Imperial ParliamentThe Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1211, p. 10.
JULY 4, 1863
...In answer to Lord Stratheden, Earl Russell said the French Ambassador had called upon him that afternoon, and informed him that there was no truth in the rumour that the French Government intended to make any communication to her Majesty's Government in reference to mediation between the Northern and Southern States of America...
...Mr. Layard, in reply to Mr. Foster, stated that no communication had been received fram the French Government since last autumn in reference to interference in the American war...
Mr. Roebuck moved an address to the Crown, praying that her Majesty would be graciously pleased to enter into negotiations with the great Powers of Europe for the purpose of obtaining their co-operation in the recognition of the independence of the Confederate States of North America. He contended that the South, by their gallant defence, and even by their victory over the North, had earned a right to a recognition of their independence, and this on every ground of international polity. Those States ought to be acknowledged by England because it was their right, and also because it was to the interest of England to do so in reference to the supply of cotton, sugar, and tobacco to this country. The United States were becoming the bullies of the world, and he would rejoice to see the balance of power equalised on the American continent by the reconstruction of the Union. He urged that the time had come for recognition by France and England, which would put an end to the war. He stated that he was personally authorised by the ruler of France to express his feelings on this question, which were stronger than ever in favour of recognition of the South; and he was assured by the Emperor himself that he had desired Baron Gros to communicate that opinion to the English Government, although this communication was not formal. The Emperor stated his reason for not making a formal communication, because his despatch on the same subject on a former occasion had been sent by the English Government to the United States; but he authorised him (Mr. Roebuck) to state to the House that he was prepared to act in all things with England, and especially in the matter of the recognition of the Southern States. After this, what excuse could be made by her Majesty's Government for not taking that step?
Lord B. Montagu moved as an amendment that the House earnestly desires that an impartial neutrality should continue to be maintained by her Majesty's Government during the present unhappy contest in the States of North America.
Mr. Clifford supported the amendment.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer objected to the motion in the first place because it put into the hands of the House a function of the executive Government; because it was at this moment especially inconvenient, looking to the military situation of America, while the speech of Mr. Roebuck, couched as it was in a spirit of partisanship for the South, was ill calculated to promote the object he had in view. Recognition would not relieve Lancashire, and it was ill-advised to lay down that as a doctrine when it was clear that this country, to produce such results as were implied by Mr. Roebuck, could not stop at recognition. Almost every man in England wished the war to come to a close, but he denied that recognition would promote that end. There was scarcely any case of recognition, pending a contest, which was not followed by war in order to carry it cut. He contended that France and England, situated as they were in reference to the States of America, could not represent in the eyes of the world the principle of impartiality in any interference between the contending parties.
Mr. W. E. Forster, urged that the motion, if it meant anything, meant war--war to be waged for selfish consideration; war which would be productive of every possible disaster to the commerce and the welfare of this country. In reference to Mr. Roebuck's alleged communication to the House from the Emperor of the French, he (Mr. Forster) deprecated the policy of joint action with France, which inevitably led to war. A war with America, which might and probably would ensue upon our intervention, would be one against our kinsmen for slavery.
Lord R. Cecil argued that the conduct of the United States in cases of recognition precluded them from objecting to the adoption of that course; and he urged action in reference to the re-establishment of peace in the interests of a large population of our own, which was desolate, owing to the failure of the cotton supply.
Mr. Bright said that the motion, taken in connection with Mr. Roebuck's character, his speech on this occasion, and speeches elsewhere, might be taken as an address to the Crown asking for a declaration of war, while he asked the House to accept the lead of the Emperor of the French in this matter, a potentate in whom not long ago he declared he had no faith. He contended that the feeling which dictated this motion rested on a mean jealousy or a base fear of America. He denied the power or the will of the United States to act aggressively towards England or any other European nation, and he protested against Mr. Roebuck raising a cry calculated to bring on hostilities between this country and a friendly nation, whilst he would seek alliance for his country in a slaveholding State.
Sir G. Grey, in reference to a statement by Mr. Roebuck of the readiness of the Emperor of the French to act in conjunction with this country for the recognition of the South, stated that no communication whatever on that point had been made to her Majesty's Government.
The debate was adjourned to Thursday.
AMERICA.--Mr. W. E. Forster asked Mr. Layard whether he could inform the House if it was true that application was made some months ago that France should join England in mediation between the Federal and Confederate States of America.--Mr. Layard denied the statements made by Mr. Roebuck on a former evening, and said that no communication had been made by Lord Lyons to Mr. Seward on the subject.