British whatif

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wbull1

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"One war at a time." A. Lincoln. Wonderful fantasy, but Lincoln, admitted the US error in the Trent Affair, restrained US forces from chasing Confederates into Canada, and adopted a blockade in accordance with international law. He was very well aware of international opinion and took it into account. Within the bounds of the "if," why would the British support the Confederacy? The friend of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. The British government would, in my humble opinion, be very cautious about supporting a nation founded on the freedom to enslave. Lincoln had the option of a very public cashiering of the US officer to appease the British, which, I believe, he did not need to use in actuality. He could have made a major apology mea culpa etc. The Union did not need foreign support. Neutrality served very well. A way to avoid war and save face would be the policy most beneficial to the Brits and they knew it.
 
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But none of that says anything about where it happened.
You've got to be kidding. You and I both know that the impressments in the western Atlantic and Caribbean at least equaled those in the blockade zone. The Royal Navy assumed that they were the seas' policemen and if the folks flying neutral flags didn't like it, tough. Just the way the US Navy operates today.
 

Pudnhead

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Yes, it was the Trent, and she was. She went to the Tagus along with Dacre's squadron to come over as support for Milne.


The Royal Navy was far, far too powerful for the USN to win. This is simply a matter of sheer military strength; the USN was much smaller, more spread out and less experienced.



Before that; he said he'd do it during a public event in 1860.



I don't think I understand the question.
They purchased tickets in Havana as private citizens.

To be clear, are you seriously asserting that Wilkes did nothing wrong by removing Mason and Slidell from the Trent?
Under the circumstances, it was within reason unless the U.S. and Britain had earlier signed a treaty maybe after the War of 1812 that specifically forbade that. Should there have been any reason why the British should not willingly assist us in the detention of possible criminals? Would that happen today? simply because an individual is not on our own territory does not prevent us from apprehending the individual. I believe the question here then would be are they diplomats? Or as has been said they purchased tickets as citizens and not diplomats. Is it possible that this would classify them as spies or agents of a country we were at war with? If not then, then today? today if someone went out more then 3 miles into the sea to gamble, would that prevent the U.S. Coast Guard from going on board if the ship were suspected of transporting drugs? The conclusion that the 2 men were returned to the ship tells something of their possible insignificance or something else we are not aware. The naval blockade around the southern states was supposed to have been quite effective as far as preventing export of cotton. I wonder how effective it was in the Chesapeake Bay area? There seems to have been a lot of traffic and smuggling going on between NYC and Richmond.
 
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WJC

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As enjoyable as is a discussion of the issues that led to the War of 1812, we ought to refocus on the topic, which asks, "What if, as a result of the Trent affair, UK decides to intervene. But what if their intervention is limited, not wanting to get into a messy ground war, they just commit the Royal Navy and effectively lift the Union blockade for the CSA."
 

Pudnhead

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Yes. The British would be very hesitant to side with the South. But the question I have is why would the British be at all interested in maintaining diplomatic relations with the South? It is as though we've been blinded by the notion that the South thought that Britain would come to their aid that we have over looked the oddity of believing such a thing> Is it possible that this "rumor" that the British would come to their aid was a consequence of Confederate propaganda told to southern people to get them to follow their leadership? If so, then what else was done or said by the southern leadership to inspire followers? That or was there some secret process of arrangements occurring that was of benefit to the British? It seems as though there has to be something in it for the British or there should not have been such an inflated response by their government, media, and military.
 

Pudnhead

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What if, as a result of the Trent affair, UK decides to intervene.
Yes. If the British were to have entered the Civil War on the side of the south I presume is what is being said, the context of the situation demands us to ask,"Why would they?" What in the world would they have benefited from doing so? The mere fact that we have often thought of that possibility leads me to believe that at the very least we believe even subconsciously that such a thing might have happened. To me this highly significant and suggests that without a very obvious benefit for the British being suggested, then we probably all sense that there is something much more secret that occurred or was in the works. So if there was, was it of a nature that going to war would have helped it? Or might it have hindered it? Then again, what might it have been?
 
