Book Review: Spain and the American Civil War


by Wayne H. Bowen

Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri, 2011. Pp. viii, 188. Notes, biblio., index. $40.00. ISBN: 0826219381

In this ground-breaking book, Prof. Bowen (SW Missouri), who specializes in Spanish history, reminds us that Britain and France were by not the only international players during the Civil War.

Although today little noticed, Spain played an important role on the diplomatic side of the conflict. Experiencing a period of economic and military revival, many Spanish leaders saw the war as offering opportunities for expanding its influence in its former colonies.  During the Civil War, Spain for a time joined France in intervening in Mexico and also reoccupied Santo Domingo for the duration.  Of course the war offered risks for Spain.  While sympathizing with the South, the Spanish also feared a victorious Confederacy might takeover Cuba and Puerto Rico (where slavery was still legal), colonies which were also vulnerable to a victorious North.  Bowen explores the complexities of Spanish policy.  Unable to act alone, Spain pressed Britain and particularly France for greater action toward recognition of the Confederacy, yet feared French ambitions in Latin America, while risking war with the United States by aiding Southern blockade runners and even Confederate warships, a matter addressed by some adroit diplomacy on the part of the U.S. Secretary of State

A volume in the University of Missouri Press series “Shade of Blue and Gray,” Spain and the American Civil War is an important contribution to the literature of the diplomatic aspects of the Civil War.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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