The course of England and France.

Since it became evident at a late period that the Governments of Great Britain and France had no earthly intention of interfering in the American quarrel, the question often suggests itself why the Southern Confederacy was so long permitted to remain in doubt on that subject, and actually to receive encouragement of the idea that her independence would be ultimately recognized by those Governments. We are aware that the Emperor of the French, with that sagacity and decision which have placed him at the head of living European statesmen, has repeatedly urged the English Government to unite with France in opening the blockade, but his overtures have been declined, until finally both nations, which act of late in concert upon all matters of common interest, in both hemispheres, have given us to understand, through the executive addresses of their respective Chiefs, that they intend to take no part in this quarrel. It would have been more just and more humane if they had authoritatively and explicitly made this declaration at the first, wording it in such language that by no possible misconstruction it could be tortured to mean anything but what it said. Nay, it would have been better for the South and more humane, if, as soon as it was heard abroad that the Southern Confederacy had declared its independence, England and France had both accepted the Federal theory of the Constitution as correct, and assumed that the Southern movement was a rebellion to which they could give no more countenance, aid, and comfort, in any way, than to a rebellion in Canada, Algiers, or many of the other recognized provinces or possessions of any European power. If they had taken this ground, the South would have expected nothing at their hands, and relying upon herself from the start, would have redoubled her energies.--But, instead of this, they began by assuming the Federal theory to be wrong, and the State Rights theory to be true, as they are, their journals produced powerful arguments to establish this proposition; their Governments acknowledged the South to be a belligerent power, and entitled, as such, to equal respect at the hands of other nations with the North, which they would never have done in the case of a mere rebellious province. The indications of an approaching acknowledgment of Southern independence were so numerous that, not only the South, but the North, and the Federal Government, were fully satisfied of a foregone conclusion in this minds of the Western Powers to interfere on the side of the South. The whole Northern press was unanimous in the expression of this sentiment, and the Federal Government, by its appropriation of seven millions for coast fortifications, showed its conviction of the same apparently inevitable result. The United States correspondents abroad of Federal newspapers bore continued and emphatic testimony to the same effect, and the United States ministers found their residences at the various courts of Europe so uncomfortable on account of the general hostility to their country, that they were all anxious to return home. All this was the natural result of the moral aid and comfort which, from the very beginning, England and France had thrown into the Southern scale, and which warranted the belief that the physical aid and comfort would not be far behind. The English press manufactures public opinion for England and sometimes for Europe, and the press had steadily prepared the public mind of the world for the ultimate recognition of Southern Independence.

At a late hour of the day, and before the intelligence of our late disasters had reached Europe, the speech of the Queen and the address of the French Emperor suddenly and effectually put an extinguisher upon every expectation of that event, which the whole action of their Governments, and the public sentiment of their people, had warranted all mankind in anticipating. It is unnecessary to say that the North was delighted with this unlooked for blessing, and the South for a time saddened and depressed. The transient gloom, however, has passed away, and she is beginning to realize that "who would be free, themselves must strike the blow." She looks abroad no longer for aid or alliance, but she may at least be permitted to wonder why her hopes have been aroused only to be disappointed.--So far as France is concerned, the South has no peculiar cause of complaint. Her politic and wary ruler has not led the way publicly in holding out encouragement to the Southern movement, however he may have sought privately to enlist English co operation with France in its favor. Nor has France at any time intermeddled with American concerns, nor in any way exerted her influence in attenuating the Northern and Southern States of the old American Union from each other. French emissaries have never come to this continent for the purpose of setting the North and the South by the ears on the subject of slavery; there has been no Exeter Hall in Paris, there have been no Dukes and Duchesses to patronize runaway negroes. When Mrs. Stowe visited that city, instead of the ovation she received in England, she produced no sensation. Great Britain, on the contrary, has been the great Abolition power of the world. She has been the "Genius of Universal Emancipation." There is no proposition in mathematics which can be more clearly demonstrated than that, for more than a quarter of a century, England has employed the slavery, subject to divide and ruin her commercial and manufacturing rival, the old United States of America. It was through her influence that the flame of Abolition fanaticism was kindled in New England, which at last burned as under the cords of the former Union, and are now enveloping the whole land in their lurid blaze. Having accomplished this result, it was natural to suppose that she would prepare to reap the fruits of her policy, and these fruits, we supposed, consisted in the acquisition of Southern staples and commerce, in her independence of the United States, and the overthrow of that power as a commercial and manufacturing rival. It seems probable, however, that the rewards she propose for herself are of a more comprehensive character. There are those who believe that she will gladly permit the whole South to become a desert, so that the cotton production, the only point in which America has the advantage of her, may be destroyed, and by a monopoly of the cotton trade England may dominate over the world. Her machinery, it is now contended, can be adapted to the inferior kinds of cotton which her eastern possessions produce, and, with the Southern cotton out of the ring, and inferior article worked up by English mechanical skill can retain for her cotton manufacturers their present supremacy. To this end she is supposed to seek the overthrow, in the cotton States, of the only system of labor by which cotton can be cultivated. In this way she will become independent of America, while the war which she has fomented will so divide and cripple her ancient adversary that the United States, even if again consolidated, could never become a formidable rival either in industry or arms to any other country.

We are not prepared to endorse these explanations of the course of the English Government, though they may be true. We had supposed that the cotton interests of England demanded the preservation of the Southern staple, and that the independence of the South would be virtually her own independence in the cotton supply. But, if in this we are mistaken, if the policy of England seeks the ruin of one and all, it is more ruthless and malignant than we had ever conceived.--Whatever her motives, and however deep the gratitude of the South for the sympathy of her people, her Government has proved itself our worst and most dangerous enemy in Europe, and will be remembered as such hereafter, when the trade and commerce of the South shall be at its own disposal.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
France (France) (8)
United States (United States) (5)
England (United Kingdom) (2)
New England (United States) (1)
Canada (Canada) (1)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Stowe (1)
Genius (1)
Dukes (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: