econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 10 March 2016

How British Businesses Helped The Confederacy Fight The American Civil War

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Joe Kelly, University of Liverpool

The American Civil War devastated the US, but it also had serious consequences for the world beyond. Among them was the Lancashire cotton famine, which plunged thousands of British subjects into poverty. But the war also provided great opportunities to others outside the US who were willing to exploit them.

The South's campaign against the North would have been impossible without the contribution made by British businesses - and particularly those in Liverpool.

The rebel states of the Confederate South began the American Civil War in desperate need of cash, ships and arms. Most American industry and banking was headquartered in the North, so southern leaders were forced to look across the Atlantic to find these vital instruments of war. In Liverpool, they would find exactly what they were looking for.

The links between Liverpool and the southern states stretched back to the early 19th century boom in cotton consumption and manufacture. Cotton was the South's main export, and it was through the port of Liverpool that it made its way to the mills of Manchester. It was these connections that saw the establishment of Fraser, Trenholm & Co., the Liverpool branch of a South Carolina shipping firm, which went on to act as the Confederacy's European bank.

Fraser, Trenholm & Co. was managed by Charles Prioleau, a proud South Carolinian who had married the daughter of prominent Liverpool merchant Richard Wright. From his home in Abercomby Square, Prioleau forged commercial connections crucial to the Confederate war effort. Now owned by the University of Liverpool, the square housed merchants, engineers, and even mayors of the city - all of whom would be vital in supplying the Confederacy's needs.

It was the industry and profit-seeking of Liverpool merchants that generated money for a cash-strapped South. The Confederacy had begun the war by attempting to blackmail Britain into recognising its independence by withholding cotton, on which thousands of mill workers' jobs depended. This policy failed spectacularly, and when the southern government needed to sell cotton to generate funds, it found its ports blockaded by the Union navy.

Liverpool's Abercromby Square in 1850. Ordnance Survey

The war saw cotton prices skyrocket, and Liverpool's shipping interests were well-placed to benefit. Encouraged by Prioleau, Merseyside merchants knew large profits awaited them if they could get through the blockade to purchase southern cotton, often providing arms in exchange. The war, which was responsible for immense suffering, also provided commercial opportunities for those with enough capital and ingenuity.

Made in Merseyside

Along with cash, the Confederacy needed warships - and Liverpool, with its bustling port, was happy to comply. The Mersey was home to innovative shipbuilders Laird Brothers and the engineers Fawcett, Preston & Co. Both companies were approached by Confederate agent James Bulloch to build the most notorious vessel of the war, the CSS Alabama.

The Alabama terrorised the Union navy from its launch in 1862 to its sinking in the summer of 1864. Northern politicians were understandably outraged by the construction of a Confederate vessel in a British port, not least because in 1862 the British government had issued a declaration of neutrality.

Technically it was illegal for British subjects to arm warships for either the North or the South, yet little official scrutiny was afforded to the building of the Alabama. It did not escape the attention of Thomas Dudley, Union consul in Liverpool, who hired a team of detectives to try and catch Bulloch in the act of arming a confederate vessel.

To avoid detection, the Confederate agent arranged for the Alabama to leave Merseyside under a false name and be armed offshore. This act of subterfuge would have been impossible without the help of the British shipbuilders, and possibly even the dock officials.

The launching of the Alabama was incredibly embarrassing for the foreign secretary, Lord John Russell, and from 1863 onwards the government took firm actions to stop this sort of thing. Several vessels under construction by Merseyside shipbuilders were seized over the next few years, but it was too little too late. The Alabama went on to sink an estimated 62 ships throughout the war, and after 1865, the furious US government brought a series of legal actions against Britain known as the Alabama Claims.

Liverpool's intimate links with the Confederacy are reminders of just how international the American Civil War really was. The merchants, shipbuilders and engineers of Liverpool seem to have been untroubled by the moral questions raised by aiding the South. The British government was committed to a strict policy of neutrality, but as the case of the Alabama shows, that position was easily undermined by individual desire for profit - a phenomenon all too familiar today.

The ConversationJoe Kelly, PhD Student, Department of History, University of Liverpool

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.



You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.





Econintersect Contributors


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
The Truth About Trade Agreements - and Why We Need Them
Big Mess in Italy
News Blog
October 2016 JOLTS Job Openings Rate Shows Insignificant Year-over-Year Growth
Do Rises In Oil Prices Mean Rises In Food Prices?
Are Mobile Phone Payments Secure?
Infographic Of The Day: 12 Reasons To Let Your Employees Play Games
Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Up, Oil Down, House Has Stopgap $ Bill, Trump Sold All Stock, Euro Holding On, May Doubles Down, India Economy Struggles, Oz GDP Contraction And More
President Trump Must Be One-Term, Voluntarily!
Documentary Of The Week: Untold History Of The United States, 1890s To 1920
Where MPs Stood On Brexit
How Accurate Are Final US Election Polls
Brexit In The Supreme Court - Here's What It All Means
The States Where It's Legal To Smoke Marijuana
What We Read Today 06 December 2016
This Truck's Barrier Expands Out Of The Back For A Quarter Mile
Investing Blog
Exuberance Returns
Investing.com Technical Summary 07 December 2016
Opinion Blog
Trump And Modi: Birds Of The Same Feather, But With Different World Views
Oil Deal Won't Last Long
Precious Metals Blog
Silver Prices Rebounded Today: Where They Are Headed
Live Markets
07Dec2016 Pre-Market Commentary: Wall Street Takes A Breather, Crude Prices Slipping, Investors On Full Bull Run Despite Indicators In Extreme Greed Range
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government



Crowdfunding ....






























 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved