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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 12, 1863

Reading original Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War is one of the best ways of gaining a deeper understanding of the War. We have made our entire collection of papers available online to allow you to read detailed reports of the key events in the war.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to the page of interest)


Sioux Battle

Sioux Battle

British Affairs

British Affairs

Monitor's at Charleston

Ironclad Monitors at Charleston

Rebel Torpedo

Quincy Gilmore

Quincy Gilmore

Sioux Expedition

Sioux Expedition

Independence Day

Independence Day

Beauregard Cartoon

Beauregard Cartoon

Sibley Expedition

Sibley's Sioux Expedition

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Fort Sumter after Bombardment

Fort Sumter After the Bombardment

James Island

James Island, South Carolina

Charleston Campaign

Charleston Campaign










[SEPTEMBER 12, 1863.




"If the vanity of Englishmen requires a corrective, they have only to ascertain the feelings with which they are regarded by neighboring and rival nations." This is the opening sentence of a labored article in the Saturday Review, the cleverest, though far from the wisest, of the English periodicals. It is conducted by a clique of young men whose leading aim is to show how brilliantly they can write. But children have acute perceptions as to who likes them and who does not, and have an inconvenient habit of telling the truth. The young men of the Saturday Review have told some unpleasant truths.

In Federal America, according to the Review, "hatred to England is unfortunately the dominant feeling." The writer is quite unable to account for this strange fact. But he goes on to show that the feeling throughout Europe is hardly more amicable. "The dislike which is felt for the English name and character in France is perhaps less outrageous, but it is unfortunately equally genuine." The "Russians consider it natural that France should protect the Poles, but they are bitterly offended by the diplomatic interference of England. In the same manner they attributed to England their misfortunes in the Crimean war, while they hastened, as soon as peace was restored, to cement a fresh alliance with France."—"The Poles, while they are soliciting the aid of England, are unable to suppress the hatred which they have been taught by their French patrons to feel for the country which is falsely accused of complicity with the infamous partitions of the last century. In one of the most plausible of their recent pamphlets the writer repeatedly declares that England is the worst enemy of his cause."—"There is too much reason to fear that in Germany, and especially in Prussia, English policy is regarded with suspicion and dislike    the English Government is held responsible in Berlin and Hanover for half the revolutionary designs which originate in Europe."—In Austria the former "official antipathy has perhaps recently relaxed, but the antagonism of policy and sentiment may at any moment revive." The only civilized states in which the writer can discover any thing like good-feeling toward England are Italy, "where, except among the ecclesiastical and democratic factions, the hearty good-will of England to the national cause may have produced a favorable impression;" in Greece, "which has recently shown an unexpected appreciation of the English character;" and among the Turks, who "can scarcely be wanting in a certain respect for their only friend and protector. With these exceptions the opinion of Europe is mortifying to a patriotic Englishman."

In the face of such an acknowledged public sentiment, we half suspect that the Reviewer meant as ironical his attempt to "inquire why a community which seems to itself peaceable and inoffensive has become, even more conspicuously than in ordinary times, the victim of calumny and vituperation."

But the Reviewer was unable to see, or dared not to tell, half the extent of the bitter feeling against England which is the dominant sentiment of the world. As far as we are concerned, it is too openly expressed to need special mention. In France, though it is less publicly avowed, it is none the less deep. The Emperor is aware of this, and perceives in it the winning card by playing which he can retrieve the most desperate game. He knows that if France were ripe for revolution to-day, he could bring it back to him to-morrow by declaring war against England. There would be no need of conscription to fill the ranks of his army. Every Frenchman would rush to arms to "avenge Waterloo;" and there is not a peasant woman in the empire who would not sell her last chemise to raise a franc for carrying on the war. A thousand royal marriages will never make Denmark forget the bombardment of her capital and the destruction of her fleet, without even a declaration of war. Spain must be an enemy of England so long as the British flag flaunting over Gibraltar is a perpetual insult as well as injury. Every one of the foreign possessions which England has seized all over the world is a menace or an insult to some nation.

