England's Position in the Civil War


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 8, 1861

This newspaper has a number of interesting articles and illustrations. The cover shows a nice example of Zouaves, and their uniforms and equipment. There is also a nice Winslow Homer illustration of the Long Bridge over the Potomac. Several different soldiers from New York are profiled.

(Scroll Down to See entire page, Newspaper Thumbnails will take you to the page of interest)




England's Position

Civil War News

Colonel Ellsworth

Death of Colonel Ellsworth

Soldiers in Camp

Ellsworth's Soldiers in Camp

Locust Point

Camp Locust Point, Baltimore

Long Bridge

The Long Bridge Over the Potomac

Colonel Vosburgh

Colonel Vosburgh's Funeral

Sherman's Artillery

Sherman's Artillery

The Garibaldi Zouaves

The Garibaldi Zouaves

Sickles's brigade

General Sickles's Brigade

Jeff Davis Cartoon

Jefferson Davis Cartoon


Map of the Seat of War




[JUNE 8, 1861




SINCE speaking, last week, of England as an ally, the news of the proclamation has arrived. The English Government warns all subjects not to take sides in the war at their peril, and not to try to break a blockade actually established. It also forbids the selling of arms to either party. How a friendly power can justify this conduct it is not easy to say. If the United States Government had ordered the citizens not to sell arms to Englishmen, nor carry them in American ships—had, in fact, declared its absolute neutrality between England and the Sepoys in their late rebellion, the English Government might have justly called it an unfriendly act.

The rebellion in this country has not half the excuse that the Sepoys had. The Indian soldiers were at least standing upon their own soil, and opposing a foreign race which had vanquished them by arms. It was a blind stroke for the independence of their nationality. But the Davis rebellion is the resistance of a faction of citizens against the government of all ; and the liberty for which they claim that they are fighting means baldly and only the liberty of holding other people in slavery.

That England should recognize such a rebellion for such a cause is, as we said last week, incredible. And she has not done it. Acting upon imperfect knowledge she has told her subjects to keep hands off. She is not positively friendly, and she is obviously unwise ; but she is not hostile. The dearest dream of Jefferson Davis has been that she would raise the blockade. The whole rebellion has rested upon two points : first, that the North was cowardly and divided, and then that England, which must have cotton, would open the Southern ports. But the traitors forgot how much the one depended upon the other. If England had seen the Slave States united in the movement, and the Free States hesitating and divided, she would doubtless have taken some more decided action. But she has seen just in time, in the Free States, an enthusiastic unanimity unparalleled in history—all the vast resources of a great, intelligent, skillful, industrious, and wealthy people, she has seen heaped and lavished in the measures of defense against this conspiracy. The full influence of this spectacle upon her action we have not yet seen. But the result of the suspicion of it is shown in her declaration that she will not break the blockade. When she understands, as she will from Mr. Adams and the history of recent events, exactly what the character and chances of the rebellion are, she will hardly be so nervous about taking sides.

Her hesitation, we ought to remember, is not altogether unnatural. Our late minister in England probably neither understood the difficulty at home nor sympathized with the Government. England saw a great conspiracy — an empty treasury—the army and navy crumbling—Congress paralyzed and foolishly alienating sympathy by the Morrill tariff—the Border States longing to go—the States that had elected the President hesitating and divided. The moneyed interest of New York city was represented to her in private letters and by the public performances of "W. H. Russell, LL.D., Barrister at Law," as secretly favoring the insurrection. She knew that the capital of the nation was sorely threatened, and that the President and Cabinet were in personal danger of capture. England thought she saw—and ought we to be surprised that she so thought ?—all the signs of speedy national dissolution. Lord Palmerston, the head of the ministry, frankly said so. She felt obliged to take some action, and she did precisely what might have been expected, acting, as she did, under the convictions which Lord Palmerston expressed, tempered as they must have been by the magnificent spectacle of a national Samson awaking, in full strength, from slumber, which Lord Palmerston could not have failed to see, but without yet comprehending.

Had a great statesman been in power we should have seen another sight. The British empire, whose great tradition and strength is constitutional liberty, and which is pledged irretrievably against human slavery, would have waited until she was fully informed by our Government of the nature of the rebellion and its own purposes. Then admitting the rebellious agents, as individuals, she would have said to them : " England is the fast friend of the United

States Government, and in obedience to her instincts, her national principle, and the interest of her subjects most intimately concerned in the American trade, she will support that Government, founded upon the constitutional will of the people, against every effort to substitute for it a military despotism for the protection of slavery. Go, gentlemen. The conscience, the heart, the common sense and interest of civilization and humanity are against you. You hope to lead us by cotton—but cotton is more

certainly secured to us by our cordial alliance with the Government we have so long known, and whose flag in this contest is the flag of popular liberty regulated by law—the flag of the principles which England has always defended."

She has not yet done that—but she will do it. Meanwhile, although the rebellion will be comforted that she has not entirely turned her back, yet by her respecting the blockade the second and last great hope of treason disappears.


THERE is now no communication, either by mail or by express, with the rebel States, and our friends in that section can not get Harper's Weekly if they would. But for this, our respectful sympathies would have been at the service of those old readers who have lately been deprived of this sheet by zealous Vigilance Committees and State Governors.

In the last number of this journal we published the only portraits ever printed of the Confederate Cabinet ; the only good view ever given of Montgomery and of the White House there ; besides a number of other Southern scenes. In this number we give a splendid birds-eye view of part of the Southern States. Even assuming that our Southern friends don't care about seeing pictures of the Northern people and their military doings, it must surely be a privation to be debarred from enjoying illustrations of their own side in the war.


MAJOR-GENERAL BUTLER'S refusal to surrender fugitive slaves to their masters, on the ground that they are " contraband of war," appears to be equally sound in law and sensible in practice. He has established a precedent which will probably be faithfully followed throughout the war.

It can not be complained of by the South, for it rests upon the cardinal principle of the Breckinridge party at the last election, that slaves are property under United States law. If they are property, the fact that they can be of service to the enemy—like horses or carts—places them at once in the list of articles which are " contraband of war."

The practical effect of this decision will verify the prediction uttered in this journal when the war first broke out, namely, that, in one way or another, actual hostilities would prove fatal to the slave institution. The North has not sought this result. The officer who establishes the precedent was the Breckinridge candidate for Governor in Massachusetts. It is the secessionist politicians who have rendered its adoption unavoidable : if it is hard to bear, the South must look to them for compensation.



No man dies too soon whose name his country remembers with love and honor. Eighty-six years ago a young man went from Boston to Bunker Hill, and through the sharp battle of that summer day he cheered and consoled his fellow-soldiers fighting for liberty. As the troops slowly retired Joseph Warren fell, " the last in the trenches." Since that day no figure in our history is more beloved and inspiring. He seems to smile upon us brightly with the hope of liberty, and the words he often quoted are his fit epitaph : " It is sweet to die for your country."

As Warren died in the beginning of the struggle to obtain constitutional liberty, so dies Ellsworth at the opening of the war to maintain and perpetuate it. They both belong to those heroes whose death serves their country not less than their life. The shade of Warren led Massachusetts through the war : the memory of Ellsworth marshals New York to victory.

Those who knew the young Colonel of Zouaves feel how much the country has lost in his death. His unquestionable military genius would have soon made his name as conspicuous for good service as it was already for heroic energy and skill and sagacity. But his death also helps the good cause. For in his grave private feuds are buried. By his blood all patriot hearts are more closely sealed together. Remembering him, brave men will be braver, and the strong arm strike more strongly. War has many terrible aspects ; but it also develops grand and noble qualities. And this is among them, that private griefs are hushed and lost in the common weal. While the mother's heart breaks for her dead boy, it beats with gratitude that his death gives life to his country.


AN amiable friend in Kentucky writes to the Lounger to ask why he has become so sanguinary. He invites him to discuss the drama, and the fine arts, and the fashions, and the new novels, and promises to forgive him if he will only not allude to any thing in which the public is interested.

The nerves of the amiable Kentucky friend are doubtless delicate. But he must remember that it is not every man who can see a desperate and causeless rebellion strike at the foundations of society without being swept away by the wild enthusiasm of loyalty to liberty and social order which kindles all the hearts around him. While every family is sending off its sons and brothers to fight for their country against a murderous and ignoble

enemy—while all business is suspended because time, money, and industry must be devoted to the same holy cause—while there is but one supreme and universal interest, and that the deepest and most sacred possible—nobody hereabouts has time to discuss the new fashions and the new novels.

