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In the Trent Affair, the British Foreign Secretary demands an apology and release of Mason and Slidell

Richard Pernell, Lord Lyons, circa 1860, detail
Lord Russell, British Foreign Secretary, authorized Lord Lyons, the British ambassador to Washington, to demand the release of the Confederate commissioners taken by force from the British mailship Trent off Cuba three weeks before.  Lyons was also to press for an apology.  For a month following the seizure Britain and the United States seemed to be approaching war but cooler heads prevailed and the Confederate diplomats were released from Fort Warren in Boston Harbor to a British warship on January 1, 1861.  (By John Osborne) 
Source Citation: 
Benson J. Lossing, The Pictorial Field Book of the Civil War in the United States of America (Hartford, CT: T. Belnap, 1874), 160.