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quotes on Seward

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  • Greg Cannon
    These are from Dean B. Mahin s One War At A Time: The International Dimensions Of The Civil War pages 5-6 European diplomats in Washington thought that U.S.
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 8, 2005
      These are from Dean B. Mahin's "One War At A Time: The
      International Dimensions Of The Civil War"

      pages 5-6
      European diplomats in Washington thought that U.S.
      diplomacy was totally masterminded by Secretary of
      State William H. Seward. He had been a Whig governor
      of New York in the 1840s and a U.S. senator in the
      1850s. Prior to the war with Mexico that began in
      1846, Seward had supported westward expansion if it
      was peaceful and added no new slave territory.
      Although he thought the war with Mexico was "odious"
      and "a bastard war," his opposition to it was much
      less intense and public than that of Congressman
      Abraham Lincoln. In the 1850s, Senator Seward was
      considered an expansionist. He made several statements
      indicating his belief that Canada would ultimately be
      peacefully annexed by the United States. As governor
      and senator, Seward had given British leaders many
      reasons for considering him hostile toward Britain and
      other monarchies in Europe. Seward was always on the
      side of those abroad - in Canada, Ireland, Hungary,
      and elsewhere - who were seeking to overthrow
      governments imposed by European monarchies.
      In the later 1850s Seward became the most prominent
      leader of the new Republican Party. He spent seven
      months in Europe in 1859, meeting prominent leaders in
      England, France, Italy, Egypt, and the Holy Land.
      Although Seward recieved 173 and a half votes for the
      presidential nomination on the first ballot at the
      Republican convention in Chicago and Abraham Lincolm
      recieved only 102 votes on that ballot, the convention
      ultimately chose Lincoln as the Republican candidate.
      After Lincoln's election, Seward accepted the
      appointment as secretary of state in the belief that
      he could dominate an administration headed by a man
      who had limited experience with national government
      and foreign affairs.

      pages 7-8
      During the five weeks between the inauguration and the
      firing on Fort Sumter by Confederates on April 12,
      Seward continued to flirt with the idea of a "foreign
      war panacea" to reunite North and South although there
      is no evidence that he thought seriously of a war with
      England. On April 1, Seward wrote a ramblind memo
      titled "Thoughts for the President's consideration."
      Lincoln's ability as chief executive had not yet been
      demonstrated, and the memo reflected Seward's lack of
      confidence at that time in his leadership. He wrote
      that "I would demand explanations from Spain and
      France," apparently referring to Spain's current
      attempt to re-annex Santo Domingo and France's moves
      toward the occupation of neighboring Haiti. If
      satisfactory explanations were not recieved, he "would
      convene Congress and declare war against them." Seward
      biographer Glyndon G. Van Deusen wrote that the
      "Thoughts" memo was based on the "assumption that
      Seward should take over the direction of government
      policy - a suggestion that no self-respecting
      president could possibly assent... The president ...
      served notice, kindly but firmly, that he was master
      in his house."
      After the war began, Seward understood as clearly as
      Lincoln that the North could only fight "one war at a
      time." But by then it was neccessary to convince
      England and France that war with the United States was
      a very real danger if either country recognized
      Confederate independence. The belligerant image Seward
      had created by indiscreet talk prior to Fort Sumter
      was deliberately perpetuated for some time thereafter
      by calculated actions taken with the concurrence of
      the president. On the whole, the strategy was
      successful, although it contributed to unfounded
      apprehensions in Britain regarding U.S. intentions
      during the Trent crisis, at the end of 1861.
    • greg
      I m not sure (because I ve only read about half the book) but I think that may be the only part that mentions Seward s presidential ambitions. It s really a
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 8, 2005
        I'm not sure (because I've only read about half the book) but I think
        that may be the only part that mentions Seward's presidential
        ambitions. It's really a fascinating book, and gives a great deal of
        insight into Lincoln. The book focuses on Union and Confederate
        diplomacy with Britain, France, and Mexico. There was one occasion
        when there was a very real possibility of war with Britain, during the
        Trent crisis at the end of 1861. But Lincoln and Seward managed to
        smooth that over.
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