Question of Southern/Confederate Secession and Civil War in the early to mid 1850s vs 1860s

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
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In 1850 both sections had nearly unlimited potential growth. The will to risk any of that potential did not exist. That was the basis for northern acceptance of the existence of slavery. The north did not want force the crisis at that point.
 

wausaubob

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Two things happened as the Civil War opened that would have prevented it had they already existed. If there had been a national currency and a national banking system with branches in St. Louis, Cincinnati and Baltimore, it would be been much clearer that the border states were not going to join in secession. Had there been a stronger national navy, with a more conscious US identity among the maritime nations, that would have caused additional hesitation in Virginia and North Carolina. The lack of nationalizing institutions similar to West Point, seriously weakened US national identity.
 

DaveBrt

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Location
Charlotte, NC
One book (I'm not going to search for the reference) claims that the 1850's railroad construction boon in the South helped make the South a unified section. Before the railroads, few people traveled from city to city in the South. The railroads allowed people to see how other Southern states were like their own and developed a sense of unity. The railroads also brought newspapers quickly, so that the ideas being discussed were common across the region.

The diary of the young adult daughter of William Wadley, Superintendent of the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas RR (under construction) details a trip from Vicksburg, through the North and back through the South in early 1860. The trip was strictly a sightseeing trips and made almost completely on railroads (many completed in the previous 5 years).

Without this new unity, it is possible that South Carolina would have been left on its own, again, and there would have been no war in 1850.
 

BlueandGrayl

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Location
Corona, California
One book (I'm not going to search for the reference) claims that the 1850's railroad construction boon in the South helped make the South a unified section. Before the railroads, few people traveled from city to city in the South. The railroads allowed people to see how other Southern states were like their own and developed a sense of unity. The railroads also brought newspapers quickly, so that the ideas being discussed were common across the region.

The diary of the young adult daughter of William Wadley, Superintendent of the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas RR (under construction) details a trip from Vicksburg, through the North and back through the South in early 1860. The trip was strictly a sightseeing trips and made almost completely on railroads (many completed in the previous 5 years).

Without this new unity, it is possible that South Carolina would have been left on its own, again, and there would have been no war in 1850.
Quite frankly I know that there was a certain divide but still I have detailed the evidence on my first post (just look the books I've read).
 

wausaubob

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One book (I'm not going to search for the reference) claims that the 1850's railroad construction boon in the South helped make the South a unified section. Before the railroads, few people traveled from city to city in the South. The railroads allowed people to see how other Southern states were like their own and developed a sense of unity. The railroads also brought newspapers quickly, so that the ideas being discussed were common across the region.

The diary of the young adult daughter of William Wadley, Superintendent of the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas RR (under construction) details a trip from Vicksburg, through the North and back through the South in early 1860. The trip was strictly a sightseeing trips and made almost completely on railroads (many completed in the previous 5 years).

Without this new unity, it is possible that South Carolina would have been left on its own, again, and there would have been no war in 1850.
It made a difference in the Carolinas and in Georgia. They could see a common interest. The cotton region was a potential nation.
But where there was in intersectional commerce, in Baltimore, Louisville and St. Louis, that southern identity was weakened.
The war happened with the Midwest gained confidence and strength. The cotton south was doing well financially. But Virginia and other 3 middle states were falling behind. The loss of dominance of Virginia removed one of the pins holding the country together.
Without a robust banking system, and a strong navy creating a national identity, the secessionists thought they had a chance.
 

wausaubob

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You can see that southerners with more Washington experience, with West Point friends, or who had been in the navy, were more skeptical of secession. Kentuckians were more aware of what the nationals had done in West Virginia, they could also do in Kentucky.
 

wausaubob

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Denver, CO
Once the Virginians no longer have significant power, as even John Marshall exits the scene, and Henry Clay moves off the stage, the middle is very weak. That sets the stage for a test of strength. If that test of strength had been confined to the Atlantic seaboard, the Confederates might have been able to wear out the US. But in the Midwest, and Indian Country, reaching into Colorado, and in the Far West, the situation fell apart quickly. The fear that the slave interest would be excluded from what had been Mexican and British territory, where there was not tradition of slavery, quickly came to pass.
 

