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BS: British support for the confederacy?

08 Jul 09 - 09:42 AM (#2674696)
Subject: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Dave the Gnome

The other day a friend, while introducing the song 'The Alabama', mentioned that while Britain was officialy neutral during the American civil war they did secretly support the Confederacy. This was bourne out somewhat by the story of the Alabama, which I know well anyway, and the fact that the UK had to pay a considerable sum to the US following a decision in Geneva that Britain did indeed play a part in damaging the, now official, US Union. However, I decided to look into it a little and it is far from clear cut. It looks a fascinating subject for a little more reseach and I am going to locate some books to get a better picture.

Couple things I did already know and have found out are that Manchester people did, apparantly, at great hardship to themselves caused by the cotton famine, support Lincolns principles. There is now this statue of Lincoln in Manchester. The other, aand I find a little bizzare, thing is that Lord Palmerston read 'Uncle Tom' three times when trying to decide whetehr to offer arbitration to the divided states!

Anyone have any comments or their own personal reseach to add?

Cheers

DeG


08 Jul 09 - 11:29 AM (#2674765)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Jack Campin

One of the odder anecdotes about that I've heard was from a friend of mine who worked for the museums in Fife around 1980, and got to sort through a recently-closed textile mill (in Kirkcaldy, I think). He found they had a few tons of tenting canvas in stock, all monogrammed "CSA". They'd made it for the Confederate army, couldn't get it through the blockade, and had stashed it away for 120 years (waiting for the South to rise again?). The company's receivers found plenty of buyers among the Civil War re-enactment crowd.


08 Jul 09 - 12:40 PM (#2674834)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Leadfingers

It is , I believe , well documented that a LOT Of Mill Owners were
certainly at least sympathetic to the South , as most of their raw Material was from the Confederate States and the Indian cotton coming in was of quite inferior quality . The Mill Workers were only concerned for their jobs , but DID have an involvement with the anti
slavery movement in the early years of Trade Unionism.


08 Jul 09 - 12:58 PM (#2674855)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: robomatic

I think it has been asserted that a strong motivator toward Lincoln's timing of the issuance of "The Emancipation Proclomation" was to advance the Union over the Confederacy in the social and political estimation of the government and people of Great Britain.


08 Jul 09 - 02:42 PM (#2674950)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Art Thieme

Farm fowl were trained to find spys. A favorite dish of that time came from the facts as you state them above. It was named Chicken-Catch-a-Tory.

Art


08 Jul 09 - 02:45 PM (#2674958)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: beardedbruce

Art,

What a Revolutionary idea!


08 Jul 09 - 04:09 PM (#2675027)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Eric the Viking

There is a confederate soldier/sailor buried in the cemetary at fleetwood/Rossal? I can find exactly where when I ask my friend. I have seen the gravestone once it is in poor repair. I can't remember all the details but can find out if interested.


08 Jul 09 - 04:24 PM (#2675046)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Paul Burke

Radicalism was strong among Lancashire cotton mill workers, and support for the Union was high despite the unemployment caused by the blockade.

The Rochdale Observer on 13th March 1864 reported the following rousing address from Chartist orator Ernest Jones:

'I have not forgotten the men of Rochdale, their love of freedom and of truth, and I trust that those who are now struggling, honourably and constitutionally, for the freedom of the black will join in every effort for a fresh instalment towards the Charter of an Englishman's liberty (applause). Those who pat the slave-owners of America on the backs would like to be slave-owners in England too (cheers and hear! hear!)...I trust that we shall find that in establishing liberty universally throughout the American continent we shall be placing the crowning pinnacle on the edifice of freedom here as well'.


08 Jul 09 - 10:38 PM (#2675357)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Neil D

Here is something I added to a previous thread where someone made the claim that if America had never broke away from Great Britain slavery would have ended 30 years sooner.

Would slavery really have ended here 30 years sooner, and without the upheaval, if there had never been a break with Great Britain. Perhaps, but remember that for 160 years slavery in North America WAS a British institution. It would not have been so easy to abolish slavery in 1834 if The United Kingdom contained an area 20 times the size of England whose entire economy was based on slave labor. Even after 1834 Great Britain was complicit in the American institution of slavery. The British textile industry, a major segment of it's economy, relied heavily on the cotton being exported from the American south, providing slaveowners with their biggest market.
   During the American Civil War there was even some fear in Washington that Britain might use it's navy to break the Northern blockade of the South which had cut off that supply of cotton, thus strangling the Southern economy and cutting them off from manufactured goods and raw materials they desperately needed. That would have neutralized the North's greatest advantage. Actually there was never any real threat of this happening, probably because of emerging cotton cultivation in other parts of the British Empire.
Nevertheless, there was strong sympathy for the Confederate States in Britain and The Emancipation Proclamation was aimed at swaying British public opinion as much as for any other reason.


08 Jul 09 - 11:09 PM (#2675363)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

This is indeed a fascinating story.

I recommend The Rebel Raiders, by James Tertius DeKay, as well as Men and Ships of the Civil War, by Scott Rye, to anyone serious about this question--both informative but not dry.

Crux of the problem was the interpretation of the Foreign Enlistment Act of 1819. This Act made it illegal for any British subject to sell a ship to a foreign belligerent if that ship was to be used against a state with which Britain was at peace.

But James Bulloch , the resourceful Confederate agent, found a solicitor who came up with the idea that as long as the ship's guns were not installed, a British shipyard was free to build warships for the South.   So Bulloch had the guns installed outside the 3-mile limit.

