Or the American Civil War is over and somebody’s gonna pay! Oh yeah, while were at it, we want Canada too!
By the end of 1861 the blockade of southern ports was starting to hurt the Confederacy, 'and in consequence the Government sanctioned the building of a number of seagoing cruisers in Great Britain which afterwards could be easily commissioned and fitted out as warships, and cruised the oceans of the world to strike at the undefended Union merchant ships. The Alabama, together with the Florida, Georgia and the Shenandoah and half a dozen other warships succeeded in sinking or capturing over 250 commercial vessels and caused the conversion of 700 more ships to foreign flags in order to protect themselves. It’s estimated that the United States Merchant Marines lost half of its fleet and never regained the status it enjoyed before the war
The Alabama Claims were charges by the United States against Great Britain for their role in outfitting these warships used by the Confederacy during the Civil War, most notably the Alabama ( which caused the most damage)and the Florida
A popular thought in the North at the time was that the war was indeed lengthened by the use of these warships. A proposal to establish a commission to review the charges was defeated in the Senate. Charles Sumner, then chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee was the most ardent opponent of the committee. His stance was that the British were accountable not only for the losses incurred by private citizens, but for all the costs of the war after the Battle of Gettysburg. His position was such that the Confederacy was all but defeated and the only force they had left was their maritime operations. He proposed compensation in the amount of 2 billion dollars as well as the cession of Canada to the United States.
Most diplomats thought these terms were rather extreme and the Treaty of Washington was negotiated. The treaty called for an arbitration panel to decide the matter. They met in Geneva
. The result was that they wound up dismissing the indirect claims for the cost of the war but granted the amount of private compensation to the tune of 15 million dollars. Canada, much to their relief, remained independent.