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News If the South had been allowed to seccede

  1. May 29, 2005 #1
    Let's all imagine that History played itself out a little differently. Let's imagine that Abraham Lincoln was almost exactly the same person, except he didn't have the will to fight a war over the issue of secession. Let's imagine that Abraham Lincoln had respected the wishes of the southern states to form their own independent nation, and all the states which were in rebellion against the union peacefully secceded and set up their own government. Let's also say that somehow the Union and the Confederacy worked out a deal to split up the remaining territories pretty equally, and both sides were reasonably content with how the deal worked out for each of them.

    So all the continental USA has been split up by the Confederacy and the Union. How do you imagine history would have progressed from there?

    Would the Confederacy and the Union still be seperate today, or might they have re-joined after a long enough period of time?

    Would slavery have been abolished in the Confederacy at any point? If it had been, would there have still been "black codes" in place forcing blacks to live in a lower "caste"?

    What would've happened with states such as West Virginia and Maryland, which were slave states but did not rebel against the union?

    Might the Confederacy have attempted to expand itself further into latin America, annexing more of Mexico and places like Cuba?

    If the Confederacy had survived into modern times, how might it have reacted to things like WWI and WWII, and might it have been an ally of the Union?

    If the Confederacy did not ally itself with the Union, might WWI and WWII have had different outcomes, assuming that only the Union or the Confederacy would've fought in them?

    Might FDR have been President of the Confederacy instead of the Union?
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  3. May 30, 2005 #2


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    Harry Turtledove has a whole seies of alternate history novels on this theme. His idea was that without the South, the North would become more "European", would eventually elect a socialist government, and so on. Meanwhile the CSA would eventually have to free the slaves just to move into the modern world. They would continute to fight wars every generation, like France and Germany. Very interesting.
  4. May 30, 2005 #3
    If the South had been allowed to secede, we would probably be speaking German/Japanese/Russian by now and serving in Nazi/Soviet gulags.
  5. May 30, 2005 #4
    I remember reading at least the original one of those novels. I always thought he had a really imaginative idea with the alternative history bit. I just didn't like the way he pulled it off. In the case of the Civil War series, he had South African white supremacists from the 20th Century travel back in time and deliver thousands of automatic weapons to Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy. It just seemed to be such an unnecessary plot device as compared to, say, Lee defeating Meade at Gettysburg, which then leads the war-weary USA (North) to elect a moderate President in 1864 who signs a peace agreement with the South.

    I think the biggest problem facing the CSA (South) would be just how durable of a government can you have when it's founded on the principle that states can secede from the government if they don't like what it's doing? After the war was over and the polarizing factor (we don't like the North telling us what to do) was gone, the differences between individual states would beging to shine through.

    As for slaves, I suspect that at some point slavery would have been abolished in the South, although probably more in name than in spirit. Just as many factories payed their workers in such a way that they could never afford to leave, I suspect the now-free slaves would be migrant farmers at best. From there, it's difficult to say. Segregation was present in the South until the 1960's, and even then it took federal intervention to stop. On the other hand, a lot of the 'bad blood' between the blacks and whites in the South came about as a result of heavy-handedness during the Reconstruction period. Things may have progressed a little better, or a lot worse.
  6. May 30, 2005 #5
    I fail to see how the fate of WW! or WW2 would have changed minus the south as part of the USA

    allmost all heavy industry is in the north as are most of the people
    realy the south had a very small roll in both major wars

    and russia beat germany without a great deal of help
    and japan had no hope after midway
    Last edited: May 30, 2005
  7. May 30, 2005 #6


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    Even if the South had seceded, they still would have ended up on the losing end. They would have still been in the same boat they were before the war. The North would have still had the vast majority of the industry and the South would have still needed the products of that industry. If they continued to get it from the North, the North would still dictate the terms. If they developed their own industry, they would lose the "Gentlemen Farmer" society they were trying to hold on to. If they went to the British for those products, the British would have dictated the terms and they would have ended up as no more than vassals of the British Empire.
  8. May 30, 2005 #7
    Marlyand is an interesting question. Lincoln was worried that MD would secede, and if that happened then Washington DC would be surrounded by seceded states. In order to prevent this Lincoln brought in Federal Troops through MD and kept them there. So I think Lincoln would almost do the same, because the only other option would be to relocate the capital to Philidelphia or NY, right?

