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When the Presi- John Russell on the 11th. There is no evidence tion was received of this fact in the archives of the Legation of the by Great Britain.
United States at Loudon, or at the Department of State at Washington. But even if the statement in the notes be correct, still the British Government received, in the afternoon of the 11th of May, 1861, its first complete and official copy of the President's Proclamation, ten days after Lord John Russell had decided to award the rights of belligerency on the ocean to the insurgents, eight days after the subject had been referred to the Law Officers for their opinion, and five days after the decision of Her Majesty's Government upon that opinion had been announced in the House of Commons, as hereinafter set forth.
On the same day on which Lord John Russell wrote Lord Cowley (May 6th) he wrote to Lord Lyons,' calling the United States “the northern portion of the late Union," and reiterating that Her Majesty's Government “cannot question the right of the Southern States to be recognized as a belli-. gerent;" and in the House of Commons, on the same evening, he announced that the Attorney and Solicitor General, the Queen's Advocate, and the Government had come to the conclusion that the Southern Confederacy of America must be treated as a belligerent. On the same evening, Lord Palm
1 Vol. I, pages 36, 37.
erston said in the House of Commons, “No one can regret more than I do the intelligence which has been received within the last few days from America ; but at the same time, any one must have been short-sighted and little capable of anticipating the probable course of human events, who had not for a long time foreseen events of a similar character to those we now deplore. From the commencement of this unfortunate quarrel between the two sections of the United States, it was evident that the causes of disunion were too deeply seated to make it possible that separation would not take place, and it was also obvious that passions were so roused on both sides as to make it highly improbable that such separation could take place without a contest.”
A question was asked in the House of Com- Effect of recog: mons on the 7th of May, the next evening, as war. to the extent of the belligerent rights at sea which would be acquired by the South, to which Lord Palmerston declined to make answer until the Government should be in a condition, after consulting its legal advisers, to make some distinct communication on the subject.”
On the 9th of May, Sir George Lewis an
nition of a state of nition of a state of war.
1 Hansard's Debates, 30 series, Vol. CLXII, pages 1622–23. 2 Vol. IV, page 484.
Effect of recognounced that a proclamation would be issued,
stating “the general effect of the common and statute law on the matter;" and on the 10th, Lord Granville' repeated the declaration in the House of Lords. In the discussion there it was assumed by all the speakers that the insurgent Government might lawfully issue letters of marque.
It is believed by the United States that it was well known to Her Majesty's Government during all this time, that Mr. Adams was about to arrive with instruction from the new administration, and that he came possessed of its most confidential views on these important questions. On the 2d May Mr. Dallas wrote Mr. Seward thus: “The solicitude felt by Lord John Russell as to the effect of certain measures represented as likely to be adopted by the President, induced him to request me to call at his private residence yesterday.
* I informed him that Mr. Adams had apprised me of his intention to be on his way hither in the steamship Niagara, which left Boston on the 1st May, and that he would probably arrive in less than two weeks, by the 12th or 15th instant. His Lordship acquiesced in the expediency of disregarding mere rumor, and waiting the full knowledge to be brought by my successor.” The United States, for reasons already given, have no doubt
that, before that interview, Iler Majesty's Government had already decided upon their course of action. Mr. Adams did actually arrive in London on the evening of the 13th of May. The Queen's The Queen's
Proclamation. Proclamation of neutrality was issued on the morning of that day. A careful examination of the published cor- Uncertainty of
Her Majesty's respondence and speeches of Lord John Russell Government. shows that Her Majesty's Government was at that time by no means certain that there was a war in the United States. On the 1st of May,' he directs the Admiralty as to the course to be pursued with reference to the insurgent cruisers in the war which, he thinks, may “have already begun.” On the 2d of May? he asks the Law Officers of the Crown what course the Government shall pursue. On the 1st of June, however, he is in doubt on the subject, and he writes to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, informing them of the rules to be observed by the British naval forces "in the contest which appears to be imminent between the United States and the so-styled Confederate States of North America.” It would seem, therefore, that on the 1st of June, 1861, Her Majesty's Government regarded only as “imminent” the hostilities which Her Majesty's Proclamation of the 13th of the previous May alleged had “unhappily
Vol. I, page 33.
2 Vol. IV, page 482.
3 Vol. I, page 335.
Uncertainty of commenced between the United States of America
and certain States styling themselves the Confed-
United States, had not reached Europe. Effect of the
Whatever Lord John Russell, and his colleagues Queen's
in the Government, who decided to counsel Her Majesty to issue the Proclamation of May 13th, may have thought, the debates in Parliament removed any excuse for ignorance as to the effect of that instrument.
As early as the 29th of April, in the House of Commons, an opposition member had said that " there could be no doubt that if the war should be continued in that country [the United States] there would be thousands of privateers hovering about those coasts;"! to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gladstone) immediately replied: “All that relates to the dangers which may arise between British merchant-ships and American or other privateers * *
* * * I shall pretermit, not because I presume to say or think that they are
Hansard's Debates, 3d series, Vol. CLXII, page 1276.