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[707] Europe extremely cautious in her intercourse with the two antagonistic sections of the American people. Mr. Davis's commissioners, on landing in England, soon perceived that if their imprisonment had come near arming England against the United States, their personal solicitations near European courts would prove useless, and that their liberation was a great misfortune to their cause. Their diplomatic character was never recognized, and they soon occupied themselves exclusively in furnishing resources and material support to their government, by encouraging blockade-runners and negotiating in London, during the first months of 1862, the loan which enabled them to fit out the privateers of which we have spoken in a former chapter.

All the diplomatic questions discussed between the two belligerents and England during this year had their origin in the fitting out of those privateers which the British government was accused of having favored. We have already mentioned the trouble they caused to American commerce. We shall only allude to their names in this place in connection with the incidents of which they were the occasion. The refusal of the English authorities at Gibraltar to allow the Sumter to supply herself with the coal she needed to resume her cruise at the end of 1861, had decided Captain Semmes to convert that vessel into a blockade-runner in order to find another ship for himself. This refusal gave rise to sundry fruitless remonstrances addressed by Mr. Mason to the cabinet of St. James. We have related the career of the Oreto or Florida, which was the first successor of the Sumter—her departure from England despite the notification of Mr. Adams, her seizure and release at Nassau; then the first appearance of the Alabama, her equipment in the ship-yards of Birkenhead, her armament at Terceira, and the vain protest of the United States legation against these hostile acts. Although American commerce suffered severely by this violation of international law, the Americans could not make it a pretext for declaring war against their maritime rivals, at a juncture when they had so great an interest in concentrating all their forces for the purpose of crushing the Confederates, but the Washington cabinet determined at last to emphasize its protest by formally declaring that it would hold the English government responsible

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