James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
Finally on July 28, the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General got hold of the papers. Their report was conclusive. We recommend, they said on July 29, that without loss of time the vessel be seized by the proper authorities. It was too late. The Alabama had left port that morning, and under pretence of a trial trip had gone out to sea. Yet she was still off the Welsh coast, only fifty miles from Liverpool, where the most ordinary energy on the part of the London and Liverpool authorities would have been sufficient to effect her apprehension before she started on the career which was to do so much in driving the American merchant marine from the high seas.
The Alabama left Liverpool without guns or munitions of war of any kind; these as well as coal were brought to her at the Azores by two British vessels which sailed from England about the middle of August.
However unfriendly the action of England was in the case of the Alabama, it must be borne in mind that the fault was one of omission. The British government, unlike the Emperor of the French, was during the whole war innocent of any overt unfriendly acts. The Queens speech at the prorogation of Parliament on August 7, 1862 declared that her Majesty had still determined to take no part in the contest on the American continent.
Again, though the dominant sentiment of England toward the North is to be deplored and the want of due diligence in the performance of her duties as a neutral is unquestioned, her atonement has been ample. English books, magazines and newspapers are full of sincere admissions that the public opinion of the country took a wrong direction. In the treaty of Washington, the regret which Great Britain expressed at the escape of the Confederate cruisers is all that can be