Documents connecting the United States during the Lincoln administration with Russia are notorious rarities, this being the first we can find reaching the marketplace in forty years
From the start of the Civil War in America, Russia sought to expand its influence in the United States. It expressed total support for Abraham Lincoln’s government, claiming that it was the only legitimate authority on U.S. soil. “Russia desires above all the maintenance of the American Union as one indivisible nation,”...
From the start of the Civil War in America, Russia sought to expand its influence in the United States. It expressed total support for Abraham Lincoln’s government, claiming that it was the only legitimate authority on U.S. soil. “Russia desires above all the maintenance of the American Union as one indivisible nation,” Foreign Minister Alexander Gorchakov wrote in 1862 to Bayard Taylor, secretary of the U.S. embassy in St. Petersburg.
Russia’s role in the Civil War was more palpable than just expressing diplomatic support. In September 1863, a Russian fleet of six warships headed to the East coast of North America and stayed there for seven months. Based in New York, they patrolled the surrounding area. A similar thing occurred in the West coast where a fleet of six warships was based in San Francisco. This helped to prevent sudden attacks of Southern raiders on these crucial Union port cities. Both the citizens and the government of the Union gave a warm welcome to the Russian Navy, and witnesses described that the Americans were eager to see Russian sailors and officers, and to invite them to banquets and celebrations.
The Czar’s government also sought to fill diplomatic vacancies in the United States, such as in Philadelphia. It appointed Henry Preaut to be the Vice Consul in Philadelphia. President Lincoln approved the appointment, and Preaut was still at this posting into the Grant administration.
Document signed, Washington, December 22, 1863, stating “Satisfactory evidence having been exhibited to me that Henry Preaut has been appointed vice consul of Russia, for the port of Philadelphia, I do hereby recognize him such…” The document is countersigned by Frederick W. Seward, acting Secretary of State in the absence of his father, William Seward. Affixed to a board.
Documents connecting the United States during the Lincoln administration with Russia are notorious rarities. We have never had one in our close to 40 years in the field, and a search of public sale records going back that same 40 years discloses only one document, and that came up 41 years ago.
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