(Therefore the line from "The "Alabama": "While Liverpool fitted her with guns and men" is strictly speaking, not true.)   In fact Raphael Semmes had to be quite persuasive to convince half of the men who had sailed out of Liverpool to sign on with him--the main problem being the fact there would be no prize money until the South won the war.

Not only did the British government let the ship which became the Alabama slip out from Liverpool, but also the future Shenandoah.   And two ironclads--called the "Laird rams" were also built in the UK--and almost made it out. After all, "papers at the Laird works showed convincingly that they were owned by a French firm" (DeKay p 162)--supposedly built for the pasha of Egypt to patrol the Nile.

When the news of Chancellorsville and Lee's move into Maryland and Pennsylvania reached Britain, Gladstone proclaimed that the restoration of the US union was no longer possible. Palmerston said explicitly that the Union no longer existed.

"Naval experts, not only in the United States, but in Britain, were convinced that the Laird rams could break the blockade." ...."Adams knew that the Lincoln cabinet was so afraid of the rams that it was seriously considering the possibility of flouting Britain's self-styled "neutrality" and sending a squadron of US Navy steamers up the Mersey", guns blazing, to destroy the rebel ships at anchor Such a move would unquestionably mean war with Britain" (DeKay p 163).    Adams even mentioned the word "war" in a letter to Russell--after Russell had yet again refused to seize the rams.

Only this prospect convinced the Palmerston government to stop the rams from leaving the UK.

And this was after the Emancipation Proclamation, which was announced in late 1862---, after the North could finally claim a victory (Antietam)-- to take effect 1 Jan 1863. So the Proclamation in itself did not solve the problem.

This is not even touching the subjects of the cotton trade, attitudes of educated Britons toward the North, and the Alabama Claims. The topic is far too rich to deal with in one post.

.


09 Jul 09 - 05:05 AM (#2675490)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: GUEST,Stringsinger

The sad news is that during a speech, Obama trivialized the situation by making a stupid remark about "Leave it to Uighur" as if that was funny.

There is nothing funny about this situation. On one hand you have a totalitarian and authoritarian government outlawing practices they don't approve of. On the other, you have people who are indoctrinated in their religion and feel justified in defending it violently. It's a lose-lose situation.


09 Jul 09 - 06:19 AM (#2675527)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Dave the Gnome

Ron - Just out of interest - My copy of "THE NATIONAL ENCYCLOP├ćDIA: A Dictionary of Universal Knowledge. By Writers of Eminence in Literature, Science and Art." Circa 1876, has this to say about The Alabama -

"The vessel was built by Messrs. Laird of Birkenhead and sailed surreptitiously from the Mersey on the 31st of July 1862, known simply as "No 290". She proceeded to Terceira, one of the Western Islands, where she was supplied with guns, coal and stores from a vessel which had been sent from London to meet her..."

So - when you tell people you can now say you have an (almost) contemporary account of it!:-)

Anyone have any recommendations for a book on the Civil War? Particularly the British involvement?

Cheers

Dave


09 Jul 09 - 09:03 AM (#2675630)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: GUEST,Brian

Different parts of British society held sympathies for both sides.
The South thought that Britain and other European Countries would become allies because of the cotton supply (most of the worlds cotton at that time was grown in the American southern states). So the Confederacy made strong representations to Britain. This came to a head with the Trent Affair and Britain came close to joining the war on the side of the Confederacy. If Britain had joined the Civil war on the side of the South then this would have been directed via Canada and the North would then have to fight on two fronts. The North was obviously keen to avoid this and the Trent Affair was resolved, but Britain was always seen as favouring the South.

When the Alabama was sunk off of Cherbourg survivors were picked up by the Britsh owned 'Deerhound' rather than being left to be taken prisoner by the Kearsarge giving further cause to see Britain as sympathetic to the South.


09 Jul 09 - 09:11 PM (#2676197)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Rapparee

When I visited the Ballincollig Gunpowder Mill (the Royal Gunpowder Mill) outside of Cork, Ireland, I asked if the gunpowder made there was exported to the States during the US Civil War.

The answer was "Yes, mostly to the South, but some to the North."

Medical supplies, including quinine and other medicines, were exported to the South along with British Pattern 1853 Enfield rifled muskets. The total number of Enfields sent over to both sides was about 900,000.

Yes, there was British support for the Confederacy. Some was due to the idea of the Blockade, which did not permit ANY ships to enter or leave the Southern harbors. Normally, the interdiction of medical and food supplies would have been against the "laws of war" -- but the Union took the position throughout the War that the Confederacy was not a separate country and hence any blockade was proper and in keeping with the "laws of war." Note that the United States never declared war on the Confederacy, reasoning that a country cannot declare war on itself.


09 Jul 09 - 10:35 PM (#2676239)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

The US never declared war on the Confederacy. But there were still legal problems. Lincoln declared a blockade on the Confederacy, thereby gaining "for the Confederacy the rights of a belligerent in all the courts of Europe, since a nation did not blockade its own ports".

Lincoln's reply, when asked about this: "Yes, that's a fact. I see the point now, but I don't know anything about the Law of Nations....I'm a good enough lawyer in a western law court, I suppose, but we don't practice the Law of Nations out there, and I supposed Seward knew all about it and I left it to him",

This quote is not footnoted, but has the ring of truth.

From: The Civil War: A Narrative, by Shelby Foote. Volume I, page 159.


