Imperial ParliamentThe Illustrated London News, vol.41, no.1158, p.158.
August 9, 1862
An important discussion in reference to the recognition of the Southern States was raised by a motion of Lord Stratheden for the correspondence which had passed between Mr. Mason, the Confederate commissioner, and the Foreign Office. The noble Lord urged strongly that the time had come for intervention.
Earl Russell declined to give the papers asked for. No representative of the Southern States had been received officially, and therefore all the correspondence which had taken place was of an unofficial character. There was, however, a despatch which had passed between the Government and its representative in America which might he published hereafter. It contained a statement of the views of the Government on the American question, and nothing had occurred to alter their intentions since it was written. If in the course of the recess the Government thought it desirable to take any step, he should communicate with the great maritime Powers of Europe before doing so. He had had no communication from any foreign Power stating a wish for recognition of the Southern States.
The Earl of Malmesbury, while believing that the question of our interference was only one of time, to be decided by the Government, hoped that when the step was taken this country would be backed by France, Russia, and the other great Powers. He also expressed a hope that Lord Lyons would speedily return to Washington.
Earl Russell said there was the most perfect understanding with France, and he had no doubt that in any step which might be taken Russia and the other Powers would agree.
England and America.--Some questions on important matters having been put and answered, Mr. Seymour called attention to the conduct of the United States in the immediate neighbourhood of Nassau, and hoped the Government would direct vigorous remonstrances to the United States on that subject. He also called attention to the the bonds required by the United States from British merchants that they would not send their goods to the Confederate States.--Lord Palmerston said that, with regard to then first question, the House must be aware that there was no country more interested than Great Britain in the maintenance of belligerent rights at sea. It was the undoubted right of belligerents to search merchant vessels at sea if they had reasonable ground to suppose that they were carrying contraband of war to an enemy. It was for the owner of the ship taken, when brought for adjudication, to urge in defence circumstances to show that the capture was illegal. Her Majesty's Government were, of course, not disposed to interfere with the proper exercise of belligerent rights by the United States; but if there should be any abuse of those rights, that being properly shown, her Majesty's Government would take proper steps. With regard to the second question, it was true that bonds had been demanded from British merchants not to send their goods to the Confederate States. Her Majesty's Government, believing such bonds to be illegal, had made representations on the subject.