Trials of British Neutrality
It is when the Americans feel sure of us that they take liberties.
-- Lord Lyons,
February 11, 1862
The Trent crisis had passed, but the Union government remained concerned about British recognition of the Confederacy. The war threat during the winter of 1861-62 had encouraged British observers to consider some action intended to bring the American conflict to a close before another confrontation--perhaps more dangerous--developed between the Atlantic nations. The Confederacy, many Englishmen continued to believe, had proved its mettle by routing the Union army at Bull Run. The Union owed it to humanity to let the Confederacy go in peace. Yet, as the British saw things, the Lincoln administration was unreasonable in expecting to force the South back into the fold. Even though the Palmerston ministry maintained its aloofness from the American conflict, British figures outside the center of power re-