Friday, July 15, 2016

Diary of William Howard Russell: May 22, 1861

The thermometer to-day marked 95° in the shade. It is not to be wondered at that New Orleans suffers from terrible epidemics. At the side of each street a filthy open sewer flows to and fro with the tide in the blazing sun, and Mr. Mure tells me the city lies so low that he has been obliged to go to his office in a boat along the streets.

I sat for some time listening to the opinions of the various merchants who came in to talk over the news and politics in general. They were all persuaded that Great Britain would speedily recognize the South, but I cannot find that any of them had examined into the effects of such a recognition. One gentleman seemed to think to-day that recognition meant forcing he blockade; whereas it must, as I endeavored to show him, merely lead to the recognition of the rights of the United States to establish a blockade of ports belonging to an independent and hostile nation. There are some who maintain there will be no war after all; that the North will not fight, and that the friends of the Southern cause will recover their courage when this tyranny is over. No one imagines the South will ever go back to the Union voluntarily, or that the North has power to thrust it back at the point of the bayonet.

The South has commenced preparations for the contest by sowing grain instead of planting cotton, to compensate for the loss of supplies from the North. The payment of debts to Northern creditors is declared to be illegal, and “stay laws” have been adopted in most of the seceding States, by which the ordinary laws for the recovery of debts in the States themselves are for the time suspended, which may lead one into the belief that the legislators themselves belong to the debtor instead of the creditor class.

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, p. 231-2

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