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Southern Independence Association.

A large proportion of the British ruling classes, from the prime minister down to the unofficial people, were anxious to see the prosperous and influential republic of the West overturned. Elated by the disasters to the National army at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in the spring of 1863, these British sympathizers became very active, and urged their government to acknowledge the independence of the Confederate States. Public meetings were held in favor of the Confederates. At one of these, held in the open air at Sheffield, May 26, 1863, Rev. Mr. Hopp offered the following resolution, which was adopted by an immense majority: “Resolved, that in the opinion of this meeting the government would act wisely, both for the interests of England and those of the world, were they immediately to enter into negotiations with the great powers of Europe for the purpose of obtaining the acknowledgment by them of the independence of the Confederate States of North America.” In the spring of 1864 a Southern Independence Association was formed, with Lord Wharncliffe as president. Its membership was composed of powerful representatives of the Church, State, and trade. It was organized at Manchester in April. Nearly 900 names appeared on its list of members. Not a few of them were members of the House of Lords and House of Commons. There were baronets, clergymen, lawyers, magistrates, and merchants, prominent in all parts of the country. This association was thoroughly condemned by thousands of Englishmen, and the British government was too prudent to listen to the suggestions of the association, or the proposals of members of the peace faction in New York made to Lord Lyons, the British ambassador, six months before. See Beecher, Henry Ward.

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