Diplomacy of the American Civil War

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The Diplomacy of the American Civil War refers to efforts by the United States of America and the Confederate States America to bring their cases to the major world powers during the American Civil War 1861-1865. The United States wanted to prevent any power from recognizing the Confederacy: none ever did. The Confederacy counted heavily on Britain and France to enter the war on its side to maintain their supply of cotton and to weaken a growing opponent. Every nation was officially neutral throughout the War, and none recognized the Confederacy.

The major nations all recognized that the Confederacy had certain rights as an organized belligerent. A few nations did take advantage of the war. Spain recaptured its lost colony of the Dominican Republic. It lost it again in 1865.[1] More serious was the war by France, under Emperor Napoleon III, to install Maximilian I of Mexico as a puppet ruler, hoping to negate American influence. France, therefore, encouraged Britain to join in a policy of mediation, suggesting that both recognize the Confederacy.[2] Washington repeatedly warned that any recognition of the Confederacy was tantamount to a declaration of war. The British textile industry depended on cotton from the South, but it had stocks to keep the mills operating for a year and in any case, the industrialists and workers carried little weight in British politics. Knowing a war would cut off vital shipments of American food, wreak havoc on the British merchant fleet, and cause the immediate loss of Canada, Britain and with its powerful Royal Navy, refused to go join France.[3]

Historians emphasize that Union diplomacy proved generally effective, with expert diplomats handling numerous crises. The British leadership had some sympathy for the Confederacy, but it was never willing to risk war with the Union. France was even more sympathetic to the Confederacy, but it was threatened by Prussia and would not make a move without full British cooperation. Confederate diplomats were inept, or as one historian put it, "Poorly chosen diplomats produce poor diplomacy."[4] Other countries played a minor role. Russia made a show of support of the Union, but its importance has often been exaggerated.

United States

Lincoln's foreign policy was deficient in 1861, and he failed to garner public support in Europe. Diplomats had to explain that The United States was not committed to the ending slavery, instead appealing to the unconstitutionality of secession. Confederate spokesmen, on the other hand, were much more successful: ignoring slavery and instead focusing on their struggle for liberty, their commitment to free trade, and the essential role of cotton in the European economy. In addition, the European aristocracy (the dominant factor in every major country) was "absolutely gleeful in pronouncing the American debacle as proof that the entire experiment in popular government had failed. European government leaders welcomed the fragmentation of the ascendant American Republic."[5]

For decades historians have debated who played the most important roles in shaping Union diplomacy. The early 20th century Secretary of State William Seward was seen as an Anglophobe who dominated a weak president. Lincoln's reputation was restored by Jay Monahan who, in 1945, emphasized Lincoln's quiet effectiveness behind the scenes.[6] A new study by Norman Ferris in 1976 was a realistic study of Seward's actual programming, emphasizing his leadership role.[7] Lincoln continues to get high marks for his moral leadership in defining the meaning of the conflict in terms of democracy and freedom.[8][9] Numerous monographs have highlighted the leadership role of Charles Sumner as head of the Senate Foreign Relations committee,[10] and Charles Francis Adams as minister to the Court of St. James (Britain),.[11] Historians have studied Washington's team of hard-working diplomats,[12] financiers[13] and spies across Europe.[14][15]

Confederate failures

Even the most avid promoters of secession had paid little attention to European affairs prior to1860. The Confederates had for years uncritically assumed that "cotton is king"—that is, Britain had to support the Confederacy to obtain cotton. They never sent agents to see if the theory was true, and they soon learned that it was not. Peter Parish has argued that southern intellectual and cultural insularity proved fatal:

For years before the war the South had been building a wall around its perimeter, to protect itself from dangerous agitators and subversive ideas, and now those inside the wall could no longer see over the top, out to what lay beyond.[16]

Once the war began, the Confederacy pinned its hopes on military intervention by Great Britain and France. As for King Cotton, Confederate leaders were unaware that the British were not dependent on Southern cotton and that Great Britain had stocks on hand to last over a year, having developed alternative sources of cotton, most notably in India and Egypt. Great Britain was unwilling to risk war with the U.S. to acquire more cotton at the risk of losing the large quantities of food imported from the North.[17][18] Meanwhile, the Confederate national government had lost control of its own foreign policy when cotton planters, factors, and financiers spontaneously decided to embargo shipments of cotton to Europe in early 1861. It was a hugely expensive mistake, depriving the Confederacy of millions of dollars in cash it would desperately need.[19]

The Confederate government sent delegations to Europe, but historians give them low marks for their diplomacy.[20] Mason went to London and Slidell traveled to Paris. They were unofficially interviewed, but neither secured official recognition for the Confederacy. However, Confederate purchasing agents in Europe, often working with blockade runners funded by British financiers, get high marks for their success. James Bulloch, for example, was the mastermind behind the procurement of warships for the Confederate Navy.[21] Confederate propagandists, especially Henry Hotze, were partly effective in mobilizing European public opinion. Hotze acted as a Confederate agent in Great Britain. His success was based on using liberal arguments of self-determination in favor of national independence, echoing the failed European revolutions of 1848. He also promised that the Confederacy would be a low-tariff nation in contrast to the high-tariff United States.[22] He consistently emphasized that the tragic consequences of cotton shortages for the industrial workers in Britain were caused by the Union blockade of Southern ports.[23][24]

In March 1862 James Mason made it to England and collaborated with several British politicians to push the government to ignore the Union blockade. Mason and his friends argued that it was only a "paper blockade," not actually enforceable, which by international law would make it illegal. In that case, the British were free to openly support the Confederacy. However, most British politicians opposed this interpretation because it was counter to traditional British views on blockades, which Britain saw as one of its most effective naval weapons.[25]

Confederate agent Father John B. Bannon was a Catholic priest who traveled to Rome in 1863 in a failed attempt to convince Pope Pius IX to grant diplomatic recognition to the Confederacy.[26] Bannon then moved on to Ireland, where he attempted to mobilize support for the Confederate cause and to neutralize the attempts of Union recruiters to enlist Irish men in the Union armies. Nevertheless, thousands of Irishmen did volunteer for the Union.[27]

Great Britain

The British cabinet made the major decisions for war and peace and played a cautious hand, realizing the risk of a war with the United States. Elite opinion in Britain tended to favor the Confederacy, while public opinion tended to favor the United States. Throughout the war, large scale trade with The United States continued in both directions. The Americans shipped grain to Britain while Britain sent manufactured items and munitions. Immigration continued into the United States as well. British trade with the Confederacy fell off 95 percent, with only a trickle of cotton going to Britain and some munitions slipping in by small blockade runners, most of them owned and operated by British interests.

Prime Minister Lord Palmerston was sympathetic to the Confederacy.[28] Although a professed opponent of the slave trade and slavery, he held a lifelong hostility towards the United States and believed a dissolution of the Union would weaken the United States – and therefore enhance British power – and that the Southern Confederacy "would afford a valuable and extensive market for British manufactures".[29]

Britain issued a proclamation of neutrality on 13 May 1861. The Confederacy was recognized as a belligerent, but it was too premature to recognize the South as a sovereign state since Washington threatened to treat recognition as a hostile action. Britain depended more on American food imports than Confederate cotton, and a war with the U.S. would not be in Britain's economic interest.[30] Palmerston ordered reinforcements sent to the Province of Canada because he was convinced the Union would make peace with the South and then invade Canada. He was very pleased with the Confederate victory at Bull Run in July 1861, but 15 months later he wrote that:

The American War... has manifestly ceased to have any attainable object as far as the Northerns are concerned, except to get rid of some more thousand troublesome Irish and Germans. It must be owned, however, that the Anglo-Saxon race on both sides have shown courage and endurance highly honourable to their stock".[31]

Trent affair: 1861

Punch magazine in London ridicules American aggressiveness in the Trent Affair, 7 December 1861

A serious diplomatic dispute with the United States erupted over the "Trent Affair" in late 1861. The United States Navy illegally seized two Confederate diplomats from a British ship and refused to release them. Public opinion in the United States celebrated the humiliation of the British, but London demanded redress. Lincoln gave in and returned the diplomats: James Murray Mason and John Slidell.[32]

The Trent Affair in November 1861 produced public outrage in Britain and a diplomatic crisis. A U.S. Navy warship stopped the British steamer Trent and seized two Confederate envoys en route to Europe. Palmerston called the action "a declared and gross insult," demanded the release of the two diplomats, and ordered 3,000 troops to Canada. In a letter to Queen Victoria on 5 December 1861, he said that if his demands were not met, "Great Britain is in a better state than at any former time to inflict a severe blow upon and to read a lesson to the United States which will not soon be forgotten."[33] In another letter to his Foreign Secretary, he predicted war between Britain and the Union:

It is difficult not to come to the conclusion that the rabid hatred of England which animates the exiled Irishmen who direct almost all the Northern newspapers, will so excite the masses as to make it impossible for Lincoln and Seward to grant our demands; and we must therefore look forward to war as the probable result.[34]

In fact Irishmen did not control any major newspapers in the North, and the U.S. decided to release the prisoners rather than risk war. Palmerston was convinced the presence of troops in Canada persuaded the U.S. to acquiesce.[35]

Cotton and the British economy

The British Industrial Revolution was based on textiles, which in turn were based mostly on cotton imported from the American South. The war cut off supplies. By 1862, stocks had run out, and imports from Egypt and India could not make up the deficit. There was enormous hardship for the factory owners and especially the unemployed factory workers. The issues facing the British textile industry factored into the debate over intervening on behalf of the Confederacy in order to break the union blockade and regain access to Southern cotton.[36]

Historians continue to be sharply divided on the question of British public opinion. One school argues that the aristocracy favored the Confederacy, while the anti-slavery Union was championed by British liberals and spokesman for the radical working class.[37] An opposing school argues that many British workingmen—perhaps a majority—were more sympathetic to the Confederate cause.[38] Finally, a third school emphasizes the complexity of the issue and notes that most Britons did not express an opinion on the matter. Local studies have demonstrated that some towns and neighborhoods took one position, while nearby areas took the opposite.[39] The most detailed study by Richard J.M. Blackett, noting that there was enormous variation across Britain, argues that the working class and religious nonconformists were inclined to support the Union, while support for the Confederacy came mostly from conservatives who were opposed to reform movements inside Britain and from high Church Anglicans.[40]

Humanitarian intervention? 1862

The question of British and French intervention was on the agenda in 1862. Palmerston was especially concerned with the economic crisis in the Lancashire textile mills, as the supply of cotton had largely run out and unemployment was soaring. He seriously considered breaking the union blockade of Southern ports to obtain the cotton. But by this time the American Navy was large enough to threaten the entire worldwide British merchant fleet, and of course Canada could be captured easily. A new dimension came when Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862. Many British leaders expected an all-out race war in the south, with so many tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths that humanitarian intervention was called for to stop the threatened bloodshed. (In the event, there was no race war.) Chancellor of the Exchequer William E. Gladstone opened a cabinet debate over whether Britain should intervene. Gladstone had a favorable image of the Confederacy and, indeed, of slavery (his family wealth depended on slavery in the West Indies). He emphasized the humanitarian intervention to stop the staggering death toll, risk of the race war, and failure of the Union to achieve decisive military results. In rebuttal, Secretary of War Sir George Cornewall Lewis opposed intervention as a high risk proposition that could result in massive losses. Furthermore, Palmerston had other concerns at the same time, including a crisis in Greece in which Russia threatened to take advantage of the weaknesses of the Ottoman Empire. The Cabinet decided that the American situation was less urgent than the need to contain Russian expansion, so it rejected intervention. Palmerston rejected Napoleon III of France's proposal for the two powers to arbitrate the war and ignored all further efforts of the Confederacy to gain British recognition.[41][42][43]

Lord Palmerston, 1863; He was the British prime minister throughout the war..

Blockade runners

British financiers built and operated most of the blockade runners, spending hundreds of millions of pounds on them, but that was legal and not the cause of serious tension. They were staffed by sailors and officers on leave from the Royal Navy. When the U.S. Navy captured one of the fast blockade runners, it sold the ship and cargo as prize of war for the American sailors, then released the crew.


A long-term issue was the British shipyard (John Laird and Sons) building two warships for the Confederacy, especially the CSS Alabama, over vehement protests from the United States. The controversy was resolved after the war in the form of the Alabama Claims, in which Britain gave the United States $15.5 million in arbitration by an international tribunal for damages caused by British-built warships.[44]


The Union successfully recruited soldiers in Canada. However, local officials tolerated the presence of Confederate agents despite American protests. These agents planned attacks on U.S. cities and encouraged antiwar sentiment. They actually did stage a small raid in late 1844 on a Vermont town, where they robbed three banks of $208,000.[45]

Slave trade

The British had long pressured the United States to join vigorously in fighting the illegal Atlantic slave trade. Pressure from southern states had neutralized this, but the Lincoln administration was now eager to sign up. In the Anglo-American Treaty (1862), the United States gave Great Britain full authority to crack down on the trans-Atlantic slave trade when carried on by American ships.[46]


The Second French Empire under Napoleon III remained officially neutral throughout the War and never recognized the Confederate States of America. It did recognize Confederate belligerency. [47] However, the textile industry needed cotton, and Napoleon III had imperial ambitions in Mexico which could be greatly aided by the Confederacy. The United States had warned that recognition meant war. France was reluctant to act alone without British collaboration, and the British rejected intervention. Emperor Napoleon III realized that a war with the U.S. without allies "would spell disaster" for France.[48] Napoleon III and his Minister of Foreign Affairs Edouard Thouvenel adopted a cautious attitude and maintained diplomatically correct relations with Washington. Half the French press favored the Union, while the "imperial" press was more sympathetic to the Confederacy. Public opinion generally ignored the war, showing much interest in Mexico.[49]


In 1861, Mexican conservatives looked to French leader Napoleon III to abolish the Republic led by liberal President Benito Juárez. France favored the Confederacy but did not accord it diplomatic recognition. The French expected that a Confederate victory would facilitate French economic dominance in Mexico. he helped The Confederacy by shipping urgently needed supplies through the ports of Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville (Texas). The Confederacy itself sought closer relationships with Mexico. Juarez turned them down, but the Confederates worked well with local warlords in northern Mexico, and with the French invaders.[50][51]

Realizing that Washington could not intervene in Mexico as long as the Confederacy controlled Texas, France invaded Mexico in 1861 and installed an Austrian prince Maximilian I of Mexico as its puppet ruler in 1864. Owing to the shared convictions of the democratically-elected government of Juárez and Lincoln, Matías Romero, Juárez's minister to Washington, mobilized support in the U.S. Congress, and raised money, soldiers and ammunition in the United States for the war against Maximilian. Washington repeatedly protested France's violation of the Monroe Doctrine.

Once the Union won the War in spring 1865, the U.S. allowed supporters of Juárez to openly purchase weapons and ammunition and issued stronger warnings to Paris. Washington sent general William Tecumseh Sherman with 50,000 combat veterans to the Mexican border to emphasize that time had run out on the French intervention. Napoleon III had no choice but to withdrew his outnumbered army in disgrace. Emperor Maximilian refused exile and was executed by the Mexican government in 1867.[52]

Other countries


Russian-American relations were very generally cooperative. Alone among European powers, Russia offered oratorical support for the Union, largely due to the view that the U.S. served as a counterbalance to the British Empire.[53]

During the winter of 1861–1862, the Imperial Russian Navy sent two fleets to American waters to avoid their getting trapped if a war broke out with Britain and France. Many Americans at the time viewed this as an intervention on behalf of the Union, though historians deny this.[54] The Alexander Nevsky and the other vessels of the Atlantic squadron stayed in American waters for seven months (September 1863 to June 1864).[55]

1865 saw a major project attempted: the building of a Russian-American telegraph line from Seattle, Washington through British Columbia, Russian America (Alaska) and Siberia - an early attempt to link East-West communications. It failed and never operated.[56]

In 1863, Russia brutally suppressed a large scale insurrection in Poland. Many Polish resistance leaders fled the country, and Confederate agents tried and failed to encourage them to come to America to join the Confederacy.[57]

The Netherlands

The Lincoln administration looked abroad for places to relocate freed slaves who wanted to leave the United States. It opened U.S. negotiations with the Dutch government regarding African American migration and colonization of the Dutch colony of Suriname in South America. Nothing came of the idea, and after 1864 the idea was dropped.[58]


The Italian hero Giuseppe Garibaldi was one of the most famous people in Europe as a proponent of liberty; Washington sent a diplomat to invite him to become an American general. Garibaldi declined the offer because he would not be given supreme power over all the armies, and because the United States was not yet committed to abolishing slavery. Historians agree that it was just as well because he was too independent in thought and deed to have worked smoothly with the U.S. government.[59]

World perspective

Historian Don Doyle has argued that the Union victory had a major impact on the course of world history.[60] The Union victory energized popular democratic forces. A Confederate victory, on the other hand, would have meant a new birth of slavery, not freedom. Historian Fergus Bordewich, following Doyle, argues that:

The North's victory decisively proved the durability of democratic government. Confederate independence, on the other hand, would have established An American model for reactionary politics and race-based repression that would likely have cast an international shadow into the twentieth century and perhaps beyond."[61]

