The six months following the affair of the Trent constituted a period of comparative calm in the relations of Great Britain and America, but throughout that period there was steadily coming to the front a Northern belligerent effort increasingly effective, increasingly a cause for disturbance to British trade, and therefore more and more a matter for anxious governmental consideration. This was the blockade of Southern ports and coast line, which Lincoln had declared in intention in his proclamation of April 19, 1861.

As early as December, 1860, Lyons had raised the question of the relation of British ships and merchants to the secession port of Charleston, South Carolina, and had received from Judge Black an evasive reply[502]. In March, 1861, Russell had foreseen the possibility of a blockade, writing to Lyons that American precedent would at least require it to be an effective one, while Lyons made great efforts to convince Seward that any interference with British trade would be disastrous to the Northern cause in England. He even went so far as to hint at British intervention to preserve trade[503]. But on April 15, Lyons, while believing that no effective blockade was possible, thought that the attempt to institute one was less objectionable than legislation "closing the Southern Ports as Ports of Entry," in reality a mere paper blockade and one which would "justify Great Britain and France in recognizing the Southern Confederacy...." Thus he began to weaken in opposition to any interference[504]. His earlier expressions to Seward were but arguments, without committing his Government to a line of policy, and were intended to make Seward step cautiously.

Possibly Lyons thought he could frighten the North out of a blockade campaign. But when the Civil War actually began and Lincoln, on April 19, declared he had "deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade," and that when a "competent force" had been posted "so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels," warning would be given to any vessel attempting to enter or to leave a blockaded port, with endorsement on her register of such warning, followed by seizure if she again attempted to pass the blockade, Lyons felt that: "If it be carried on, with reasonable consideration for Foreign Flags, and in strict conformity with the Law of Nations, I suppose it must be recognized[505]." The Proclamation named the original seven seceding states, and on April 27 Virginia was added. The blockade was actually begun at certain Virginia ports on April 30, and by the end of May there were a few war-ships off all the more important Southern harbours[506]. This method of putting a blockade into effect by warning at the port rather than by a general notification communicated to European governments and setting a date, involved a hardship on British merchants since they were thereby made uncertain whether goods started for a Southern port would be permitted to enter. In practice vessels on their first departure from a blockaded harbour were warned and permitted to go out, but those seeking to enter were warned and turned back. In effect, while the blockade was being established, Lincoln's Proclamation had something of the nature for the timid British merchant, though not for the bold one, of a paper blockade. This was not clearly understood by Lyons, who thought neutrals must acquiesce, having "exhausted every possible means of opposition," but who consoled himself with the idea that "for some time yet" British trade could be carried on[507].

Lyons was in fact sceptical, as he told Seward in a long conversation on April 29 of the possibility of blockading a 3,000 mile coast line, but Seward assured him it would be done and effectively[508]. The British press was equally sceptical, and in any case believed that the war would be of short duration, so that there need be no anxiety over next year's supply of cotton[509]. In Parliament Russell took the stand that the blockade, if carried on in accordance with international law and made effective, required British recognition and respect. He also defended Lincoln's "notification at the port" method, stating that it might seem a hardship, but was perfectly legal[510]. Thus there was early and easy acquiescence in the American effort, but when, in June, there was revived a Northern plan to close Southern ports by legislative action, Britain was stirred to quick and vigorous opposition. Lyons learned that a Bill would be introduced in Congress giving the President authority, among other powers, to "proclaim" the ports closed, thus notifying foreign nations not to attempt to use them. He saw in it an unexpected application of the Northern theory that the South was not a belligerent and had no rights as such, and he regarded it as in effect a paper blockade[511].

The fourth section of the Bill as introduced in Congress did not direct the President to issue a proclamation closing Southern ports - it merely gave him the power to do so. Almost from the first Lyons thought that Lincoln and Seward were too wise to issue such a proclamation[512]. Nevertheless it was his duty to be on guard and to oppose the plan. For six weeks there was much communication in regard to the "Southern Ports Bill," as all parties called it, from Russell to Lyons, and also with Cowley in France. The British Foreign Office interest in the matter, almost rising to excitement, is somewhat astonishing in view of the small importance evidently attached to the plan at Washington and the reluctance of France to be as vigorous as Great Britain in protest. Vigorous Russell certainly was, using a "high tone" in official remonstrance to America not unlike that taken by Seward on British recognition of Southern belligerency.

Immediately on learning of the introduction of the Bill Russell addressed enquiries to Cowley asking what France intended and urged a stiff protest. Thouvenel had not heard of the Bill and was seemingly indifferent. At first he acquiesced in Russell's protest, then drew back and on three separate occasions promised support only to withdraw such promise. He was disinclined, said Cowley, to join in a "friendly hint" to America because of the touchy sensibilities lately shown by Seward, and feared a direct protest might result in an American declaration of war. In any case why not wait until the President did act, and even then the proper method would be a protest rather than "reprisals." "I wish," wrote Cowley, on July 28, "that the French were inclined to be more bumptious, as they seemed to be at first. I would at all times rather have the task of calming them, than of urging them on[513]...." Nevertheless Russell on July 19 notified Lyons that England would not observe a "legislative closing" of Southern ports[514]. On July 12 Lyons telegraphed that the Bill had passed both Houses of Congress, and on the sixteenth he wrote privately to Russell that he was much disturbed over its possible consequences since "even Sumner was for it[515]," as this indicated a real intention to carry it into effect[516]. On August 8, Russell sent formal instructions of protest, a copy of which was to be handed to Seward, but the next day authorized Lyons to exercise discretion as to communicating the despatch[517].

The original form of this instruction, dated in June and revised in July, concluded with language that might well draw out Thouvenel's objection to a threat of "reprisals." It read that "H.M.G. ... reserve ... the right of acting in concert with other Nations in opposition to so violent an attack on the rights of Commercial Countries and so manifest a violation of International Law[518]." This high tone had been modified possibly by French opposition, possibly by Lyons' early opinion that the Bill would not be made operative. Indeed on July 24 Russell told Lyons that no final instruction of protest would be sent him until the President actually issued a proclamation[519]. Yet in spite of being fairly well assured that there was no danger in the "Southern Ports Bill," Russell did send the instruction of August 8, still distinctly "vigorous" in tone, though with no threat of "reprisals." His reason for doing so is difficult to understand. Certainly he was hardly serious in arguing to Thouvenel that a stiff instruction would strengthen the hands of the "moderate section" of the American Cabinet[520], or else he strangely misjudged American temperament. Probably a greater reason was his wish to be able to print a Parliamentary Paper indicating the watchful care he was exercising in guarding British interests.

