An investigation into British neutrality during the American Civil War 1861-65

Roberts-Gawen, Rebecca Christine (2016). An investigation into British neutrality during the American Civil War 1861-65. University of Birmingham. M.A.

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This thesis sought to investigate why the British retained their policy of neutrality throughout the American Civil War, 1861-65, and whether the lack of intervention suggested British apathy towards the conflict.

It discovered that British intervention was possible in a number of instances, such as the Trent Affair of 1861, but deliberately obstructed Federal diplomacy, such as the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.

This thesis suggests that the British public lacked substantial and sustained support for intervention. Some studies have suggested that the Union Blockade of Southern ports may have tempted British intervention. This thesis demonstrates how the British sought and implemented replacement cotton to support the British textile industry. This study also demonstrates that, by the outbreak of the Civil War, British society lacked substantial support for foreign abolitionists’’ campaigns, thus making American slavery a poorly supported reason for intervention.

This thesis proves there was not “apathy” for the American Civil War; Britain benefitted from the war by building ships and from sending munition through the blockade. Britain appeared apathetic because it refused official intervention. This refusal was rooted in the fact that Britain benefitted from the demise of its economic, political and historic rival – the United States of America.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
E History America > E11 America (General)
E History America > E151 United States (General)
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration


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