As usual, unfortunately no more time for other aspects of the topic. There's a lot more to say.


10 Jul 09 - 02:18 PM (#2676791)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Stringsinger

Many of the Confederacy had roots in the British Isles.

There was also the issue of slavery.
Many black people moved to the Islands under British protection rather than remain under
Confederate practices.


10 Jul 09 - 11:53 PM (#2677181)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

" Many of the Confederacy (sic) had roots in the British Isles".   This observation has limited value, since the same can be said for a good portion of the Union in 1860.

Anybody who does want to explore the antecedents of the Confederacy--and the North, for all that, might want to check another fascinating book: Albion's Seed--which points out how specific areas of the original colonies were settled,, in great part, by specific areas of Britain. And Virginia was settled to a large extent by conservatives from the south of England. So there certainly is a kinship felt between the Southern cavaliers and the upper classes of England.

This even came out explicitly at the time of the Civil War: deKay, p 122: An MP, John Arthur Roebuck, in a speech given at Sheffield "praised Southerners in the most exemplary terms, ending with the ultimate compliment. claiming that 'they are Englishmen'".    Whereas Northerners are descendants "of the scum and refuse of Europe".

Interesting he should characterize it so, since there were Scots, Welsh, Germans, French etc--as well as English-- in both the North and South.

No doubt it has to do with the above-cited felt kinship of the British upper classes with the plantation owners.

But those Southerners who were not "cavaliers" were often descended from Borderers--who, considered violent and uneducated "scum and refuse", had been removed from the Border when James VI became James I, then sent to Ireland, where they also did not fit in. Following that, succeeding generations went to New England, where they did not get along, to Pennsylvania, where they did not accept Quaker ways, and finally wound up scattered along the Appalachians. And provided many US presidents from Jackson to LBJ.

Many more details of this in Albion's Seed.







Book on the Civil War.   Still the best overview I've found is Battle Cry of Freedom, by James M. McPherson. Came out in 1988, but still not bettered as far as I know.

Only one chapter on British involvement:   "John Bull's Virginia Reel".   But he is amazingly thorough for only one volume on the whole war.   And on top of that he's a great storyteller--vivid sketches of dramatis personae, details on strategy--but also capturing the sweep of events.

As usual, lots more to say, but no time.


11 Jul 09 - 05:21 AM (#2677302)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: kendall

Britain depended on cotten from the south to keep their mills running. They were set to enter the war on the side of the Confederacy, but when Lincoln declared victory at Antietam they backed off. It was strictly business.


11 Jul 09 - 10:24 AM (#2677420)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Rapparee

I think it's fair to say that Britain (and much of the rest of Europe as well) thought of the Confederacy, and to a lesser extent the North, as places to make money. Austria, for instance, sold about 100,000 Model 1854 .54 caliber Lorenz rifle-musket to the South and 225,000 to the North. Nearly all European countries had military observers on both sides, with the results of these observations seen as soon as the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and later in WW1.


11 Jul 09 - 11:16 AM (#2677448)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

"set to enter the war" is a bit oversimplified.   The plan was not to enter overtly with British troops fighting in the US, but to offer arbitration, which, if accepted, would have resulted in the independence of the South. Of course it would not have been accepted by the North.

And, as some have already pointed out, it was not in fact strictly business.   Many cotton workers (though thrown out of work by the blockade) and others in various cities in Britain signed letters supporting the North, which mightily impressed Lincoln.   (And in fact the North sent money and goods to support cotton workers thrown out of work, though this obviously could not be done on the scale needed to deal with the economic hardship) .But even though the franchise was restricted at that point, the government realized it had to take into account the wishes of those workers.

It certainly is true, as I've indicated above, that the sympathies of the British ruling classes were by and large with the South--or against the North.

Variations on this theme by a member of the Bank of England , who had in fact spent some time in the US: " The narrow, fanatical and originally sincere puritanism of their ancestors has, in the course of six generations, degenerated into that amalgam of hypocrisy, cruelty, falsehood, unconsciousness of the faintest sentiment of self-respect, coarseness of self-assertion, insensibility to the opinions of others, utter callousness to right, barbarous delight in wrong, and thorough moral ruffianism, which is now fully revealed to the world as the genuine Yankee nature."

Also: when the Deerhound picked up Semmes and the others, it had in fact been asked to do so by Captain Winslow of the Keersarge, an old buddy of Semmes from the Mexican War. A US officer approached the Deerhound and asked if anybody had seen Semmes. One of Semmes' officers said: "Captain Semmes is drowned" and the boat moved off.   John Lancaster, owner of the Deerhound asked Semmes;   "Where shall I land you?". Semmes:   "I am now under English colors and the sooner you put me with my officers and men on English soil, the better" (deKay p 202).


11 Jul 09 - 11:18 AM (#2677454)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: gnu

I LOVE these threads. So many fascinating takes and facts.


11 Jul 09 - 11:22 AM (#2677460)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

By the way, if anybody does know of a book comprehensively dealing with the British involvement in the Civil War, I'd also be interested. It's certainly a many-faceted topic.


11 Jul 09 - 11:37 AM (#2677471)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

I'm with you, gnu. That's why I virtually never read fiction--history is just too fascinating--and there are always more corners to poke into.


11 Jul 09 - 11:43 AM (#2677476)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: kendall

Britains part in the war is a little more than a foot note, but not much. I forgave them by marrying one.
Ok, nit pickers, have a ball.