Before Russell's instruction could reach America Seward had voluntarily reassured Lyons as to American intentions. Lyons reported this, privately, on July 20[521], but on the same day also reported, officially, that two days earlier, that is on the eighteenth, he and Mercier had discussed the "Southern Ports" Bill and that as a result Mercier had then gone, that same day, to Seward to state that France must regard such a measure as merely a paper blockade[522]. "We were not very sanguine of success," wrote Lyons, but Seward "had listened to him [Mercier] with calmness," and personally seemed disinclined to issue the required Proclamation. This despatch, making it appear that England and France were in close harmony and that Lyons and Mercier were having a difficult time at Washington was printed, later, in the Parliamentary Papers. It was received by Russell on August 5, and in spite of the reassurances of Lyons' private letter (naturally not for printing) presumably received in the same mail with the official despatch, it furnished the basis of his "strong" instruction of August 8.

At Washington also there were indications of an effort to prepare a good case for the British public and Parliament. July 23, so Lyons wrote privately, Seward had prevented the issue of the "Southern Ports" Proclamation[523], and on the next day he was shown by Seward, confidentially, an instruction to Adams and other Ministers abroad in which was maintained the right to close the ports by proclamation, but stating the Government's decision not to exercise the right. Lyons believed this was the end of the matter[524]. Yet on August 12, he presented himself formally at the Department of State and stated that he had instructions to declare that "Her Majesty's Government would consider a decree closing the ports of the South actually in possession of the insurgent or Confederate States as null and void, and that they would not submit to measures taken on the high seas in pursuance of such decree."... "Mr. Seward thanked me for the consideration I had shown; and begged me to confine myself for the present to the verbal announcement I had just made. He said it would be difficult for me to draw up a written communication which would not have the air of a threat." To this Lyons agreed[525].

This permitted a warmth-creating impression to Englishmen of the "forthright yet friendly" tone of British diplomats when dealing with Seward. So also did Russell's instruction of August 8, not yet received by Lyons when he took the stage at Washington. Yet there is a possibility that Lyons was in fact merely playing his part as Seward had asked him to play it. On the next day, August 13, he acknowledged the receipt of Russell's communication of July 24, in which it was stated that while Great Britain could not acquiesce in the "Southern Ports" Bill no final instructions would be sent until Lincoln issued a Proclamation. Lyons now explained, "As Mr. Seward is undoubtedly at this moment opposed to closing the Ports, I have thought it wiser to be guided by him for the present as to the mode of communicating your decision about the matter[526]." Is it possible that Seward really wished to have a "strong," yet not "too strong" statement from Lyons in order to combat the advocates of the "Ports" Bill? There are many ramifications of diplomatic policy - especially in a popular government. At any rate on August 16 Lyons could assure Russell that there "was no question now of issuing the Proclamation[527]." And on the nineteenth could write officially that a Proclamation based on the Bill had indeed been issued, but without the objectionable fourth section[528].

The whole affair of the "Southern Ports" Bill occupies more space in the British Parliamentary Papers, and excited more attention from the British Government than it would seem to have merited from the Washington attitude toward it. The Bill had been drawn by the Secretary of the Treasury, and its other sections related to methods of meeting a situation where former customs houses and places for the collection of import duties were now in the hands of the Confederacy. The fourth section alone implied a purpose to declare a paper blockade. The idea of proclaiming closed the Southern ports may have at first received the sanction of Seward as consistent with his denial of the existence of a war; or it may have been a part of his "high tone" foreign policy[529], but the more reasonable supposition is that the Bill was merely one of many ill-considered measures put forth in the first months of the war by the North in its spasm of energy seeking to use every and any public means to attack the South. But the interest attached to the measure in this work is the British attitude. There can be no doubt that Russell, in presenting papers to Parliament was desirous of making clear two points: first, the close harmony with France - which in fact was not so close as was made to appear; second, the care and vigour of the Foreign Secretary in guarding British interests. Now in fact British trade was destined to be badly hurt by the blockade, but as yet had not been greatly hampered. Nor did Russell yet think an effective blockade feasible. Writing to Lyons a week after his official protest on the "Southern Ports" Bill, he expressed the opinion that a "regular blockade" could not possibly prevent trade with the South:

     "If our ships can go in ballast for cotton to the Southern 
     Ports it will be well, but if this cannot be done by 
     agreement there will be surely, in the extent of 3,000 miles, 
     creeks and bays out of which small vessels may come, and run 
     for Jamaica or the Bahamas where the cargoes might be 
     transhipped. But it is not for Downing Street to suggest such 
     plans to Cheapside and Tooley Street[530]."

A better knowledge of American geography would have made clear to Russell that if but seven Southern ports were effectively blockaded the remaining 2,550 miles of coast line would be useless for the export of cotton in any considerable amount. His bays and creeks did indeed long provide access to small vessels, but these were not adequate for the transport of a bulky export like cotton[531]. To Russell, however, the blockade appearing negligible in probable effect and also not open to objection by neutrals if regularly established, it seemed that any immediate danger to British trade was averted by the final American action on the "Southern Ports" Bill. It was not until the blockade did begin to be thoroughly effective that either the British public or Government gave it serious consideration.

Not again until late November did Russell return with any interest to the subject of the blockade and then it was again on an American effort which seemed to indicate the ineffectiveness of blockading squadrons and a plan to remedy this by unusual, even "uncivilized," if not illegal, methods. This was the "Stone Boat Fleet" plan of blocking Charleston harbour by sinking vessels across the entrance bar[532]. The plan was reported by Lyons and the news received in England at the most uncertain moment as to the outcome of the Trent controversy[533]. British press and Government at first placed no stress on it, presumably because of the feeling that in view of the existing crisis it was a minor matter. In the same week Lyons, having been asked by Russell for an opinion on the blockade, answered:

     "I am a good deal puzzled as to how I ought to answer your 
     question whether I consider the Blockade effective. It is 
     certainly by no means strict or vigorous along the immense 
     extent of coast to which it is supposed to apply. I suppose 
     the ships which run it successfully both in and out are more 
     numerous than those which are intercepted. On the other hand 
     it is very far from being a mere Paper Blockade. A great many 
     vessels are captured; it is a most serious interruption to 
     Trade; and if it were as ineffective as Mr. Jefferson Davis 
     says in his Message, he would not be so very anxious to get 
     rid of it[534]."

