James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
strongly upon the present crisis. My conclusion was that another note must be addressed to Lord Russell. So I drew one which I intended only to gain time previous to the inevitable result. This was his famous despatch of September 5: My Lord, he wrote, at this moment, when one of the iron-clad vessels is on the point of departure from this kingdom, on its hostile errand against the United States, I am honored with yours of the 1st instant. I trust I need not express how profound is my regret at the conclusion to which Her Majestys Government have arrived. I can regard it no otherwise than as practically opening to the insurgents free liberty in this kingdom to execute a policy of attacking New York, Boston and Portland and of breaking our blockade. It would be superfluous in me to point out to your lordship that this is war.
As early as September 1, however, Russell was better than his word to Adams. Layard, the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who was in London, wrote on that day to the Treasury: I am directed by Earl Russell to request that you will state to the Lords Commissioners of her Majestys Treasury that so much suspicion attaches to the iron-clad vessels at Birkenhead, that if sufficient evidence can be obtained to lead to the belief that they are intended for the Confederate States Lord Russell thinks the vessels ought to be detained until further examination can be made. Reflection, in which the belief that he had been tricked in the escape of the Alabama undoubtedly played a part, led him, two days later [September 3], to direct that the iron-clad rams be prevented from sailing. On this day he wrote from Meikleour, Scotland: My dear Palmerston,the conduct of the gentlemen who have contracted for the two iron-clads at Birkenhead is so very suspicious that I have thought it necessary to direct that they should be