James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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  New York Herald; between it and the Times of London there is great mischief done in both countries.”  34   In spite of this skirmish of journalists, the two governments were approaching diplomatically a good understanding when a rash, “ambitious, self-conceited and self-willed” 1 naval Captain not only undid in an hour all the advantage Adams, Seward and Lincoln had gained in six months, but brought the two countries to the brink of war.  35   James M. Mason and John Slidell, commissioners from the Confederate States to Great Britain and France, left Charleston on a little Confederate steamer and, evading the blockade, reached a Cuban port, whence they proceeded to Havana and took the British mail packet Trent for St. Thomas, where direct connection could be made with a British steamer for Southampton. On November 8, next day after leaving Havana, the Trent was sighted in the Bahama Channel by the American man-of-war San Jacinto, under the command of Captain Wilkes. He fired a shot across her bow without result, and then a shell; this brought her to. He ordered a lieutenant, accompanied by other officers and a number of marines, to board and search the Trent, and, if Mason and Slidell were found, to make them prisoners. The British Captain opposed anything like a search of his vessel, nor would he consent to show papers or passenger list. But Slidell and Mason announced themselves, were seized, and despite their protest as well as those of the Captain of the Trent and of a commander of the royal navy in charge of the mails, were taken by force from the Trent to the San Jacinto.  36   On November 15, Wilkes arrived at Fort Monroe; next day the country had the news. Rejoicing over the seizure as if a great battle had been won, the Northern people completely
Note 1. Welles’s Diary, I, 87. [back]