This was a very fair description of the blockade situation. Lyons, unaffected by irritations resulting from the Trent, showed the frame of mind of a "determined neutral," as he was fond of describing himself. His answer was the first given to Russell indicating a possibility that the blockade might, after all, become strictly effective and thus exceedingly harmful to British trade. There is no direct proof that this influenced Russell to denounce the plan of blocking Southern harbours with stone-laden boats sunk in the channel, but the existence of such a motive seems probable. Moreover his protest was not made until December 20, the day after he had learned officially from Adams that Wilkes was unauthorized in searching the Trent - a day on which strain and uncertainty regarding American intentions were greatly lessened. Russell then wrote to Lyons that he observed it to be stated, "apparently on good authority," that the declared purpose of the stone boat fleet was "of destroying these harbours for ever." He characterized this as implying "utter despair of the restoration of the Union," and as being only "a measure of revenge and irremediable injury against an enemy."

"But even in this view, as a scheme of embittered and sanguinary war, such a measure is not justifiable. It is a plot against the commerce of nations and the free intercourse of the Southern States of America with the civilized world. It is a project worthy only of times of barbarism."

Lyons was instructed to speak in this sense to Seward, who, it was hoped, would disavow the project[535].

There was nothing in Lyons' despatches, nor in the American newspaper extracts accompanying them, to warrant such accusation and expostulation. Lyons had merely commented that by some in America the project had been characterized as "odious and barbarous," adding, "The question seems to depend on the extent to which the harbours will be permanently injured[536]." It will be noted that Russell did not refer to information received from Lyons (though it was already in hand), but to "apparently good authority" in justification of his vigorous denunciation. But like vigour, and like characterization of American "barbarism" did not appear in the British press until after the news arrived of the release of Mason and Slidell. Then the storm broke, well summed up in the Punch cartoon entitled "Retrogression. (A Very Sad Picture.) War Dance of the I.O.U. Indian," and showing Uncle Sam in war-feathers and with war-club, in his hand a flag made of the New York Herald, dancing in glee on the shores of a deserted harbour across which stretched a row of sunken ships[537].

On January 13 the Liverpool Shipowners' Association called the attention of the Foreign Office to the news that Charleston harbour had been closed by stone boats and urged governmental remonstrance[538]. Hammond at once replied quoting the language of Russell's letter of December 20 and stating that further representations would be made[539]. On the sixteenth Russell again instructed Lyons to speak to Seward, but now was much less rasping in language, arguing, rather, the injury in the future to the United States itself in case the harbours were permanently destroyed since "... the object of war is peace, and the purposes of peace are mutual goodwill and advantageous commercial intercourse[540]." To-day it seems absurd that any save the most ignorant observer should have thought the North contemplated a permanent and revengeful destruction of Southern port facilities. Nor was there any just ground for such an extreme British view of the Northern plan. Yet even Robert Browning was affected by the popular outcry. "For what will you do," he wrote Story, "if Charleston becomes loyal again[541]?" a query expressive of the increasing English concern, even alarm, at the intense bitterness, indicating a long war, of the American belligerents. How absurd, not to say ridiculous, was this British concern at an American "lapse toward barbarism" was soon made evident. On January II Lyons, acting on the instructions of December 20, brought up the matter with Seward and was promptly assured that there was no plan whatever "to injure the harbours permanently." Seward stated that there had never been any plan, even, to sink boats in the main entrance channels, but merely the lesser channels, because the Secretary of the Navy had reported that with the blockading fleet he could "stop up the 'large holes,'" but "could not stop up the 'small ones.'" Seward assured Lyons that just as soon as the Union was restored all obstructions would be removed, and he added that the best proof that the entrance to Charleston harbour had not been destroyed was the fact that in spite of blockading vessels and stone boats "a British steamer laden with contraband of war had just succeeded in getting in[542]." Again, on February 10, this time following Russell's instruction of January 16, Lyons approached Seward and was told that he might inform Russell that "all the vessels laden with stone, which had been prepared for obstructing the harbours, had been already sunk, and that it is not likely that any others will be used for that purpose[543]." This was no yielding to Great Britain, nor even an answer to Russell's accusation of barbarity. The fact was that the plan of obstruction of harbours, extending even to placing a complete barrier, had been undertaken by the Navy with little expectation of success, and, on the first appearance of new channels made by the wash of waters, was soon abandoned[544].

The British outcry, Russell's assumption in protest that America was conducting war with barbarity, and the protest itself, may seem at first glance to have been merely manifestations of a British tendency to meddle, as a "superior nation" in the affairs of other states and to give unasked-for advice. A hectoring of peoples whose civilization was presumably less advanced than that which stamped the Englishman was, according to Matthew Arnold, traditional - was a characteristic of British public and Government alike[545]. But this is scarcely a satisfactory explanation in the present case. For in the first place it is to be remarked that the sinking of obstructions in an enemy's harbours in order to render more effective a blockade was no novelty in maritime warfare, as Russell must have well known, and that there was no modern record of such obstructions having permanently destroyed a harbour. A far more reasonable explanation is that which connects the energy of the British Government in opposing a proposed American closing of Southern harbours by Presidential proclamation, with a like energy against the stone boat project. The first method was indeed rightly regarded as a violation of accustomed maritime belligerency, but both methods were primarily objectionable in British eyes because they were very evidently the result of efforts to find a way in which an as yet ineffective blockade could be made more rigorous. On the impossibility of an effective blockade, if conducted on customary lines, the British people and Foreign Secretary had pinned their faith that there would be no serious interruption of trade. This was still the view in January, 1862, though doubts were arising, and the "stone boat" protest must be regarded as another evidence of watchful guardianship of commerce with the South. The very thought that the blockade might become effective, in which case all precedent would demand respect for it, possibly caused Russell to use a tone not customary with him in upbraiding the North for a planned "barbarity."

Within three months the blockade and its effectiveness was to be made the subject of the first serious parliamentary discussion on the Civil War in America. In another three months the Government began to feel a pressure from its associate in "joint attitude," France, to examine again with much care its asserted policy of strict neutrality, and this because of the increased effectiveness of the blockade. Meanwhile another "American question" was serving to cool somewhat British eagerness to go hand in hand with France. For nearly forty years since independence from Spain the Mexican Republic had offered a thorny problem to European nations since it was difficult, in the face of the American Monroe Doctrine, to put sufficient pressure upon her for the satisfaction of the just claims of foreign creditors. In 1860 measures were being prepared by France, Great Britain and Spain to act jointly in the matter of Mexican debts. Commenting on these measures, President Buchanan in his annual message to Congress of December 3, 1860, had sounded a note of warning to Europe indicating that American principles would compel the use of force in aid of Mexico if debt-collecting efforts were made the excuse for a plan "to deprive our neighbouring Republic of portions of her territory." But this was at the moment of the break-up of the Union and attracted little attention in the United States. For the same reason, no longer fearing an American block to these plans, the three European Governments, after their invitation to the United States to join them had been refused, signed a convention, October 31, 1861, to force a payment of debts by Mexico. They pledged themselves, however, to seek no accession of territory and not to interfere in the internal affairs of Mexico.