    Also as we all know, the South was into states rights, and would have probably had trouble making it very far. As we saw in the civil war, it was very difficult for the south to come together as a nation when it came to collecting taxes(money)/supplies for the war.

    For slaves, I think it may have been a little while before slavery was completely abolished in the north. For the south, I would not be surprsied if slavery still went on today.
  9. May 30, 2005 #8


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    That book was Guns of the South. It was very popular, but it wasn't part of this series. The first book of the series was How Few Remain and was set in the North about a generation after the South won. Lincoln died in disgrace. The turning point that switched worlds in this one was more natural; Stonewall Jackson was NOT accidentally killed by his own men, the bullet missed. So his tactical genius remained available to the Army of Virginia, which was therefore able to capture Washington DC and end the war.
  10. May 30, 2005 #9


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    Slavery still would have been abolished. The industrial age would have eliminated it within a decade or two. Some of the lingering racial problems stemming from reconstruction wouldn't have happened. In other words, racial relationships would be more similar to Europe's.

    I think you would have wound up with at least one more country and maybe two more besides the USA & CSA. The Mississippi was too important to have the lower Mississippi valley controlled by a different country than the upper valley. The Erie Canal would have alleviated this somewhat, maybe allowing the CSA to control the lower valley while the USA controlled the North, but too much conflict over the river and neither would be able to control that area. I think the West coast would have formed their own country, regardless. I'm almost surprised they never did - the USA would have been powerless to stop secession if they had wanted to leave just about anytime in the 19th century.

    The Confederacy would have been more closely allied with Europe than the North. With industry coming to the South later, both Europe and the North were competing for Southern customers. The British had the advantage, having been the initiators of the industrial age. With no tariffs to 'level the playing field', the North would have developed much more slowly and seen Europe as a competitor hindering economic development rather than an ally. With a close European relationship, the South might have caught the North in industrial development fairly early, leaving the North a fairly weak country.

    The advantage provided by American natural resources would have still resulted in either the Union or the Confederacy, or maybe both, becoming economic giants, but maybe not in time to help out in WWI. In fact, who controlled the abundance of natural resources may have caused enough conflict in America that both countries may have ignored WWI. The CSA would have an advantage in resources, provided they were able to control the southern oil and coal reserves. Alternatively, a Texas that decided to return to their old independent state might have dominated the Mississippi valley.

    The flu epidemic would have forced an end to WWI regardless of US involvement. It would resolve less than the actual WWI resolved. Hitler would have been unlikely, since, absent a clear victor, Germany wouldn't have had to endure the extreme punishments laid on it by the victors. Europe would still have faced a good possibility of a second WWII, since WWI would have ended unresolved. Pressure to continue exploiting the Middle East and Africa would have continued and delayed the independence of several of those countries until they seized independence by force along ethnic and cultural lines vs. the borders drawn up by Europeans.

    With a split America, Japan would have dominated Asia without having to go to war with the US. However, Japan might have had to deal with war against the Soviet Union, instead. Considering the history of the Japanese-Russian relationship, the results of losing to the Soviet Union would probably have turned out much worse than defeat to the US did. Of course, with resources from China and Indian Ocean colonies, Japan would have stood a better chance at holding off the Soviets than the US. Japan-USSR cold war would have replaced the US-USSR cold war. Being in closer proximity and having a lot of past animosity, their cold war would have been even more tension filled than the US-USSR cold war. Of course, not having endured Germany's WWII invasion, the USSR wouldn't have set up a series of communist buffer states in Europe. The USSR would have developed close economic ties to Europe and could concentrate their military solely on Japan. Japan would eventually have won the cold war based on their superior economic strength unless the combination of close European ties and the stress of military competition forced Soviet economic reforms earlier than the US-USSR cold war did.

    With a strong Japan dominating the Pacific, the eastern countries of USA and CSA would have faced serious competition in Western US markets free to deal with whichever country, USA, CSA, or Japan, that gave them the best deals. Additionally, an independent West might have been an additional competitor for American resources.

