no edit summary
Confederate diplomats to France and England blamed the shortage on the Union Navy, claiming they were unable to maneuver their cargo ships through the blockade. This was a canard put forth in order to pressure England into breaking the blockade thus prompting a break in relations between the United States and Britain. In fact, the South enacted an embargo on cotton so as to add to the pressure faced by the British and French governments from their unemployed citizens. The strategy was beginning to work as the leading industry of England (textiles), was starting to shut down. Henry Adams, Secretary to the American Minister of London, wrote that “the suffering among the people in Lancashire and in France is already great and is increasing enormously.”<ref>Henry Adams to Charles Francis Adams, Jr., May 8, 1862, in Worthington C. Ford, ed., ''A Cycle of Adams Letters 1861-1865'', 2 vols. (Boston, 1920), 1:139.</ref> These working class people were seeing the circumstances (understandably so) through a lens of familial and financial impact whereas others held more ideological views.
== Slavery ====
[[File:pryorbefore and after.jpg|thumbnail|250px|Private Hubbard Pryor of Georgia both as a fugitive slave and U.S. "contraband" soldier, 1864.]]
Regardless of what rhetoric was used by the CSA government, there was a tacit understanding among the intellectuals and politicians of Europe that the war was, in large part, about the issue of slavery. English philosopher John Stuart Mill believed that a southern victory “would be a victory of the powers of evil which would give courage to the enemies of progress and damp the spirits of its friends all over the civilized world.”<ref> Belle B. Sideman and Lillian Friedman, eds., ''Europe Looks at the Civil War'' (New York, 1960), 117-18.</ref> Karl Marx, who had been exiled from Germany and was living in London at the time, claimed that the “American anti-slavery war” was a catalyst of empowerment “for the working classes.”<ref>Saul K. Padover, ed. and trans., ''Karl Marx on America and the Civil War'' (New York, 1972), 263-64.</ref>
It was clear that the decision makers in England and France knew the war was being fought over slavery, an institution both countries had ended in 1833 and 1848, respectively. The conundrum they then faced was how to obtain cotton from a slave nation. The English newspaper, Reynolds Weekly, rationalized that as long as the North did not openly fight against slavery, Britons faced no moral dilemma; therefore, if the Union wanted to gain English sympathies, “they must abolish slavery.”<ref>''Reynolds Weekly'', quoted in McPherson, ''Battle Cry'', 553.</ref> This idea not only boasted ideological importance but had practical implications, as well.
President Lincoln had no authority under the Constitution to end slavery. Congress; however, took small steps in that direction as early as August 1861 by passing an act that allowed for the seizure of all Confederate property, including slaves. Additionally, slaves who escaped to Union held territories and forts did not have to be returned to their owners and were subsequently labeled, “contrabands.” Further acts were passed that ended slavery in Washington, D.C., forbade Union officers to return slaves who had escaped the South, and authorized the active confiscation of slaves from owners.