Postwar adjustments

Relations with Britain (and Canada) were tense; Canada was negligent in allowing Confederates to raid Vermont. Confederation came in 1867, in part as a way to meet the American challenge without depending on British armed forces.[62]

The U.S. looked the other way when Irish activists known as Fenians tried and failed badly in an invasion of Canada in 1871. The arbitration of the Alabama Claims in 1872 provided a satisfactory reconciliation; The British paid the United States $15.5 million for the economic damage caused by Confederate warships purchased from it.[63] Congress did pay Russia for the Alaska Purchase in 1867, but otherwise rejected proposals for any major expansions, such as the proposal by President Ulysses Grant to acquire Santo Domingo.[64]

See also


  1. James W. Cortada, "Spain and the American Civil War: Relations at Mid-century, 1855-1868." Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 70.4 (1980): 1-121. in JSTOR
  2. Lynn M. Case, and Warren E. Spencer, The United States and France: Civil War Diplomacy (1970)
  3. Kinley J. Brauer, "British Mediation and the American Civil War: A Reconsideration," Journal of Southern History, (1972) 38#1 pp. 49–64 in JSTOR
  4. Charles M. Hubbard, The Burden of Confederate Diplomacy (1998)
  5. Don H. Doyle, The Cause of All Nations: And international history of the American Civil War (2014) pp 8 (quote), 69-70
  6. Jay Monaghan, Diplomat in carpet slippers: Abraham Lincoln deals with foreign affairs (1945).
  7. Norman B. Ferris, Desperate diplomacy: William H. Seward's foreign policy, 1861 (1976).
  8. Kinley J. Brauer, "The Slavery Problem in the Diplomacy of the American Civil War," Pacific Historical Review (1977) 46#3 pp. 439-469 in JSTOR
  9. Howard Jones, Abraham Lincoln and a new birth of freedom: the union and slavery in the diplomacy of the civil war (2002).
  10. David Donald, Charles Sumner and the Rights of Man (1970).
  11. Martin Duberman, Charles Francis Adams, 1807-1886 (1960).
  12. Francis M. Carroll, "Diplomats and the Civil War at Sea" Canadian Review of American Studies 40#1 (2010) pp 117-130.
  13. Jay Sexton, Debtor Diplomacy: Finance and American Foreign Relations in the Civil War Era, 1837–1873 (2005).
  14. David Hepburn Milton, Lincoln's Spymaster: Thomas Haines Dudley and the Liverpool Network (2003.
  15. Harriet Chappell Owsley, "Henry Shelton Sanford and Federal Surveillance Abroad, 1861-1865," Mississippi Valley Historical Review 48#2 (1961), pp. 211-228 in JSTOR
  16. Peter J. Parish (1981). The American Civil War. 403. Holmes & Meier.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Blumenthal (1966)
  18. Lebergott, Stanley (1983). "Why the South Lost: Commercial Purpose in the Confederacy, 1861–1865". Journal of American History. 70 (1): 61. JSTOR 1890521.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Jay Sexton, "Civil War Diplomacy." in Aaron Sheehan-Dean ed., A Companion to the US Civil War (2014): 745-46.
  20. Blumenthal (1966); Jones (2009); Owsley (1959)
  21. Sexton, "Civil War Diplomacy." 746.
  22. Marc-William Palen, "The Civil War's Forgotten Transatlantic Tariff Debate and the Confederacy's Free Trade Diplomacy." Journal of the Civil War Era 3#1 (2013): 35-61. online
  23. Andre Fleche, Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict (2012) p 84.
  24. Stephen B. Oates, "Henry Hotze: Confederate Agent Abroad." Historian 27.2 (1965): 131-154. in JSTOR
  25. Charles M. Hubbard, "James Mason, the" Confederate lobby" and the blockade debate of March 1862." Civil War History 45.3 (1999): 223-237. online
  26. David J. Alvarez, "The Papacy in the Diplomacy of the American Civil War." Catholic Historical Review 69.2 (1983): 227-248. in JSTOR
  27. Philip Tucker, "Confederate Secret Agent in Ireland: Father John B. Bannon and His Irish Mission, 1863-1864." Journal of Confederate History 5 (1990): 55-85.
  28. Kevin Peraino, "Lincoln vs. Palmerston" in his Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power (2013) pp 120-69.
  29. Jasper Ridley, Lord Palmerston (1970) p. 552.
  30. Thomas Paterson; J. Garry Clifford; Shane J. Maddock (2009). American Foreign Relations: A History to 1920. Cengage Learning. p. 149.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Ridley, Lord Palmerston (1970) p. 559.
