Talk:Trent Affair

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Ploy?[edit]

In the novel, The Passionate Rebel, the author indicates that the capture was a set-up by the South (members of the adminstration of which knew the were-abouts of the hot-headed Wilkes). Is there any indication that this might really have been the case? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 211.225.37.54 (talk) 11:14, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

It may be a little late to answer your question, but Mason wrote to his wife shortly after his capture: "our purpose to embark on the mail steamer which was to leave Havana on the 7th November was well known in the city. We knew it had been spoken of and commented on by the consul of the United States at Havana and thus, would of course, reach the ears of Captain Wilkes, besides which I had visits at my hotel from the officers of that ship. Of course, in conversation with these gentlemen, I imported nothing touching our plans or purposes, but in the manner above noted, it became fully known to Captain Wilkes that we were to embark upon the mail steamer for England via St Thomas on the 7th of November". It's open to interpretation, but the envoys seem to have made no attempt to keep their travel plans secret and entertained Union naval officers at their hotel. Robcraufurd (talk) 23:11, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

Use of Great Britain[edit]

This article repeatedly refers to the United Kingdom in terms of it being a political entity as Great Britain. This is misleading as Great Britain is not and was not a state, it being the largest island of the British isles. Suggest cleanup. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Greennoodle09 (talkcontribs) 13:39, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

John Russell?[edit]

This article introduces a "Lord Russell" without explaining who he is, why he's relevant, or linking to his biography in the text of the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.142.130.36 (talk) 23:56, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

I believe the original link was lost during revision but has now been remedied...John Russell, 1st Earl Russell.
⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 00:15, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

Could Britain Have Supported A Slave State[edit]

Had a motion to support a war against the Union ever come before parliament, it would have almost certainly been defeated as Britain had a clear anti slavery policy and surely could not have supported the Confederacy unless Canada had been directly attacked. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 213.86.71.241 (talk) 13:23, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

It's humourous (sic) that Britain was so bent out of shape by one of their ships being stopped on the high sees and people taken off against their will - only fifty years earlier they thought nothing of doing precisely the same thing on many occasions with American ships and American citizens. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.129.224.141 (talk) 16:22, 23 October 2011 (UTC)
And only two years before, America had almost gone to war with Britain because the Royal Navy was boarding American slave ships off the coast of Cuba and liberating the cargoes. Lack of consistency is not just something that can be leveled at the UK. Robcraufurd (talk) 23:18, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
no -- in 1859 Britain almost went to war with SPAIN over the illegal slave trade. The US Navy was actively catching slave trade ships. see Hugh Thomas (2013). The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade: 1440-1870. p. 773-74.  Rjensen (talk) 01:19, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
"Britain and the United States probably came closest to war in 1858, when the British anti-slavery squadron began boarding American ships on the high seas to search for slaves being illegally transported from the African West Coast.... Congress voted funds to add ships to the navy, and two militia regiments volunteered for federal service." Fulton, Richard D. (1993) 'The London times and the Anglo-American boarding dispute of 1858', Nineteenth-Century Contexts, 17:2, p134. Slightly earlier than I claimed, but real nonetheless. As for the idea that the US Navy was active, this very wiki describes them as "generally ineffective... In the 16 years of squadron operation, only the crew of 19 slave ships went to trial. These slavers were acquitted or only lightly fined." If you want further proof, see Huzzey, Richard, "Freedom Burning: Anti-Slavery and Empire in Victorian Britain" (Cornell, 2012) p56; Canney, Donald L, "Africa Squadron: The U.S. Navy and the Slave Trade, 1842-1862" (Potomac 2006) passim; or the comments of Lord Palmerston (HC Deb 26 February 1861 vol 161 c950). Robcraufurd (talk) 17:31, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
No, Britain would not have gone to war in support of slavery - as Lincoln knew well. That is why he issued the Proclamation, turning it into an abolitionist war, which is not how it had started. Valetude (talk) 11:05, 30 May 2018 (UTC)

Recent edits by ip 76.95.109.246[edit]

Along with repeated confusion regarding the geographic make-up of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland vis a vis Great Britain the article, "Canada" is repeatedly used instead of the much more accurate "British North America"; prior to Cionfderation in 1867, Canada referred to one province (historically, Upper Canada and Lower Canada, or roughly the equivalent of the today's southeastern Ontario and southeastern Quebec, with a total population of 2.5 million; the remainder of BNA - the separate colonies of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland - had a population of roughly 780,000. This is especially significant because of the requirements under British law that militia forces could not be used outside of the political entity where they were raised, as opposed to volunteers.

