Five of the Confederate states did not write elaborate explanations of secession, issuing only the legal documents dissolving their connection to the United States.Read More
"No you dare not make war on cotton. No power on earth dares to make war upon it. Cotton is king!" -South Carolina Senator James Hammond
To a certain extent, the Confederacy's foreign policy can be summed up by the bold words of James Hammond above. As my previous posts have examined examined possible reasons for British intervention in the Civil War and Union efforts to prevent such an intervention, it is time to turn our eyes South and explore Confederate foreign policy with Great Britain. The Confederacy built much of its policy around "King Cotton," and the result was a foreign policy more disastrous than many could imagine.
Abraham Lincoln and Union leaders realized from the war's outset the grave threat British intervention posed. Intervention likely meant successful Confederate independence. No matter what form, be it mediation, recognition, or literal intervention, any attempt by the British to interfere was based upon separation of North and South. The causes of the Union and Confederacy were mutually exclusive; either the Union remained whole or the Confederacy earned independence. British intervention effectively destroyed the cause of preserving the Union.Read More
When asked why the American Civil War still holds such power over the American imagination, author Shelby Foote once observed, “because it’s the big one. It measures what we are, good and bad. If you look at American history as the life span of a man, the Civil War represents the great trauma of our adolescence.” More recently, at the 150th anniversary of the surrender at Appomattox, historian David Blight reflected, “The Civil War is a place we go to ask who we are and what are we becoming…it is our oracle.” The debates that tore the nation apart for four bloody years are eternal questions of the American condition, Blight explained. It is no small wonder then that the symbols of those conflicts remain contested as well, suspended in our national consciousness without a singular definition that holds true over time.Read More