Emperor Napoleon III
Emory Thomas wrote that Confederates believed themselves “heirs of the
American Revolutionary tradition of 1776,” underscored by their
President being inaugurated on Washington’s birthday and stating that
“We hope to perpetuate the principles of our revolutionary fathers.”
President Jefferson Davis told his countrymen, “you assumed to
yourselves the right, as your fathers had done before you, to declare
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"Unsurpassed Valor, Courage and Devotion to Liberty"
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
Southern Nationhood and Foreign Recognition
Robert E. Lee] and Davis had decided to take the offensive in the east.
As he had done the previous fall, Lee drove his army west of his enemy,
crossed the Potomac upstream, and sent widely dispersed columns into
Maryland. This time the Confederates continued up into Pennsylvania and
posed a distinct threat to Washington and Baltimore.
invasion would not draw off troops from Vicksburg, but should Vicksburg
fall, its loss would be small indeed compared to a major victory before
Washington. Lee had no illusions about besieging the enemy capital
immediately. He and Davis hoped to draw Hooker into another
Chancellorsville; this time the ultimate prize would be Washington
instead of Richmond, and this time perhaps the Southerners could achieve
a battle of annihilation and at the same time a diplomatic coup.
in Pennsylvania, Lee expanded his thinking about the campaign and urged
that Davis collect all available troops from the Carolinas, place
Beauregard in command, and order an assault on Washington from the
South. The idea might have had a decisive effect upon what began as a
limited offensive, but Davis believed it too complicated and too risky.
Napoleon III . . . [in the late spring of 1863] came as close as he
ever would [to recognizing the Confederacy]. While Napoleon was
fretting anew about his nation’s need for cotton, . . . and digesting
reports of the Southern victory at Chancellorsville, in England John A.
Roebuck announced his intention to place before Parliament a resolution
supporting immediate Anglo-French recognition of the Confederacy.
Palmerston government let it be known that it opposed the project and
justified the opposition on the ground that Napoleon had lost all
enthusiasm for recognition. Such was not the case, though, though, and
on June 18
the Emperor told Confederate diplomat John Slidell that he would “make a
direct proposition to England for joint recognition.” Thus Roebuck
confidently prepared to introduce his resolution on June 30, and Europe became an active front, along with Pennsylvania and Vicksburg in the Confederate war.
June of 1863 the tide of Confederate independence and nationhood
probably reached its flood. [At] the time Southerners had a right to be
optimistic, or at least hopeful, that their revolution would prevail,
or at least endure. In the minds of its citizens the Confederacy was
more a nation in June of 1863 than ever before or after.
years of war had transformed Southern political and economic
institutions and the Southern people. War and Confederate nationalism
also conditioned Southerners creative energies in music, art, literature
and learning. The black experience during wartime underwent subtle but
profound metamorphosis, and slavery in the Confederate South was an
unsettled institution. The end product of these Confederate alterations
of antebellum norms was a distinctive national life behind the battle
(The Confederate Nation, 1861-1865, Emory M. Thomas, Harper & Row, 1979, pp. 219-221)