The building in British ports of Confederate war vessels like the Alabama and the subsequent controversy and arbitration in relation thereto have been exhaustively studied and discussed from every aspect of legal responsibility, diplomatic relations, and principles of international law. There is no need and no purpose here to review in detail these matters. The purpose is, rather, to consider the development and effect at the time of their occurrence of the principal incidents related to Southern ship-building in British yards. The intention of the British Government is of greater importance in this study than the correctness of its action.

Yet it must first be understood that the whole question of a belligerent's right to procure ships of war or to build them in the ports of neutral nations was, in 1860, still lacking definite application in international law. There were general principles already established that the neutral must not do, nor permit its subjects to do, anything directly in aid of belligerents. The British Foreign Enlistment Act, notification of which had been given in May, 1861, forbade subjects to "be concerned in the equipping, furnishing, fitting out, or arming, of any ship or vessel, with intent or in order that such ship or vessel shall be employed in the service ..." of a belligerent, and provided for punishment of individuals and forfeiture of vessels if this prohibition were disobeyed. But the Act also declared that such punishment, or seizure, would follow on due proof of the offence. Here was the weak point of the Act, for in effect if secrecy were maintained by offenders the proof was available only after the offence had been committed and one of the belligerents injured by the violation of the law. Over twenty years earlier the American Government, seeking to prevent its subjects from committing unneutral acts in connection with the Canadian rebellion of 1837, had realized the weakness of its neutrality laws as they then stood, and by a new law of March 10, 1838, hastily passed and therefore limited to two years' duration, in the expectation of a more perfect law, but intended as a clearer exposition of neutral duty, had given federal officials power to act and seize on suspicion, leaving the proof of guilt or innocence to be determined later. But the British interpretation of her own neutrality laws was that proof was required in advance of seizure - an interpretation wholly in line with the basic principle that a man was innocent until proved guilty, but fatal to that preservation of strict neutrality which Great Britain had so promptly asserted at the beginning of the Civil War[966].

The South wholly lacking a navy or the means to create one, early conceived the idea of using neutral ports for the construction of war vessels. Advice secured from able British lawyers was to the effect that if care were taken to observe the strict letter of the Foreign Enlistment Act, by avoiding warlike equipment, a ship, even though her construction were such as to indicate that she was destined to become a ship of war, might be built by private parties in British yards. The three main points requiring careful observance by the South were concealment of government ownership and destination, no war equipment and no enlistment of crew in British waters.

The principal agent selected by the South to operate on these lines was Captain J.D. Bullock, who asserts in his book descriptive of his work that he never violated British neutrality law and that prevailing legal opinion in England supported him in this view[967]. In March, 1862, the steamer Oreto cleared from Liverpool with a declared destination of "Palermo, the Mediterranean, and Jamaica." She was not heard of until three months later when she was reported to be at Nassau completing her equipment as a Southern war vessel. In June, Adams notified Russell "that a new and still more powerful war-steamer was nearly ready for departure from the port of Liverpool on the same errand[968]." He protested that such ships violated the neutrality of Great Britain and demanded their stoppage and seizure. From June 23 to July 28, when this second ship, "No. 290" (later christened the Alabama) left Liverpool, Adams and the United States consul at Liverpool, Dudley, were busy in securing evidence and in renewing protests to the Government. To each protest Russell replied in but a few lines that the matter had been referred to the proper departments, and it was not until July 26, when there was received from Adams an opinion by an eminent Queen's Counsel, Collier, that the affidavits submitted were conclusive against the "290," that Russell appears to have been seriously concerned. On July 28, the law officers of the Crown were asked for an immediate opinion, and on the thirty-first telegrams were sent to Liverpool and to other ports to stop and further examine the vessel. But the "290" was well away and outside of British waters[969].

The Alabama, having received guns and munitions by a ship, the Bahama, sent out from England to that end, and having enlisted in the Confederate Navy most of the British crews of the two vessels, now entered upon a career of destruction of Northern commerce. She was not a privateer, as she was commonly called at the time, but a Government vessel of war specially intended to capture and destroy merchant ships. In short her true character, in terms of modern naval usage, was that of a "commerce destroyer." Under an able commander, Captain Semmes, she traversed all oceans, captured merchant ships and after taking coal and stores from them, sank or burnt the captures; for two years she evaded battle with Northern war vessels and spread so wide a fear that an almost wholesale transfer of the flag from American to British or other foreign register took place, in the mercantile marine. The career of the Alabama was followed with increasing anger and chagrin by the North; this, said the public, was a British ship, manned by a British crew, using British guns and ammunition, whose escape from Liverpool had been winked at by the British Government. What further evidence was necessary of bad faith in a professed strict neutrality?

Nor were American officials far behind the public in suspicion and anger. At the last moment it had appeared as if the Government were inclined to stop the "290." Was the hurried departure of the vessel due to a warning received from official sources? On November 21, Adams reported that Russell complained in an interview of remarks made privately by Bright, to the effect that warning had come from Russell himself, and "seemed to me a little as if he suspected that Mr. Bright had heard this from me[970]." Adams disavowed, and sincerely, any such imputation, but at the same time expressed to Russell his conviction that there must have been from some source a "leak" of the Government's intention[971]. The question of advance warning to Bullock, or to the Lairds who built the Alabama, was not one which was likely to be officially put forward in any case; the real issue was whether an offence to British neutrality law had been committed, whether it would be acknowledged as such, and still more important, whether repetitions of the offence would be permitted. The Alabama, even though she might, as the American assistant-secretary of the Navy wrote, be "giving us a sick turn[972]," could not by herself greatly affect the issue of the war; but many Alabamas would be a serious matter. The belated governmental order to stop the vessel was no assurance for the future since in reply to Adams' protests after her escape, and to a prospective claim for damages, Russell replied that in fact the orders to stop had been given merely for the purpose of further investigation, and that in strict law there had been no neglect of governmental duty[973]. If this were so similar precautions and secrecy would prohibit official interference in the issue from British ports of a whole fleet of Southern war-vessels. Russell might himself feel that a real offence to the North had taken place. He might write, "I confess the proceedings of that vessel [the Alabama] are enough to rile a more temperate nation, and I owe a grudge to the Liverpool people on that account[974]," but this was of no value to the North if the governmental decision was against interference without complete and absolute proof.

It was therefore the concern of the North to find some means of bringing home to the British Ministry the enormity of the offence in American eyes and the serious danger to good relations if such offences were to be continued. An immediate downright threat of war would have been impolitic and would have stirred British pride to the point of resentment. Yet American pride was aroused also and it was required of Seward that he gain the Northern object and yet make no such threat as would involve the two nations in war - a result that would have marked the success of Southern secession. That Seward was able to find the way in which to do this is evidence of that fertility of imagination and gift in expedient which marked his whole career in the diplomacy of the Civil War[975].

In that same month when Adams was beginning his protests on the "290," June, 1862, there had already been drawn the plans, and the contracts made with the Laird Brothers at Liverpool, for the building of two vessels far more dangerous than the Alabama to the Northern cause. These were the so-called Laird Rams. They were to be two hundred and thirty feet long, have a beam of forty feet, be armoured with four and one-half inch iron plate and be provided with a "piercer" at the prow, about seven feet long and of great strength. This "piercer" caused the ships to be spoken of as rams, and when the vessels were fully equipped it was expected the "piercer" would be three feet under the surface of the water. This was the distinguishing feature of the two ships; it was unusual construction, nearly impossible of use in an ordinary battle at sea, but highly dangerous to wooden ships maintaining a close blockade at some Southern port. While there was much newspaper comment in England that the vessels were "newAlabamas," and in America that they were "floating fortresses," suitable for attack upon defenceless Northern cities, their primary purpose was to break up the blockading squadrons[976].

