Trent Affair


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Trent Affair,

incident in the diplomatic relations between the United States and Great Britain, which occurred during the American Civil War. On Nov. 8, 1861, the British mail packet Trent, carrying James M. MasonMason, James Murray,
1798–1871, U.S. Senator and Confederate diplomat, b. Georgetown, D.C.; grandson of George Mason. He began to practice law in Winchester, Va., in 1820.
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 and John SlidellSlidell, John
, 1793–1871, American political leader and diplomat, b. New York City. He became a prominent lawyer and political figure in New Orleans and served as a Democrat in Congress (1843–45). In 1845, Slidell was appointed special U.S.
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, Confederate commissioners to London and Paris respectively, was halted in the Bahama Channel by the U.S. warship San Jacinto, commanded by Capt. Charles WilkesWilkes, Charles,
1798–1877, American naval officer and explorer, b. New York City, educated by his father. In 1815 he entered the merchant service and received (1818) an appointment as a midshipman.
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. The commissioners and their secretaries were forcibly removed from the Trent and taken to Boston, where they were interned in Fort Warren. This act was strictly opposed to the laws of the sea as they had been previously upheld by the United States, since Wilkes did not seize the vessel and bring it in for admiralty adjudication but merely exercised search and seizure of the men. Nevertheless, Wilkes's action was greeted with wild acclaim and he was thanked by the U.S. House of Representatives. In Great Britain the act aroused popular indignation. The British drafted a sharp note to the U.S. government, the terms of which were softened by Prince Albert; they demanded the release of the commissioners and an explanation. A seven-day limit was set for reply. It seemed for a time that Great Britain would not only recognize the Confederacy but declare war against the Union. However, Lord Lyons, the British minister to the United States, delayed presentation of the note for several days, meanwhile notifying Secretary of State William H. Seward of its contents. The note was presented Dec. 23, 1861. By that time popular feeling in the United States had died down, and the prospect of war with Britain was anything but welcome. A cabinet meeting on Dec. 26 led to a decision to send to Britain a note by Seward disavowing Wilkes's act and promising to release the prisoners. They were released in Jan., 1862, and probable war with Great Britain was averted.
References in periodicals archive ?
They arrived in Europe just as public outrage over the Trent Affair was coming to full boil.
Between 1861 and 1863 there were two, possibly three, moments when British intervention, and ultimately war, were distinct possibilities: first, in late 1861 and early 1862 as a result of the Trent affair; second, in September and October of 1862 when the British government seriously considered mediation, recognition of the Confederacy, and intervention; and, third, somewhat more problematically, in September 1863 when the warships being built in Liverpool for the Confederate navy (the Laird rams) seemed likely to put to sea.
"Although her text offers few surprises about such well-studied topics as the Trent Affair, how the loss of Southern cotton affected British textile manufacturers and workers, and maneuvers relating to diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy, it excels at deft biographical portraits and inserts readers into the drawing rooms, governmental buildings and other sites of discussion, debate and policy-making.
This is the third "what if" of the Trent Affair. The intervention of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria.
seizure of Confederate diplomats in the Trent Affair: in the latter he argues succinctly that telegraphy would have worsened the crisis.
Dayton) proved skilled negotiators, played on European concerns, and recovered quickly from stumbles, notably the Trent affair.
Principal battles and campaigns: South Pacific and Antarctic scientific expeditions (1838-1842); Trent affair (1861).
Anglo-American cooperation in ending the slave trade in 1862, Myers suggests, stemmed from smoothing over the unfortunate edges of the Trent affair. Both nations were so eager to avoid conflict that they used each other to penetrate lucrative Asian markets during the 1860s, preferring a common Western front to reduce Chinese and Japanese resistance.
One of the most dramatic of these is the little-known Trent Affair, that almost changed the course of the entire U.S.
over the Trent affair; Franz Ferdinand survived the assassination attempt at Sarajevo; Lenin was murdered before he took power; Stalin fled Moscow before Hitler's forces; the Japanese did not attack Pearl Harbor; Lady Thatcher was killed in Brighton; and, finally, Gore, rather than Bush, won Florida in the last American presidential election.
Her analysis, though written in lively, accessible language, assumes significant knowledge on the reader's part; she had to economize on explaining Alexis de Tocqueville's 1830s critique of American culture, for example (as well as the Trent affair, the Paris Commune, and the politics of Benjamin Disraeli), so that she could give more space to Higginson's Civil War service, Curtis's denunciations of Thomas Carlyle's conservative spume, Lowell's advocacy of female suffrage, Norton's friendship with Leslie Stephen, the Morant Bay massacre, and all four liberals' camaraderie with prominent British reformers, particularly J.