Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for William Howard Russell fails to see Mason and Slidell at their surrender and bemoans the revival of his own unpopularity.

William Howard Russell fails to see Mason and Slidell at their surrender and bemoans the revival of his own unpopularity.

January 1, 2012

My Diary North and South - William Howard Russell,The American Civil War

Lord Lyons has evinced the most moderate and conciliatory spirit, and has done everything in his power to break Mr. Seward’s fall on the softest of eider down. Some time ago we were all prepared to hear nothing less would be accepted than Captain Wilkes taking Messrs. Mason and Slidell on board the San Jacinto, and transferring them to the Trent, under a salute to the flag, near the scene of the outrage; at all events, it was expected that a British man-of-war would have steamed into Boston, and received the prisoners under a salute from Fort Warren; but Mr. Seward, apprehensive that some outrage would be offered by the populace to the prisoners and the British Flag, has asked Lord Lyons that the Southern Commissioners may be placed, as it were, surreptitiously, in a United States boat, and carried to a small seaport in the State of Maine, where they are to be placed on board a British vessel as quietly as possible; and this exigent, imperious, tyrannical, insulting British Minister has cheerfully acceded to the request. Mr. Conway Seymour, the Queen’s messenger, who brought Lord Russell’s despatch, was sent back with instructions for the British Admiral, to send a vessel to Providence town for the purpose; and as Mr. Johnson, who is nearly connected with Mr. Eustis, one of the prisoners, proposed going to Boston to see his brother-in-law, if possible, ere he started, and as there was not the smallest prospect of any military movement taking place, I resolved to go northwards with him; and we left Washington accordingly on the morning of the 31st of December, and arrived at the New York Hotel the same night.

To my great regret and surprise, however, I learned it would be impracticable to get to Fort Warren and see the prisoners before their surrender. My unpopularity, which had lost somewhat of its intensity, was revived by the exasperation against everything English, occasioned by the firmness of Great Britain in demanding the Commissioners; and on New Year’s Night, as I heard subsequently, Mr. Grinell and other members of the New York Club were exposed to annoyance and insult, by some of their brother members, in consequence of inviting me to be their guest at the club.

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