  32. Walter Stahr, Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man (2012) ch 11
  33. Ridley, Lord Palmerston (1970) p. 554.
  34. Ridley, Lord Palmerston (1970) p. 554.
  35. Kenneth Bourne, "British Preparations for War with the North, 1861–1862," The English Historical Review 76# 301 (1961) pp 600–632 in JSTOR
  36. Sven Beckert, "Emancipation and empire: Reconstructing the worldwide web of cotton production in the age of the American Civil War." American Historical Review 109#5 (2004): 1405-1438. in JSTOR; Beckert, Empire of cotton: A new history of global capitalism (2014) pp 241-73.
  37. Duncan Andrew Campbell (2003). English Public Opinion and the American Civil War. pp. 7–8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. Mary Ellison, Support for secession: Lancashire and the American Civil War (1972).
  39. Duncan Andrew Campbell, English Public Opinion and the American Civil War (2003).
  40. Richard J.M. Blackett, Divided Hearts: Britain and the American Civil War (2001).
  41. Niels Eichhorn, "The Intervention Crisis of 1862: A British Diplomatic Dilemma?" American Nineteenth Century History 15#3 (2014) pp 287-310.
  42. Frank J. Merli and Theodore A. Wilson. "The British Cabinet and the Confederacy: Autumn, 1862." Maryland Historical Magazine (1970) 65#3 pp: 239-62.
  43. Ridley, Lord Palmerston (1970) p. 559.
  44. Frank J. Merli, The Alabama, British Neutrality, and the American Civil War. (2004)
  45. Adam Mayers, Dixie and the Dominion: Canada, the Confederacy, and the War for the Union (2003) online review
  46. Conway W. Henderson, "The Anglo-American Treaty of 1862 in Civil War Diplomacy." Civil War History 15.4 (1969): 308-319. online
  47. Kevin Peraino, "Lincoln vs. Napoleon" in Peraino, Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power (2013) pp 224-95.
  48. Howard Jones (1999). Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom: The Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War. U of Nebraska Press. p. 183.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  49. Lynn M. Case, and Warren E. Spencer, The United States and France: Civil War Diplomacy (1970)
  50. J. Fred Rippy, "Mexican Projects of the Confederates," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 22#4 (1919), pp. 291-317 in JSTOR
  51. Kathryn Abbey Hanna, "The Roles of the South in the French Intervention in Mexico," Journal of Southern History 20#1 (1954), pp. 3-21 in JSTOR
  52. Robert Ryal Miller, "Matias Romero: Mexican Minister to the United States during the Juarez-Maximilian Era," Hispanic American Historical Review (1965) 45#2 pp. 228–245 in JSTOR
  53. Norman A. Graebner, "Northern Diplomacy and European Neutrality," Why the North Won the Civil War, ed. David Donald (1960), pp. 57-8.
  54. Thomas A. Bailey, "The Russian Fleet Myth Re-Examined," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Jun., 1951), pp. 81–90 in JSTOR
  55. Davidson, Marshall B. (June 1960). "A ROYAL WELCOME for the RUSSIAN NAVY". American Heritage Magazine. 11 (4): 38.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  56. Rosemary Neering, Continental Dash: The Russian-American Telegraph (1989)
  57. Krzysztof Michalek, "Diplomacy of the Last Chance: The Confederate Efforts to Obtain Military Support from the Polish Emigration Circles," American Studies (1987), Vol. 6, pp 5-16.
  58. Michael J. Douma, "The Lincoln Administration's Negotiations to Colonize African Americans in Dutch Suriname." Civil War History 61#2 (2015): 111-137. online
  59. R. J. Amundson, "Sanford and Garibaldi." Civil War History 14#.1 (1968): 40-45. online
  60. Don H. Doyle, The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War (2014)
  61. Fergus M. Bordewich, "The World Was Watching: America’s Civil War slowly came to be seen as part of a global struggle against oppressive privilege," Wall Street Journal (Feb. 7-8, 2015)
  62. Garth Stevenson (1997). Ex Uno Plures: Federal-Provincial Relations in Canada, 1867-1896. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  63. Maureen M. Robson, "The Alabama Claims and the Anglo-American Reconciliation, 1865–71." Canadian Historical Review (1961) 42#1 pp: 1-22.
  64. Jeffrey W. Coker (2002). Presidents from Taylor Through Grant, 1849-1877: Debating the Issues in Pro and Con Primary Documents. Greenwood. pp. 205–6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading


  • Ayers, Edward L. "The American Civil War, Emancipation, and Reconstruction on the World Stage." OAH Magazine of History 20.1 (2006): 54-61.
  • Brauer, Kinley J. "The Slavery Problem in the Diplomacy of the American Civil War." Pacific Historical Review 46.3 (1977): 439-469. in JSTOR
  • Brauer, Kinley. "Civil War Diplomacy." Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy (2001): 1:193+ online; short summary by expert
  • Doyle, Don H. "The Global Civil War." in Aaron Sheehan-Dean ed., A Companion to the US Civil War (2014): 1103-1120.
  • Ferris, Norman B. Desperate Diplomacy: William H. Seward’s Foreign Policy, 1861 (1976).
  • Jones, Howard. Blue & Gray Diplomacy: A History of Union and Confederate Foreign Relations (2010) online
  • "Monaghan, Jay. Diplomat in Carpet Slippers (1945), Popular study of Lincoln the diplomat
  • Peraino, Kevin. Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power (2013). excerpt
  • Prior, David M., et al. "Teaching the Civil War Era in Global Context: A Discussion." The Journal of the Civil War Era 5.1 (2015): 97-125. excerpt
  • Sexton, Jay. "Civil War Diplomacy." in Aaron Sheehan-Dean ed., A Companion to the US Civil War (2014): 741-762.
  • Sexton, Jay. "Toward a synthesis of foreign relations in the Civil War era, 1848–77." American Nineteenth Century History 5.3 (2004): 50-73.
  • Sexton, Jay. Debtor diplomacy: finance and American foreign relations in the Civil War era, 1837-1873 (2005).
  • Taylor, John M. William Henry Seward: Lincoln's Right Hand (Potomac Books, 1996).
  • Van Deusen, Glyndon G. William Henry Seward (1967).
  • Warren, Gordon H. Fountain of Discontent: The Trent Affair and Freedom of the Seas (1981).


  • Beckert, Sven. "Emancipation and empire: Reconstructing the worldwide web of cotton production in the age of the American Civil War." American Historical Review 109.5 (2004): 1405-1438. in JSTOR
  • Blumenthal, Henry. "Confederate diplomacy: Popular notions and international realities." Journal of Southern History 32.2 (1966): 151-171. in JSTOR
  • Cullop, Charles P. Confederate Propaganda in Europe, 1861–1865 (1969).
  • Crawford, Martin. Old South/New Britain: Cotton, Capitalism, and Anglo-Southern Relations in the Civil War Era (Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2007).
  • Oates, Stephen B. "Henry Hotze: Confederate Agent Abroad." Historian 27.2 (1965): 131-154. in JSTOR
  • Marler, Scott P. "'An Abiding Faith in Cotton': The Merchant Capitalist Community of New Orleans, 1860–1862." Civil War History 54#3 (2008): 247-276. online
  • Owsley, Frank Lawrence. King Cotton Diplomacy (1931), The classic history; online review
    • Frank Lawrence Owsley, "The Confederacy and King Cotton: A Study in Economic Coercion," North Carolina Historical Review 6#4 (1929), pp. 371–397 in JSTOR; summary
  • Thompson, Samuel Bernard. Confederate purchasing operations abroad (1935).
  • Young, Robert W. Senator James Murray Mason: Defender of the Old South (1998).

