Open Debate Was recognition by Britain, France, or some other prominent nation a possibility for the CSA?

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I know that slavery was a big sticking point, but from a real politik perspective, it would seem to me that a divided USA poses less of a threat to these heavyweights. Plus, Britain was dependent on Southern cotton, and there were incidents such as the Trent Affair.
 

KSKEY

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Yes, but aside from slavery, the timing of their attempt at independence was bad for the South. High yields of cotton, including a bumper crop in 1860, had allowed Great Britain to stock pile cotton. So, the British system would not run low on the product until 1862 by which time the Union was gaining the upper hand in the conflict. Having imperial designs on the lower arcs of the Golden Circle around the Gulf of Mexico, France had been more likely to recognize the CSA. Napoleon III did provide some finance for the South, but a trade pact with Great Britain compelled him to wait for that economic partner to take the lead. London, of course, did not seriously consider it.
 

Poorville

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In the first three years of the war there were two, even three, points when British intervention, and possibly war, were real possibilities. In late 1861 and early 1862, as you say, as a result of the Trent affair; then in Sept/Oct 1862 when the British government seriously considered mediation, recognition of the Confederacy and intervention. Finally in September 1863 when the Laird rams built in Liverpool for the Confederacy seemed likely to put to sea.
 

byron ed

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I know that slavery was a big sticking point, but from a real politik perspective, it would seem to me that a divided USA poses less of a threat...

My understanding is that the last time Britain felt threatened by it's former American colonies was the war of 1812. That was over and done decades before the ACW.

I don't know that Britain ever felt threatened by the U.S. after that. Which means that Britain recognizing the Confederacy would not have lessened a threat that wasn't perceived to exist to begin with. (If anything, it was Britain being a threat to the U.S. per the Trent Affair, a mere kerfuffle that neither party had any heart in).
 
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poorjack

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Early in the War, it was a very real possibility. But as pointed out already, Britain had stockpiled cotton and there were ample amounts still in the "logistic" pipeline. Had there been far less cotton available, I don't think Britain would have been so, "wait and see" on who was looking to be the victor. Past that, the Brits were looking to make money on the affair as the War went on.
 

byron ed

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...Plus, Britain was dependent on Southern cotton...

Except that by that time Britain was well underway with an alternate source of cotton from a more reliable source: India. Because of telegraph and steam technologies Britain had developed better control of that colony.

(Telegraph enabled better martial control because fewer military resources were tied up garrisoning the entire colony. Smaller garrisons of crack forces could be quickly notified by telegraph and dispatched efficiently by railroad to quell any regional uprisings of the native population. The 1853 Enfield rifle had a role there too -- for a good overview of the situation see "Heyday - The 1850s and the dawn of the global age" Ben Wilson 2016 (ISBN-13: 978-0465064250)

Bottom line; the potential loss of the American cotton supply wasn't quite the critical issue it had once been. The Confederacy had lost it's best card in the game.
 

Carronade

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In the first three years of the war there were two, even three, points when British intervention, and possibly war, were real possibilities. In late 1861 and early 1862, as you say, as a result of the Trent affair; then in Sept/Oct 1862 when the British government seriously considered mediation, recognition of the Confederacy and intervention. Finally in September 1863 when the Laird rams built in Liverpool for the Confederacy seemed likely to put to sea.

Two maybe, but not three. A government was not going to make such a profound policy change as recognizing the Confederacy, a.k.a. alienating the United States, just to help a company sell a couple of ships.
 

Poorville

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Two maybe, but not three. A government was not going to make such a profound policy change as recognizing the Confederacy, a.k.a. alienating the United States, just to help a company sell a couple of ships.

