Tuesday, October 30, 2012

France Suggests Mediation

Napoleon III
One of the main Confederate strategies for victory was through foreign recognition. They thought if European nations would recognize their independence and join them in the war, they would be victorious, as the American did with France during the War for Independence. Before the Battle of Antietam it seemed very likely that the south would gain this recognition, it seemed they needed only one more victory to prove to Europe that they were a serious military power. However, when Lee retreated after Antietam and Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, it became too politically costly for European leaders to recognize Confederate independence, as the people of Europe now saw the American war as over slavery, which they opposed.

The nation most favorable to southern independence was probably Napoleon III, who was focused on expanding the influence of France after the defeat of his uncle, the more famous Napoleon, at the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon wished to establish a presence in Central America, and in fact had invaded Mexico in 1861.

150 years ago today Napoleon proposed to Great Britain and Russia, the two other major European powers, that they halt the carnage in America by proposing a six month armistice followed by mediation. It seems likely that Lincoln for one would not have accepted this, but he never had the opportunity to make the decision. Russia and England would not accept Napoleon's proposal. This was the high point of the Confederate chances for foreign recognition.


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