Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Ralph E. Weber


The Confederate attack upon Fort Sumter in April of 1861 can rightly be viewed as a culmination and a starting point. It was a dramatic climax to a decade of heated debates and a beginning of a war that tore this nation asunder. Not since the War of Independence had this country been faced with such a cataclysmic upheaval. Sometimes called the Second American Revolution, the Civil War had far-reaching and long-lasting ramifications. Not only was the land left scarred, but the people were as well. Every phase of American life was affected, including political, social, and economic institutions.

It is no wonder, then, that the Civil War has been the subject of numerous academic studies. Its causes have been scrutinized, its battles re-fought, and its military leaders condemned or diefied (sic), and yet, gaps s till exist in our knowledge of this tumultuous period. This is particularly true regarding the non-military aspects. While the leading (as well as the lesser) military figures have been studied with near day-to-day precision, few such parallel accounts exist for the political leaders. With the exception of Presidents Lincoln and Davis and a few of the more vocal Cabinet members, legislators and other politicians have been, for the most part, neglected.

Suffering from even greater neglect have been the diplomatic agents who served during the Civil War. In particular, the Confederate envoys have been sadly ignored in the wake of more spectacular events at home. And yet, these commissioners fought as bravely and pursued their opposition just as relentlessly as did the men in gray. It is the purpose of this paper to examine the contributions of one talented Southern envoy who has been relegated to near obscurity.

James Murray Mason, while not the initial overseas representative of the Confederacy, (a trio of commissioners preceded him) was the first to receive the title of Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary and perhaps best personified the diplomatic mind of the South. Representing Southern interests in Great Britain, Mason served in his ministerial capacity from August of 1861 to the war's end and can thus be regarded as a veteran observer and spokesman for Confederate diplomatic ventures.