UK Heritage

The Oxford Union Debates the American Civil War

By Philip Alderton


A selection of motions relating to the American Civil War (with thanks to the Library of the Oxford Union Society).


I have omitted amendments that were not carried by the House. Unfortunately, the Oxford Union's records only list the names of the speakers and on what side they spoke for; the speeches themselves are not transcribed (PA).



7 February 1861


That this House deeply regrets the present condition of the United States, and trusts that they may honourably avoid the evils of disruption


Ayes: 27 \ Noes: 19



21 February 1861


That it is the duty of England to intercept the squadrons on the southern coast of North America and to take all other means consistent with the principles of non-intervention for the suppression of slavery in South America


Ayes: 23 \ Noes: 7



6 June 1861


That slavery is not a real evil to Negroes


Ayes: 13 | Noes: 27



31 October 1861


That the conduct of the United States Government towards the seceded States is unwise and unjustifiable


Ayes: 9 | Noes: 12



12 December 1861


That every effort should be used to avoid a war with the Northern States of America


Ayes: 21 \ Noes: 15



6 February 1862


That while the recognition of the Southern States will probably be ere Dng inevitable, the time for such 3cognition has not yet arrived


Ayes: 19 | Noes: 14



23 October 1862


That the Emancipation of Slaves proclaimed by the Federal Government deserves the strongest reprobation from all Parties


Ayes: 32 \ Noes: 12



13 November 1862


That the time has now arrived when England may with propriety recognise the independence of the Confederate States of North America


Ayes: 16 \ Noes: 20



11 December 1862


That in any society or Body, a perception of its faults should lead members to endeavour to reform, and not to secede from that society


Ayes: 19 | Noes: 11



5 February 1863


That it is the duty of England to use every endeavour to prevent for the future the importation of slave-grown produce


Motion negatived without division



19 February 1863


That the moral support accorded by England to the Southern Confederacy is a disgrace to the Country


Ayes: 23 | Noes: 23

The President gave his casting vote in favour of the motion



17 November 1863 (adjourned) & 26 November 1863


That of the two contending states in North America the Southern Confederacy is most deserving of our sympathy


Ayes: 31 \ Noes: 25



25 February 1864


That the so-called policy of Non-intervention is alike ungenerous and impolitic


Ayes: 15 | Noes: 11



12 May 1864


That the Government systematically sacrifices the honour and interests of Englishmen to truckle the American Cabinet


Ayes: 13 \ Noes: 29



4 May 1865 (adjourned) & 11 May 1865


That this House deeply regrets the late successes of the Federal arms; and believes the triumphs of the Government of Washington to be fatal to the freedom of America


Ayes: 37 | Noes: 25