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American Government in Ireland, 1790-1913A History of the US Consular Service$
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Bernadette Whelan

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719083013

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719083013.001.0001

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Protecting the Union: the American Civil War, 1861–5

Protecting the Union: the American Civil War, 1861–5

Chapter:
(p.105) 3 Protecting the Union: the American Civil War, 1861–5
Source:
American Government in Ireland, 1790-1913
Author(s):

Bernadette Whelan

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719083013.003.0003

In March 1861 among the immediate tasks facing Republican President Abraham Lincoln was to keep the United States together. This he failed to do and on 12 April of that year when the southern states attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina and then seceded from the Union, civil war became inevitable. There were many reasons for the conflict but the most significant was the future status of the institution of slavery. The four-year war caused political, economic, social and military upheaval, the effects of which would be long felt. The conflict had immediate consequences for all parts of the Union administration including the foreign service where diplomats and consuls became crucial figures. In Ireland, consuls and their offices became important listening posts for local opinions on the conflict. Temporarily, they also encouraged British neutrality. Ultimately, they acquired new duties providing intelligence and information on any unusual movements on land or at sea, recruited for the Union army under the guise of promoting emigration ensuring that the Confederate government did not gain any advantage. This chapter examines the role of Union consuls based in Ireland during the Civil War and the extent of their involvement in the subsequent victory.

Keywords:   United States, consuls, diplomats, Ireland, Civil War, Union

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