In addition, there is a specious argument that the troops raised by the US in 1861 could not be equipped other than with European-procured weapons; this is belied by the following factual data: Again, it is worth noting that although U.S. procurement of weapons in Europe in 1861 was useful to the Union cause, both in providing weapons for the U.S. and state militia forces and in denying them to the rebels, the reality is that the U.S. forces mobilized in 1861 were largely equipped with U.S.-made weapons. The Official Records, contemporary and primary sources, and official accounts make this clear; in October, 1860, for example, there were 530,000 longarms in the 16 federal arsenals, armories, and depots; this count did not include weapons issued to the regular army or those in state aresenals.[1]. It is worth noting that modern weapons procured to U.S. government account in the U.S., both before the war broke out in 1861 and in the first year of the conflict, amounted to the following: Model 1861 Percussion Rifle .58 caliber - 265,129 at Springfield; 402,909 M1861s by contractors, all in 1861-62; replaced by M1863 (500,000 produced) M1861 Special (i.e Colt’s) Rifle .58 caliber (not interchangeable with M1861 Springfield or contract) – 152,000 produced in 1861-62 M1855 Percussion Rifle .58 – 7,000 produced at Springfield before 1860 M1855 Rifle (Maynard tape) .58 – 60,000 (Springfield and Harper’s Ferry) M1842 Percussion Rifle .69 – 14,000 produced by Springfield and Harper’s Ferry by conversion of M1842 muskets, 1855-59; M1841 Percussion Rifle .54 – 70,796 (i.e Mississippi Rifle) produced by HFA and contractors M1842 Percussion Musket (SB) . 69 – 261,000 produced by SA and HFA; first with interchangeable parts — Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.95.109.246 (talk) 18:55, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

The Official Records indeed make it clear where the US army's weapons came from. 'The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies; Series 3 - Volume 2', p. 858 shows that there were 437,433 muskets and rifles on hand at the beginning of the rebellion, of which we know that no more than 40,000 were M1855 and the overwhelming majority were smoothbores.[2]. By 30th July 1862, 30,788 had been purchased from US manufacturers; 109,810 manufactureed at the Springfield Armoury; and an astonishing 726,705 purchased from foreign manufacturers, representing more than half of all weapons available to the Union at that point. To put those figures in context, the 'Melbourne' carried almost as many rifles to Canada in one trip in December 1861[3] as were manufactured by private firms in America in more than a year.
However the fact that "By the early summer of 1861, rifled arms of American manufacture virtually had disappeared from Federal arsenals... by the midsummer even the smoothbore muskets, originally manufactured as percussion, were nearly gone"[4] is extraneous to the Trent affair. Frankly, I would rather the whole section be reverted just to explain, in a manner-of-fact way, what British forces were present and what Canadian troops were being mobilised to support them. To counteract some rather jingoistic statements about Union mobilisation, I added a clarification of how stretched the Union's war effort was in December 1861 . Unfortunately, it seems the only response to realism is more jingoism and some rather lengthy, uninteresting and misleading statistics. Robcraufurd (talk) 17:56, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
I've gone back over the land war section and taken some of the often contradictory pro-British and pro-Union speculation out. I understand that this is an interesting topic, and people have plenty of views on what might have happened, but there are other places for that. I also went through footnotes and identified one or two comments that didn't seem to be borne out by the sources themselves, amending these accordingly. Finally, I added additional context and quotes on the wider effects of the war. Robcraufurd (talk) 12:50, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

