Great Britain and the American Civil War eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 680 pages of information about Great Britain and the American Civil War.

Indeed, the cause of Seward’s explanation to Lyons was the receipt of a despatch from Adams, dated June 28, in which the latter had reported that all was now smooth sailing.  He had told Russell that the knowledge in Washington of the result of their previous interviews had brought satisfaction, and Russell, for his part, said that Lyons had “learned, through another member of the diplomatic corps, that no further expression of opinion on the subject in question would be necessary[232].”  This referred, presumably, to the question of British intention, for the future, in relation to the Proclamation of Neutrality.  Adams wrote:  “This led to the most frank and pleasant conversation which I have yet had with his lordship....  I added that I believed the popular feeling in the United States would subside the moment that all the later action on this side was known....  My own reception has been all that I could desire.  I attach value to this, however, only as it indicates the establishment of a policy that will keep us at peace during the continuance of the present convulsion.”  In reply to Adams’ despatch, Seward wrote on July 21, the day after his interview with Lyons, arguing at great length the American view that the British Proclamation of Neutrality in a domestic quarrel was not defensible in international law.  There was not now, nor later, any yielding on this point.  But, for the present, this was intended for Adams’ eye alone, and Seward prefaced his argument by a disclaimer, much as stated to Lyons, of any ill-will to Great Britain: 

“I may add, also, for myself, that however otherwise I may at any time have been understood, it has been an earnest and profound solicitude to avert from foreign war; that alone has prompted the emphatic and sometimes, perhaps, impassioned remonstrances I have hitherto made against any form or measure of recognition of the insurgents by the government of Great Britain.  I write in the same spirit now; and I invoke on the part of the British government, as I propose to exercise on my own, the calmness which all counsellors ought to practise in debates which involve the peace and happiness of mankind[233].”

Diplomatic correspondence couched in the form of platform oratory leads to the suspicion that the writer is thinking, primarily, of the ultimate publication of his despatches.  Thus Seward seems to have been laying the ground for a denial that he had ever developed a foolish foreign war policy.  History pins him to that folly.  But in another respect the interview with Lyons on July 20 and the letter to Adams of the day following overthrow for both Seward and for the United States the accusations sometimes made that it was the Northern disaster at Bull Run, July 21, in the first pitched battle with the South, which made more temperate the Northern tone toward foreign powers[234].  It is true that the despatch to Adams was not actually sent until July 26, but internal evidence shows it

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