The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999 Page: 258
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
inefficient and inexperienced group of Confederate operatives" (p. x). Their
failure to either negotiate separation from the Union or achieve foreign recog-
nition "substantially contributed to the collapse of the Confederacy" (p. xi).
Pres. Jefferson Davis and his advisors developed a misguided diplomatic strate-
gy based on cotton coercion. They believed foreign recognition was "an assumed
fact" (p. 23) because of the insatiable demand for cotton. A Confederate cabinet
member, Judah P. Benjamin, remarked to Willliam Howard Russell of the Lon-
don Times that when England needed cotton badly enough, "all this coyness
about acknowledging a slave power will come right at last" (p. 23). State legisla-
tures and citizens committees prevented most cotton from leaving the Confedera-
cy in i861. But King Cotton diplomacy, so infallible from the Confederate
perspective, contained certain fatal weaknesses. In 1861, previously exported cot-
ton filled the warehouses in England and supplied the English and French mills
until the end of 1862. The surplus allowed time for Egypt and India to increase
their cotton production. Hubbard joins other scholars in recognizing that a wiser
policy would have been to export promptly the huge crops of 1861 and 1862 be-
fore the federal blockade tightened, allowing Confederate agents to use their
greatest asset to purchase munitions and other supplies from European sellers.
In Chapter 9, "The Lost Diplomatic Opportunity of 1862," Hubbard describes
how the Confederates in Europe missed their best opportunity to influence the
course of diplomacy. The minister-designate to Great Britian, James Mason, was
"completely in the dark" (p. 114) as Foreign Secretary Lord John Russell and
Prime Minister Palmerston moved secretly to organize a British-led mediation
proposal by the European powers to separate the Southern states from the
Union. Russell's conversion from noninvolvement to intervention was complet-
ed with news of Gen. Robert E. Lee's victory over John Pope at Second Manassas
(Bull Run) in August 1862. In the end, however, intervention never occurred
because it could not gain majority support in the British government until Con-
federate independence seemed certain. "The Confederate defeat at Antietam
was not the determining reason," Hubbard concludes, "although it was a con-
tributing factor to the British policy of continued neutrality and inaction. The
disruptions in Europe and the perception that Great Britain possessed limited
power to effect changes sufficiently beneficial to British interests were the over-
whelming reasons for nonintervention" (p. 123).
Nor was the impact of Pres. Abraham Lincoln's Preliminary Emancipation
Proclamation on the prospects for British and French intervention quite as
clear-cut as one might imagine. Indeed, as Howard Jones has pointed out in
Union in Peril: The Criszs over British Intervention zn the Civil War (University of
North Carolina Press, 1992), the release of the Proclamation after Antietam ac-
tually renewed calls for intervention, this time to suppress anticipated slave re-
volts. Russell condemned it as a "most terrible plan" (p. 121).
In July 1863, the embarrassing failure of John Roebuck's motion in favor of
recognition in the House of Commons, coupled with Lee's defeat at Gettysburg
and the surrender of Vicksburg to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, "left few options for
further diplomatic initiatives" (p. 147). In August, Secretary of State Benjamin
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999, periodical, 1999; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/m1/301/: accessed May 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.