Great Britain and the American Civil War eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 825 pages of information about Great Britain and the American Civil War.
offer of resignation, refused both and in the result read to Chase that lesson of Presidential control which Seward had learned in May, 1861.  Lyons wrote of this controversy “I shall be sorry if it ends in the removal of Mr. Seward.  We are much more likely to have a man less disposed to keep the peace than a man more disposed to do so.  I should hardly have said this two years ago[842].”  After the event of Seward’s retention of office Russell wrote:  “I see Seward stays in.  I am very glad of it[843].”  This is a remarkable reversal of former opinion.  A better understanding of Seward had come, somewhat slowly, to British diplomats, but since his action in the Trent affair former suspicion had steadily waned; his “high tone” being regarded as for home consumption, until now there was both belief in Seward’s basic friendliness and respect for his abilities.

Thus Russell’s ambitious mediation projects having finally dwindled to a polite refusal of the French offer to join in a mere suggestion of armistice left no open sores in the British relations with America.  The projects were unknown; the refusal seemed final to Seward and was indeed destined to prove so.  But of this there was no clear conception in the British Cabinet.  Hardly anyone yet believed that reconquest of the South was even a remote possibility and this foretold that the day must some time come when European recognition would have to be given the Confederacy.  It is this unanimity of opinion on the ultimate result of the war in America that should always be kept in mind in judging the attitude of British Government and people in the fall of 1862.  Their sympathies were of minor concern at the moment, nor were they much in evidence during the Cabinet crisis.  All argument was based upon the expediency and wisdom of the present proposal.  Could European nations now act in such a way as to bring to an early end a war whose result in separation was inevitable?  It was the hope that such action promised good results which led Russell to enter upon his policy even though personally his sympathies were unquestionably with the North.  It was, in the end, the conviction that now was not a favourable time which determined Palmerston, though sympathetic with the South, to withdraw his support when Russell, through pique, insisted on going on.  Moreover both statesmen were determined not to become involved in the war and as the possible consequences of even the “most friendly” offers were brought out in discussion it became clear that Great Britain’s true policy was to await a return of sanity in the contestants[844].

Project Gutenberg
Great Britain and the American Civil War from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook