The Acknowledged Inability of Diplomacy~September 1863~the 29th & 30th

The Acknowledged Inability of Diplomacy ~ Gideon Welles

As September ends, President Lincoln supports temperance efforts. Some of his Cabinet retain concerns about relations with Great Britain. The popularity of the Russians grows in New York City. In the Confederate capital inflation and slaves are running away. Women committed to the abolitionist cause maintain their efforts. The Polish question simmers in Europe. The Twentieth Century begins to take shape.

September 29– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I think that the reasonable men of the world have long since agreed that intemperance is one of the greatest, if not the very greatest of all evils amongst mankind. That is not a matter of dispute, I believe. That the disease exists, and that it is a very great one is agreed upon by all. The mode of cure is one about which there may be differences of opinion. You have suggested that in an army– our army– drunkenness is a great evil, and one which, while it exists to a very great extent, we cannot expect to overcome so entirely as to leave such successes in our arms as we might have without it. This undoubtedly is true, and while it is, perhaps, rather a bad source to derive comfort from, nevertheless, in a hard struggle, I do not know but what it is some consolation to be aware that there is some intemperance on the other side, too, and that they have no right to beat us in physical combat on that ground. But I have already said more than I expected to be able to say when I began, and if you please to hand me a copy of your address it shall be considered. I thank you very heartily, gentlemen, for this call, and for bringing with you these very many pretty ladies.” ~ President Lincoln to a group of the Sons of Temperance who called upon him at the White House.

water fountain in New York City built to promote temperance

water fountain in New York City built to promote temperance

September 29– Tuesday– Summerville Ford, Orange County, Virginia– “Miss Josephine, I seat myself to write you a few lines as I have not written you a letter for some time. We are still camped on the Rapidan river at Summerville Ford. We guard the ford and picket along the river. The river is the line between Orange and Culpepper, us and the enemy. The Yankees have advanced their picket lines [so that] the distance between us is about five hundred yards at places. They have also reinforced their picket. The picket don’t fire on each other now. They holler at each other sometimes and sometimes exchange news papers. It is against orders but they will do it.” ~ Confederate soldier Adam W Kersh in a letter to his niece Josephine Kersh.

September 29– Tuesday– Allenstein, East Prussia, Germany– Birth of Hugo Haase. Born in a working class Jewish family he will become a lawyer, socialist politician and pacifist who will oppose the First World War. He will be murdered in 1919.

September 29– Tuesday– Ravensburg, Germany– Birth of Franz Zorell, who will become a multilingual scholar and Biblical exegetist.

September 29– Tuesday– byline: St Petersburg, Russia– The New York Times prints a copy of a lengthy memorandum from Earl Russell, the Foreign Secretary of the British government, to Lord Francis Napier, Her Majesty’s Minister to Russia, regarding the situation in Poland. At its conclusion, Earl Russell writes: “In communicating their views to Prince Gortschakoff, it remains to Her Majesty’s Government to discharge an imperative duty. It is to call His Excellency’s most serious attention to the gravity of the situation, and the responsibility which it imposes upon Russia. Great Britain, Austria and France have pointed out the urgent necessity of putting an end to a deplorable state of things which is full of danger to Europe. They have at the same time indicated the means which, in their opinion, ought to be employed to arrive at this termination, and they have offered their cooperation in order to attain it with more certainty. If Russia does not perform all that depends upon her to further the moderate and conciliatory views of the three Powers – if she does not enter upon the path which is opened to her by friendly counsels, she makes herself responsible for the serious consequences which the prolongation of the troubles of Poland may produce.”

September 30– Wednesday– New York City– “The [Russian] squadron . . . sailed from Cronstadt about two months ago, and its first vessel was fifty-six days in reaching its present mooring. The course sailed was along the north shore of England. The navigation of the Baltic becomes difficult after the middle of November, and, soon after, practically impossible. That is only six weeks or forty-two days hence. It is clear, therefore, that the squadron will make no effort to return to any Baltic port this season. It may seek other American ports, or spend the Winter cruising near the West India islands and drop down to Rio Janeiro, intending to appear eventually on the Pacific, and seek thence the northern seas of Asia, where Russia presents her true maritime front.” ~ New York Times.

