What If... the south had been allowed to secede peacefully?

kevikens

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Location
New Jersey
Let ne tell you what I used to tell my students when this question would always up with Lincoln's inauguration, much to the stupefaction of my northern students. Now, of course I know what the cost of the war would be, and it was a terrible price to pay for the continuation of an intact Union, and I would not have asked America to pay it, had I known what it would be. To avoid some of the future antagonism between the USA and the CSA I would have been as generous as the Northern people would have allowed, and in March of 1861 I think they might have allowed a good deal. I would have met with Jeff Davis, invited him to Washington, or gone myself to Montgomery. I would say that, although our only real difference was the extension of slavery, not its existence, I would agree to the separation of the CSA (and remember this is before Sumter, so it's not 11 seceding states). You can have Sumter, your independence, a portion of the western territories, say New Mexico and Arizona and our blessings for a bright future. The US Post Office will delver your mail until you have your own postal system set up. The US Army will keep troops on your Indian frontier until you can take over there. The USN will defend your maritime interests until you have built your own navy. In return we ask for free navigation of the lower Mississippi and you will have the similar for the upper portion. We offer a free trade agreement and an open borders policy for your people. You get the idea. Make it very easy to separate and you make it easy to reintegrate the states. Assuming, though, that the Southern states decide to stay out of the Union, what of slavery? Yes, it will continue for decades, and in the border states as well, but I doubt very long into the 20th Century in either section. Perhaps a slow morphing from chattel slavery to peonage to second class citizenship to eventual full citizenship rights,and perhaps also a less rancorous adjustment from servitude to freedom in the process. Pie in the sky, Cloud Cuckoo Land, will of the wisp mental meandering? Perhaps but the price was some 700,000 Americans, and remember Confederates were Americans, too, but at that price I'd have left the South go. Britain survived the loss of her American Colonies and did just fine shortly after the loss and there is little reason to think the US would have come to a bad end from letting the deep South go. Yes, it would be a different America today, but not necessarily a bad one for either section.
 

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Laurinburg NC
Remember, in this 'What If?' scenario, there is no Civil War.
Does the scenario include the CSA?
Remember, in this 'What If?' scenario, there is no Civil War.

Without a war and the debilitating loss of manpower and resources that war entails an independent CSA would have been in an even better position to succeed and prosper.
 

O. A. Williams

Private
Joined
Feb 19, 2015
Let ne tell you what I used to tell my students when this question would always up with Lincoln's inauguration, much to the stupefaction of my northern students. Now, of course I know what the cost of the war would be, and it was a terrible price to pay for the continuation of an intact Union, and I would not have asked America to pay it, had I known what it would be. To avoid some of the future antagonism between the USA and the CSA I would have been as generous as the Northern people would have allowed, and in March of 1861 I think they might have allowed a good deal. I would have met with Jeff Davis, invited him to Washington, or gone myself to Montgomery. I would say that, although our only real difference was the extension of slavery, not its existence, I would agree to the separation of the CSA (and remember this is before Sumter, so it's not 11 seceding states). You can have Sumter, your independence, a portion of the western territories, say New Mexico and Arizona and our blessings for a bright future. The US Post Office will delver your mail until you have your own postal system set up. The US Army will keep troops on your Indian frontier until you can take over there. The USN will defend your maritime interests until you have built your own navy. In return we ask for free navigation of the lower Mississippi and you will have the similar for the upper portion. We offer a free trade agreement and an open borders policy for your people. You get the idea. Make it very easy to separate and you make it easy to reintegrate the states. Assuming, though, that the Southern states decide to stay out of the Union, what of slavery? Yes, it will continue for decades, and in the border states as well, but I doubt very long into the 20th Century in either section. Perhaps a slow morphing from chattel slavery to peonage to second class citizenship to eventual full citizenship rights,and perhaps also a less rancorous adjustment from servitude to freedom in the process. Pie in the sky, Cloud Cuckoo Land, will of the wisp mental meandering? Perhaps but the price was some 700,000 Americans, and remember Confederates were Americans, too, but at that price I'd have left the South go. Britain survived the loss of her American Colonies and did just fine shortly after the loss and there is little reason to think the US would have come to a bad end from letting the deep South go. Yes, it would be a different America today, but not necessarily a bad one for either section.
Im sorry for sounding rude, but I find no description of this other than to call it a "pipe dream".
 

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Laurinburg NC
IMO, if the South had seceeded peacefully, it would likely open the door for other states to follow suit, further weakening the Union. There are still secession talks within some states to this day.

