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The Trent Affair

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The Trent Affair

On November 8, 1861, two Confederate diplomatic envoys named James Mason and John Slidell boarded on the British mail steamer Trent. The ship was sailing through the Bahama Channel. During its sail, it crossed by the USS San Jacinto. During that time, Mason and Slidell, with their secretaries, were traveling to England and France. The captain on the USS San Jacinto, Charles Wilkes, had captured Mason and Slidell and brought them to Boston and imprisoned them at Fort Warren. Though, The Trent made its way to England and France without Mason and Slidell.

The Northerners in America had supported Wilkes in his decision by throwing him a banquet to honor Wilkes, calling him “manly and heroic success”. Of course, the British weren’t happy. When the news had been spread around London in November, hearing that two of their envoys had been captured, they sent a message to the government telling the United States to release Mason and Slidell with an apology since the U.S had broken the international law. President Lincoln was angered to hear that the U.S were holding captive two Confederate agents on their ships. Despite that, many people supported Wilkes in his decision. If he did release Mason and Slidell, it would look like he interfered with the law with the British. Most importantly, he did not want to go into war with the British. Thankfully, on December 1861, William Seward thought of a solution and worded a letter that Lincoln approved. It managed to calm down the British by giving them a formal apology.

Before the Civil War gone into place, Britain needed to prepare for the war by having a military policy. To further prepare for the war, the British started to stop exporting war goods and materials to America and sending troops to Canada. Both the United States and Great Britain did not want war, but the Trent incident started a big disagreement and pushed both parties for a possible



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