In this pledge Great Britain and Spain were sincere. Napoleon III was not - was indeed pursuing a policy not at first understood even by his Ministers[546]. A joint expedition under the leadership of the Spanish General Prim was despatched, and once in Mexico took possession of customs houses and began to collect duties. It soon became evident to the British and Spanish agents on the spot that France had far other objects than the mere satisfaction of debts. The result was a clash of interests, followed by separate agreements with Mexico and the withdrawal of forces by Great Britain and Spain. This difference of view on Mexican policy had become clear to Cowley, British Ambassador at Paris, by January, 1862, and from that month until the end of March his private letters to Russell referring to American affairs in general are almost wholly concerned with French designs on Mexico. Cowley learned that earlier rumours of Napoleon's purpose to place the Archduke Maximilian of Austria upon theThrone of Mexico, far from being unfounded, were but faint indications of a great French "colonial Empire" scheme, and he thought that there was "some ill-will to the United States at the bottom of all this[547]...." He feared that the Mexican question would "give us a deal of trouble yet[548]," and by March was writing of the "monstrous claims on the Mexican Govt." made by France[549].

These reactions of Cowley were fully shared by Russell, and he hastened, in March, to withdraw British forces in Mexico, as also did Spain. Great Britain believed that she had been tricked into a false position in Mexico, hastened to escape from it, but in view of the close relation of joint policy with France toward the Civil War in America, undertook no direct opposition though prophesying an evil result. This situation required France to refrain, for a time, from criticism of British policy and action toward the North - to pursue, in brief, a "follow on" policy, rather than one based on its own initiative. On the British side the French Mexican policy created a suspicion of Napoleon's hidden purposes and objects in the Civil War and made the British Government slow to accept French suggestions. The result was that in relation to that war Great Britain set the pace and France had to keep step - a very advantageous situation for the North, as the event was to prove. On the purely Mexican question Lyons early took opportunity to assure Seward that Great Britain was "entirely averse to any interference in the internal affairs of Mexico, and that nothing could be further from their wishes than to impose upon the Mexican Nation any Government not of its own choice[550]."

British dislike of France's Mexican venture served to swell the breeze of amity toward America that had sprung up once the Trent was beyond the horizon, and made, temporarily, for smooth sailing in the relations of Great Britain and the North. Lyons wrote on February 7 that the "present notion appears to be to overwhelm us with demonstrations of friendship and confidence[551]." Adams' son in London thought "our work here is past its crisis," and that, "Our victory is won on this side the water[552]," while the American Minister himself believed that "the prospect of interference with us is growing more and more remote[553]." Russell also was optimistic, writing to Lyons, "Our relations have now got into a very smooth groove.... There is no longer any excitement here upon the question of America. I fear Europe is going to supplant the affairs of America as an exciting topic[554]," meaning, presumably, disturbances arising in Italy. On April 4 Adams described his diplomatic duties as "almost in a state of profound calm[555]."

This quiet in relation to America is evidence that no matter what anxiety was felt by British statesmen over the effects of the blockade there was as yet no inclination seriously to question its legality. That there was, nevertheless, real anxiety is shown by an urgent letter from Westbury to Palmerston upon the blockade, asserting that if cotton brought but four pence at Charleston and thirteen pence at Liverpool there must be some truth in its alleged effectiveness:

     "I am greatly opposed to any violent interference. Do not let 
     us give the Federal States any pretence for saying that they 
     failed thro' our interference.... Patience for a few more 
     weeks is I am satisfied the wiser and the more expedient 

This would indicate some Cabinet discussion, at least, on the blockade and on British trade interests. But Westbury's "few more weeks" had no place in Russell's thought, for on February 15 he wrote to Lyons in regard to assertions being made that the blockade was ineffective because certain vessels had eluded it:

     "Her Majesty's Government, however, are of opinion that, 
     assuming that the blockade is duly notified, and also that a 
     number of ships is stationed and remains at the entrance of a 
     port, sufficient really to prevent access to it or to create 
     an evident danger of entering or leaving it, and that these 
     ships do not voluntarily permit ingress or egress, the fact 
     that various ships may have successfully escaped through it 
     (as in the particular instances here referred to) will not of 
     itself prevent the blockade from being an effective one by 
     international law[557]."

From this view Russell never departed in official instructions[558]. England's position as the leading maritime Power made it inevitable that she should promptly approve the Northern blockade effort and be cautious in criticizing its legitimate operation. Both her own history and probable future interests when a belligerent, required such a policy far more important in the eyes of statesmen than any temporary injury to British commerce. English merchants, if determined to trade with the South, must take their own risks, and that Russell believed they would do so is evidenced by his comment to Adams that it was a tradition of the sea that Englishmen "would, if money were to be made by it, send supplies even to hell at the risk of burning their sails."

But trade problems with the South soon brought real pressure on the Government. In January, while marking time until Mason should arrive at his post, the Confederate commissioners already in London very nearly took a step that might have prejudiced the new envoy's position. They had now learned through public documents that Russell had informed Adams he "had no intention of seeing them again." Very angry they planned a formal protest to the British Government, but in the end Mann and Rost counselled silence, outvoting Yancey[559]. On his arrival Mason ignored this situation and with cause for, warmly received socially in pro-Southern circles, he felt confident that at least a private reception would soon be given him by Russell. He became, indeed, somewhat of a social lion, and mistaking this personal popularity for evidence of parliamentary, if not governmental, attitude, was confident of quick advantages for the South. On the day after his arrival he wrote unofficially to Hunter, Confederate Secretary of State "... although the Ministry may hang back in regard to the blockade and recognition through the Queen's speech, at the opening of Parliament next week the popular voice through the House of Commons will demand both."... "I shall be disappointed if the Parliament does not insist on definite action by the Ministry[560]...."

Carefully considering the situation and taking the advice of many English friends, Mason and Slidell agreed that the best line to take was to lay aside for the moment the claim to recognition and to urge European repudiation of the blockade. Slidell, arrived in Paris, wrote Mason that in his coming interview with Thouvenel he should "make only a passing allusion to the question of recognition, intimating that on that point I am not disposed at present to press consideration. But I shall insist upon the inefficiency of the blockade, the 'vandalism of the stone fleet,' etc[561]." Mason was urged to take a like course with Russell. Both men were much excited by a document a copy of which had been secured by Mann purporting to be a "confidential memorandum" addressed by England to the Continental Powers, asking whether the time had not come to raise the blockade. No such memorandum existed, but Slidell and Mason believed it genuine[562]. They had great hopes of the opening of Parliament, but when that event took place, February 6, and the only references in debate were to the Trent and its fortunate outcome, Mason was puzzled and chagrined. He wrote: "It is thought that silence as to the blockade was intended to leave that question open[563]." This, no doubt, was the consolatory explanation of his friends, but the unofficial interview with Russell, at his home, on February 10, chilled Mason's hopes.

