• "...Lincoln's poor position was dramatically worsened by the new reality of Speaker Cox in 1863, creating substantial domestic problems for him as well. A Democratic House and a reduced Senate majority meant more obstacles to his program to execute the war, and even threatened the unthinkable - Copperhead Democrats negotiating directly with the Confederacy behind Cox's back. While many Democrats were sanguine on the Confederacy itself, they were appalled by Lincoln's expansion of Presidential powers and the corresponding incompetence of the Union Army, despite its numerous advantages of the rebels. Any crack in the armor was an opening for rebel diplomats to exploit - and not long after news of Lincoln's drubbing reached European courts, sympathetic ears began listening more intently..."

    Robert Caro, Lincoln.
    Letter from John Slidell
  • “ is with great pleasure, good sir, that I write to you to announce that with our victories in Maryland and Kentucky and a weakened hand for the Yankee administration, we stand a chance to earn that which we have sought...”

    - John Slidell, CSA Minister to France
    Military History of the United States
  • “...the autumn of misfortune for Lincoln was not at an end, alas. Seeking to regain momentum after the embarrassments of September, in mid-November - having sacked McClellan - he tasked Ambrose Burnside with an aggressive campaign to attack Richmond, assuming correctly that Lee was short in supplies and men after a long fall. As was now commonplace in the Union Army in both the eastern and western theaters, Burnside’s March was marred with incompetence, delay and squabbling among senior officers. The ensuing Battle of Fredericksburg was nothing short of a slaughter, with Burnside suffering three times the casualties as the rebels as he attempted to cross the Rappahannock. Behind Chambersburg it is one of the worst defeats in American Military History; Ambrose’s retreat to Washington would punctuate a disastrous fall of failures for the Union and would be the last major offensive campaign against the Confederacy.”

    - Military History of the United States
    The Cleavage of America
  • " would be an understatement to say that the reactions in Washington and Richmond to the Fifth of January French declaration of diplomatic recognition to the Confederate States were polar opposites. To Jefferson Davis, it was vindication - of his patience and the relentless efforts of his diplomats in Europe to find a sponsor, any sponsor, among the Old World's great powers... Washington, it was nothing short of betrayal. Secretary of State Seward had made clear through his Ministers that recognition of the rebel government would be seen as a formal declaration of war upon the United States; however, with only two months until a Democratic House was seated, the Lincoln Administration was without much recourse; the sitting Congress was reluctant to declare war upon a Great Power in the midst of the rebellion, especially with so many Republicans about to leave Washington in the wake of their election loss. It was well known that to-be Speaker Samuel Cox, though no Copperhead, sought an end to the war, preferably a settlement that would bring the seceding states back into the Union. As such, Emperor Napoleon III's decision to throw in with the Confederacy threw Washington only into further chaos; the autumn of disaster had evolved into a winter of deepest discontent."

    - Gerhard Kleinman, The Cleavage of America
    Diplomatic Recognition of CSA by Mexico
  • “...His Excellency Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico and Defender of the Catholic Faith in the Americas, does hereby recognize the sovereignty of the Confederate States of America over those territories which they claim, and maintains the United States is engaged in an occupation of those territories... for a Congress in the European fashion to be called, at a neutral location and venue, to determine the resolution of this most bloody conflict between brothers...”

    - Mexican Recognition of CSA Independence, January 24th, 1863
    Biography of Lord Palmerston
  • “...the Declaration of Recognition by first France then Mexico decisively forced Britain’s hand; Lord Palmerston, already long a sympathizer to the Confederacy despite his opposition to the institution of slavery, was angered that Napoleon had leapt ahead of him but saw no advantage in delaying the inevitable. There was also the pressing matter of the Greek throne, after Otto I had been overthrown earlier in the fall; Palmerston needed to quickly end the North American Question so he could return his attention to a potential crisis with Russia over Greece in the East...