Russian warships in New York harbor

Russian warships in New York harbor

September 30– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Permit me in this connection to express my surprise and regret that the British Minister should so persistently insist on interfering in matters that belong to the Prize Courts, and on which he should not be heard from diplomatically, as, were Great Britain in our case and we in hers, the American Minister in London would not be heard diplomatically until judicial remedies have been exhausted. His right to be heard in the Court of Prize, according to its rules of procedure, and in the proper cases, is unquestioned. If the Court, after its appellate jurisdiction is fully exhausted, should fail to do justice in any case then undoubtedly, and not till then, diplomacy may properly come in. But I do not understand by what authority Her Majesty’s Minister intervenes at all, even in the Prize Courts by suggestion, or before you, in cases where the violation of territorial immunities of Neutral powers, other than Great Britain, is in question. . . . I am not unaware of your strong desire to conciliate Great Britain and to make all reasonable concessions to preserve friendly relations with her. In this feeling I cordially participate. But my earnest conviction is that we shall best command the respect which insures peace, by firmly, but not offensively, maintaining our rights; and in no way can amicable relations with Great Britain and others be so surely maintained as by our claiming only what is right, by surrendering nothing that is clearly and indisputably our own, and by referring always the question of what our just rights are to those tribunals of Prize, which are instituted by the consent of nations to adjudge these points, under the law of nations and in the interests of peace, by reason of the acknowledged inability of diplomacy, even in the most skillful hands, to deal satisfactorily, before-hand, with these complicated questions as they arise.” ~ Memorandum from Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles to President Lincoln in regard to complaints from Lord Lyons, the British Minister to the United States, about the seizure and sale of British merchant ships caught by the U S Navy while attempting to run the blockade of Southern ports. Welles includes a detailed legal analysis of the issues involved.

September 30– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Still nothing additional from Lee’s or Bragg’s army; but from abroad we learn that the British Government has prevented the rams built for us from leaving the Mersey. . . . Boots are selling in this city at $100 per pair, and common shoes for $60. Shuck mattresses, $40. Blankets, $40 each; and sheets, cotton, $25 each. Wood is $40 per cord.” ~ Diary of John Jones. [The $100 for shoes would equal $1890 today; however, that comparison is to United States dollars. By this point in time inflation is spiraling upward in the Confederacy so the comparison could easily be 4 or more times greater as the South has less and less backing for its paper money as the war continues.]

September 30– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Runaway. Left our store, on the 25th of August, a Negro man named John, the property of Dr. A. Leyburn, of Lexington, Va., John is about 6 feet high, of a bright, gingerbread color, spare built, and very likely. He speaks in a low tone, and is very polite and plausible in manner. He may be lurking in or near Sidney, as he had a room above the Old Fair Grounds, on Main street, or he may have followed some one in the army as it passed through to Tennessee. We will give $50 for his arrest in or near the city, or $100 if he be lodged in any jail in or out of the State, where we can get him.” ~ Richmond Dispatch.

runaway slaves headed toward the Union lines

runaway slaves headed toward the Union lines

September 30– Wednesday– Craney Island, Virginia– “From the barracks, we went, last night, to a religious meeting, where we heard a preacher worthy of a high seat in our Newport synagogue. He is from Gates County, North Carolina, & and I feel very sure that he must have lived very near Friends, for his musical intoning can have been picked up nowhere but in Friends meeting; and his mode of appeal, of argument, and of illustration were decidedly Quaker-like. Sarah’s stay here has been a fortnight; while I have been here a week. We have taught the children, visited the sick, clothed some of the most needy, and done what we could to make the road easy for those who are seeking to join their families. One woman who always came to the school at the first sound of the bell, said to me, one morning, ‘I feel so anxious to learn! Every once in awhile I come to the name of God,—and the love of it, the name is so sweet, I can’t help trying to learn!’” ~ Letter from Lucy Chase to her family and friends in Worcester, Massachusetts. [Lucy Chase, age 41, and her sister, Sarah Chase, age 27, are Quakers who, along with many family members, have been involved in anti-slavery activities for years. At this time they have come with other abolitionists to assist fugitive slaves, particularly those headed north.]

Quaker women-late 19th century

Quaker women-late 19th century

September 30– Wednesday– Paris, France– The opera Les Pecheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers) by 25 year old George Bizet opens at the Theatre Lyrique. [It will last for only 18 performances and yield little money for the composer.]




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