if the South had won the War between the States?
Daryl K. Coleman
There have been plenty of missives written over the years attempting to answer this question, from McKinley Kantor onwards. Here, I would like to offer my own version. Afterall, who knows how it all would have really turned out? This is my version of how it might have happened.
Suppose that the change in history occurred with a union defeat at Gettysburg, and also a union defeat at Vicksburg in early July, 1863. At this point, there would have been panic in Washington, D.C., as victorious Confederate forces began to sweep union forces from the field and move closer and closer to Washington. As I see it, there would have been no need for a confederate invasion of Washington D.C., for there would have come about a negotiated settlement, whereby the northern government would have recognized the independence of the southern states, which, afterall, was all that the confederates wanted anyway. It was never a stated aim of the Confederacy to overthrow the government in Washington, D.C. The Confederates simply wished to be allowed to leave the Union, pure and simple, which is why I refuse to call this war a Civil War, any more than the first American Revolution was a Civil War. Shortly after this, the hostilities would have begun to wind down, albeit a bit slowly.
Given this scenario, I think it likely that the creation of the State of West Virginia would have been overturned, and that territory would have been returned to the State of Virginia. Also, it is likely that the State of Maryland would have added itself to the confederacy, being that it was not allowed to do so earlier by President Lincoln's unlawful imprisoning of the Maryland legislature. This would make the lineup of Confederate states as follows: South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri. It is also very probable, in my scenario, that the Indian Territory now known as Oklahoma would have been added to the confederacy in the peace agreement, in as much as so many of the tribes in Oklahoma sent men to fight for the Confederate armies. On the other hand, I believe that Kansas and Nebraska would have stayed with the United States. One remaining question would be the small state of Delaware, which had strong southern sympathies. In this scenario, I will leave that one up to presumption.
Obviously, the United States would have found it necessary to relocate their now surrounded capital to another place, maybe to Philadelphia, which seems a likely location to me. The Confederate States, I presume, would have retained their capital in Richmond, Virginia.
As regards future growth, I think that in 1863-1864, the Confederate States would have been grateful just to have their independence and would not have struggled over the remaining territory out west, like New Mexico. Most likely, they would have settled the agreement with the United States retaining the rights to that territory.
Now, with regard to the leadership of the two countries, let us first consider that of the United States. After losing the momentous struggle, Abraham Lincoln would most assuredly have lost the election of 1864 (if he had elected to run at all, or if the Republican party had nominated him, which is questionable), possibly to George B. McClellan, a democrat. This, in turn, may very well have assured that U. S. Grant never became president of the United States, being that he never gained the prominence that he actually did. In the South, Jefferson Davis would have ramained president for a time, but one must remember that he never really wanted this job to begin with, and so with time he would have retired from this position to allow someone else to take on the Southern presidency. Who that person might have been I cannot say, but I do believe that James Longstreet would have been a candidate before too long, as well as John B. Gordon. Some have stated that Robert E. Lee would have been the next president after Davis, and I am willing, for the purpose of this presentation, to concede this point (though I do not see Robert E. Lee as a man who thirsted for political power). So, not long after the cessation of hostilities, say 2 or 3 years, we have McClellan in the north and Lee in the south.
So now comes the big question: what of slavery in the south? Well, I believe that it would have continued, but only for a short while, for even in the south people were slowly coming to a realization that it was evil and wrong, and were just trying to figure out how to get out of the practice. It seems to me that they would have eventually done what many other nations had done to end the practice, that by compensated emancipation. Why? Well, first, it was clearly a practice which was beginning, even in the south, to be seen as wrong and backwards. In addition, it was becoming economically inefficient as the industrial revolution took hold. So, I believe and present here that the practice of slavery in the Confederate States of America would have been gone by 1880, if not a bit before that. The Confederate States of America would have found that, in order to do business with the other nations of the world, they would have to find a way to end the practice of slavery, and that they would have done. The difference between this scenario and real life? I think many of the racial tensions and animosities seen today would be missing, because of the absense of reconstruction, which really did create such hatred between whites and blacks in the south, and even in the northern states. You must remember that what has been largely absent from northern history texts for the last 140 years is the fact that most blacks in the south, though slaves, were treated more like family members (in a sense) than like cattle. In many cases they were loved and even had their photos taken with the white children in their care. This picture painted in the television mini-series ROOTS of slaves being mistreated and beaten was really the exception and not the rule. Another fact largely overlooked in northern histories is that many blacks in the south actually fought, of their own free will, in the armies of the Confederacy. This is documented fact.
One other big question to address at this point is the direction each of the respective governments would take after the war. Regarding that of the United States, I believe that even with the demise of the Lincoln administration, the course he set with the Republican party, that being the refutation of states rights and the centralizing of power in the national capital, was firmly established. In other words, the philosophy of Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln had won out and I believe it still would have continued to carry the day in the United States, even as it has in reality down to the present day. I think this would have been true even if a Lincoln administration were followed by a democratic McClellen administration, simply because the Republican party was so dominant in the northern states from 1860 onwards. On the other hand, the government of the Confederate States of America had established the principle of states rights, a principle upheld by such men as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun. Because this was the very hallmark of its existence, it seems highly unlikely that the Confederate States of America would have abandoned this notion, even 100 or 140 years later. So, though we would have two countries, side by side, sharing so much by way of culture, they would at the same time have some noted differences in political philosophy. Likewise, though a two-party system certainly would have materialized in the Confederate States, the Republican party as it was known in the north (an outgrowth of the old Whig Party) most likely would not have survived in the south. Now, if I recall correctly, Mr. McKinley Kantor envisioned the two governments reconciling in 1960 and reforming a union into one country, but I question if Mr. Kantor ever took into account the difference in political philosophies between the two sides, a difference which I believe would have kept them from total reconciliation, at least to the point of reforming into one, united country.
As regards the situation with Spain and Cuba in the late 1890's, this most likely would have involved the Confederate States of America rather than the United States of America, due to the close proximity of Florida to Cuba. It is also likely that by this time, both the United States and the Confederate States would have built up considerable naval forces, so the outcome in both Cuba and the Philippines would have been fairly similar to what actually did occur.
Likewise, I believe that both the United States and the Confederate States would have been drawn into both the First World War and the Second World War, mainly due to their cultural ties to Great Britain (and to each other), and that the outcomes would have been much the same. I also believe that the Confederate States of America would have stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States and the west against the Soviet Union during the cold war. And, if that had happened, it would have gone far towards warming the hearts of north and south towards one another, as brothers who really do share destinies. I think the old animosities would have been put aside, with the assistance of these foreign conflicts, but I also believe that political differences would have kept them separate governments, at least further into the future than 1960.
I need to add an additional note here. There have been those down through the years who have somehow tried to equate the Confederacy with Naziism. This is done, I truly believe, as a knowing deception on the part of leftists who want to mislead folks who do not know any better. If you read the Confederate constitution, you will find that it was very much like the constitution of the United States, with a few minor changes and/or improvements. All of the constitutional guarantees of freedom in the old US constitution are also present in the Confederate constitution, and with the sure demise of slavery, would have been fully realized in the Confederate States of America. Should anyone try to point out the problem or hypocracy of slavery in the south, I would remind them that it was northern ships flying US flags which brought slaves to our shores to begin with (at least after 1776), and it was under the flag of the United States of America that women were not allowed to vote until 1920, so there was some hypocracy to go around to both sides.
Daryl Coleman, March 2006
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