Discussion England Supported the Confederacy?

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wausaubob

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Scan p. 18, https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/decennial/1860/preliminary-report/1860e-03.pdf?# and you will realize that a war between Britain and the US would be a war among friends and relatives. Not only were the investors and workers sending money back to Britain, but many British companies found a ready market in the US. Don't fight your customers was good advice. We haven't even touched on the British consulate spies who were in places like Charleston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco.
 

Tom Hughes

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Not true at all. British trade was quite extensive with the North including needed grain. We have some thread's on that.Akso the British had extensive investment in the US outside the South.
Leftyhunter
So it's fair to say that England supported both the North and the South.
 

wausaubob

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It was Charles Sumner who wanted to scream about billions in indirect damages. Of course it was his constituents that suffered when the Shenandoah started burning old whaling ships in the North Pacific in 1865, so there was some natural heat there. But the bulk of the Republican party turned against Sumner. The US was too deep in debt to do much fighting and the Brits had capital.
 
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I thought it would be useful to explain exactly how it is that blockades work.

The blockading power declares a blockade of the target, and then the blockading power must maintain a blockade - that is, they must keep ships in place so as to block neutral or enemy vessels from running the blockade.
Running a declared blockade is not illegal, and the reason for that is that the declaration of blockade does something else - it grants the right to search vessels caught running the blockade and it grants the right to condemn vessels caught running declared contraband through the blockade.
Lincoln had the option to close the ports to all traffic as a domestic law enforcement measure. Enforcement however could only be conducted within the territorial waters of the United States where as the belligerent right to blockade, enforcement is conducted beyond territorial waters and violations are non-criminal matters taken to Prize Courts with punishment being directed at property rather than punishment being inflicted on the violator. A violation of a closed port order would be a criminal matter handled in Federal court, subjecting the violator to prison and/or fines. Imposing the sovereign right of port closures on Southern ports would not have bestowed belligerent rights on the Confederacy as the blockade did.

Lincoln was against closing the Southern ports because he felt that other nations would attempt to violate a port closure and the infractions would lead to war with them. Against the advice of Charles Sumner and Navy Secretary Welles, he chose to blockade instead.

"Lincoln's view of the war as simply a domestic insurrection was also contradicted by the naval blockade he imposed on Southern ports. As both Secretary Welles and Charles Sumner advised, under international law his proper course was to close all Southern ports. A blockade was an instrument of war between two belligerent powers; by imposing it, the President was tacitly recognizing the Confederacy as a belligerent. But Lincoln was convinced that an order closing the ports would be repeatedly tested by foreign vessels and that conflict with the European naval powers would result, and he ordered the blockade. Thaddeus Stevens, leader of the Pennsylvania Republicans, ridiculed this as 'a great blunder and absurdity' because in legal terms it meant 'we were blockading ourselves.' When he angrily confronted the President over this issue, Lincoln put on his best simple-countryman air and said, 'I don't know anything about the law of nations, and I thought it was all right.'
"'As a lawyer, Mr. Lincoln,' Stevens remarked, 'I should have supposed you would have seen the difficulty at once.'
'Oh, well,' the President replied, 'I'm a good enough lawyer in a Western law court, I suppose, but we don't practice the law of nations up there, and I supposed Seward knew all about it, and I left it to him.' 'But it's done now and can't be helped,' he added to Stevens's fury, 'so we must get along as well as we can.'"
LINCOLN, David Herbert Donald, pp. 302-303
 

wausaubob

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The British seem to have gotten what they wanted without a war. First they got the treaty of inspection, which virtually ended the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and brought some stability to west Africa.
Second the US left Canada alone and honored British investments in the US.
With these two main goals achieved they also got the US to step up prosecution of the war. By the time the US captured Nashville, and New Orleans, with the US firmly in control of the 5 border areas and the west, the war was well advanced toward winning.
There was a lot of screaming about the Emancipation Proclamation, but the British wanted it. It contained the debate about intervention and mediation tamped down for about 11 month. By September of 1863 it was clear the US was going to win, or be in control of any armistice. Normal business between New York and Liverpool had resumed.
By the end of the war, slavery was ended in Texas. Texas was open for cotton agriculture, and the US legal system was going to run at least the federal courts in Texas.
The cost to Britain was a small reparations payment and some competition in the Pacific for Hawaii and Alaska. The US also got a temporary advantage in Japan.
 