As agreed with Slidell, emphasis in this interview was laid by Mason on the blockade, though recognition was asked. His report to Richmond shows that he proceeded with great caution, omitting portions of his instructions on cotton for fear of arousing antagonism, and venturing only a slight departure by expressing the hope that if Great Britain wished to renew communication with the Confederacy it might be made through him, rather than through the British consuls at the South. Russell's "only reply was, he hoped I might find my residence in London agreeable." He refused to see Mason's credentials, stating this to be "unnecessary, our relations being unofficial." He listened with courtesy, asked a few questions, but "seemed utterly disinclined to enter into conversation at all as to the policy of his Government, and only said, in substance, they must await events." Certainly it was a cool reception, and Mason departed with the conviction that Russell's "personal sympathies were not with us, and his policy inaction[564]." But Mason still counted on parliamentary pressure on the Government, and he was further encouraged in this view by a letter from Spence, at Liverpool, stating that he had just received a request to come to London "from a government quarter, of all the most important [565]."

The summons of Spence to London shows that the Government itself feared somewhat a pro-Southern move in Parliament. He reported to Mason that interviews had taken place with Palmerston and with Russell, that he had unfortunately missed one with Gladstone, and, while not citing these men directly, declared the general "London idea" to be that of "postponement"; since it was inevitable that "the North will break down in a few months on the score of money," and that "We have only to wait three months." Evidently Spence believed he was being used as an intermediary and influential adviser in pro-Southern circles to persuade them to a period of quiet. This, he thought, was unwise since delay would be injurious[566]. Of like opinion were the two Members of Parliament who were, throughout Mason's career in England, to be his closest advisers. These were Gregory and Lindsay, the former possessing somewhat of a following in the "gentleman-ruler" class, the latter the largest shipowner in Great Britain. Their advice also was to press on the blockade question[567], as a matter of primary British commercial interest, and they believed that France was eager to follow a British lead. This was contrary to Slidell's notion at the moment, but of this Mason was unaware[568].

The Government did indeed feel compelled to lay before Parliament the papers on the blockade. This was a bulky document of one hundred and twenty-six pages and covered the period from May 3, 1861, to February 17, 1862. In it were the details of the institution of the blockade, reports from British consuls on its effectiveness, lists of vessels captured and of vessels evading it, all together furnishing a very complete view of this, the principal maritime belligerent effort of the North[569]. The Blockade Papers gave opportunity for debate, if desired, and especially so as almost at the end of this document appeared that instruction of February 15 by Russell to Lyons, which clearly stated British acceptance of the blockade as effective. Mason's interview with Russell occurred on the tenth. Five days later, after Spence had been urged vainly to use his influence for "postponement," Russell, so it must appear, gave challenge to pro-Southern sentiment by asserting the effectiveness of the blockade, a challenge almost immediately made known to Parliament by the presentation of papers.

Unless Southern sympathizers were meekly to acquiesce, without further protest, in governmental policy they must now make some decided effort. This came in the shape of a debate in the Commons, on March 7, of a motion by Gregory urging the Government to declare the blockade ineffective[570], and of a similar debate on March 10 in the Lords. As is inevitable where many speakers participate in a debate the arguments advanced were repeated and reiterated. In the Commons important speeches for the motion were made by Gregory, Bentinck, Sir James Ferguson, Lord Robert Cecil and Lindsay, while against it appeared Forster and Monckton Milnes. The Solicitor-General, Roundell Palmer, presented the Government view. Gregory opened the debate by seeking to make clear that while himself favourable to recognition of the South the present motion had no essential bearing on that question and was directed wholly to a fact - that the blockade was not in reality effective and should not be recognized as such. He presented and analysed statistics to prove the frequency with which vessels passed through the blockade, using the summaries given by Mason to Russell in their interview of February 10, which were now before Parliament in the document on the blockade just presented, and he cited the reports of Bunch at Charleston as further evidence. This was the burden of Gregory's argument[571], but he glanced in passing at many other points favourable to the South, commenting on its free trade principles, depicting the "Stone Fleet" as a barbarity, asserting the right of the South to secede, declaring that France regarded British attitude as determined by a selfish policy looking to future wars, and attacking Seward on the ground of American inconsistency, falsely paraphrasing him as stating that "as for all those principles of international law, which we have ever upheld, they are as but dust in the balance compared with the exigencies of the moment[572]." Gregory concluded with the statement that the United States should be treated "with justice and nothing more."

When presenting a cause in Parliament its advocates should agree on a line of argument. The whole theory of this movement on the blockade was that it was wise to minimize the question of recognition, and Gregory had laboured to prove that this was not related to a refusal longer to recognize the blockade. But Bentinck, the second speaker for the motion, promptly undid him for he unhappily admitted that recognition and blockade questions were so closely interwoven that they could not be considered separately. This was promptly seized upon by Forster, who led in opposition. Forster's main argument, however, was a very able tearing to pieces of Gregory's figures, showing that nearly all the alleged blockade runners were in reality merely small coasting steamers, which, by use of shallow inner channels, could creep along the shore and then make a dash for the West Indies. The effectiveness of the blockade of main ports for ocean-going vessels carrying bulky cargoes was proved, he declared, by the price of raw cotton in England, where it was 100 per cent. greater than in the South, and of salt in Charleston, where the importer could make a profit of 1,000 per cent. To raise the blockade, he argued, would be a direct violation by Britain of her neutrality. The real reason for this motion was not the ineffectiveness of the blockade, but the effectiveness, and the real object an English object, not a Southern one. Gregory was taunted for changing a motion to recognize the Confederacy into the present one because he knew the former would fail while the present motion was deceitfully intended to secure the same end. Forster strongly approved the conduct of the Government in preserving strict neutrality, alleging that any other conduct would have meant "a war in which she [England] would have had to fight for slavery against her kinsmen."

