The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War

The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War

Don H. Doyle

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 0465029671

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


When Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in 1863, he had broader aims than simply rallying a war-weary nation. Lincoln realized that the Civil War had taken on a wider significance—that all of Europe and Latin America was watching to see whether the United States, a beleaguered model of democracy, would indeed “perish from the earth.”

In The Cause of All Nations, distinguished historian Don H. Doyle explains that the Civil War was viewed abroad as part of a much larger struggle for democracy that spanned the Atlantic Ocean, and had begun with the American and French Revolutions. While battles raged at Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg, a parallel contest took place abroad, both in the marbled courts of power and in the public square. Foreign observers held widely divergent views on the war—from radicals such as Karl Marx and Giuseppe Garibaldi who called on the North to fight for liberty and equality, to aristocratic monarchists, who hoped that the collapse of the Union would strike a death blow against democratic movements on both sides of the Atlantic. Nowhere were these monarchist dreams more ominous than in Mexico, where Napoleon III sought to implement his Grand Design for a Latin Catholic empire that would thwart the spread of Anglo-Saxon democracy and use the Confederacy as a buffer state.

Hoping to capitalize on public sympathies abroad, both the Union and the Confederacy sent diplomats and special agents overseas: the South to seek recognition and support, and the North to keep European powers from interfering. Confederate agents appealed to those conservative elements who wanted the South to serve as a bulwark against radical egalitarianism. Lincoln and his Union agents overseas learned to appeal to many foreigners by embracing emancipation and casting the Union as the embattled defender of universal republican ideals, the “last best hope of earth.”

A bold account of the international dimensions of America’s defining conflict, The Cause of All Nations frames the Civil War as a pivotal moment in a global struggle that would decide the survival of democracy.

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Once Sanford learned of the king’s reply, he felt confident that Garibaldi would have to accept the American offer. On September 7 he hastened to Genoa to secure passage to Caprera and wrote to Seward that Garibaldi leaving for America would cause an “immense sensation here.” September 7, as it happened, was the first anniversary of Garibaldi’s entry into Naples, and Sanford described the amazing scene in Genoa that night: the streets were full of people shouting Viva Garibaldi! “and in the

for peace a timely pretext for the opening of relations with Rome. In September 1863 he instructed Ambrose Dudley Mann, the Confederate envoy stationed in Brussels, to go in person to Rome and deliver a letter from President Jefferson Davis, thanking the pope for his kind efforts in support of peace. Mann was eager and ready for this mission to Rome. For more than a year he had been pestering Benjamin to send him to Italy, where his son and personal secretary, W. Grayson Mann, had been sounding

would learn much later in Vietnam.5 The South’s bid for independence took place within living memory of dozens of successful nationalist independence movements in the Atlantic world, including the wars for independence that gave birth to the Spanish American republics, all of which won international recognition despite the fulminations of imperial Spain. The Greek struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire and the Italian Risorgimento were also widely admired by most European and American

Revolution Against Politics (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), 88–92; James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy: Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861–1865 (Nashville: United States Publishing, 1904), 1:183–188. 3. Richardson, Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, 1:183–188. 4. Eric H. Walther, William Lowndes Yancey and the Coming of the Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006),

260–261 slavery concerns, 257–258, 264, 269 Polignac, Camille de, 274–275, 279–280, 289 Polish uprising, 237 Polygenesis, theory of, 36–37, 191–192 Popular government, See Republicanism; Democracy; Self-government Press Assing and Douglass’s antislavery writings, 156–157 British denunciation of American republicanism, 96–97 British pro-South factions, 143 British retreat from intervention, 235–236 Confederate emancipation, 272–274 De Leon promoting the Confederate cause abroad,

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