Perhaps the amiable friend in Kentucky is not aware that there is a conspiracy against the peace of his country. Perhaps he has not heard that the flag of his country has been shot at and shot down by traitors. Perhaps he has yet to learn that the President of the United States has summoned an army of the people to see that the laws of the people are maintained. Perhaps he is ignorant that loyal citizens marching to defend their Government have been murdered. Perhaps he does not even know that there are States which are debating whether to be patriots or traitors. Perhaps he has not been informed that there are State Governors who think it marvelously inhuman that the beneficent and constitutional laws of the land shall be enforced at every, cost, but a most proper and praiseworthy thing that those laws should be resisted and that Government destroyed. Perhaps he does not yet understand that the industrious, intelligent, law and liberty loving mass of the inhabitants of this country have taken up arms to cut down the crop of treason, and to destroy its seeds, and to settle once and forever the point that the United States are a nation and not a club—that they have a Government which is supreme, being ordained and constantly renewed by the people according to the Constitution they have adopted ; and that this Government shall be implicitly obeyed every where in the land.

When the amiable friend in Kentucky shall have learned some of these facts, he may perhaps vaguely surmise why the Lounger does not devote himself exclusively to the discussion of the opera.


THE Constitution, in its third section, says that "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort." The first article of the Amendments declares, that " Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech or of the press." The Constitution of the State of New York says, in the eighth section of the first article, that " Every citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right ; and no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press."

Any man may therefore say, in a newspaper or a speech, that he thinks the Government of the United States ought to permit itself to be outraged and destroyed ; he may say that he thinks the vast loyal mass of the people ought to substitute the League of the Slave States for the Constitution of the United States; he may say that the present Government of the people of this country is " accidentally in power ;" he may say that he hopes the traitors may subdue the faithful citizens of the land ; he may call maintaining the laws of the country "coercion;" he may call the necessary measures for ferreting out traitors and suppressing rebellion " invasion of a State ;" he may seek by every kind of falsehood and calumny and appeal to the baser passions to sow dissension among the friends of the Government to the end that its enemies may conquer, and yet he has not forfeited his claim to the protection of the very government and laws he seeks to destroy.

But it is always wise to make due allowance for human nature. The Constitution has from the beginning guaranteed this absolute right of free speech to every citizen of the United States, any State law to the contrary notwithstanding. But for all that Mr. Wendell Phillips has always been sensible enough not to try to exercise that right south of the city of Philadelphia, because although he had precisely the same constitutional right to say what he thought of Slavery that Mr. Jeff Davis had to say what he thought of it, yet he knew that his legal rights would be disdained both by the constituted authorities and the public sentiment.

When, therefore, the blood of the brave sons of the loyal States of this Union has flowed freely in defense of their Government, their national flag, and civil society itself; when the full horror of the war which has been forced upon the country by rebellious citizens bursts over the land, it will be the part of wisdom for those who have adhered to the rebels in every way which did not bring their own necks into immediate peril, who have given all the aid of sympathy, all the comfort which falsehood and incessant efforts to sow dissension could impart, to make due allowance for human nature.


WHILE every allowance is to be made for human nature, it is the clear duty of every loyal citizen to protect every other citizen in the expression of his opinion. That it differs radically from the general opinion, that it is notoriously expressed, not from any conviction, but from the most venomous party rancor that would willingly see the Government ruined, does not disturb the right of protection and the duty of protecting free speech.

Heretofore, when there has been complaint that it was dangerous in some parts of the country to quote the Declaration of Independence, the reply has been made with a fine air of indignation, "would you allow people to poison wells?" To which the answer is plain enough : if the mere free discussion of any question any where in the country is so dangerous to something or other, why, as that free discussion is one of the express privileges guaranteed by the Constitution, if something or other undertakes to deny or abridge that right it does so at its peril.

It is an interesting and instructive fact that the papers which now most loudly deprecate mob law are those which have most freely justified it hitherto, when somebody else was to be gored. A

paper in the city of New York which encourages treason would feel sadly injured if it were served as it would heartily approve the serving of the Liberator, if that paper were published in Charleston. " Served it right," it would say ; " what business has a man to put the peace of a neighborhood in peril?" Let it remember that that is precisely what would be said in its own case here and now.

