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England Supported the Confederacy?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by wbull1, Oct 8, 2018.

  1. wbull1

    wbull1 Private

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    My tour guide in Halifax, Canada insisted that the British stationed soldiers in Halifax after the Civil War because England feared the United States would invade in retaliation for the British support of the Confederacy. I said I thought England might fear that, but that essentially the British did NOT support the Confederacy. Was I right or was he?
     

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  3. 19thGeorgia

    19thGeorgia Sergeant Major

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    ...unless you count Britain's declaration of neutrality as a kind of support.
     
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  4. 2/241

    2/241 First Sergeant

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    nope, several English would have liked to do so, but not as supprt of the Confederacy only for sheer British interest (could change any other day)
     
  5. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Colonel

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    The British in essence supported both sides. They freely sold weapons to both sides and their colonial ports in the West Indies allowed blockade runners to come and go at will. The Confederate Raiders such has the Alabama and Shenandoah were British made ships with British crews and British made cannon. However they could in theory only use British or other foreign ports for 72 hours although at least one time in the British Crown Colony of Australia they stayed longer.
    On the other hand the British supplied massive amounts of black powder to the Union and barrels and other important parts for American made rifle muskets untill at least mid 1862.
    The British were a major trading partner of the United States.
    I have a thread " Did the Union recruit overseas?" Yes they did especially in jolly old England.
    So to be accurate the British supported themselves.
    The firearms forum has plenty of threads with sources on UK imports to both sides.
    Leftyhunter
     
  6. 2/241

    2/241 First Sergeant

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    exactly
     
  7. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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    There were all shades of opinion in Britain about the best policy. The Yanks were obnoxious competitors, and the British were not too upset about seeing democracy taken down a few steps, at first.
    The British wanted cotton exports restored, but they also wanted to see cotton production in the US detached from the rate of growth of the enslaved labor force. Contradictory policies were typical of the British anti-slavery policy.
     
  8. hoosier

    hoosier 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    While the United Kingdom never officially recognized the Confederacy, a number of Confederate blockade-running and commerce-raiding ships were built there.

    It seems there was a gentleman named Benjamin Wier based in Halifax, who had arrangements with the blockade runners. In return for access to ship repair facilities in Halifax, the Confederates supplied him with cotton for re-export to England. This would have been very lucrative for Wier, in light of the fact that British imports of Southern cotton dropped by about 90% during the Civil War.

    I suppose the British could have figured that if the United States wanted to retaliate for financial losses incurred as a result of the blockade runners and commerce raiders, Halifax might have been a place where they would have wanted to start.

    A Wikipedia article on Canada in the Civil War has additional information.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Canada_in_the_American_Civil_War&oldid=862366495
     
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  9. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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    As early as April 1861 Sec'y of State Seward mentioned to Lord Lyons the British representative in Washington, D.C. that the US may consent to the right of search by British vessels of any US flagged vessel suspected of participating in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. If this right were granted, it would virtually end the trade. That result was long advocated by British PM Lord Palmerston, and there was no better way to get and hold his attention than to propose this change in US policy.
    There was a good deal of to and fro in British and United States relations. But by 1862 the right of search was granted by a ratified treaty.
    By 1863 Member John Bright could make an insiders joke about the US by referring to the US as "our old ally". The United States was neither an ally of Britain nor old, but Bright was deliberately putting the US in the same category as Portugal. Portugal was a British ally, and was old, and had finally cp-operated with Britain in ending the slave trade.
    Most members in Parliament were well aware of Bright's reference and were well aware that nothing approving of the Confederacy was going to pass Parliament unless Lord Palmerston was in attendance, and the House was willing to change the government.
    The British supported the US. The issue was finally settled in September 1863. By 1867 the British, with substantial reluctance, were granting limited independence to Canada and greatly extending suffrage in Britain.
     
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  10. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    You're both right. The British government in fact did not support the confederacy, but in the eyes of the United States government at the time they were being supportive of the confederacy.
     
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  11. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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    We have some well informed British participants who could clarify this, and have added cogent comments on previous threads.
     
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  12. 2/241

    2/241 First Sergeant

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    Yeah - anybody who doesn't EXACTLY do what I want supports the enemy

    or most likley: himself Edited.
     
