Persuading John Bull: the American Civil War comes to London’s Fleet Street
This thesis analyses Union and Confederate propaganda in Britain during the American Civil War. The London American, founded in 1860, became an unofficial Union propaganda journal after the outbreak of the conflict. In 1862, two doors down Fleet Street, it was joined by the Confederate-funded newspaper, The Index. Examination for the first time of subscriber lists shows that the often anti-British tone of the former limited its appeal beyond radical groups. The Index, however, was able to use propaganda gifts such as General Butler’s occupation of New Orleans in order to build sympathy amidst British aristocratic and parliamentary elites at the highest level. Despite the lack of support for slavery amongst these elites, that sympathy is shown to persist after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The Confederacy needed propaganda in order to win the hearts and minds in Europe much more than did Lincoln’s administration. Indeed, lack of external financing and internal embezzlement led to The London American’s collapse in 1863. Meanwhile, The Index was able instead to become the mouthpiece of the Southern Independence Association, a well-connected society which emerged as the war dragged on, trying to persuade Palmerston’s Government to offer some form of mediation or intervention. It continued to have propaganda opportunities, such as the Saxon Affair. However, despite the enormity of the offence given to Britain by such episodes, they are shown to have elicited rather different responses from the Government compared to the much more well-known Trent Affair two years earlier. This reflected the changed naval balance between Britain and the United States, a principal factor in ensuring the ultimate failure of The Index. It is shown that these two newspapers cast new light on various under-considered issues, including Union recruitment in Ireland, the Confederate Cotton Loan, and Anglo-American relations more widely in this period.
AuthorsSebrell, Thomas E.
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