Lincoln frees British diplomats, averts war between U.S. and Britain 150 years ago today (1861)

(Thursday, December 26, 1861) — Confederate diplomatic envoys James Mason and John Slidell were freed by President Abraham Lincoln today, heading off a possible war between the United States and Great Britain.

The two men were arrested after the USS San Jacinto intercepted the British mail packet RMS Trent near the Bahamas on November 8, 1861, as they were headed to London to lobby for recognition of the Confederacy, sparking a diplomatic crisis between the UK and US known as the Trent Affair during the American Civil War.

Video: Trent Affair (at 1:30:14)

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