Friday, May 13, 2011

England Recognizes the Confederacy as a Belligerent

Queen Victoria
Today, 150 years ago, Queen Victoria of England issued a neutrality proclamation. It declared that they were neutral in the unfolding American Civil War, but it also recognized the Confederacy as a belligerent in the conflict. This did not mean that England thought they were a nation, but it did mean that they rejected the North’s claim that it was only an insurrection.

One of the things Jefferson Davis was counting on was European intervention, and this was a step in that direction. He knew that the North had superior man power and resources, but he also knew that the South produced cotton that Europe needed to continue their manufacturing. So he hoped that “King Cotton” would bring England, France and others over to his side. But the main obstacle that stood in the way of this was slavery. William Wilberforce was instrumental in abolishing slavery in England in the 1830s, and the English did not want to help the South because it owned slaves. Another obstacle was the fact that there had been a large cotton harvest the year before, and the warehouses were bulging with excess cotton. We will see how this played out over the next few years.


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