Gregory's speech was cautious and attempted to preserve a judicial tone of argument on fact. Forster's reads like that of one who knows his cause already won. Gregory's had no fire in it and was characterized by Henry Adams, an interested auditor, as "listened to as you would listen to a funeral eulogy."... "The blockade is now universally acknowledged to be unobjectionable[573]." This estimate is borne out by the speech for the Government by the Solicitor-General, who maintained the effectiveness of the blockade and who answered Gregory's argument that recognition was not in question by stating that to refuse longer to recognize the blockade would result in a situation of "armed neutrality" - that is of "unproclaimed war." He pictured the disgust of Europe if England should enter upon such a war in alliance "with a country ... which is still one of the last strongholds of slavery" - an admission made in the fervour of debate that was dangerous as tending to tie the Government's hands in the future, but which was, no doubt, merely a personal and carelessly ventured view, not a governmentally authorized one. In general the most interesting feature of this debate is the hearty approval given by friends of the North to the Government's entire line of policy and conduct in relation to America. Their play at the moment, feeling insecure as to the fixity of governmental policy, was to approve heartily the neutrality now existing, and to make no criticisms. Later, when more confident of the permanency of British neutrality, they in turn became critics on the score of failure, in specific cases, in neutral duty.

The Solicitor-General's speech showed that there was no hope for the motion unless it could be made a party question. Of that there was no indication, and the motion was withdrawn. Three days later a similar debate in the Lords was of importance only as offering Russell, since he was now a member of the upper chamber, an opportunity to speak for himself. Lord Campbell had disavowed any intention to attack the blockade since Russell, on February 15, had officially approved it, but criticized the sending to Lyons of the despatch itself. Russell upheld the strict legality and effectiveness of the blockade, stated that if England sided with the South in any way the North would appeal to a slave insurrection - the first reference to an idea which was to play a very important role with Russell and others later - and concluded by expressing the opinion that three months would see the end of the struggle on lines of separation, but with some form of union between the two sovereignties[574]. Russell's speech was an unneeded but emphatic negative of the pro-Southern effort.

Clearly Southern sympathizers had committed an error in tactics by pressing for a change of British policy. The rosy hopes of Mason were dashed and the effect of the efforts of his friends was to force the Government to a decided stand when they preferred, as the summons of Spence to conference makes evident, to leave in abeyance for a time any further declaration on the blockade. The refusal of Mason and his Southern friends to wait compelled a governmental decision and the result was Russell's instruction to Lyons of February 15. The effect of the debate on Mason was not to cause distrust of his English advisers, but to convince him that the existing Government was more determined in unfriendliness than he had supposed. Of the blockade he wrote: "... no step will be taken by this Government to interfere with it[575]." He thought the military news from America in part responsible as: "The late reverses at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson have had an unfortunate effect upon the minds of our friends here[576]...." Spence was opposed to any further move in Parliament until some more definite push on the Government from France should occur[577]. Slidell, anxiously watching from Paris the effort in England, had now altered his view of policy and was convinced there was no hope in France until England gave the signal. Referring to his previous idea that the Continent could be put in opposition to Great Britain on the blockade he wrote:

     "I then supposed that the influence of the Emperor was such 
     that any view of the question which he might urge on the 
     British Cabinet would be adopted. I have since had reason to 
     change entirely this opinion. I am now satisfied that in all 
     that concerns us the initiative must be taken by England; 
     that the Emperor sets such value on her good will that he 
     will make any sacrifice of his own opinions and policy to 
     retain it[578]."

On March 28 he repeated this conviction to Mason[579]. It was a correct judgment. Mason was thereby exalted with the knowledge that his was to be the first place in importance in any and all operations intended to secure European support for the Confederacy, but he could not conceal from himself that the first steps undertaken in that direction had been premature. From this first failure dated his fixed belief, no matter what hopes were sometimes expressed later, that only a change of Government in England would help the Southern cause.


[Footnote 502: See ante, p. 52.]

[Footnote 503: See ante, pp. 61 and 65-66.]

[Footnote 504: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, April 15, 1861.]

[Footnote 505: Ibid., Lyons to Russell. Private. April 23, 1861.]

[Footnote 506: Bernard, Neutrality of Great Britain, pp. 80-1.]

[Footnote 507: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, April 27, 1861.]

[Footnote 508: Bernard, p. 229.]

[Footnote 509: Saturday Review, May 18, 1861.]

[Footnote 510: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXIII, pp. 188-195.]

[Footnote 511: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, June 24, 1861.]

[Footnote 512: Ibid., Lyons to Russell, July 2, 1861.]

[Footnote 513: Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell. The important correspondence on this subject is found in: F.O., France, Vol. 1393. No. 796. Cowley to Russell, July 2, 1861. Ibid., No. 804. Cowley to Russell, July 4, 1861. Ibid., Vol. 1377. No. 704. Russell to Cowley, July 10, 1861. Ibid., Vol. 1394. No. 874. Cowley to Russell, July 17, 1861. Ibid., No. 922. Cowley to Russell, July 28, 1861. Ibid., No. 923. Confidential Cowley to Russell, July 29, 1861. Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell, July 19, 1861. Ibid., Cowley to Russell, July 28, 1861. It is interesting that the promise of France to support England in remonstrance against the "Southern Ports Bill" appears, through Cowley's communications, in the printed Parliamentary Papers. A study of these alone would lead to the judgment that France had been the first to raise the question with England and had heartily supported England. The facts were otherwise, though Mercier, without exact instructions from Thouvenel, aided Lyons in argument with Seward (Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 68. Lyons to Russell, July 20, 1861).]

[Footnote 514: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 61.]

[Footnote 515: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, July 16, 1861.]

[Footnote 516: Schleiden reported Seward as objecting to the Bill and Sumner as "vainly opposing" it. Sumner had in fact spoken publicly in favour of the measure. Probably he told Schleiden that privately he was against it. Schleiden reported Sumner as active in urging the Cabinet not to issue a Proclamation closing the ports (Schleiden Papers. Schleiden to Senate of Bremen, July 10 and 19, 1861). Mercier later informed Thouvenel that Sumner declared the Bill intended for the Northern public only, to show administration "energy," and that there was never any intention of putting it into effect. F.O., France, 1394. No. 931. Cowley to Russell, Aug. 1, 1861.]

[Footnote 517: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." Nos. 70 and 71. Thouvenel did finally consent to support Russell's protest.]

[Footnote 518: F.O., Am., Vol. 755. No. 168.]

[Footnote 519: F.O., Am., Vol. 756.]

[Footnote 520: F.O., France, Vol. 1395. No. 967. Cowley to Russell, Aug. 8, 1861.]

[Footnote 521: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell.]

[Footnote 522: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 68. Lyons to Russell, July 20, 1861. Enclosed was a copy of the six lines of Thouvenel's "instruction" to Mercier, dated July 4, the very brevity of which shows that this was in fact no instruction at all, but merely a comment by Thouvenel to Mercier.]

[Footnote 523: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, July 30, 1861.]

[Footnote 524: Ibid., Lyons to Russell, August 1, 1861.]

[Footnote 525: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 81. Lyons to Russell, Aug. 12, 1861.]

[Footnote 526: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell. Private. Aug. 13, 1861.]