Saphroneth

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There was a lot of screaming about the Emancipation Proclamation, but the British wanted it.
I think the British rather considered the Emancipation Proclamation to be small beer. It was a grand announcement that they were going to free slaves captured from the enemy, which the British could counter by pointing out that the British had done something similar about a hundred years ago.

It looked to them like it was proposing a trade to Confederates - come back to the Union and you get to keep your slaves.
 
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USS ALASKA

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The UK was neutral but relations were initially soured when Lincoln declared the Southern Ports blockaded. As I understand it, this was a mistaken act by the new and inexperienced administration dealing with a crisis. Britain (and France I believe) then conferred upon the Confederacy a recognition of them as belligerants. This wasn't diplomatic recognition of the South as a State by any state of affairs but a diplomatic nicety. Had Lincoln instead declared the South in rebellion and as the "owning power" the US declared the ports "closed" because of the rebellion, then that would have been a policing action and not led to the limited recognition.
Sir, will have to respectfully disagree with this. If anything it cut down on '...diplomatic scrambling...' every time a ship was stopped...
To wit;

Third, they served a diplomatic and international legal function. A formally-declared blockade gave certain rights and responsibilities to the blockading power, including a recognized right to stop and search neutral shipping on the high seas, and the right (and responsibility) to detain/impound suspect vessels and cargoes and submit them to a court's jurisdiction for determination of whether the ship and cargo should be released to their owner or seized in the name of the government.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/the-blockade-waste-or-war-winner.74051/#post-486006

This is a common misapprehension. The pros and cons of "blockade" versus "port closure" were debated extensively in Lincoln's cabinet, and it was fully understood that "blockade" would grant de facto belligerent status to the Confederacy. But in the end, it came down to what Britain could live with. Britain would not cooperate with a "port closure" as that was administered under domestic law, and Britain, not being part of the US, had no reason to comply except voluntarily-- and that would be materially aiding the Union rather than remaining neutral. The administration was extremely reluctant to give the slightest shade of legitimacy to the Confederacy, but in this case the realities of international relations forced their decision.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/blockade-proclamation.88108/#post-697513

Essentially, Navy Secretary Gideon Welles campaigned earnestly for Lincoln to declare the ports of the South closed, as that was something that was clearly legal under existing precedent and did not have the weakness of an implied recognition of the Confederacy as a belligerent. But Britain would never have gone along with it, and attempts to coerce them into going along with it would likely have led to an increased chance of war with Britain. The blockade decision, though it had the "con" of implied recognition of belligerency, was something that Britain would tend to support; first, because it allowed her to remain neutral instead of forcing her to decide which side to support (as voluntarily abiding by the port closure would clearly be aiding the North); and second, because Britain herself was one of the most frequent operators of blockades, she had a national interest in increasing the legitimacy of blockade operations.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/blockade-proclamation.88108/page-2#post-698055

Given that the Lincoln administration wanted to close off the seceding states from exterior resources and assistance, there were two known methods of doing so:

1) Port closure. The simpler and less-expensive of the options; the country simply declares one or more ports to be closed to entry. This is administered under municipal/domestic law and litigated in the usual court system of the country. It does not require military presence to be enforceable, but to be practicable it requires a civil/enforcement presence in the ports in question.

2) Blockade. The more elaborate and expensive of the options. Under certain conditions accepted in international law and diplomacy, a country stations warships off the coast of another country to prevent ingress and egress. This is a creature of international law and the law of war and is by definition a military action; related legal challenges are mounted in special-purpose courts ("prize courts") and among the diplomatic representatives of the countries affected.

Because blockade presupposes an armed conflict, and a war presupposes an enemy, the way the treaties were written presumed another country, generally called a "belligerent" or similar term. Under the mid-19th century understanding of international law and the law of war, belligerency conferred a certain set of accepted rights and standards upon the belligerent, as well as a sort of de facto legitimacy. This conferred legitimacy was what Lincoln's cabinet would have vastly preferred to avoid, because it was logically inconsistent with the stance that the seceding states had not left the Union to form a separate country. Significantly, Navy Secretary Gideon Welles argued strongly for port closure and against blockade, based on this very conviction that the 'states in revolt' were not a separate country and therefore international law was inapplicable. (It also would have been considerably easier on the Navy to not have to mount a massive blockade of a 3,500-mile coastline.) (Much of what's said in many places about the closure/blockade debate is derived from Welles' recollections, and is filtered through his opinions.)