  13. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Retired Moderator

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    FWIW
    A Confederate Success in Europe: The Erlanger Loan
    Judith Fenner Gentry
    The Journal of Southern History
    Vol. 36, No. 2 (May, 1970), pp. 157

    p0.jpg
     
  14. 2/241

    2/241 First Sergeant

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    sorry now I'm really struck
    there is a city in Frankonia called Erlangen (woulde be Erlangen[e]r) which was at the time of the ACW nearly neclectable

    has it anything to do with Erlangen / Frankonia (the only location by that name in Europe)
     
  15. Stratagemo

    Stratagemo Private

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    An important reason for the maintenance of British garrisons in Canada after the Civil War, was the threat posed by the Fenian Brotherhood. The Fenians, many of whom were Civil War veterans, launched raids into Canada from 1866 to 1871 as part of an overall strategy to win independence for Ireland.

    Some historians argue that these raids helped the Confederation movement in Canada (which was a big step towards self-government) as Britain wanted to pass responsibility (and cost) for the defence of Canada to Canadians.

    An interesting little side-note with some strong (Canadian/British) links into the Civil War!

    Here's a link with more info if anyone's interested:
    http://www.historynet.com/fenian-raids-invasions-of-british-ruled-canada.htm
     
  16. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Retired Moderator

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    No, it does not.
     
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  17. WJC

    WJC Moderator Moderator

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    As we have frequently discussed here, although Britain remained neutral, there was a thriving business in supplying material for the rebel war effort. And many British subjects openly favored the rebel cause. In the early days of the Lincoln Administration, Secretary of State Seward suggested creating a crisis with Britain as a way to reunite the Union. Lincoln rejected the idea. In the Trent Affair, Britain prepared for war by sending 11,000 troops to bolster provincial militia. There was also serious, ongoing concern over cross-border raids into the US by rebels based in Toronto and Montreal. There were calls for Lincoln to send troops across the border to stop these raids.
    So there was at least some reason for Britain to be concerned at both the outset and during the rebellion. As a result, Britain enhanced border security, stepped up military training and deployed some naval forces.
    As to the post-war situation, there was friction between the nations, partly because of the Fenian Brotherhood- Irish Nationalists who conducted raids against British installations. Many Fenians were veterans of the recent rebellion.
    As I recall, the British defense was largely local militia and regulars already stationed in what became Canada. The US government took steps to prevent Fenian raids. There were, no doubt, remonstrances in Parliament and threats of retaliation, but I don't recall any reinforcements sent from elsewhere in the Empire.
    As president, Grant made what Britain considered inordinate demands as reparation for what unofficial support British subjects had given the rebels. There were discussions between the governments of settling these demands by ceding the remaining British North American provinces- modern-day Canada- to the US. Eventually, negotiations led by John A. Macdonald put an end to these demands and set the stage for eventual Canadian independence.
     
  18. 2/241

    2/241 First Sergeant

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    looked it up,Erlanger belongs to the Family name Erlanger (meaning fro Erlangen)
     
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  19. 2/241

    2/241 First Sergeant

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    there were also a big (US-American) interest in channelling anything foreign into a support of US interests
     
  20. USS ALASKA

    USS ALASKA 2nd Lieutenant

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    Sir...

    Emile Erlanger & Co. was a French finance and investment company established by German-born, Parisian banker Baron
    Frédéric Émile d'Erlanger . d'Erlanger was married to Matilde Slidell, the daughter of Louisiana merchant, lawyer and politician John Slidell. The company was known for its cotton bonds issued to support the Confederacy in 1863.

    "Erlanger Loan." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition.

    Cheers,
    USS ALASKA
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
  21. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Major Forum Host

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    "England" never supported the Confederacy, though many Englishmen did. The British government turned a blind eye, by and large, to British firms that did very lucrative business with the Confederacy, and constantly complained about the effects of the blockade. The U.S. resented all this, and after the war was not averse to occasionally "tweaking the lion's tail:" by allowing Irish nationalist recruitment of former ACW soldiers, for instance. Even made it possible for the Fenians to buy war surplus weapons. The U.S. did act to hinder the actual Fenian invasions of Canada from American soil.

    Early in the war, at the time of the Trent Affair, some British troops were sent to Canada in anticipation of a possible confrontation with the U.S. That is possibly what your tour guide was thinking about. After the war, no.

    No foreign government either recognized or supported the Confederacy.
     

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