wausaubob

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When President Polk settled the northern border between the US and British North America, in 1844, it made the US much safer for British citizens, including the Irish, and British capital. Allowing rapid Irish immigration to the US otherwise would have a risky move by the British. With the boundary settled, something like the locks at Soo Sault Marie make sense and Great Lakes shipping picks up.
Substantial amounts of British capital are available and British know how flows to northern states.
 

wausaubob

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After the boundary with the US is settled, the British start cracking down on the Atlantic slave trade, and asserting power in the Caribbean. At that point it is clear the US is not going to get any more western territory and will have to fight for any additional southern territory. The three slave economies of the western hemisphere are isolated from each other and from Africa. It is in that international situation that the Yankee threat to slavery becomes more severe and immediate.
 

wausaubob

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Denver, CO
The northern state economy was too weak before 1860. There was a lot of talk about the resisting the slave power, but they were not willing to do it. From 1857 onward, the northern economy digs out of the panic, and more and more northern Democrats leak into the new Republican party. The 1860 Republicans did not intend to start a war, but they were going to start acting like a majority party, and that put southern interests in peril. Without a strong counterweight in Virginia and Kentucky, by 1860 the cement that held the nation together was dissolving. The Democrats blocked banking reform and the southerners knew specifically that mobile naval forces could quickly quell a rebellion, which is why such forces were either unfunded or dispersed to a mission to Japan.
The power of the technical revolution that was occurring is illustrated by the connection of the transcontinental telegraph in 1861, and the shipment of limited railroad equipment to Sacramento, while the war was beginning. The census demonstrates the rapid growth of publishing.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
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Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
@BlueandGrayl ,

Sorry, I don't do "what if" threads. I enjoy reading alternate history books for the entertainment value, but I don't comment on these threads as they have little to do with the actual history I am familiar with.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

steve59p

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 21, 2016
After the boundary with the US is settled, the British start cracking down on the Atlantic slave trade, and asserting power in the Caribbean. At that point it is clear the US is not going to get any more western territory and will have to fight for any additional southern territory. The three slave economies of the western hemisphere are isolated from each other and from Africa. It is in that international situation that the Yankee threat to slavery becomes more severe and immediate.

Actually it was the setting of the treaty with Britain that heped the US to engage in its last period of conquest in the west against Mexico. :wink:
 

wausaubob

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Denver, CO
Actually it was the setting of the treaty with Britain that heped the US to engage in its last period of conquest in the west against Mexico. :wink:
True. Once the acquisition of Texas was settled, and the Mexican accession was added, secession gained momentum. Secessionists could compute the the US was not going to acquire more territory for slavery expansion. Texas, Arkansas and Missouri appeared to be the limit.
And with that limit in place, secession looked like the way to preserve what they had.
The Civil War was based on a rapid stiffening of resistance in the north. I don't know who was more surprised: the secessionists or the Yankees.
 

wausaubob

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In the lead up to the Civil War, Democrats blocked banking reform. Secessionists blocked further expenditures on building and maintaining dangerous naval vessels. A central route national railroad would also have increased western settlement and tied California to the north. Finally, having homesteaders compete with cash buyers for big tracks of western ranch and forest land, was blocked by Democrats.
They knew they were in the final decade of southern dominance. Good thread @BlueandGrayl :D
 

BlueandGrayl

First Sergeant
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Location
Corona, California
In the lead up to the Civil War, Democrats blocked banking reform. Secessionists blocked further expenditures on building and maintaining dangerous naval vessels. A central route national railroad would also have increased western settlement and tied California to the north. Finally, having homesteaders compete with cash buyers for big tracks of western ranch and forest land, was blocked by Democrats.
They knew they were in the final decade of southern dominance. Good thread @BlueandGrayl :D
Well yeah the thread was a good talk. But this was the early part of the 1850s and still a bit different from 1860-1861 which most of what would described was in the midst of happening.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
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Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The north was too weak. They weren't going to fight when there was so much money to be made. After Texas joined, there was a lot unoccupied land in Texas, Ark and MO, so secession had that problem to deal with also.
 

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