    Having avoided an earlier war in the Trent Affair and reinforced Canada, the opportunity had presented itself to weaken throughly the Union, which was a longstanding goal of his; Palmerston maneuvered Parliament to join the French. Now, at last, a Great Power hat could threaten the Union’s naval blockade had entered the fray...”

    - Biography of Lord Palmerston

    Edit: turns out Gladstone was a-okay with intervening in favor of CSA, so his mention is deleted
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    Team of Rivals: The Cabinet in the War of Southern Independence
  • “...placing Seward in the unenviable position to having to devise, on the fly, a new doctrine of American foreign policy. The diplomats for the United States had operated for four decades under what Washington believed was a straightforward, outlined by two of her first five Presidents; as suggested by George Washington, the young new republic would go out of its way to avoid even the appearance of involvement in the affairs of Europe. In return, it carried the expectation that affairs in the New World were to be left alone by the Great Powers.

    Like so many things American, it was both alruistic Enlightenment idealism - of young independent democracies going their own way, unfettered by the chains of the Old World - with a mix of rank self-interest, as the USA viewed the continent and its neighbors as its own sphere of influence.

    It was in this context that the rapid recognition of the breakaway states by France, Mexico and the United Kingdom occurred, and the shockwaves it sent through the young diplomatic establishment. It was a betrayal of the Monroe Doctrine, yes, but also of the USA’s naive belief that if it avoided entanglements across the Atlantic it would be safe. An important lesson was learned as Seward mulled what advice to give President Lincoln - the Great Powers would always play games, and the United States needed to learn how to play as well...”

    - Team of Rivals: The Cabinet in the War of Southern Independence
    Lincoln: A Biography of the 16th President
  • “ just six weeks after the last Union victory of the war at Arkansas Post, Lincoln accepted the ceasefire request, aware that the Union could not defeat two Great Powers and their clients at once. In those weeks Lincoln was said to be distraught, to the point of not sleeping and wandering the White House in shock. His dream of limiting and even abolishing slavery was at an end; his project to preserve the Union even at that dream’s expense had failed, at the hand of Europe. His Republican Party was in disarray, with its more Radical elements now nearly as opposed to him as the Democratic House that was soon to be seated...”

    - Lincoln: A Biography of the 16th President
    A Military History of the Confederate States: The War of Independence
  • “...the winning of a six month ceasefire, even with the Union blockade still formally in effect, was a godsend to the Confederacy. Lee’s great gamble in Maryland had paid off in eroding Northern support for the war, as intended, and now the Confederacy held Kentucky as well. As the negotiations in neutral Havana began, the rebels were jubilant, drunk on their anticipated victory. French, Mexican and British flags flew in the streets of Richmond and Charleston; Napoleon III and Maximilian I were toasted in effigy as Lincoln’s was burned.

    But the European and Mexican diplomatic intervention, and threat of the military kind, had disguised how close Lee’s gamble had come to being a disaster, how a more aggressive Union general could have crushed him in Maryland or Pennsylvania; while the defensive strategy of attrition had borne fruit, it could all have been for not but for a slight change in Maryland or Kentucky - a lesson that went studiously unlearned by the next two generations of Southern generals...”

    - A Military History of the Confederate States: The War of Independence
    The War of Southern Independence at 100
  • “...on the one hand, the Union did enjoy overwhelming advantages in materiel, troops and industry, as well as the ability to project power via its Navy; on the other hand, the Confederacy’s objective was merely to not lose, whereas the Union not only had to win, but annihilate the enemy. Lincoln’s great failing was not waging the war this way to begin with, clinging to the hope that with a few Northern wins the rebels would break and negotiate. That option ceased to exist after Fort Sumter.

    Instead, it took nearly two years for the Union to ramp up her war machine; she did not institute a national draft, rather leaving the task to state militias of variable reliability; and continuing to task the offenses in the crucial Eastern Theater, where Richmond could be threatened, to inept or timid generals who’s names would become synonymous with failure - McClellan, Burnside, Pope.

