmerston or Russell - and talks Bunkum. Fortunately, my friend Mr. Charles Sumner, who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and has really a kind of veto on the acts of Seward, is a very peaceable and safe man." (ibid., p. 386, to Lieut.-Col. Fitzmayer, Dec. 3, 1861.) It is interesting that Canadian opinion regarded the Times as the great cause of American ill-will toward Britain. A letter to Gait asserted that the "war talk" was all a "farce" (J.H. Pope to Gait, Dec. 26, 1861) and the Toronto Globe attacked the Times for the creation of bad feeling. The general attitude was that if British policy resulted in an American blow at Canada, it was a British, not a Canadian duty, to maintain her defence (Skelton, Life of Sir Alexander Tilloch Gait, pp. 340, 348.) Yet the author states that in the beginning Canada went through the same phases of feeling on the Trent as did Great Britain.]

[Footnote 443: A Cycle of Adams' Letters, I, pp. 81-2.]

[Footnote 444: Ibid., I, p. 83. Henry Adams to Charles Francis Adams, Jr., Dec. 13, 1861.]

[Footnote 445: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell. Private. Nov. 29, 1861.]

[Footnote 446: See the Times, Dec. 14, 1861. Here for the first time the Times used the expression "the last card" as applied to emancipation.]

[Footnote 447: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, Dec. 11, 1861.]

[Footnote 448: Gladstone Papers. Russell to Gladstone, Dec. 13, 1861. On the same day Lady Russell wrote Lady Dumfermline: "There can be no doubt that we have done deeds very like that of Captain Wilkes.... but I wish we had not done them.... It is all terrible and awful, and I hope and pray war may be averted - and whatever may have been the first natural burst of indignation in this country, I believe it would be ready to execrate the Ministry if all right and honourable means were not taken to prevent so fearful a calamity." (Dana, The Trent Affair. (Proceedings, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, p. 528.))]

[Footnote 449: A Cycle of Adams' Letters, I, p. 87. Charles Francis Adams to his son, Dec. 20, 1861. ]

[Footnote 450: The Times, Dec. 16, 1861.]

[Footnote 451: The Times twice printed the full text of the message, on December 16 and 17.]

[Footnote 452: Gladstone Papers. Milner-Gibson to Gladstone, Dec. 18, 1861.]

[Footnote 453: Maxwell, Clarendon, II, p. 225. Lewis to Clarendon, Dec. 18, 1861.]

[Footnote 454: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence respecting the Trent." No 14. Russell to Lyons, Dec. 19, 1861. The Government did not make public Adams' confirmation of "no authorization of Wilkes." Possibly it saw no reason for doing so, since this had been established already by Wilkes' own statements. The point was later a matter of complaint by Americans, who regarded it as indicating a peevish and unfriendly attitude. (Willard, Letter to an English Friend on the Rebellion in the United States, p. 23. Boston, 1862.) Also by English friends; Cobden thought Palmerston had intentionally prolonged British feeling for political purposes. "Seward's despatch to Adams on the 19th December [ communicated to Russell on the 19th]... virtually settled the matter. To keep alive the wicked passions in this country as Palmerston and his Post did, was like the man, and that is the worst that can be said of it." (Morley, Cobden, II, p. 389. To Mr. Paulton, Jan., 1862.)]

[Footnote 455: Davis to Adams. New York. Dec. 21, 1861. C.F. Adams, The Trent Affair, (Proceedings, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, p. 107.)]

[Footnote 456: There has crept into American historical writing of lesser authenticity a story that just at this juncture there appeared, in the harbours of New York and San Francisco, Russian fleets whose commanders let it be understood that they had come under "sealed orders" not to be opened except in a certain grave event and that their presence was, at least, not an unfriendly indication of Russian sentiment in the Trent crisis. This is asserted to have bolstered American courage and to give warrant for the argument that America finally yielded to Great Britain from no fear of consequences, but merely on a clearer recognition of the justice of the case. In fact the story is wholly a myth. The Russian fleets appeared two years later in the fall of 1863, not in 1861. Harris, The Trent Affair, pp. 208-10, is mainly responsible for this story, quoting the inaccurate memory of Thurlow Weed. (Autobiography, II, pp. 346-7.) Reliable historians like Rhodes make no mention of such an incident. The whole story of the Russian fleets with their exact instructions is told by F. A. Colder, "The Russian Fleet and the Civil War," Am. Hist. Rev., July, 1915.]

