British Intervention

MikeyB

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2018
Messages
263
#1
I would imagine that aside from Britain not wanting to fight on behalf of slavery, there must have been other political and economics considerations to not intervening that had weight such as:
1) Threat to Canada
2) Impact on trade with USA
3) War weary? Continent always engaged in warfare, most recently in the Crimea. Will the people really tolerate another war?
4) Have no idea what government finances were in this era, but this must always be a consideration?
5) Isn't my big rival France, and contemporary global power is largely a balance between us and them? So do I want to waste resources and blood on something that doesn't involve that balance (I'm guessing on this one, I have no idea if its true)?

So my question is: Had the CSA abolished the institution of slavery from the outset and removed the main historical objection (as Tom Berenger said, "We should have freed the slaves, THEN fired on Fort Sumter"), were there enough other objections that still would have kept the British out of the war? Perhaps more cynically asked, was the justification of moral high ground of slavery providing cover for other more practical (and less noble) reasons?
 

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ebg12

Corporal
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Feb 28, 2019
Messages
444
#2
The History of Slavery cannot be separated from the History of "King Cotton" in the South. They even wrote songs about it.
The first line of Dixie is "Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton...." CSA Vice-President Alexander Stephens
Cornerstone Speech makes it very clear that slavery was what the Southern Cause was about.

This may not address your points specifically, but here is some more input in the discussion:

Queen Victoria of England absolutely adored and loved her husband Prince Albert of German Monarch.

She was devastated when he died in Dec. 1861, and went into deep mourning and seclusion. She wore black
the rest of her life until her death in 1901.

Prince Albert is the only husband of an English Queen to hold the title of
"Prince Consort" which was awarded to him by Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria depended on her husband for guidance and support.

Prince Albert used his position of influence as a major spokesman for the abolishment of slavery worldwide.

In the great anti-slavery meeting in London of 1840 he said
"...deeply regret that the benevolent and persevering exertions of England to abolish the atrocious traffic
in human beings have not led to a satisfactory conclusion. I sincerely trust that this great county,
will not relax in its efforts until it has finally and forever put an end to that state of things so
repugnant to the principles of Christianity and to the best feelings of our nature….”

At the begining of the civil war the English Press and Parlimant supported CSA because of cotton
(can't separate the Southern Cause from "King Cotton"). However, because Prince Albert had influence over the Queen,
the royal household was against the idea.

It was King Albert in the Trent affair that avoided war between the Northern United States Union and Britain.
He advised the Prime Minister that Britain was not equipped for war after being weakened by the Crimean
war with Russia that had just ended in 1856.

Queen Victoria wrote a letter to her Uncle Leopald of Belgian (who orchestrated the marriage between
Qeen Victoria and Prince Albert) after her husband's death stating she would always honor her late husband's
wishes.
 
Last edited:

MikeyB

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2018
Messages
263
#3
The History of Slavery cannot be separated from the History of "King Cotton" in the South. They even wrote songs about it.
The first line of Dixie is "Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton...." CSA Vice-President Alexander Stephens
Cornerstone Speech makes it very clear that slavery was what the Southern Cause was about.

This may not address your points specifically, but here is some more input in the discussion:

Queen Victoria of England absolutely adored and loved her husband Prince Albert of German Monarch.

She was devastated when he died in Dec. 1861, and went into deep mourning and seclusion. She wore black
the rest of her life until her death in 1901.

Prince Albert is the only husband of an English Queen to hold the title of
"Prince Consort" which was awarded to him by Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria depended on her husband for guidance and support.

Prince Albert used his position of influence as a major spokesman for abolishment of slavery worldwide.

In the great anti-slavery meeting in London of 1840 he said
"...deeply regret that the benevolent and persevering exertions of England to abolish the atrocious traffic
in human beings have not led to a satisfactory conclusion. I sincerely trust that this great county,
will not relax in its efforts until it has finally and forever put an end to that state of things so
repugnant to the principles of Christianity and to the best feelings of our nature….”

At the begining of the civil war the English Press and Parlimant supported CSA because of cotton
(can't separate the Southern Cause from "King Cotton"). However, because Prince Albert had influence over the Queen,
the royal household was against the idea.

It was King Albert in the Trent affair that avoided war between the Northern United States Union and Britian.
He advised the Prime Minister that Britain was not equipped for war after being weakened by the Crimean
war with Russia that had just ended in 1856.

Queen Victoria wrote a letter to her Uncle Leopald of Belgian (who orchestrated the marriage between
Qeen Victoria and Prince Albert) after her husband's death stating she would always honor her late husband's
wishes.
Very interesting context. I don't fully understand the historical relationship of Crown to Parliament. Today the Crown is symbolic, during the Revolution George III was able to exert a lot of his will. How powerful was the crown in the 1860s? Where the Queen leads, Parliament follows, at least as regards to foreign affairs?
 

ebg12

Corporal
Joined
Feb 28, 2019
Messages
444
#4
Very interesting context. I don't fully understand the historical relationship of Crown to Parliament. Today the Crown is symbolic, during the Revolution George III was able to exert a lot of his will. How powerful was the crown in the 1860s? Where the Queen leads, Parliament follows, at least as regards to foreign affairs?
Though Queen Victoria's political power was minimum....her influence was great in British Society. Her political influence over economic, social reform, and foreign affairs greatly changed the direction of British policy. Her influence over her Prime Ministers was known, and the British Empire of 1800s would not be as successful without her.
 

Saphroneth

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Messages
4,186
#5
It was King Albert in the Trent affair
Er?

It was King Albert in the Trent affair that avoided war between the Northern United States Union and Britain.
He advised the Prime Minister that Britain was not equipped for war after being weakened by the Crimean
war with Russia that had just ended in 1856.
If he did, that would be very silly, as the Crimean War was over five years ago at that time and British military strength had increased both during the Crimean War and since. But what actually happened in the Trent Affair was that the British moved ships, sent troops and supplies, issued conditional war warnings and presented the Union with a war ultimatum; the Union backed down. This is not Albert avoiding war, it's the British as a whole being ready for war but willing to let the Union explain the huge insult that was the Trent.

4) Have no idea what government finances were in this era, but this must always be a consideration?
Government finances in the 1860s were spectacularly healthy, and about this time the income tax was reduced (ultimately cut to less than half the previous value) because governmental income was too high.


Prince Albert used his position of influence as a major spokesman for the abolishment of slavery worldwide.
This is to miss the point - Britain was hugely anti-slavery as a whole. It was a question of morals, not economics.

Had the CSA abolished the institution of slavery from the outset and
Functionally impossible, the CSA seceded to keep Slavery. If they were willing to abolish it straight off they wouldn't have seceded.
 

ebg12

Corporal
Joined
Feb 28, 2019
Messages
444
#6
If he did, that would be very silly, as the Crimean War was over five years ago at that time and British military strength had increased both during the Crimean War and since. But what actually happened in the Trent Affair was that the British moved ships, sent troops and supplies, issued conditional war warnings and presented the Union with a war ultimatum; the Union backed down. This is not Albert avoiding war, it's the British as a whole being ready for war but willing to let the Union explain the huge insult that was the Trent.

"it's the British as a whole being ready for war but willing to let the Union explain the huge insult that was the Trent." Yes, that is exactly what Prince Albert convince the Prime Minister do to "Let the Union explain it as a Mistake." I say that's using your influence to avoid a war!
 

Saphroneth

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Messages
4,186
#7
"it's the British as a whole being ready for war but willing to let the Union explain the huge insult that was the Trent." Yes, that is exactly what Prince Albert convince the Prime Minister do to "Let the Union explain it as a Mistake." I say that's using your influence to avoid a war!
But there was already going to be an ultimatum rather than a straight off declaration of war, and Palmerston was also separately involved in moderating the language. Remove Albert from the image and you might get a harsher ultimatum, but you wouldn't get a straight-off DoW; conversely have Albert live longer but a rejected ultimatum and you still get war.
 

wbull1

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 26, 2018
Messages
908
#8
I believe the US would have accepted a harsher ultimatum. We were wrong. The Captain of the US vessel exceeded his orders. Yes, there were hotheads who celebrated, including Seward, but even he eventually saw the error of his way.
 

