Margaret Thatcher on TV
Shocked by the deaths that took place in Beijing.
It seems strange that she should be offended;
The same orders are given by her. (Sinéad O’Connor, “Black Boys On Mopeds”)
On April 2, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln paid a visit to Gideon Welles at his home. This visit had to do with the “letters of marque” situation, where Britain was not-so-secretly funding Confederate raiders, such as the CSS Alabama. (Background: “England Must Answer Before Heaven!”, Ersjdamoo’s Blog entry of April 13, 2013.)
The information on this visit by Lincoln to Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, can be found in the published diary of Welles. Except it cannot be found by most people because his important book, to the shame of the U.S. Navy, is out-of-print!
Gideon Welles recorded about the visit of Abraham Lincoln to Welles’ home on April 2, 1863, that “The opportunity being favorable and he [President Lincoln] disposed to converse and apparently interested in my [Gideon Welles’s] remarks, I took occasion to enlarge upon the topic [of the British-funded “licensed pirates”] more fully than I had done in our Cabinet discussions,” wrote Gideon Welles in his diary.
If the Union were to issue its own “letters of marque” in retaliation against the British, Welles believed this “would in all probability involve us in a war with England.”
“The idea that [Union-sponsored] private parties would send out armed ships to capture the [CSS] Alabama and one, possibly two, other rovers of the Rebels was too absurd to be thought of for a moment. If privateers were fitted out for any purpose it would be to capture neutral vessels intended to run the [Union] blockade or supposed to be in that service. It was not difficult for us to foresee that such a power in private hands would degenerate into an abuse for which this Government would be held responsible.”
Welles told President Lincoln there was “little doubt” that “the British Government and British capital were encouraging the rebellion…” The “combination of British capital with Rebel malignity and desperation would despoil our commerce and drive it from the seas.” The people still loyal to the Union, for their part, “would not quietly submit to these wrongs and outrages, and allow Englishmen to make war upon us in disguise under the Rebel flag.” Therefore Britain must be plainly told, urged Welles, that if they persisted in their privateers policy “we should in self-defense be under the necessity of resorting to reprisals. In this view the law which authorized letters of marque had appeared to me [Welles] proper, and might be made useful as a menace and admonition to England…”
Welles then opened up generally to President Lincoln, complaining that “England is taking advantage of our misfortunes and would press upon us just as far as we would bear to be pressed. She [England] rejoiced in our dissensions and desired the dismemberment of the Union.”
England desired the dismemberment of the Union. That is the crux of the American Civil War. John Bull had imperialist designs upon the North American continent. To achieve those aims a “divide and conquer” strategy had been implemented in the 1850s. The wedge for the division was the stirring up, by agents provocateur, of the slavery issue.
But England was not so high and mighty as she might suppose, advised Welles. A war of privateers upon commerce of the high seas would destroy trade. If this happened, the United States was “compact, facing both oceans, and in latitudes which furnish us in abundance without foreign aid all the necessaries and most of the luxuries of life.” England on the other hand was dependent upon trade. “We could, with our public and private armed ships, interrupt and destroy her communication with her dependencies, her colonies, on which she is as dependent for prosperity as they on her.” Welles told Lincoln he was therefore in favor of calling England’s bluff and “meeting her face to face.”