[Footnote 457: Weed, Autobiography, II, pp. 354-61.]

[Footnote 458: Ibid., p. 365. Peabody to Weed, Jan, 17, 1862.]

[Footnote 459: A Cycle of Adams' Letters, I, p. 91. Charles Francis Adams to his son, Dec. 27, 1861.]

[Footnote 460: See ante. Ch. IV.]

[Footnote 461: The Times, Dec. 25, 1861.]

[Footnote 462: James, William Wetmore Story and his Friends, II, pp. 108-9. The letters were sent to Robert Browning, who secured their publication through Dicey.]

[Footnote 463: C.F. Adams, The Trent Affair. Adams to Motley, Dec. 26, 1861. (Proceedings, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, p. 109).]

[Footnote 464: Ibid., p. 110.]

[Footnote 465: Palmerston had very close relations with Delane, of the Times, but that paper carefully maintained its independence of any party or faction.]

[Footnote 466: Gladstone Papers. Argyll to Gladstone, Dec. 30, 1861.]

[Footnote 467: State Dept., Eng., Vol. 78. No. 97. Adams to Seward, Jan. 2, 1862.]

[Footnote 468: Palmerston MS.]

[Footnote 469: Bancroft, Seward, II, p. 233. Lyons officially reported that he carried no papers with him (Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence respecting the Trent." No. 19. Lyons to Russell, Dec. 19, 1861). Newton (Lyons, I, pp. 55-78) shows that Seward was, in fact, permitted to read the instructions on the nineteenth.]

[Footnote 470: A Cycle of Adams' Letters, I, p. 86. C.F. Adams, Jr., to Henry Adams, Dec. 19, 1861.]

[Footnote 471: Bancroft, Seward, II, p. 234. Adams' letter of December 3 was received on December 21; Dayton's of December 3, on the 24th.]

[Footnote 472: Much ink has flowed to prove that Lincoln's was the wise view, seeing from the first the necessity of giving up Mason and Slidell, and that he overrode Seward, e.g., Welles, Lincoln and Seward, and Harris, The Trent Affair. Rhodes, III, pp. 522-24, and Bancroft, Seward, II, pp. 232-37, disprove this. Yet the general contemporary suspicion of Seward's "anti-British policy," even in Washington, is shown by a despatch sent by Schleiden to the Senate of Bremen. On December 23 he wrote that letters from Cobden and Lyndhurst had been seen by Lincoln.

"Both letters have been submitted to the President. He returned them with the remark that 'peace will not be broken if England is not bent on war.' At the same time the President has assured my informant that he would examine the answer of his Secretary of State, word for word, in order that no expression should remain which could create bad blood anew, because the strong language which Mr. Seward had used in some of his former despatches seems to have irritated and insulted England" (Schleiden Papers). No doubt Sumner was Schleiden's informant. At first glance Lincoln's reported language would seem to imply that he was putting pressure on Seward to release the prisoners and Schleiden apparently so interpreted them. But the fact was that at the date when this was written Lincoln had not yet committed himself to accepting Seward's view. He told Seward, "You will go on, of course, preparing your answer, which, as I understood it, will state the reasons why they ought to be given up. Now, I have a mind to try my hand at stating the reasons why they ought not to be given up. We will compare the points on each side." Lincoln's idea was, in short, to return an answer to Great Britain, proposing arbitration (Bancroft, Seward, II, 234).]

[Footnote 473: Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings, XLV, 155. Bright to Sumner, Dec. 14, 1861. The letters to Sumner on the Trent are all printed in this volume of the Proceedings. The originals are in theSumner Papers in the library of Harvard University.]

[Footnote 474: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence respecting the Trent." No. 24. Lyons to Russell, Dec. 27, 1861.]

[Footnote 475: F.O., Am., Vol. 777. No. 807. Lyons to Russell, Dec. 31, 1861. But he transmitted a few days later, a "shocking prayer" in the Senate on December 30, by the Rev. Dr. Sutherland, which showed a bitter feeling. "O Thou, just Ruler of the world ... we ask help of Thee for our rulers and our people, that we may patiently, resolutely, and with one heart abide our time; for it is indeed a day of darkness and reproach - a day when the high principle of human equity constrained by the remorseless sweep of physical and armed force, must for the moment, succumb under the plastic forms of soft diplomacy" (Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, Jan. 3, 1862).]