Shortly before the escape of the Alabama and at a time when there was but little hope the British Government would seize her and shortly after the news was received in Washington that still other vessels were planned for building in the Lairds' yards, a Bill was introduced in Congress authorizing the President to issue letters of marque and privateering. This was in July, 1862, and on the twelfth, Seward wrote to Adams of the proposed measure specifying that the purpose was to permit privateers to seek for and capture or destroy the Alabama or other vessels of a like type. He characterized this as a plan "to organize the militia of the seas by issuing letters of marque and reprisal[977]." Neither here nor at any time did Seward or Adams allege in diplomatic correspondence any other purpose than the pursuit ofAlabamas, nor is it presumable that in July, 1862, the construction plans of the Rams were sufficiently well known to the North to warrant a conclusion that the later purpose of the proposed privateering fleet was at first quite other than the alleged purpose. Probably the Bill introduced in July, 1862, was but a hasty reaction to the sailing of the Oreto (or Florida) and to the failure of early protests in the case of theAlabama. Moreover there had been an earlier newspaper agitation for an increase of naval power by the creation of a "militia of the seas," though with no clear conception of definite objects to be attained. This agitation was now renewed and reinforced and many public speeches made by a General Hiram Wallbridge, who had long advocated an organization of the mercantile marine as an asset in times of war[978]. But though introduced in the summer of 1862, the "privateering bill" was not seriously taken up until February, 1863.

In the Senate discussion of the Bill at the time of introduction, Senator Grimes, its sponsor, declared that the object was to encourage privateers to pursue British ships when, as was expected, they should "turn Confederate." Sumner objected that the true business of privateers was to destroy enemy commerce and that the South had no such bona fide commerce. Grimes agreed that this was his opinion also, but explained that the administration wanted the measure passed so that it might have in its hands a power to be used if the need arose. The general opinion of the Senate was opposed and the matter was permitted to lapse, but without definite action, so that it could at any time be called up again[979]. Six months later the progress of construction and the purpose of the rams at Liverpool were common knowledge. On January 7, 1863, the privateering bill again came before the Senate, was referred to the committee on naval affairs, reported out, and on February 17 was passed and sent to the House of Representatives, where on March 2 it was given a third reading and passed without debate[980]. In the Senate, Grimes now clearly stated that the Bill was needed because the Confederates "are now building in England a fleet of vessels designed to break our blockade of their coast," and that the privateers were to "assist in maintaining blockades." There was no thorough debate but a few perfunctory objections were raised to placing so great a power in the hands of the President, while Sumner alone appears as a consistent opponent arguing that the issue of privateers would be dangerous to the North since it might lead to an unwarranted interference with neutral commerce. No speaker outlined the exact method by which privateers were to be used in "maintaining blockades"; the bill was passed as an "administration measure."

Coincidently, but as yet unknown in Washington, the chagrin of Russell at the escape of the Alabama had somewhat lost its edge. At first he had been impressed with the necessity of amending the Foreign Enlistment Act so as to prevent similar offences and had gained the approval of the law officers of the Crown. Russell had even offered to take up with America an agreement by which both countries were to amend their neutrality laws at the same moment. This was in December, 1862, but now on February 14, 1863, he wrote to Lyons that the project of amendment had been abandoned as the Cabinet saw no way of improving the law[981]. While this letter to Lyons was on its way to America, a letter from Seward was en route, explaining to Adams the meaning of the privateering bill.

"The Senate has prepared a Bill which confers upon the President of the United States the power to grant letters of marque and reprisal in any war in which the country may at any time be engaged, and it is expected that the Bill will become a law. Lord Lyons suggests that the transaction may possibly be misapprehended abroad, if it come upon foreign powers suddenly and without any explanations. You will be at liberty to say that, as the Bill stands, the executive Government will be set at liberty to put the law in force in its discretion, and that thus far the proper policy in regard to the exercise of that discretion has not engaged the President's attention. I have had little hesitation in saying to Lord Lyons that if no extreme circumstances occur, there will be entire frankness on the part of the Government in communicating to him upon the subject, so far as to avoid any surprise on the part of friendly nations, whose commerce or navigation it might be feared would be incidentally and indirectly affected, if it shall be found expedient to put the Act in force against the insurgents of the United States[982]."

Certainly this was vague explanation, yet though the main object might be asserted "to put the act in force against the insurgents," the hint was given that the commerce of friendly neutrals might be "incidentally and indirectly affected." And so both Lyons and Seward understood the matter, for on February 24, Lyons reported a long conversation with Seward in which after pointing out the probable "bad effect" on Europe, Lyons received the reply that some remedy must be found for the fact that "the law did not appear to enable the British Government to prevent" the issue of Confederate "privateers[983]." On March 8, Seward followed this up by sending to Lyons an autograph letter:

     "I am receiving daily such representations from our sea-ports 
     concerning the depredations on our commerce committed by the 
     vessels built and practically fitted out in England, that I 
     do most sincerely apprehend a new element is entering into 
     the unhappy condition of affairs, which, with all the best 
     dispositions of your Government and my own, cannot long be 
     controlled to the preservation of peace.

     "If you think well of it, I should like that you should 
     confidentially inform Earl Russell that the departure of more 
     armed vessels under insurgent-rebel command from English 
     ports is a thing to be deprecated above all things."

On March 9th, Lyons had a long talk with Seward about this, and it appears that Lincoln had seen the letter and approved it. Seward stated that the New York Chamber of Commerce had protested about the Alabama, declaring:

     "That no American merchant vessels would get freights - that 
     even war with England was preferable to this - that in that 
     case the maritime enterprise of the country would at least 
     find a profitable employment in cruising against British 

Seward went on to show the necessity of letters of marque, and Lyons protested vigorously and implied that war must result.

     "Mr. Seward said that he was well aware of the inconvenience 
     not to say the danger of issuing Letters of Marque: that he 
     should be glad to delay doing so, or to escape the necessity 
     altogether; but that really unless some intelligence came 
     from England to allay the public exasperation, the measure 
     would be unavoidable[984]."

Lyons was much alarmed, writing that the feeling in the North must not be underestimated and pointing out that the newspapers were dwelling on the notion that under British interpretation of her duty as a neutral Mexico, if she had money, could build ships in British ports to cruise in destruction of French commerce, adding that "one might almost suppose" some rich American would give the funds to Mexico for the purpose and so seek to involve England in trouble with France[985]. Lyons had also been told by Seward in their conversation of March 9, that on that day an instruction had been sent to Adams to present to Russell the delicacy of the situation and to ask for some assurance that no further Southern vessels of war should escape from British ports. This instruction presented the situation in more diplomatic language but in no uncertain tone, yet still confined explanation of the privateering bill as required to prevent the "destruction of our national navigating interest, unless that calamity can be prevented by ... the enforcement of the neutrality law of Great Britain[986]...."

Lyons' reports reached Russell before Seward's instruction was read to him. Russell had already commented to Adams that American privateers would find no Confederate merchant ships and that if they interfered with neutral commerce the United States Government would be put in an awkward position. To this Adams replied that the privateers would seek and capture, if possible, vessels like the Alabama, but Russell asked Lyons to find out "whether in any case they [privateers] will be authorized to interfere with neutral commerce, and if in any case in what case, and to what extent[987]." Three days later, on March 26, Adams presented his instructions and these Russell regarded as "not unfriendly in tone," but in the long conversation that ensued the old result was reached that Adams declared Great Britain negligent in performance of neutral duty, while Russell professed eagerness to stop Southern shipbuilding if full evidence was "forthcoming." Adams concluded that "he had worked to the best of his power for peace, but it had become a most difficult task." Upon this Russell commented to Lyons, "Mr. Adams fully deserves the character of having always laboured for peace between our two Nations. Nor I trust will his efforts, and those of the two Governments fail of success[988]."