The truth is, that for the last one hundred and sixty years, since upon the accession of the House of Hanover the British Government passed into the hands of a great aristocracy, and its foreign policy assumed its present shape, England has been the common enemy of nations. If a nation was feeble she bullied it, if strong she set herself to weaken it. She has fomented every great war of Christendom, and taken part, now on one side, now on the other, in most of them. Safe from invasion behind her ocean bulwarks, she has fought by her armies or her subsidies on every battle-field of Europe. She has mingled in every intrigue, and made herself felt in every transaction; and the intensity of the hatred with which she is regarded is in exact ratio to the closeness and intimacy of her relations

with other people. The Irish, for example, have had more to do with the English than any others, and their hatred is the deepest. It is a hatred which no distance of space or time can extinguish. All over the world men of Irish birth or descent pursue every occupation and fill every position in life. They are laborers and senators, merchants and soldiers, artisans and clergymen. Many of them have apparently lost their peculiar national characteristics, so that except for the names which they bear no one would suppose that they belonged to the Celtic race; but so long as there is a drop of Irish blood in their veins it boils when English rule is named.

The Saturday Reviewer makes no mention of the feelings with which England is regarded among those whom we call uncivilized nations. Very likely he thought the hatred of half a thousand millions of Hindoos, Chinese, and Japanese of no account. But the late Indian rebellion should have taught him that it was worth considering. Let no man dream that the curtain has fallen upon the long tragedy of "The British in India." Campbell's lines have something of unfulfilled prophecy in them:

"Foes of mankind, her guardian spirits say,

Revolving ages bring the bitter day,

When Heaven's unerring arm shall fall on you,

And blood for blood these Indian plains bedew.

...The Tenth Avatar comes—"

The next uprising will find the people of India better prepared, and if it be wisely timed furnished with powerful allies.

Half a century ago England was invulnerable to any hostile attack. The narrow seas that formed her boundaries were inviolable to any foe. Napoleon, who scorned the passes of the Alps, the snowy wastes of Russia, and the towering fortresses of Germany, shrunk from attempting the passage of the British Straits. All that is changed now. The British seas are the best highways for an invading army.

While thus open to assault at home, England is still more open to attack abroad. Fifty years ago, when all Europe was in arms against her, her flag floated triumphantly on every sea. The commerce, from which she drew the wealth which was to enable her in effect to fight the battles of Europe, was as unobstructed as though she had not an enemy upon earth. All that is past. If she were to-day involved in war a half score of cruisers, like those with which she has furnished the Confederates, could practically sweep her commerce from the ocean. A few Alabamas and Floridas would drive China merchantmen, Indian traders, and Australian treasure-ships from the Indian seas. The power of England rests upon her commerce and her manufactures. Cut her off from access to supplies and from a market for her products, and she will soon be reduced to the position to which her population and territory entitle her—that of a second-rate power.

With a folly, to which the history of nations affords no parallel, she seems to have deliberately set herself to teach the world just how this may be done without violating international law. Her doctrine of neutrality, stripped of all technicality, is just this: "We can not obstruct the building in our ports of vessels evidently constructed for warlike purposes, and notoriously destined for war upon a nation with whom we are at peace. The building of ships is a legitimate occupation. We can not prevent the sailing of these vessels unless they have guns and munitions of war on board. We can not hinder the exportation of guns and munitions, as freight, in peaceful vessels. The production and sale of these articles is a portion of British industry."

The result of these decisions is that a ship of war sails out of an English port unobstructed—only she has no guns on board. She is followed by a steamer loaded to the water's edge with guns and munitions. This vessel goes also unquestioned. The two meet at some designated point. The guns are transferred to the war-steamer, which at once sets out on her voyage of destruction; while the other, without ever having entered a port, returns several feet higher out of water. The result is that the merchant vessels of a neutral power are burned by the score in mid-ocean.

Well, England has played this game with us, and her ship-builders and gun-makers are richer by a few hundred thousands, and we are poorer by a few millions. But she has established a precedent in the interpretation of the law of neutrality which no one of her enemies—who, according to the Saturday Review, are nearly all of the civilized world—will scarcely see occasion to dispute in her favor. Let a war, as now seems probable, break out between England and Japan, and there is nothing to prevent any French or American ship-builder from selling a "290" or two to the Tycoon or the Mikado; and the Japanese waters lie remarkably convenient to the tracks of India merchantmen and Australian treasure-ships. Or supposing the war is between Great Britain and Russia. It would require no great amount of dexterity and good luck to send a few swift cruisers to some of the Russian ports in the Amoor region, where they could find guns, supplies, and men awaiting them, and ports for disposing of their captures, without their being obliged to resort to the barbarity of destroying their prizes.