11 Jul 09 - 11:43 AM (#2677477)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: gnu

Indeed... I read the odd humourous book, but history is tops. I had a high school teacher who, on the first day of classes, bellowed, "WHO said Canadian history is boring?!!!" Not only did he make sure everyone was paying attention, they did for three years.


11 Jul 09 - 11:57 AM (#2677497)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: gnu

She could be a Brit spy, K. All those times she sent you to the cellar, she could have been on her short wave radio to MI6 passing national secrets about lobster and such. Best keep an eye on her.


11 Jul 09 - 02:01 PM (#2677615)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: robomatic

I think it only natural that the British considered the opportunities possible in regaining former colonies.

There's a cute scene in the opening of Verne's "Voyage to the Moon" where a bunch of Americans are considering their options now that the Civil War is over. One of them is "Say, weren't we once colonies of England? Why don't we go make England OUR colony?"

This turns out to be lower on their priority list than building a cannon which will shoot people to the moon. Verne even had an almost correct calculation for escape velocity.


11 Jul 09 - 02:04 PM (#2677616)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Rapparee

So THAT'S where they learned the plans for the dory! A seductress working for a foreign government, a retired sea captain...it all makes sense now.

My wife and her friend Mary are quilters. A couple years ago they asked themselves, "Where did the North get cotton during the Civil War? Certainly not from Britain or India or Egypt."

To make a long road of research short (and they're still traveling it), there was a brisk trade between the North and South in cotton. Some was seized from blockade runners and some came from Matamoras in Mexico, but the percentage from the runners was tiny and the cotton from Mexico dried up after Vicksburg fell.

Basically, if you could get the cotton onto Northern soil no one asked "Where did it come from?" The administration in DC winked at it and it was sold in New York and elsewhere as it had been. The supply was somewhat diminished, but not as badly as it could have been.

The two of them want to get into the records at the museum in Lowell, Mass. All of the record books which could be found from the old mills are gathered there. The National Archives are another source.

(Yes, they are aware of the work done in the early 1960s which has until know been considered THE source. However, the author used invalid formulae for his calculations. And I trust my wife and her friend: both librarians, both lawyers, one a mathematician and the other ABD in American History.)


11 Jul 09 - 02:52 PM (#2677663)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

Not regaining former colonies--they knew that was a pipe dream. But they weren't exactly crushed at the prospect a strong and growing rival would break into two nations antagonistic towards each other.


11 Jul 09 - 03:09 PM (#2677674)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: McGrath of Harlow

After all, look how pleased our governments were when the USSR broke up.


11 Jul 09 - 03:36 PM (#2677686)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: robomatic

I don't recall that we were especially pleased to have ballistic nuclear missiles under multiple administrations. I think only John Birchers and some other dunderheads thought it a 'swell' thing.


11 Jul 09 - 06:08 PM (#2677787)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: EBarnacle

Y'know, there's the potential of an alternate history story here. Had the colonies stayed with the Brits instead of seceding in '76, would the South have seceded when slavery was outlawed in the early 19th Century? Was slavery outlawed in England's other colonies when they outlawed it in the Isles?


11 Jul 09 - 06:20 PM (#2677795)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Rapparee

There's a difference between de jure and de facto.

You might do worse than read "If The South Had Won The Civil War" by, I think, Bruce Catton.


11 Jul 09 - 06:48 PM (#2677817)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: McGrath of Harlow

The thing about alternative history is, you can't just imagine one big thing changed, and then assume that all the other places stay in place.

For example, if you assume victory for the British and those Americans who were opposed to secession, that victory would have included the estimated 20,000 black slaves who fought on the British side to win their freedom. That could have significantly strengthened the abolitionist cause back in England - and arguably it might have weakened it in the Northern colonies, if there continued to be strong secessionist feelings..

If strengthened abolitionism is envisaged in Britain, while a French Revolution is still seen as to occuring, a second more successful attempt at secession, while England was overstretched elsewhere, can be imagined. But with the difference that the defence of the institution of slavery would have been the key issue.

Thus, rather than slavery being seen as an embarrassing anomaly, confined to part of a new United States, and in conflict with aspirations of liberty for all, it could have been seen as a fundamental founding element of the new country. Perhaps the constitution would have had an Amendment guaranteeing "The right to own black slaves". And perhaps a Declaration of Independance declaring that the truth which was self-evident was that "All white men are created equal."


12 Jul 09 - 10:06 AM (#2678177)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

A mark of just how complex the attitudes of Britons toward the US Civil War was:

From Battle Cry of Freedom, p 552

"...several liberals and even radicals were attracted to the South's fight for self-determination.   Many Englishmen had cheered the Greek fight for independence or the struggle of Hungary and Italian states to throw off Hapsburg rule. Some viewed the South's revolution against Yankee overlordship in a similar light".


This is why the Emancipation Proclamation was so important.

"To accept the notion that the South fought for independence rather than slavery required considerable mental legerdemain. But so long as the North did NOT fight for freedom, many Britons could see no moral superiority in the Union cause".    Battle Cry p 553.

Looked at from the this perspective, a good argument can be made that the most dangerous time for the Union cause was early in the war--especially at the time of the Trent affair, when hotheads on both sides of the Atlantic were in fact eager to go to war against each other.


12 Jul 09 - 10:07 AM (#2678179)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

"attitudes.....were."


