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substantially with their assailants. General Buckner, with whom McClellan was alleged to have made his treaty of neutrality, had thrown off his neutral mask, and was gathering an army of rebels in Kentucky, co-operating with General Bragg who was invading the state with the determination to force it into secession. To meet and repel this invasion, General W. T. Sherman advanced with a large force to Bowling Green, while General Nelson, on his left, gained a decisive victory over the rebels under Colonel Williams. The various operations of the Union forces broke up the rebel project of subjugation, and re-invigorated the efforts of the Union men to hold the state to its loyalty. General Halleck was appointed to the command of the army of the West, and, General Buell took General W. T. Sherman's command in Kentucky.
The question of slavery was an ever-present one during all the operations of the year. The instructions given by the War Department to General Butler on the eighth of August, were based upon the desire of the President that all existing rights in all the states should be respected and maintained;" yet it was declared that “the rights dependent on the laws of the states within which military operations are conducted must necessarily be subordinate to the military exigencies created by the insurrection, if not wholly forfeited by the treasonable conduct of the parties claiming them.” The difficulty of settling the claims of loyal masters was such that it was recommended to receive all fugitives, keep a record of them, and set them to work. Congress, the Secretary of War believed, would provide for the repayment of loyal masters. On the departure of General T. W. Sherman on his expedition to Port Royal, Mr. Cameron referred him to the letter to General Butler on this subject. He was directed to receive the services of any persons, whether fugitives from labor or not, who should offer them to the national government. These . fugitives might be organized into “squads, companies, or otherwise,” though that liberty was not intended to mean a general arming of them for military service. Loyal masters were
to be assured, meantime, that Congress would provide for them a just compensation for services thus lost to them. The time for emancipation had not come, in the opinion of the government. That Mr. Lincoln desired it, none can doubt; but he had undertaken to save the Union under the Constitutionto save the Union while preserving inviolate all the rights of all the states. He so understood the oath by which he was invested with power. Whatever might be his hatred of slavery-and it was the intensest passion of his life he could only interfere with it as a military necessity--an essential means of saving the Union.
EARLY in November, an event occurred which gave to our relations with England a very threatening aspect-an event which aroused the ire of the British people to a feverish pitch, encouraged the rebels, and filled with uneasiness the friends of the government. Although the blockade, under the energetic measures of the government, had become something very different from a blockade on paper, there were still many ports in the southern states which carried on a large contraband commerce, through the agency of blockade-runners, the majority of which were owned in England, and navigated by British seamen. The capture of the Hatteras forts and of the defenses of Port Royal Harbor had shut two of these ports; but Charleston, notwithstanding all the efforts of the blockading fleet, continued to receive numbers of foreign vessels, and to dispatch them in safety. On the twelfth of October, the steamship Theodora shot out of that harbor, with two notorious rebels on board, James M. Mason and John Slidell, both perjured senators of the United States, and accredited by the Davis government respectively to the governments of England and France. They went to get recognition for their government. They went as enemies of the United States.
Proceeding to Cuba, these emissaries took passage from Havana on the seventh of November, on the British mail steamer Trent, bound immediately for St. Thomas. On the following day, the Trent was hailed by the United States frigate San Jacinto, Captain Wilkes, who directed a shot across her bows to bring her to. Then two officers and twenty men, more or less, put off from the San Jacinto, boarded the Trent; and, after a search, took out Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell and their two secretaries, and, by force, against the protest of the Trent's officers, bore them to their vessel. These rebel emissaries Captain Wilkes brought to the United States, and they were lodged in Fort Warren.
The excitement which this affair produced in both countries was intense, and but little favorable to its calm consideration. It was unquestionably a doubtful proceeding, and cool British blood came up to a boiling heat wherever in England or her provinces the intelligence of the affair was published. . The news found the loyal people of America smarting under à sense of the injustice of the relation which England had assumed toward their struggle, and sensitive to the insults which their people had received from the British press and public. America came to care less for England afterward; but then she was sensitive in every fiber to her opinion, her lack of sympathy, and her covert aid to the rebellion. To the American public the news of this capture was most grateful. They felt that whatever the laws of nations might be and in these they were but little versed—it was morally right that these men should be in their power, and that it was morally wrong that any other power should have our traitors under its protection. So they greeted the event with huzzas, and made a hero of the impulsive Captain Wilkes, who, though a most loyal and excellent person, was possessed by a zeal that sometimes surpassed his discretion.
The effect of this capture was, of course, foreseen by the government; and on the thirtieth of November Mr. Seward communicated to Mr. Adams, our minister in England, a statement of the facts, with the assurance that Captain Wilkes had acted without any instructions from the government, and that our government was prepared to discuss the matter in a friendly spirit, so soon as the position of the British government should be made known. Earl Russell wrote under the same date to Lord Lyons, rehearsing his understanding of the
facts of the case, and saying that his government was willing to believe that the naval officer who committed the aggression was not acting in compliance with any authority from his government,” because the government of the United States
must be fully aware that the British government could not allow such an affront to the national honor to pass without full reparation.” The minister expressed the hope that the United States would, of its own motion, release the commissioners, and make an apology.
This was a very sensible and neighborly dispatch, but Earl Russell seems to have been subjected afterward to a pressure that changed his feelings and sharpened his policy, for, in subsequent note, he transformed his polite dispatch into an insulting ultimatum. Lord Lyons was directed to wait seven days after having made his demand for reparation; and then, in caşe no answer should be given, or any other answer should be given than a full compliance with the terms of the demand, he should pack up the archives of the legation, and return to London, bringing his archives with him. Usually an ultimatum comes at the end of a long series of negotiations-after all the resources of diplomacy are exhausted-after there is plainly seen to be a warlike, or unreasonable, or contumacious spirit on the part of the power from which redress is sought. . Earl Russell gave Mr. Lincoln his ultimatum at the start. It was an insult-a threat. It was uttered to gratify the warlike feeling of the British people. There is no question that they desired war; and when the British people are mentioned in this connection, those are meant who, in print and speech, represent them and assume to speak for them. War with America was looked upon in England as probable. Measures were taken to prepare for it. Indeed, many of the London journals regarded war as inevitable; and when the peaceful nature of Mr. Seward's first dispatches were known, the Morning Post hastened to publish in large type an official contradiction of the news. “The war will be terrible," said the London journals. “It will begin by a recognition of the South, by the alliance of the South, by the assured triumph