It’s not a profound policy change by the British Government, it is a sound decision on their part to impound the Laird rams so preventing them sailing. The North was sufficiently concerned about the rams’ potential to open up the blockade that Lincoln threatened war if they sailed.
 

leftyhunter

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It’s not a profound policy change by the British Government, it is a sound decision on their part to impound the Laird rams so preventing them sailing. The North was sufficiently concerned about the rams’ potential to open up the blockade that Lincoln threatened war if they sailed.
I didn't know Lincoln was going to necessarily go to war over the Laird Rams. The British always sold weapons to both sides but more so to the Confederacy after the US achieved self sufficency in small arms production.
Is there a link on a written notice to the British Prime Minister from Lincoln?
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

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I know that slavery was a big sticking point, but from a real politik perspective, it would seem to me that a divided USA poses less of a threat to these heavyweights. Plus, Britain was dependent on Southern cotton, and there were incidents such as the Trent Affair.
We also have to keep in mind that there was a severe shortage of grain due to a drought in the Ukraine and US grain was vital to the UK and France. I do have thread on it if interested.
Also the US did export cotton to Western Europe as the war progressed from Louisiana and the Seaward Island's of South Carolina.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

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I know that slavery was a big sticking point, but from a real politik perspective, it would seem to me that a divided USA poses less of a threat to these heavyweights. Plus, Britain was dependent on Southern cotton, and there were incidents such as the Trent Affair.
Also France had its hands full in Mexico and the UK and recently ended a war against Russia so the English were not spoiling for a fight.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

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I know that slavery was a big sticking point, but from a real politik perspective, it would seem to me that a divided USA poses less of a threat to these heavyweights. Plus, Britain was dependent on Southern cotton, and there were incidents such as the Trent Affair.
France actually was already importing high quality cotton from it's colony in Senegal. The French could of increased production but didn't make a concerted effort to do so. It was certainly cheaper for the French or British to invest in increasing cotton production in Senegal then going to war against the US.
Also cotton was imported from Egypt as a partial replacement for Southern cotton.
Leftyhunter
 

Scott1967

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I don't think their was any doubt that Britain would not support nor recognize the confederacy.

The issue of slavery really stopped any thoughts of Britain declaring the South a nation , This was due to the fact that the Northern workers were 100% behind Lincoln so much so that they went on strike and refused to process any southern cotton causing the cotton famine in Lancashire most notably in my home town of Manchester.

So moved was Lincoln that he wrote a letter to the people of Manchester thanking them for their sacrifice and the North sent food parcels to help the workers, Hence right in the centre of Manchester is a statue of Lincoln , In fact when Grant went on his European tour his first stop was in Manchester where he was cheered and given a hero's welcome.

In truth is was more the wealthy and middle classes that tended to have some sympathy to the South those that didn't have to work in the mills from the age of 8 , A lot of the mill workers had a form of empathy with the slaves as they too worked 6 days a week 12 hours a day and lived in very cramped conditions.

No gents Britain was never going to side with the South or they would risk a very big chance of riots and possible revolution.

Edit:

On a side note the Rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester started around the time of the Civil War , Liverpool was building and crewing ships for the South above their town hall it was said the Rebel flag flew while Manchester was suffering , In response Manchester flew the Stars and Stripes above her town hall and so the rivalry started.

Manchester also has a MOH winner Philip Baybutt check him out he was in the 2nd MA cavalry he captured a Rebel flag and lived on his civil war pension and is buried ironically in Southern Cemetery Manchester.
 
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mobile_96

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After reading "France and the American Civil War: A Diplomatic History " by Stève Sainlaude, the 3 vols of "The American Civil War thru British Eyes", the discussions within the British Parliament, and the diplomatic papers between Charles Frances Adams and Seward, I do not believe that the British would have recognized the Confederate States Until they had actually won their independence and been recognized by the Federal Congress.
 

unionblue

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I know that slavery was a big sticking point, but from a real politik perspective, it would seem to me that a divided USA poses less of a threat to these heavyweights. Plus, Britain was dependent on Southern cotton, and there were incidents such as the Trent Affair.

@Col MW Sims descendant ,

You might want to check out the book, Union in Peril: The Crisis Over British Intervention in the Civil War, by Howard Jones.

Makes for a pretty good read on your question above.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

Poorville

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I didn't know Lincoln was going to necessarily go to war over the Laird Rams. The British always sold weapons to both sides but more so to the Confederacy after the US achieved self sufficency in small arms production.
Is there a link on a written notice to the British Prime Minister from Lincoln?
Leftyhunter

Hi Leftyhunter you asked:

Is there a link on a written notice to the British Prime Minister from Lincoln?

