The Trent Affair

"One War at a Time"

††††††††††† On December 19, 1861 marked the beginning of the end of the crisis. On this day Seward received an informal note from Lyons, which outlined British demands, but, because it was informal, did not start the seven-day clock. Also, Northern excitement over the affair turned to reconciliation, as the public called for the immediate fulfillment of the English demands. Diplomatic pressure was also great from other European powers, which sided with England and feared that U.S. policy put all ships at risk. On the 26th of December Lincoln and his cabinet all agreed that a war with England was not what they needed. Seward then had a series of conferences with Lyons in which he defended Capt. Wilkesí decision, but agreed to hand over the Southern diplomats. Both countries claimed victory. England was victorious because it had gained the release of the diplomats and the United States believed itself victorious because it had defended its maritime rights. Prime Minister Palmerston declared itself neutral and had a warm reception to the U.S. response. The South lost its biggest opportunity for recognition and the North worked hard to make sure that no European powers would ever recognized the Southern nation by shrewd diplomatic maneuvering for the duration of the war (Jones 199-200).


Chad Kinsella