There was now one element in the situation, however, that hampered these Southern champions. The North was at last fully identified with the cause of emancipation; the South with the perpetuation of slavery. By 1864, it was felt to be impossible to remain silent on this subject and even in the original constitution and address of the Southern Independence Association a clause was adopted expressing a hope for the gradual extinction of slavery. This brought Mason some heartburnings and he wrote to Spence in protest, the latter’s reply being that he also agreed that the South ought not to be offered gratuitous advice on what was purely “an internal question,” but that the topic was full of difficulties and the clause would have to stand, at least in some modified form. At Southern public meetings, also, there arose a tendency to insert in resolutions similar expressions. “In Manchester,” Spence wrote, “Mr. Lees, J.P., and the strongest man on the board, brought forward a motion for an address on this subject. I went up to Manchester purposely to quash it and I did so effectually.”
Northern friends were quick to strike at this weakness in Southern armour; they repeatedly used a phrase, “The Foul Blot,” and by mere iteration gave such currency to it that even in Southern meetings it was repeated. The Index, as early as February, 1864, felt compelled to meet the phrase and in an editorial, headed “The Foul Blot,” argued the error of Southern friends. As long as they could use the word “blot” in characterization of Southern slavery, The Index felt that there could be no effective British push for Southern independence and it asserted that slavery, in the sense in which England understood it, did not exist in the Confederacy.