England has been for a century and a half busily engaged in teaching "Anglophobia" to the rest of the world. The lesson has, according to the Saturday Review, been pretty thoroughly learned by this time. She will have no just reason for complaint if it is put into practice according to the precedents which she has labored to establish.


THE Archduke Maximilian, of Austria, has formally accepted the throne of Mexico, which was tendered him, a few weeks since, by an informal, self constituted assembly of Mexicans, sitting in the city of Mexico, under the protection of French bayonets. It is scarcely possible to conceive a more slender title to a throne. Joseph Bonaparte's title to the throne of Spain, and Murat's title to that of Naples, were respectable in comparison. Still the Archduke accepts, the Emperor is ready to seat him, and maintain him by force, and, for all practical purposes of the moment, Maximilian will become as actual a monarch as if he had succeeded to a long line of ancestry in due hereditary course.

It is not too much to say that the Mexican policy of the Emperor of the French has aroused in this country the greatest astonishment and the most profound indignation. Astonishment, because whatever view was taken of the Emperor's moral qualities, he had always had credit here for astuteness and sagacity; and every child knows that an attempt to force upon the Mexicans a form of Government which they abhor, with a German foreigner at its head, in equal contempt of their feelings and our well-settled policy, must inevitably end in most disastrous failure. And indignation at the fraud in which the war was commenced, and the barefaced knavery through which this Frenchman is attempting to destroy the liberties of four millions of people. If any thing were wanting to fill the measure of our disgust at the transaction, it would be supplied by the accumulating evidences of a purpose on the part of the French to espouse the side of that Church party in Mexico which has been the curse of the country, and to whose existence the past forty years of Mexican anarchy are mainly due.

It is, however, idle to indulge in angry words or regrets at present. The Emperor can not be ignorant of the view which the American people will take of his proceedings. For a whole generation every European statesman has been familiar with the Monroe doctrine, and dispassionate men in many foreign countries have admitted its wisdom. Napoleon's attempt to establish an empire in Mexico is no blind enterprise undertaken inadvertently; it is a deliberate endeavor to nullify a cardinal doctrine of our national policy, and to reassert the European equilibrium on American soil. To such an undertaking the only fitting answer we can make is an armed defense of our policy; and this being out of the question at present, owing to the circumstances in which the republic is placed, we have nothing left but to submit in silence, and await our opportunity.

There is one point of view in which the French subjugation of Mexico may be regarded with satisfaction. That country will, under the dominion of French bayonets, enjoy more internal peace and order than any of its recent governments seemed capable of securing. Commerce will naturally improve, and the product of the mines will increase. It is doubtful whether brigandage—the plague-spot of Mexico—will be materially diminished; as now the ranks of the banditti will be swelled by a large number of individuals impelled by patriotic impulses and by hatred of the foreign invader. But we may take for granted that the main highways—as, for instance, the road from Vera Cruz to Mexico—will be somewhat safer than it was, as the French will absolutely require to keep open that line of communication with the sea. And the prospect is that, though the Church party appear at present to be the chief gainers by the French conquest, the piper who will ultimately pay for this new fandango will be Mother Church. A time will come, sooner or later, when increasing deficits in the budget at home, on one side, and, on the other, the spectacle of enormous wealth squandered by the most profligate hierarchy in the world, will tell upon the not over-tender consciences of the French army of occupation, and the priests who are now welcoming the foreigner to their soil may find that Frenchmen can rob as thoroughly as Liberals.

Providence generally works out its ends by indirection. The great problem of slavery in this country appeared insoluble until the slave-holders took up arms to destroy the Government which was their only bulwark against the increasing civilization of the age; and so in Mexico the contest between Church and people, feudal privilege and democratic liberty, right and wrong, dragged on its weary length for generation after generation; and good men, contemplating the wretched scene, despaired of any end being reached until the prelates, in their madness, called for an Emperor from Europe. If the French conquest is to end in the destruction of the Mexican Church, the historian will not regard it as an unmixed evil.