12 Jul 09 - 10:17 AM (#2678191)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Rapparee

Oh yeah! The Union had enough troubles winning without adding Britain as an enemy. The fact that the South could and did send troublesome persons into the North via Canada was enough trouble. The 21 Confederate cavalrymen who raided St. Albans, Vermont on October 19, 1864:

The raiders fled with the money [$208,000] into Canada, where they were arrested by authorities. A Canadian court decided that the soldiers were under military orders and that the officially neutral Canada could not extradite them to the United States. The Canadian court's ruling that the soldiers were legitimate military belligerents and not criminals, as argued by American authorities, has been interpreted as a tacit British recognition of the Confederate States of America. The raiders were freed, but the $88,000 the raiders had on their person was returned to Vermont.


12 Jul 09 - 02:07 PM (#2678384)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Les from Hull

Dave - you might want to have a look at 'Lifeline of the Confederacy - Blockade Running during the Civil War' by Stephen R Wise (University of South Caroline Press) ISBN 0-87249-554-X.

This tells the story of how (often British built) fast steamers traded with the Confederacy, bringing in war materials (guns, steam engines) and bringing out cotton. The blockade imposed by the North was very effective, and blockade runners averaged only two runs before capture. The book is a scholarly production, well-illustrated and with no fewer than 22 appendices giving lists of ships and ship movements.

I'm sure that, as a Lancashire person (well nobody's perfect!) you will have access to resources on the Lancashire Cotton Famine. But I understand that, although the mill owners (spit spit) supported the Confederacy, the mill workers supported the Union on the basis of anti-slavery, even though the loss of work had caused extreme poverty in the mill towns.


12 Jul 09 - 02:33 PM (#2678410)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: gnu

Bet the Canucks had a big party with the other $120k!


12 Jul 09 - 02:55 PM (#2678433)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: McGrath of Harlow

Has that story Rapaire gave us about the Confederate raid in Vermont ever been made into a film? If not, it should be.


12 Jul 09 - 04:25 PM (#2678513)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Rapparee

Yes. It was called "The Raid". Don't remember the year.


12 Jul 09 - 04:30 PM (#2678515)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: gnu

The Raid.


12 Jul 09 - 05:05 PM (#2678545)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Dave the Gnome

This is great! I am definietely going to delve into the library for general works and, maybe, even check with Manchester Central Library archives to see if there are any contemporary accounts from the local papers. Not sure when but it will get done eventualy:-) You never know - may even find some relevent broadsheet ballads! Watch this space...

DeG


12 Jul 09 - 05:27 PM (#2678562)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Les from Hull

Check out this chap.

Under Lancashire songs there's a few songs about the cotton famine times.


12 Jul 09 - 05:36 PM (#2678572)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Paul Burke

Tangential to this, but the horrors of slavery and the US Civil War stemmed in an arguably large degree from a talented engineer falling in love. Eli Whitney, a great pioneer of mass- production (Springfield rifle factory) had a thing about a Southern widow (unrequited): but he invented the cotton gin to make her plantation more profitable, and created the economic basis for the latifundia.


12 Jul 09 - 06:04 PM (#2678592)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Rapparee

I suspect that if Whitney hadn't invented it someone else would have done so. The time for the cotton gin was ripe.


12 Jul 09 - 06:13 PM (#2678596)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

Added to which, Whitney was an inveterate tinkerer.   He may well have done something similar without meeting any Southern belle. Was he not also responsible for something along the lines of interchangeable parts in rifles? I dimly recall something to that effect.


13 Jul 09 - 07:30 AM (#2678957)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

Thanks, Les, for that link to William Billington.

I think it's fascinating, if you read his poems carefully, that he seems to reflect the complexity of the weavers' attitudes toward the US Civil War.   In "Aw Wud the War Wur Ended" he appeals for the freeing of the slaves. But in "Th' Surat Weyver's Song" it's "Bud iv wey w' t' Yankees hed eawr will? We'd hang 'em i' t' Surat".

Not an endorsement of the blockade.

Question obviously is: who are the "Yankees" in this regard?

Sounds to me as if the speaker is protesting the unfairness of his being caught up in a foreign quarrel.


13 Jul 09 - 09:12 AM (#2679035)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Les from Hull

Going back to your original posting, my view is that the British Government and the British people generally didn't support the Confederacy, mainly because of slavery. Britain had led the anti-slavery movement, from the abolition of the slave trade and the eventual emancipation of the slaves. Only the Trent incident put pressure on this.

The Britons who 'supported' the Confederacy did so purely out of greed. There were very good profits to be made out of trading with the South, by building and operating specialist ships (particularly shallow draft iron sidewheel steamers), and by providing imports of goods needed by the Confederacy, whose industrial base was very inferior to that of the North. Britain was also able to supply items like the Whitworth and Blakely rifled cannon used by the Confederacy. So support for the South was focused on the Clyde and Mersey rivers, and in the mansions of the Lancashire mill owners.

I suppose that the view that the Confederacy had support around the world has grown because of 'wrong but romantic' viewpoint. Sellars and Yeatman in the excellent '1066 and all that' pointed this out in relation to the English Civil War. I'm more of a 'right but repulsive' person myself!

Les


13 Jul 09 - 06:46 PM (#2679511)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: McGrath of Harlow

I'd doubt if William Billington would have been using "Yankee" in the sense you do in the States. Over here, as in Latin America, it normally just means "Americans", the same as "Yanks" does. No distinction about whether they are North or South.

I imagine the same would have been true back in Billington's time.


