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Title: English public opinion and the American Civil War : a reconsideration
Author: Campbell, D. A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1997
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One nation which paid particular attention to the American Civil War was Great Britain. Sharing a common language, important trade links, and having its largest colony border the United States, the British were, not unnaturally, close observers of the conflict. They were also very nearly participants when, in December 1861, the Union violated international law during the Trent Affair. Despite this, and other disputes over the rights of neutrals, such as the purchase and/or building of Southern sea-raiders such as the Alabama and Northern raids into Canada, Britain neither recognised the Confederacy, nor directly intervened in the war. Nonetheless, when the conflict ended, both former antagonists condemned Britain for allegedly sympathising with the other side. This thesis examines the nature of this sympathy, not from the diplomatic approach, which has already been well-researched, but from that of English public opinion. This latter area remains controversial. There exists a traditional interpretation which, simply put, divides English sentiment between progression on the side of the Union, and reaction on the side of the Confederacy. In response to this has arisen a revisionist approach which openly questions whether English opinion can be so easily divided and has challenged certain aspects and arguments of the traditional interpretation. Despite the revisionists, however, the most recent studies on the subject have largely resurrected the traditional view of English sentiment and the American Civil War. This thesis posits that the revisionist approach, far from over-correcting the traditional interpretation, has in fact been too mild a challenge. That English public opinion was not, in fact, split between two such opposing camps; that most in England were suspicious of both sides in the conflict, and that even each side's partisans were not entirely composed of any one particular social or political group.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available