The British Author Charles Dickens said: The Civil War was really about money…

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[One of the southerners I know sent me this. Secession was of course a valid right of the South. Charles Dickens himself said the same. Jan]

Our Other Man in Charleston

By Karen Stokes

Published in 2016, the book Our Man in Charleston tells the story of Robert Bunch (1820-1881), the British consul in Charleston, South Carolina, who is described in the subtitle as “Britain’s Secret Agent.”Bunch was not, for the most part, a secret agent, but he did somewhat covertly keep his government informed about conditions and developments in South Carolina. In correspondence with British authorities, he offered his opinions and observations about the Palmetto State and the South at large during the developing sectional crisis in the 1850s and into the war years, until he was removed from his post in 1863. Bunch, a fervent abolitionist, was convinced that the South desired to reopen the international slave trade, and used this argument in an attempt to influence the British government against formal recognition of the Confederate States of America. Although the Confederate constitution, in Article I, Section 9, Clause 1, expressly prohibited the international slave trade, the anti-Southern Bunch believed and reported this prohibition to be “legally ephemeral” and even “unenforceable.” However, the constitution of the Confederate States of America expressly delegated this power of prohibition to the Confederate government, not the states, and the document emphasized that the Confederate Congress was required to pass laws preventing the foreign trade.

Unlike Robert Bunch, his vice consul Henry Pinckney Walker was pro-Southern. Walker, who is only briefly mentioned in the book, would have welcomed British recognition of the Confederate States. Walker was the acting British Consul in Charleston in the late 1850s, and was appointed Vice Consul on May 12, 1860, and again served as the acting consul from 1863 until August 12, 1865, when he was appointed Consul for the states of North and South Carolina. He had been born and raised in England, but his mother was from South Carolina, and his sympathies were with her state and the South. He exulted when South Carolina seceded from the United States:

“The glorious union! The model republic, is at an end. The people of the North, for fifty years past, have amused themselves at the expense of the Southerners. They have sneered at them and traduced them without measure, and while they have grown rich and over-insolent they have been feeding upon Southern industry, and all their prosperity is traceable to Southern industry and products. Millions upon millions have the South unjustly paid under the Northern protective tariff system. With secession this tribute payment ceases. There is no wonder that the Northerners are union men, and denounce the impropriety of secession. It occasions them pecuniary loss.”

Some of Walker’s views were echoed by his fellow Englishman Charles Dickens, who declared in his magazine All the Year Round in December 1861: “Union means so many millions a year lost to the South; secession means the loss of the same millions to the North … the quarrel between North and South is, as it stands, solely a fiscal quarrel.” Dickens later wrote to a friend in March 1862: “I take the facts of the American quarrel to stand thus. Slavery has in reality nothing on earth to do with it, in any kind of association with any generous or chivalrous sentiment on the part of the North. But the North having gradually got to itself the making of the laws and the settlement of the tariffs, and having taxed the South most abominably for its own advantage, began to see, as the country grew, that unless it advocated the laying down of a geographical line beyond which slavery should not extend, the South would necessarily recover its old political power, and be able to help itself a little in the adjustment of the commercial affairs. Every reasonable creature may know, if willing, that the North hates the Negro, and until it was convenient to make a pretense that sympathy with him was the cause of the War, it hated the Abolitionists and derided them up hill and down dale.” In the same letter, Dickens also contended that it was “distinctly proveable” that secession was not treason.[1]

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