Britain had recognized the CSA?

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019

They could threaten war, threaten to withdraw Lyons, and threaten to end further British investment in the US and that is what they did. And it was enough. They could have recognized the Confederacy, but the 20th century demonstrated that would just led to a later war between two foreign entities. Neither country, the US nor the Confederacy, was going to honor any peace agreement in the west. They both would have created provocations.
And in the US, with the Confederates out of the country for an extended period, the abolitionist equal rights portion of the Republican Party becomes ever stronger.
While Britain certainly had enormous military power in that era, its doubtful that military intimidation of the Republican administration would have weakened its political standing in the US. It would have put the Virginians in particular, and entire Virginia immigration stream stretching across the middle south and the southern portion of the Midwest in an odd predicament. After Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Mason and Monroe had done so much to make the US free of British domination, the Confederacy would have been in the situation of inviting British intervention into US affairs. I don't see any segment of US opinion that would accept that dependence on Britain. On the contrary, I think that recognition and interference would opened some eyes in the US and unified the nation behind the Republicans. A national union party would have evolved even faster.
As an aside, we know where the 1812 war hawks hailed from ...
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
That was without British recognition of the Confederacy. The OP asked what would be the consequences of changing that fact. The military advantages for the Confederacy would be considerable. However the amount of support for the US in the 8 middle states would increase, and its hard to judge what the reaction would be in the Irish immigrant community which was powerful in the Democratic political machines in the east coast cities.
But that means it's not "a National Union party would have evolved even faster" but "a National Union party would have formed".

I don't know. I am not the one changing major historical facts. But the free for all of empire building in the southern hemisphere, including taking back South America into the European empires is one possibility. It doesn't take much imagination to conjecture what Prussia/Germany intended.
Except that at this time Prussia, for example, was struggling with internal strife; the king nearly abdicates in this period, and the Prussian army reforms that would make it into a major land power in 1866-71 haven't properly kicked off yet. The possible expense is what causes the 1862 abdication crisis.

Neither Prussia, nor Belgium, nor the Netherlands has any significant force projection capability, and the distraction of the British wouldn't exactly mean that they could now do something that fear of the British had earlier prevented them from doing.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Something that it's worth considering in an alternate history situation is that there are certain parts of national interest and culture which are parochial to a particular timeline, or school of thought; others are universal.

For example, the Prussian focus was always on the cockpit of Europe because that is the nature of the structure of their military and armed forces. As of 1860 that is a pattern that has been in place for a hundred and seventy years, and for very good reason.


The simple fact is that Confederate independence, even with British help implicit or explicit, does not then imply that Britain and the Confederacy are subsequently friends. It can quite easily result in the opposite, and indeed it is in the national interest of the resultant US to maintain friendly relations with at least one of these two powers (Britain and the Confederacy).
They may or may not do so. But neither case is inevitable; tensions even from war and humiliation can quickly pass away (such as happened after the Austro-Prussian War) or they can linger for generations, and which is which often depends on likely threats and likely enemies.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
It also behooves me to point out that an alternate history scenario should proceed in a logical fashion from a point of divergence. The Confederacy rebelled because they felt that their Southern culture (which was heavily tied up with slavery, but which was not solely formed of slavery) was sufficiently distinct from the rest of the US that they felt it would better serve their interests to be part of a different country from the North.

This means that the Confederacy annexing or conquering the whole US does not make logical sense. It'd be like Irish independence ending with the Irish annexation of the whole British Isles - you just end up with Britain again under a slightly different name and with a slightly different power structure, but the demographic mass that created what the Confederacy saw as a problem is still there.


Similarly, almost none of the European powers were champing at the bit to do something major and held back only by worries about British intervention, or rather if they were you'd need strong positive evidence from the time to indicate that it was the case. The significant exceptions are the French (who may well have been held back from supporting the Confederacy by worries about the British, but who were intervening in Mexico anyway) and the Russians (who wanted to repudiate the Black Sea demilitarization clauses, but who historically waited until France had been crippled by Prussia before acting).
Most of the European powers were instead focused closer to home; as mentioned Prussia was largely focused on internal reform, and there was an open question about what Germany actually was.



It's also worth pointing out that Russian support for a Prussian "beacon of liberty" (if such a label truly applies to the historical US as seen by the rest of the world, rather than being a US-centric label for themselves...) would rather be a problem, but then again you can get a much more liberal Prussia very easily in this period - all you need is for that aforementioned abdication crisis to actually happen.

