This Day in History: 1861-11-27
On 27th November 1861, Mr. Charles Francis Adams, the American Minister to the Court of St. James’s, was examining the ruins of Pontefract Castle with Mr Fronde, an historian, when he received a telegram from his Legation. The telegram informed him that Captain Wilkes, commanding the American war sloop San Jacinto, had stopped the Trent, a British mail steamer, on the 8th November, just off Havana and had forcibly removed Messrs. Mason and Slidell, two supposed “envoys” from the Southern States. His father and his grandfather, both of them former Presidents of the United States, had always protested against England’s claim to the “right of search.” The practice of boarding American vessels on the high seas and searching them for British seamen had been one of the issues in the War of 1812. After the removal of the envoys the Trent was permitted to continue on her course. Adams helped resolve the Trent Affair’s potential risk of war between Britain and America with the help of President Lincoln and the envoys were released after several weeks.