Henry Hotze

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Henry Hotze

Henry Hotze (September 2, 1833–April 19, 1887) was a Swiss-born propagandist for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. He acted as a Confederate agent in the United Kingdom, attempting to build support for the Southern cause there.

Early life and career[edit]

He was the son of Rudolph Hotze, a captain in the French Royal Service, and Sophie Esslinger. He was educated in a Jesuit setting and emigrated to the United States in his youth. He became a naturalized citizen in 1855, and lived in Mobile, Alabama, where he made important connections through his social skills and intelligence. He had strong racial opinions. In 1856 Hotze was hired by Josiah C. Nott to translate Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau's An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races entitled The Moral and Intellectual Diversity of Races.

In 1858, he went to the southern commercial convention as a delegate for Mobile. He was a secretary for the U.S. legation in Brussels in 1858 and 1859, and when he returned, worked as an associate editor of the Mobile Register, owned by John Forsyth.

He joined the Mobile Cadets when the Civil War began. On May 30, 1861, he became a clerk in Richmond to the adjutant general. Secretary of War L. P. Walker ordered Hotze to go to London to assist in providing funds for Confederate agents in Europe, and help with the acquisition of munitions and supplies for the conflict. He went through the North and Canada before his departure, and collected some intelligence on the Union's mobilization efforts.

Agent in Europe[edit]

He arrived in London on October 5 and came to the determination that the Confederacy needed a strong diplomatic and propaganda effort in Europe. He returned to Richmond and made his argument to the Confederate leadership. On November 14, he was created an agent with the core task of influencing British public opinion toward supporting the Confederacy. Until the end of the war, he made substantial and vigorous activities to this end.

Hotze realized that propaganda effort had to be about more than cotton alone. He appealed to prejudice against the United States, British naval rights, and the rights of smaller nations. He paid English journalists to support the cause and wrote his own pieces in the Morning Post, the London Standard, the Herald, and the financial weekly paper Money and Market Review.

In May 1862, he created a weekly journal, The Index which was perhaps the best Confederate propaganda activity in Europe. It had a circulation of around 2,000 and was distributed primarily in Britain but was also read in France, Ireland, and even sent back to the Union itself. Hotze's realism and subtlety in his propaganda upset other Confederate agents in Europe like Edwin De Leon, John Slidell, and Paul Pecquet du Bellet.

Hotze participated in a number of other important activities to support the south. He assisted in writing Lord Campbell's speech against the Union blockade given in the House of Lords on March 10, 1862. He also had an important dinner with William Ewart Gladstone (according to Gladstone's papers, July 31, 1862), where he stressed that the Union and Confederacy could negotiate their boundaries in a mediation effort. As 1862 moved on and after the battle of Antietam and the Emancipation Proclamation, Hotze became more frustrated over the course of public opinion in Great Britain.

Last efforts and post-war activities[edit]

After the death of Stonewall Jackson prompted some sympathy for the south, Hotze attempted to organize pro-Confederacy meetings in Manchester, Sheffield, Preston and elsewhere to support a House of Commons resolution, initiated by J. A. Roebuck, for recognition of the Confederacy. Its failure and withdrawal on July 13, 1863, seemed like the end of hope for diplomatic solutions to Hotze. When James M. Mason was withdrawn, Hotze was the only remaining agent for the Confederacy in Britain.

He continued to draw on negative sentiments related to Union actions against Confederate attempts to build ironclad ships in Britain and concerns over occasional Union actions against British shipping. He also worked to obtain signatures for petitions for peace and was able to influence French newspapers by affecting Havas Agency telegraphs.

Hotze's strong feelings about slavery made him averse to work with Jefferson Davis's final offer to accept emancipation in exchange for European recognition. After the war, he refused to return and remained in Europe working as a journalist, mostly in Paris.

He died from cancer in Zug, Switzerland.


  • Lonnie Burnett, Henry Hotze, Confederate Propagandist: Selected on Revolution, Recognition, and Race, University of Alabama Press, 2008. ISBN 0-8173-1620-5
  • D. P. Crook. "Hotze, Henry"; [1]; American National Biography Online February 2000.
  • Charles P. Cullop, Confederate Propaganda in Europe, 1861–1865 (1969)
  • The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, ser. 2, vol. 3 (30 vols., 1894–1922)
  • Robert Trumbull Smith, "The Confederate Index and the American Civil War" (M.A. thesis, University of Washington, 1961)
  • Robert J.C. Young, "Egypt in America, The Confederacy in London" in Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race Routledge, 1995, pp. 118-41. ISBN 0-415-05374-9
  • Robert E. Bonner, “Slavery, Confederate Diplomacy, and the Racialist Mission of Henry Hotze,” Civil War History 51, no. 3 (2005): 288–316.

External links[edit]