Warren F. Spencer
In 1931 Frank Lawrence Owsley published King Cotton Diplomacy, a title that captures the essence of the foreign relations of the Confederate States. The South in 1861 had cotton, and the two leading industrialized states of Europe--England and France--needed that cotton to provide employment for their workers and cloth for their general populations. The Confederate policy makers anticipated that the European need for cotton would lead to official diplomatic recognition of the new American state and, they hoped even to military intervention in the American war. The South's first diplomatic act was to place an embargo on the export of cotton, expecting thereby to hasten European intervention in the war. Diplomatic "commissioners" were sent first to Great Britain and to France, the leading industrial countries, and later to other European states, such as Spain, Prussia, and Russia. In addition, agents were sent to the Mexican states adjacent to the Texas-Mexican border.
Confederate diplomatic papers, then, pertain primarily to agents sent to the bordering Mexican states and to the commissioners sent to the various European capitals, particularly to those in London and Paris.
John T. Picket was the first emissary sent to a Mexican state; his correspondence with the Confederate government is located in the Picket Papers, Washington, D.C., Archives of the Confederate State Department, Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress.