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Abraham Lincoln, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume I.
gave surprise and some offense to the North.  It was a recognition of belligerency; that is to say, while not in any other respect recognizing the revolting States as an independent power, it accorded to them the rights of a belligerent.  The magnitude very quickly reached by the struggle would have made this step necessary and proper, so that, if England had only gone a trifle more slowly, she would soon have reached the same point without exciting any anger; but now the North felt that the queen’s government had been altogether too forward in assuming this position at a time when the question of a real war was still in embryo.  Moreover, the unfriendliness was aggravated by the fact that the proclamation was issued almost at the very hour of the arrival in London of Mr. Charles Francis Adams, the new minister sent by Mr. Lincoln to the court of St. James.  It seemed, therefore, not open to reasonable doubt that Earl Russell had purposely hastened to take his position before he could hear from the Lincoln administration.

When Mr. Seward got news of this, his temper gave way; so that, being still new to diplomacy, he wrote a dispatch to Mr. Adams wherein occurred words and phrases not so carefully selected as they should have been.  He carried it to Mr. Lincoln, and soon received it back revised and corrected, instructively. A priori, one would have anticipated the converse of this.

The essential points of the paper were:—­

That Mr. Adams would “desist from all intercourse whatever, unofficial as well as official, with the British government, so long as it shall continue intercourse of either kind with the domestic enemies of this country.”

That the United States had a “right to expect a more independent if not a more friendly course” than was indicated by the understanding between England and France; but that Mr. Adams would “take no notice of that or any other alliance.”

He was to pass by the question as to whether the blockade must be respected in case it should not be maintained by a competent force, and was to state that the “blockade is now, and will continue to be, so maintained, and therefore we expect it to be respected.”

As to recognition of the Confederacy, either by publishing an acknowledgment of its sovereignty, or officially receiving its representatives, he was to inform the earl that “no one of these proceedings will pass unquestioned.”  Also, he might suggest that “a concession of belligerent rights is liable to be construed as a recognition” of the Confederate States.  Recognition, he was to say, could be based only on the assumption that these States were a self-sustaining power.  But now, after long forbearance, the United States having set their forces in motion to suppress the insurrection, “the true character of the pretended new state is at once revealed.  It is seen to be a power existing in pronunciamento only.  It has never won a field.  It has obtained no forts that were

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