    Today, Japan would most likely be the world's economic superpower. Without WWII, or at least a much less damaging WWII, Germany would be Europe's economic powerhouse, possibly nearly on a level with Japan, especially if the USSR-Japan cold war forced a close, strong USSR-European alliance. It would be a toss-up as to which country was the most powerful in the Western hemisphere - Argentina or the CSA. Argentina had closer ties to Germany, the most likely European powerhouse, while the CSA would have developed close ties with Great Britain. The strength of the CSA and Great Britain would rise or fall together while Germany-Argentina strength would do likewise. USA-Canada would have very strong economic ties and both be very healthy economically, even if they were considered more of a second tier economic power. Iran and Saudi Arabia would be the Middle Eastern regional powers. The delay in independence would mean the Middle Eastern countries might be a little weaker than they are today, but they would be a lot further along the road to becoming stable nations.
  11. May 30, 2005 #10
    Bob, why do you assume that western Europe would have allied itself with the USSR and not Japan if a Ruso-Japanese cold war occured after WWII?
  12. May 30, 2005 #11


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    Japanese expansion in Asia competed with British and French interests in Asia. Other than that, it would have almost been a toss-up. Europeans didn't like the Soviet Communists, but wouldn't have feared the Soviet Union if they hadn't invaded Eastern European countries. The Soviets would have benefited from closer European ties, regardless of the scenario. Having Stalin as leader could throw a wrench into the works even if the Europeans were more open to a relationship, but by time Stalin was gone, it should have been pretty evident the Soviet Union's economic model needed some serious reforms. The invasions of Eastern Europe pretty much sealed the Soviets in isolation, even if they had considered the benefits of economic reform.
  13. May 30, 2005 #12
    You assume that there wouldn't be a leader like Hitler if WWI had ended more ambiguously; do you assume that there would even be a European front of WWII to coincide with the Japanese front of the war?

    Also, why do you think that WWI would've ended without such harsh punishments for Germany if it had only been Europe fighting it? Wilson was the one calling for being easy with Germany after the war, and the European powers wanted a harsher punishment. Do you think that the war would have, or even could have, ended in such a way that there would have been no clear winner? Even with the flu epidemic, who's to say that both sides wouldn't have continued fighting, albeit in greatly reduced ranks?
    Last edited: May 30, 2005
  14. May 30, 2005 #13
    Who's to say that the Confederacy would've been the body to abstain from WWI or WWII? Maybe the Confederacy would've been the half of America that fought on the allied side of the war, and the Union would've not involved itself at all. Afterall, England and France were very, very close to openly allying themselves with the Confederacy during the Civil war. Perhaps if the Confederacy had become an independent nation, they would've been very closely allied with Europe. Europe and the Union were both more industrial than the south, and they both needed agricultural goods and things like Cotton that the south grew, so maybe the Confederacy would've boycotted the Union and simply traded all it's goods with Europe, and thus become close allys with European nations. Simmilarly, the Union would have been in direct competition with Europe, and maybe the Union would have been particularly opposed to helping out European nations.

    If the Confederacy had been the last hope during WWII, would they have been able to pull through?

    It's true that Russia didn't have lots of help in winning their front of the war in terms of supplies or soldiers being sent there. However, if there weren't such strong fighting on the allied side on the western front, the Nazi's could have concentrated much more on the eastern front and possibly have changed it all. Imagine if the USA had never involved itself in WWII and Britain had fallen to the Nazi's in 41 or 42. The Soviets definately did not have their front of the war wrapped up by 41 or 42, and it would have been totally different if the Nazi's were only fighting a one front war.
    Last edited: May 30, 2005
  15. May 30, 2005 #14
    I think stalemate is what he's getting at. Look at some of the countries that fought in the war. Russia revolted in no small part because of the war, France lost the better part of a generation of its men, and Germany practically went bankrupt. Without fresh (American) bodies to man the trenches, both sides may have just reached a point where they simply couldn't fight anymore.
  16. May 31, 2005 #15


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    The Confederacy seceding, but later rejoining the USA would have had an interesting effect, as well. Prior to the War of 1812, the unity of the US might have been as strong as the unity of the European Union. It took having the capital burned down to generate momentum for a stronger central government. The Civil War was the first test of a new, stronger federal government (before the Civil War, threatening secession was an effective way to win concessions from other states in the union). Successful secession would have killed the idea of a strong central government pretty effectively and the southern states might well have rejoined a weaker union after proving their point.