The M1855 rifle-musket and rifle used the same ammunition as the M1861, the M1861 (Special) and the M1863 and all the primary parts such as locks were interchangeable, a requirement the Ordnance Department placed on the commercial manufacturers. Only the Enfields produced at the government arsenal on US made machinery until the same type of machinery was installed in the London Arsenal by 1863 used interchangeable parts, the models made by the commercial manufacturers being hand-made. In fact, by 8 February 1862, the Ordnance Department (based on its records in the Archives, see “Firearms from Europe: Being a history and description of firearms imported during the American Civil War by the United States of America and the Confederate States of America”, Noe, David; Yantz, Larry W. & Whisker, James B., Rowe Publications, 1999", the report to Congress in 1867 (40th Congress, 2d Session: House of Representatives, Executive Document 99 – Contracts, projectiles and small-arms, from 13 April 1861 to 15 March 1867), the returns from the regiments and the reports of the State Adjutant Generals on state inventories and purchses) had received and had issued , or in storage or in transit (produced by 8 Feb 63), 3,600 (823) M1855 Colt Repeating Rifles; 2,200 (3,000) Sharps M1859 rifles; 1,600 Hall percussion breech-loading rifles M1840; 355 (200) Merrill breech-loading rifles and (1,000) Spencer M1862 Repeating Rifles; 50,565 .54 M1841 rifles (~50% modified for bayonets); .58 12,500 M1841/57 rifles (bored out to .58 and w/bayonets); 3,300 (500) .58 Rifle, M1855; 49,000 .58 Rifle-Musket M1855; 1,675 .58 Rifle-Musket M1858; 110,800 (292,470) .58 Rifle-Musket M1861; 168,900 .577 Enfield M1853 Rifles & Rifle-Muskets; 65,600 .54 Rifle-Musket M1854 (Aus); 37,100 .58 Rifle-Musket M1854 (Aus); 10,000 .54 Rifle, M1854 (Aus); 1,200 .58 Rifle, M1857 (Sax); 2,600 .58-.61 French Short Rifles and 4,500 .577 Rifles, Brazilian from Liege. This makes a total of 543,795 (297,994) First class arms. Second class arms totaled 169,127 including 1,000 .69 Rifled Musket M1851/59; 12,581 .69 Rifled Musket M1842/56; 5,000 .69 Rifled Musket M1819/35/54; 8,439 .70 Rifle, Engineer, M1842/55 (Aus); 45,700 .70 Rifled Musket M1842/55 (Aus); 25,512 Rifled Musket M1839/55 (Prus); 1,422 .71 Rifle, Cadet (Prus); 14,215 .71 Rifled Musket M1842/57 (Fr); 5,970 Rifled Musket M1844/60 (Pied); 10,500 Rifled Musket M1809/35/57 (Prus); 7,111 .71 Rifle, Short M1842/57 (Fr); 10,000 .71 Rifle M1853 (Fr); 8,302 .69 Rifled-Musket (Liege) and 13,672 .70 Rifled Musket M1840/57 (Fr). There were 293,112 3d Class arms, smoothbore percussion muskets. There were 3,600 (1,100) repeating carbines, Colt and Spencer; 26,160 (52,345) breech-loading 1st class carbines; 10,700 2d class breech-loading carbines, and 1,891 3d/4th class carbines. Artillery included 225 (20) 10pdr Parrott rifles, 111 (451) 3" M1861 Ordnance rifles, 54 (61) 20pdr Parrott, 12 3.67" Delafield, 24 2.6" Wiard, 12 3.67" Wiard, and 219 3.8" James rifles. Smoothbores included 77 (555) 12pdr M1857, 552 6pdr guns and 123 12pdr howitzers. Given that the US reported by 28 Feb an effective strength of 30,000 Regular Army and 492,000 Volunteers and mobilized over 90,000 militia in 1862, against a reported inventory on 8 Feb of 543,795 1st class and 169,127 2d class shoulder arms, there was no shortage of effective fire-arms for the US armed forces. As so given that the highest number of effectives in the rebel armies crested at 330,000 in June 1862, the US could have diverted up to 180,000 men for an invasion of Canada, supported by US control of the Lakes (in Feb 1862, not only was the St. Lawrence River iced over but the La Chine locks were vulnerable to capture and destruction preventing the transfer of RN warships into the Lakes, where there were over 600 US steam ships of 110' to over 300' long against barely 60 Canadian steam ships. The US could commit over 30,000 cavalry against barely 3,000 on the British side and over 60 batteries of field artillery against nine. Canada had neither the economy or agriculture to sustain a British-Canadian force over 60,000 strong. Those in Britain, such as Wollsey, who believed Canada indefensible were correct. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 55.124.3.92 (talk) 15:14, 22 June 2017 (UTC)

  1. ^ Hunt, Capt. O.E., The Ordnance Department of the Federal Army, p. 124-154, New York; 1911
  2. ^ Davis, 'Arming the Union', p. 41
  3. ^ The Illustrated London News, vol. 39, no. 1121, p. 608. (December 14, 1861)
  4. ^ Davis, 'Arming the Union', p. 43

TrevelyanLittle's edits[edit]

This editor has twice added a separate section on Lord Lyons. The article is arranged chronologically and Lyons is already mentioned throughout the article. This separate section, stuck in the middle of the article, doesn't fit. This statement:

"Lyons compelled the United States government to release the two envoys"

is a vast overstatement of Lyons' role in the whole affair. What he told the Americans and what he forwarded to London are covered elsewhere in the article. What he did in the Pig War is really not relevant here. All the major players (Seward, Adams, Palmerston, Russell et al) brought past experience into these events, but this article is not the place to expand on their backgrounds. If there is important info that needs to be added about Lyons in his handling of his duties regarding Trent, it should be briefly incorporated within the existing language. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 20:21, 28 July 2017 (UTC)


Tom (North Shoreman), I disagree. My second addition did not include any information about Lyons’s background, or the reception of his action, which might veritably be considered to be peripheral to the subject of this article. The example of his behaviour in the Pig War is important, because it is a precedent of his exact behaviour in dealing with the USA as the British Ambassador, not merely a random example of previous diplomatic negotiations with the USA.