Saphroneth

1st Lieutenant
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Messages
4,186
#9
I believe the US would have accepted a harsher ultimatum. We were wrong. The Captain of the US vessel exceeded his orders. Yes, there were hotheads who celebrated, including Seward, but even he eventually saw the error of his way.
It's quite likely - though certainly there were some really spectacular quotes in the news even after the ultimatum was aceded to, and reportedly it took three days to argue Lincoln around to accepting it.

News quotes:



‘Mr Vallandigham [Ohio, Democrat] introduced the following resolution… “That it is the duty of the President to now firmly maintain the stand thus taken, approving and adopting the act of Captain Wilkes, in spite of any menace or demand of the British government”… The time has now come for the firmness of this House to be practically tested, and I hope there will be no shrinking… We have heard the first growl of the British lion, and now let us see who will cower’ (16 December, 1861)

Samuel S. Cox (Ohio, Democrat): ‘we have never, in the history of diplomacy, had a clearer case of indisputable right on the high seas… The other day, at the beginning of this session, the gentleman from Illinois [Mr Lovejoy] introduced his resolution approving the conduct of Captain Wilkes. I voted for that resolution… This matter came again before the House yesterday, and lo! In the face of the morning news which echoed with the roar of the English lion, there seemed to be a different spirit on the other side of the House!’ (17 December 1861)

John P. Hale (New Hampshire, Republican): ‘I believe the Cabinet… have had under consideration… the surrender, on the demand of Great Britain, of the persons of Messrs. Slidell and Mason. To my mind, a more fatal act could not mark the history of this country- an act that would surrender at once to the arbitrary demand of Great Britain all that was won in the Revolution, reduce us to the position of a second-rate Power, and make us the vassal of Great Britain… not a man can be found who is in favour of this surrender; for it would humiliate us in the eyes of the world, irritate our own people, and subject us to their indignant scorn… We have heard, Mr President, some fears expressed that Louis Napoleon is taking sides with England… I believe that if Louis Napoleon harbours one single sentiment… it is to have a fair field to retrieve the disastrous issue of Waterloo. And besides, sir, all over this country, throughout Canada, and in Ireland, there are hundreds of thousands and hundreds of thousands [sic] of true-hearted Irishmen who have long prayed for an opportunity to retaliate upon England. (26 December 1861)

Benjamin Thomas (Massachusetts, Unionist): ‘England has done to us a great wrong in availing herself of our moment weakness to make a demand which, accompanied as it was by “the pomp and circumstance of war,” was insolent in spirit and thoroughly unjust… She is treasuring up to herself wrath against the day of wrath… we shall be girding ourselves to strike the blow of righteous retribution.’ (7 January 1861 ED: 1862)

Owen Lovejoy (Illinois, Republican): ‘it is enough for us, in all conscience, to have been disgraced by the British nation, without now appropriating $35,000 to pay the expenses of those who have been instrumental in that dishonour, to let them go in state to the British court… inasmuch as we have submitted to be thus dishonoured by Great Britain, I think the least we can do is to acknowledge it, and to stay at home till the time comes that we can whip that nation. Then I will be willing to go and appear at their world’s exhibition… Every time this Trent affair comes up… I am made to renew the horrible grief which I suffered when the news of the surrender of Mason and Slidell came. I acknowledge it, I literally wept tears of vexation… I have never shared in the traditional hostility of many of my countrymen against England. But I now here publicly avow and record my inextinguishable hatred of that Government. I mean to cherish it while I live, and to bequeath it as a legacy to my children when I die… I trust in God that the time is not far distant when we shall have suppressed this rebellion, and be prepared to avenge and wipe out this insult that we have received. We will then stir up Ireland; we will appeal to the Chartists of England; we will go to the old French habitans of Canada; we will join hands with France and Russia to take away the eastern possessions of that proud empire, and will darken every jewel that glitters in her diadem.’ (14 January 1862)


My thanks to Cerebropetrologist for finding these.
 