    Regardless of whether the US re-united, strong central government would have been defeated. A re-united US probably would have been able to support WWI, but I doubt the US would have brought nearly as much strength to WWII if its ability to generate troops, tax profits, ration goods, and run up deficits were decided by how much each individual state wanted to contribute to the effort.
  17. May 31, 2005 #16
    Because we need Rednecks to kick butt? :confused: Let's not forget that the US nearly spoke German to begin with - Not only because of a large population of German immigrants, but also because of a very close vote between English and German as the national language. Japanese (or other Asian languages) are so difficult to learn to read/write that these languages will never become universal.
    Exactly. Terms of trade means that Juan Valdez has to pick a lot of coffee beans in order to buy manufactured, finished (especially high-tech) goods. Though cotton and tobacco are cash crops, it is still raw material, so the South would have become like other third world countries unless they could have industrialized very quickly.

    I think the same could be said today of the Red states versus the Blue states. With regard to the future, one wonders about the nation as a whole with manufacturing going off-shore, and an increasing service industry.
  18. May 31, 2005 #17
    you are wrong.
    while the north has the industry, the south has resources, shipyards (newport news, va to name one) naval bases and many army posts, not to mention that colorado, New mexico, Nevada, part of california and possible others may have been given to the confederacy, being that they are south. to say that the south had no major role in both wars is a severe understatement.

    Josef Stallin was desperate for us to open a second front with Germany, and would have probably failed had we not fought in North Africa, sicily, italy, france etc.

    Also, japan would have not have been defeated at midway had there been no southern ports, labor, soldiers, resources etc. there would be no midway, or any other major successes for that matter, had the south not been friendly.

  19. May 31, 2005 #18


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    This reasoning is based on the condition of the South in "this world", i.e. a politically stable part of the USA. Because the Dixie states elected their representatives and senators "forever", they got chairmanships of powerful committees. As such they were able to make sure that army and navy funds were spent in their states, hence the bases you mention.

    Assuming a split in 1863 or thereabouts, it is by no means obvious that the CSA would have the resources to build a world class industry. The iron ore at the big smelting city of Birmingham Alabama is not of first quality to make good steel, it was mostly used to make lower quality cast iron. The South would have remained primarily agricultural for decades anyway.

    I am curious why you think victory in the Battle of Midway depended on the South?
  20. Jun 1, 2005 #19

    little coal less iron ore = less industry = less arms
    oil yes but 50 years down the road until thats a factor
    WW1 and WW2 were won by steel production something the south just didnot do

    ""colorado, New mexico, Nevada, part of california and possible others may have been given to the confederacy""
    why would that happen?? next to no slaves in that whole region
    when the south tryed to invade the people there fought the southern troops
    and soundly beat them showing that there was NO SUPPORT for the south in that area
    and california the only state at the time had no ties to the south and would have fought being cut up and strongly supported the north

    Stallin wanted a second front but didNOT need one
    HE beat the german advance to a halt at the gates of Moscow and in the north at St Pete before any real second front action and later at stalingrad
    again before africa became a little second front factor
    by the time we had started in Italy germans were in full retreat all across the russian front, by the time of D-day germans had no hope of beating russia

    Midway happened with prewar arms and ships way befor any small southern
    efforts became a factor
    with the southern ties to england and france they maynot have liked the north but couldNOT have supported german intrests againts their main markets and tradisional allies in europe
    and japan had no hope of winning WW2 once the germans were beat by russia in fact england france and dutch forces would have beat them in a post V in E time frame WITH OUT any american help or involvemt sure it would have taken longer and again the south would be forced by the euro powers to stay out or help them
  21. Jun 1, 2005 #20
    like i said, the north and south are somewhat reliant on eachother. while the south dosn't have as much factories and such as the north, it has alot of farmland, which is what the north dosn't have (except the midwest, but about half of the midwest would probably be southern had they been thier own state to this day. the point is that the US would not be half as powerful as if the south would be its own state. you could compare it to north/south korea. NK has many resources, but not many factories, while the south has many factories and technological resources, but not a whole lot of natural resources. Korea as a whole would be alot stronger than 2 koreas, as america is alot stronger today than if it would be 2 nations. i am not saying that that particular battle would rely on the south, but that the war does, the post i was quoting used midway as an example to prove a point about the pacific theater.

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