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Matthew (1862-01-02)


“The Outrageous Northern States”. Dundee Advertiser, Thursday 02 January 1862, p.2 col.2 (pdf image)

(Letter dated Jan 1, printed Jan 2 1862)
In his fourth letter, this time to the Dundee Advertiser, Matthew argues that the actions of the Northern States against the Southern are those one would expect against ‘belligerents’ (i.e. another country) not ‘rebels’. Furthermore, permanently blocking the entrances to Southern harbours is “an outrage against Nature”, preventing “the future advancement of the human race”.

The fact that treating the Southern States as ‘belligerents’ would weaken the legal case against the Union’s action on the Trent is not considered by Matthew – his case is made on moral force rather than on legal niceties (see his “fifth letter”, Matthew (1862-01-03)).

On the same page (col.1) is an editorial suggesting, based on the latest news from America, that war between Britain and America now appears unlikely. These rumours would prove correct. The Union did not wish provoke a war with Britain, so the Northern government disavowed Captain Wilkes’s action on the Trent, although no formal apology was issued. The Confederate ambassadors were released, and they resumed their voyage to Britain (where they failed in their goal of achieving diplomatic recognition for the Southern States).



Sir,— Relative to the assertion of the Northern States that the Southern States are not belligerents and only rebels, I would leave it to a jury of twelve of the leading European Governments to determine this from the one simple fact that the Northerns, having a preponderance at sea, are actually sinking stone-laden vessels in the mouths of the harbours of the Southerns in order to destroy them. Is this the act of a nation attempting to reduce a rebel movement in a portion of its subjects? Considering how much the prosperity of maritime countries, such the Southern States, depends upon the harbours Nature has prepared for them, is this act of the Northern States any other than belligerent, and that of the most malicious and lastingly malevolent nature, partaking of the diabolic, only calculated to produce lasting hatred between the Southern and Northern States? How will the seamen of the Atlantic seaboard of North America, as a body, relish their harbours being wickedly destroyed? It is opprobrious act, to which the cutting down of the olive trees by the savage Turk was light. It is an outrage upon Nature — regarding final causes, regarding the means in preparation for the future advancement of the human race.

The statement in the President’s Message to the effect that they had “practised prudence and liberality towards foreign nations, avoiding all cause of irritation,” appears, in the face of the Trent outrage, a cunning and disingenuous pretence, worthy only of a pettifogging attorney. This affected ignoring of the Trent outrage, at the very time the captain of the San Jacinto was receiving ovations in the cities of the Northern States for that act, is a bad feature of the case, opposed to sincerity and candour, and looks like mischief.— I am, &c.,

Gourdiehill, Jan. 1, 1862.

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