Title:Mason and Slidell.
Author:L. L. A. V.
Publication:Lowell Daily Citizen and News
Date:January 7th 1862
The poem was published amidst a context of the tense diplomatic standoff between Britain and the Union during the Trent Affair. In November 1861, a Union navy ship, captained by Charles Wilkes, intercepted the British postal vessel, RMS Trent, and took captive the Confederate diplomats on-board, James Murray Mason and John Sliddell, allowing the ship to continue on its journey without the seized passengers. There ensued an intense diplomatic debate between Britain and the Northern States, with many in the Union affronted by the interference and the British argument that the capture of Mason and Sliddel was illegal. The poem projects the indignant sentiment shared throughout the Union during the Trent Affair in its criticism of Britain’s moral hypocrisy: ‘Old England’ remains willingly complicit in the evil subjugation of slaves, so long as others keep them; and the boasts of freedom do not translate into actioned support for the Union cause. JC