16 November 1933 The USSR and the United States established diplomatic relations, interrupting the 16-year period of mutual non-recognition, not at all characteristic of the Russian-American relations that were established 200 years ago.
What is common between these two memorable dates? Perhaps the fact that during the Crimean War, when Russia turned out to be, in fact, one-on-one with all of Europe, only the young overseas republic consistently pursued a foreign policy benevolent line for St. Petersburg.
From the moment of the war of the North American colonies for independence and up to the middle of the nineteenth century, Russia and the United States could be proud of extremely good and mutually beneficial relations. Of course, trade disputes and quarrels sometimes arose in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean, but in general they did not spoil the overall picture. Of course, both Russians and Americans knew little about each other at that time, and the more remarkable was the position of the United States during the Crimean War.
25 January 1854 in Washington, died Russian envoy and Dean of the diplomatic corps A. A. Bodisko. Both houses of the US Congress, in deference to the memory of the deceased, interrupted their work for one day, which was an unprecedented act. The mourning ceremony was attended by the President of the United States . In the conditions when the press of almost all of Europe scourged the “expansionism” of Russia, this was an impressive display of solidarity.
For St. Petersburg, US neutrality in the escalating war was preferable, as it promised the possibility of circumventing the Anglo-French naval blockade with the help of American trade fleet. The United States hastened to assure that it intended to pursue such a course. Moreover, accepting credentials from the new Russian envoy to Washington in March 1854, US President F. Pearce stated that “if events expand the field of struggle and the United States is forced to take part in it, then we can say with confidence that they will not speak on the side of the enemies of Russia ”.
Thus, from the very beginning of the Crimean War, American neutrality was markedly benevolent towards Russia. This trend was further strengthened after the entry of England and France in the end of March 1854 into the war. In addition to the traditional sympathies for Russia in the formation of the US foreign policy, equally traditional Anglo-American contradictions played a central role. The United States actively competed with London for influence in Latin America and in the struggle for leadership in maritime trade. Therefore, the strengthening of England was absolutely unprofitable for Washington. On the contrary, while Russia hampered the military potential of the “mistress of the seas," the Americans could seriously strengthen their positions in the Western Hemisphere. Back in March 1854, the American envoy in London, J. Buchanan, warned British Foreign Secretary Lord Clarendon that it might be necessary for the United States to become an ally of Russia.
From the very beginning of the “European phase” of the Crimean War, Russia and the United States took coordinated actions to ensure freedom of navigation. This step was beneficial to both parties: the United States was given the opportunity to press the war-occupied Great Britain in world trade, and Russia, under the conditions of a total Anglo-French naval blockade, could import the cargo it needed on American ships. 2 / 14 On April 1854, US Secretary of State W. Mercy suggested that Russia conclude an agreement providing, inter alia, the inviolability of the property of a belligerent under the protection of a neutral flag. Nicholas I immediately agreed with the US initiative, and already 10 / 22 in July 1854 in Washington on the basis of the Russian draft signed the relevant convention. 25 July was ratified by the Senate. Unusual for American lawmakers swiftness was rightly regarded by St. Petersburg as evidence of the “best locations” of the American administration. Later, both sides adopted special measures to encourage mutual trade. The close trade ties of the Russian possessions in North America with the United States kept the British from occupying virtually defenseless at the time of Alaska.
After the Anglo-French-Turkish expeditionary corps landed in the Crimea, Russophilism became fashionable not only in the White House and the Capitol, but it became generally accepted in the American press and public opinion in general. Many Americans, poorly versed in the ups and downs of European politics, nevertheless did not understand how England and France gathered to defend "weak" Turkey on Russian territory. The Washington Union, which was considered an official of the newspaper, was issued on May 24 on 1854 with a distinctive headline: “The war between Russia and Turkey. Our interests require that success comes first. The sympathies regarding the second are unjustified. ” Although the American newspapers did not have their own correspondents in Crimea and were forced to use mainly British sources, they, as a rule, were critical of the triumphant reports of the opponents of Russia and, on the contrary, described the heroism of the defenders of Sevastopol in enthusiastic and sympathetic tones. The opinion of the US media was fully shared by the American administration. The US envoy in St. Petersburg, Seymour, reported to the State Department in November 1854: “An impartial neutral nation is now barely able to find anything in the policies of the Western powers other than plans for political expansion” .
The defeats of the Russian army were perceived by American public opinion painfully. When representatives of the anti-Russian coalition tried to organize celebrations in San Francisco in honor of taking the southern part of Sevastopol, several thousand Americans staged a demonstration in front of the house of the Russian vice-consul. Californians gathered under the Russian and American flags declared: “Long live the Russians! Down with the Allies! ”
In the USA, they sincerely rejoiced at the success of the Russian weapons. When in August 1854, a small garrison of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky reflected the landing of the Anglo-French landing force, the captains of the ships in the same San Francisco decided to publicly demonstrate their solidarity with the defenders of Petropavlovsk. Together with representatives of the Russian-American Company (RAK), which ruled Alaska, they built a symbolic earthen fortress, on the walls of which, in honor of the Russian victory, the guns specially brought from Alaska were saluted. In the conditions of the Anglo-French blockade, the American ships supplied Petropavlovsk with gunpowder and foodstuffs.
Press reports about the plight of besieged Sevastopol caused a wave of solidarity in the United States. Russian diplomatic missions received many letters of sympathy, and money transfers were received. Americans proposed various inventions (for example, devices for lifting sunken ships from the bottom of the sea). Letters began to come in with a request for admission to the Russian military service. The Russian envoy had a clear instruction to politely reject such petitions so as not to jeopardize the neutrality of the United States in the Crimean War. Thus, one of the residents of Kentucky was denied, who offered to form and send to Sevastopol a whole detachment of 200 — 300 shooters .
