Fearing slave rebellion from its highly concentrated black
population, the South wanted free access to the Territories to lessen
this; the North wanted to restrict black people to the South and open
the Territories to white-only immigration. A great irony of history is
the blame the American South receives for African slavery: the South did
not bring the black man to America, British and New England slave ships
did after purchasing their human cargoes from African chieftains.
A War of Conquest, Not Philanthropy
“The initial sympathy of the British people for the North because of
the belief that the South had seceded to set up a slave state and that
the North stood for freedom of the slave was soon to be destroyed, and a
strong conviction arose that the freedom of the slave was not an issue
in the war. One can hardly escape the logic of events which forced this
conclusion upon the English mind.
During the winter of [early] 1861, it will be recalled, numerous
compromises of the American troubles were discussed, the most important
of which was the Crittenden compromises conceding a permanent share of
the territories to slavery. The Economist upon hearing of such proposals
spoke of the measures as iniquitous, and was not willing to believe
that Lincoln would yield to them.
But the final disillusionment came when in his inaugural address
Lincoln said: “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere
with the institution of slavery in the States where is exists . . . I
believe I have no lawful right to do so and I have no intention to do
This was, in truth, the death knell of British sympathy based upon
the moral righteousness of the Northern cause. If freedom was not the
cause, then what was it?
The Economist late in the summer of 1861 pronounced a little stronger
upon the issue of the war: It was not for freeing the slave on the part
of the North or preserving slavery on the part of the South, but was
for dominion and power on the part of the one and the right of
self-government on the part of the other.
After Lincoln’s message to Congress, which was as tender of the
rights of slavery as had been in his inaugural, the Economist was
completely convinced, if there had been any doubts, that Lincoln and the
North would be more than glad to continue or restore the old Federal
union on the basis of slavery and all its abuses if the South would only
The inevitable conclusion was that the war was “a war of conquest and not of philanthropy.”
(King Cotton Diplomacy: Foreign Relations of the Confederate States
of America, Frank L. Owsley, University of Chicago Press, 1931, pp.