Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 81
James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
Page 81
him as suited to the present exigency, and he did not present it to his Cabinet.  47
  The result justified William H. Russell’s entry in his Diary of December 20 to the effect that Seward would control the situation. 1 And a day earlier Charles Eliot Norton had written from New York to Lowell, “There is apparently no reason to fear war as the result of any popular excitement here or of any want of temper or discretion on the part of the administration. It is a fortunate thing for us that Seward has regained so much of the public confidence. He will feel himself strong enough not to be passionate or violent.” 2  48
  The Cabinet met at ten o’clock on the morning of Christmas day; probably only two members of it, Seward and Blair, were at that hour in favor of the surrender. Seward submitted the draft of his answer to Lord Lyons, complying with the British demand. Sumner 3 came by invitation and read letters from Bright and Cobden, staunch friends of the North, giving an account of English public sentiment and offering advice that may be summed up in Bright’s words, “At all hazards you must not let this matter grow to a war with England.” 4 If Sumner’s opinion was asked, he doubtless expressed himself warmly in favor of Seward’s decision. The discussion went on until two o’clock, when the Cabinet adjourned until next day; it was then resumed. Seward maintained that the claim of the British government was just and had not been “made in a discourteous manner.” 5 Bates, Attorney-General, came to his support, arguing that war with England would be ruin 6 but, as he
Note 1. Russell, 588. [back]
Note 2. C. E. Norton, I, 248. [back]
Note 3. Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations in the Senate. [back]
Note 4. III, 536 n. [back]
Note 5. O. R., II, II, 1076, 1154. [back]
Note 6. What war with England involved was well put to the President by Sumner. Pierce, IV, 58. [back]


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