International perspectives

  • American Civil Wars: A Bibliography. A comprehensive bibliography of the United States Civil War's international entanglements and parallel civil strife in the Americas in the 1860s.
  • Blumenthal, Henry. "Confederate Diplomacy: Popular Notions and International Realities," Journal of Southern History, Vol. 32, No. 2 (May 1966), pp. 151–171 in JSTOR
  • Boyko, John. Blood and Daring: How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. ISBN 978-0-307-36144-8.
  • Cortada, James W. "Spain and the American Civil War: Relations at Mid-century, 1855-1868." Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 70#4 (1980): 1-121.
  • Doyle, Don H. The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War (2014) Excerpt and text search; online review
  • Fleche, Andre. Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict (2012).
  • Hyman, Harold Melvin. Heard Round the World; the Impact Abroad of the Civil War. (1969).
  • Jones, Howard. Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom: The Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War. (U of Nebraska Press, 1999).
  • Jordan, Donaldson, and Edwin J. Pratt. Europe and the American Civil War (2nd ed. 1969).
  • Klees, June. "External Threats and Consequences: John Bull Rhetoric in Northern Political Culture during the United States Civil War." Advances in the History of Rhetoric 10#1 (2007): 73-104.
  • Mahin, Dean B. One war at a time: the international dimensions of the American Civil War (Potomac Books, 1999).
  • May, Robert E., ed. The Union, the Confederacy, and the Atlantic Rim. (2nd ed. 2013).
  • Mayers, Adam. Dixie and the Dominion: Canada, the Confederacy, and the War for the Union (2003) online review
  • Saul, Norman E. Distant Friends: The United States and Russia, 1763–1867 (1991).
  • * Winks, Robin. Canada and the United States: The Civil War Years (1960).


  • Adams, Ephraim D. Great Britain and the American Civil War (2 vols. 1925).
  • Bennett, John D. The London Confederates: The Officials, Clergy, Businessmen and Journalists Who Backed the American South During the Civil War. (McFarland, 2012. ISBN 978-0-7864-6901-7.
  • Berwanger, Eugene. The British Foreign Service and the American Civil War (2015).
  • Blackett, R. J. M. Divided Hearts: Britain and the American Civil War (2001).
  • Blumenthal, Henry. A Reappraisal of Franco-American Relations, 1830-1871 (1959)
  • Campbell, Duncan Andrew. English Public Opinion and the American Civil War (2003).
  • Crook, D. P. The North, The South, and the Powers, 1861–1865 (1974), focus on Britain and Canada.
  • Duberman, Martin B. Charles Francis Adams, 1807-1886 (1960), U.S. minister in Britain.
  • Ellison, Mary. Support for Secession: Lancashire and the American Civil War (1972); role of cotton mill workers.
  • Ferris, Norman B. The Trent Affair: A Diplomatic Crisis (1977).
  • Foreman, Amanda. A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War (2011).
  • Jones, Howard. Union in Peril: The Crisis Over British Intervention in the Civil War (1992).
  • Long, Madeline. In The Shadow of the Alabama: The British Foreign Office and the American Civil War (Naval Institute Press, 2015).
  • Merli, Frank J., and David M. Fahey. The Alabama, British Neutrality, and the American Civil War (2004).
  • Meyers, Philip E. Caution & Cooperation: The American Civil War in British-American Relations. (2008). excerpt; A revisionist approach; denies there was much risk of war between the United States and Britain
  • Poast, Paul. "Lincoln’s Gamble: Bargaining Failure, British Recognition, and the Start of the American Civil War." (2011) online
  • Sebrell II, Thomas E. Persuading John Bull: Union and Confederate Propaganda in Britain, 1860-1865. Lexington Books, 2014.
  • Sexton, Jay. "Transatlantic financiers and the Civil War." American Nineteenth Century History 2#3 (2001): 29-46.
  • Vanauken, Sheldon. The Glittering Illusion: English Sympathy for the Southern Confederacy (Gateway Books, 1989)

France and Mexico

  • Blackburn, George M. "Paris Newspapers and the American Civil War," Illinois Historical Journal (1991) 84#3 pp 177–193. online
  • Clapp, Margaret. Forgotten First Citizen: John Bigelow (1947) He was the American consul in Paris.
  • Carroll, Daniel B. Henri Mercier and the American Civil War (1971); The French minister to Washington, 1860-63.
  • Case, Lynn M. and Warren F. Spencer. The United States and France: Civil War Diplomacy. 1970).
  • Case, Lynn Marshall. French opinion on war and diplomacy during the Second Empire (1954).
  • Hanna, Alfred J., and Kathryn Abbey Hanna. Napoleon III and Mexico: American Triumph over Monarchy (1971).
  • Sainlaude, Stève. The French Government and the Civil War, 1861-1865. The diplomatic action (2011)
  • Schoonover, Thomas. "Mexican Cotton and the American Civil War." The Americas 30.04 (1974): 429-447.
  • Sears, Louis Martin. "A Confederate Diplomat at the Court of Napoleon III," American Historical Review (1921) 26#2 pp. 255–281 in JSTOR on Slidell