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Pudnhead

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So if cotton was the only reason the British would enter the war and attack the blockade in order to acquire exports thereof, was that enough cause? I thought that the export of southern cotton at that time mostly went to the New England states to their cotton mills and not to England. England's great rise to power was due to their importation of raw products like wool and turning out manufactured goods back to the countries from whom they had bought the raw products.
 

WJC

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My understanding is that there were unofficial, 'backchannel' discussions going on between the two parties. These never developed into serious, official exchanges.
However, there was a great deal of unofficial support given Southern interests by private firms. The government overlooked arms sales and, for a time, ship construction meant to supply the rebel cause. Then there was the lenient use of British ports in Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean by rebel ships.
By remaining officially neutral but friendly to both sides, Britain was ready to gain regardless of the winner.
 

Pudnhead

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My understanding is that there were unofficial, 'backchannel' discussions going on between the two parties. These never developed into serious, official exchanges.
However, there was a great deal of unofficial support given Southern interests by private firms. The government overlooked arms sales and, for a time, ship construction meant to supply the rebel cause. Then there was the lenient use of British ports in Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean by rebel ships.
By remaining officially neutral but friendly to both sides, Britain was ready to gain regardless of the winner.
From what I"ve been studying, it appears as though the U.S. blockade was quite effective. apparently tons and tons of cotton were being burned because they could not be shipped out; however, if the blockade was not so effective, then there could have been let us say other items smuggled out through the blockade. Such items more likely would not have been larger in volume. Were there arms being transported into the South from foreign ports? If so, how do we know this? Are there records available in foreign ports of such exchanges? Was such weaponry ever captured? I'm very curious about how much we know about what value of items passed into the South through the blockade as it existed. If it was say X amount, then was this enough for the South to stay maintained. We do know that when Lee was continually pushed back into Richmond, he was hurting for food. This was due to the destruction of crops in Sherman's march from Atlanta to Savannah; however, if we analyze the tactics used in pushing Lee back, we see something more at work. Lee was being pushed into a defensive position. Lee was better with his cavalry when not so bunched up. So we have to ask whether the food supply would have made enough difference. Perhaps had Lee's men been fed better they would not have been driven back. I don't know. With no blockade, the Union would also have to have cut off the supply lines from the ports. More men would have been required and probably more men died. But the absence of a blockade would have prolonged things.
 
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WJC

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Were there arms being transported into the South from foreign ports?
Thanks for your response.
Most certainly. British arms makers did a thriving business selling arms to agents of the rebel government. Pick a British made rifle or pistol and check out our threads or google collector gun sales sites and you'll find a wealth of information. A typical shipment would go to a British port, say Nassau, Bahamas, then be transferred to a blockade runner for delivery to a rebel port, like Wilmington, North Carolina.
The problem for the British manufacturers was that unless they accepted only hard currency, many were left with worthless promissory notes at war's end.
In our "What if?" scenario, one outcome of a rebel victory for Britain would have been fewer bankruptcies for arms manufacturers. in fact, some might have thrived not only on their rebel sales but also increased sales to British forces. Names now forgotten except here and at gun collector gatherings might have had long, successful lives.
 

Pudnhead

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Thanks for your response.
Most certainly. British arms makers did a thriving business selling arms to agents of the rebel government. Pick a British made rifle or pistol and check out our threads or google collector gun sales sites and you'll find a wealth of information. A typical shipment would go to a British port, say Nassau, Bahamas, then be transferred to a blockade runner for delivery to a rebel port, like Wilmington, North Carolina.
The problem for the British manufacturers was that unless they accepted only hard currency, many were left with worthless promissory notes at war's end.
In our "What if?" scenario, one outcome of a rebel victory for Britain would have been fewer bankruptcies for arms manufacturers.
So the Confederate States were using as payment their own paper money and not coinage or bullion. Was this typical of confederate payments? I mean it would seem quite difficult to be distributing coinage throughout the south to differing ports--considering all the coinage had been originally shipped to Richmond from all the banks in the south. This makes me wonder how much coinage was actually used in payment. Also, we might wonder if any coinage was smuggled out without even the British being aware of it.
 