The Catch-22 here is that, since port closure is domestic and does not apply internationally, it doesn't apply to any other nations. In order to conform to a port closure, those other nations would have to voluntarily comply. In Britain and France's case, they saw this as a naked attempt to enlist their assistance against the rebellion, and therefore a violation of their own declared neutrality. (Seward tried to do this as well with offering to sign the 1856 Treaty of Paris outlawing privateering, which would have required France and Britain to help catch Confederate privateers. They didn't want to get involved at all in that, either.)

Blockade was the sole acceptable option from Britain's and France's standpoints. There was an established body of law to define and support it and well-understood customs and procedures. This was not a decision the U.S. could make unilaterally without significantly harming its relations with the other powers; as such, Seward was a strong proponent of blockade as opposed to port closure (and came in for a good deal of pen-lashing in Welles' writings as a result).

Essentially, it was the pragmatic reality of the situation that swung the decision toward blockade from port closure. The Lincoln administration had to face up to the fact that to maintain ideological purity in the stance of 'no separate country' that they would incur the wrath and opposition of other nations, and thereby make that 'separate country' all the more likely to exist.

It was not a decision taken lightly at all, nor an uninformed one. Even still, Lincoln tried to have it both ways by the wording of his blockade proclamation, justifying it in terms of collection of customs duties, but that was ignored by Britain and France.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/proclaiming-a-blockade-vs-closing-the-ports.99309/#post-867836

But British merchant vessels were not required to follow American laws, only British and international law. A port closure would have been administered under American law, so a hypothetical British merchant vessel would have been arrested and prosecuted in an American municipal court, which the British were not prepared to accept, being a slight to British sovereignty; the alternative forced on the British in that case would have been to order their own vessels to obey an American law, which was not considered to be neutral behavior-- the British would be in effect obeying an American "blockade" of their own accord, with no American vessels needing to be present. It would be, in short, a "paper blockade."

There's also the matter of how the U.S. was going to have any enforcement personnel in the closed harbor.

Blockade, on the other hand, safeguarded the rights of neutrals in a way that was internationally accepted. U.S. vessels had the internationally-recognized right to stop and search vessels under neutral flags, provided they followed the legal procedures in doing so. (The actual technical fault of Wilkes stopping the Trent was not that he stopped and searched the vessel, which he had a legal right to do, but that he forcibly removed Mason and Slidell without submitting to due process in a legal proceeding. The bluster between Britain and the U.S. was actually about more than just that, but that was the formal legal principle involved. Stopping and searching other vessels had been a sore point between the U.S. and Britain for decades, of course.)

In the larger sense of "what does it matter," it was what Britain insisted upon (if you're going to blockade, really blockade, and put your ships out there and don't try to make us do it for you); and in the interests of keeping the war contained and winnable, Lincoln had little choice.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/proclaiming-a-blockade-vs-closing-the-ports.99309/#post-867972

Once again, apologies to @Mark F. Jenkins for pulling his quotes out of their original threads and thanks to him for writing all that up in an easy-to-digest manner!
5289

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leftyhunter

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So it's fair to say that England supported both the North and the South.
Not so much supported either side but traded with both sides with the blockade definitely curtailing trade with the Confederacy. The UK by mid war certainly did place restrictions on arm sales to the Confederacy I.E. the Laird Ram Affair. The UK did not support either side by providing aid and or direct military support.
Leftyhunter
 
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USS ALASKA

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Can some of you recommend some books that describe the participation of all foreign nations that were involved in the ACW?
Sir - in no order what-so-ever and there are a ton more...

