James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
Tribunal, could not have been made available in an English Court. But the moral evidence was complete and needed only time and opportunity to be converted into legal proof. It is hardly surprising, then, that historical analysis of the situation should lead to the conclusion that the collector, the solicitor and the Commissioners of Customs knew in their minds that the Alabama was intended for the Confederate government, wished in their hearts that she might get away, and, since they had not strictly a legal case against her, persuaded themselves that they were performing their official duty. Chief Justice Cockburn, who puts the best face possible upon the action of the English authorities, intimates that, at this juncture, these officials should have addressed an inquiry to the Messrs. Laird, demanding for whom this war-ship was designed. If this had been done, he added, the high character of these gentlemen would doubtless have insured either a refusal to answer or a truthful answer. The former would have helped materially to establish a case against the vessel, the latter would have justified her immediate seizure. This criticism is unanswerable. To require from Dudley direct proof which he must procure in a hostile community, with the quiet opposition probably of an unsympathetic and technical bureaucracy, was unfriendly and unreasonable.
Three weeks had passed since the customs officials in Liverpool and London had been enjoined to find out the truth, but, had they actually conspired to suppress it, they would hardly have acted differently. They showed no disposition to search for proof and carped at the evidence offered them. On July 17 Adams wrote to Dudley to employ a solicitor and secure affidavits to submit to the collector. Four days later Dudley and his solicitor brought to the collector documents amounting to a direct proof.