The excerpt that you quote here is not an overstatement: the source cited at the end of the sentence from which you quote, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which is one of the most authoritative sources available, states that 'Lyons was largely responsible for the avoidance of confrontation between the two countries' because of the actions in question. Lincoln himself congratulated Lyons for this, as is explained and cited in the article on Lyons, and Queen Victoria considered it sufficient to make him the greatest British diplomat in 100 years.

In response to your comment that the section does not fit, I disagree: it is a short paragraph in an extremely long article. As a small but significant proportion of British viewers of the article will seek a summary of Lyons’s contribution, I think that the discrete section on Lyons, which provides such a summary, is a valuable addition to the article: it will assist some, and does not detract from the reading experience of others, because it is only small.

I'd be interested to know what other editors think.

(TrevelyanLittle (talk) 21:03, 28 July 2017 (UTC))

You clearly state that you would "be interested to know what other editors think" so I didn't respond. So now you just add he stuff back because I had "not replied to argument". I will be glad to participate in a discussion.
You cite a Civil War Round Table site at -Lyons-and-Civil-War-Diplomacy-1859-1865.asp. W/O commenting on the reliability of the source, what it says is "By his discreet and unauthorised advance disclosure of the firm British attitude he allowed calmer and less belligerent attitudes to be accepted by both the North and England". Somehow you made this claim based on that source that "he disclosed to the Americans, without British authorization, and in a manner that suggested the disclosure were an accident, a version of the British policy that deliberately overstated the severity of the British keenness to use force, a number of days before issuing the official British response."
Hardly the same thing is it. In fact, what is already in the article is the following:
In Washington, Lyons received the official response and his instructions on December 18. As instructed, Lyons met with Seward on December 19 and described the contents of the British response without actually delivering them. Seward was told that the British would expect a formal reply within seven days of Seward's receipt of the official communication. At Seward's request, Lyons gave him an unofficial copy of the British response which Seward immediately shared with Lincoln. On Saturday December 21 Lyons visited Seward to deliver the "British ultimatum," but after further discussion they agreed that the formal delivery would be postponed for another two days. Lyons and Seward reached an agreement that the seven-day deadline should not be considered as part of the official communication from the British government.
You addition is poorly sourced, less detailed, less accurate and redundant.
You further claim, "However, through idiosyncratic ‘tact and firmness’, Lyons compelled the United States government to release the two envoys, and the likely conflict was averted." You don't list a page from your source (Lord Lyons: A Diplomat in an Age of Nationalism and War) but it appears that the following page is the relevant one [1]
Nowhere do I see the word "compelled" or any indication that Lyons had the desire or ability to compell the US to do anything. In fact, Lyons, according to both your source and everything else I've read, intentionally avoided any threats or language that suggested compulsion. You need to show how you have made an accurate inerpretation of your source. There are more problems with your addition but you should address these issues first. I note that both redundancy and compulsion were raised when I opened this discussion and you failed to address either. Nor did you address the odd placement of your section without regard to the ongoing flow of the narrative. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 21:00, 9 August 2017 (UTC)
PS I note that another source you cite is the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. I found this [2] online which appears to be an earlier version of your source. This article also does not support your narrative.
You seem to want to make Lyons the hero of the entire affair, but your limited number of sources pale in comparison with the numerous sources listed in the article. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 21:50, 9 August 2017 (UTC)

In the name of...[edit]

I'll remove phrase "in the name of cotton diplomacy" from the lead. (It was added in the form "in the name of King Cotton" here, and changed to the present formulation here.) @Rjensen: A reference to cotton diplomacy in the lead may be adequate; but to state that the diplomats were to lobby for recognition "in the name of" King Cotton" or "cotton diplomacy" normally would mean that the diplomats in their negotiation explicitly referred to either term, for instance like speaking thus:

On behalf of King Cotton, we request that you recognize the Confederated States of America as an independent state."

Thus, if you (or someone else) reinserts a reference to cotton diplomacy, then please formulate it in terms of for instance "on the strength of" or "based on" rather than "in the name of". JoergenB (talk) 20:00, 7 October 2017 (UTC)

Clarify, please[edit]

William Wilberforce had made the abolition of slavery a major cause in Britain, which outlawed the institution via the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. That constituency rejected both war and slavery, forcing London to appease the Americans.

Not clear. What was this appeasement of the Americans? Valetude (talk) 05:54, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
I dropped it as unsourced. William Wilberforce died in 1833. Evangelicals in Britain supported US and were not pacifists. Rjensen (talk) 12:34, 30 May 2018 (UTC)