Pudnhead

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Thanks for your response.
Most certainly. British arms makers did a thriving business selling arms to agents of the rebel government. Pick a British made rifle or pistol and check out our threads or google collector gun sales sites and you'll find a wealth of information. A typical shipment would go to a British port, say Nassau, Bahamas, then be transferred to a blockade runner for delivery to a rebel port, like Wilmington, North Carolina.
The problem for the British manufacturers was that unless they accepted only hard currency, many were left with worthless promissory notes at war's end.
In our "What if?" scenario, one outcome of a rebel victory for Britain would have been fewer bankruptcies for arms manufacturers. in fact, some might have thrived not only on their rebel sales but also increased sales to British forces. Names now forgotten except here and at gun collector gatherings might have had long, successful lives.
Also, did the British have a monopoly on the blockade running? What about the French? Spanish?
 
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steve59p

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So if cotton was the only reason the British would enter the war and attack the blockade in order to acquire exports thereof, was that enough cause? I thought that the export of southern cotton at that time mostly went to the New England states to their cotton mills and not to England. England's great rise to power was due to their importation of raw products like wool and turning out manufactured goods back to the countries from whom they had bought the raw products.
No the only reason the UK would enter the war would be if the union posed a threat to vital British interests as they did during the Trent Affair. Britain saw the north as a more important trading partner and strongly opposed slavery. Although there are some suggestions that Palmerston saw an independent south as a better way of removing slavery as it wouldn't be able to rely on the support of the north to maintain its slave trading activities. Remembering at that point there was no sign that the union would end slavery in the south let alone the loyal slave states.

Also quite possibly given the threats made by Seward and other hotheads its probably that a divided union would be a less unpleasant and safer neighbour than one in which the north successfully defeated the south.

You need to understand that Britain was never going to support the south, especially not with its link to slavery. The only likelihood of war with the union was if the latter did something to force it so looking at cotton and other aspects of the south is largely irrelevant.

No doubt there were plenty of British as well as other European businessmen who did business with the south simply because they could make a profit. At the time the UK had a very laissez faire attitude to government involvement in private business. However that is largely irrelevant. Similarly many Americans sought to trade with both sides during the Napoleonic and later conflicts and that didn't represent US government support of either side.
 

Ian Peavot

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Isn't one of the main points about whether Britain would've got involved in the war, was about who was most likely to win and therefore who was best suited to furnish its own commercial and political goals? If neither side was going to accede to any substantial political gain for Britain, she was never going to willingly intervene, in which case all Parliament had to do was to sit back and wait for the winner to see who they would end up trading with.
We know at that time Britain was doing it's best to expand it's empire and business interests on a global scale, any country that could give favourable trading terms would be considered an ally of sorts. After all Britain would want to protect and enhance its revenue streams and she would do anything to achieve that and wouldn't jeopordise the chance of new business.
So the upshot of all that is, only an incident(s) like the Trent affair going badly would've forced Britains sabre rattling into a shooting war.
 

Pudnhead

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Palmerston saw an independent south as a better way of removing slavery as it wouldn't be able to rely on the support of the north to maintain its slave trading activities.
Minor concern you probably overlooked. Virginia was not the north. I believe it was Virginia that was one state providing slaves for the growing market in the deep south. Also, many Virginians were in the process of freeing their servants legally. This was legal in Virginia though not legal in at least one deep south state--Georgia. Though Robert E Lee never owned a slave in his life, his wife's inherited servants descended from Martha Washington's servants were due to be released in 1862 according to her father's will. But much of Virginia was still engaged in sending slaves to the deep south. there is actually an article in a NYC newspaper quoting Robert E Lee that he didn't believe in providing servants to the deep south. Also, I believe the British knew we were not a nation to be dominated--as in our navy in the War of 1812 when Britain was then considered supreme on the sea though they couldn't defeat the Barbary Pirates.
 
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leftyhunter

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Yes, it was the Trent, and she was. She went to the Tagus along with Dacre's squadron to come over as support for Milne.


The Royal Navy was far, far too powerful for the USN to win. This is simply a matter of sheer military strength; the USN was much smaller, more spread out and less experienced.



Before that; he said he'd do it during a public event in 1860.



I don't think I understand the question.
Also @Pudnhead head; That's the irony of the whole Trent Affair. The Confederate diplomats when freed from the Union Navy and returned to the UK were really not that harmful to the Union cause. Mason and Slidell were sent to Western Europe to obtain diplomatic recognition for the Confederacy. At the end of the day no Western European or any other nations thought the Confederacy worthy of recognition. Diplomatic skill can not overcome the reality on the ground that the Confederacy was not likely to prevail.
Leftyhunter
 
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Pudnhead

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Isn't one of the main points about whether Britain would've got involved in the war, was about who was most likely to win and therefore who was best suited to furnish its own commercial and political goals? If neither side was going to accede to any substantial political gain for Britain, she was never going to willingly intervene, in which case all Parliament had to do was to sit back and wait for the winner to see who they would end up trading with.
We know at that time Britain was doing it's best to expand it's empire and business interests on a global scale, any country that could give favourable trading terms would be considered an ally of sorts. After all Britain would want to protect and enhance its revenue streams and she would do anything to achieve that and wouldn't jeopordise the chance of new business.
So the upshot of all that is, only an incident(s) like the Trent affair going badly would've forced Britains sabre rattling into a shooting war.
Yeah. I think it would have taken a whole lot more than the Trent Affair--the removal of non-British citizens from the ship--to motivate the British into a military conflict. It was simply not our American nature to do something so drastic such as sinking a British ship though our blockade might have intercepted a blockade runner.
 

leftyhunter

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Yes, it was the Trent, and she was. She went to the Tagus along with Dacre's squadron to come over as support for Milne.


The Royal Navy was far, far too powerful for the USN to win. This is simply a matter of sheer military strength; the USN was much smaller, more spread out and less experienced.



Before that; he said he'd do it during a public event in 1860.



I don't think I understand the question.
One can't know how a war will play out. The US could build a fleet of very heavily armored Monitor class craft that could cause havoc to the RN.
We do know that when Lincoln put his foot down on the British sale of Laird Ram' s to
the Confederacy the UK government did back down.
Leftyhunter
 
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steve59p

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Also @Pudnhead head; That's the irony of the whole Trent Affair. The Confederate diplomats when freed from the Union Navy and returned to the UK were really not that harmful to the Union cause. Mason and Slidell were sent to Western Europe to obtain diplomatic recognition for the Confederacy. At the end of the day no Western European or any other nations thought the Confederacy worthy of recognition. Diplomatic skill can not overcome the reality on the ground that the Confederacy was not likely to prevail.
Leftyhunter
Very true. The north probably helped their cause by the false imprisonment making them martyrs to some degree but didn't significantly affect the fact few nations were interested in recognising the south. I know there were persistent rumours that Napoelon III wanted to do so but he's the only major figure as far as I'm aware and Britain is supposed to have talked him out of it.
 

steve59p

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Yeah. I think it would have taken a whole lot more than the Trent Affair--the removal of non-British citizens from the ship--to motivate the British into a military conflict. It was simply not our American nature to do something so drastic such as sinking a British ship though our blockade might have intercepted a blockade runner.
Well the key thing was Lincoln backed down but otherwise there would have been war. As others have pointed out it was that fundamental an issue for Britain, the protection of its shipping.
 
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