13 Jul 09 - 07:07 PM (#2679522)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Rapparee

I forgot about the Whitworth rifle. These were .451 caliber weapons that fired a hexagonal bullet (just as the cannon fined a hexagonal shell). These were accurate (without telescopic sights) out to 1,000 yards or more and are considered to be the first true sniper rifles. About 250 were sent from England to the South; perhaps 150 made it through the blockade.

Gen. John Sedgewick was killed with a shot from Whitworth at the Battle of Spotslvania Courthouse; the range was about 800 to 1,000 yards.

(Before anyone says that it's impossible to shoot a rifle accurately at that distance using "iron sights" I suggest you check the record books. With a properly zeroed rifle I'm only good out to about 325 meters, but that's because of eyesight problems, not the rifle's capability. In marksmanship as in music, the instrument is almost always capable of better performance than the performer.)


13 Jul 09 - 09:36 PM (#2679588)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

Using "Yankee" to mean all Americans:   In fact that was not universal in Britain at the time of the Civil War, as illustrated by the quote I gave earlier by the Bank of England person who had lived in the US.   His rather intemperate description obviously specifically referred to the descendants of Puritans:   that is, Northerners, not Southerners.

Perhaps the educated (the upper classes) made the distinction more often.

And as I said, the Billington poem referring to the Indian cotton was not an endorsement of the blockade against the South:   rather, as I said, it seems clearly to be a protest at being caught as a pawn in a foreign quarrel.

As I said, the attitudes appear to have been quite complex--with good reason.


13 Jul 09 - 10:52 PM (#2679626)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Dave the Gnome

I wonder if William is an ancestor of Mike Billington of both Manchester and Mudcat? Where are you Mike?

DeG


14 Jul 09 - 01:26 PM (#2680088)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: EBarnacle

There was a story I recall reading back in high school about Whitney. In it he demonstrated the concept of interchangeable parts to athe then President and the War Department by having thempick up any part from a group of parts piles and assemble several rifles. When they assembles them, the rifles all worked, demonstrating the superiority of mass produced parts over one off, blacksmith produced, parts.

Supposedly, that was the beginning of that phase of the industrial revolution.


14 Jul 09 - 01:55 PM (#2680120)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: sian, west wales

Some here might be interested in
The Halifax Connection by Marie Jakober, a novel based in, well ... Halifax (Nova Scotia) ... at the time in question.

sian


14 Jul 09 - 11:03 PM (#2680458)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

It doesn't seem to me reasonable to believe that the British people and the British government did not support the Confederacy.   The topic is far too complex to assert that. I would certainly be willing to see any evidence--before Gettysburg--that the government did not support the Confederacy--at least by extreme unwillingness to act against the building of the ships the Southern agent, James Bulloch, had in mind.

It certainly did seem--at least until the possibility of the South taking Washington seemed gone, that is, until Gettysburg--to the US MInister to Britain, Charles Francis Adams, that the British government was doing all it could to support the South without doing so overtly. His frustration is palpable.

"After almost two years in London, Adams was still ill at ease with the English. For all their politeness,    he could sense the almost universal antipathy toward his country, whether in the casual chat at ruling-class dinner tables or the carping tone of the editorials of the national press, or, most galling of all, in the honeyed insolence of the government leaders with whom he dealt." (deKay p 144)

"At his most recent meeting with Russell" (this is spring 1863) ," shortly after the debut of the "Florida", Adams came close to charging the British government with outright criminality for its disregard of his warnings about the two Confederate cruisers" (deKay p 145).

"Well-born Englishmen professed to dislike Yankees as much for their manners as for their dangerous democratic example to the lower orders. Many of the gentry expressed delight at the 'immortal smash' of 1861 which demonstrated 'the failure of republican institutions in time of pressure'. The Earl of Shrewsbury looked upon 'the trial of Democracy and its failure' with pleasure. 'The dissolution of the Union (means) that men now before us will live to see an aristocracy established in America'   Similar statements found their way into prominent newspapers, including the London 'Morning Post' and the magisterial 'Times', both with close ties to the Palmerston government. The 'Times' considered the destruction of 'the American Colossus' good 'riddance of a nightmare...Excepting a few gentlemen of republicans tendencies, we all expect, we nearly all wish, success to the Confederate cause'. If by some remote and hateful chance the North did manage to win, said the 'Morning Post', 'who can doubt that Democracy will be more arrogant, more aggressive, more levelling, and vulgarizing, if that be possible, than ever before'". (McPherson, p 551),

The newspaper quotes are from an entire book on the question:   Britain and the Civil War, by a historian named Adams who died in 1930.    But his book, it appears is back in print--on Amazon, no less. I may well do something I hardly ever do, and pay full price--the topic is amazingly rich and complex. Also, you can download the book through the Gutenberg project--though I sure can't imagine downloading a 646-page book.


14 Jul 09 - 11:06 PM (#2680460)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

"republican tendencies"


14 Jul 09 - 11:14 PM (#2680461)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

Ephraim Douglass Adams is the historian's name. Kin to some of the other prominent Adams'?   Can't tell but don't think so--Adams is definitely a common name in the US.


15 Jul 09 - 10:15 AM (#2680726)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: McGrath of Harlow

Kin to some of the other prominent Adams'?

The one who comes to mind would be Douglas Adams author of The Hitchikers Guide But probably not.

"Well-born Englishmen" might indeed have been a fairly keen on the Confederacy. But "well-born Englishmen" were a small minority then, as now.


15 Jul 09 - 02:40 PM (#2680913)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: GUEST,beardedbruce

Ron,

I made the download- ( 1.43MB zipped).