May, Robert E., ed. The Union, the Confederacy, and the Atlantic Rim.
Mayers, Adam. Dixie and the Dominion: Canada, the Confederacy, and the War for the Union
Saul, Norman E. Distant Friends: The United States and Russia, 1763–1867
Bennett, John D. The London Confederates: The Officials, Clergy, Businessmen and Journalists Who Backed the American South During the Civil War.
Berwanger, Eugene. The British Foreign Service and the American Civil War
Duberman, Martin B. Charles Francis Adams, 1807–1886
Long, Madeline. In The Shadow of the Alabama: The British Foreign Office and the American Civil War
Meyers, Philip E. Caution & Cooperation: The American Civil War in British-American Relations.
Vanauken, Sheldon. The Glittering Illusion: English Sympathy for the Southern Confederacy
Clapp, Margaret. Forgotten First Citizen: John Bigelow
Carroll, Daniel B. Henri Mercier and the American Civil War
Sainlaude, Stève. The French Government and the Civil War, 1861–1865. The diplomatic action
Blumenthal, Henry. A Reappraisal of Franco-American Relations, 1830-1871
Case, Lynn M., and Warren E. Spencer. The United States and France: Civil War Diplomacy
Jordan, Donaldson, and Edwin J. Pratt. Europe and the American Civil War
Adams, Ephraim Douglass. Great Britain and the American Civil War
Berwanger, Eugene H. The British Foreign Service and the American Civil War.
Blackett, R. J. M. Divided Hearts: Britain and the American Civil War
Cook Adrian. The Alabama Claims: American Politics and Anglo-American Relations, 1861-1872.
Crook, David Paul. The North, the South, and the Powers, 1861-1865
Crook, D. P. Diplomacy During the American Civil War.
Ferris, Norman B. Desperate Diplomacy: William H. Seward's Foreign Policy, 1861.
Ferris, Norman B. The Trent Affair: A Diplomatic Crisis
Hubbard, Charles M. The Burden of Confederate Diplomacy
Hyman, Harold Melvin. Heard Round the World; the Impact Abroad of the Civil War.
Jenkins, Brian. Britain & the War for the Union.
Jones, Howard. Union in Peril: The Crisis over British Intervention in the Civil War
Jones, Howard. Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom: the Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War
Kinser, Brent E. The American Civil War in the Shaping of British Democracy
Mahin, Dean B. One war at a time: The international dimensions of the American Civil War
Merli, Frank J. The Alabama, British Neutrality, and the American Civil War.
Myers, Phillip. Caution and Cooperation: The American Civil War in British-American Relations.
Owsley, Frank Lawrence. King Cotton Diplomacy: Foreign Relations of the Confederate States of America
Warren, Gordon H. Fountain of Discontent: The Trent Affair and Freedom of the Seas
Winks Robin W. Canada and the United States: The Civil War Years.
5324

Good reading!
USS ALASKA
 
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Norm53

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Sir - in no order what-so-ever and there are a ton more...

May, Robert E., ed. The Union, the Confederacy, and the Atlantic Rim.
Mayers, Adam. Dixie and the Dominion: Canada, the Confederacy, and the War for the Union
Saul, Norman E. Distant Friends: The United States and Russia, 1763–1867
Bennett, John D. The London Confederates: The Officials, Clergy, Businessmen and Journalists Who Backed the American South During the Civil War.
Berwanger, Eugene. The British Foreign Service and the American Civil War
Duberman, Martin B. Charles Francis Adams, 1807–1886
Long, Madeline. In The Shadow of the Alabama: The British Foreign Office and the American Civil War
Meyers, Philip E. Caution & Cooperation: The American Civil War in British-American Relations.
Vanauken, Sheldon. The Glittering Illusion: English Sympathy for the Southern Confederacy
Clapp, Margaret. Forgotten First Citizen: John Bigelow
Carroll, Daniel B. Henri Mercier and the American Civil War
Sainlaude, Stève. The French Government and the Civil War, 1861–1865. The diplomatic action
Blumenthal, Henry. A Reappraisal of Franco-American Relations, 1830-1871
Case, Lynn M., and Warren E. Spencer. The United States and France: Civil War Diplomacy
Jordan, Donaldson, and Edwin J. Pratt. Europe and the American Civil War
Adams, Ephraim Douglass. Great Britain and the American Civil War
Berwanger, Eugene H. The British Foreign Service and the American Civil War.
Blackett, R. J. M. Divided Hearts: Britain and the American Civil War
Cook Adrian. The Alabama Claims: American Politics and Anglo-American Relations, 1861-1872.
Crook, David Paul. The North, the South, and the Powers, 1861-1865
Crook, D. P. Diplomacy During the American Civil War.
Ferris, Norman B. Desperate Diplomacy: William H. Seward's Foreign Policy, 1861.
Ferris, Norman B. The Trent Affair: A Diplomatic Crisis
Hubbard, Charles M. The Burden of Confederate Diplomacy
Hyman, Harold Melvin. Heard Round the World; the Impact Abroad of the Civil War.
Jenkins, Brian. Britain & the War for the Union.
Jones, Howard. Union in Peril: The Crisis over British Intervention in the Civil War
Jones, Howard. Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom: the Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War
Kinser, Brent E. The American Civil War in the Shaping of British Democracy
Mahin, Dean B. One war at a time: The international dimensions of the American Civil War
Merli, Frank J. The Alabama, British Neutrality, and the American Civil War.
Myers, Phillip. Caution and Cooperation: The American Civil War in British-American Relations.
Owsley, Frank Lawrence. King Cotton Diplomacy: Foreign Relations of the Confederate States of America
Warren, Gordon H. Fountain of Discontent: The Trent Affair and Freedom of the Seas
Winks Robin W. Canada and the United States: The Civil War Years.
5324

Good reading!
USS ALASKA
OMG. Uncle! Uncle! (Thank you.)
 

wausaubob

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I think the British rather considered the Emancipation Proclamation to be small beer. It was a grand announcement that they were going to free slaves captured from the enemy, which the British could counter by pointing out that the British had done something similar about a hundred years ago.