[Footnote 527: Ibid., Russell Papers.]

[Footnote 528: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 83.]

[Footnote 529: Lyons thought this possible. Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell. Private. July 20, 1861.]

[Footnote 530: Lyons Papers. Russell to Lyons. Private. Aug. 16, 1861. And again he wrote the next day, "To prevent smuggling over 3,000 miles of coast and 1,500 miles of land frontier seems to me impossible" (Ibid., Aug. 17, 1861). Russell had received some two weeks earlier, a letter from Bunch at Charleston, urging that England make no objection to the blockade in order that the South might be taught the lesson that "King Cotton," was not, after all, powerful enough to compel British recognition and support. He stated that Southerners, angry at the failure to secure recognition, were loudly proclaiming that they both could and would humble and embarrass Great Britain (F.O., Am., Vol. 781. No. 82. Bunch to Russell, July 8, 1861). Bunch wrote on July 23 that the South planned to hold back its cotton until Great Britain and France raised the blockade (Ibid., No. 87). Bunch was now impressed with Southern determination.]

[Footnote 531: The seven ports were Norfolk (Virginia), Wilmington (North Carolina), Charleston (South Carolina), Savannah (Georgia), Mobile (Alabama), New Orleans (Louisiana), and Galveston (Texas).]

[Footnote 532: The first important reference to the blockade after mid-August, 1861, is in an order to Bunch, conveyed through Lyons, not to give advice to British merchants in Charleston as to blockade runners that had gotten into port having any "right" to go out again (F.O., Am., Vol. 757. No. 402. Russell to Lyons, Nov. 8, 1861).]

[Footnote 533: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 125. Lyons to Russell, Nov. 25, 1861. Received Dec. 9.]

[Footnote 534: Russell Papers. Lyons to Russell, Nov. 29, 1861.]

[Footnote 535: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 127.]

[Footnote 536: Ibid., No. 126. Lyons to Russell, Nov. 29, 1861. Received Dec. 12.]

[Footnote 537: Punch, Feb. 1, 1862.]

[Footnote 538: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 141.]

[Footnote 539: Ibid., No. 142. Jan. 15, 1861.]

[Footnote 540: Ibid., No. 143.]

[Footnote 541: James, W. W. Story, II, p. 111, Jan. 21, 1862.]

[Footnote 542: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Correspondence on Civil War in the United States." No. 153. Lyons to Russell, Jan. 14, 1862. Received Jan. 27.]

[Footnote 543: Ibid., Lords, Vol. XXV. "Despatch from Lord Lyons respecting the Obstruction of the Southern Harbours." Lyons to Russell, Feb. 11, 1862. Received Feb. 24.]

[Footnote 544: Thompson and Wainwright, Confidential Correspondence of G.V. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-65, I, p. 79. Du Pont to Fox, Dec. 16, 1861. Hereafter cited as Fox, Confid. Corresp. This letter shows clearly also that the Navy had no thought of a permanent obstruction.]

[Footnote 545: Vide Arnold, Friendship's Garland.]

[Footnote 546: Thouvenel, Le Secret de l'Empereur, II, 249. Thouvenel could mistakenly write to Mercier on March 13, 1862. "Nous ne voulons pas cependant imposer une forme de gouvernement aux Mexicains..."]

[Footnote 547: Russell Papers. Cowley to Russell. Private. Jan. 17, 1862. On this same date Thouvenel, writing to Flahault in London, hoped England would feel that she had a common interest with France in preventing Mexico from falling under the yoke of Americans either "unis ou secedes." (Thouvenel, Le Secret de l'Empereur, II, 226).]

[Footnote 548: Ibid., Jan. 24, 1862.]

[Footnote 549: Ibid., March 6, 1862.]

[Footnote 550: F.O., Am., Vol. 825. No. 146. Lyons to Russell, Feb. 28, 1862. The fact that Slidell arrived in France just as Napoleon's plans for Mexico took clearer form has been made the ground for assumptions that he immediately gave assurance of Southern acquiescence and encouraged Napoleon to go forward. I have found no good evidence of this - rather the contrary. The whole plan was clear to Cowley by mid-January before Slidell reached Paris, and Slidell's own correspondence shows no early push on Mexico. The Confederate agents' correspondence, both official and private, will be much used later in this work and here requires explanation. But four historical works of importance deal with it extensively, (1) Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, 2 vols., 1905, purports to include the despatches of Mason and Slidell to Richmond, but is very unsatisfactory. Important despatches are missing, and elisions sometimes occur without indication. (2) Virginia Mason, The Public Life and Diplomatic Correspondence of James M. Mason, 1906, contains most of Mason's despatches, including some not given by Richardson. The author also used the Mason Papers (see below). (3) Callahan,The Diplomatic History of the Southern Confederacy, 1901, is the most complete and authoritative work on Southern diplomacy yet published. He used the collection known as the "Pickett Papers," for official despatches, supplementing these when gaps occurred by a study of the Mason Papers, but his work, narrative in form, permits no extended printing of documents. (4) L.M. Sears, A Confederate Diplomat at the Court of Napoleon III. (Am. Hist. Rev. Jan., 1921), is a study drawn from Slidell's private letters in the Mason Papers. The Mason Papers exist in eight folios or packages in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, and in addition there is one bound volume of Mason's despatches to Richmond. These contain the private correspondence of Mason and Slidell while in Europe. Slidell's letters are originals. Mason's letters are copies in Slidell's hand-writing, made apparently at Mason's request and sent to him in May, 1865. A complete typed copy of this correspondence was taken by me in 1913, but this has not hitherto been used save in a manuscript Master's degree thesis by Walter M. Case, "James M. Mason, Confederate Diplomat," Stanford University, 1915, and for a few citations by C. F. Adams, A Crisis in Downing Street (Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings, May, 1914). The Mason Papers also contain many letters from Mason's English friends, Spence, Lindsay, Gregory and others.]

[Footnote 551: Russell Papers. To Russell. Lyons thought France also included in these demonstrations.]

[Footnote 552: A Cycle of Adams' Letters, I, 113. Henry Adams to Charles Francis Adams, Jr., Feb. 14, 1862.]

[Footnote 553: Ibid., p. 115. To his son, Feb. 21, 1862.]

[Footnote 554: Lyons Papers. March 1, 1862.]

[Footnote 555: A Cycle of Adams' Letters, I, 123. To his son.]

[Footnote 556: Palmerston MS. Feb. 9, 1862.]

[Footnote 557: Bernard, p. 245. The author agrees with Russell but adds that Great Britain, in the early stages of the blockade, was indulgent to the North, and rightly so considering the difficulties of instituting it.]

[Footnote 558: He wrote to Mason on February 10, 1863, that he saw "no reason to qualify the language employed in my despatch to Lord Lyons of the 15th of February last." (Bernard, p. 293).]

[Footnote 559: Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, II, p. 155. Yancey and Mann to Hunter, Jan. 27, 1862.]

[Footnote 560: Mason, Mason, pp. 257-8, Jan. 30, 1862.]

[Footnote 561: Mason Papers. Feb. 5, 1862.]

[Footnote 562: Mann sent this "confidential memorandum" to Jefferson Davis, Feb. 1, 1862 (Richardson, II, 160). There is no indication of how he obtained it. It was a fake pure and simple. To his astonishment Slidell soon learned from Thouvenel that France knew nothing of such a memorandum. It was probably sold to Mann by some enterprising "Southern friend" in need of money.]

[Footnote 563: Mason, Mason, p. 258. Mason to Hunter, Feb. 7, 1862.]

[Footnote 564: Ibid., pp. 260-62. Mason's despatch No. 4. Feb. 22, 1862. (This despatch is not given by Richardson.) Slidell was more warmly received by Thouvenel. He followed the same line of argument and apparently made a favourable impression. Cowley reported Thouvenel, after the interview, as expressing himself as "hoping that in two or three months matters would have reached such a crisis in America that both parties would be willing to accept a Mediation...."

(F.O., France., Vol. 1432. No. 132. Confidential. Cowley to Russell, Feb. 10, 1862.)]

[Footnote 565: Mason Papers. Spence to Mason, Feb. 13, 1862. This was that James Spence, author of The American Union, a work strongly espousing the Southern cause. This book was not only widely read in England but portions of it were translated into other languages for use on the Continent. Spence was a manufacturer and trader and also operated in the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. He made a strong impression on Mason, was early active in planning and administering Southern cotton loans in England, and was in constant touch with Mason. By Slidell he was much less favourably regarded and the impression created by his frequent letters to Mason is that of a man of second-rate calibre elated by the prominent part he seemed to be playing in what he took to be the birth of a new State.]

[Footnote 566: Ibid., Spence to Mason, Feb. 20, 1862.]

[Footnote 567: Mason, Mason p. 258.]

[Footnote 568: Slidell in France at first took the tack of urging that Continental interests and British interests in the blockade were "directly antagonistic," basing his argument on England's forward look as a sea power (Slidell to Hunter, Feb. 26, 1862. Richardson, II, p. 186).]

[Footnote 569: Parliamentary Papers, 1862, Lords, Vol. XXV. "Papers relating to the Blockade."]

[Footnote 570: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXV, pp. 1158-1230, and pp. 1233-43.]

[Footnote 571: Mason's authenticated statistics, unfortunately for his cause, only came down to Oct. 31, 1861, a fact which might imply that after that date the blockade was rapidly becoming effective and which certainly did indicate that it was at least sufficiently effective to prevent regular and frequent communications between the government at Richmond and its agents abroad. Did Russell have this in mind when he promptly incorporated Mason's figures in the papers presented to Parliament? These figures showed that according to reports from four Southern ports, sixty vessels had entered and cleared between April 29 and October 31, 1861; unauthenticated statistics extending to the date December 31, presented by Mason of vessels arrived at and departing from Cuban ports showed forty-eight vessels, each way engaged in blockade running. Seven of these were listed as "captured." Those reaching Cuba were described as twenty-six British, 14 Confederate, 3 Spanish, 3 American and 2 Mexican, but in none of these statistics were the names of the vessels given, for obvious reasons, in the printed paper though apparently included in the list submitted by Mason. These figures did in fact but reveal a situation existing even after 1861. The American blockading fleets had to be created from all sorts of available material and were slow in getting under way. Regular ships of the old Navy could not enforce it being too few in number, and also, at first, directing their efforts to the capture of shore positions which would render a large blockading squadron unnecessary. This proved an abortive effort and it was not until 1862 that the development of a large fleet of blockaders was seriously undertaken. (See Fox, Confid. Corresp., I, pp. 110, 115, 119 and especially 122, which, May 31, 1862, pays tribute to the energy with which the South for "thirteen long months" had defended its important port shore lines.) If Gregory had been able to quote a report by Bunch from Charleston of April 5, 1862, he would have had a strong argument. "The blockade runners are doing a great business.... Everything is brought in in abundance. Not a day passes without an arrival or a departure. The Richmond Government sent about a month ago an order to Nassau for Medicines, Quinine, etc. It went from Nassau to New York, was executed there, came back to Nassau, thence here, and was on its way to Richmond in 21 days from the date of the order. Nearly all the trade is under the British flag. The vessels are all changed in Nassau and Havana. Passengers come and go freely and no one seems to think that there is the slightest risk - which, indeed, there is not." (Lyons Papers. Bunch to Lyons, April 5, 1862).]

[Footnote 572: I have nowhere found any such statement by Seward. Gregory's reference is to a note from Seward to Lyons of May 27, 1861, printed in the Blockade Papers. This merely holds that temporary absence of blockading ships does not impair the blockade nor render "necessary a new notice of its existence."]

[Footnote 573: A Cycle of Adams' Letters, I, pp. 119-20. Henry Adams to Charles Francis Adams, Jr., March 15, 1862.]

[Footnote 574: This "three months" statement returned to plague Russell later, British merchants complaining that upon it they had based plans in the belief that the Government had something definite in view. Spence's reference to this "three months" idea, after his conferences in London, would indicate that Russell was merely indulging in a generalization due to the expected financial collapse of the North. The Russian Ambassador in London gave a different interpretation. He wrote that the Northern victories in the West had caused Great Britain to think the time near when the "border states," now tied to the Union by these victories, would lead in a pacification on lines of separation from the Southern slave states. "It is in this sense, and no other that Russell's 'three months' speech in the Lords is to be taken." (Brunow to F.O., March 3-15, 1862. No. 33). Brunow does not so state, but his despatch sounds as if this were the result of a talk with Russell. If so, it would indicate an attempt to interpret Lincoln's "border state policy" in a sense that would appear reasonable in the British view that there could be no real hope at Washington of restoring the Union.]

[Footnote 575: Mason, Mason, p. 264. Despatch No. 6. March 11, 1862.]

[Footnote 576: Ibid., p. 266. Fort Henry was taken by Grant on February 6 and Fort Donelson on the 15th. The capture of these two places gave an opening for the advance of the Western army southwards into Tennessee and Mississippi.]

[Footnote 577: Mason Papers. Spence to Mason, March 18, 1862.]

[Footnote 578: Richardson, II, 207. Slidell to Hunter, March 26, 1862.]

[Footnote 579: Mason Papers.]