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Relations with Europe-Foreign Views of the War-The Slaves-Proclamation of Emancipation-Arrest of Rebel Commissioners-Black Troops.



so much to call for his care in the field, President Lincoln was not less busy in the The relations of the Federal Government with Europe were of great importance. "The rebels," says Arnold, with truth, "had a positive, vigorous organisation, with agents all over Europe, many of them in the diplomatic service of the United States." They were well selected, and they were successful in creating the impression that the Confederacy was eminently "a gentleman's government"-that the Federal represented an agrarian mob led by demagogues that Mr. Lincoln was a vulgar, ignorant boor-and that the war itself was simply an unconstitutional attempt to force certain states to remain under a tyrannical and repulsive rule. The great fact that the South had, in the most public manner, proclaimed that it seceded because the North would not permit the further extension of slavery, was utterly ignored; and the active interference of the North

with slavery was ostentatiously urged as a grievance, though, by a strange inconsistency, it was deemed expedient by many foreign anti-slavery men to withdraw all sympathy for the Federal cause, on the ground that its leaders manifested no eagerness to set the slaves free until it became a matter of military expediency. Thus the humane wisdom and moderation, which inspired Lincoln and the true men of the Union to overcome the dreadful obstacles which existed in the opposition of the Northern democrats to Emancipation, was most sophistically and cruelly turned against them. To a more cynical class, the war was but the cleaning by fire of a filthy chimney which should have been burnt out long before, and its Iliad in a nutshell amounted to a squabble which concerned nobody save as a matter for amusement. And there were, finally, not a few-to judge from the frank avowal of a journal of the highest class-who looked forward with joy to the breaking up of the American Union, because "their sympathies were with men, not with monsters, and Russia and the United States are simply giants among nations." All this bore, in due time, its natural fruit. Whether people were to blame for this want of sympathy, considering the ingenuity with which Southern agents fulfilled their missions, is another matter. Time, which is, happily, every day modifying old feelings, cannot change truths.

Foreign Recognition of the Confederacy. 119

And it cannot be denied that hostilities had hardly begun, and that only half the Slave States were in insurrection, when the English and French Governments, acting in concert, recognised the government at Montgomery as an established belligerent power. As to this recognition, Mr. Charles F. Adams, the United States Minister to England, was instructed by Mr. Seward to the effect that it, if carried out, must at once suspend all friendly relations between the United States and England. When, on June

15th, the English and French ministers applied to Mr. Seward for leave to communicate to him their instructions, directing them to recognise the rebels as belligerents, he declined to listen to them. The United States, accordingly, persisted until the end in regarding the rebellion as a domestic difficulty, and one with which foreign governments had no right to interfere. At the present day, it appears most remarkable that the two great sources of encouragement held out to the rebels-of help from Northern sympathisers, and the hope of full recognition by European powers—proved in the end to be allurements which led them on to ruin. Had it not been for the defeat at Bull Run, slavery would perhaps have still existed; and but for the hope of foreign aid, the South would never have been so utterly conquered and thoroughly exhausted as it was. It must, however, be admitted that the irritation.

of the Union-men of the North against England at this crisis was carried much too far, since they did not take fully into consideration the very large number of their sincere friends in Great Britain who earnestly advocated their cause, and that among these were actually the majority of the journalists. To those who did not understand American politics in detail, the spectacle of about one-third of the population, even though backed by constitutional law, opposing the majority, seemed to call for little sympathy. And if the motto of Emancipation for the sake of the white man offended the American Abolitionists, who were unable to see that it was a ruse de guerre in their favour, it is not remarkable that the English Abolitionists should have been equally obtuse.

A much more serious trouble than that of European indifference soon arose in the negro question. There were in the rebel states nearly 4,000,000 slaves. In Mr. Lincoln's party, the Republican, were two classes of men—the Abolitionists, who advocated immediate enfranchisement of all slaves by any means; and the much larger number of men who, while they were opposed to the extension of slavery, and would have liked to see it legally abolished, still remembered that it was constitutional. Slave property had become such a sacred thing, and had been legislated about and quarrelled over to such an extent, that, even

Fugitive Slaves.


among slavery-haters, it was a proof of honest citizenship to recognise it. Thus, for a long time after the war had begun, General M'Clellan, and many other officers like him, made it a point of returning fugitive slaves to their rebel masters. These slaves believed "the Yankees" had come to deliver them from bondage. "They were ready to act as guides, to dig, to work, to fight for liberty," and they were welcomed, on coming to help their country in its need, by being handed back to the enemy to be tortured or put to death. So great were the atrocities perpetrated in this way, and so much did certain Federal officers disgrace themselves by hunting negroes and truckling to the enemy, that a bill was. soon passed in Congress, declaring it was no part of the duty of the soldiers of the United States to capture and return fugitive slaves. About the same time, General B. F. Butler, of the Federal forces, shrewdly declared that slaves were legally property, but that, as they were employed by their masters against the Government, they might be seized as contraband of war, which was accordingly done; nor is it recorded that any of the slaves who were by this ingenious application of law confined within the limits of freedom ever found any fault with it. From this time, during the war, slaves became popularly known as contrabands.

It should be distinctly understood that there were

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