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.A servant answered the door and said McClellan was attending a wedding, so they waited in the drawing room.An hour later the general arrived, learned the president was waiting, walked past the drawing room without looking inside, and disappeared upstairs.Thirty minutes later, thinking his presence had not been announced, Lincoln sent the servant to get the general, who had gone to bed.Lincoln overlooked the affront but made no more visits to McClellan’s home.Although Lincoln later quipped he would “hold McClellan’s horse if he would only bring us success,” the general’s snub marked the beginning of the president’s exasperation with his newly appointed general-in-chief.He“ t h e b ot tom i s o u t o f t h e t ub”89agreed, however, not to allow “points of etiquette and personal dignity” to get in the way of winning the war.10For Lincoln and his cabinet the trials and turmoil of civil war were just beginning.On November , , Captain Charles Wilkes, commanding the USS San Jacinto, fired a shot across the bow of the British mail steamer and stopped the RMS Trent in the Bahamas Channel.Wilkes sent a boarding party to arrest James M.Mason of Virginia and John Slidell of Louisiana, Confederate commissioners bound, respectively, for England and France.Despite furious objections from British officers, Wilkes’s boarding party removed the commissioners and their secretaries as contraband of war and deposited them in Boston’s Fort Warren.Although Wilkes had acted without authority, jubilation spread in the North from people starved for good news.Hailed as a national hero, Wilkes received praise from Welles, Congress, the press, and the public.Fallout began a few days later.England accused Seward of authorizing the Trent affair and issued an ultimatum to release the commissioners.Prime Minister Lord Palmerston sent eight thousand troops to Canada and placed an embargo on shipments of war materials to the United States.The ultimatum thrust Lincoln and Seward into an untenable position.While freeing the commissioners might cause political harm at home, keeping them could draw England into the war.Charles Francis Adams wrote from London, “War with the United States seems imminent.It may spread itself all over Europe.”11Dampening a volatile situation without appearing incompetent fell mainly on Lincoln rather than Seward.He predicted that Mason and Slidell would“prove to be white elephants,” and if the British demanded their release, “we must give them up.” Bates rendered his opinion, writing, “Not only was it lawful to seize the men, but, I think, the ship itself was subject to confiscation.” Bates had his facts wrong but not the British.Under international law Wilkes had rights as a belligerent to search the Trent for contraband but no right to make an arrest at sea.Bates acquainted himself with international law and in late December admitted Wilkes had committed a serious mistake and amends must be made.12Because Seward disliked the British and tended to be confrontational, Lincoln developed a working relationship with Charles Sumner, a Harvard-trained chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.Having traveled the world, Sumner understood the culture of Great Britain and France.Lincoln and Sumner were quite different.Sumner had no sense of humor,l i n c o l n , t h e c a bi n e t, a n d t h e ge n e r a l s 90tended to be prudish, and probably never understood a joke.Lincoln found humor in everything, and his allegorical yarns mystified the senator.Sumner lived by conventional standards while Lincoln, being unconventional and seen to be running a loose operation, appalled the senator.Yet they found admirable traits in each other, and Sumner became so important on foreign policy that Seward accused Lincoln of trying to run the administration with two secretaries of state.13On December  Lincoln called a cabinet meeting to discuss Seward’s reply to England [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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