The Fight For Tennessee: July 1863 to January 1864

Gettysburg Address

What was the attitude, or stance, of Imperial Russia?

Czar Alexander II, often called the Czar Liberator, had freed the Russian serfs one day before Lincoln came into office, and many newspapers—the cartoon sections especially—made comparisons between the two leaders. Punch, the most extravagant and popular of the British magazines, made a point of depicting both Lincoln and Czar Alexander as smiling liberators from the front and snarling despots from the back. But relations between the United States and Russia were not all that cozy.

In the summer of 1863, New Yorkers were surprised and pleased that a squadron of ships from the Imperial Russian Navy arrived in their harbor; the people of San Francisco soon were also paid a visit. The people of both cities were surprised; nothing had altered them to this possibility. For many years, historians believed that Czar Alexander II sent the ships in order to demonstrate his support for the Union cause. If so, this was definitely a secondary motive; his primary reason was to have his fleets at sea so that if a war began with Britain, his ships would not be bottled up in their ports.


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