Of the three rulers of Prussia/Imperial Germany from 1860 to 1919, only one was liberal, and it was Frederick Wilhelm III. If his father had abdicated in 1862 rather than ruling well into the 1880s then you'd have Prussia ruled by a fit liberal King for more than two decades instead of a badly ill one for about two months; you might then also avoid the historical Wilhelm II growing up as such an authoritarian.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Change one major historical fact and lots of things change. The Republicans can become stronger. The US changes from a non militarized county to militarized country. Prussia/Germany grabs the chance to unify faster and further militarize. The 1870-71 war begins sooner. Prussia sees the chance to humiliate France while Russia sits it out.
You might not see the threat of Confederate conquest, but you are not a mid 19th century American. And you ignore the fact that many northern Democrats felt personally betrayed by the secessionists.
We have so far supposed that the British follow recognition with breaking the blockade, but there is no reason to assume that. The British might still have enforced most of the requirements of neutrality.
Change one thing and many things change. And as far as not making sense, it does not make a lot of sense that a Corsican with Italian relatives would rise to become the autocratic ruler of France, but he did.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Change one major historical fact and lots of things change. The Republicans can become stronger. The US changes from a non militarized county to militarized country. Prussia/Germany grabs the chance to unify faster and further militarize. The 1870-71 war begins sooner. Prussia sees the chance to humiliate France while Russia sits it out.
But these things have to result from actual drivers.

For example, going down the list here:

In the event of British intervention and a significant defeat for the US, the Democrats are going to paint it as a Republican mistake. This is the kind of thing they have good reason to do and it's the kind of thing that frames the disaster in such a way as to give them an electoral boost.
This has to be borne in mind; there is going to be a significant faction in the US which is blaming everything that just happened on the Republicans.

The US changing from a non-militarized country to a militarized country is quite plausible. This will have knock-on effects on the US economy (which will contract) and immigration (which will also contract).

Prussia taking the chance to unify faster is... less plausible, because the "chance" does not really exist. The reforms which made the Prussian army one which could take on and defeat France took most of the decade from 1861 to 1871, and the cooperation of the German Federation was secured as a result of several years of setup plus a war in 1866; at the same time, there was no real risk of Russia intervening in a French-Prussian war in the 1860s, so Russia "sitting it out" doesn't actually gain anything for the Prussians. There is however significant unrest brewing in Congress Poland.
In 1862 the Prussian king nearly abdicates.


You might not see the threat of Confederate conquest, but you are not a mid 19th century American. And you ignore the fact that many northern Democrats felt personally betrayed by the secessionists.
But you're going from "mid 19th century Americans felt this was plausible" to "it would happen". There's not much indication that the British, for example, felt it was at all plausible, and it's that which would drive British decision making; there's not much indication it would actually happen, and it's that which would drive future events.


We have so far supposed that the British follow recognition with breaking the blockade, but there is no reason to assume that. The British might still have enforced most of the requirements of neutrality.
Change one thing and many things change. And as far as not making sense, it does not make a lot of sense that a Corsican with Italian relatives would rise to become the autocratic ruler of France, but he did.

I'm not sure you're actually reading the many caveats I place on my posts... I have more than once said that a war developing is distinct from the question of recognition, but that exploring the consequences of such a war helps to explain why historical actors would act the way they do.

As for making sense versus not, that argument doesn't really wash. It is arguing that your assertions don't have to make sense because real history doesn't make sense, but we must have some basis for analysis of a historical or alternate historical question and "makes basic sense" is the only starting point we can apply.

The idea of a strong man rising to become the ruler of France is a possible outcome of the chaos following the French Revolution, and where he came from isn't really relevant to the broad-strokes analysis. A Napoleon-alike of similar skill who was a Belgian or Parisian would have had fundamentally similar impacts on history, though it is worth realizing that another plausible outcome of the events post-Revolution is the establishment of a French republic which actually survives and lasts.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
On the other hand, it may have made virtually no difference. The British might have recognized the Confederacy, and then used the diplomatic access created in that way to advocate that the Confederacy abolish slavery. The British had already made a similar proposal during the episode of Texas' independence. The Confederacy would have declined, as in real history they made only a half hearted offer to abolish slavery when Kenner finally made it to London and Paris. And matters would have rested there while the British finished off the trans-Atlantic slave trade and isolated Cuba, Brazil and the Confederacy from each other.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The real crisis occurred in September 1862 and by that time the US could have faked mediation and waited out the British interest in American affairs. And I think the British War Department knew that.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The real crisis occurred in September 1862 and by that time the US could have faked mediation and waited out the British interest in American affairs. And I think the British War Department knew that.
What do you mean, faked mediation?

What do you mean, the real crisis was in September 1862? There were multiple instances of possible inciting incidents.

Also, it needs to be said but if there's a status-quo where the Union is unable to rely on seaborne supply (and thus unwilling to risk putting armies into a position where they need it) then the Union cannot meaningfully threaten Richmond or campaign up the Mississippi.
 
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