James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
rage, and were the country polled I fear that 999 men out of a thousand would declare for immediate war. Lord Palmerston cannot resist the impulse if he would. If he submits to the insult to the flag his ministry is doomedit would not last a fortnight.1
The English Cabinet decided that the seizure of Mason and Slidell was an act of violence which was an affront to the British flag and a violation of international law, and that their liberation and a suitable apology for the aggression be demanded. In accordance with this decision Earl Russell on November 30 prepared a despatch to Lord Lyons,2 the tone of which was softened and made more friendly on the suggestion of the Queen and Prince Consort: the Princes direct words, somewhat at variance with the Queens and his kindly spirit, were put into courteous diplomatic language, but the substance of the demand was in no way changed, and on Sunday, December 1, a Queens messenger bearing it was on his way to Washington.
Great Britain began preparations for war. Instructions for such an eventuality were sent to Lord Lyons and to the Vice Admiral commanding the British fleet in American waters. Eight thousand troops3 were despatched to Canada. The Queen by proclamation prohibited the export of arms and ammunition, and the government laid an embargo on 3000 tons of saltpetre, the whole stock in the market, which had been recently bought for immediate shipment to the United States.