It looked to them like it was proposing a trade to Confederates - come back to the Union and you get to keep your slaves.
It was small beer. But it the gave the government the cover it wanted to not intervene. By itself it did not mean that much. By the time the US cleared the entire Mississippi, the cumulative blows to slavery had become too much for formal slavery to survive. I think the British theory was that unless there was an efficient secondary market for slaves, the system would become burdensome to the owners.
 
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edgeworthy

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The big Investment houses in England Carried State Notes on Southern Railroads, which were built with Slavery. They loaned money to Planters who used Slaves as collateral. They were 1 step outside of Slavery. Also, post emancipation, the Brits had a strenuous Indentured System to replace the Negoes on their Sugar Plantations. Most of it mimicked Slavery. They used Coolies, a poor and starving population.
The big Investment houses in The Northern States Carried State Notes on Southern Railroads, which were built with Slavery. They loaned money to Planters who used Slaves as collateral. They were 1 step outside of Slavery!

Well, Grant got a settlement against the English for damages the Commerce Raiders did during the War. Over 15 Million. So, it would seem that the Yankees and others thought the Brits had overstepped the bounds of Neutrality.
The United States also had to pay compensation to Britain in the same settlement for its actions during the war.
 

Saphroneth

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It was small beer. But it the gave the government the cover it wanted to not intervene.
But the government wasn't going to intervene anyway.

To illustrate why, make a list of all the civil wars or independence wars that happened in the 19th century, then make another list of the ones where the British intervened. You'll find the second list exceedingly short compared to the first.
 
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uaskme

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Well, the specific thing which was considered to have overstepped the bounds of neutrality was actually more a matter of diligence than anything.
Blockade running was not the issue, it was the commerce raiders, and the fact is that the British did stop some ships if they knew they were Confederate warships (like the Laird Rams) but they missed others - the Alabama slipped out of dock perhaps two days ahead of suffering the same fate as the Laird Rams.

There are a myriad small ways in which Britain bends the rules to help the Union: letting her adhere to the Treaty of Paris which she never signed, banning both sides from bringing prizes into her ports, stopping inspections of the blockade to see if it's effective, allowing Union warships to coal at British ports, and so on.


As for warships, the US Supreme Court determined in the case of the Santissima Trinidad that "the sending of armed vessels or of munitions of war from a neutral country to a belligerent port for sale as articles of commerce is unlawful only as it subjects the property to confiscation on capture by the other belligerent. No neutral state is bound to prohibit the exportation of contraband articles." The ships sent to the Confederacy are not armed, and thus their sale is technically legal as per the 1819 Foreign Enlistment Act. Despite this, Britain stretches the law on the Union's behalf: she would have seized the Alabama had the Queen's Advocate not gone insane at an inconvenient point, she did seize the Alexandra and the Oreto only to have the seizures overturned because of a lack of evidence, and she prevented the Laird rams from joining the Confederate navy by buying them.



No, the payment took place in 1872 only as part of the Treaty of Washington. $15.5 million would not have taken decades to pay off; it's a bit over £3 million and is less than was spent in 1872 on the post office.
Much of that had to do with public pressure. You can blame it on money and greed, or whatever. There were Pro Confederate Brits in high places. Official recognition, they didn’t get. UN-official help, they did.
The big Investment houses in The Northern States Carried State Notes on Southern Railroads, which were built with Slavery. They loaned money to Planters who used Slaves as collateral. They were 1 step outside of Slavery!



The United States also had to pay compensation to Britain in the same settlement for its actions during the war.
Yankees were using the Brits also to finance Railroads. My statement is accurate.

Yankees were not 1 step from slavery. As Lincoln tells us, Slavery was a National Issue.
 

USS ALASKA

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The big Investment houses in The Northern States Carried State Notes on Southern Railroads, which were built with Slavery. They loaned money to Planters who used Slaves as collateral. They were 1 step outside of Slavery!
Sirs, the British, and other Europeans, had investments in American Railroads both North and South. British iron manufactures took bonds for the sales of railway iron to railroads.

Source - 'British Investment in American Railways 1834-1898' by Dorothy R. Adler

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