Daniel K. Blewett
The objective of Union diplomacy during the Civil War was to support the federal government's goal of defeating the rebellion of the Southern states. The Union diplomats operated from a position of strength, since the North held most of the money and industrial capacity that interested other powers, as well as having an established diplomatic organization up and running when the war started. The fledgling Confederate foreign service lacked these advantages. The State Department's aim was to keep other countries from helping the South, either by purchasing its cotton, lending it money, sending it arms or other supplies, recognizing the Confederate government, or, in the worst possible case, sending in troops to enforce an armed truce and division of the United States. Because some European countries saw the United States as becoming too powerful and potentially threatening to their own colonial empires, as well as harboring dangerous ideas of equality and the freeing of slaves, there was some danger that other powers would forcibly intervene. Northern diplomats skillfully had to play the countries and their selfish interests off one another, since the balance of power in Europe was in constant need of attention at this time. Luck also played a big part, as timely Union victories, an increasingly effective naval blockade, and other distractions kept the great powers restrained in their attempts to influence the course of the Civil War. The items below are only some of the titles available for research in this subject area; the bibliographies in the first section should be consulted as well for further bibliographic citations. Researchers should also read Chapter 15 on Confederate diplomacy.