You raise some good points. On the other hand far more Union casualties were inflicted by Enfield rifles vs the Confederate Navy.If it's a warship and a known one, there absolutely is; if it's not a warship, there is not.
"Friendly nation" doesn't have any legal force. What has force is alliance and neutrality, and in this case the USA was a neutral - if the US was constructing a known warship for the Russians while neutral in a war, that would be a breach of neutrality.
If on the other hand the ship was not armed at the time it left port, it would not be a breach of neutrality. If the US were honestly unaware that the ship was intended to be a Russian warship, then it would also not be a breach of neutrality.
This is how international law and neutrality worked at the time. Armed warships could not be constructed for a belligerent by a neutral power for which a relevant declaration of neutrality had been made; other weapons of war could be purchased by a belligerent, but there was no guarantee of safe delivery. In this sense it's like Cash And Carry from WW2 (but Destroyers for Bases is right out).
It's quite possible that that was the case; for the rams the identity of the people who ordered the ships wasn't exactly announced in the papers. (They were claimed to be for another power not currently involved in a war.)
In the first case, it's quite possible to critique the hypocrisy of another while holding a consistent stance of one's own; in the second case, unless the newspapers are also the ones selling arms to the Confederacy specifically then it's not a hypocritical stance even if the connection is being consciously made that Confederate == slavery. (See below.)
The thing the newspapers highlighted is that the Lincoln administration was claiming an antislavery stance while also enacting the Fugutive Slave Law inside the District of Columbia; that's the same group doing it in both cases.
Hypocrisy is something done by an individual or an organization, with a single coherent membership; the government holding both positions is hypocritical, but an individual holding one position while another individual from the same country holds a different position is not.
It wouldn't; this however was the view of the British at the time. They felt that an end to the war without Confederate independence would see a protection clause applied to slavery, largely because they misunderstood the Southern mindset.
During the time period of a lot of these newspaper articles, the following were true.
1) The Union and the Confederacy were both slave owning nations.
2) The Union's antislavery actions were limited to the slaves of supporters of their enemy, and not their own supporters.
3) The British felt that the actions of the Confederacy demonstrated that the Confederacy as a whole wanted to be independent more than they wanted the more effective preservation of slavery.
This is the fundamental misunderstanding of the British at the time. They felt that there was an easy route for the Confederates to gain the preservation of slavery for decades into the future (a negotiated reunification peace), and in that they were correct (because Lincoln wrote as such). What they thought (incorrectly) was that the reason the Confederates had not chosen this route was because they wanted independence for its own sake; what they did not realize is that the Confederates as a whole felt that independence was the surest route to secure the continuation of slavery.
The UK's role in the ACW is complex. The UK supplied weapons to both side's. The UK traded with both side's. The UK allowed the Union Army to recruit men on it's soil. The UK briefly threatened the Union with war. The UK allowed naval ships on both side's to use it's ports to replenish food and fuel.
The UK only diplomatically recognized one side.
The UK allowed American shipowners to reregister their ships as British to protect them against Confederate raider's.
The UK built Confederate raider's and blockade runner's.
I know you know the above but some of our newer members may not.
Just pointing out the complexity of the British role in the ACW.