In these last days of March matters were in fact rapidly drawing to a head both in America and England. At Washington, from March seventh to the thirty-first, the question of issuing letters of marque and reprisal had been prominently before the Cabinet and even Welles who had opposed them was affected by unfavourable reports received from Adams as to the intentions of Great Britain. The final decision was to wait later news from England[989]. This was Seward's idea as he had not as yet received reports of the British reaction to his communications through Lyons and Adams. March 27 was the critical day of decision in London, as it was also the day upon which public and parliamentary opinion was most vigorously debated in regard to Great Britain's neutral duty. Preceding this other factors of influence were coming to the front. In the first days of March, Slidell, at Paris, had received semi-official assurances that if the South wished to build ships in French yards "we should be permitted to arm and equip them and proceed to sea[990]." This suggestion was permitted to percolate in England with the intention, no doubt, of strengthening Bullock's position there. In the winter of 1862-3, orders had been sent to the Russian Baltic fleet to cruise in western waters and there was first a suspicion in America, later a conviction, that the purpose of this cruise was distinctly friendly to the North - that the orders might even extend to actual naval aid in case war should arise with England and France. In March, 1863, this was but vague rumour, by midsummer it was a confident hope, by September-October, when Russian fleets had entered the harbours of New York and San Francisco, the rumour had become a conviction and the silence of Russian naval officers when banqueted and toasted was regarded as discreet confirmation. There was no truth in the rumour, but already in March curious surmises were being made even in England, as to Russian intentions, though there is no evidence that the Government was at all concerned. The truth was that the Russian fleet had been ordered to sea as a precaution against easy destruction in Baltic waters, in case the difficulties developing in relation to Poland should lead to war with France and England[991].

In England, among the people rather than in governmental England, a feeling was beginning to manifest itself that the Ministry had been lax in regard to the Alabama, and as news of her successes was received this feeling was given voice. Liverpool, at first almost wholly on the side of the Lairds and of Southern ship-building, became doubtful by the very ease with which the Alabama destroyed Northern ships. Liverpool merchants looked ahead and saw that their interests might, after all, be directly opposed to those of the ship-builders. Meetings were held and the matter discussed. In February, 1863, such a meeting at Plaistow, attended by the gentry of the neighbourhood, but chiefly by working men, especially by dock labourers and by men from the ship-building yards at Blackwall, resolved that "the Chairman be requested to write to the Prime Minister of our Queen, earnestly entreating him to put in force, with utmost vigilance, the law of England against such ships as the Alabama [992]." Such expressions were not as yet widespread, nor did the leading papers, up to April, indulge in much discussion, but British doubt was developing[993].

Unquestionably, Russell himself was experiencing a renewed doubt as to Britain's neutral duty. On March 23, he made a speech in Parliament which Adams reported as "the most satisfactory of all the speeches he has made since I have been at this post[994]." On March 26, came the presentation by Adams of Seward's instruction of which Russell wrote to Lyons as made in no unfriendly tone and as a result of which Adams wrote: "The conclusion which I draw ... is, that the Government is really better disposed to exertion, and feels itself better sustained for action by the popular sentiment than ever before[995]." Russell told Adams that he had received a note from Palmerston "expressing his approbation of every word" of his speech three days before. In a portion of the despatch to Seward, not printed in the Diplomatic Correspondence, Adams advised against the issue of privateers, writing, "In the present favourable state of popular mind, it scarcely seems advisable to run the risk of changing the current in Great Britain by the presentation of a new issue which might rally all national pride against us as was done in the Trent case[996]." That Russell was indeed thinking of definite action is foreshadowed by the advice he gave to Palmerston on March 27, as to the latter's language in the debate scheduled for that day on the Foreign Enlistment Act. Russell wrote, referring to the interview with Adams:

     "The only thing which Adams could think of when I asked him 
     what he had to propose in reference to the Alabama was that 
     the Government should declare their disapproval of the 
     fitting out of such ships of war to prey on 
     American commerce.

     "Now, as the fitting out and escape of the Alabama and 
     Oreto was clearly an evasion of our law, I think you can 
     have no difficulty in declaring this evening that the 
     Government disapprove of all such attempts to elude our law 
     with a view to assist one of the belligerents[997]."

But the tone of parliamentary debate did not bear out the hopeful view of the American Minister. It was, as Bright wrote to Sumner, "badly managed and told against us[998]," and Bright himself participated in this "bad management." For over a year he had been advocating the cause of the North in public speeches and everywhere pointing out to unenfranchised England that the victory of the North was essential to democracy in all Europe. Always an orator of power he used freely vigorous language and nowhere more so than in a great public meeting of the Trades Unions of London in St. James' Hall, on March 26, the evening before the parliamentary debate. The purpose of this meeting was to bring public pressure on the Government in favour of the North, and the pith of Bright's speech was to contrast the democratic instincts of working men with the aristocratic inclinations of the Government[999]. Reviewing "aristocratic" attitude toward the Civil War, Bright said:

     "Privilege thinks it has a great interest in this contest, 
     and every morning, with blatant voice, it comes into your 
     streets and curses the American Republic. Privilege has 
     beheld an afflicting spectacle for many years past. It has 
     beheld thirty millions of men, happy and prosperous, without 
     emperor, without king, without the surroundings of a court, 
     without nobles, except such as are made by eminence in 
     intellect and virtue, without State bishops and 
     State priests.

     "'Sole venders of the lore which works salvation,' without 
     great armies and great navies, without great debt and without 
     great taxes.

       * * * * *

     "You wish the freedom of your country. You wish it for 
     yourselves.... Do not then give the hand of fellowship to the 
     worst foes of freedom that the world has ever seen.... You 
     will not do this. I have faith in you. Impartial history 
     will tell that, when your statesmen were hostile or coldly 
     neutral, when many of your rich men were corrupt, when your 
     press - which ought to have instructed and defended - was 
     mainly written to betray, the fate of a Continent and of its 
     vast population being in peril, you clung to freedom with an 
     unfailing trust that God in his infinite mercy will yet make 
     it the heritage of all His children[1000]."

The public meeting of March 26 was the most notable one in support of the North held throughout the whole course of the war, and it was also the most notable one as indicating the rising tide of popular demand for more democratic institutions. That it irritated the Government and gave a handle to Southern sympathizers in the parliamentary debate of March 27 is unquestioned. In addition, if that debate was intended to secure from the Government an intimation of future policy against Southern shipbuilding it was conducted on wrong lines for immediate effect - though friends of the North may have thought the method used was wise for future effect. This method was vigorous attack. Forster, leading in the debate[1001], called on Ministers to explain the "flagrant" violation of the Foreign Enlistment Act, and to offer some pledge for the future; he asserted that the Government should have been active on its own initiative in seeking evidence instead of waiting to be urged to enforce the law, and he even hinted at a certain degree of complicity in the escape of the Alabama. The Solicitor-General answered in a legal defence of the Government, complained of the offence of America in arousing its citizens against Great Britain upon unjustifiable grounds, but did not make so vigorous a reply as might, perhaps, have been expected. Still he stood firmly on the ground that the Government could not act without evidence to convict - in itself a statement that might well preclude interference with the Rams. Bright accused the Government of a "cold and unfriendly neutrality," and referred at length to the public meeting of the previous evening:

     "If you had last night looked in the faces of three thousand 
     of the most intelligent of the artisan classes in London, as 
     I did, and heard their cheers, and seen their sympathy for 
     that country for which you appear to care so little, you 
     would imagine that the more forbearing, the more generous, 
     and the more just the conduct of the Government to the United 
     States, the more it would recommend itself to the magnanimous 
     feelings of the people of this country."

