Blue & Gray Diplomacy: A History of Union and Confederate Foreign Relations

Blue & Gray Diplomacy: A History of Union and Confederate Foreign Relations

Blue & Gray Diplomacy: A History of Union and Confederate Foreign Relations

Blue & Gray Diplomacy: A History of Union and Confederate Foreign Relations

Synopsis

In this examination of Union and Confederate foreign relations during the Civil War from both European and American perspectives, Howard Jones demonstrates that the consequences of the conflict between North and South reached far beyond American soil. Jones explores a number of themes, including the international economic and political dimensions of the war, the North's attempts to block the South from winning foreign recognition as a nation, Napoleon III's meddling in the war and his attempt to restore French power in the New World, and the inability of Europeans to understand the integrated nature of slavery and union, resulting in their tendency to interpret the war as a senseless struggle between a South too large and populous to have its independence denied and a North too obstinate to give up on the preservation of the Union. Most of all, Jones explores the horrible nature of a war that attracted outside involvement as much as it repelled it. Written in a narrative style that relates the story as its participants saw it play out around them,Blue and Gray Diplomacydepicts the complex set of problems faced by policy makers from Richmond and Washington to London, Paris, and St. Petersburg.

Excerpt

This horrible war, this terrible war, this wholly unnecessary war—these words were not mere rhetoric to contemporary Europeans who avidly followed the American Civil War and roundly denounced what they perceived as a blind rage propelling the vicious conflict. The sectional struggle had spun out of control, ultimately leading to more than 600,000 deaths and threatening to disable not only North America but also Atlantic commerce and thereby do irreparable harm to Europe. Trench warfare, cannon, longrange artillery, and rifled muskets; massive armies engaged in fierce hand-tohand combat with guns, knives, and sabers; ironclad warships that made the Union navy seemingly invincible and the once-dominant British and French wooden fleets virtually obsolete—these were some of the killing features of this internecine fighting that had gone beyond the pale of so-called civilized warfare to appall onlookers both inside and outside the divided American republic.

And so needless from the European perspective: The outcome was a fait accompli, most sage observers in London, Paris, and other continental capitals had asserted from the war’s beginning. How could a stumbling Union subjugate the Confederacy, an aggregate of eleven states composed of millions of primarily Anglicized people fervently pushing for independence against a mongrelized northern majority? Almost three years into the war, Union secretary of state William H. Seward bitterly complained that British and French policy toward America still rested on the original assumption that the Union could not reconcile the South and that its independence was unavoidable. President Abraham Lincoln’s insistence on preserving the Union had led to a mindless waste of blood and treasure; Confederate president Jefferson Davis’s support for secession as the pathway to a new nation . . .

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