Jonathan on the Mason-Slidell Affair.
Title:Jonathan on the Mason-Slidell Affair.
Date:February 3rd 1862
This satirical poem published in the Confederate Charleston Mercury assumes the voice of a Union observer of the Trent Affair of November 1861. However, the layer of satire acquires another level when the mid-poem commentary cheekily claims that this was published in ‘Vanity Fair, or some other facetious Northern publication’. The representation of Union antipathy towards both the British and the French here arises from the fact that the American navy intercepted two Confederate diplomats on a British mail ship (the ‘Trent’) sailing to those countries to petition for their support for Confederate secession. The reference to Canada is a reflection of the fact that Britain began to strengthen its military presence there in anticipation of a possible war. The ‘rendition’ referred to here was when Lincoln eventually ordered the release of the two diplomats, and they sailed to Europe anyway. However this poem crows about this outcome, the Confederacy ultimately failed in its attempts to enlist European support for secession. During all of this, cotton was the main commercial bargaining tool being employed; both Britain and France (to a lesser degree) were suffering by this time from the lack of American cotton imports. – SR