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The Index

The Index

Medium: Printed Text

Shelfmark: 1862_LON_14_1862_NPL_P385

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Newspaper

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The Library holds a collection of The Index, a pro-Confederate newspaper that was printed and circulated in Britain between 1862 and 1865.  Founded and run by Henry Hotze, The Index produced weekly papers in support of the Confederacy’s political and military stances.

Born in Switzerland, Hotze had immigrated to America as a young man. At the start of the Civil War he was sent to Britain as a Confederate agent to garner support, supplies and military equipment for the Southern states. Alongside writing articles in the British press, Hotze founded The Index in May 1862, ‘a weekly journal of politics, literature and news’ which sought to promote support for the Confederacy amongst the population.

Free from press regulation, the paper launched attacks on the Union and federal government policies, as well as defending the practice of slavery. Alongside pro–Confederate articles, the newspaper printed accounts of battles and front–line reports from America, international news, economic interests, accounts of the British government’s stance towards the conflict and letters from those with personal connections to the war and from people witnessing events in America.

The newspaper especially drew connections between Britain and America, particularly analysing the impact the war was having on the cotton trade and cotton production in Liverpool and Manchester. The Index had readers in Britain, Ireland, Europe and America, with a circulation of approximately 2000, and continued to be published until August 1865. The selected images displayed here are a sample of interesting articles produced by The Index which emphasise the newspaper’s staunch Confederate stance.

The above image was printed on 16 October 1862, and the first article makes reference to President Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which had been announced almost a month before. The article comments that there proclamation was not good for the country and that ‘no amount of so-called humanitarianism can disguise the ugly nature of the business’ that the policy was a way of the federal government creating ‘a servile war’ by turning emancipated slaves into soldiers against the Confederacy. The article criticises Lincoln’s policy and the influence of abolitionists in government, as well as arguing that both were working towards Southern subjugation. 

The Index remained highly critical of Lincoln’s policy and when reacting to news that the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued on 1 January 1863, the paper commented that it was a weak order due to the fact that it only applied to the states in rebellion. It noted that while the proclamation ‘decrees that the slaves shall be free, where he has not the power to emancipate, and wherever he had the power, he decrees that the slaves are not to be freed’.

On the right-hand side of the page there is a reference to the Battle of Antietam, which took place on 17 September 1862. The newspaper quotes from Confederate newspaper sources, highlighting how the transfer of military information across the Atlantic not only took time but was sketchy and dependent on limited sources. Union success at the battle was said to have influenced the timing of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation as Lincoln wanted the Union to be in a strong position before announcing his proposed plans for abolition. The proclamation impacted the Confederacy’s relationship with Britain as the latter found it harder to justify support as the focus of the conflict moved towards ending slavery.

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