The whirligig of Time is a very droll machine. When you excite a mob to attack a man who is merely exercising a lawful right, suppose you ask yourself, " How should I like to have a mob set upon me for doing what I have a right to do ?"

Meanwhile it is one of the pleasantest evidences of the spirit of society in the loyal States that every symptom of riot, for any purpose, would be no more sternly and effectually repressed than ever. For the faithful citizens of this country are armed in defense of law and orderly government, and their lives will illustrate their loyalty ; and when the people, by their blood and money, have re-established the National Government every where in the land, they will take good care that every right it guarantees shall be every where and forever respected. And the most sacred of those rights is that of free speech upon every question of public interest.


MANUAL machinery is valuable according to the intelligence of the operator, and nothing is more striking than the fact that immorality paralyzes machinery. The telegraph, for instance, trembles all day long with weighty news ; but how if your weighty news proves to be utterly false? The telegraph is a delicate ear-trumpet that coils all over the land, but if the person who takes one end of it in California to whisper to Maine, breathes a lie into the tube, it may travel very quickly, but that is all. No, it is not all. That lie has tainted the tube. After that even truth exudes from it suspected.

This has become so true during the last few months that the old proverb is entirely reversed and reports are disbelieved, not believed, because they are printed in the newspapers. It is enough that a sensible man reads a telegram from Washington. He doubts it for that reason. It wants confirmation. A man who had been expecting or hoping for an office should have trembled to read his name as that of the lucky aspirant. The chances were against him.

Of course nothing could feed the fire of public fever more than this uncertainty. And when on the melancholy evening of the twelfth of April of this year the fatal news flashed into the city that hostilities had begun before Charleston, the instinct of every man was first to express his opinion of the fact ; and then to doubt seriously whether it were a fact or not ; and finally to wonder, if it were true at all, how much and in what way it was true. Every body felt that the hands which held the wires might manipulate the news as they chose. And thus the country was at the mercy of one man's impulses.

Well, we can not have any thing without paying the price for it. If we have telegraphs we must take the risk of not believing them, and of the abuse to which they may so readily be subjected. The moral of the matter is that we must reserve our judgments and our actions. If it be a ludicrous thing to believe a newspaper, how much more so is it to believe the telegraph from which the newspaper is so largely made !


THE present condition of the country enables us to make some essential and beneficial changes in the management of public affairs, for which times of peace would never have seemed to offer the fitting opportunity. Among the chief of these is the practical refutation of the fatal doctrine that to the victors belong the spoils. It was a doctrine unknown in the earlier days of our national history, and its expression showed how entirely the person who first said it was blinded to the character and peculiar dangers of our system.

In this stirring crisis it is well understood that there are but two parties—that of the country and its government, and that of the rebellion. One marshals its hosts under the stars and stripes ; the other " wishes only to be let alone" under the rattlesnake. The present Administration has announced that its policy in appointments to office is not one of vengeance. It adds but one question to Jefferson's famous two: "Is he honest ? Is he capable ? Is he loyal?"

Of course, at a time when the number of office-seekers is beyond precedent, there must be terrible swearing at such a policy as this. The man who has worked hard for the incoming of the Administration to power, and against the old army of office-holders who worked hard for another party, grumbles bitterly that his opponent is retained in his office by the very power against which he devoted his time and efforts and money.

The reply to this is obvious enough. In the first place, since nothing is more dangerous to our permanent peace than this incessant shifting of office at every election, a stop to it must begin at some time. In the second place, no time could be so fitting as one in which party issues and discipline were forgotten in the necessity of maintaining the Government itself under which the parties are possible.

In the ordinary course of events the new Administration could not have made this wide departure from the usual custom, without imperiling the great principles upon which it was elected by the people. But Providence has now given us a chance of escaping the consequences of political folly hitherto. It is, indeed, easy enough for an office-holder who is treasonable at heart to profess loudly his loyalty. But if he be actively disloyal it will soon enough appear ; and if not, he may be counted as one of those who will be very loudly loyal when treason is suppressed. The case is simply one of those risks which no general policy can  (Next Page)



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