[Footnote 476: Bancroft, Seward, II, 249-53.]

[Footnote 477: C.F. Adams, The Trent Affair. (Proceedings, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV. p. 75).]

[Footnote 478: Bancroft, Seward, II, 250.]

[Footnote 479: Mason, Slidell, Eustis and McFarland were delivered to the British ship Rinaldo, January 1, 1862. En route to Halifax the ship encountered a storm that drove her south and finally brought her to St. Thomas, where the passengers embarked on a packet for Southampton.]

[Footnote 480: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence respecting the Trent." Nos. 27 and 35. February 3, Lyons reported that Sumner, in a fireside talk, had revealed that he was in possession of copies of the Law Officers' opinions given on November 12 and 28 respectively. Lyons was astounded and commented that the Law Officers, before giving any more opinions, ought to know this fact (F.O., Am., Vol. 824. No. 76. Lyons to Russell).]

[Footnote 481: F.O., France, Vol. 1399. No. 1397. Cowley to Russell, Dec. 3, 1861. The italics are mine.]

[Footnote 482: Newton, Lyons, I, 73.]

[Footnote 483: F.O., Am., Vol. 817. No. 57. Draft. Russell to Lyons, Feb. 11, 1861.]

[Footnote 484: F.O., France, Vol. 1419. No. 73. Draft. Russell to Cowley, Jan. 20, 1862.]

[Footnote 485: Gladstone Papers. Russell to Gladstone, Jan. 26, 1862.]

[Footnote 486: Bigelow, Retrospections, I, 424. Bowen to Bigelow, Dec. 27, 1861.]

[Footnote 487: Poems. Bigelow Papers. "Jonathan to John." After the release of the envoys there was much correspondence between friends across the water as to the merits of the case. British friends attempted to explain and to soothe, usually to their astonished discomfiture on receiving angry American replies. An excellent illustration of this is in a pamphlet published in Boston in the fall of 1862, entitled, Field and Loring, Correspondence on the Present Relations between Great Britain and the United States of America. The American, Loring, wrote, "The conviction is nearly if not quite universal that we have foes where we thought we had friends," p. 7.]

[Footnote 488: Dana, The Trent Affair. (Proceedings, Mass. Hist. Soc., XLV, pp. 508-22).]

[Footnote 489: A Cycle of Adams' Letters, I, 99. To his son, Jan. 10, 1862.]

[Footnote 490: State Dept., Eng., Vol. 78. No. 99. Adams to Seward, Jan. 10, 1862.]

[Footnote 491: Gladstone Papers. Argyll to Gladstone, Dec. 7, 1861, Also expressed again to Gladstone. Ibid., Jan. 1, 1862.]

[Footnote 492: James, William Wetmore Story and His Friends, II, 105. Browning to Story, Dec. 17, 1861.]

[Footnote 493: Ibid., p. 109. To Story, Dec. 31, 1861.]

[Footnote 494: Ibid., p. 110. To Story, Jan. 21, 1862.]

[Footnote 495: Liberator, Feb. 7, 1862. Giving an account of a meeting at Bromley-by-Bow.]

[Footnote 496: Trollope, North America (Chapman &Hall, London, 1862), I, p. 446. Trollope left England in August, 1861, and returned in the spring of 1862. He toured the North and the West, was a close observer, and his work, published in midsummer 1862, was very serviceable to the North, since he both stated the justice of the Northern cause and prophesied its victory.]

[Footnote 497: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXV, p. 12 seq., though not consecutive as the speeches were made in the course of the debate on the Address to the Throne.]

[Footnote 498: Schleiden Papers. Schleiden to the Senate of Bremen.]

[Footnote 499: State Dept., Eng., Vol. 78. No. 114. Adams to Seward, Feb. 13, 1862.]

[Footnote 500: Pickett Papers. Hotze to Hunter, March 11, 1862.]

[Footnote 501: Lyons Papers. Russell to Lyons, Feb. 8, 1862.]