Lincoln appointed Charles Francis Adams Minster to England in March 1861 and was his representative throughout the Laird crisis.

Concerned that the Laird Rams may leave British waters for the Confederacy Captain Gustavus Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Union Navy, wrote to Adams; "You must stop [the Laird rams] at all hazards. We have no defence against them .... We have not one [gun] in the whole country fit to fire at [it]. ... It is a matter of life and death." Thus Lincoln left the burden of stopping the rams with Adams.

Adams threatened Lord Russell with the US Privateering Bill, and its realization if Britain continued building ships for the South. Exasperated at Russell’s inaction, Adams responded to Russell’s letter September 4, "I trust I need not express how profound is my regret at the conclusion to which her Majesty's Government have arrived . . . . It would be superfluous in me to point out to your Lordship that this is war.”

You can find this account widely referenced from the original papers of Adams and Lord Russell in Duberman, Martin. Charles Francis Adams: 1807-1886. (California: Stanford University Press, 1960), pp. 256-57; Merli, F.J. Great Britain and the Confederate Navy: 1861-65 and Crook D. P. The North, the South, and the Powers, 1861–1865. New York: John Wiley and Sons.1974.
 

leftyhunter

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Hi Leftyhunter you asked:

Is there a link on a written notice to the British Prime Minister from Lincoln?

Lincoln appointed Charles Francis Adams Minster to England in March 1861 and was his representative throughout the Laird crisis.

Concerned that the Laird Rams may leave British waters for the Confederacy Captain Gustavus Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Union Navy, wrote to Adams; "You must stop [the Laird rams] at all hazards. We have no defence against them .... We have not one [gun] in the whole country fit to fire at [it]. ... It is a matter of life and death." Thus Lincoln left the burden of stopping the rams with Adams.

Adams threatened Lord Russell with the US Privateering Bill, and its realization if Britain continued building ships for the South. Exasperated at Russell’s inaction, Adams responded to Russell’s letter September 4, "I trust I need not express how profound is my regret at the conclusion to which her Majesty's Government have arrived . . . . It would be superfluous in me to point out to your Lordship that this is war.”

You can find this account widely referenced from the original papers of Adams and Lord Russell in Duberman, Martin. Charles Francis Adams: 1807-1886. (California: Stanford University Press, 1960), pp. 256-57; Merli, F.J. Great Britain and the Confederate Navy: 1861-65 and Crook D. P. The North, the South, and the Powers, 1861–1865. New York: John Wiley and Sons.1974.
That is very good research!
Leftyhunter
 

mobile_96

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I thought this a interesting dispatch I came across recently:
Dispatch 317. (Lord) Lyons to Russel December 1860
"I am Afraid that very little moderation is to be expected from the people of the Cotton-growing States. Great as is the real importance of their staple, their own notions of the influence it will secure to them have become so much exaggerated as to be preposterous. They seem to think that the necessity of obtaining a sufficient supply of this commodity will oblige all Europe, especially Great Britain, to treat with them upon any terms, which they may dictate. They talk of withholding their cotton as a means of coercion, forgetting that their own prosperity depends much more upon selling it than that of the Northern States and Europe can ever depend upon buying it. They do not chose to remember the lessons so often taught by experience, that stopping the supply of a commodity
from the ordinary sources results in stimulating and giving access to endeavors to produce it elsewhere, and to provide a substitute for it. In answer to all arguments, they are apt to repeat their senseless cry that "Cotton is King"".
Source "The American Civil War Throught British Eyes: dispatches from British Diplomats"
Volume 1: November 1860-April 1862 Pg 11-12 by James J. Barnes and Patience P Barnes.
Richard Bickerton Pernell Lyons was the British "Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary"
in Washington (At the time Great Britain and the United States did not exchange ambassadors, so
Lyons was the highest diplomat representing his country. Lord Earl Russel was the Foreign Minister for England.
In foreign affairs Nations do not act out of sympathy but only in Self Interest.
 
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