so it may or not be as good a source as Uncle John. (So is that book printed on really soft, cottony-textured paper with perforations near the margin?)
Homer: [expansive] So, how was everybody’s day at school?
Marge: Exhausting. It took the children forty minutes to locate Canada
on the map.
Homer: Marge, anyone can miss Canada, all tucked away down there.
The U.K. did pay the U.S. $15.5 million in gold in 1872 as settlement for the Alabama controversy. During the U.S. Civil War, Britain was accused by the Union of violating neutrality by allowing Confederate warships (including one named the Alabama) to be built and outfitted at British ports. These Confederate ships captured or destroyed dozens of Union ships. Under the Treaty of Washington between the U.S. and U.K. (1871), both sides agreed to abide by the decision of an international board of arbitrators, which awarded $15.5 million to the U.S.
This is the first I’ve heard of an connection with Canada. Possibly some rash U.S. politicians has threatened to annex Canada if the U.K. didn’t pay up, but I’ve never heard that before.
Actually, as I understand it Secretary of State William Seward demanded $2 Billion in indemnities from Britain for her role in prolonging the war by supporting the South (clandestinely). Magnanimously, he said he was willing to give up the monetary claims in return for Canada. The British pretty much laughed at this but were willing to submit the Alabama claims to arbitration, which awarded $15.5 million to the U.S.
So in a sense Britain did pay $15.5 million for the U.S. not to annex Canada, but in a circuitous sort of way.
A related piece of history that you don’t hear about much today was Seward’s plan to insigate war with Britain on the eve of the Civil War. The idea being that the threat from a foreign power would draw the southern states back into the Union. Probably a pretty bad idea. I don’t remember the exact timing of this plan, but it was after Lincoln’s election (obviously) and I think it was after the south had seceded entirely.
Some clarification of my earlier post. The proposal for fighting Britain to re-unite the North and South was expressed to Lincoln in the April Fools Memorandum of April 1 1861. So things had got pretty far out of hand but Fort Sumter had not yet fallen (though it would in a matter of weeks).
Also, Seward made the $2 Billion claim soon after the Civil War and the settlement was not reached until 1872 under his successor Hamilton Fish. So it was 5 or 6 years between the demand for money or Canada and the actual award of $15.5 Million. Obviously the United States was not very interested in acquiring Canada by force if the bluff didn’t work.
I understood from my readings that while the US did recieve moneys from Britain, those moneys pretty much cancelled out the debt that the U.S. agreed to pay back to Britain which was owed by the confederacy.
I believe that the Confeds were into the Brit’s pockets to the tune of about 14 million, give or take and that the arbitration basically redirected the moneys to the British lenders which averted hostilities between the British crown and the U.S. government and assisted in maintaining America’s credit line in Europe.
Correct me if I am wrong, but as I recall, the US denied that the Confederacy was a legitimate state, and, likewise, did and does not honor any debts incurred or currency printed.
Aside from which, I have a hard time imagining the Confed’s debt would be honred by her sworn enemy, whther the British flew a hissy fit or not. At the time, we were not being very friendly to one another.
Aside from which, paying back the Confed debt or not, would not affect our credit rating. The credit rating might have gone down at the start of the war(over fears neither party could pay), but not after the end (when the Union victory and economic boom were assured)
It would have been unconstitutional for the U.S. government to pay the debts of the C.S.A., even by means of an arbitration. Under the 14th Amendment, all such debts were void and the U.S. government was barred from paying them:
I appreciate that the U.S Constitution wouldn’t apply to the U.K., and those debts might have been considered valid under U.K. law. But since the U.S. was constitutionally barred from paying them, I can’t see how the U.S. would allow the issue to be considered in an arbitration, nor to effectively wash out the obligation of the U.K. to the U.S. with respect to the Alabamba reparations
Wow, I knew someone would ask this. I’m pretty sure it was “Enduring Vision” by Boyer 4th or 5th edition I think. It’s a history textbook.
The chapter leads off with materials statistics on the Confeds compared to the Union and speculated about the feasability of the Confederacy to even remain independant after a victory (factors such as the war debt to Britain and the one operation iron foundry compared to the North’s many iron foundrys and lesser debt to product ratios.) but I can’t cite a page as I sold this textbook a while back.