Protecting the Union: the American Civil War, 1861–5

Bernadette Whelan

in American Government in Ireland, 1790-1913

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780719083013
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703281 | DOI:
Protecting the Union: the American Civil War, 1861–5

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In March 1861 among the immediate tasks facing Republican President Abraham Lincoln was to keep the United States together. This he failed to do and on 12 April of that year when the southern states attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina and then seceded from the Union, civil war became inevitable. There were many reasons for the conflict but the most significant was the future status of the institution of slavery. The four-year war caused political, economic, social and military upheaval, the effects of which would be long felt. The conflict had immediate consequences for all parts of the Union administration including the foreign service where diplomats and consuls became crucial figures. In Ireland, consuls and their offices became important listening posts for local opinions on the conflict. Temporarily, they also encouraged British neutrality. Ultimately, they acquired new duties providing intelligence and information on any unusual movements on land or at sea, recruited for the Union army under the guise of promoting emigration ensuring that the Confederate government did not gain any advantage. This chapter examines the role of Union consuls based in Ireland during the Civil War and the extent of their involvement in the subsequent victory.

Keywords: United States; consuls; diplomats; Ireland; Civil War; Union

Chapter.  24714 words. 

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