Abby Woolsey to her volunteer sisters on the release and issues related to Mason and Slidell.


My dear Girls: The news of Mason and Slidell’s release has arrived since you wrote. It was generally known here about 11 A. M. Saturday. I am quite satisfied with the release and with the grounds of it. In making the claim, England runs counter to all her preceding history in the matter of maritime laws. In holding the men, we should contradict our own previous course. Is it not far better to put England in the wrong, by yielding to her claim and so negatively securing her assent to what America has so long contended for—the rights of neutrals? As the Washington Intelligencer said, Mason and Slidell are for a day, Maritime Law is for all nations and all time. For my part, I think our position more assured, more dignified, more honorable to us since the surrender than ever before. Of course it will not satisfy England. Their peremptory demand, and Lord Lyons’ laconic acceptance, are in contrast with Mr. Seward’s wordy, suave, argumentative letters. They have got in part what they asked—possession of the men; they have not got what they asked—an apology for the “insult to their flag” and the violation of rights of asylum. The Manchester Guardian even says plainly that “whether Mason and Slidell are returned or not, war preparation on the part of England must go on, the day being not far distant when the Southern Confederacy must be recognized, and England must be prepared to support her policy.” Mr. Seward, too, you know, says very plainly that recognition of the South would instantly be the signal of war between ourselves and all the recognizing powers.


Woolsey family letters during the War for the Union

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