Union in Peril: The Crisis over British Intervention in the Civil War

By Howard Jones | Go to book overview

[ 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


Introduction

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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Union in Peril: The Crisis over British Intervention in the Civil War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Problems of Recognition 10
  • 2 - British Neutrality and the Rules of Modern Civilized Warfare 38
  • 3 - Bull Run and the Threat of Foreign Intervention 57
  • 4 - The Trent Affair and Recognition 80
  • 5 - Trials of British Neutrality 100
  • 6 - Seedtime of British Intervention 122
  • 7 - Emancipation by the Sword and the British Decision to Intervene 138
  • 8 - Antietam and the Move Toward Mediation 162
  • 9 - Prelude to Intervention 181
  • 10 - Denouement: The November Decision in London 198
  • Conclusion 224
  • Notes 231
  • Bibliography 275
  • Index 289
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