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By William Woodruff

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Additional info for America’s Impact on the World: A Study of the Role of the United States in the World Economy, 1750–1970

Sample text

21 Might had prevailed; for the south, the end was near. Yet, quite apart from the problem of cotton supplies, it had not been entirely unreal for southern leaders to believe that Britain and France would eventually intervene on their behalf. True, on the anti-slavery issue, there was in Europe a vague sympathy with the north; but slavery was not the crucial issue. More important for the elite of western Europe was the fact that the south was aristocratic; it presented far less threat to the cultural and political ideals of the ruling classes of England and France than did the north.

Italics originalr 8 Whatever stood in the path of achieving that end had to be sacrificed. Had Lincoln been a weaker man; had he fought with his mind only and not as he also did with his heart, he would have allowed the south to secede without bloodshed. Other men did not see the Union as God's supreme effort for American man (had that view prevailed in the eighteenth century, there never would have been a fight for independence from the British); but Lincoln would not yield. In some ways, he had the salt and iron of the early Puritans; he knew precisely what was true and what was false; what should be fought for and what should be abandoned.

However, the battle of Antietam, 17 September 1862, in turning the tide of war in the north's favour, settled the issue. Thenceforth the possibility of foreign intervention faded. In 1862 Lincoln even felt strong enough to issue his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. This act not only strengthened his position with those who had been calling for abolition; it made it virtually impossible for Britain and France to intervene on the Confederate's behalf. Had they done so they would have appeared to have been upholding slavery.

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