This assumption of direct opposition between Parliament and the people was not likely to win or to convince men, whether pro-Southern or not, who were opponents of the speaker's long-avowed advocacy of more democratic institutions in England. It is no wonder then that Laird, who had been castigated in the speeches of the evening, rising in defence of the conduct of his firm, should seek applause by declaring, "I would rather be handed down to posterity as the builder of a dozen Alabamas than as a man who applies himself deliberately to set class against class, and to cry up the institutions of another country which, when they come to be tested, are of no value whatever, and which reduce the very name of liberty to an utter absurdity." This utterance was greeted with great cheering - shouted not so much in approval of the Alabama as in approval of the speaker's defiance of Bright.

In short, the friends of the North, if they sought some immediate pledge by the Government, had gone the wrong way about to secure it. Vigour in attack was no way to secure a favourable response from Palmerston. Always a fighting politician in public it was inevitable that he should now fight back. Far from making the statement recommended to him by Russell, he concluded the debate by reasserting the correctness of governmental procedure in the case of the Alabama, and himself with vigour accused Forster and Bright of speaking in such a way as to increase rather than allay American irritation. Yet a careful reading of the speeches of both the Solicitor-General and of Palmerston, shows that while vindicating the Government's conduct in the past, they were avoiding any pledge of whatever nature, for the future.

Adams was clearly disappointed and thought that the result of the debate was "rather to undo in the popular mind the effect of Lord Russell's speech than to confirm it[1002]." He and his English advisers were very uneasy, not knowing whether to trust to Russell's intimations of more active governmental efforts, or to accept the conclusion that his advice had been rejected by Palmerston[1003]. Possibly if less anxious and alarmed they would have read more clearly between the lines of parliamentary utterances and have understood that their failure to hurry the Government into public announcement of a new policy was no proof that old policy would be continued. Disappointed at the result in Parliament, they forgot that the real pressure on Government was coming from an American declaration of an intention to issue privateers unless something were done to satisfy that country. Certainly Russell was unmoved by the debate for on April 3 he wrote to Palmerston:

     "The conduct of the gentlemen who have contracted for the 
     ironclads at Birkenhead is so very suspicious that I have 
     thought it necessary to direct that they should be detained. 
     The Attorney-General has been consulted and concurs in the 
     measure, as one of policy, though not of strict law.

     "We shall thus test the law, and if we have to pay damages we 
     have satisfied the opinion which prevails here as well as in 
     America that this kind of neutral hostility should not be 
     allowed to go on without some attempt to stop it[1004]."

Two days later, on April 5, the Alexandra, a vessel being equipped to join the Alabama as a commerce destroyer, was seized on the ground that she was about to violate the Enlistment Act and a new policy, at least to make a test case in law, was thereby made public. In fact, on March 30, but three days after the debate of March 27, the case of the Alexandra had been taken up by Russell, referred to the law officers on March 31, and approved by them for seizure on April 4[1005]. Public meetings were quickly organized in support of the Government's action, as that in Manchester on April 6, when six thousand people applauded the seizure of the Alexandra, demanded vigorous prosecution of the Lairds and others, and urged governmental activity to prevent any further ship-building for the South[1006].

On April 7, Russell wrote to Lyons:

     "The orders given to watch, and stop when evidence can be 
     procured, vessels apparently intended for the Confederate 
     service will, it is to be hoped, allay the strong feelings 
     which have been raised in Northern America by the escape from 
     justice of the Oreto and Alabama[1007]."

It thus appears that orders had been issued to stop, on evidence to be sure, but on evidence of the vessels being "apparently intended" for the South. This was far from being the same thing as the previous assertion that conclusive evidence was required. What, then, was the basic consideration in Russell's mind leading to such a face-about on declared policy? Chagrin at the very evident failure of existing neutrality law to operate, recognition that there was just cause for the rising ill-will of the North, no doubt influenced him, but more powerful than these elements was the anxiety as to the real purpose and intent in application of the American "privateering" Bill. How did Russell, and Lyons, interpret that Bill and what complications did they foresee and fear?

As previously stated in this chapter, the privateering Bill had been introduced as an "administration measure" and for that reason passed without serious debate. In the Cabinet it was opposed by Welles, Secretary of the Navy, until he was overborne by the feeling that "something must be done" because vessels were building in England intended to destroy the blockade. The Rams under construction were clearly understood to have that purpose. If privateers were to offset the action of the Rams there must be some definite plan for their use. Seward and Adams repeatedly complained of British inaction yet in the same breath asserted that the privateers were intended to chase and destroy Alabamas - a plan so foolish, so it seemed to British diplomats, as to be impossible of acceptance as the full purpose of Seward. How, in short, could privateers make good an injury to blockade about to be done by the Rams? If added to the blockading squadrons on station off the Southern ports they would but become so much more fodder for the dreaded Rams. If sent to sea in pursuit of Alabamas the chances were that they would be the vanquished rather than the victors in battle. There was no Southern mercantile marine for them to attack and privateering against "enemy's commerce" was thus out of the question since there was no such commerce.

There remained but one reasonable supposition as to the intended use of privateers. If the Rams compelled the relaxation of the close blockade the only recourse of the North would be to establish a "cruising squadron" blockade remote from the shores of the enemy. If conducted by government war-ships such a blockade was not in contravention to British interpretation of international law[1008]. But the Northern navy, conducting a cruising squadron blockade was far too small to interfere seriously with neutral vessels bringing supplies to the Confederacy or carrying cotton from Southern ports. A "flood of privateers," scouring the ocean from pole to pole might, conceivably, still render effective that closing in of the South which was so important a weapon in the Northern war programme.

This was Russell's interpretation of the American plan and he saw in it a very great danger to British commerce and an inevitable ultimate clash leading to war. Such, no doubt, it was Seward's desire should be Russell's reaction, though never specifically explaining the exact purpose of the privateers. Moreover, nine-tenths of the actual blockade-running still going on was by British ships, and this being so it was to be presumed that "privateers" searching for possible blockade runners would commit all sorts of indignities and interferences with British merchant ships whether on a blockade-running trip or engaged in ordinary trade between non-belligerent ports.

Immediately on learning from Lyons details of the privateering bill, Russell had instructed the British Minister at Washington to raise objections though not formally making official protest, and had asked for explanation of the exact nature of the proposed activities of such vessels. Also he had prepared instructions to be issued by the Admiralty to British naval commanders as to their duty of preventing unwarranted interference with legitimate British commerce by privateers[1009]. The alteration of governmental policy as indicated in the arrest of the Alexandra, it might be hoped, would at least cause a suspension of the American plan, but assurances were strongly desired. Presumably Russell knew that Adams as a result of their conversations, had recommended such suspension, but at Washington, Lyons, as yet uninformed of the Alexandra action, was still much alarmed. On April 13 he reported that Seward had read to him a despatch to Adams, relative to the ships building in England, indicating that this was "a last effort to avert the evils which the present state of things had made imminent[1010]." Lyons had argued with Seward the inadvisability of sending such a despatch, since it was now known that Russell had "spoken in a satisfactory manner" about Confederate vessels, but Seward was insistent. Lyons believed there was real cause for anxiety, writing:

     "A good deal of allowance must be made for the evident design 
     of the Government and indeed of the people to intimidate 
     England, but still there can be little doubt that the 
     exasperation has reached such a point as to constitute a 
     serious danger. It is fully shared by many important members 
     of the Cabinet - nor are the men in high office exempt from 
     the overweening idea of the naval power of the United States, 
     which reconciles the people to the notion of a war with 
     England. Mr. Seward for a certain time fanned the flame in 
     order to recover his lost popularity. He is now, I believe, 
     seriously anxious to avoid going farther. But if strong 
     measures against England were taken up as a Party cry by the 
     Republicans, Mr. Seward would oppose very feeble resistance 
     to them. If no military success be obtained within a short 
     time, it may become a Party necessity to resort to some means 
     of producing an excitement in the country sufficient to 
     enable the Government to enforce the Conscription Act, and to 
     exercise the extra-legal powers conferred by the late 
     Congress, To produce such an excitement the more ardent of 
     the party would not hesitate to go, to the verge of a war 
     with England. Nay there are not a few who already declare 
     that if the South must be lost, the best mode to conceal the 
     discomfiture of the party and of the nation, would be to go 
     to war with England and attribute the loss of the South to 
     English interference[1011]."

On the same day Lyons wrote, privately:

     "I would rather the quarrel came, if come it must, upon some 
     better ground for us than this question of the ships fitted 
     out for the Confederates. The great point to be gained in my 
     opinion, would be to prevent the ships sailing, without 
     leading the people here to think that they had gained their 
     point by threats[1012]."

So great was Lyons' alarm that the next day, April 14, he cipher-telegraphed Monck in Canada that trouble was brewing[1013], but soon his fears were somewhat allayed. On the seventeenth he could report that Seward's "strong" despatch to Adams was not intended for communication to Russell[1014], and on the twenty-fourth when presenting, under instructions, Russell's protest against the privateering plan he was pleased, if not surprised, to find that the "latest advices" from England and the news of the seizure of the Alexandra, had caused Seward to become very conciliatory. Lyons was assured that the plan "was for the present at rest[1015]." Apparently Seward now felt more security than did Lyons as to future British action for three days later the British Minister wrote to Vice-Admiral Milne that an American issue of letters of marque would surely come if England did not stop Southern ship-building, and he wrote in such a way as to indicate his own opinion that effective steps must be taken to prevent their escape[1016].

The whole tone and matter of Lyons' despatches to Russell show that he regarded the crisis of relations in regard to Southern ship-building in British yards as occurring in March-April, 1863. Seward became unusually friendly, even embarrassingly so, for in August he virtually forced Lyons to go on tour with him through the State of New York, thus making public demonstration of the good relations of the two Governments. This sweet harmony and mutual confidence is wholly contrary to the usual historical treatment of the Laird Rams incident, which neglects the threat of the privateering bill, regards American protests as steadily increasing in vigour, and concludes with the "threat of war" note by Adams to Russell just previous to the seizure of the Rams, in September. Previously, however, American historians have been able to use only American sources and have been at a loss to understand the privateering plan, since Seward never went beyond a vague generalization of its object in official utterances. It is the British reaction to that plan which reveals the real "threat" made and the actual crisis of the incident.

It follows therefore that the later story of the Rams requires less extended treatment than is customarily given to it. The correct understanding of this later story is the recognition that Great Britain had in April given, a pledge and performed an act which satisfied Seward and Adams that the Rams would not be permitted to escape. It was their duty nevertheless to be on guard against a British relaxation of the promise made, and the delay, up to the very last moment, in seizing the Rams, caused American anxiety and ultimately created a doubt of the sincerity of British actions.

Public opinion in England was steadily increasing against Southern ship-building. On June 9, a memorial was sent to the Foreign Office by a group of ship-owners in Liverpool, suggesting an alteration in the Foreign Enlistment Act if this were needed to prevent the issue of Southern ships, and pointing out that the "present policy" of the Government would entail a serious danger to British commerce in the future if, when England herself became a belligerent, neutral ports could be used by the enemy to build commerce destroyers[1017]. The memorial concluded that in any case it was a disgrace that British law should be so publicly infringed. To this, Hammond, under-secretary, gave the old answer that the law was adequate "provided proof can be obtained of any act done with the intent to violate it[1018]." Evidently ship-owners, as distinguished from ship-builders, were now acutely alarmed. Meanwhile attention was fixed on the trial of the Alexandra, and on June 22, a decision was rendered against the Government, but was promptly appealed.

This decision made both Northern and Southern agents anxious and the latter took steps further to becloud the status of the Rams. Rumours were spread that the vessels were in fact intended for France, and when this was disproved that they were being built for the Viceroy of Egypt. This also proved to be untrue. Finally it was declared that the real owners were certain French merchants whose purpose in contracting for such clearly warlike vessels was left in mystery, but with the intimation that Egypt was to be the ultimate purchaser. Captain Bullock had indeed made such a contract of sale to French merchants but with the proviso of resale to him, after delivery. On his part, Russell was seeking proof fully adequate to seizure, but this was difficult to obtain and such as was submitted was regarded by the law officers as inadequate. They reported that there was "no evidence capable of being presented to a court of justice." He informed Adams of this legal opinion at the moment when the latter, knowing the Rams to be nearing completion, and fearing that Russell was weakening in his earlier determination, began that series of diplomatic protests which very nearly approached a threat of war.

At Washington also anxiety was again aroused by the court's decision in the Alexandra case, and shortly after the great Northern victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, Seward wrote a despatch to Adams, July 11, which has been interpreted as a definite threat of war. In substance Seward wrote that he still felt confident the Government of Great Britain would find a way to nullify the Alexandra decision, but renewed, in case this did not prove true, his assertion of Northern intention to issue letters of marque, adding a phrase about the right to "pursue" Southern vessels even into neutral ports[1019]. But there are two considerations in respect to this despatch that largely negative the belligerent intent attributed to it: Seward did not read or communicate it to Lyons, as was his wont when anything serious was in mind; and he did not instruct Adams to communicate it to Russell. The latter never heard of it until the publication, in 1864, of the United States diplomatic correspondence[1020].

In London, on July 11, Adams began to present to Russell evidence secured by Consul Dudley at Liverpool, relative to the Rams and to urge their immediate seizure. Adams here but performed his duty and was in fact acting in accordance with Russell's own request[1021]. On July 16 he reported to Seward that the Roebuck motion for recognition of the South[1022] had died ingloriously, but expressed a renewal of anxiety because of the slowness of the government; if the Rams were to escape, Adams wrote to Russell, on July 11, Britain would herself become a participant in the war[1023]. Further affidavits were sent to Russell on August 14, and on September 3, having heard from Russell that the Government was legally advised "they cannot interfere in any way with these vessels," Adams sent still more affidavits and expressed his regret that his previous notes had not sufficiently emphasized the grave nature of the crisis pending between the United States and Great Britain. To this Russell replied that the matter was "under serious and anxious consideration," to which, on September 5, in a long communication, Adams wrote that if the Rams escaped: "It would be superfluous in me to point out to your Lordship that this is war."

The phrase was carefully chosen to permit a denial of a threat of war on the explanation that Great Britain would herself be participating in the war. There is no question that at the moment Adams thought Russell's "change of policy" of April was now thrown overboard, but the fact was that on September 1, Russell had already given directions to take steps for the detention of the Rams and that on September 3, positive instructions were given to that effect[1024], though not carried out until some days later. There had been no alteration in the "new policy" of April; the whole point of the delay was governmental anxiety to secure evidence sufficient to convict and thus to avoid attack for acting in contradiction to those principles which had been declared to be the compelling principles of non-interference in the case of the Alabama. But so perfect were the arrangements of Captain Bullock that complete evidence was not procurable and Russell was forced, finally, to act without it[1025].

It would appear from a letter written by Russell to Palmerston, on September 3, the day on which he gave the order to stop, that no Cabinet approval for this step had yet formally been given, since Russell notified Palmerston of his purpose and asked the latter, if he disapproved, to call a Cabinet at once[1026]. The plan to stop the Rams must have long been understood for Palmerston called no Cabinet. Moreover it is to be presumed that he was preparing the public for the seizure, for on this same September 3, the Times, in a long editorial, argued that the law as it stood (or was interpreted), was not in harmony with true neutrality, and pointed out future dangers to British commerce, as had the Liverpool ship-owners. Delane of the Times was at this period especially close to Palmerston, and it is at least inferential that the editorial was an advance notice of governmental intention to apply a policy known in intimate circles to have been for some time matured. Four days later, while governmental action was still unknown to the public another editorial advocated seizure of the Rams[1027]. Russell had acted under the fear that one of the Rams might slip away as had the Alabama; he had sent orders to stop and investigate, but he delayed final seizure in the hope that better evidence might yet be secured, conducting a rapid exchange of letters with Lairds (the builders), seeking to get admissions from them. It was only on September 9 that Lairds was officially ordered not to send the vessels on a "trial trip," and it was not until September 16 that public announcement was made of the Government's action[1028].

