James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
To Great Britain, it seemed that as a question merely of fact a war existed1 between the North and South which must be officially recognized. Davis had invited applications for letters of marque and Lincoln had proclaimed a blockade; both acts being permissible only in war seemed to indicate that the conflict would extend to the ocean where it would concern all maritime nations. As a matter of course, Great Britain issued a Proclamation of Neutrality [May 13], but this natural step was by no means acceptable to the North since the Proclamation by its terms recognized the Confederate States as a belligerent power. The theory of the United States Government that the Southerners were rebels against their authority was undermined as soon as these rebels became belligerents in the eyes of Europe.2 The censure of this declaration by Seward and by Adams was therefore in conformity with diplomatic usage. Nor was the sentiment of Boston as reported by Motley surprising. The declaration of Lord John Russell, he wrote, that the Southern privateers were to be considered belligerents, was received with great indignation by the most warm-hearted, England-loving men in this England-loving part of the country.3 In other sections of the North where England was less liked, the feeling of resentment was still more acute; and the sum of this dissatisfaction may have served a useful purpose in helping to prevent Great Britain from acknowledging the Southern Confederacy in the following year. Nevertheless, a calm survey of the facts can hardly lead to any conclusion but that Great Britain was
Note 2. The other maritime powers waited for Great Britain to take the lead, because the extent of her dominions and commerce in North America made the question most important to her. Within a few weeks France, Spain, the Netherlands, Prussia and other nations followed her example. Bancroft, II, 176. [back]