Lincoln had probably given up on keeping the four upper South states in his union by the time he took office in March, his worse nightmare would have been losing several if not all of the four border states. Those four states would have increased the white population of the CS by approximately a third.
 

WJC

Major General
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Answered the Call for Reinforcements
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Does the scenario include the CSA?
Thanks for your response.
That really is up to each responding member: if you think that secession was unopposed, it certainly is appropriate to consider whether they remained individual entities or united to form a larger nation.
Since in 'real life' the CSA was formed before hostilities, that may be a more likely scenario. It seems most are assuming that.
 

WJC

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Lincoln had probably given up on keeping the four upper South states in his union by the time he took office in March, his worse nightmare would have been losing several if not all of the four border states. Those four states would have increased the white population of the CS by approximately a third.
Without the threat of war, would Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina have seceded?
It might be that peaceful secession would have resulted in a 'deep south' confederacy of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.
 

WJC

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Read up on the Poor Immigrants, Native Americans and the Coolies.
Thanks for your response.
I have read quite a bit on the circumstances facing those and other groups. What I have learned is that their tribulations were not limited to actions by "Yankees".
In the context of this 'What If?' thread, my guess is that their fate would have been the same under two (or more) nations as they were under one.
 

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Laurinburg NC
Thanks for your response.
That really is up to each responding member: if you think that secession was unopposed, it certainly is appropriate to consider whether they remained individual entities or united to form a larger nation.
Since in 'real life' the CSA was formed before hostilities, that may be a more likely scenario. It seems most are assuming that.
A larger nation for the same reason the not as homogeneous former 13 colonies had – for defense.
 

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Laurinburg NC
Without the threat of war, would Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina have seceded?
It might be that peaceful secession would have resulted in a 'deep south' confederacy of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.

After giving it some thought they wouldn't have wanted to be trapped in the old Union where Southern influenced would have been further diminished after the departure of the deep South states.
 

kevikens

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Location
New Jersey
Im sorry for sounding rude, but I find no description of this other than to call it a "pipe dream".
As I myself said above, my mental meandering was a will of the wisp, pie in the sky and I'll accept your evaluation as a pipe dream, but whenever I encounter proposals that might have avoided a war of Americans slaughtering other Americans, including letting the South go its own way, it is hard for me not to conjecture that there might have been a less violent way to have dealt with secession. And I wish Lincoln had tried something like it.
 

WJC

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Answered the Call for Reinforcements
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***Posted as Moderator***
A reminder: this is a "What If?" thread. Speculation is encouraged. That speculation must not include modern political issues, which are not allowed.
Our Community Guidelines must be followed as in any thread.
Please discuss this topic in a civil manner, respecting the opinions of others.
 

O. A. Williams

Private
Joined
Feb 19, 2015
As I myself said above, my mental meandering was a will of the wisp, pie in the sky and I'll accept your evaluation as a pipe dream, but whenever I encounter proposals that might have avoided a war of Americans slaughtering other Americans, including letting the South go its own way, it is hard for me not to conjecture that there might have been a less violent way to have dealt with secession. And I wish Lincoln had tried something like it.
I dont blame you.
But letting the south go its own way would have certainly led to slaughter.
 

WJC

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As you already liked a post of mine, you know that even if for a moment the CSA didn't bomb Fort Sumter thus no Union response another event would have taken its place such as the Pratt Street Baltimore Riots of 1862.
But the Pratt Street Riot was directed at U. S. troops traveling south. If secession had been accomplished peacefully, those troops would have been home, not passing through Maryland.
 

BlueandGrayl

First Sergeant
Joined
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Location
Corona, California
But the Pratt Street Riot was directed at U. S. troops traveling south. If secession had been accomplished peacefully, those troops would have been home, not passing through Maryland.
Well OTL, it came only after Fort Sumter. Even without it there's also the fact Baltimore had its fair share of Rebel sympathizers and the loyalty of both the mayor and the police force was suspect (see the Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson) there is still a potential protest perhaps some ATL equivalent could occur instead.
 

WJC

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Well OTL, it came only after Fort Sumter. Even without it there's also the fact Baltimore had its fair share of Rebel sympathizers and the loyalty of both the mayor and the police force was suspect (see the Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson) there is still a potential protest perhaps some ATL equivalent could occur instead.
Thanks for your response.
Baltimore was very much supportive of the Southern cause. Though the Pratt Street Riot wouldn't have occurred, there may well have been other demonstrations had secession occurred peacefully.
One can easily come up with a scenario where further disintegration would have occurred once peaceful secession had succeeded. Once there was that precedent....
 
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