On the other hand, British diplomats tried to recruit volunteers into the US army without hesitation. The American authorities have demonstrated unprecedented rigidity. It came to arrest and bringing to court the most active diplomats recruiters. In May, the British envoy Krampton had to go home to 1856. The exequatures of the British consuls in Philadelphia, Cincinnati and New York were recalled.
The Russian government, in turn, until the last days of the war, demonstrated an emphasized restraint, not trying to put together light military-political capital in the unconditionally favorable US public opinion. For example, Russia abandoned plans to use the American ships for the letter of marque against the English fleet in the Pacific, although this could cause major damage to British trade and communications. With its restraint, as Glass noted, the Russian government “provided evidence that we have respect for the laws of the Union, which was an obvious contrast ... with the policies of the British, who violate the laws of neutrality” .
During the Crimean War, the theater of military operations was visited by the authoritative military delegation of the USA, which, in particular, included the future commander of the army of northerners during the years of the Civil War 1861 — 1865 J. Maclellan. In Russia, the Americans were shown defenses, hospitals, military schools. In its report, the mission noted that “the example of Russia is a lesson worthy of our study and imitation”. The experience of the Crimean War allowed future warlords of the US Civil War to avoid many mistakes and save tens of thousands of human lives.
Perhaps the most touching symbol of the attitude of Americans towards Russia in those difficult years for our people was the participation of more than 40 young American doctors in the Crimean War on the side of Russia, and the motives of these people were completely disinterested. Overcoming huge distances and bureaucratic obstacles, American doctors treated the sick and wounded defenders of Sevastopol under a hail of enemy bullets and shells, often without sleep or rest. About a quarter of US doctors died from diseases. The Russian government highly appreciated the valor and dedication of citizens of a distant country. American participants in the defense of Sevastopol received the “Sevastopol Medal” on the St. George Order Ribbon and also the memorable Medal “On the three-year campaign” on the St. Andrew Order Ribbon. Several people were awarded the Order of St. Stanislav. Dr. Whitehead wrote that the “Sevastopol Medal” will serve as a proud memory that he “had the honor of assisting officers and soldiers who covered Russian weapons with glory and conquered the name of the immortal to Sevastopol” . Dr. L. U. Reed from Pennsylvania, who served in the hospital in Simferopol, was especially proud of the high assessment of his work on the part of the famous Russian surgeon with a worldwide reputation NI Pirogov.
The American consul in the Principality of Moldavia (Galati) Negroponti, on his own initiative, volunteered to render the Russian army all possible assistance and supplied valuable information about the movements of the Turkish and Austrian troops. At the request of the commander of the Russian southern army, Prince M. D. Gorchakov, Negroponti was awarded the Order of St. Anne of the third degree.
The US government provided Russia during the Crimean War and other valuable services. For example, the commander of the American squadron, Commodore Salter, did not allow the British to seize the ship America, built in the United States by order of the Russian government, in the Rio de Janeiro area. At the same time, the US administration allowed Russia to sell several Russian ships, which the war found in the ports of the United States, which prevented them from being seized by the British fleet.
It should be emphasized that the Russian-American relations that had been consolidated during the years of the Crimean War already brought substantial diplomatic dividends not only to St. Petersburg, but also to Washington. Russian diplomacy helped American partners conclude a very profitable trade agreement with Persia for the United States. When a conflict situation between Denmark and the United States arose in 1855 (the Americans refused to pay the Danish government a fee for using the Sunda Strait), thanks to the skillful Russian mediation, the dispute was settled on favorable terms for the United States.
Assessing the state and prospects of Russian-American relations during the Crimean War, A. M. Gorchakov, who became Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Empire in 1856, wrote: “The sympathies of the American nation did not weaken for us throughout the war, and America rendered us directly or indirectly, more services than might be expected from a power with strict neutrality. Freed from obstacles arising from the necessity of mutual actions during a war, relations between the two countries cannot fail to become even stronger due to the absence of any envy or rivalry and due to common points of view and interests ”.
Gorchakov's thoughts turned out to be prophetic. Less than five years after the end of the Crimean War, the bloodiest conflict in the history of this state broke out in the United States: the Civil War between the North and the South. And here Russia has a hundred times repaid for the good attitude of the United States during the Crimean War. The benevolent neutrality of the Russian government, the visit of the squadron of the Russian fleet to the northerners kept England and France from interfering in the internecine struggle on the side of the South. Thus, the independence and territorial integrity of the United States was preserved.
Many historians still wonder: what is the reason for such good relations between such unlike countries as Russia and the United States? After all, these are the only great powers that have never fought each other. Apparently, the fact is that the Russians and Americans have always had a genuine interest in each other, trying to adopt the best aspects of the life of both peoples. No matter how different the political regimes of Russia and the United States were throughout their history, both countries have always tried to take into account each other’s legitimate interests. It seems that it is precisely in the awareness of this truth that the lesson for our peoples consists, which can be learned from the understanding of the jubilees mentioned at the beginning of this essay.
1 WUA RI, f. Office, 1854, d. 167, ll. 8 — 9, 12.
2 ibid., Ll. 90 — 91.
3 The National Archives, Record Group 59, Dispatches from United States Ministers to Russia, vol. 16. Seymour-Mercy, November 20 1854
4 WUA RI, f. Office, 1855, d. 227, l. 285.
6 Cit. by: USA: economics, politics, ideology. - 1980. - No. 6. - S. 69.
7 WUA RI, f. Reports MFA, 1856 G., l. 179 — 179 rev.