    Unlike their cousins in the CSA, however, Union generals after the Treaty of Havana would spend years studying how and why they lost, how the logistical advantage was so squandered against an enemy repeatedly caught flat footed. General George Custer’s seminal essays on the war depicted Robert E. Lee as a providentially lucky man and Braxton Bragg as blessed by patience rather than talent; comparatively, south of the Ohio River these men were celebrated as flawless titans, the greatest strategists since Napoleon...”

    - The War of Southern Independence at 100 (West Point Academy Press, 1963)
    The Reign of Napoleon III 1848- 1874
  • “...between his triumphs in Mexico, role in the Unification of Italy and the increasing size of the new French concessions in Cochinchina, the reign of Napoleon III finally had what he desired most - international prestige. And that prestige, according to his confidant (and reputed cousin) Alexandre Walewski, was more valuable than gold, for it gave the frustrated French people their taste once again of being the continent’s utmost power...”

    - The Reign of Napoleon III 1848- 1874 (Oxford University Press)
    The Congress of Havana
  • The Congress of Havana


    The Congress of Havana was a peace conference held in Havana, Spanish Cuba, between April 17 and July 28, 1863, to end the War of Confederate Independence. The parties at Havana were the United States, the breakaway Confederate States, the United Kingdom, France, Mexico, and Russia. Russia positioned itself as a supporter of the US side; all other present powers backed the Confederacy.

    The Congress concluded with the Treaty of Havana, which granted the Confederate States full recognition and independence. It concluded territorial disputes - the CSA would keep Kentucky, which it held, in return for suspending its claims to Missouri and the breakaway counties of Western Virginia. The United States also gave up the Arizona Territory, formerly the southern half of New Mexico territory, and the Indian Territory, in return for a 40 year concession within the Port of New Orleans, allowing unfettered trade along the Mississippi for the North and potential access to the Pacific by the Confederacy. The treaty also guaranteed free navigation of the Chesapeake Bay by both powers. France and Mexico earned recognition of Emperor Maximilian I and Mexico’s status as a protectorate; for this reason, the Congress of Havana became known as the “burial ground of the Monroe Doctrine.” The UK and Russia also settled boundary disputes with Alaska and Canada, while Britain settled a minor dispute with Mexico over the border with Honduras.

    The treaty was unpopular in both the Union, where it was viewed as a national humiliation imposed by foreign powers - France in particular earned strong American ire - while many in the Confederacy were irate that despite earning independence they effectively gave up sovereignty over their territorial waters, were denied territory in Missouri and Western Virginia they felt they were owed as victors in the conflict and, most importantly, that no war reparations of any kind had been granted to them despite considerable damage in Virginia, New Orleans, and across the West. Nevertheless, Secretary of State Judah Benjamin - a signatory of the treaty - assured the Confederate Senate there would be no better deal, and in November of 1863 they signed the treaty. The United States Senate narrowly passed the Treaty after acrimonious debate, 27-21, with all Democrats in favor and about half of the Republican-Unionist coalition, after intervention in its favor by President Abraham Lincoln and signatory Secretary of State William Seward.
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    Speech by Thad Stevens
  • “...and yes, perhaps, our position was unsustainable. Yes, perhaps, this great Union could not face Britain at sea and The combined armies of the rebels, Mexico and France on land. Yes, perhaps, our industry could not survive facing a furious boycott of Europe’s Powers. But how do we call ourselves sovereign when parasites of the Old World combine with the monsters of the New, around a table, to draw our borders for us, little more than children sketching on a map? How do we say we are a proud nation when we surrender our right to self-determination? When we surrender our doctrines at the first gunboat to appear on the horizon? Are we not better than the diplomacy of the bullet? We will suffer grandly this humiliation. I blame not the President nor Secretary Seward, nor do I blame the rebels - I blame all of us, for our collective cowardice in the face of slave power. The Union has not been preserved, evil has not been banished - and we are all at fault.”

