Response to John Stuart Mills


Just to add to what is above. The background to the writing of this peace was not just to answer calls for an end to war between north and south and in answer to the potential danger that Britain would recognise the Confederacy (I don't know how real a prospect that was), but there had been an incident which could have dragged Britain into a conflict with the North. In November 1961 a captain of the North boarded a British ship and removed 2 Confederate diplomats who were going to Europe to represent the Confederacy there. The British government denounced this as a violation of international law. The problem got sorted in the end, but it could have led to conflict between the North and Britain, and at that time it would have effectively caused Britain to help the Confederacy.  Mill opens his essay with a discussion about this incident (I didn't realise the significance of this last night), and he is arguing that if Britain had gone to war with the North it would have helped the confederacy.
 
The first two paragraphs that I quote above are more in answer to this immediate issue rather than the general issue of recognising the confederacy (after reading the piece a few times that is the impression I get). So that if they had fought against the North at that time they would have '..lent a hand to setting up, in one of the most commanding positions of the world, a powerful republic, devoted not only to slavery, but to pro-slavery propagandism' and that this would be what people would remember ' ..When the new Confederate States, made an independent Power by English help, had begun their crusade to carry negro slavery from the Potomac to Cape Horn'
 
He also talks later in the piece that if the people who called for peace between North and South won the day, and the Confederates were allowed to break away from the union. He points out that England could end up at war with them anyway, (as they would be compelled to intercept slave ships which were travelling between Africa and America- 'To allow the slave-ships of a Confederation formed for the extension of slavery to come and go free, and unexamined, between America and the African coast, would be to renounce even the pretence of attempting to protect Africa against the man-stealer') but now that they would not have the North as an ally. After discussing these issue he goes to the final paragraph which starts '..For these reasons I cannot join with those who cry Peace, peace...'.
 
 I think one of the key points he makes in the piece is that there are just and unjust causes, and he makes a very clear distinction between people who rebel to oppress others and those who do so to resist oppression. Obviously many of us do not see the US as a force of liberation in Iraq but one of occupation, there to defend certain interests.

Created By: Orla Ni Chomhrai