Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Conevery Bolton Valencius

Second Advisor

Tim Hacsi

Third Advisor

Jonathan Chu


Charles Francis Adams was the American representative in London during the American Civil War. Historians have often labeled him as ineffectual and dismissed any notion that he had a major role in keeping England neutral during the war. However careful examination of his letters and diaries with the existing secondary sources shows that he assisted in keeping the British government neutral during the American Civil War until the Union could assert its dominance on the battlefield. He was the voice of reason during the Trent affair. He helped to convince William Seward that keeping Mason and Slidell was folly and would lead to war with England. He worked towards ending Confederate ship building in London. Historians focus mainly on the escape of the Alabama and other Confederate ships. Very few examine how he changed the opinion of Foreign Minister John Russell on the subject. Adams was able to eventually convince Russell that England ought to stop these ships from leaving port. It was England's fault these ships left port, not the fault of Charles Francis Adams.


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