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The Blocking-Up of Charleston

The Illustrated London News, vol. 40, no. 1128, p. 97.

January 25, 1862


The following correspondence has passed between the Liverpool Shipowners' Association and the Foreign Office:—

Shipowners' Association, Liverpool, Jan. 13.

My Lord,—It has come to the knowledge of the Liverpool Shipowners' Association, through the public prints, that the Federal Government of the United States have sunk a stone squadron in the main channel of Charleston harbour. This proceeding cannot fail seriously and permanently to injure the entrance to that harbour. The association fears that, unless strong representations and remonstrances are promptly made, a similar course may be immediately followed in the case of the other harbours of the Confederate States. The association does not think it necessary to dwell at length on the importance of this question as affecting the general interests of commerce, but feels called upon, as representing an important interest, to address your Lordship on the subject. I am, therefore, instructed by the association respectfully to press this matter on your Lordship's earnest consideration. I have the honour to be, my Lord, your Lordship's most obedient humble servant,

Francis A. Clint, Chairman.

To the Right Hon. Earl Russell, Foreign Office, London.

Foreign Office, January 15.

Sir,—I am directed by Earl Russell to acknowledge the receipt of the letter which, on behalf of the Liverpool Shipowners' Association, you addressed to him on the 13th inst., calling his attention to the course which the Federal Government of the United States have adopted for closing the main channel of Charleston harbour by sinking there vessels laden with stone, and expressing the fear of the association that, unless strong representations and remonstrances are promptly made, a similar course may be immediately followed in the case of the other harbours of the Confederate States. I am to request that you will state to the Liverpool Shipowners' Association that the attention of her Majesty's Government was at once attracted by the rumours which obtained currency some weeks ago of such a course as that to which you refer being contemplated by the Government of the United States, and on the 20th of December her Majesty's Minister at Washington was informed of the view taken of it by her Majesty's Government. Lord Lyons was told that such a cruel plan would seem to imply despair of the restoration of the Union, the professed object of the war; for it never could be the wish of the United States' Government to destroy cities from which their own country was to derive a portion of its riches and prosperity. Such a plan could only be adopted as a measure of revenge end of irremediable injury against an enemy. Lord Lyons was further told that even as a scheme of embittered and sanguinary war such a measure would not be justifiable. It would be a plot against the commerce of all maritime nations and against the free intercourse of the Southern States of America with the civilised world. Lord Lyons was desired to speak in this sense to Mr. Seward, who, it was hoped, would disavow the illegal project. Now, however, that the project seems to have been carried into effect at Charleston, Lord Lyons will be instructed to make a further representation to Mr. Seward, with a view to prevent similar acts of destruction in other ports.—I am, Sir, your most obedient servant,

F. A. Clint, Esq.,&c.

E. Hammond.

The subject was discussed at the meeting of the council of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce on Monday, when the following resolution was adopted:—" That this chamber views with great satisfaction the remonstrances made by her Majesty's Government with regard to the blocking up of Charleston harbour by sinking vessels laden with stone."

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