15 Jul 09 - 02:42 PM (#2680916)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: GUEST,beardedbruce

sorry, entire folder with photos is 2.68 MB.


15 Jul 09 - 11:29 PM (#2681177)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

"small minority". Perhaps. But pro-Confederate Britons--pro Confederate for any number of reasons--appear to have run Britain during the US Civil War.

And many of the others appear somewhat torn. As I noted, the weaver in the "Surat" poem, had no love for either the US North or South-- realized he was just a pawn in a foreign quarrel.

Added to which, many Britons took advantage of the market--and seemed to have supplied whoever could pay. Or just filled a market niche--the US merchant marine was crippled by the astronomical insurance rates--and supposedly never recovered. Somebody took that business.


16 Jul 09 - 12:39 AM (#2681197)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: meself

The Rothschilds refused to guarantee Confederate bonds - this was a major blow to the economy of the Confederacy. According to a documentary I'm watching on PBS right now ...


16 Jul 09 - 07:49 AM (#2681322)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

I'd still like to see any evidence that the British government did not support the Confederacy before Gettysburg-- it appears to have done so not overtly, but still effectively.


16 Jul 09 - 12:45 PM (#2681531)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Les from Hull

Please explain how the United Kingdom supported the Confederacy secretly. Did they give them arms, money, men? The only people in Britain who actively 'supported' the Confederacy did so for monetary gain, they built ships, they supplied goods, they bought cotton.


16 Jul 09 - 10:22 PM (#2681893)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

The British government at the time made sure not to see how "neutrality" was being violated--in spirit, if not in letter.   Adams, the US Minister to Britain,   tried many times to try to persuade the Palmerston regime to block at at least three ships built in Britain for the Confederacy from leaving the UK. It was an open secret that they were built to ravage "the commerce of the North", as the song goes --though only supplied with guns outside the 3 mile limit.

How many specific instances of refusal to take action do you need?   There is a long list.

The government finally did block the "Laird rams", but, it appears, only when faced with the strong possibility that if it did not, the Lincoln administration might well send US Navy ships up the Mersey to destroy the "rams" before they were launched.


17 Jul 09 - 09:16 PM (#2682596)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: McGrath of Harlow

I'm sure they'd have equally willingly built ships for the North. Good money to be made as a neutral selling arms to both sides in a war.


17 Jul 09 - 10:16 PM (#2682621)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

Point is: the government--not just some businessmen-- supported the South in the US Civil War.      Not openly, but effectively.

If somebody would like to provide evidence the Palmerston government supported the North--at all, covertly or overtly--I'm sure we'd all like to see it.


17 Jul 09 - 10:55 PM (#2682634)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Little Hawk

Britain, as the world's greatest imperial power in the 1860s, would have had plenty of reasons to prefer that the USA be split into two separate nations, as this would considerably weaken the USA as a future imperial rival to Great Britain.

That's realpolitik. It's not at all surprising that the British would have hoped for a Confederate victory and would have given the CSA some covert assistance and helped them out with trade.

A CSA victory would have resulted in a weaker USA and a CSA whose military plans would necessarily be mostly focused on each other in the future rather than overseas. This could only be beneficial to the various European powers (and eventually to the Japanese as well).

A USA victory, on the other hand, would result in a reunited America which would soon become a very serious rival to all the other great imperial powers in the world...and possibly end up stronger than any of them. That's what has happened since the end of the 1800s.

So the British had vital reasons, in a strategic sense, to want the South to win that war...quite aside from the moral issues such as the slavery question.

When it comes right down to it, empires are least moved by moral issues...they are most moved by financial issues and issues of relative military power and positioning.

Why would anyone be surprised that the UK hoped for a Southern win in the American Civil War? A divided rival is a weakened rival...and you can keep on playing one side against the other to your own advantage.

That's just smart imperial strategy.


18 Jul 09 - 02:39 PM (#2682915)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Les from Hull

I'm sure that Britain wouldn't have minded there being two Americas, but at the time America's status was very inferior to that of the British Empire, the French Empire, the Russian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire. It was still a very Euro-centric world, and the British and French had just fought a war to maintain the balance of power in Eastern Europe. Just because over the next century the USA became much more important doesn't mean that its importance at the time should be over-estimated. Important, yes, but not vitally important. When the most-influential reporter of the time, William Howard Russell of the 'Times', visited the Southern States at the beginning of the War he was amazed that the 'Southern Gentlemen' thought that Britain would support the Confederacy because of the effect of King Cotton. Russell thought this a 'grievous delusion'.

The ships built for the Confederacy were built under a smokescreen of false information. The turret rams Mississippi and North Carolina were being built by Lairds at Birkenhead supposedly for the Egyptian Government. When the true destination became known they were seized by the British Government and later purchased for the Royal Navy. The French Government prevented the two ships building at Bordeaux from reaching the Confederacy. The unarmoured British-built ships that served the Confederacy (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Shenandoah etc) were fitted out as warships either at sea or in foreign ports.

The idea of USN ships going up the Mersey and destroying the Laird Rams is one of the most ludicrous things I've ever heard. Firstly they didn't have any ships that could do it. Secondly the Royal Navy was by far the strongest navy in the World. Thirdly, Britain would have certainly declared war on the United States.


18 Jul 09 - 04:45 PM (#2682976)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Bonzo3legs

.....and would have most probably given the US a good biffing, and reached the moon by 1925!!!