    - Thaddeus Stevens, Speech to the House of Representatives regarding the Treaty of Havana under consideration in the Senate, November 7, 1863
    Davis: The Father of a Nation
  • “...the results of the 1863 elections were positive for the Davis administration, in that they maintained their substantial majority in the Confederate House and maintained 15 friendly Senators. The Confederacy’s lack of formal political parties, viewed by the public as a strength, led to a personality politics instead, and in this sense Davis was found lacking. The unpopularity of his administration’s impotence in domestic affairs and perceived overreach was tempered by jubilation at the ongoing Congress of Havana and then the unanimous passage of the subsequent Treaty.

    Still, 1863 marked a waning point in Davis’s political fortunes. It was Lee who was feted as the champion of the South, not he; and his clashes with hostile Governors for the remaining four years of his single term would define his domestic program. The Victorious Confederacy had been hard-hit by war, indebted to foreign militaries and banks alike, and needed nation building. In short, they needed a George Washington and had a Robert Lee; they needed a Thomas Jefferson, and had Jefferson Davis instead.”

    - Davis: The Father of a Nation (1974, University of Virginia Press)
    Diary of Abraham Lincoln
  • “My failure is complete, and is mine to bear. It was in me the Union entrusted her integrity, and I who failed to uphold it. This chapter of our great experiment is at a close - what comes next, we are yet to discover.”

    - Diary of Abraham Lincoln
    Part II: Redrawing the Map
  • Part II: Redrawing the Map
    ...if the 1848 revolutions was the mortal wound to the Concert of Europe, then the Unification Wars were the death and burial...”

    - Belle Époque: The Golden Age of Western Europe
    The Cleavage of America
  • “...lost on no-one that Davis was an ineffectual a peacetime President as he was a wartime one. He had no foundational vision for the new nation other than slave power; where slave power demanded inaction by the central government in Richmond, it was inactive, and where slave power demanded action, it was active. Davis oscillated between aggressive stances towards state governors - there was nobody he despised more than rival Zebulon Vance of North Carolina, who was sincere in his belief in individual and state’s rights - and shrugging off concerns that faced his indebted nation. There would be no Monroe Doctrine under Davis, for they owed the Confederacy to the Three Friends of France, Mexico and Britain; a farming country, there were few to none thoughts of a tariff, making revenue hard to come by, especially with substantial war debt. The efforts of nation building were haphazard and interested Davis’s grandiosity little. A Calhounian at heart, he blew off the concerns of his reformed Whig Vice President Stephens and left the running of the government entirely to his Cabinet secretaries. In the hands of a capable Postmaster such as John H Reagan, that was of no concern; elsewhere in Richmond, the Congress found itself adrift and ossified, and the departments myopic as the guns of war were silenced...”

    - The Cleavage of America (Heidelberg University 2011)
    Maximilian of Mexico
  • “...Maximilian did everything he could to reinvent Mexico in the shape of a European state. This both troubled and encouraged his conservative supporters, but the dawn of the Habsburg era was one of new public works, of an enlarged legislature, and of immigration from Europe; though Porfirio Diaz and his diehards remained in the remote Sierra Madres, the fervor for the Liberals shrank in the face of Maximilian coopting some of their agenda...”

    - Maximilian of Mexico
    Lincoln: A Portrait of the 16th President
  • “ later years - including in this very book - Lincoln’s legacy has been re-evaluated. The Man Who Lost the South, as he was known for decades after declining to be re-nominated for the Presidency, was to many a budding tyrant done in only by his haplessness; but Lincoln, historians who rehabilitated him have argued, was dealt a poor hand and played it as best he could. And though it pained him to watch Ulysses Grant go down in defeat to Horatio Seymour in 1864, Lincoln always seemed at peace with his Presidency...”

    - Lincoln: A Portrait of the 16th President
    Iron and Blood: The Wars of German Unification
  • “...the Schleswig War, even more so than the conflict in the Crimean, presaged the ending of the world built by the Congress of Vienna. With France’s victory in Mexico and now Prussia’s seizure of much of Denmark, the continent was barreling again to a confrontation...”

    - Iron and Blood: The Wars of German Unification (1999)