James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
could in no way injure the Northern cause, so well was it understood, at any rate in England, that they represented slavery. Slow to act and distrustful of his impulses, Lincoln let the great opportunity slip when with a word he might have won the equivalent of a successful campaign in the field. Alike a leader and a representative of popular sentiment, he in this instance suffered his representative character to overtop the leadership. The fellow-feeling with the American public that in any dispute with Great Britain there is but one side to be considered prevented him from making a brilliant stroke. As he took no action and made no public utterance, his silence was misconstrued, and he was reported falsely as having put down his foot, with the declaration, I would sooner die than give them up.1
As there was then no Atlantic cable, England did not receive the news of the seizure of Mason and Slidell until November 27. The opinion was general that it was an outrage to her flag. It has made a great sensation here, wrote John Bright to Sumner from London, and the ignorant and passionate and Rule Britannia class are angry and insolent as usual.2 The excitement is so great, said Adams in a despatch to Seward, as to swallow up every other topic for the moment.3 Charles Mackay,4 a friend of Sewards, wrote to him for his own and for the Presidents information: The people are frantic with
Note 4. Mackay visited the United States in 1857 and wrote a book on the country. During his visit he was entertained by Seward, who saw him again in London in 1859. Seward had a high regard and friendship for him. In February, 1862, he was appointed New York correspondent of the London Times to supplant Davis, whose proclivities were entirely Northern. Life, W. H. Russell, II, 92. [back]