Carronade

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Joined
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Location
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#10
This post seems to hypothesize that the natural and normal thing is for Britain to be involved in an American civil war, and that it would take some tremendous moral outrage like slavery to keep her out.

The real question is, why should Britain get involved? Why should she even consider such a thing? There would have to be some motivation before practical questions like the threat to Canada or trade become relevant.

The outrage over the Trent had nothing to do with the cause for which the South seceded; the insult to the British flag and nation would have been the same regardless - as would the resolution.
 

ebg12

Corporal
Joined
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Messages
444
#11
This post seems to hypothesize that the natural and normal thing is for Britain to be involved in an American civil war, and that it would take some tremendous moral outrage like slavery to keep her out.

The real question is, why should Britain get involved? Why should she even consider such a thing? There would have to be some motivation before practical questions like the threat to Canada or trade become relevant.

The outrage over the Trent had nothing to do with the cause for which the South seceded; the insult to the British flag and nation would have been the same regardless - as would the resolution.
I agree...One thing about the British empire...they know when it is time to get in, and they know when it is time to leave!
 

rebelatsea

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#12
Though Queen Victoria's political power was minimum....her influence was great in British Society. Her political influence over economic, social reform, and foreign affairs greatly changed the direction of British policy. Her influence over her Prime Ministers was known, and the British Empire of 1800s would not be as successful without her.
Queen Victoria came to throne unexpectedly and somewhat reluctantly, her early years were heavily influenced by Lord Melbourne whom she adored - until Prince Albert got a grip. In many ways he was a very modern man very keen and knowledgeable on technological matters and progress. Although a minor German prince he proved to have a firm grasp of international and domestic politics - if ever the right man was in the right place at the right time it was Albert.
The Monarch, then as now saw, all important state papers and is required to comment and advise upon them, from a position of neutrality. It was thus that Albert saw the missive from Palmerston that was tantamount to a declaration of war. It was his doing that altered the tone of the document actually sent.
It can only be matter of regret that Albert didn't live longer and that Victoria went into seclusion from the public, but keeping a wary eye on the Government is part an parcel of being a Monarch in our system. Albert taught her well and Victoria did her duty.
 

ebg12

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Messages
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#13
But there was already going to be an ultimatum rather than a straight off declaration of war, and Palmerston was also separately involved in moderating the language. Remove Albert from the image and you might get a harsher ultimatum, but you wouldn't get a straight-off DoW; conversely have Albert live longer but a rejected ultimatum and you still get war.
In what way was "Palmerston" separate from the royal influence? Can't dismiss Albert as some guy just "vacationing in the palace!"
 

Saphroneth

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#14
It was thus that Albert saw the missive from Palmerston that was tantamount to a declaration of war. It was his doing that altered the tone of the document actually sent.
I'm fairly sure it wouldn't be, as far as I know Palmerston also moderated the tone of the dispatch.
 

Saphroneth

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#15
In what way was "Palmerston" separate from the royal influence? Can't dismiss Albert as some guy just "vacationing in the palace!"
Two rounds of the missive being moderated. Initial draft (by Russell) is moderated twice, once by Palmerston's influence and once by Albert's (there were two spirited discussions of the draft in Cabinet, 30 November and 4 December)
 

rebelatsea

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#16
I agree...One thing about the British empire...they know when it is time to get in, and they know when it is time to leave!
Well, more or less I suppose
I'm fairly sure it wouldn't be, as far as I know Palmerston also moderated the tone of the dispatch.
He was called to see the Queen - the despatch was sent only after she approved it .
 

Saphroneth

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#19
The wealthy might have wanted to intervene, but the people didn't.
The wealthy didn't really want to intervene either, as I understand it. There were a few who were pro-intervention but the leadership wasn't.

This can be explained simply, which is to make a list of all the times in the 19th century the British intervened in a war of independence (which is what the ACW functionally was).
Even in the case of the Taiping Rebellion, the British war with Qing China that took place concurrently was conducted as a separate affair.
 



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