Russell has been regarded as careless and thoughtless in that it was not until September 8 he relieved Adams' mind by assuring him the Rams would be seized, even though three days before, on September 5, this information had been sent to Washington. The explanation is Russell's eager search for evidence to convict, and his correspondence with Lairds which did not come to a head until the eighth, when the builders refused to give information. To the builders Russell was writing as if a governmental decision had not yet been reached. He could take no chance of a "leak" through the American Minister. Once informed, Adams was well satisfied though his immediate reaction was to criticize, not Russell, but the general "timidity and vacillation" of the law officers of the Crown[1029]. Two days later, having learned from Russell himself just what was taking place, Adams described the "firm stand" taken by the Foreign Secretary, noted the general approval by the public press and expressed the opinion that there was now a better prospect of being able to preserve friendly relations with England than at any time since his arrival in London[1030]. Across the water British officials were delighted with the seizure of the Rams. Monck in Canada expressed his approval[1031]. Lyons reported a "great improvement" in the feeling toward England and that Seward especially was highly pleased with Russell's expressions, conveyed privately, of esteem for Seward together with the hope that he would remain in office[1032].

The actual governmental seizure of the Rams did not occur until mid-October, though they had been placed under official surveillance on September 9. Both sides were jockeying for position in the expected legal battle when the case should be taken up by the courts[1033]. At first Russell even thought of making official protest to Mason in London and a draft of such protest was prepared, approved by the Law Officers and subsequently revised by Palmerston, but finally was not sent[1034]. Possibly it was thought that such a communication to Mason approached too nearly a recognition of him in his desired official capacity, for in December the protest ultimately directed to be made through Consul-General Crawford at Havana, instructed him to go to Richmond and after stating very plainly that he was in no way recognizing the Confederacy to present the following:

     "It appears from various correspondence the authenticity of 
     which cannot be doubted, that the Confederate Government 
     having no good ports free from the blockade of the Federals 
     have conceived the design of using the ports of the United 
     Kingdom for the purpose of constructing ships of war to be 
     equipped and armed to serve as cruisers against the commerce 
     of the United States of America, a State with which Her 
     Majesty is at peace...."

     "These acts are inconsistent with the respect and comity 
     which ought to be shewn by a belligerent towards a 
     Neutral Power.

     "Her Majesty has declared her Neutrality and means strictly 
     to observe it.

     "You will therefore call upon Mr. Benjamin to induce his 
     Government to forbear from all acts tending to affect 
     injuriously Her Majesty's position[1035]."

To carry out this instruction there was required permission for Crawford to pass through the blockade but Seward refused this when Lyons made the request[1036].

Not everyone in Britain, however, approved the Government's course in seizing the Rams. Legal opinion especially was very generally against the act. Adams now pressed either for an alteration of the British law or for a convention with America establishing mutual similar interpretation of neutral duty. Russell replied that "until the trials of the Alexandra and the steam rams had taken place, we could hardly be said to know what our law was, and therefore not tell whether it required alteration. I said, however, that he might assure Mr. Seward that the wish and intention of Government were to make our neutrality an honest and bona-fide one[1037]." But save from extreme and avowed Southern sympathizers criticism of the Government was directed less to the stoppage of the Rams than to attacks of a political character, attempting to depict the weakness of the Foreign Minister and his humiliation of Great Britain in having "yielded to American threats." Thus, February II, 1864, after the reassembling of Parliament, a party attack was made on Russell and the Government by Derby in the House of Lords. Derby approved the stopping of the Rams but sought to prove that the Government had dishonoured England by failing to act of its own volition until threatened by America. He cited Seward's despatch of July II with much unction, that despatch now having appeared in the printed American diplomatic correspondence with no indication that it was not an instruction at once communicated to Russell. The attack fell flat for Russell simply replied that Adams had never presented such an instruction. This forced Derby to seek other ground and on February 15 he returned to the matter, now seeking to show by the dates of various documents that "at the last moment" Adams made a threat of war and Russell had yielded. Again Russell's reply was brief and to the effect that orders to stop the Rams had been given before the communications from Adams were received. Finally, on February 23, a motion in the Commons called for all correspondence with Adams and with Lairds, The Government consented to the first but refused that with Lairds and was supported by a vote of 187 to 153.[1038]

Beginning with an incautious personal and petty criticism of Russell the Tories had been driven to an attempt to pass what was virtually a vote of censure on the Ministry yet they were as loud as was the Government in praise of Adams and in approval of the seizure of the Rams. Naturally their cause was weakened, and the Ministry, referring to expressions made and intentions indicated as far back as March, 1863, thus hinting without directly so stating that the real decision had then been made, was easily the victor in the vote[1038]. Derby had committed an error as a party leader and the fault rankled for again in April, 1864, he attempted to draw Russell into still further discussion on dates of documents. Russell's reply ignored that point altogether[1039]. It did not suit his purpose to declare, flatly, the fact that in April assurances had been given both to Adams and through Lyons to Seward, that measures would be taken to prevent the departure of Southern vessels from British ports. To have made this disclosure would have required an explanation why such assurance had been given and this would have revealed the effect on both Russell and Lyons of the Northern plan to create a cruising squadron blockade by privateers. There was the real threat. The later delays and seeming uncertainties of British action made Adams anxious but there is no evidence that Russell ever changed his purpose. He sought stronger evidence before acting and he hoped for stronger support from legal advisers, but he kept an eye on the Rams and when they had reached the stage where there was danger of escape, he seized them even though the desired evidence was still lacking[1040]. Seward's "privateering bill" plan possibly entered upon in a moment of desperation and with no clear statement from him of its exact application had, as the anxiety of British diplomats became pronounced, been used with skill to permit, if not to state, the interpretation they placed upon it, and the result had been the cessation of that inadequate neutrality of which America complained.


[Footnote 966: In other respects, also, this question of belligerent ship-building and equipping in neutral ports was, in practice, vaguely defined. As late as 1843 in the then existing Texan war of independence against Mexico, the British Foreign Secretary, Aberdeen, had been all at sea. Mexico made a contract for two ships of war with the English firm of Lizardi &Company. The crews were to be recruited in England, the ships were to be commanded by British naval officers on leave, and the guns were to be purchased from firms customarily supplying the British Navy. Aberdeen advised the Admiralty to give the necessary authority to purchase guns. When Texas protested he at first seemed to think strict neutrality was secured if the same privileges were offered that country. Later he prohibited naval officers to go in command. One Mexican vessel, the Guadaloupe, left England with full equipment as originally planned; the other, the Montezuma, was forced to strip her equipment. But both vessels sailed under British naval officers for these were permitted to resign their commissions. They were later reinstated. In all this there was in part a temporary British policy to aid Mexico, but it is also clear that British governmental opinion was much in confusion as to neutral duty in the case of such ships. See my book, British Interests and Activities in Texas, Ch. IV.]

[Footnote 967: Bullock, Secret Service under the Confederacy.]

[Footnote 968: Bernard, Neutrality of Great Britain during the American Civil War, p. 338-9.]

[Footnote 969: Parliamentary Papers, 1863, Commons, LXXII. "Correspondence respecting the 'Alabama.'" Also ibid., "Correspondence between Commissioner of Customs and Custom House Authorities at Liverpool relating to the 'Alabama.'" The last-minute delay was due to the illness of a Crown adviser.]

[Footnote 970: State Department, Eng., Vol. 81, No. 264. Adams to Seward, Nov. 21, 1862.]