THE Harpers have just published a very remarkable book with this title. It is not only remarkable but its appearance is most timely. For at a time when our whole system is undergoing the most fiery trial, and when, consequently, many a man is inclined to look elsewhere, and especially to England, as to a sure and steadfast form of society, whoever shows that England has reached her present condition, which seems to him so enviable, through the stern manipulation of civil war, helps the doubtful and timid to a juster judgment. But whoever shows that the present condition of England, which seems superficially so enviable, is but a veneer of prosperity over the most radical ignorance, vice, and discontent, teaches the hesitating mind that, with all its faults, our own system is rooted in the only philosophy from which enduring national peace can spring.

The gentleman who, after large personal observation in England, and much cogent reflection, has edited this English book, has therefore performed a great public service. His preface, which is brief and pointed, informs us that he abandoned his project of an original work upon the practical working of the British internal policy for the last twenty years, because the present embittered feeling between the two countries would inevitably expose such a work to the charge and suspicion of prejudice. He has, therefore, selected an English work, published in the year 1850, by Joseph Kay, who was commissioned by the British University of Cambridge to investigate the comparative social condition of the poorer classes in the countries of Western Europe, and from this work he has caused to be reprinted the chapters that describe the social condition of England. He says: "No stone has been left unturned by the ruling classes of England, during the past two years, to degrade the people of America in the estimation of European populations, and to secure the failure of our form of representative Government .....I have an object in re-printing Mr. Kay's chapters. I believe he describes the results of a form of government directly opposed to the principles of our own. I hope these results will induce my countrymen to value our institutions, and persuade all men among us to perform their part in sustaining them in their integrity, until the favorable moment arrives for such changes as it may be desirable to make."

The astounding facts follow. Mr. Kay, from personal research and from all the authentic official statements, lays bare the hideous and appalling truth of English society. In that England which seems to so many thoughtless and impatient Americans so enviable and splendid, one person out of every eight was a pauper in 1848; and, as the American editor informs us, in 1861, before the cotton famine began, and with no war on their hands, England's and Ireland's paupers had increased about five per cent. yearly since 1851; with three millions more population, less land was under cultivation than in 1851, and one-third of her people were fed from foreign sources. The details of the facts are tragical. The problem they offer seems almost hopeless. But they explain the universal British jealousy of our success, and its haughty delight in the prospect of our ruin. For if once our system should be proved to be as flexible and strong as it is humane and alluring, and it will be so proved by our success in defeating the rebellion, the condition of England will be as desperate as it is already tragical. No wonder John Bull looses pirates against our commerce, and sends iron ships to threaten our coasts. No wonder that his rage and fear rend his mask of neutrality. No wonder his chief journal darkens the air with falsehood at home, and sends a tool to sharpen slanders from this country. He must man every battery foul and fair. His trial hour has come like a thief in the night. His fate hangs upon a tribunal in which he can not bribe the judges. The American Government fights the battle of liberty and equal rights for every people. It is knowledge of that fact which inspires hope in the laboring class, and hate in the governing class of England. This remarkable book shows exactly why England may readily choose open war with us rather than consent to our triumph. It is because, in the last words of Mr. Kay's book, and the climax of his terrible summary: "The poor of England are more depressed, more pauperized, more numerous, in comparison to the other classes, more irreligious, and very much worse educated than the poor of any other European nation, solely excepting Russia, Turkey, South Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Such a state of things can not long continue."


THE National Democratic Committee and the "Conservatives" having begun to prepare for the next general election, the question is fairly asked, upon what platform do those gentlemen propose to stand and solicit votes? There will be, perhaps, some opinions of difference among them, but all who are opposed to a radical policy in the war will at last unite and vote for the same candidate. In Massachusetts, where the question is perfectly understood, the stale joke of a third party is played out, and Mr. George Lunt, editor of the Boston Courier, an old Whig, and now an utter Copper-head, and Mr. George S. Hillard (quantum mutatus ab illo!), a Webster Whig, a Fillmore leader, and a "Conservative" of 1860, seat themselves meekly in the "Democratic" Convention check by jowl with those who are left of the old party leaders of that ilk, among whom General Butler, the late Democratic Ajax, is no longer to be found. This kind of gentlemen will end in all the other States precisely where they begin Massachusetts. There will be but two parties, for there is but one question. The platform of one of them will be the present policy of the war; in other words, it will require some adequate result for all the life and money spent, and some security of future peace. (Next Page)




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