[ England's recognition of the Confederacy as belligerents] raised them in regard to the prosecution of an unlawful armed insurrection to an equality with the United States. -- William H. Seward, 1866 Less than justice was rendered to the Confederacy by "neutral" Europe. -- Jefferson Davis, 1881
In late 1862, the government of Great Britain debated the possibility of masterminding a European intervention in the American Civil War. Historians have not adequately explained why that intervention never occurred, though there is substantial agreement that a European involvement in the war would have had momentous consequences for the North, the South, and the European powers. American readers, in particular, have little understanding of the important international repercussions of Fort Sumter. Indeed, the focus on America's domestic problems after April 1861 has distorted the history of this era by diminishing the crucial role of diplomacy. The Lincoln administration's greatest fear in foreign affairs was that England would extend diplomatic recognition to the Confederacy. If the British announced recognition, the Union's minister in England was to suspend his functions as a diplomat, thereby setting the two Atlantic nations on a path that could lead to war. Though some writers have claimed
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Publication information: Book title: Union in Peril:The Crisis over British Intervention in the Civil War. Contributors: Howard Jones - Author. Publisher: University of North Carolina Press. Place of publication: Chapel Hill, NC. Publication year: 1992. Page number: 1.
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