[Footnote 971: Selborne, in his Memorials: Family and Personal, II, p. 430, declared that in frequent official communication with all members of the Cabinet at the time, "I never heard a word fall from any one of them expressive of anything but regret that the orders for the detention of the Alabama were sent too late." Of quite different opinion is Brooks Adams, in his "The Seizure of the Laird Rams" (Proceedings, Mass. Hist. Soc., Vol. XLV, pp. 243-333). In 1865 his father, the American Minister, made a diary entry that he had been shown what purported to be a copy of a note from one V. Buckley to Caleb Huse, Southern agent in England, warning him of danger to his "protege." "This Victor Buckley is a young clerk in the Foreign Office." (Ibid., p. 260, note.)]

[Footnote 972: Fox, Confidential Correspondence, I, p. 165. Fox to Dupont, Nov. 7, 1862.]

[Footnote 973: It is interesting that the opinion of many Continental writers on international law was immediately expressed in favour of the American and against the British contention. This was especially true of German opinion. (Lutz, Notes.)]

[Footnote 974: Lyons Papers. To Lyons, Dec. 20, 1862.]

[Footnote 975: I am aware that Seward's use of the "Privateering Bill," now to be recounted is largely a new interpretation of the play of diplomacy in regard to the question of Southern ship-building in England. Its significance became evident only when British correspondence was available; but that correspondence and a careful comparison of dates permits, and, as I think, requires a revised statement of the incident of the Laird Rams.]

[Footnote 976: Bullock dreamed also of ascending rivers and laying Northern cities under contribution. According to a statement made in 1898 by Captain Page, assigned to command the rams, no instructions as to their use had been given him by the Confederate Government, but his plans were solely to break the blockade with no thought of attacking Northern cities. (Rhodes, IV. 385, note.)]

[Footnote 977: U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence, 1862, p. 134.]

[Footnote 978: Wallbridge, Addresses and Resolutions. Pamphlet. New York, n.d. He began his agitation in 1856, and now received much popular applause. His pamphlet quotes in support many newspapers from June, 1862, to September, 1863. Wallbridge apparently thought himself better qualified than Welles to be Secretary of the Navy. Welles regarded his agitation as instigated by Seward to get Welles out of the Cabinet. Welles professes that the "Privateering Bill" slipped through Congress unknown to him and "surreptitiously" (Diary, I, 245-50), a statement difficult to accept in view of the Senate debates upon it.]

[Footnote 979: Cong. Globe, 37th Congress, 2nd Session, Pt. IV, pp. 3271, 3325 and 3336.]

[Footnote 980: Ibid., 3rd Session, Pt. I, pp. 220, 393, and Part II, pp. 960, 1028, 1489.]

[Footnote 981: Brooks Adams, "The Seizure of the Laird Rams." (Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings, Vol. XLV, pp. 265-6.)]

[Footnote 982: U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence, 1863, Pt. I, p. 116, Feb. 19, 1863.]

[Footnote 983: F.O., Am., Vol. 878, No. 180. Lyons to Russell.]

[Footnote 984: Ibid., Vol. 879, No. 227. Lyons to Russell, March 10, 1863.]

[Footnote 985: Ibid., No. 235. Lyons to Russell, March 13, 1863. Privately Lyons also emphasized American anger. (Russell Papers. To Russell, March 24, 1863.)]

[Footnote 986: U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence, 1863, Pt. I, p. 141. Seward to Adams, March 9, 1863.]

[Footnote 987: F.O., Am., Vol. 869, No. 147. Russell to Lyons, March 24, 1863.]

[Footnote 988: Ibid., Vol. 869, No. 155. Russell to Lyons, March 27, 1863.]

[Footnote 989: Welles, Diary, I, pp. 245-50.]

[Footnote 990: Bigelow, Retrospections, I, 634, Slidell to Benjamin, March 4, 1863.]

[Footnote 991: For example of American contemporary belief and later "historical tradition," see Balch, The Alabama Arbitration, pp. 24-38. Also for a curious story that a large part of the price paid for Alaska was in reality a repayment of expenses incurred by Russia in sending her fleet to America, see Letters of Franklin K. Lane, p. 260. The facts as stated above are given by F.A. Golder, The Russian Fleet and the Civil War (Am. Hist. Rev., July, 1915, pp. 801 seq.). The plan was to have the fleet attack enemy commerce. The idea of aid to the North was "born on American soil," and Russian officers naturally did nothing to contradict its spread. In one case, however, a Russian commander was ready to help the North. Rear-Admiral Papov with six vessels in the harbour of San Francisco was appealed to by excited citizens on rumours of the approach of the Alabama and gave orders to protect the city. He acted without instructions and was later reproved for the order by his superiors at home.]

[Footnote 992: The Liberator, March 6, 1863.]

[Footnote 993: American opinion knew little of this change. An interesting, if somewhat irrational and irregular plan to thwart Southern ship-building operations, had been taken up by the United States Navy Department. This was to buy the Rams outright by the offer of such a price as, it was thought, would be so tempting to the Lairds as to make refusal unlikely. Two men, Forbes and Aspinwall, were sent to England with funds and much embarrassed Adams to whom they discreetly refrained from stating details, but yet permitted him to guess their object. The plan of buying ran wholly counter to Adams' diplomatic protests on England's duty in international law and the agents themselves soon saw the folly of it. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, wrote to Dupont, March 26, 1863: "The Confederate ironclads in England, I think, will be taken care of." (Correspondence, I, 196.) Thurlow Weed wrote to Bigelow, April 16, of the purpose of the visit of Forbes and Aspinwall. (Bigelow, Retrospections, I, 632.) Forbes reported as early as April 18 virtually against going on with the plan. "We must keep cool here, and prepare the way; we have put new fire into Mr. Dudley by furnishing fuel, and he is hard at it getting evidence.... My opinion to-day is that we can and shall stop by legal process and by the British Government the sailing of ironclads and other war-ships." (Forbes MS. To Fox.) That this was wholly a Navy Department plan and was disliked by State Department representatives is shown by Dudley's complaints (Forbes MS.). The whole incident has been adequately discussed by C.F. Adams, though without reference to the preceding citations, in his Studies Military and Diplomatic, Ch. IX. "An Historical Residuum," in effect a refutation of an article by Chittenden written in 1890, in which bad memory and misunderstanding played sad havoc with historical truth.]

[Footnote 994: U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence, 1863, Pt. I, p. 157. To Seward, March 24, 1863.]

[Footnote 995: Ibid., p. 160. To Seward, March 27, 1863.]

[Footnote 996: State Department, Eng., Vol. 82, No. 356. Adams to Seward, March 27, 1863.]

[Footnote 997: Palmerston MS. Russell to Palmerston, March 27, 1863.]

[Footnote 998: Rhodes, IV, p. 369, notes, April 4, 1863. Bright was made very anxious as to Government intentions by this debate.]

[Footnote 999: This topic will be treated at length in Chapter XVIII. It is here cited merely in relation to its effect on the Government at the moment.]

[Footnote 1000: Trevelyan, John Bright, 307-8.]

[Footnote 1001: Hansard, 3rd Series, CLXX, 33-71, for entire debate.]

[Footnote 1002: U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence, 1863, Pt. I, p. 164. Adams to Seward, March 28, 1863.]

[Footnote 1003: Rhodes, IV, 369-72.]

[Footnote 1004: Palmerston MS.]

[Footnote 1005: Bernard, p. 353. The case was heard in June, and the seizure held unwarranted. Appealed by the Government this decision was upheld by the Court of Exchequer in November. It was again appealed, and the Government defeated in the House of Lords in April, 1864.]

[Footnote 1006: Manchester Examiner and Times, April 7, 1863. Goldwin Smith was one of the principal speakers. Letters were read from Bright, Forster, R.A. Taylor, and others.]

