War with England Averted: The Trent Affair

November 4, 1861/2011
Volume 2, Issue 46 (56 Issues Since 15 October 2010)

“The Institution of Slavery is a Tower of Strength to the South . . .”

November 6, 1861. The Montgomery Advertiser [Alabama] declared on November 6, “The institution [of slavery] is a tower of strength to the South, particularly at the present crisis, and our enemies will be likely to find that the ‘moral cancer’ about which their orators are so fond of prating, is really one of the most effective weapons employed against the Union by the South.”

This is precisely the rationale that Lincoln would use in September 1862 when he would issue the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which would go into effect on January 1, 1863.

November 7, 1861. “A huge combined land-and-sea expedition . . . attacked, captured, and began to secure the Hilton Head-Port Royal area, between Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina.”

It remained in Union hands for the rest of the war and “became an important base for coaling and supplying U.S. ships blockading the Southern coast.

Port Royal also became a testing ground for educational and agricultural programs to assist freed slaves, some ten thousand of whom had been left behind when their masters fled inland. . . . Northern missionaries and teachers soon began arriving in the Union enclave, determined to establish schools. . . .”

View of the Battle of Port Royal from the Confederate heights by Rossiter Johnson. Click on image or more information.

View of the Battle of Port Royal from the Confederate heights by Rossiter Johnson. Click on image or more information.

SOURCE

The American Civil War: 365 Days, Margaret E. Wagner, ed., pp. June 2, February 19.


War with England Averted: The Trent Affair

November 8, 1861. On November 8, 1861, a Union warship enforcing the naval blockade, intercepted the British steamer the Trent in the Bahama Channel, bringing her to by firing a shell across her bow. The captain of the Union ship had learned that two Confederate diplomats had run the Union blockade of Charleston and had arrived in Havana, where they would board the Trent and sail for Great Britain and France on a mission to gain diplomatic recognition for the Confederacy. Before sending the Trent on her way to England, the captain detained the Confederate diplomats and their secretaries. Thus began an international crisis.

When the State Department learned of the incident on about December 1, Secretary of State William Seward sent a message to the British government stating that the American captain had acted without instructions from his government, that he trusted that London would consider the subject in a friendly temper, and that the US was willing to consider the issues involved within the context of established principles of international law.

The Secretary of the Navy, on the other hand, congratulated the captain, and the House of Representatives offered its thanks.

SOURCE

The American Civil War: 365 Days, Margaret E. Wagner, ed., pp. May 7

The Peaceable Ambassadors (AmericanHeritage.com)

The Trent Affair (NewsinHistory.com)

The Trent Affair (wikipedia.com)

1 Comment

Filed under Civil War Book of Days: 1861

One response to “War with England Averted: The Trent Affair

  1. Pingback: Britain and US on Brink of War | Vermont Humanities

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