James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
The English public showed in its outburst of indignation that the opinion of November 11 was antiquated and demanded that the law be expounded and that the government should act in a manner to enforce their own opinion.
It is a common belief that our ministers and ambassadors to Great Britain succumb to the charm of English society, that dinners of the duchesses in London and country visits to persons of quality, distinction and influence are apt to weaken the American fibre. That was not the case with Adams. He went much into society in London and was frequently invited by persons of influence to visit them in their houses in the country. Indeed he was at Monckton Milness house in Yorkshire, when the news of the seizure of Mason and Slidell came. But with him the dinners, receptions and country visits were all in the line of his work, which was to do his part toward saving the republic. During the forty-two days of suspense, until he learned the settlement of the question, he maintained his equable temper, although he appreciated fully the gravity of the case. There can be not a shadow of doubt, he wrote to Seward on December 6, that the passions of the country are up and that a collision is inevitable if the Government of the United States should sustain Captain Wilkes.1 It is evident from his private letters that if Adams had been Secretary of State he would have recommended the immediate surrender of Mason and Slidell. The uniform tendency of our own policy, he wrote to Motley, has been to set up very high the doctrine of neutral rights and to limit in every possible manner the odious doctrine of search. To have the two countries virtually changing their ground under this momentary temptation, would not, as it seems to me, tend to benefit the position of the United States. To R. H.