[Footnote 1007: F.O., Am., Vol. 869, No. 183.]

[Footnote 1008: "Historicus," in articles in the Times, was at this very moment, from December, 1862, on, discussing international law problems, and in one such article specifically defended the belligerent right to conduct a cruising squadron blockade. See Historicus on International Law, pp. 99-118. He stated the established principle to be that search and seizure could be used "not only" for "vessels actually intercepted in the attempt to enter the blockaded port, but those also which shall be elsewhere met with and shall be found to have been destined to such port, with knowledge of the fact and notice of the blockade." (Ibid., p. 108.)]

[Footnote 1009: F.O., Am., Vol. 869, No. 158. Russell to Lyons, March 28, 1863.]

[Footnote 1010: F.O., Am., Vol. 881, No. 309. To Russell.]

[Footnote 1011: Ibid., No. 310. To Russell, April 13, 1863.]

[Footnote 1012: Russell Papers. To Russell, April 13, 1863.]

[Footnote 1013: F.O., Am., Vol. 882, No. 324. Copy enclosed in Lyons to Russell, April 17, 1863.]

[Footnote 1014: Russell Papers. To Russell.]

[Footnote 1015: F.O., Am., Vol. 882, No. 341. Lyons to Russell, April 24, 1863.]

[Footnote 1016: Lyons Papers, April 27, 1863. Lyons wrote: "The stories in the newspapers about an ultimatum having been sent to England are untrue. But it is true that it had been determined (or very nearly determined) to issue letters of marque, if the answers to the despatches sent were not satisfactory. It is very easy to see that if U.S. privateers were allowed to capture British merchant vessels on charges of breach of blockade or carrying contraband of war, the vexations would have soon become intolerable to our commerce, and a quarrel must have ensued."]

[Footnote 1017: Parliamentary Papers, 1863, Commons, LXXII. "Memorial from Shipowners of Liverpool on Foreign Enlistment Act."]

[Footnote 1018: Ibid.]

[Footnote 1019: U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence, 1863, Pt. I, pp. 308-10.]

[Footnote 1020: The despatch taken in its entirety save for a few vigorous sentences quite typical of Seward's phrase-making, is not at all warlike. Bancroft, II, 385 seq., makes Seward increasingly anxious from March to September, and concludes with a truly warlike despatch to Adams, September 5. This last was the result of Adams' misgivings reported in mid-August, and it is not until these were received (in my interpretation) that Seward really began to fear the "pledge" made in April would not be carried out. Adams himself, in 1864, read to Russell a communication from Seward denying that his July 11 despatch was intended as a threat or as in any sense unfriendly to Great Britain. (F.O., Am., Vol. 939, No. 159. Russell to Lyons, April 3, 1864.)]

[Footnote 1021: Parliamentary Papers, 1864, Commons, LXII. "Correspondence respecting iron-clad vessels building at Birkenhead."]

[Footnote 1022: See next chapter.]

[Footnote 1023: State Department, Eng., Vol. 83, No. 452, and No. 453 with enclosure. Adams to Seward, July 16, 1863.]

[Footnote 1024: Rhodes, IV, 381.]

[Footnote 1025: Many of these details were unknown at the time so that on the face of the documents then available, and for long afterwards, there appeared ground for believing that Adams' final protests of September 3 and 5 had forced Russell to yield. Dudley, as late as 1893, thought that "at the crisis" in September, Palmerston, in the absence of Russell, had given the orders to stop the rams. (In Penn. Magazine of History, Vol. 17, pp. 34-54. "Diplomatic Relations with England during the Late War.")]

[Footnote 1026: Rhodes, IV, p. 382.]

[Footnote 1027: The Times, Sept. 7, 1863.]

[Footnote 1028: Ibid., Editorial, Sept. 16, 1863. The Governmental correspondence with Lairds was demanded by a motion in Parliament, Feb. 23, 1864, but the Government was supported in refusing it. A printed copy of this correspondence, issued privately, was placed in Adams' hands by persons unnamed and sent to Seward on March 29, 1864. Seward thereupon had this printed in the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1864-5, Pt. I, No. 633.]

[Footnote 1029: State Department, Eng., Vol. 84, No. 492. Adams to Seward, Sept. 8, 1863.]

[Footnote 1030: U.S. Diplomatic Correspondence, 1863, Pt. I, p. 370. To Seward, Sept. 10, 1863. Adams, looking at the whole matter of the Rams and the alleged "threat of war" of Sept. 5, from the point of view of his own anxiety at the time, was naturally inclined to magnify the effects of his own efforts and to regard the crisis as occurring in September. His notes to Russell and his diary records were early the main basis of historical treatment. Rhodes, IV, 381-84, has disproved the accusation of Russell's yielding to a threat. Brooks Adams (Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings, Vol. XLV, p. 293, seq. ) ignores Rhodes, harks back to the old argument and amplifies it with much new and interesting citation, but not to conviction. My interpretation is that the real crisis of Governmental decision to act came in April, and that events in September were but final applications of that decision.]

[Footnote 1031: Russell Papers. Monck to Stuart, Sept. 26, 1863. Copy in Stuart to Russell, Oct. 6, 1863.]

[Footnote 1032: Ibid., Lyons to Russell, Oct. 16, 1863.]

[Footnote 1033: Hammond wrote to Lyons, Oct. 17: "You will learn by the papers that we have at last seized the Iron Clads. Whether we shall be able to bring home to them legally that they were Confederate property is another matter. I think we can, but at all events no moral doubt can be entertained of the fact, and, therefore, we are under no anxiety whether as to the public or Parliamentary view of our proceeding. They would have played the devil with the American ships, for they are most formidable ships. I suppose the Yankees will sleep more comfortably in consequence." (Lyons Papers.) The Foreign Office thought that it had thwarted plans to seize violently the vessels and get them to sea. (F.O., Am., Vol. 930. Inglefield to Grey, Oct. 25, and Romaine to Hammond, Oct. 26, 1863.).]

[Footnote 1034: F.O., Am., Vol. 929. Marked "September, 1863." The draft summarized the activities of Confederate ship-building and threatened Southern agents in England with "the penalities of the law...."]

[Footnote 1035: F.O., Am., Vol. 932, No. 1. F.O. to Consul-General Crawford, Dec. 16, 1863. The South, on October 7, 1863, had already "expelled" the British consuls. Crawford was to protest against this also. (Ibid., No. 4.)]

[Footnote 1036: Bonham. British Consuls in the South, p. 254. (Columbia Univ. Studies, Vol. 43.)]

[Footnote 1037: Lyons Papers. Russell to Lyons, Dec. 5, 1863. Bullock, Secret Service, declares the British Government to have been neutral but with strong leaning toward the North.]

[Footnote 1038: Hansard, 3rd Ser., CLXXIII, pp. 430-41, 544-50, 955-1021. The Tory point of view is argued at length by Brooks Adams, The Seizure of the Laird Rams, pp. 312-324.]

[Footnote 1039: Hansard, 3rd. Ser., CLXXIV, pp. 1862-1913. The Index, naturally vicious in comment on the question of the Rams, summed up its approval of Derby's contentions: "Europe and America alike will inevitably believe that it was the threat of Mr. Adams, and nothing else, which induced the Foreign Secretary to retract his letter of the 1st September, and they will draw the necessary conclusion that the way to extort concessions from England is by bluster and menace." (Feb. 18, 1864, p. 106.)]

[Footnote 1040: Lairds brought suit for damages, but the case never reached a decision, for the vessels were purchased by the Government. This has been regarded as acknowledgment by the Government that it had no case. In my view the failure to push the case to a conclusion was due to the desire not to commit Great Britain on legal questions, in view of the claim for damages certain to be set up by the United States on account of the depredations of the Alabama.]