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WASHINGTON — With his recent Emancipation Proclamation freeing all southern-held slaves, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln has stymied British plans to throw their support to the Confederate cause, according to officials on both side of the Atlantic.
Confederate States President Jeff Davis has been lobbying London, among other European capitals, for formal recognition since the beginning of the war.
Britain had been leaning toward the south’s favor, supplying the Confederate gunboats CSS Alabama and CSS Florida, among other support, but all that may be over now that Lincoln has made slavery the central issue of the war.
“The Emancipation Proclamation has done more for us than all our former victories and all our diplomacy,” said Henry Adams, a U.S. diplomat in London. “It is creating an almost convulsive reaction in our favor all over this country.”
Slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire 30 years ago and is now largely frowned upon through most of Europe.
Meanwhile, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee continues to marshal his Army of Northern Virginia for what is expected to be invasion into the north.
Balloon observers report entire brigade-sized camps are disappearing across the Rappahannock River.
“Artillery and infantry could be seen moving to the rear of Fredericksburg,” said Federal Army Lt. J.C. Bates. “All the troops near Banks Ford have moved off or are hidden in the woods, with the exception of one brigade that is on picket at the ford. “
The aeronauts with the Union’s air force are under orders to “watch for clouds of dust and the glitter of bayonets, and to make frequent reports,” he said.