19 Jul 09 - 01:56 PM (#2683369)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: McGrath of Harlow

My impression is that the American Civil War was regarded as pretty peripheral in Europe, apart from its impact on the cotton industry.


19 Jul 09 - 02:53 PM (#2683408)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: EBarnacle

The question of Southern support from England is well reflected by our own ineptitute in the Trent Affair. Only the intervention of Prince Albert's people kept the Brits from going to a much more sever relationship at that time.


19 Jul 09 - 08:54 PM (#2683610)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

Yes, there obviously was a smokescreen put up by Bulloch et al.   But the North also had spies who were funneling information to Adams, who immediately passed it on to the British government, which did nothing....for a long time.

Crux of the problem was the interpretation of the 1819 law, as I noted earlier. That law was interpreted in such a way as to strip it of meaning:   interpreted by Bulloch's clever attorney---and accepted by the British government.


The "rams"---"when the true destination became known..."--sorry, that's a simplistic explanation--so much so as to be misleading.   I will give you more details--there are plenty to be had.

Added to which, the pattern by the Palmerston government of looking the other way when given information was established with the ships called the "Oreto" and the "290".   The lawyerly interpretation of the 1819 law was a fig leaf for the government's desire to support the South without doing so obviously---until the expected victory by the South --or stalemate, with opportunity for European powers to mediate--would allow Southern cotton to flow to Europe again.


19 Jul 09 - 08:56 PM (#2683611)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

Parallels were drawn, especially by Europeans, with the American Revolution.   And a similar outcome was expected.


19 Jul 09 - 10:02 PM (#2683638)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Charley Noble

As I recall the Russians showed support for the North early in the Civil War by sending a squadron of war ships on a state visit to New York harbor and other harbors along the East Coast.

Our dear Canadian neighbors functioned as a base for several CSA plots, a bank raid into Vermont and a plot to capture a Northern steamer when it stopped in Nova Scotia. There was also a plot to raid a prisoner of war camp in the Great Lakes area that was never carried out.

Bermuda, British Territory, functioned well into 1864 as a coaling station for Confederate blockade runners as well as merchant raiders.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


19 Jul 09 - 11:30 PM (#2683652)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Little Hawk

Matter of fact, some member of my mother's extended family went down from Canada and volunteered for the South and got killed fighting in that war. I have no idea why he did that, but I imagine that memories of American invasion attempts in the War of 1812 still were strong in royalist Canada in the 1860s, so there may have been a good many people who did not sympathize with the side flying the Stars and Stripes.

On the other hand there were many who did sympathize with the Abolitionists. People from Canada volunteered for both sides in that war.


20 Jul 09 - 03:59 PM (#2684033)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

"our own ineptitude..." in the "Trent" affair. Only the intervention of " Prince Albert's people...".   That also appears to be an oversimplification of the crisis and its resolution.

Yes, Prince Albert toned down the first proposed British response.

But, as I understand it, Wilkes' action in taking the two Southern emissaries, Mason and Slidell, off the "Trent" was not sanctioned by the Lincoln administration, despite being rapturously received by the North at large--and even approved by Lincoln in the beginning. In fact Wilkes also had a personal grudge against Britain, since he felt Britons had been responsible for "stealing credit that was rightly his for his Antarctic expeditions" (A Great Civil War, by Russell Weigley, p 77).

Seward was thought to favor a war with Britain as a means of reuniting the US--and possibly even acquiring Canada. I've found contradictory reports on those stories.   But he did eventually realize this idea was a disaster, and found a way to give back Slidell and Mason while not being seen as completely surrendering to Britain. Seward said that in "impressing passengers from a merchant vessel, Wilkes had followed a British, not an American line of conduct" ( Foote, p 162)--in fact the conduct which was one of the main issues leading to the War of 1812.   Therefore the Southerners "will be cheerfully liberated".

Lincoln called it "a pretty bitter pill", but also agreed the North should only fight one war at a time".


20 Jul 09 - 10:57 PM (#2684235)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: EBarnacle

I refer you to "The Trent Affair," Norman B. Ferris, 1977. The English cabinet and public considered this a potential casus belli, as did the mob in the North. It took a lot of effort for those who did not want a war, often against popular opinion.


21 Jul 09 - 07:54 AM (#2684373)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

I'm aware that English public opinion may have wanted a war and that Prince Albert did yeoman service, so to speak, in seeing that, for instance, the first expression of outrage was was not in fact, an outright declaration of war.    It is certainly remarkable that Britain did not immediately at least recognize the Confederacy as a nation--though as I noted earlier, many European powers, including the UK already recognized the South as a belligerent.

But the forbearance was partly due to the fact that even then there were some cooler heads in Britain, who, for instance, recognized the damage that had been done to British shipping the last time the US and UK had had a war--the War of 1812-- and were not eager for a repeat.

My point is that there were cooler heads--and better moves-- both in the US and UK, by statesmen who headed off the war fever of their countrymen. It was not incompetence on the part of US diplomats and wonderful behavior on the part of the UK.   That's too simple a picture.

But the book you mention does sound intriguing.   I may well buy it.


21 Jul 09 - 08:03 AM (#2684385)
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
From: Ron Davies

Also, one obvious reason the UK did not recognize the South as a country at the time of the "Trent" affair, besides the fact that the Southern diplomats were in fact freed, is the other fact that the Palmerston government recognized the fact that the South was based on a slave economy, anathema to the British.

But that recognition did not stop the Palmerston administration from favoring the South through sins of omission, not commission--at least until Gettysburg.